Texas Nationalists Launch Campaign for Texas Secession

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Recently Texas Nationalist Movement started a campaign to acquire enough signatures to get a referendum for Texas to secede from the Union on the March 2016 ballot.   They need 75,000 signatures and have been hitting the streets of 31 cities over the weekend to try to make it happen.

It’s not unreasonable for them to get the signatures.   I’m sure with a bit of legwork they can make it happen.   While I doubt the people of Texas would vote in favor of parting ways, it would be an interesting debate in the public discourse.    Some people would be in favor of it for various reasons, others of course wouldn’t.    Lots of people across the US would act indignant that these redneck goat-ropers down in Texas would actually want to leave and people like me wouldn’t even wonder why people in Texas would want to split from the rest of the country when they’re usually viewed in a backwards kind of way.

Since the 2012 election I figured that pretty much right after the 2016 elections we would start to see open talk of secession and maybe more so in the way of states and cities looking to break up (i.e. Southern Illinois and Chicago, Northern California and Southern California, Upstate NY and Long Island, etc.).   I don’t think it will be exactly a viable movement at that time, but it will start to hit the national dialogue and probably start picking up some steam and legitimacy for the 2020 and 2024 elections.

Texas SEEMS like the natural candidate for secession.   They have one of the most distinct cultures of the Americas, their own power grid, a sound economy and a kind of political swagger/bravado that makes them more likely to thumb their noses at Washington more often than other states.   Hell, they already have one of the most recognized flags int he world.

On the other hand, I wonder if the massive influx of non-Texas to the Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth area has altered that Texan independent streak over time?   In addition to the hipsters and yuppies, there’s also immigrants from all over the world in Houston and an increasing Latino population (the current slight majority) who might not feel the same kind of connection to Texas’ Anglo history and identity which would certainly be evoked in this kind of movement.  I’m definitely not saying there’s a Hispanic component to Texas’ character, I’m just saying that red-state angst and Latino populism might be a difficult bridge to gap to form a coherent nation-state.

If we made a pool for which political entity will leave the US first, I think a lot of people would go for Texas.   Now I’m not so sure that would be it…

At any rate, nothing is going to happen in the immediate future.   Some Texas are going to pass around a petition and maybe we’ll see a referendum.   It won’t pass, but if the results are ANYWHERE near close, we’ll really see some chatter about this idea.

We’re Up To Six Eggs A Day.

Not bad for eight hens.   It’s been kind of cool seeing them go from one egg to two, three and so-on.   Although they’re completely throwing a wrench into my vegetable gardening by eating almost everything, we are starting to get an egg surplus.   It’s a little disheartening to see a beautiful eggplant, tomato or squash pecked into but it’s nice to have eggs.   I guess as a food product I’d rather have an egg than a tomato but ideally I’d like both…

Next year I’ll have to do something different to allow them to free range without eating all of MY vegetables.

You win some, you lose some….

David Duke, Donald Trump and Alex Jones

 

So today it made the “news” that David Duke said that Donald Trump was the “best of the lot” and said something along the lines that since he’s bringing up immigration, his candidacy is a good thing at least in the sense of opening up discussion on this issue.

Trump didn’t exactly get Duke’s seal of approval, but if you just read the headlines they read like “Former KKK Grand-Whatever Endorses Donald Trump” although I do have to say that the couple different articles I’ve read about this paint an accurate enough assessment of Duke’s assessment of Trump’s candidacy once you really got into it.  The headlines have a lot of Social Justice Warriors panicking that this Trump guy really is aiming to be the next Fuhrer of America.

Since the “story” broke, Trump has of course distanced himself from Duke’s supposed endorsement…and I have to say, his responses were pretty funny:

Donald Trump says that he does not want the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and that he would “certainly” repudiate his support.

“I don’t need his endorsement, I certainly wouldn’t want his endorsement, I don’t need anybody’s endorsement,” Trump said in an interview on Bloomberg News.

Asked if he would repudiate an endorsement from Duke, he replied: “Sure.”

“I would do that if it would make you feel better,” he said, adding “I don’t know anything about him.”

Duke used his radio program last week to praise Trump’s stringent immigration policy and call the real estate mogul “the best of the lot” of the 2016 candidates.

