Laurie and John DeWitt, Hell's Canyon, Idaho, September 2016

R.I.P. Laurie DeWitt, 1952-2020


WC lost his sister-in-law, his brother’s wife, Laurie DeWitt, yesterday. She was a sweet, smart, wonderful woman and the world is a poorer and darker with her gone. She fought a six year battle with lung cancer that had spread throughout her entire body before it was even discovered. Throughout that struggle, she showed unimaginable…

Fred Singer in an undated photo. A physicist, he argued that the threat of climate change was overblown and the effects of global warming would be largely beneficial.Credit...The Independent Institute

D.N.R.I.P. Fred Singer, 1924-2020


WC is going to break his promise to cut down on the obituaries, because this is a guy WC is genuinely glad to know is dead. He worked immense harm for more than thirty years, serving as an expert whore, spreading non-science and confusion to the highest bidder. WC first learned of S. Fred Singer…

John Prine performing at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. Prine, 2019 (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

R.I.P. John Prine, 1946-2020


This one hurts. This one hurts a lot. John Prine was a treasure. From his extraordinary self-titled debut album to Tree of Forgiveness, his last, he was a superb songwriter. He was a terrific live act, too: WC saw him live 10-12 times, from the very start of his career at Chicago’s Quiet Knight, to a…

Bob Shane, left, with other members of the Kingston Trio — John Stewart, center, and Nick Reynolds — in Hollywood in 1967. The group spearheaded a folk revival in the late 1950s. Mr. Shane, Mr. Reynolds and Dave Guard were the original members; Mr. Stewart replaced Mr. Guard in 1961.Credit...Associated Press

R.I.P. Bob Shane, 1934-2020


The Kingston Trio was the first live, national act WC ever saw. It was in 1965, in Seattle, at an auditorium on the University of Washington campus. The Trio was probably past its prime by then. Founding member Dave Guard had left, replaced by the very talented John Stewart. The gold and platinum albums had…

Gahan Wilson on Religion

R.I.P. Gahan Wilson, 1930-2019


Gahan Wilson had been in poor health for some time; back in March, his son-in-law ran a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for advanced dementia care. But it’s still a blow to know he has died. The Master of the Macabre has left the building. Over a fifty year career, he was published in pretty…

Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, 2005 (U.S. Supreme Court official photo)

R.I.P. John Paul Stevens, 1920-2019


Professor Stevens, in WC’s Appellate Law and Procedure class back in law school, told us, “Federal judges have no constituency, and thus have a duty to respect the legitimate policy choices made by those who do.” At the time Professor Stevens was a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and his course was…

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 &…

Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush, right, and his running mate, Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.), wave to the assembly of the Republican National Convention in New Orleans after delivering their acceptance speeches. J. Scott Applewhite/ASSOCIATED PRESS

George H.W. Bush: A Modest Dissent


WC agrees that, at least  in comparison to the current Republican president, the late George H. W. Bush was a pretty decent POTUS. But that’s damning with faint praise. And all the praise for his service following his death was largely earned. But it’s also another example of Americans habit of collective amnesia when interring…