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,…

Yellow-throated Toucan, Costa Rica

Return of Bird of the Week: Yellow-throated Toucan


Another handsome, big-billed bird. When WC photographed this bird, it was a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, but in 2009 the Chestnut-mandibled was combined with – “lumped” – the Yellow-breasted Toucan. The Chestnut-mandibled is now a subspecies. It says something about the taxonomy of Toucans that ornithologists say there are 7 to 15 species, depending on which one…

Software Patent Troll (Not to Scale)

Another Patent Troll Gone


Another patent troll has augured in. In September 2018, Shipping & Transit LLC (formerly known as ArrivalStar) filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy—voluntary liquidation. No one seems to have noticed – even WC, who tries to follow the death throes of the patent troll industry – until the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed it out on October…

American Voters Fail


America failed to repudiate Donald Trump. Sure, the Democrats flipped the U.S. House. But the House usually flips from the President’s party to opposition. But the Trump-endorsed Ted Cruz over Beto O’Rourke? An embarrassing, senile Don Young over anybody, let alone a competent, qualified Alyse Galvin. The co-author with Pete Kelly of Alaska’s extended economic malaise,…