A Modest Victory for the IP Good Guys


Patent trolls are leeches on the economics of technological growth. They contribute nothing to technology, suck the economic blood from their victims, and are difficult to eradicate. Especially in some of the swamps of the internet. WC has criticized these miserable parasites before. But, for once, there’s a bit of good news in the Patent…

The Idiot’s Guide to Legislative Ethics


This blog post is dedicated to State Senator Peter Micciche, who may be challenged by the ethics part but has mastered the idiot concepts perfectly. State Senator Peter Micciche is an employee of Conoco Philips, one of the Big Three oil companies in Alaska. He’s in management: the superintendent of a facility in Soldotna. And a…

The Neotropics’ Most Beautiful Bird?


One of WC’s target bird species for photography was the Resplendant Quetzal. They’re a challenge to find, and their tendency to perch high makes the background tend to be bright. Yes, that’s the tail extending all the way down. Yes, the tail was blowing in the breeze. The photo has its flaws, but should give…

River Cruises and Rarities


WC went on a river cruise yesterday. On the Caño Negro, in a wildlife refuge near the Costa Rica – Nicaragua border. In a faux dugout, with a sun roof and few amenities. The birding was very, very good. This handsome bird was skulking in the mangrove roots along the stream edge. The boat operator…

Hummingbird Names


Hummingbirds are always a birder favorite. We don’t get many in Alaska; only the Rufous Hummingbird is regular. And that only in southeastern and southcentral Alaska. In the tropics, however, their size, colors, bills and behaviors are bewildering. And their names are as whimsical as anything in science. Here’s a Green-crowned Brilliant, at five inches…

Working with Color Palettes


Photographing birds is hard enough. After all, the little buggers don’t hold still. When you add the concept of color palettes to bird photography – selecting a set of colors that are related or complementary – WC’s head starts to spin. But WC did get lucky this once, with a Black-faced Grosbeak feeding on similarly-colored…

Not an Alaska Bird VI


Two Central American species in today’s post. The first is the aptly named Firey-billed Aricari, a cousin to the more famous Toucans. The Spanish name to this species is Cosinga; there’s an even more spectacular species called a Turquoise Cotinga. There was a lot of excitement before that got straightened out. And, lurking under a…

Not an Alaska Bird V


One of the true joys of birding are hummingbirds, Darwin’s “Flying Jewels.” This Green Violetear posed prettily in a giant bromeliad. The internet bandwidth at WC’s present location is pretty limited. Longer posts may happen later. For now, it’s tough to get a photo or two up.

Not an Alaska Bird IV


Pura Vida! This is a Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher. This handsome devil is a Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush, a cousin to the American Robin, and  fun bird under any circumstances. And the astute reader is correct to surmise WC is not in the U.S. right now.

Not an Alaska Bird III


The Great Egret is not your typical Sonoran Desert bird. But there is a decent-sized rookery of Great Egrets (as well as Snowy Egrets) at the Gilbert Water Ranch. The species has made a remarkable comeback from near destruction in the plume trade at the turn of the last century. Some bird photographers mock photos…

Well & Good


WC’s posts will be a little irregular the rest of the month as WC investigates liquid water, bright sunlight and the color green. There may be posts; there may not. But photos will be taken. If any are worth posting, they will be. Just not necessarily immediately. Raise your hand if you saw this coming…

What Tea Party?


Conservative pollster Rasmussen Reports found in a recent survey that just 8% of voters claim to be Tea Party members: Views of the Tea Party movement are at their lowest point ever, with voters for the first time evenly divided when asked to match the views of the average Tea Party member against those of…

Cabin Fever


Have you noticed how much longer it takes to climb out of the cold, dark hole of Winter Solstice than it does to drop in to it? Sure, WC gets himself outdoors. You may have noticed him painfully shuffling around the Skarland Ski Trail system, wheezing and blowing up the hill from Smith Lake to…

Schaeffer Cox: The Denouement


So, in the end, Cox apologized. The Associated Press reports he “fought back tears.” His psychologist diagnosed several paranoid disorders. The sentencing judge was not impressed. 26 years. WC got some appalling email in response to his earlier post on Cox. Some of the writers, in addition to functional illiteracy, may have the kind of…

The Schaeffer Cox Conundrum


Schaeffer Cox faces sentencing tomorrow. The federal prosecutors are asking for 35 years; Cox’s new defense attorney – he fired Nelson Traverso – is arguing for 10 years. It’s nonsense to say all Cox did was bluster. He had the weapons. He tracked his intended victims. The chilling secret recordings by the two snitches in…