WC should get a new photo for this recurring topic.

Following Up and Following Down: May 2016


It’s been a few months since WC made one of his irregular efforts at journalistic integrity by following up on earlier blog posts and nodding at issues that didn’t seem blogworthy earlier. If you skip a few months it turns out the list of things to cover can get a bit long. Mark Avery, municipal…

Typical GPS Navigator

Technogeekery and the Limits of GPS Technology


WC bows to no one in his love of technology. HP calculators, fancy sound systems, Apple and Macintosh computers, computer programming, digital cameras: WC has greatly enjoyed any number of 20th and 21st century technologies. Including the global positioning system or GPS technogeekery. But WC likes to think he understands the limits of technology. In…

Credit: International Union of Concerned Scientists

Lamar Smith Doubles Down


Rep. Lamar Smith (R, Denial) isn’t content to attack NOAA for doing its job. You’ll recall Rep. Smith said, An example of how this administration promotes its suspect climate agenda can be seen at the National Oceanographic [sic] and Atmospheric Administration. Its employees altered historical climate data to get politically correct results in an attempt to…

Paul Simon at Outlaw Field, Idaho Botanical Garden

An Evening with Paul Simon


No one has been better at combining a pop music sensibility with world music than Paul Simon. Simon and his excellent band gave the enthusiastic crowd at the Botanical Garden a tour of his extensive songbook Monday night. It was a pleasure and a delight. The band was a little ragged at the start, but over…

Popeye the Sailor Man, © Bud Sagendorf 1957, King Features

Dealing with Uncertain Certainties


On of WC’s favorite professors, Dom LaRusso, tried to hammer the tools for critical thinking into WC’s head. It was LaRusso’s thesis, tracing back to Cicero, that a good citizen had to be able to think critically and explain his positions on issues persuasively. To illustrate the importance of critical thinking, LaRusso pointed to Popeye. Popeye, for…

Source: Mike Webb Facebook Page

Mike Webb and the Dunning-Kruger Effect


From time to time the world wide web serves up an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect that is to perfect that WC simply cannot pass it by. Meet Mike Webb, a self-styled conservative Republican candidate for Congress. Candidate Webb wanted to show what the voters what a businessman he was. He posted to his Facebook page…

Merlin, Denali Highway, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Merlin


Here’s another falcon, slightly smaller than last week’s Peregrine Falcon. The Merlin is a remarkably fierce predator; WC has watched them kill and fly off with birds as large as a Lesser Yellowlegs. An adult female Merlin weighs  about 8.5 ounces; a Lesser Yellowlegs weighs about 3 ounces. That’s 40% of the Merlin’s weight. Merlins…

Sandhill Cranes and Rainbow, Creamer's Refuge, Alaska

Rainbow


We’ll finish messing with the spectrum with a few photos involving rainbows. Obviously, WC could go through a lot of other colors; tanagers alone offer an amazing range of stunning colors. But the queue of other subjects is starting to build up. So we’ll wrap this thread with rainbows for now. Just below Atigun Pass…

Common Redpoll, Fairbanks

Red


For red, we have to go further afield than Camas Prairie. For red, we’ll go (mostly) to Alaska. And use a pretty broad definition of “red.” The million-acre fires in the boreal forest in 2004 and 2006, between the Tanana River and the foothills of the Brooks Range, killed uncounted millions of Black Spruce. But the next…

A wildfire on May 3 forced the evacuation of the city of Fort McMurray in the heart of Alberta’s oil sands region. Credit CBCNews, via Reuters

Fort McMurray: Bitter Fruit


Alaska has had its share of wildfires. WC sympathizes with the residents of Fort McMurray and the surrounding area, whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by the huge wildfire there. More than 700,000 acres have burned, some 2,500 residences and with the fire moving north into the oil fields, the potential for still more…

Yellowheaded Blackbird, Camas Prairie, Idaho

Yellow


It’s not only blue that is an accent color in the Spring in Camas Prairie and around Bennett Mountain; there’s also yellow. The Arrowleaf Balsamroot competes with the Camas Lilies for fields of colorful flowers. But WC mostly photographs birds, not flowers. And there the yellows range from high drama to just a tinge or…

Male Mountain Bluebird, Camas Prairie, Idaho

Blue


WC and Mrs. WC made another trip to Camas Prairie, this time to see the Camas Lilies in bloom. And, of course, any birds we chanced upon. So the theme of this post is blue. It doesn’t get much more blue than a Mountain Bluebird. But the beautiful and beautifully named Lazuli Bunting comes pretty…

Peregrine Falcon, Tanana Lakes, Fairbanks

Bird of the Week – Peregrine Falcon


It’s hard not to like the Peregrine Falcon. In many ways, it is the poster child for the environmental movement. The species was nearly extirpated by DDT and other environmental contaminants. The populations have recovered and adapted to humankind to some extent. It’s not at all unusual to see Peregrines nesting on skyscrapers in big cities,1 feeding…

Bumpersticker, Cordova, Alaska, Photographer Uknown

Cordova and the Copper River Highway


Even today you can see the bumperstickers around Cordova: There is not and never has been a road from Cordova to the rest of the world. There used to be a railroad from Cordova through Chitina to McCarthy, the Copper River & Northwestern Railroad. Cordova exists because of the railroad and the $200 million in…

The Evil of Closed Sessions


The Alaska Legislature is still hard at work. For a given definition of “hard” and “work.” The Legislature is now in day 114 of its 90 day session and has yet to address any of the major financial crises facing the State of Alaska. One or another of the Republican majority-controlled houses will meet from time to…

Red Knots, Egg Islands, Gulf of Alaska

A Trip to Egg Islands


Mrs. WC’s friend, Milo Burcham, was kind enough to take WC out on his boat to Egg Islands to photograph Red Knots. That probably needs some explanation. Milo Burcham is a terrific nature photographer based out of Cordova, Alaska. WC can only wish he was as good at avian photography as Milo. Egg Islands are…

Western Sandpiper Flock, Hartney Bay, Alaska

WC Is Chasing Birds


It’s a rainforest, after all. But even by rainforest standards, there’s a lot of rain. Even the Bald Eagles look pissed off. The shorebirds, especially the sandpipers are moving through the east side of Prince William Sound. They stop to rest,and feed up, before heading on to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to breed. It’s an amazing…

Senator Lisa Murkowski, Climate Change Denier (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Murkowski’s Ignorance: Add Ecology to the List


A section of the 2016 federal budget, inserted by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R, Write-In), forbids the Fish and Wildlife Service from moving cattle off Chirikof and Wosnesenski Islands in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. “Where?” you say? “Whatever,” you say? No, you should care, because it is a classic illustration of Senator Murkowski’s two most serious flaws. She assumes she is…

Eurasian Starling, Ada County, Idaho

Aliens Among Us: Eurasian Starling


New York pharmacist Eugene Schieffelin was the chairman of the American Acclimatization Society, which tried to introduce every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare into North America. Unhappily, the Eurasian Starling is mentioned in Henry IV, Part I, when the hasty and intemperate Hotspur, annoyed with King Henry because he will not ransom Hotspur’s brother-in-law, Mortimer, says: He…