Homesteading Quantified: How Much Land You Need To Go Off The Grid


From HUFFPOST

The original homesteaders, the pioneers who went West, were following the American dream as it was understood in the 19th century — they wanted a house, and land, and a farm, of their own. Those who become homesteaders today aren’t necessarily aspirational in the same way; instead, they’re looking to escape mainstream America. They want to do so for many reasons: privacy, radicalism, a philosophical belief in self-sufficiency.

But “going off the grid” is a daunting proposal, especially for those with families. Non-homesteaders rely on others for virtually everything; not just our haircuts, but our electricity and our eggs. It’s hard enough to figure out the right amount of groceries to buy for a week. Figuring out how many crops to plant to feed a family of four is exponentially more daunting. There are plenty of resources to help — message boards, how-tos. And here’s one more, aesthetically pleasing resource

Bill Gates Wants To Solve The Poop Problem


From GENE LOGSDON

I can’t write about this without sounding like I’m blowing my own horn. Bill Gates, bless him, has discovered manure. I don’t know if he has read my book, Holy Shit, or Joseph Jenkins’ book, Humanure, but he’s acting like he might have. He is offering $42 million in grants to spur new designs and ideas for handling our bodily wastes in a less bankrupting way than we are using today. There are already good compost toilets out there, and other ways to handle or replace flush toilet water are in the process of development, but I am sure, and Mr. Gates must think so too, that the more brains we can get involved in this, the better. Clint and Bobbi Elston, founders of the Equaris Corporation in Afton, Minn., tell me that they have already applied. They have invented an impressive array of home appliances

The Marihuana/Hemp Tax Act of 1937 and the Birth of a Synthetic Economy


[Let’s get back to local sustainability and transform Mendocino County into the industrial hemp capital of the Americas: “Before the synthetic boom of the 40’s, and the pharmaceutical boom of the 50’s, much of the world including America, depended upon natural products like hemp for their everyday needs such as foods, medicine, building materials, clothes, paint, and even fuel …” JJL]

The date was August 2nd, 1937 whereby a relatively empty 75th congress instituted the “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937,” after a mere 30 minutes of debate. While this act did not criminalize cannabis or hemp as it is commonly thought, it did call for heavy taxation, strict regulation, and introduced harsh penalties

The Vegetarian’s Dilemma


From DAVID SIROTA
Truthdig

For those, like my son, who are being raised as vegetarians, the supermarket’s message is downright subversive.

As a new father who (ages ago) did a short stint as a press secretary, I’m already thinking ahead to the questions my son will throw at me. Yes, I know 8-month-old Isaac can’t even say “Dad” yet, but these questions are coming, and I’m sure they’re going to be way tougher than the ones reporters usually lob at Washington politicians. (OK, in the current age of media obsequiousness, that’s not saying much…)

So I’m planning for answers

What can we do about the great American lie?


From MICHAEL A. LEWIS
Transtion Voice

I. F. Stone told us many years ago that All Governments Lie.

Daniel Ellsberg, in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, told us why governments, including presidents, always lie, and must continue to lie about what they know to be true, but about which they cannot talk under constraints of “national security.”

Here at home, the lies place an impermeable barrier between those who know and those who cannot be told, a barrier that trickles down hill forever, separating the citizenry of the US from their government.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Today, the lies continue, as they must

Tar Sands


From PEACEFUL UPRISING

Josh Fox, creator of the award-winning film “Gasland“, has created a moving and informative new video about the Tar Sands Action in Washington DC. He joins a growing list of concerned scientists, authors, and celebrities (Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Mark Ruffalo, for example) who have voiced their support the 2000+ people who have signed up to take action.

Beginning August 20th, and continuing day after day until Sept. 3, citizens from all over the country will gather in front of the White House and participate in the time-honored tactic of peaceful civil disobedience. Why? Because President Obama has the ultimate authority to sign or not sign the authorization of the Keystone XL Pipeline, that would run from Alberta, Canada to oil refineries in Texas. This would allow oil companies

The Light Bulb Conspiracy


From NATURAL NEWS

Here’s a full-length feature you can watch on YouTube. It’s a remarkable film about planned obsolescence and the “buy more stuff” consumer society. In four parts with subtitles.
~

Tired of primitive living?… why not try civilisation!