Trump demurred when asked to weigh in on reports that he is popular with white supremacist groups.

“A lot of people like me,” he said.

 

bahahahahhahahahahahahahahaha

I love how he handles this.   Any other candidate would’ve tried to roll out any non-racist credentials they could at the moment, be it MLK quotes, talking about the black kid that they knew in 6th grade or whatever.    Trump just half-heartedly says something along the lines of what we would expect from a candidate and then makes a backhanded comment that completely dismisses the personal effect of the media on him.

I think there’s two things going on here with the media really going after Trump.    First, although it is easy to cry conspiracy, more than anything I think they love taking these “fringe” candidates and turning them into a circus sideshow.   There were things about Ron Paul almost every day during the 2012 election and I’m sure Buchanan and Perot got similar treatment during their days.   Sanders hasn’t gotten the same kind of negative press, but I imagine he will as things get going.

Second, I think there really is something of a conspiracy to downplay trump just because he really is something of a loose cannon and about as much of a political “outsider” as one could reasonably expect to see at this level.   I think the prospect of a Trump 3rd Party campaign really does have the Republicans shaking in their boots.  Although he’s not *that* far off from the rank & file Republicans, I think there’s some indignation that someone from outside the GOP’s system is making this big of a splash.

Although this kind of sounds of Trump fanboy talk, I’m not really sold on him as the guy who will “make America great again”.    I do think he’s slightly better than the other Republicans and most importantly, I think he’s hilarious.   I also think his candidacy is interesting to watch for a few different reasons, like how it might mark the end of the GOP as far as how it relates to the typical person that the Republicans count on for support (i.e. middle class whites).   I talked about that more in depth in

 

While his name is on the tip of my tongue, let’s talk David Duke and his recent “debate” last week with Alex Jones…

I’ve listened to AJ before, but honestly not that much to really get the feel of his show.   Over the past dozen years or so I’ve checked in here and there to infowars.com, listened to the show for half an hour or so, watched the occasional youtube video, etc.   I don’t know if it really is common for Jones to give guests about 2 hours, but that’s how long Duke was on the show.   Jones would go on for a few minutes, then Duke would respond for a few minutes and so on.

The thing that stood out to me was that it really wasn’t THAT much of a debate.  I really got the impression that Alex Jones agreed with Duke on pretty much everything (to sum it up as succinct as possible, the Jews run everything to the determent of the entire world) but only put up some token resistance to make it appear as if he was challenging Duke.   It basically went like this:

Duke “Goldman Sachs, the Israel lobby, blah blah blah”
Jones “Yeah, well, not all Jews are bad.  I know some that fight globalism”

Duke “Yeah, I’m sure.   USS Liberty, pornography kingpins, etc, etc.”

Duke won it, hands down.   Although I think Jones is more of a showman than an intellectual giant, I think he really laid down on Duke, who everyone has to admit, is pretty quick on his feet in debates.   I’ll say that Duke got kind of bitchy and obnoxious with his constant complaining about Jones allegedly taking more than his share of the time.

Overall, I think that Jones just wanted Duke to come on and say the things he has to say to his audience while giving himself a bit of cover by feigning some sort of resistance to Duke’s ideas.

A debate between Duke and Jones is kind of a non-event in itself, but one thing I’ve noticed about Jones is how he really changes the characters of his storyline to fit the times.  Years ago it was the “New World Order” and the UN, today it’s the “globalists” and the “bankers”.   At this point it’s difficult to say whether he follows the times or maybe even dictates the times with as large and fanatical as his audience can be.   Although he’s under the surface a little bit, I think Alex Jones really does have an effect on mainstream American society today.

I guess where I’m going with this is this:   Is David Duke’s appearance on the show and the way it played out a sign that pretty soon the American public will start hearing about the “Zionists”, “Jewish Supremacists”, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, etc?   Was this Alex Jones’ way of putting feelers out to his audience on discussing these things?   I really think so, and the consequences of that could be very profound worldwide…..and let’s just hope it’s not “Krystalnacht” profound, you know?

 

I’ve also heard that Alex Jones took down most of the debate, with the exception of about 10 minutes from his site.  I guess he didn’t like the temperature when he dipped his toes into the pool…

Will The Economy Crash in September???

