Dawkins in Alaska


This will be a somewhat longer and more complex post than WC ordinarily produces.  The subject is more complex, and worthy of a longer read. Richard Dawkins spoke at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on July 15, 2010. Davis Auditorium was packed, with a number of folks standing and still more watching in another lecture…

Social Security: What Crisis?


WC gets lots of email and snail mail about Social Security. Most of it is borderline hysteria: the Social Security system is going broke tomorrow, or doubling the deficit, or is in some other kind of deep crisis. WC had even assumed some of it might be true. A search on Google using “social security…

Review: Silk Parachute


Silk Parachute, by John McPhee, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (March 2, 2010) John McPhee, in WC’s opinion, has for some 25 years been America’s greatest non-fiction writer. Whether it has been his epic, four volume series of geology, or esoterica like The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, or his best work, Coming into the Country, McPhee writes on an…

Glacial Lake Ahtna


WC studied a lot of geology in undergraduate school. And he’s never quite shaken his interest in the area. Alaska’s geology is fascinating. To paraphrase John McPhee, most of Alaska, like most Alaskans, originally came from somewhere else. A case in point: Up until a little less than 10,000 years ago, a very large lake…

Saturday Mornings Won’t Be the Same


For the last 20-25 years, Daniel Schorr was a commentator for National Public Radio. In particular, he did a week in review exchange with NPR host Scott Simon on Saturday mornings. Schorr’s insightful, incisive comments were a delight. His 70 year career as a highly-principled, highly-skilled journalist were brought to bear on current issues. He…

Palin and the New McCarthyism


The Anchorage Daily News‘ excellent Julie O’Malley has a nice piece today on the ex-Gov’s bad grammar and the mock Shakespearean quotes it has generated in the Twitterverse. But there is a much darker side to the cause the Caribou Cathy was clumsily trying to support. The issue is a proposed mosque near the site of…

Dunning-Kruger Effect in Action


Want to watch the Dunning-Kruger Effect in real time? In January 2008, the satiric site The Onion posted a completely fake video of a completely fake Congressional bill that pressed every single neoconservative hot button. These are the same folks who just reported a tornado destroyed the White House (“Local Family Homeless After Tornado Destroys…