Used car lot

Covid has changed a lot about the economy and completely turned some things upside down, such as vehicle shopping. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage: it’s always cheaper to buy a used car than a new car. It’s true, or at least it was, but not so much anymore.

The vehicle market has been completely upended by the pandemic.

My first personal experience with this came when my wagon was totaled earlier this year. I was pissed about losing that car both because I loved it and because the accident wasn’t my fault. …

Roman Ruins in Tunisia

One of the last novels written by the late, great Andre Norton, Queen of Science Fiction and Fantasy, was an alternate fantasy history novel called Empire of the Eagle. This book starts with the defeat of the mighty legions of Rome in 43 BC by the Parthians in Central Asia during the Parthian Wars and is about what happens to some of the surviving Legionnaires afterward.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that book for the past week or so. The reason should be obvious to anyone who has not been hiding under a rock.

We are not the Roman…

Saigon on top, Kabul on bottom. Even my cynical self didn’t expect history to repeat itself so closely.

Kabul has fallen. The Graveyard has claimed another victim.

America is not the first Empire to break its back on the spiny terrain of Central Asia, and I very much doubt it will be the last. I’m sure you have seen the memes by now; imperial hubris has fallen on the mountains of Afghanistan since at least the time of Alexander the Great, probably sooner. The British Empire tried not once, not twice, but three times, earning them points for tenacity (or stupidity) at least.

This was always how it was going to end.

It doesn’t take any great prognosticator…

Children’s Medicaid is the closest thing we have to universal healthcare in this country, at least in some states. Let me explain. Kids can be on Medicaid for a number of different reasons -parental income, disability, severe illness, foster care status, etc.

Despite the pretensions the U.S. harbors to the contrary, it’s a poor country and the majority of kids in many states are on either Medicaid or CHIP (a program for kids whose parents make too much for Medicaid but can’t get health insurance for them).

This means that everyone who treats kids in these states takes Medicaid. Pediatricians…

A screenshot of the temperature in Portland, Oregon on 6/28/21, taken by me.

111. 115. 112. 114. The numbers dance across my computer screen, projection and reality for a region that has never before been this hot. A region known for cool summers where most don’t have air conditioning. A region already in a drought unlike any seen for several centuries. A region prone to destructive wildfires which threaten to hit even earlier than normal this year.

It sounds unreal, like the setup to a dystopian science fiction novel, yet it is the reality for the Pacific Northwest and as far east as the Dakotas. …

“Iluka Bluff beach” by Graham Cook is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

(Yes, the Biblical-sounding title is deliberate.)

South Florida is a strange and beautiful place, caught between the land and the sea, the ocean encroaching on all sides and from below. I lived there for two years and I still miss it. Okay, I miss the climate; the constantly warm weather, the salt breeze, the parrots that lived in the tree in our front yard, plantains that sold ten for a dollar, and the bags of mangoes that got dropped on our front porch like bags of zucchinis get dropped off in other regions. I have zero nostalgia for the traffic…

Courtesy of the National Archives

Today I’m going to put on my historian’s hat and talk about some ways the U.S. Constitution could be improved. It is the founding document of our country and is hands down one of the greatest documents ever created. It created a new standard for governing that had not existed before in the world. However, that doesn’t make it sacred, and criticism is warranted. The Constitution has its flaws. (The Three-Fifths Compromise, anyone?) Some of those have already been corrected. Others still need attention and those are what I’m going to turn to today.

Any number of changes have been…

News reports about shortages are coming in just about every day. Every sector of the economy seems to have been affected. Some of the shortages can be attributed to panic buying -toilet paper last year and gasoline in the past few weeks both come to mind immediately -but others are exposing deeper flaws in our economy, from the way our supply chains are structured to our demand for insatiable, unceasing growth on a planet that, last time I checked, remained stubbornly finite.

This is how Bloomberg recently described it: “Copper, iron ore and steel. Corn, coffee, wheat and soybeans. Lumber…

Help Wanted signs are popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain. Everyone seems to be hiring at once, and many businesses are complaining about a worker shortage. Some have even had to close because they can’t find enough workers. Unemployment remains stubbornly high compared to pre-covid and even ticked up a bit in April. Is this apparent labor shortage real and if so, what’s causing it?

First, let’s address the elephant in the room, and for the moment I’m not talking about covid. There is a widespread assumption that extended unemployment benefits are driving a labor shortage. The thinking…

On Friday, Axios published a story entitled “America may be close to hitting a vaccine wall.” The story is both accurate in its content and terrifying in its implications. The basic premise is this: America will soon run out of willing arms for the coronavirus vaccine, and that this will happen well before we reach herd immunity. If we don’t reach herd immunity, we can’t stop the virus and it will continue to circulate, and therefore mutate, and could eventually find a way around the vaccines and endanger everybody. Even if that doesn’t happen, it means that covid will still…

Rebecca Brown

American History graduate student, former entrepreneur, special needs parent.

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