There’s a lot of speculation going around the alt-media about the economy tanking in September.    There’s been a lot of speculation in the alt-media about the economy tanking just around the corner since….well, a very, very long time especially in these past four or five years.     We’ve heard that gold and silver were going to skyrocket (they’re now way low), the dollar was going to tank (it’s been strong) and the stock market will crash and crash harder than 2008 levels (it’s been strong too).

I don’t know, the massive selloffs of the past couple days have me a little nervous and like I just said, it feels like there’s been a “wind-up” on this kind of thing for a while now and for good reasons….and there’s also been good reasons to have a little bit of optimism too.   It’s all kind of confusing and sometimes you can really rack your brain by paying too much attention to this kind of thing.   A couple years ago I decided to stop listening to one of the contrarian financial podcasts I listened to just because I thought I was kind of overloading myself with this sort of thing.   Yeah, yeah, buy gold, the system is rigged, if you can’t hold it in your hand you don’t own it, etc.   Although the information was completely worthwhile, it’s just that at a certain point, how much do you *really* need to know?   What’s it going to change in your life?

I decided that some of it was just for self-affirmation and maybe a bit of the “when X happens I’ll be ahead of everyone else because of Y” complex.   Basically patting yourself on the back for shit that hasn’t happened yet.   This is one thing that always turned me off from the survivalist world and “gun nuts” in particular.     Of course it’s not everyone, but the sentiments that all the “sheeple” (god, I hate that word…) are idiots and one day everything is going to go topsy-turvy and suddenly you’ll walk the world like a king….even though you live an underwhelming life today.   Or the out-of-shape middle aged drone with a giant arsenal that believes that someday his services will be needed when droves of looters, zombies, gun-grabbing feds, Russian paratroopers, etc. come knocking on our door.  It’s easy to fall into this line of thinking that you’re special because of some shit that hasn’t happened and I try to avoid this trap when it comes to “being ahead of the curve” financially.

With that said, I am going to take some protective measures and hope for a non-event

“Cuckservatives” and The Trump

So there’s a new buzzword going around the internet that has the conservatives’ panties in a bunch.   “Cuckservative”.  It’s a mix of “cuckold” and “conservative”.   The roots of the term come from the alt-right / white nationalist world and has gained some traction within that realm and I believe in the “manosphere” world.   It’s even been written about in a few mainstream sources and apparently Rush Limbaugh himself has even hinted to the phrase.

Although it’s not a word I think I’d use in normal conversation, it’s a pretty good insult and says a lot about the current state of affairs in the United States.    I wouldn’t use it in conversation just because I think it’s something that would take explaining to most people.   I see it panning out like this:

Other person:   “I think we should defund Planned Parenthood”
Me:   “You’re such a cuckservative”
Other person:   “Huh?”
Me:  “Yeah, you know, like a ‘cuckold’ and ‘conservative'”

Other person:   “Uhhh, ok”

Ok, so “cuckold” comes from the cuckoo bird which lays its eggs in the nest of other birds.   The other bird raises the young cuckoo who eventually overwhelms the host.   Since the days of yore it’s been used to hint that a man’s wife had slept with someone else on his watch and that the cuckolded man was raising someone else’s kids.   In the fetish world it’s a guy who gets off on his wife/girlfriend sleeping with other men.

There are maybe three angles to this slur.   One is racial, one is an issue of masculinity and the other is the idea that no one is even really sure what the Republican party actually stands for anymore to the point of being self-destructive, which ties into the other two.   Let’s explore them all…

It’s no secret that the overwhelming majority of the Republican’s support comes from white people.   Off the top of my head whites vote Republican at a rate of about 60% or maybe slightly higher.   Non-whites are about 20%.   Blacks support the GOP in the single digits and Hispanics are somewhere in the 30’s.

The Republican Party has the image (from its detractors) that it’s the party FOR white folks with strong racial undertones.   The white nationalists strongly disagree with this claim that the GOP is on their side.   The big issue is immigration, as the Republicans have largely been feeble on stopping illegal immigration despite some hot air and even the massive amount of legal immigration that happens.   At this point it seems like the official stance of the GOP is that immigration is bad when they do it illegally, but if they could only give everyone some papers and collect a bit of tax from them, everything’s ok.

