Lukis Nighswonger appears in court via video for his arraignment on charges of sexual abuse of a minor Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 in Palmer. Nighswonger was a teacher at Iditarod Elementary School and is accused of abusing students there. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Tales from Wasilla: The Wasilla Police Department Screwed Up Big Time


The Anchorage Daily News reports that an 8-year old boy came forward in 2012 to report he had been sexually abused by a teacher, Lukis Nighswonger. The Wasilla Police Department now says it investigated those allegations, concluded there was insufficient evidence to support criminal charges, and closed the investigation. According to the News, “There’s so many things we…

Relative frequency of once-in-five-year precipitation events falling over a 2-day period, averaged over the continental U.S, 1901-2012. Green bars in recent decades show these events have become more frequent, when averaged across much of the country. SOURCE National Climate Assessment (U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2014)

The Thing about 100-Year Floods


A 100-Year Flood, of course, is an extreme flooding event that happens, on average, only once every 100 years. A hydrologist would describe it as a “recurrence interval” or talk about an “annual exceedance probability (AEP).” The recurrence interval can change. If the stream basin is altered, say by urbanization or wildfire, then less rain…

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 25: (L-R) Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler (L) listens to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai testify before the House Judiciary Committee about Internet regulation in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill March 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. Wheeler faced a tough line of questioning from the committee's Republicans about the FCC's recent move to regulate broadband Internet service like a utility using Title II of the Communications Act. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ajit Pai: Still the Lies


WC has pointed out earlier than Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai is a documented serial liar. Well, he’s still at it, but this time he’s made the mistake of taking on the New York Times. The Times made a Freedom of Information Request to the FCC, seeking the FCC’s web server logs for the dates around…

The Next Shock to Human Vanity


We thought we were the center of the universe, that everything spun around us. Tycho and Galileo proved heliocentrism, that the sun, not the Earth, is the epicenter of our solar system. We thought the sun was the only star, the center of creation. It turned out that Sol was a minor star among billions…

Justin Schneider in court, photographer unknown

Some Notes on Justin Schneider


Justin Schneider, for readers outside of Alaska, is a 34-year old Eagle River, Alaska man. He assaulted an Alaska Native woman. He picked her up at a gas station in Midtown Anchorage, He told he’d drive her to her boyfriend’s house, Instead, he drove her to a secluded area, attacked her, choked her until she…

Lowering the top of the west fork

Witness to the Execution


Readers may recall that the large Silver Maple across the street from WC’s house had received a death warrant. The execution occurred today. First, a reminder of just how big this tree was. It was likely more than 100-110 years old and more than 100 feet tall. But it was deemed a hazard. And likely…

Horse Blinkers for Everyone


Back in May 2014, WC wrote on this blog: An American football field is 6,400 square yards. That’s 8,294,400 square inches. But a Creationist who subscribes to Bishop Ussher‘s calculation of the age of the earth would focus exclusively on about 11 square inches in one corner of the football field – about 3.3 inches on a side…

Machete Ridge, one of the Pinnacles in Pinnacles National Park, California

Yes, Mountains Do Move


Old jokes about Muhammad and the mountain aside, mountains do move. WC was quite recently a visitor to a mountain that has moved some 190 miles. True, the mountain has taken some 22-23 million years to move that far. It’s also true that only about two-thirds of the mountain made the trip; the other third,…

Sooty Shearwaters, Monterey Bay, California

Notes on Pelagic Birding


The incredible diversity of birds includes pelagic species, birds that spend most of their lives far out over the ocean, coming to land only to nest and raise their kids. When you consider that some 71% of the earth’s surface is ocean, it makes sense. The adaptations required for ocean-dwelling are impressive: you have to…

From left, Paul Manafort, former campaign chairman for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, and Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer. (Photographers not known)

The Best People, the Very Best


Donald Trump promised us his administration would hire “the best people, the very best. Not the biggest donors or biggest supporters.” As a service to readers, WC provides this summary table of how that’s working out. Note this is only a partial list. As investigations proceed, WC will update this from time to time. Name…

By The New York Times | Sources: Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (U.S. government data); FDD’s The Long War Journal (analysts’ data) Notes: U.S. government data is as of May 15, 2018, and analysts’ data is as of May 16, 2018. District boundaries are as of 2014.

Vietnam Redux: The War in Afghanistan


It’s been seventeen years since George W. Bush ordered the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. 2,200 Americans have died in an effort to oust Muslim extremists from the “Graveyard of Empires.”1 The war isn’t going well for the U.S. So the United States is lying about it. The sense of deja vu is overwhelming and deeply concerning.…

The first discovery of a pulsar, a rotating, radio wave-emitting neutron star, 1967

Nobel Science and Sexism: Four Instances


As recently as the end of World War II, science and scientists were a gentleman’s club, and women need not apply. WC mentions this because terrific astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell received a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics this week. Just 51 years after her discovery of pulsars; just 40 years after her colleague, Anthony…

The source of the leak on the International Space Station. Source: NASA TV

Hanlon’s Razor and Human Behavior


WC wants to introduce his readers – especially those inclined to see a conspiracy behind every tree – to an analytical principle, Hanlon’s Razor. There’s a vigorous debate about the recent pressure leak on the International Space Station. It wasn’t a catastrophic leak. But unresolved it would have depressurized the entire space station over the…

Dirt bike tracks on lichen-encrusted rock along Lick Creek Road

Another Reason WC Loathes Dirt Bikes


WC has been complaining about dirt bikes for years, especially dirt bikes tearing through the wilderness. However much fun it may be for the folks riding the dirty, noisy and destructive machines, it is a use that precludes pretty much any other use. With noise levels at or above 100dB, they scare away any wildlife.…

North American Beaver, Page Springs, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon

Notes on Castor Canadensis


One spring evening in 1992, WC’s elkhound, Max, was barking his fool head off in his chain-link fenced run. Thinking it was yet another moose, WC went out to get the mutt. There was no moose. But suddenly something struck the other side of the base of that chain-link fence hard, rattling the length of…