Something for Nothing

My grandfather warned me a long time ago that: “You can’t get something for nothing,” which always sounded like an unassailable bit of wisdom pulled from Stonewall Jackson’s Book of Maxims. But grandad wasn’t around for the invention of Bitcoin. Bitcoin, if you don’t know, is a digital commodity invented by a cryptologist whose real ...

Ed O’Farrell’s Midnight Ride

On a recent research trip into the Nevada outback, Nugget News editor Jim Cornelius and I had occasion to stop for a few minutes in Silver Lake, Oregon–to pay our respects at a monument in the local cemetery. Ten feet high, unprepossessing, the monument was erected in 1898, to remember the victims of Oregon’s most ...

A Meditation, With Horses

We don’t make as much of Christmas anymore. Each year the tree gets smaller and we put up fewer lights. It isn’t that we’ve lost the spirit of the thing.  Mostly, we just fall behind the season. We aren’t alone.  By mid-May the last of the late Christmas cards usually trickle in, bloodstained and dusty, ...

Dawn of the Drones

There has been an interesting conversation going on all around me that I haven’t been paying enough attention to. The topic is drones, drone technology, and the growing group of accomplished and fanatical pilots who fly them. Most of us are probably aware of drones in one form or fashion; we know that the military ...

Steal This Column

The real crux of the word-ban issue at CDC isn’t that the words are “banned.” They aren’t, not really, and as of this morning there are no credible reports of bonfires on Capitol Hill fueled by the ritual tomecide of policy manuals. Officially, the words are merely “discouraged.” What’s most troubling is the rationale put ...

When the Wolf Comes to Town

Few topics in wildlife conservation are as fundamentally polarizing and explosive as the topic of wolves. And like most subjects in our “Breaking News” zeitgeist, the hyperbole shills on all sides of the wolf issue seem to work in feverish piques, pandering to our baser emotional responses, and often ignoring outright any evidence contrary to ...

The Monkey’s Fist

If there was ever a time to examine the wisdom and efficacy of attempting to govern 320 million people as a single entity, maybe now is it. The GOP’s tax bill came in at 479 pages. It’s a safe bet that not one single professional representative—on either side of the aisle–has read the bill in ...

The Mill Party

I am sentimental about sawmills. That’s especially true around Christmas because the Sierra Pacific sawmill, at one time the second largest of its kind in the United States, was also the principal private employer where I was raised–in the sparsely populated northeastern corner of California. My stepfather worked at Sierra Pacific for over twenty years, ...

For the River, With Gratitude

One frustrating aspect of living in an outdoor paradise is the perpetually nagging notion that—no matter how much you do—you are missing out on something. That’s nowhere more true than in central Oregon, which is known worldwide as a playground for outdoor adventure: from skiing to mountain biking, from climbing to bird watching. And, of ...

A Fistful of Dollars

I’ve seen this man before. He’s Mexican, late middle-aged, soft spoken, and there is a shielded focus in his eyes that betrays the uncertainty of a life spent mostly standing over a trap door. His name is Armando. A couple of years ago, while sitting upstairs in my office working, I saw him ride down the ...

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Jack Donovan

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"Strength Through Honor"