The “cuckolding” aspect of this permissive stance on immigration is that as America becomes a less white society, we can expect that the Republican party will become less viable at the national level.   Pat Buchanan and Steve Sailer have written quite a bit about this.    They pretty much signed the death warrant to the ideas they claim to represent by not putting their collective feet down.   Instead the GOP gives quixotic promises that with a Hispanic majority (or something close to it) will flock to the Republican party and “conservative values” due to their cultural leanings towards socially conservative and traditonal family-centric policies.    While it is true that many Hispanics are going to be socially conservative, there isn’t any evidence that this translates out to Republican votes or a return to a social climate a la 1950’s America or whatever the ideal target is.  These guys just won’t take a hard stance on the issue for fear of being called racist, which sends them cowering.

On another note, the Republican party seems to fawn over Israel and will make all kinds of claims about how Israel needs to be preserved as a Jewish state, although they will never say anything about preserving the WASP culture of America.   Although the Republicans haven’t made any serious attempts to reach out to the African-American community, there’s still at times a clownish attempt to “build bridges” by bringing up the fact that “Lincoln freed the slaves”, Glenn Beck evoking Martin Luther King JR and always being able to dig up a black preacher or something to be the keynote speaker at any GOP shindig.     I always get a chuckle when there’s some big national debate over something race related and Republicans post Youtube videos of a black guy reinforcing their view on the issue into a webcam.   “Hey look!  There’s a black guy that agrees with me!  I’m not racist!”

Then there’s the issue of masculinity or lack thereof.    Just as the Republican party has been associated with whites, it’s also associated with men.   The stereotypes of Republicans usually include gun nuts, square-jawed authoritarian types, cowboys and generally the “rugged individualists”.   I think there’s also a deep seated desire in most of us where we respect the warrior-king archetype as leaders.   In recent times Reagan, GW and Maggie Thatcher all had commanding demeanors and held themselves (usually) like they were in charge.   A lot of people in the West like Vladimir Putin because he definitely fits this description and people go crazy for him in Mother Russia.    There’s a ton of memes on the internet of Putin being compared to Obama with Putin as the clear winner.

Out of the current cast of GOP candidates we have no warrior-kings.   These guys are all frankly doughy pussies.   There’s a video out there of Scott Walker visiting a cheese steak joint in Philadelphia and getting heckled and receiving a disinterested cold shoulder from everyone else and it was absolutely hilarious to watch his awkwardness.   I haven’t seen that level of insecurity since a middle school dance.

There is one exception:   Donald Trump.    This guy isn’t coming to the table with a bunch of earth shattering ideas, but he’s coming with some fucking balls.   Part of the reason people like him is his brash, unapologetic stance.   He enjoys stepping on toes and always has a scowl on his face.   He really doesn’t care who he offends and nothing is tempered.   People have put together theories on how Trump channels earlier dictators in his campaign and I think there is some validity to that….and we have to understand that people have traditionally elected “strong men” for a reason.   It’s alarming to some…and enticing to others…

I think Trump’s theatrics are only PART of his appeal…the other part is his stance on immigration AND some of his more economic populist stances.   It’s almost like he read Buchanan and Sailer’s work on what the GOP needs to do to become more viable in the future.    The man on the street wants the government to be tougher on illegal immigration and I think most rank and file conservatives have a hard time swallowing the promise of trickle down economics and globalism.

I think his participation in this election cycle has been great because A. he’s hilarious and B. he really is exposing the Republican party as being feeble and milquetoast and maybe even people are getting the idea that it’s a rigged game by the fact that the GOP HQ is really trying to distance themselves from him, even though he is the most popular right now.   I mean, seriously, another Bush???  Come on.     I have similar thoughts about Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side and I’m sure I’ll share those at a later date.   Bernie is nowhere near as entertaining as the Trump though.

Although I don’t think Trump can save the world, no one thinks he’ll stand by and watch while we get fucked….like a cuckold.

