What Firefighting Taught Me About COVID


Once, I was an IC4 (Incident Commander (4).  Well, as a mere title and qualification, that was one I held until leaving my seasonal work with the Bureau of Land Management, and I suppose it is valid even now, nearly 20 years later.  But I was an acting Incident Commander (4) for about 16 hours in 2005, as a 23-year-old newlywed in my 5th year of wildland firefighting.  That was never intended as a career, and I certainly never treated it as a career.  But I figured out a few things pretty early on.  There is a good amount of downtime in wildland firefighting, a job that depends on the weather, but always keeps you hanging around (and paid) just in case you’re needed.  A lot of that time is spent doing odd jobs, which is great for a Montana kid who is fairly well-rounded; we put up fencing, we framed buildings and hung drywall, we did forest-thinning projects.  Sometimes we just drove around “keeping an eye on things.”

In my second year, I was on a truck with a friend who was an economics and mathematics double-major in college (he earned his Ph.D. in economics and is now an econ professor); I had bounced around a bit too much, having a partial pre-med degree, a partial engineering degree, all rounded out with a few years of intensive history and literature (emphasizing Russian history) to earn a bachelor’s of science in the vaguely named “liberal studies.”  From an engineering school.  That year, the friend and I spent a good deal of time discussing each others’ areas of study.  He worked on reading my copy of The Gulag Archipelago while I worked on reading his copy of Human Action, and we spent hours discussing these topics.  We also spent a lot of time joking.  With a sense of humor that resonated with some, but which tended to go over like a lead balloon among some of the more serious career bureaucrats (as you can imagine from the two mentioned books, we both tended pretty strongly libertarian).

Ricochet editors Jon Gabriel and Bethany Mandel discuss the news of the week along with Ricochet members who joined the Zoom call. We talked about the unrest in Jerusalem, Biden’s reversal on unemployment, vaccines for ages 12 to 16, and the woke outrage at motherhood.

Are you making your life harder than it needs to be? Satisfaction is one of the key macronutrients of happiness, but it can prove elusive. And it’s easy to burn out chasing it, and inventing more and more wants in our lives. Can we escape this phenomenon? In this episode, Arthur is joined by New York Times bestselling author Greg McKeown to discuss his latest bestseller, Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most. Together, they share some practical advice for living more effortlessly, while doing more of what matters and finding the true satisfaction that we seek.

Join The Art of Happiness Circle of Friends!

This week, Rob explains the relationship between a classroom of vomiting kids and actors over-botoxing themselves. Yes, there is one. Really.


The results of the elections are in: The Tories increase their Parliamentary majority with a by-election win in Hartlepool, the SNP came up short of a majority in Scotland and Lozza lost both his race and his deposit. James and Toby have plenty of analysis.

We then turn to Auntie Beeb’s “hug” expert, they debate who will be more sorry in five years time, and just what exactly does “Build Back Better” really mean?

We Were a Community of People. Now We’re a Society of Tribes.


A friend of mine is remodeling a bathroom for somebody in Zanesville, Ohio.  He found some newspapers under the floor from 1992.  He posted this picture on Facebook, of the daily newspaper column listing the local hospital admissions and discharges.  Complete with the patients’ home addresses, so you could go visit or bring them flowers or food or something. Keep in mind: that was 29 years ago.

And then ten years ago, if you walked up to the front desk to ask if your friend was in the hospital, they would tell you that they were not allowed to release that information.  And now, if a wife goes to visit her dying husband, they won’t let her in the door because of COVID.  And so, he dies alone.  It seems like a minor point, how we handle our sick friends and neighbors.  But our society is changing, rapidly.  As the modern tribal left takes over, our society becomes more fragmented and hostile, and less community-oriented.  Less human.  This is hard to watch.

I would write a full post about it, to explore the idea in more depth.  But it’s too depressing.  I miss America.

