One Night He Heard Screams


Back in college, WC was required to read Whitaker Chambers’ 1952 autobiography, Witness. WC came to the book reluctantly. WC was a distant relative of Helen Gahagan Douglas, U.S. Representative from California, smeared by Richard Nixon as “The Pink Lady.” Whitaker Chambers contributed to that effort, and afterwards to the Pumpkin Papers political theater that made…

Elizabeth Moon: The Legacy of Gird


WC is an unapologetic reader of fantasy literature. In this post, WC looks at another set of stories set in Paksenarrion’s universe. Elizabeth Moon, through the Deed of Paksenarrion, these two stories and three of a projected five novels that follow the Paks trilogy, has created a vivid, complex and believable world, chronicling a span…

Elizabeth Moon: The Deed of Paksennarion


WC is an unapologetic reader of fantasy literature. There’s a lot of really bad fantasy literature, but there are some gems, too. The Deed of Paksennarion is a trade volume of Elizabeth Moon’s frist three novels, a fantasy following the life of Paksennarion Dorthansdotter. Published between 1992-1995, the story starts with Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, which tells…

A Prisoner of Its Own Invention


While the Alaska Legislature is wildly enthusiastic about creating ridiculously harsh sentences, and a presumptive sentencing system that can put repeat offenders in the slammer into their 80s, the Legislature is notoriously miserly about building prisons to house all those convicts. By preference, and when forced bycourt order to reduce overcrowding, the Legislature will warehouse…

Another Roadside Attraction


Not everyone should wear a bikini. Obviously: WC had absolutely nothing to do with creating this masterpiece. WC swears it. It was just there, on the east side of the road, driving south to Valdez. For those not familiar with the Richardson Highway, this is seriously in the middle of nowhere. The whole tree had…

Update: The James M. Fitzgerald U.S. Courthouse


WC wrote a remembrance for the late Judge Jim Fitzgerald a while back. One comment noted the effort to honor Fitz. WC is pleased to report it has happened, that the federal courthouse in Anchorage will be named the James M. Fitzgerald U.S. Courthouse. WC wishes it had happened in Fitz’s lifetime, but on the other hand,…

Apple, Foxconn and Reality


WC received an email the other day with a link to Mike Daisey’s gross lies about Foxconn. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, go to the episode of This American Life in which host Ira Glass ‘fesses up to having been sucked in by a con artist. The episode is itself pretty amazing; that Mike…

Definitely Got Mambo


The Tito Puente, Jr. Orchestra was at Hering Auditorium last night, a part of Fairbanks Concert Association’s 2011-12 concert season. Any dust left in the rafters after k. d. lang, Te Vaka, Sweet Plantain and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was shaken loose as the second generation of the mambo kings rocked down the house. Tito Puente…

Romney and Reality: Defense Spending


It seems increasingly like that the opportunist former governor Romney will be the Republican candidate for President. In an effort to understand the candidate and his positions, WC will undertake a series examining The Mitt’s claims and the reality, looking for correspondence. We’ll turn first to defense spending. Numerous sources have reported The Mitt is…

Magic Moments


Sometimes there are unscripted moments, magic moments, that tell you more about a person than thousands of words ever can: Stephon stood just a few feet away from Barack Obama. The president, busy shaking hands, looked right at him. “It was like he was waiting for me to say something,” he said later. So the…

Trayvon Martin: Can We Please Avoid Making the Same Mistake?


As anyone following the news knows by now, an unarmed black teenager named Trayvon Martin was murdered by a gun-toting vigilante in Sanford, Florida. The gunman, George Zimmerman, claims he was acting in “self-defense,” even though he disobeyed the police dispatcher’s instructions. Florida law enforcement authorities claimed that under Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense statute,…

Control Government Spending: Re-elect President Obama


TPM had made an interesting analysis of increases in government spending, neatly summarized in the following graph: At the end of their first terms, only two of the five presidents had achieved a reduction in federal spending: Clinton and Obama. Reagan and Bush I increased federal spending by 6%; Bush II by a whopping 10%.…

Fallacies: Argument from Ignorance


The Republican presidential wannabes’ recent posturings have reminded WC that he has shamefully neglected the ongoing review of logical fallacies. WC has visited the Ad Hominem attack; the Big Lie and the Non Sequitur have been discussed. Certainly we have seen the Republican yokels use all three. Today we turn to a political and religious…

Busvertising


Most advertising goes by WC without notice. It’s probably adaptive behavior in the 21st Century. But occasionally an ad comes along which grabs even WC’s jaundiced, cynical eye. Certainly Alaska Airlines’ Salmon Thirty Salmon back in 2005 is an example of an ad that will make you do a double take: (This is a promo…