The third aspect to the “cuckservative” meme has already kind of been covered here, but at this point no one is really sure what the Republicans *really* stand for.   I can’t think of a strong fight they’ve put up about anything in recent times to the point where they shouldn’t even be called “conservatives” because I’m not even sure what they’re out to conserve, except maybe gently tap the breaks on neoliberal progress here and there.   To go back to the cuckoo bird, the bird that gets cuckolded needs to take a really, really hard line against the baby cuckoo if the bird wants to remain viable.   The Republicans need to start taking some hard lines too if they want anyone to really give a fuck about them going forward.

I say this not necessarily because I want to see some great revival of the Reagan revolution or some shit like that, but the thing that strikes me about all the uh, dissatisfaction with the GOP from traditional areas of support is the idea that a sizable portion of the country will start to really feel “disenfranchised” in the upper echelons of American government.   I really think this is some of the first tremors of the America as we know it today coming apart.    We have two political parties that are supposed to more or less represent everyone’s views (ha!) and one is really dropping the ball with the people and ideas it is supposed to represent.     When enough people start saying “fuck it” and give up on the GOP to represent them and give up on having a meaningful say in Washington, it will ultimately lead to something new.   I wrote about this in the 2012 Election and the Elephant Outside the Room.   I have a hard time imagining the United States of America as we know it today lasting into the next couple of generations.   That timeline would accelerate if the “cuckservatives” don’t get it together.    Unfortunately I think the cuckoos are going to win…

 

 

 

Motley Crue and Alice Cooper in Milwaukee….and Taking A Baby To A Concert

So last week we went up to the Milwaukee area for the Mother Earth News fair.   I noticed a lot of hotels were sold out so I checked the official tourism page to see if something was going on.   Right away I see that Motley Crue and Alice Cooper were playing.    I asked Mary if we could take Henry to a Motley Crue concert.   I really wanted to go but I really didn’t expect her to say yes.   She said she’d do some research and it should be fine.

Turns out as long as babies have really, really good hearing protection it’s fine.    So we ordered these headphones:

….and they worked GREAT.   He slept through most of it and never seemed to react to the noise.   I think the lights and vibrations startled him at times, but he was very calm the whole time.   We got cheap seats with the understanding that if we needed to, we would leave and be out less.

Anyways, Alice Cooper started the night off and I think we walked in during his first song.   One thing that blew me away was the idea that Alice Cooper would’ve been the kind of music that Henry’s grandpa “rebelled” to as a teenager and then here we are years later and AC is still kicking.   I’m not even sure how old he is, but he can still throw a good performance.

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I don’t think he played for more than an hour, but he covered pretty much all of his greatest hits.  He didn’t talk too much in between songs, but for as “scary” as he looks, everything was very lighthearted.   I think everyone got a kick out of his theatrics, like being electrocuted, getting his head chopped off, returning to the stage as a giant headless monster, etc.  They had just the right amount of campiness to them I thought.

As a kid I really liked Alice Cooper but hadn’t thought much of him since then.   I did gain a new appreciation for him since I found out I was going to this concert.   He seems like one of the few rock start types I’d actually like to hang out with.   Although the makeup and leather pants get-up was a little out there, he really does have the “average Joe” aura to him.   A very blue collar guy from Detroit, down to earth and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

So it was in Milwaukee….he didn’t disappoint when he introduced one of the guys in his band as “Peter from Mille-wau-kay” and finished with “Thank you, Algonquin for the Good Land”.   Ha ha.   What better place to see Alice Cooper than Milwaukee???

So on to Motley Crue…
First, these guys really were the first band I actually cared about.   I was all about them when I was in 3rd or 4th grade.  I think I had a Motley Crue tshirt for every day of the week.   I never got to see them when they played during their heyday and then a few years later I got into other kinds of music and the whole Nirvana/alternative thing happened and relegated Motley Crue and the likes to the realm of the dinosaur.   I remember when they came out with that album after Dr. Feelgood and how laughably archaic they seemed.   The world went on, they kinda had a comeback when metal became cool again and found ways to stay kind of relevant in pop culture since then.   Although they seemed clownish post-Dr. Feelgood, I’ve always enjoyed their music from Dr. Feelgood and back as real easy listening stuff, like the kind of music you’d want for a road trip.

