U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C.

SCOTUS Ties: Republican Chickens Come Home to Roost


The Republicans in the U.S. Senate are mighty proud of themselves for stopping President Obama from appointing a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia. True, they had to make up fake history to explain their refusal to discharge their constitutional duties. And it has been amusing to see some of the Republican senators (cough-Lisa-Murkowski-cough)…

Grab the Money and Run

62 people own the same as half the world


Runaway inequality has created a world where 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population – a figure that has fallen from 388 just six years ago, according to an Oxfam report published recently ahead of the annual gathering of the world’s financial and political elites in Davos. Year Number of…

Barn Swallow, Yakutat, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Barn Swallow


Barn Swallows are uncommon in Interior and Southcentral Alaska, but pretty easy to find in Southeastern. WC got this photo near the Yakutat Airport. For many years, WC chased steelhead trout along the Situk River, outside of Yakutat. For obvious reasons, WC carried only a pocket camera while fishing, so image quality isn’t great here.…

R.I.P. Andy Grove: A Life Overclocked


Overclocking is the configuration of a computer hardware component to operate at a faster rate than was certified by the original manufacturer, generally specified as a given clock frequency in Megahertz (MHz) or Gigahertz (GHz). The purpose of overclocking is to gain additional performance from a given component by increasing its operating speed. — Wikipedia, Overclocking András István Gróf, 1936-2016,…

Idaho Admission Act, 26 Stat c. 656, §12

Idaho Fails to Heed Its Elders


When you watch the Idaho Legislature today, and follow the antics of current Governor Butch Otter, it’s hard to believe that Idaho once had a genuine liberal as governor; a Democrat, in fact. Who was elected to a total of four terms, from 1971 to 1977, and again from 1987 to 1995. It can’t have been…

Bank Swallow, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Chevak, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Bank Swallow


Yep, another swallow. This one more correctly named, because uniquely among Alaska swallows, it excavates a nesting cavity in a dirt bank. The Bank Swallow’s scientific name – Riparia riparia – neatly describes its preference for nesting in the lakeside and streamside (riparian) banks and bluffs of lakes, rivers and streams. This is a highly social land-bird with a Holarctic…

Niven and Pournelle: Escape from Hell


WC’s parents had a 1948 edition of the White translation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, the one with the Doré engravings. Those engravings were dark, gruesome and vivid; they were fascinating to a teenager, and sucked WC in to Dante’s great work. And demonstrated to WC that the first book of The Divine Comedy, “Inferno,” was by far the most…

Software Patent Troll (Not to Scale)

Patent Troll Update: Another One Bites the Dust


It’s been a while since WC excoriated a patent troll. There’s a company in East Texas – the jurisdiction famously most friendly to patent trolls – called eDekka, LLC. eDekka has exactly one asset: US Patent No. 6,266,674. The ‘674 patent was filed in 1992, and it was granted to a man named Donald Hejna in 2001. He assigned it to eDekka.…

Groupthink in action

Alaska Legislature Guzzling Its Own Kool Aid™


The phrase “Drinking their own Kool Aid” appears to have originated from the Christianist tragedy in Guyana, where members of James Warren Jones’ “Peoples’ Church” cult committed mass suicide, drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid™. More than 900 died.1 Today, the connotative meaning, at least in North America, means a person or group holding an unquestioned belief, argument,…

The Donald Acting Out (David Becker/Getty Images)

The Donald’s Neglected Bible Studies: Hosea 8-7


The Donald’s dubious Biblical skills have triggered outright laughter at some of his efforts to ape Christianity. But whatever his level of Biblical knowledge, he clearly neglected the prophet Hosea, who wrote, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Or perhaps he read it and failed to take it to heart.…

(Not a Selfie)

You Want Old? WC Has Old


It’s been a long time since WC wallowed in pure science geekery. And what better excuse than the discovery of GN-z11? What? You haven’t heard of GN-z11? It’s only the oldest thing there is. So far, at least. Remember that light, in a vacuum, never travels faster than 186,000 miles per second. So when astronomers look at…

Tree Swallow, Creamer's Refuge, Fairbanks

Bird of the Week – Tree Swallow


Another seriously mis-named species, WC regrets to report. Despite the name, the Tree Swallow has little to do with trees and everything to do with open fields, meadows and swamps. Like its fellow Swallows, it’s an insectivore, a bug eater. Specifically flying bugs. And in Alaska, that means gnats and mosquitoes. Like Cliff Swallows, these…