Tales from Wasilla: Mom’s Property


You can make the case that some Wasillians shouldn’t be entrusted with private property. The Alaska Supreme Court’s decision last week in Evertson v. Sibley et al. would be a pretty compelling bit of evidence. Karin Eriksson,1 a mother allegedly suffering from declining mental faculties, had two children, a son named Krister and a daughter…

Why Not Motmots?


Motmots, the fourteen species of the family Momotidae, are colorful, long-tailed birds of Central and South America. Like Kingfishers, they nest in long tunnel-like burrows in dirt banks, but they are not closely related to Kingfishers. For such a colorful, charismatic bird, they are remarkably poorly studied. As just one example of the challenges presented…

A Ransomware Franchise


They call it “Ransomware-as-a-Service” (“RaaS”). But it’s really a franchise. A criminal franchise, but a franchise nonetheless. It works like this: the Franchisor develops a suite of tools to hack into a victim’s computer systems, steal by downloading all of the data and then encrypt all of the data found there. The victim can no…

The Quacks Attack (Each Other)


In amazing abuse of America’s nonprofit laws, there’s a “charity” called “America’s Frontline Doctors” that consists of quacks, a small number of physicians and health care workers who are represent the very worst in American medicine. They spread false information about COVID, advocate for dangerous and discredited treatments, engage in fearmongering about vaccines, and attempt to influence…

Notes on Cryptocurrency


WC bows to no one in his love of technogeekery, but the whole cryptocurrency industry seems to be an absolute disaster area, a technology that serves to useful purpose. Maybe it’s just WC getting old and cranky, yelling at clouds, but here are a few data points that illustrate WC’s opinion. Exhibit A: James Zhong…

Revisiting Earthsea


Earthsea is the world invented by the late Ursula K. LeGuin. Across five decades, five novels and a volume of short stories and essays, she created one of the most memorable, self-consistent and vivid imaginary universes in literature. LeGuin, in her lifetime, earned eight Hugos, six Nebulas, and twenty-two Locus Awards, and in 2003 became the second woman…

Proposed King Cove-Cold By Road

King Cove’s Road: A Third Update


Readers may remember the ongoing BUCIP – WC’s term for a Big, Ugly, Complicated, Intractable Problem – involving road access between the Alaska communities of King Cove and Cold Bay. It takes a thousand words just to provide an oversimplified summary of the long-running dispute. Readers who are curious should take a refresher course in…

Nit-picking


The oldest complete written sentence has been identified. It’s written in the Canaanite language, about 1,700 years ago. There are earlier writings, but they are simply names or sometimes the owner of the object. This artifact was found at Tel Lachish in Israel, once a major Canaanite city-state in the second millennium BCE. The artifact…

Calling Out the Stupid


At times the sheer, perverse, pig-headed stupidity of Americans threatens to overwhelm WC. It’s self-destructive, appalling and likely to be fatal soon if we cannot find a way to overcome it. You think WC is exaggerating? You think this claim is hyperbolic? WC offers three examples – there could as easily be dozens – to…

Seismic Tomography and Yellowstone: An Update


WARNING: Still more geeky geology ahead. And, WC acknowledges, some pretty serious oversimplifications of complex stuff. WC has written about seismic topography before, the evolving technology that uses the seismic waves from earthquakes to analyze subsurface geologic features. The technology has even been used on Mars to study xenogeology, albeit in a more simplified form.…

VOTE! The Future of Our Country Depends Upon It


Get out and vote today, if you haven’t already. If you don’t, you are giving the 40-50% of voters who do vote in mid-term elections an out-sized amount of influence. Don’t argue that your vote won’t make a difference; races are sometimes decided by a mere handful of votes. Don’t be intimidated by firearm-packing “poll…

Notes on Plate Tectonics


WARNING! Seriously geeky geology ahead. Most folks who were exposed to even a little bit of geology in school understand vaguely the idea of plate tectonics. They get the basic idea that big chunks of the surface of the earth are somehow moving around. But there are lots of non-obvious parts of the science of…

Worst Job in America: Trump’s Lawyer


Any experienced private attorney will tell you there are clients who are too dangerous to represent. At best, they will damage your professional reputation and stiff you for all or part of your fees; at worst, they will drag you down with them. As WC’s Legal Ethics professor told us back in law school, we…

Dealing with Pumpkin Vandals


In Alaska, the pumpkin vandals were large and mostly impossible to deal with. If a specimen of Alces alces americanus – moose, the largest member of the deer family – acquired a taste for the largest member of the squash family, there wasn’t much you could do. When we relocated to Idaho in 2015, we…

Concert Review: Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss


Two of Nashville’s best singers shared the stage last week in a two hour long concert at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. Two long-time friends and collaborators, Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss, are touring together, sharing the stage. They opened the show with a lovely interpretation of the Carter Family’s 1937 song “Hello Stranger,”…

Geology Is Messy: Lime, Oregon


You won’t find Lime, Oregon on a map; at least not one published in the last forty years. Lime isn’t even a ghost town; it’s obliterated, along with the cement plant that was Lime’s reason for existence. Today, Lime is a wide spot in a side road off Interstate 84, not too far from Baker…

The Bird Photo Project: A Setback


Long-time readers will recall WC, asked the seemingly simple question of how many different bird species he had photographed, has been struggling for the last four years to provide an answer. WC, as recently as July of this year, had the illusion he was making progress. Then the American Ornithological Society released the latest update…

Field Notes: Glacial Moraines


While the State of Idaho has many fine points, it does not have glaciers worthy of the name. It has had them in the past, and they did some dramatic alteration of the terrain, but those glaciers are long gone. While the ice may have all melted, the geologic signatures of glaciers are everywhere. Among…