I remember hearing about Motley Crue concerts “back in the day”.   The explosions, the lights, topless chicks, spitting into the cup, etc.       I think this was the first arena concert I’ve ever been to.  I’ve been to shitloads of shows in small venues, but nothing this big – remember this kind of rock n’ roll spiraled into oblivion pretty much right as I was coming of age.   It was a new experience for me and I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect.

Well, Motley Crue did put on a hell of a show, even if it did seem a little more “mature” than it would’ve in say, 1989.   Makes sense.   Explosions galore, a giant flaming pentagram during “Shout At The Devil”, scantily-clad women in leather dancing around on stage and a light show that at times made me feel like I was on the set of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.   I think the explosions and lights irked the baby a little bit, but not too bad.
Their setlist was about what you would expect.   The only surprise was a cover of “Anarchy In The UK”, which was really cool.  A lot of people who are into punk write off the Sex Pistols, but I’ve always loved that album.   I thought it was cool to see them give some kind of a nod to the punk world, as I always thought there was a strong connection between the more rough-around-the-edges 80’s metal bands (Motley Crue, Skid Row, Guns N Roses, etc) and punk that you didn’t see with the Poisons, Bon Jovis and Warrants of the world.

I don’t think anyone would say that Vince Neil isn’t a good vocalist and frontman for Motley Crue BUT the guy has zero charisma on stage.   It seemed like between every song about all he had to say was “Wooo!  fuck yeah, mothafuckas!” or something like that.    About halfway into the set they took a break and sent Nikki Sixx out to give them “thanks for being a fan speech”.   I was really glad they had him do it and not Vince.   The speech was kinda weird, but heartfelt.   I know it is true with me they were the first band I cared about and I’m sure that’s the case for well, millions of other people around the world.

So Tommy Lee’s upside down drumming is a pretty famous part of the Motley Crue experience….   I expected that during the middle of a song the drum kit would go up on the tracks, upside down and then he’d go apeshit and have a sweet drum solo and then come back down.   Not the case.   He had about five minutes where the drum kit went on the tracks and he drummed along to prerecorded music (clips of popular songs, rock, hip-hop and electronic) while the drums went over the audience.   It was cool for about a minute.   The music drowned out the drumming and there were only a few moments where it really seemed like he was doing something besides going for a ride.   If they cut the time down by half and just had him up there doing his thing without the accompaniment it would’ve been much better.   I think most people kind of lost interest in what he was doing a few minutes into it.    I can’t believe the expense/headache the road crew goes through to set up those tracks at every place just for that bullshit…

Mick Mars did an extended guitar solo (with no accompaniment) which was kind of cool.

They finished with “Home Sweet Home” as the encore, playing from an island in the middle of the stadium, which was a perfect ending.    So this is their final tour.   Hats off to Motley Crue for 35 years or so.  Some of those years were better than others, but they really did make their mark on a lot of people around my age.

Also, hats off to Alice Cooper for being there BEFORE Motley Crue and apparently still kicking AFTER Motley Crue.   What a champion….

I was a little worried about people freaking out over a baby being there, but a lot of people came up to see him and talked about how cool it was that he was there with us and then maybe they had a story about taking their kids to a concert at a young age.   A few people wanted to pose for pictures with us, which was kind of funny.   I still can’t believe we pulled it off without him even getting fussy.    Those headphones were amazing!

So when little Henry hits about 12 or so and wants to go see whatever bullshit the kids are listening to then and I don’t let him go and he says I never let him do anything, I’ll say I took you to see Motley Fucking Crue in 2015 so shut up.

Some random people who came up and talked to us about the baby.  Pretty funny people.  They took this and then sent it to Mary.
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Mother Earth News Fair in West Bend, WI

So last week we spent the weekend in the Milwaukee area to attend the Mother Earth News Fair in West Bend, which is about half an hour north of Milwaukee.   I’ve been wanting to go to one of these but it just never works out, even though the one they do in Lawrence, KS is only a few hour drive.   West Bend is a little longer for me, but it happened to land on a weekend that worked out.

Mother Earth News is a cool magazine and I’ve been subscribing for a few years.   There’s usually a few valuable tidbits of information in every issue and more than anything just thumbing through it helps to focus on some of the homesteading projects I have going on – it makes you excited about these things again.

