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…

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…