Thursday, May 11, 2017


Scratching the Surface,

Tass gives as much news as we are likely to get about Lavrov/Tillerson/Trump meetings in Washington yesterday. There is a lot in here. It looks like a beginning. 
"President Trump has clarified his interest in building mutually beneficial and practical relations, as well as in solving issues," Lavrov pointed out. "This is very important," he said.

North Korea might be a target for CIA acquisition, like Afghanistan was.
North Korea, according to the Chosun Ilbo, produces around 40 tons of opium annually — comparable to Pakistan’s opium industry. Most of its opium is smuggled into and sold in China and cannot be targeted by sanctions, since it is hard to trace on the black market.

Brief Putin interview with CBS news catches the Russian President dressed out, and about to enter the rink to play hockey with some hockey fans. He does not believe that the Comey-firing is anything unusual, or that it will affect US/Russian relations. 

Barack Obama, on the other hand, flew to Milan, Italy and drove in a 14 car convoy to give his $3.2 million climate-change speech for 90 minutes, then ran that whole program in reverse to get back home. This is a dramatically reduced carbon footprint for the former POTUS, huuuge reduction...

In the UK, Labor Party plan to re-socialize the mail, railways and utilities, and to spend the money to the benefit of citizens, has to be "leaked", and meets with much derision about "going back" and "chaos" and so on. Free college again, too.

Israel's New Cultural War of Aggression, by Professor Richard Falk, recently labeled a "self-loathing Jew" for talking about the unfair treatment of Palestinians in the homeland which has been wrenched from them by military violence, and in which they are now prisoners on a few small plots. Thanks Eleni.

Is it bad that we're killing off all the bugs? Who needs 'em? I don't have to clean the windshield, like I used to. (Anyway, I've got MY fireflies in MY garden...)
 "The Krefeld Entomological Society, has seen the yearly insect catches fluctuate, as expected. But in 2013 they spotted something alarming. When they returned to one of their earliest trapping sites from 1989, the total mass of their catch had fallen by nearly 80%. Perhaps it was a particularly bad year, they thought, so they set up the traps again in 2014. The numbers were just as low. Through more direct comparisons, the group—which had preserved thousands of samples over 3 decades—found dramatic declines across more than a dozen other sites... We've lost huge amounts of habitat, which has certainly contributed to all these declines," Goulson says. "If we turn all the seminatural habitats to wheat and cornfields, then there will be virtually no life in those fields."

"Earthships" are buildings which engage the boundaries between earth and sky, dug in deep and strategically glassed-to-the-south to invite winter sun, adjust airflow as needed for the seasons, catch and store water, maybe have some solar panels... This project is a work in progress, and began over 30 years ago in Arizona. The embedded work is the big issue here. The company will build you an earthship for something like $250 per square foot, and $20k for the plans. This is a staggeringly high cost. looking at the "Simple Survival Model Earthship" video (scroll down) gives a clear idea of just how much work is required to get a very small enclosed space. It is really hard to conceptualize this amount of work and the amount of material. 1000 used tires, pounded hard and full of dirt with sledgehammers, one at a time, is just the beginning...

This link looks further into the construction materials. Got 10,000 aluminum cans? Got 10,000 beer bottles? This is really a lot of hand work. All the comments are that the process is "simple" and requires "an army" of fairly low skilled (but diligent) workers. They highly recommend that you participate in a build or two before starting your own.

Here is Jordan's earthship on Prince Edward Island in Canada. He got a degree in "construction technology", went to Arizona and helped build a couple of earthships, came back and got all of his friends to help him build his own. I see a whole lot of expensive building materials here, as well as that takes-an-army level of build-intensity. Funding for the project is never mentioned.

Here is a gallery of pictures of the build on Prince Edward Island, and the new build, which is now underway.

Here is an earthship that a couple built themselves in California, 560 square feet, took "a long time" living off grid to do it. They managed to scavenge masterfully and held monetary cost down to $10k.  This home looks to be their lives... Bathroom not mentioned.

Digging In

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