May 9: A Day to Remember My Father


A few days ago a post about Great Courses reminded me that one of the Great Courses had led me to the Blasket Island Writers and then to a visit to the Great Blasket Island on 1 May 2019. I had recently written a post on it for another forum and thought I should polish it up a little and post it here as a May topic. It would be easy, and I would get it posted on time. Unfortunately, after I had already committed to writing a post for May 9, I remembered that I had already done that topic here.

What to do? What to do? May 9 is a big holiday in Russia, marking the end of the War in Europe. Here in the United States V-E day is May 8, but the time zone difference made it May 9 in Russia. But I don’t have anything to tell about that topic, other than to note that a young woman vlogger from Russia was recently complaining that International Woman’s Day had degenerated from a celebration of progressive Feminist Ideals to a generic celebration of women and femininity, and Victory Day (May 9) had degenerated to a generic masculine men’s day.

I Was a Student Journalist – For a Day, At Least


On April 28th, 1976, I arrived at school and heard very disturbing news: Our school principal, Mr. Tauzer, had just died of a heart attack. I was a ninth-grader at Comstock Junior High School (a 7th – 9th-grade school) and was co-editor of the school newspaper, the Premier ’70. My journalism teacher, Mr. Stockman, told us that he wanted us to put a paper that covered the principal’s death and life.

Usually, the news of our paper was reporting on sports, student council meetings, paper drives, dances, and I would write snarky satirical articles about the faculty (usually greatly reined in by our advisor) but for this paper, we would be writing about something that actually mattered.  Over several days our staff went to work reporting and writing. But on May 7, 1976, we had to put the paper out. Along with my co-editor, Rene Sanchez, I was excused from all other classes for the day as we worked to put the paper out. Our staff had interviewed staff and students and even some of the principal’s neighbors to put the stories together. But that day we had to edit those stories, do the layout, print up the paper, and distribute the paper to the sixth-period classes.

Ayaan talks with Dana Perino about career advice for young women and how she always remains positive. Dana shares stories about growing up in Wyoming, her career choices throughout her life, and her latest book, Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons from Young Women (from a Former Young Woman).

Dana Perino is co-host of one of the most popular shows on cable television, Fox News’ The Five, co-anchor of America’s Newsroom, and an analyst for Fox News election coverage & specials.

The Indirect (Sneaky) Vaccine Mandate in Pennsylvania


You know the line that every child has been told: You may go out and play if you eat all your vegetables. 

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has declared that everyone must continue masking up until 70 percent of the population aged 18 and older get vaccinated.  I believe the figure now stands at about 50 percent. We’ll see whether it flatlines.

The 1941 Project


The true history of WW2 begins in 1941, when the Nazis attacked the blameless and unsuspecting nation of the USSR – the English translation is FBNS, or “Flawed but Noble Socialists.”

Be Sure to Flag Flagg



Historian and Ricochetian Flagg Taylor has just started a marvelous new podcast, “Enduring Interest.” His subject on each episode: A book of permanent value that has become overlooked or forgotten. In this first episode, Flagg talks with fellow historian Jacob Howland about Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We,” the 1920 novel that was suppressed in Russia then smuggled to the West, in where it was published in 1924.

Pavlov’s RINO


Gerry Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney …   Jeff Flake, John Kasich … Liz Cheney … the gOp has never lacked for someone willing to take the milquetoast, mushy middle lane that has too often led the party. A complete bunch of losers with ego and vanity that has no limit. Their desire to be well thought of, by all, ‘trumps’ every other emotion and purpose for them.

So Liz Cheney is merely the most recent of a long line of extremely vain losers. Get back in line girlfriend, you aren’t so special. And your memory is rotten. Do you not remember what your ‘good friends across the aisle’ did to your father?!

Black Mothers Matter


For decades, the burden of fear and grief occasioned by murder and maiming has fallen disproportionately on black mothers and grandmothers. Somehow this has not been of great concern to civil rights groups and leaders. Black lives snuffed out by the local extensions or agents of transnational criminal enterprises apparently do not matter to millionaire athletes, and are at best inconvenient to the Marxist millionaires and parlor pink billionaires behind Black Lives Matter. There are no massive marches to take back the streets, to demonstrate solidarity against the gangs. It took President Trump to finally move federal authorities to seriously target the most dangerous habitual criminals and the organizations that terrorize our fellow Americans into silence.