~~

Dave Pollard: The Internet — A Depression Scenario


From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World Blog

Last year, my article What Are You Going to Do When the Internet’s Gone stirred up lots of discussion and surprisingly little pushback from the technophiles (perhaps because they’ve stopped reading this blog). I thought it might be worthwhile thinking a bit about what life will be like as a combination of economic and energy crises slowly transform the Internet from a ubiquitous tool (at least in affluent nations) to a hobbyist toy for die-hard techies and uber-geeks (kinda like amateur/ham radios were a half-century ago).

The reasons I cited last year for believing the Internet is going to be impossible to maintain as we face the end of cheap energy, the end of stable climate and the end of the industrial “growth” economy) are as follows:

Tax the super-rich or riots will rage in 2012


From PAUL B. FARRELL
MarketWatch

6 reasons we can’t stop coming economic meltdown. Plan now for the revolution, class warfare, market crash, economic collapse, plan for another depression.

What a year. Rage in London, Egypt, Athens, Damascus. All real. Just a metaphor in the new “Planet of the Apes” film? No, much more. Warning: More rage is dead ahead. Across our planet a new generation is filled with rage. High unemployment. Raging inflation. Dreams lost. Hope gone. While the super -rich get richer and richer.

Listen to that hissing: The fuse is rapidly burning, warning us. Wake up before the rage explodes in your face. This firestorm is endangering America’s future. From forces outside, yes. But far more deadly, from deep within our collective psyche. We have lost our moral compass. We are self-destructing.

Crackpot warning? No. This warning comes from the elite International Monetary Fund. A recent IMF report looked at “the causes of the two major U.S. economic crises over the past 100 years, the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2007,” writes Rana Foroohar, an economics editor at Time magazine.

“There are two remarkable similarities in the eras that preceded these crises. Both saw a sharp increase in income inequality and household-debt-to-income ratios.” And in each case, “as the poor and middle-class were squeezed, they tried to cope by borrowing to maintain their standard of living.”

But the rich “got richer, by lending, and looked for more places to invest, bidding up securities that eventually exploded in everyone’s face. In both eras, financial deregulation and loose monetary policies played roles in creating the bubble. But inequality itself

Unequal Protection — Chapter 8: Corporations Go Global


From THOM HARTMANN
Truthout

Curtin, what do you think of those fellows in Wall Street who are gambling in gold at such a time as this?… For my part, I wish every one of them had his devilish head shot off.

—President Abraham Lincoln, personal letter to Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, April 25, 1864

People, at the time, generally weren’t all that concerned about the fate of the world’s dolphins. It was the last week of June 1944, and the war wasn’t going well for Adolf Hitler. The killing machines of his death camps were running full out, straining his resources and creating consternation as word leaked out across Europe. His forces were falling back before the Soviets, and his generals openly worried about

an Allied invasion on the French coast. On Thursday, June 29, almost all of the eighteen hundred Jews of Corfu were murdered upon their arrival at Auschwitz, while twenty thousand Jewish women were relocated to the concentration camp at Stutthof. On Friday, June 30, more than a thousand Parisian Jews arrived at Auschwitz.

This same weekend that opened July 1944, a three-week meeting was convened in an isolated hotel in New Hampshire’s White Mountains near the town of Bretton Woods. Bankers, economists, and representatives of the governments of forty-four nations arrived for the meeting, which was convened as the International Monetary and Financial Conference of the United and Associated Nations.

The official history of the meeting suggests it was a group of nations getting together to work out a new international economic world order that would prevent a repeat of the Great Depressions and the European inflations that had occurred in the 1930s and driven Hitler to prominence and power with his promises to “restore Germany to greatness.”

Wind powered factories: history (and future) of industrial windmills


From LOW-TECH MAGAZINE

In the 1930s and 1940s, decades after steam engines had made wind power obsolete, Dutch researchers obstinately kept improving the – already very sophisticated – traditional windmill. The results were spectacular, and there is no doubt that today an army of ecogeeks could improve them even further. Would it make sense to revive the industrial windmill and again convert kinetic energy directly into mechanical energy?

More than 900 years ago, medieval Europe became the first large civilisation not to be run by human muscle power. Thousands and thousands of windmills and waterwheels, backed up by animal power, transformed industry and society radically. It was an industrial revolution entirely powered by renewable energy – something that we can (and do) only dream of today. Wind and water powered mills were in essence the first real factories in human history. They consisted of a building, a power source, machinery and employees, and out of them came a product.

