Loggerhead Shrike, Bear River, Utah

Happy Hallowe’en


WC wishes his readers a Happy Hallowe’en. In keeping with the season, WC offers a slightly spooky critter considerably less scary than Rep. Lamar Smith or Dr. Ben Carson. Let’s talk about the Butcher Bird. The Northern Shrike, Lanius excubitor, which means “butcher watchman,” an appropriate name for this alert, efficient and somewhat gruesome predator. It’s a…

A really scary monster. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A Really Scary Hallowe’en Monster: Rep. Lamar Smith


It’s nearly Hallowe’en, surely the strangest of the American holidays. All Hallows’ Eve is a Christianized version of Samhain a Gaelic harvest festival, thoroughly commercialized by modern capitalism. But in what now passes for tradition, we terrorize ourselves with made-up monsters de jour. All the while ignoring the really scary monsters that actually exist. Like Rep. Lamar Smith (R, Texas and…

Probing for a bug; not the tail is used as a support

Jeepers Creepers


Specifically, Brown Creepers, North America’s only creeper species. Brown Creepers look like nothing more than a piece of tree bark, defying gravity and going up the trunk of a tree. And then a dead leaf as they flutter down to the base of another tree. Brown Creepers almost always climb up a tree trunk, often in…

Dr. Ben Carson making his points

Equal Time for African-Americans: Ben Carson


After The Donald and Carly Fiorina, Dr. Ben Carson is the Republican presidential wannabe that WC finds most offensive. Not because of his skin color; not because he is a neurosurgeon; not even because he has staked out an impossibly right-wing political position. WC dislikes Dr. Carson because he intentionally says stupid, offensive and outrageous things…