Happy New Year, Everyone


We can’t see fireworks in Fairbanks on the 4th of July, so our pyrotechnics tend to be on the Winter Solstice and New Year’s Eve. WC’s wonderful, blind Border Collie, Jackson, is terrified of firework explosions, so it’s a tough time of year for him. WC has borrowed The Oatmeal’s excellent cartoon to share with you…

Cliff Edwards, voicing Jiminy Cricket, sings "When You Wish Upon a Star," from Walt Disney's Pinochio

WC’s Wishes for 2015


Despite the abject outcome of his wishes for 2010, wishes for 2011, wishes for 2012, wishes for 2013, and most recently his wishes for 2014, in a triumph of hope over experience, WC will once again set out his wishes for 2015. While it is tempting to moderate those wishes, WC is not inclined to lower his expectations in the hope of…

2014 in Review: Politics (with Update)


The thing that has characterized politics in 2014 is the same thing that has typified it for the last four years: frightening dysfunctionality. In 2014, American voters embraced the dysfunctional and, to borrow Jim Wright’s phrase, cuddled up to it and licked it in the ear. In the most expensive non-Presidential year elections in history,…

2014 in Review: Religion


The risk that the United States will become a theocracy, as some Christianists ardently desire, seems slightly lower in 2014. The recurring tide of religious zealotry seems to have peaked and may even be receding. Peering into the tea leaves: Same-sex marriage, the target of the Latter Day Saints’ $20 million in direct contributions and an…

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D, California)

2014 in Review: WC’s Person of the Year


In a real and important sense, picking one, single person of the year is hopelessly unfair and simplistic. This year’s honoree could not have succeeded without a skilled, diligent and relentless staff, who worked for years under very difficult conditions, as difficult as the CIA could make them. But we need heroes, too. We need…

Gas victims, Halabja, Iran, March 16, 1988

A Given Definition of “Exceptional”: Chemical Warfare


WC read the recent, excellent New York Times feature on the experience of U.S. soldiers in Iraq who encountered the moldering remainders of Saddam Hussein’s chemical warfare munitions. And it set WC to wondering: large-scale manufacture of chemical weapons involves very difficult chemical syntheses. Likely beyond the capabilities of Iraq and Iran, although WC’s readers will recall…

Moustached Antpitta

Life Listing


Depending on your taxonomic viewpoint, there are 10,404 (Clements) or 10,534 (IOC) living bird species recognized. No one human has seen them all. Many have tried. Most birders have life lists. A simple list of birds you’ve seen. But the really intense life listers try to see every bird on the planet. Hard core life listing…

Greater Rhea, Pantanal, Brazil

Let’s Get Rheal


Among the terrific birds WC was privileged to see on a recent to trip to Brazil was the Western Hemisphere’s biggest bird, the Greater Rhea. WC has written about the Greater Rhea before, but a bird this extraordinary deserves additional attention. The Greater Rhea isn’t a Big Bird; it’s a huge bird. They weight 45-60 pounds,…

Is this the cheesiest "art" in Fairbanks?

The Cheesiest Art in Fairbanks?


We need a break from the Senate Torture Report so, at the risk of an entirely different kind of torture, let’s wallow in really bad art. For the last quarter century, as WC has exited the elevator in his office building, headed to the courthouse, he’s been greeted by the sight of this amazingly tacky…