Windmills and waterwheels were not new technologies – both machines appeared already in Antiquity and the ones used in the early Middle Ages were technically no different from those. However, ancient civilisations like the Greeks and the Romans hardly used them, possibly because of religious reasons and because of a large enough reservoir of human slave labour.

Water versus wind

Water powered mills were – overall – more important and numerous than windmills. This is logical since they are a simpler and more reliable technology; the flow of a river might change according to the seasons, but generally a river

Todd Walton: Rich People


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“ Of all classes the rich are the most noticed and the least studied.” John Kenneth Galbraith

I know people who own nice houses and multiple cars and have sufficient wealth to eat and drink whatever they want to eat and drink, and to take occasional vacations, too, yet they do not consider themselves rich. That is, they do not think of themselves as people who should pay higher taxes because, well, they feel they pay high enough taxes as it is, too high, actually, and besides, they aren’t part of that one per cent we hear so much about, those multi-millionaires and billionaires who pay no taxes at all. These people I know don’t own three and four homes, for goodness sake. Some of them own two houses, and maybe a rental or two, but no one ever gave them a golden parachute. They voted for Clinton and Obama. They proudly click buttons on web sites to indicate their opposition to icky pipelines and their sympathy for homeless people and their support for endangered species. So…now their houses are plummeting in value, their stock portfolios are crashing, and the price of everything edible and the price of anything that produces heat and electricity and horse power is skyrocketing, so it’s not as if these people have much to spare. In fact, when you add everything up, these people I know with houses and money are, relatively speaking, poor, though the words poor and rich are not precise terms; so let’s just say that these people I know with houses and cars and money are adamant that they are not rich.

“A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.” W.C. Fields

I was six-years-old when my family moved from a tiny house in a working class neighborhood in San Mateo to a three-bedroom house in Atherton. For those of you unfamiliar with Atherton, it is a town of eight thousand residents and their servants not far from Stanford University, twenty-seven miles south

The bright future of solar powered factories


From LOW-TECH MAGAZINE

Most of the talk about renewable energy is aimed at electricity production. However, most of the energy we need is heat, which solar panels and wind turbines cannot produce efficiently. To power industrial processes like the making of chemicals, the smelting of metals or the production of microchips, we need a renewable source of thermal energy. Direct use of solar energy can be the solution, and it creates the possibility to produce renewable energy plants using only renewable energy plants, paving the way for a truly sustainable industrial civilization. A large share of energy consumed worldwide is by heat. Cooking, space heating and water heating dominate domestic energy consumption. In the UK, these activities account for 85 percent of domestic energy use, in Europe for 89 percent and in the USA for 61 percent (excluding cooking).

Heat also dominates industrial energy consumption. In the UK, 76 percent of industrial energy consumption is heat. In Europe, this is 67 percent. I could not find figures for the US and for the world as a whole, but these percentages must be similar (and probably even higher on a worldwide scale because many energy-intensive industries have been outsourced to developing countries). Few things can be manufactured without heat.

 The importance of heat in total energy consumption sharply contrasts with our efforts to green the energy infrastructure. These are largely aimed at renewable electricity production using wind turbines and solar panels. Although it is perfectly possible to convert electricity into heat, as in electric heaters or electric cookers, it is very inefficient to do so.

It is often assumed that our energy problems are solved when renewables reach ‘grid parity’ – the point at which they can generate electricity for the same price as fossil fuels. But to truly compete with fossil fuels, renewables must also reach ‘thermal parity‘.

Close All Nukes Now! Fukushima alarm — Ground cracking, radioactive steam seeping — Canadians receiving extreme radiation from rain


From DEBORAH DUPREÉ
examiner.com

Doomed to cripple before quake and tsunami

As Canadians learned about dangerous radiation falling on them in rain on Tuesday as far east as Toronto registered at 20,000 CPM, equivalent to the highly targeted dose of radiation for cancer radiotherapy,  the Fukushima catastrophe escalated even higher Wednesday with evidence that the ground is cracking under the crippled nuclear power plant, causing radioactive steam to escape, “very serious and alarming” according to Anissa Naouai’s guest on Russia Today, Dr. Robert Jacobs, Professor of nuclear history at Hiroshima Peace Institute.

