The late Chris Cline (Photo credit: Jamel Toppin, For Forbes)

R.I.P. Chris Cline: The King of Coal


Billionaire coal baron Chris Cline was killed in a helicopter crash flying from his private island in the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale. WC is sorry for his family and the other passengers on that flight, but is having a hard time working up much sympathy for the coal baron himself. Although folks in West Virginia…

Quicksilver Messenger Service's "Happy Trails," the band's second album

R.I.P. Gary Duncan, 1946(?)-2019


You likely haven’t heard of Gary Duncan. Or the band in which he played guitar, Quicksilver Messenger Service. But QMS was the prototype psychedlic band, a mainstage act at the legendary 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and Gary Duncan was a very good guitarist in that band. In early 1969, WC’s roommate, Steve, dragged WC to…

Dr. Murray Gell-Mann in his Santa Fe Institute office, 2014. Photo credit InSightFoto

R.I.P. Murray Gell-Mann, 1929-2019


Murray Gell-Mann is the only Nobel Prize winner WC has ever taken birding. It’s true. Here’s a (lightly edited) blog post from 2009, reporting the event: WC won’t even pretend: this borders on bragging. Last Saturday WC birded with Dr. Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel-prize winning physicist, linguist, philosopher and avid birder. There wasn’t much of a…

Notes on Ken Philip


WC has written of the sad death of his friend Kenelm Philip, physicist, fellow fan of good books, programmer and, above all, astonishing lepidopterist. WC has also written of Ken’s little “surprise” for WC: Ken named WC as his executor, to WC’s consternation. There have been subsequent events that merit a blot post. First, Ken’s…

Losing Some Other Stars


Not every great musician is famous. Not every musician WC likes is a rock star. As we start the New Year, let’s remember the musicians who entertained us, even if they aren’t as famous as they might have deserved. Ray Sawyer was for many years the lead vocalist in Dr. Hook (nee Dr. Hook &…