Mike Dunleavy, Alaska's governor, Bog help us

The Very Best Pond Scum


Another Governor from Wasilla. What could possibly go wrong? Well, he could pick a bucket of pond scum to fill positions in his administration. Like Lt. Governor-elect Kevin Meyer (R, Conoco-Philips). Alaskans can count of Meyers to put the interests of Alaskans above the interests of Big Oil, you betcha. We can be pretty sure…

Wind wins, with solar coming in second. Coal is unchanged while nuclear got more expensive.

Another Nail in Coal’s Coffin


One of the best ways to measure the cost of generating electricity is to divide the cost by the megawatt hours and life of the plant. By that measure, solar power is now the least expensive way to generate electricity. Even with the cost of storage – solar power doesn’t work in the night time,…

Turbulent flow from a candle

Some Turbulence Ahead


Richard Feynman in 1970 described turbulence as the most important unsolved problem of classical physics. Sir Horace Lamb (in a speech to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1932) said that “when I die and go to heaven there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics, and the…

Aerial Photo, Umiat, Alaska c. 1963

Case Study: The Umiat Mess


Umiat is located in the foothills of the Brooks Range in Alaska, southwest of Prudhoe Bay, in what used to be called Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4. From 1945 to 1954, the U.S. Navy constructed facilities at Umiat for oil and gas exploration purposes. Improvements included living quarters, mess hall, latrines, shops, powerhouse, office, storage, and…

Walt Handelsman, The Advocate, October 15, 2018

Of Course Trump Believes the Crown Prince


It’s hard for WC to understand why anyone is surprised President Trump says he believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Of course he believes the Crown Prince’s denials that he ordered the murder of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Think about it: this is Trump’s fantasy, acted out in real life. You don’t like a journalist? Have him…

Obsolescent form of the OED

WOTY


The Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year for 2018 is toxic. No, wait, that’s confusing. The word of the year is the adjective “toxic.” The Word of the Year isn’t itself toxic. “Toxic” joins “youthquake” (lame), “post-truth,” “vape” and “selfie,” all recent  Oxford Dictionary Words of the Year. Prior winners also include “refudiate,” a Palinism,…

William Goldman at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009. He was attending a screening of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” one of two films for which he won the Academy Award.CreditCreditJoe Kohen/WireImage, via Getty Images

William Goldman Dead? Inconceivable!


William Goldman, novelist and screenwriter, died in Manhattan this past Friday. He was 87 years old.1 Vizzini: Inconceivable! Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. While he won Academy Awards for his screenplays for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men,” and…

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker speaks to state and local law enforcement officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Some Notes on Matthew Whitaker


Not since Richard Nixon appointed Mudge, Rose bond lawyer John N. Mitchell as his attorney general have we had someone in that office as patently unqualified as Matthew Whitaker. Nixon appointed Mitchell because Mitchell had been his campaign chair and played a major role in sabotaging the 1968 Vietnam Paris Peace Accords, President Johnson’s effort…

Blue-banded Toucanet, East Slope of the Andes, Peru

Return of Bird of the Week: Toucanets


There is another family of big-billed birds, although their bills are slightly smaller than Toucans. They are called, appropriately enough, Toucanets. In WC’s experience, these smaller birds are shyer than their bigger cousins, and even more likely to skulk in dense foliage. While Toucanets are reportedly generalists, eating a wide variety of fruits and nuts,…

Mitch McConnell, photographer unknown

Hypocrisy Hall of Fame: The Next 2018 Nominee


This one isn’t even close, and he threatens to run away with the 2018 trophy: Ol’ Turkey Neck himself, Senator Addison Mitchell “Mitch” McConnell Jr. (R, Chutzpah), the U.S. Senate Majority Leader. Senator McConnell wrote an opinion piece – for Fox News, of course – headlined “Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics…

Justin Schneider in court, photographer unknown

Message Received


WC’s analysis of the sentence imposed on sexual pervert Justin Schneider criticized both the District Attorney for under-charging the perp and the trial judge for approving the plea bargain. WC suggested that “a thoughtful voter will need to decide whether or not to vote to retain Judge Corey as a Superior Court Judge when he…

Donald Trump, photo by Vic Berger

A Trump Lexicon: The Fourth Update


The midterm elections and the fallout from the elections have brought a whole new batch of words and phrases from President Trump that require translation or explication. New additions to this work in progress appear at the top of the list. Our President uses language in strange and unusual ways. Notably, he often uses the…

Discovery image of AT2018cow – nicknamed The Cow by astronomers – acquired by the ATLAS telescopes. Image via Stephen Smartt/ATLAS.

Watching the COW Come Home


The COW in this case is a star – well, the remnants of a star – in a galaxy called CGCG 137-068. It’s about 200 million light years away. And COW is a stellar anomaly, something new in the heavens, whose light and other radiation is just now reaching us here on Earth. COW – technically,…

Happy 100th Birthday, Pops


WC’s father was born on Armistice Day, the day World War I ended. What’s now called Veteran’s Day. This would have been his 100th Birthday. He died in 1987, not even 70 years old, killed by his bad habits – smoking, excessive drinking, overweight and a stubborn refusal to deal with serious hypertension. His two…