Fukushima nuclear plant workers have reported that the ground under the facility is cracking and radioactive steam is already escaping through the cracks that Dr. Jacobs says is very serious and alarming development because it has happened after two large earthquakes over the past few weeks according to Russia Today. (See embedded Russia Today interviewing Dr. Jacobs on Youtube video on this page left.)

“There was a 6.4 earthquake on the 31st of July and a 6.0 earthquake on August 12th,” Dr. Jacobs told Russia Today’s Naoiai.

“What this indicates is there may have been some breaking of the pipes and some of the structures underground that happened during these earthquakes,” he said.

“There could be radioactive water that is venting into the soil and what’s more, as cracks are opening, the steam and radioactivity is working its way up,” he said.

It is harder for workers to work under those conditions and threatens the Japanese, their children and their hibakusha (victims of radiation exposure from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings).

Why Social Security IS NOT a Ponzi Scheme


From ANDREW SULLIVAN
The Dish

[Here’s the counter to conservative bullshit. See also: The Real Ponzi ~DS]

A reader writes:

What a silly argument made by Indiviglio. If a Ponzi scheme is “an economic arrangement where the money paid into the system by later entrants is paid right back out as benefits to earlier entrants,” that pretty much describes any form of insurance. The defining characteristic of a Ponzi scheme is that it is unsustainable, because it requires, like a chain letter or Amway, a geometrically increasing number of participants to deliver the promised returns.  (Amway stays afloat because most participants pay in a little – or a lot – but withdraw without ever receiving any return.) Neither insurance nor Social Security requires a geometrically increasing number of participants so long as the system is funded based on sound actuarial principles.

Another parses further:

Having represented the victims of actual Ponzi schemes in court, I feel compelled to point out an important distinction between Ponzi schemes and Social Security: a Ponzi scheme is just that, a scheme. The definition provided in Zaid Jilani’s dictionary omits this important component. The participants are kept in the dark about how the benefits are obtained. Thus, a Ponzi scheme is not really an economic “arrangement” in the sense that the participants have agreed to it. By contrast, we all know (or should know) how Social Security works. It is more akin to something else, namely an insurance program where the insured event (reaching the retirement age) is guaranteed (barring premature death).

Another:

How To Learn From Open Resources Online


From ANYA KAMENTZ
Shareable

There are plenty of open resources on the Internet to allow for college-level learning on almost any topic. But diving in can be daunting.

If you want to read a textbook, answer the questions at the end of each chapter, and take a sample test, you can certainly simulate that kind of traditional classroom-based learning online, but there are many, many other possibilities.

Just as the three main “buckets” of traditional education are Content, Socialization, and Accreditation, or the “what,” the “how,” and the “why,” the world of open learning can be divided roughly into the parallel buckets of open content, social learning, and reputation-based networks.

Open content is the “what.” Content means textbooks, video and audio lectures, lessons, problem sets, and sample tests and quizzes. The most common form of open content that you have probably turned to for a quick definition or overview of a topic is Wikipedia. Open content, or open educational resources, are found on websites like MIT’s Open Courseware, The Open Courseware Consortium, the Open Learning Initiative, Khan Academy, Open Yale Courses, iTunes U, Academic Earth, Saylor.org, Scribd, Slideshare, Textbookrevolution, Wikiversity, and many more. In a bricks-and-mortar university, Open Content is the equivalent of the lecture hall and the library.

Open social learning happens on sites like P2PU, OpenLearn, OpenStudy, Wikianswers, Quora, Urch, and even Twitter. These are places where you can ask or answer a complex technical question, form or join a book group, or get help studying for the SATs. These sites can be the equivalent of the pizza and study group, the tutoring center, or the seminar…

Complete article here
~~

Resilient Home


From THE RESILIENT COMMUNITY

“Homes that don’t produce food, energy, water, etc. will be the homes that will see a decline in value. As things stand today, it won’t be long before the value of a home is based PRIMARILY on its productive value.”‘JR

A resilient home produces:

Why?

Here’s a simple answer. A resilient home protects you against breakdowns in the global supply chain/economy. It’s not merely a black hole of consumption — a place where you consume and sleep. It should be a productive asset. The greater production value of your home, the less vulnerable you are to these disruptions.

It’s not as hard as you think. With modern technology and techniques (gathered from around the world), you can turn your home into a dynamo of production.

Energy

Food

Stop Coddling Us, the Super-Rich


From WARREN BUFFETT
NYT

Our leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes… Complete article here
~~

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,555 other followers