President Trump’s play to do well by doing real good was an existential threat to the Democratic Party and the congressional RepubliCAN’T leadership, so 2020 had to be worked the way it was. Despite their worst efforts, truth has slipped through, pointing to gains in votes, not so much because black men respected his image of strength, but because black women, along with Hispanic and Latina women, shifted significantly to support the reelection of a Republican president. He had spent his first term hammering away at jobs, better jobs, sentencing reform, and security on American city streets. He enthusiastically welcomed black women to speak to the nation from the White House. He demanded justice for grieving black mothers whose children had been gunned down, lining up federal officials and commanding them to speak and act decisively with the considerable weight of ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshal, FBI, and DOJ resources applied in Operation Legend.

Quote of the Day: From the Book of Judges


. . . The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, “Reign over us.” But the olive tree said to them, “Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?” And the trees said to the fig tree, “You come and reign over us.” But the fig tree said to them, “Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?” And the trees said to the vine, “You come and reign over us.” But the vine said to them, “Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?” Then all the trees said to the bramble, “You come and reign over us.” And the bramble said to the trees, “If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”

–Jotham, son of Gideon, protesting the murder of his brothers and the crowning of his brother Abimelech as king in Judges 9, ESV

Liz Cheney: Fingernails on a Chalkboard?


You can’t possibly be as tired as I am at listening to and watching the media push Rep. Liz Cheney around like a woman in the center of a dodge ball game. As she becomes the only one left standing, she’s clearly not the winner, and it’s annoying and could be destructive to the Republican Party’s future.

Cheney is apparently prepared to play this fiddle as long as she can. She seems enraptured by The Big Lie, and every time the media asks her about it, she continues to embarrass herself. And I can’t figure out what she is trying to accomplish.

Is she determined to win this verbal/media war with Trump, at the risk of alienating her colleagues in the House?

COVID and India


It’s fair to say that India is not doing well with the virus. Official numbers tell us that we currently have 400,000 new infections diagnosed per day, and 4,000 daily deaths due to COVID 19. The official numbers are contested:

“The figures on Covid infections that the government is releasing are actually an underestimate,” Dr Manas Gumta, general secretary of the Association of Health Service Doctors in West Bengal, told the Observer.

Quote of the Day: Generation of Humanity


“If allowed to continue, objectification might draw the man to engage in conversation with the woman with the aim of taking her on a series of dates, which might then lead to a sexual encounter that could then become a long-term relationship and even culminate in a marriage that produces children and thus burdens the woman with the uniquely essential and gratifying task of shaping a new generation of humanity in the hallowed and elevated role of motherhood for which untold descendants may one day rise up and call her blessed.

And we wouldn’t want that.

Feminists are very opposed to objectification. Fortunately, feminists are rarely objectified themselves. But they’ve heard about it and they say it sounds dreadful and they would never, ever want it to happen to them.”

Answering a Floral Mayday (M-1)


There is a reason I’ve been delaying this piece until the floral mania is over.  This was not a normal M-Day, this was basically a floral mayday call.  The reason will become rapidly apparent if you have read my previous posts.

This year, the crew was the Steel Rose; lead florist and fearless leader, Silence; IT guy and assistant manager (and son of Steel Rose), a new assistant florist from a family of florists – let’s call her Bumblebee, myself, and an old friend of mine and coworker, who is a safety professional and ordained minister – let’s call him the Rev.  We also had a former bank teller for half a day Thursday.   That’s it.  The bottled water delivery guy who offered to show up was a no-show.  This was the leanest crew they had ever run with – the Rev and I did 90% of the deliveries.

