It's Official: the 2016 Alaska Recession

Legislative Success! Alaska Enters Recession


WC can report that the Alaska Legislature has accomplished something: it has put the State of Alaska in an economic recession. That’s right, it’s official. Moody’s Analytics, a well-regarded economics consulting services, reports: The failure of energy prices to rebound has pushed Alaska into recession. Job growth is among the slowest in the nation, on…

The Donald, by Trudeau, c. 2000

The Prescience of Garry Trudeau


WC is in meetings and doesn’t have time for a full post. Instead, have a visit to Trudeau’s The Donald Collection, a set of cartoons dating back to 1987(!) featuring the current Republican frontrunner as a presidential candidate. The Donald claims not to be able to understand Trudeau. He said, “You know, I did well in…

Idaho’s Bible Bill: A Thought Experiment


Idaho Senate’s Education Committee has introduced Senate Bill 1321, which would amend Idaho’s education code by adding this new section: 33-1604. USE OF THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.The Bible is expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes to further the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, United States…

Snake River Canyon, Upstream at Swan Falls Reservoir

Swan Falls, Part 2


The Snake River Canyon walls at Swan Falls are about 700 feet high. The river, greatly enhanced by the catastrophic Bonneville Flood, has eroded down through layer after layer of basalt, rhyolite and concreted ash. The 700 vertical feet of erosion hasn’t even made it a third of the way through the layers of volcanic rock.…

American White Pelican, Swan Falls, Snake River, Idaho

Swan Falls, Part 1


You can’t visit Swan Falls; you can only visit where they were. Swan Falls Dam, on the Snake River, is the oldest dam on the river, constructed 1901-1903. It was also the beginning of the end for anadromous fish like salmon on the Snake. Today there are an appalling 19 dams on the Snake River, 15…

William H. Tankersley, 1918-2016, defending the wasteland of children's television before Congress

D.N.R.I.P. William H. Tankersley, CBS Censor


WC has never been a fan of television, let alone network television. But WC was a huge fan of “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” a wonderfully subversive television show that ran on the CBS television from 1967 to 1969. Eclectic, wildly funny, brilliantly written it was a spot of vivid color in the hopelessly grey-toned…

Green-winged Teal, Creamer's Field, Fairbanks

Bird of the Week – Green-winged Teal


There sure are a lot of ducks… Here’s another dabbler species, pretty common in Alaska. The Green-winged Teal is North America’s smallest dabbling duck. Unlike many of North America’s other dabblers, this one does not breed extensively in the prairie pothole region of the central part of the continent. Instead it’s most abundant during summer breeding…

White-crowned Sparrow

A Little Beyond Bliss: The Hagerman Bird Festival


Bird festivals are a peculiar institution of birders, a kind of tribal gathering for fans of birdwatching. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of them scattered around the world. The first of the calendar year in Idaho is the Hagerman Bird Festival in delightful Hagerman, Idaho. Hagerman is just a ways past Bliss. Really. You just…

Justice Antonin Scalia—a well known critic of affirmative action—suggested that the policy was hurting minority students by sending them to schools too academically challenging for them.

A Prayer for Antonin Scalia


Several readers are apparently outraged that WC could be so callous as to speak ill of the dead. And in particular the recently deceased U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Heh. All right. In a modest effort to be a little more charitable, a little more forgiving, WC will offer a prayer for Antonin Scalia. Specifically, in…

Neat, Plausible and Wrong


There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong. – H.L. Mencken, “The Divine Afflatus” in New York Evening Mail (16 November 1917) WC cites to Mencken because the Republican Majority Caucus in the Alaska Legislature can’t seem to grasp that their neat and plausible solution to Alaska’s fiscal crisis – still…

Justice Antonin Scalia—a well known critic of affirmative action—suggested that the policy was hurting minority students by sending them to schools too academically challenging for them.

Birding with Antonin Scalia


Yes, it’s true. WC and Mrs .WC went birding in Fairbanks with the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. A few months after he joined in the supreme court decision that stole the presidency from Vice President Al Gore.1 And we let him live. It happened like this. The Alaska Bar Convention was in Fairbanks that…

David Fry, via KIVI-TV, Pportland

Livestreaming a Nervous Breakdown


It felt voyeuristic, even somewhat obscene, listening to the livestream and reading the twitter feeds as David Lee Fry fell apart in front of our digital eyes and ears. Look, WC isn’t a psychologist and doesn’t pretend to be one. And “nervous breakdown” isn’t even a recognized term in psychology.1 But that’s what it was; that’s…

Rachmaninoff, Bartok & Fleck


WC has been lucky enough to see Béla Fleck, master banjo player, several times. With the Flecktones, the original blu-bop band, with the equally incredible bassist Victor Wooten and Wooten’s brother, Future Man, on Drumitar. Then with piano jazz legend Chick Corea for an improvisational jazz set by two guys with a staggering 34 Grammy awards between…