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WC Answers Your Questions


A couple of long-time readers here at Wickersham’s Conscience have noted that it has been a long time since WC made any effort to answer readers’ questions. Partly, that’s because WC’s loyal readers haven’t been asking many questions lately. Partly it’s because WC is lazy. And partly it’s because of WC’s magpie sensibility. But WC…

The Age of Aquarium


When WC was a young pup lawyer in Fairbanks, he kept an aquarium. It was the Age of Aquarium, if you will. It’s not an easy task in Fairbanks, where the tap water contained fish toxins, evaporation concentrated your tank water to chemical sludge, and such fish as were available were expensive and had been…

Expound Snapshot

The WC Makeover: A Few Notes


Some of you have emailed about the home page makeover here at Wickersham’s Conscience. For the first five years of its life, Wickersham’s Conscience has used WordPress’ Journalist Theme. It’s a simple, clean layout, if not very adaptable. The problem is that it loads all of the most recent 6-7 posts. In cases where WC…

The Rich are Different: Glamping


Want to spend $1,675 a night for tent camping in Montana? You can. Just go glamping. The word is a portmanteau of “glamor” and “camping,” and has an apparent connotative meaning of “as far from traditional camping as possible.” The Resort at Paws Up offers “luxury tent camping” with your very own chef and butler.…

The Curious History of All Hallow’s Eve


Hallowe’en may be America’s most curious holiday: young, masked extortionists travel from house to house, demanding candy on threat of “tricks.” Normal people dress bizarrely, and sane people pay good money to be terrified. Ghosts, witches, skeletons, zombies; what’s that all about? The whole tangled history of the holiday is wrapped around the axle of…

A Matter of Taste


Take a minute to read Mary Roach’s report on the Nagaland Chili Pepper Eating Contest. Nagaland is the home of the world’s hottest pepper, the Naga King Chili (a.k.a. Bhut Jolokia), often ranked the world’s hottest. The interview with the winner has to be history’s most honest sport interview, and the shortest.

The Limericks, the Captain and the Contest


WC’s readers will recall that there was a contest. There were entrants. Here they are: Contestant #1 Alaska’s own Governor Parnell Had a mantra he thought rather swell Let’s “drill baby drill” And hope nobody will Remember what happened with Shell Contestant #2 There was a man named Sean Parnell Whose piles began giving him…

A 500th Anniversary


This year is the 500th anniversary of Vasco Nunez de Balboa‘s sighting of the Pacific Ocean. Balboa was hardly the first white man, let alone the first human, to see the Pacific Ocean. But he was the first white man, the first Spaniard, to see the Pacific from the eastern shore. Balboa was a common…

The Farthest North Hummingbird Banding Station


Wickersham’s Conscience reader and sometime commenter Kate McLaughlin has a nice article in the current issue of Birdwatching Magazine this month. Alaska has only one hummingbird species that breeds regularly here: the Rufous Hummingbird. McLaughlin runs North America’s farthest north hummingbird banding station in Prince William Sound. Through her research efforts, McLaughlin helped establish the range…

Jasper Fforde Runs Loose


WC can only handle a limited amount of Jasper Fforde’s writing at a time, but there is no question the man has a twisted kind of genius. Take this conversation among the grammar police from The Well of Lost Plots: “Good. Item seven. The had had and that that problem. Lady Cavendish, weren’t you working on this?’ Lady Cavendish stood…

The Order of the Splint


Those who follow the Order of the Stick – one of the best web comics there is – will have noticed it has been a long time since the last update. There’s a good reason for that. Rich Burlew, a/k/a The Giant in the Playground, the guy who draws and writes the Order of the…

Pop Quiz: WC’s Wickersham Test


This post is an experiment – can WordPress be used for a multiple-choice quiz? Here’s the attempt. Bonus points if you can identify the common thread among all three questions. The questions are from a handout at the Tea at Wickersham’s House. It marked what the late Ernest Gruening in his fine history, The State…

Cringely’s Code of Ethics


One of WC’s regular reads is Robert X. Cringely’s Notes From the Field, Cringe’s relentlessly self-promoting, sometimes amusing, sometimes insightful blog at InfoWorld. [Aside: Back in 1992, WC was wandering the halls of MacWorld, the annual Apple expo in San Francisco. At the Addison-Wesley booth, WC purchased a book called Accidental Empires, written by one…

What Ever Happened to the Gnome-Mobile?


In 1967, Walt Disney made The Gnome-Mobile. It was was Ed Wynne’s last movie before he died, with Walter Brennan as both the crotchety old millionaire and the crotchety old king of the gnomes. It’s a pretty good, if largely forgotten, Disney flick. One of the sets from the movie was a four-times life-size back…