Diana Wynne Jones Gravely Ill


Diana Wynne Jones, British fantasy author and creator of the delightful, satiric Tough Guide to Fantasyland, is reportedly gravely ill with cancer. Jones’ Tough Guide (mocking the British “Rough Guides”) is a brilliant send-up of cliched fantasy literature, and was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1996. It is at once both brilliant criticism and…

Oops


This can’t be good. © 2010 Frozen Feather Images As this post goes up, WC understands the contractor is trying to raise the crane out of the river.

Paul Krugman’s Second Nobel Prize


New York Times columnist Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008. According to IDEAS/REPEC (a ranking of Economists by article citations), his work has made him one of the most influential economists in the world, and he is among the 12 most widely cited economists. He’s a smart guy. So why isn’t…

Chasing the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher


Warning: Serious Bird Geekiness Below Most bird guides shown the range of the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (“YBFL”) extending only as far west as the Yukon Territory. But beginning in about 1998, Alaska Bird Observatory started getting the occasional bird in its mist nets, including hatch year birds, indicating breeding in or west of Fairbanks. Then in…

Examining Candidate Joe Miller


Joe Miller – noun: 1. a book of jokes. 2. an old, familiar joke; chestnut; after Joe Miller’s Jestbook  (1739) by John Mottley.  Source: Dictionary.com. . WC’s readers know WC is no fan of Lisa Murkowski, and that he has railed against her rudeness, inability to comprehend the health care crisis and her dubious arithmetic skills. But candidate Joe Miller seems to be even looser with the truth, more ignorant of Alaska’s economic realities…

Spam and Pringles; Pringles and Spam


Dennis Gage came to Fairbanks last week. It’s okay, WC didn’t know who Dennis Gage was either. But among antique car enthusiasts, he’s the bee’s knees. He hosts a cable television show on antique cars and was in Fairbanks for the annual local antique car event and to visit the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. Gage…

OOTS Update Intervals


To those of us who, like WC, have a trace of geekiness in our backgrounds, the Order of the Stick is simply the best web comic on the internet. Warning: Follow the OOTS link at your own risk. Reading OOTS cartoons online can be seriously addictive and can absorb many hours of time. Employers may…

Moral Superior


Among the many novels of Terry Pratchett, the stories in which the Patrician, Lord Vetinari appears, are some of WC’s favorites. The tyrant of the world’s largest city, the Patrician is every bit as remarkable as Terry Pratchett’s writing. Consider this excerpt: One day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I…

The Second Amendment, Seriously


WC heard a radio commentator talking about the Second Amendment this morning. NRA flack Wayne LaPierre said, “We believe the Second Amendment is America’s first freedom, it’s the one right that protects all the rest.” Hello? This is reality talking. Modern warfare is so far beyond even the bootleg automatic rifles gun nuts flaunt that the…

Birding with Mr. Whitekeys


For some twenty years, Mr. Whitekeys ran the Fly By Night Club in Anchorage, and annually produced the amazing Whale Fat Follies, which was to musical revues approximately what heavy metal is to Chopin. The Fly By Night Club, alas, is closed, but Mr. Whitekeys still carries his brand of inspired blues madness to the…

Review: Coming Into the Country


Coming Into the Country, John McPhee (1991) Lots of writers have tried to convey Alaska to non-Alaskans. Few have succeeded. Those who have are the ones who have chosen to illustrate small parts of the larger whole, and selected the right parts. Margaret Murie comes to mind. But 19 years on, Coming Into the Country…

Yellow-billed Loon in Fairbanks


The Yellow-billed Loon in an endangered species. More precisely, it would be an endangered species, except there is a queue and this poor bird isn’t close enough to the front; other species have “higher priority.” Whatever that means. So it’s not a good thing to have an adult bird turn up, seriously out of range,…

Eagle Summit Report – June 13, 2010


WC drove up to Eagle Summit in dubious weather yesterday. Eagle Summit is 105 miles northeast of Fairbanks along the Steese Highway, at the crest of the White Mountains. It’s only 3,550 feet, but at these latitudes, that’s alpine tundra country, well above tree line, with quite different birds then the commoner Interior species. The road was in…

A Wolf in the Hand


It appears a tanned wolf skin is worth about $325. A raw wolf skin, before drying and tanning, is presumably worth something less, but WC will use $325 as the value of a dead wolf for the purposes of this essay. What’s a live wolf worth, then? After all, we know what a moose is…

Review: Touching the Game – Alaska


For 50 years, the Alaska Goldpanners have played summer baseball in Fairbanks, Alaska. Local kids, college players, kids in transition from Junior College; hundreds of fine young players have played in the Alaska Baseball League and for the Panners in particular. On the 60th Anniversary of the creation of the Alaska Goldpanners, Eye Candy Cinema…

Leaf Miners


For the seventh year in a row, Interior Alaska’s Quaking Aspens are afflicted with Leaf Miners, Phyllocnistis populiella. The caterpillar stage lives and feeds between the upper and lower layers of the leaves, creating the silvery scarring shown here. The weakened leaves are then susceptible to a variety of fungi – two species are on…

Tax Relief for Billionaires


Dan Duncan died in late March. Duncan had a net worth of more than $9 billion – that’s “billion” with a “B” – and according to Forbes Magazine was the 74th richest man in the world. But here’s the reason WC brings up the late Mr. Duncan: every dime of his estate will pass to…

About Dante’s Inferno


Sometimes WC gets ahead of his audience. In an earlier post, I suggested that if a former Alaska Governor wanted to research religion, she should look into Dante’s Divine Comedy, and in particular Inferno, Canto 26. Several of WC’s readers have been bewildered by this reference. Dante Alighieri’s great epic describes his tour through Hell,…