An Evening in Free America


Our fire department usually has two fundraising events each year, a dance and dinner on the second Saturday in May and a Fish Fry on the last weekend in October.  Due to COVID limits, we canceled both last year.  The arrival of two coincidentally timely grants kept us from having to curtail any of our normal purchasing.  We decided last month to go ahead and hold our event (2020 was the first time in 43 years that we hadn’t had our annual dance).  As we suspected, people were so ready for live music and food that our crowd was huge.  We served every bit of food, the dance floor was packed and attendees were extra generous in bidding on our auction items.

That’s several hundred pounds of beef brisket.  Our dance hall was built in the 1920s and was deeded to the fire department 40 years ago.  The girls are granddaughters of older department members and carry auction items around for the crowd to review before bidding.  Note how it’s safe to let the little ones crawl around the dance floor.  We serve an area of 43 square miles with about 3300 residents.  Literally, two people walked up to the line with masks on and then removed them.

Adventure in the Roaring Forties


Jack Pembroke is a Royal Navy officer badly injured during the Dunkirk evacuation, now assigned to command a minesweeping flotilla in South Africa. Emil Falk commands a Nazi auxiliary cruiser – a disguised and armed merchantman conducting commerce raiding far from Europe.

In “The Cape Raider,” a novel by Justin Fox, the two have a rendezvous in the waters between Africa and Antarctica.

Pembroke is a reluctant warrior. A member of a prominent naval family, he bucked family tradition to become a journalist in the 1930s. When World War II started, he accepted a commission in the Royal Navy, serving aboard minesweepers and destroyers.  A long recovery from battle injuries and his civilian mother’s death from bombs during the Battle of Britain led to him asking for a posting in the Union of South Africa, where his Admiral father is stationed

“Two Full Glasses, That’s a Lot”


pepsi best adPepsi-Cola hits the spot
Two full glasses, that’s a lot
Why take less when Pepsi’s best?

Listening to Counterspy, an old time radio program from the 1940s and 1950s, I was gradually struck by the sponsor’s advertising campaign. Pepsi was the sponsor for several years, and their big pitch in the context of World War II and post-war belt-tightening was that Pepsi was more economical than the unnamed competitors, Coca-Cola and its distinctive bottle first and foremost. Pepsi’s big idea, their play? The original super-sized packaging, the 12-ounce bottle.

The jingles and the script repeatedly pointed to 12 ounces as two servings. That seems strange to us today, but that is because our glassware, our tumblers, our mugs, have grown to accommodate larger portions over the decades. Consider that Coke was mostly purchased in a 6.5-ounce bottle. That was a serving. Think about airlines when they served you cold drinks in plastic cups, the same cups found at the bar of any catered party. Fill the glass with ice and pour soda over the ice. You are getting about half a 12-ounce can.

How Not to Win Friends and Influence People: Noa Tishby


red green capitalI wanted to like Noa Tishby. I was prepared to hear her out as a courageous voice in Hollywood and a potential cobelligerent against the new Red-Green alliance.* I value Scott Johnson’s opinions in the main, having followed PowerLine Blog since they eviscerated Dan Rather’s attempt to steal the 2004 election with a blatantly fraudulent story about George W. Bush’s Texas Air Guard service record. Scott recommended readers to “meet Noa Tishby.” So, I read Robert Sarner’s Times of Israel profile “Israeli actress Noa Tishby’s ‘Simple Guide’ to Israel shakes up US progressives.” So far so good. Then, I followed the link to Matt Lewis’s long-form web video interview of Noa Tisby on the new book she reportedly wrote entirely on her own, Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth. Sad.

I embed, you go watch and decide, then come back to check my opinion. Or read on and then go check my assessment against the tape. By way of warning, this was not safe for younger children’s ears. This is so for all too many web-exclusive videos. She asks the profanity question, common these days as a “mind if I smoke” question used to be. Once the cursing/smoking light is on, the filter comes off, especially late in the interview when she talks about being a woman in Hollywood with “Weinstein” being the daily norm for decades.