How to Deal with a Criminal


One of WC’s Facebook friends, JW,1 saw this alarming story on FaceBook, and asked WC to comment on it. The story isn’t hers; it comes from a FaceBook person WC doesn’t know, KM. WC sets KM’s post out here, exactly as posted to FaceBook: Girls never open your door to anyone!!! I live in the…

"A signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property"

4th of July 2020


It’s not disrespect for the flag. It’s expressly permitted by federal law. 36 U.S.C. §176(a): “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” If you do not think the country is in dire distress, you haven’t been…

The Donald Acting Out (David Becker/Getty Images)

Donnie and the Delauter Effect


Donald Trump is a bully. The latest proof of that is his and his family’s lawsuit against his niece, Mary Trump, who in the very finest traditions of the Trump family, has written a tell-all book about growing up in that dysfunctional Trump family. No doubt it will be chock-full of salacious tidbits that our…

Violet Sabrewing, Costa Rica

Return of Bird of the Week: Violet Sabrewing


Another stunningly beautiful hummingbird, to which WC’s photo doesn’t begin to do justice. A gem of purple, blue and green, with a strongly decurved bill, this is another ridiculously colorful hummingbird. It’s also Central America’s largest hummingbird, measuring 15 centimeters (a little over 5.25 inches). Unlike most hummingbirds, male Sabrewings compete for females on a…

View of Okmok's ash plume emitting from multiple vents near intracaldera Cone D, taken at about 1:30 pm on August 3, 2008 by Jessica Larsen, Alaska Volcano Observatory, Geophysical Institute

Oh, Sure, Blame Alaska


Now Alaska is being blamed for the fall of the Roman Republic. Sheesh. WC doesn’t remember that being discussed at all Edward Gibbon’s classic Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. . An environmental researcher named Joe McConnell and his colleagues examining ice cores from northern Greenland found volcanic ash and sulfuric acid in ice layers laid…

PG&E Logo

This Capitalism Catastrophe Is Brought to You by PG&E


Natural monopolies make lousy for-profit businesses. Natural monopolies that are also critical service providers are the worst. PG&E – northern California’s Pacific Gas & Electric – would be Exhibit A. PG&E is a natural monopoly. It’s pretty difficult to have two or more competing electric utilities in the same region. You can’t have two or…

James Wickersham, 1916

Changes Coming to Wickersham’s Conscience


There will be some changes coming to Wickersham’s Conscience over the next few weeks and months. What happened is that WC’s free WordPress plan ran out of storage space. Yes, WC has been writing this blog since November 2008 using WordPress’s free plan. Well, it was “free” to WC but WordPress makes money on the…

Hell's Canyon from the Oregon Side. The Seven Devils Mountains are in the background. The gorge is visible just to the right of trees, but not the Snake River

Geology 101: The Columbia River Basalt Group


WC’s Geomorphology instructor, a visiting professor from Columbia University, told WC’s Geomorphology class on the first day, “There is some really intereting geology in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, it’s all buried under thousands of feet of basalt.” That’s a slight exaggeration, but when you stand at the Hell’s Canyon Overlook, above the Snake River Gorge,…