Today the kind of info you get from MEN is all over the internet.  There’s hundreds of books, millions of “pins” on Pintrest, all kinds of blogs, websites, etc.   But a generation or two ago, Mother Earth News was THE source for this kind of stuff and kind of ground zero for the appropriate tech, “back to the land” and voluntary simplicity movements.    Today some of the material might seem a little stale, but I’m sure that wasn’t always the case.
My grandfather died when I was an infant so I never really knew the guy.   I found out later in life that he was an avid subscriber to MEN during the 70’s.   He built a home wood chopper presumably from plans from the magazine that is still usable today and he had plans to build a water heater from a compost pile, which is stuff that is cutting edge in the world of permaculture today.    They kept a big garden, chickens, the occasional pig and had apple trees on their 3 acre property in the outskirts of the Des Moines area.  They canned, kept a large pantry and did things like make sauerkraut and pickles.    I have good memories of grandma’s garden and the first time I tasted sweet peas out of the shell, homegrown tomatoes, picking a zucchini and frying it for breakfast and the taste of raw turnips, freshly sliced.    Although they both came from rural backgrounds, I don’t think they were “naturals” at homesteading thing but rather tinkerers and do-ers who learned as they went.   I think MEN had a big part of that and today when I read the magazine, especially things from back then or some of the other books (like “Grow Your Own”, “Small Is Beautiful”, “Possum Living”, the Rodale books, etc.) I really do feel a connection to a man I have no memories of.    I suppose what I’m saying is that Mother Earth News tugs on the heartstrings a little bit for me.

Ok, so on to the fair….

First, we heard a few people make comments about how it wasn’t as big as the other ones.   I have no idea about this but at no time did I say “there’s not enough stuff here”.   I was never bored.

It was held at a county fairgrounds, which was a pretty decent facility for something like this.   It was densely clustered with a few exhibition buildings and a handful of barns like you would see for livestock exhibits at a fair (imagine that!).   They had about six different stages with different sponsors and themes and each one had some sort of workshop/lecture for one hour slots throughout the day.   Off hand I want to say there were five or six time slots each day so we’re talking about 70 different lectures and I believe there weren’t any repeats.    There were two or three large buildings with vendors in them of all the usual stuff you would expect.   Natural remedies, seeds, garden tools, homespun crafts, books, people with information about stuff, etc.

With about six different options for each time slot we had to make some difficult decisions.  I don’t regret any of the ones I sat through, but in retrospect it would’ve probably been better for us to go to the ones that we didn’t already know enough about.   I sat through a couple on unusual edibles and backyard permaculture where I probably knew just about everything that was covered….That’s not to say that the presenters didn’t have good info, it’s just that it’s a subject I already knew quite a bit about.

I think we went to three lectures by Jessi Bloom, author of “Practical Permaculture” and “Free Range Chicken Gardens” and really enjoyed her presentations.  I bought one of her books and apparently the other I wanted was sold out, so I’ll order it online.   She did the one about backyard permaculture and one of the ones about unusual edibles that I previously mentioned.   Although I did know a lot of these lectures, I still found myself getting into it.   She seems like someone I’d like to sit down and talk with for an hour or so.  I guess she lifts competitively, anyone I can talk to about getting swoll AND aronia is ok in my book.

I saw a presentation by Dave Boehnlein about sustainability lessons from rural/historical Japan.   This one turned out to be my favorite of the weekend.   He married a Japanese woman and spent some time living over there and shared some of the lessons learned from a culture that had to deal with a lot of scarcity and how they dealt with it.

Joel Salatin was the “main event” on Sunday and he seems about the same in person as he is in his books so that was cool.

Unfortunately for every good workshop we attended, I know there were other good ones that we missed out on.   That’s life though and if I do go to another one (which I’d like to), I’ll make a point to get out of my comfort zone.

Ok, now the downsides…

First, I don’t know exactly what the attendance was, but the parking lot was completely full.  I’d guess a few thousand each day.   I’d also imagine that everyone who was there would be there damn near all day and plan on eating lunch there.    So for that many people there were three or four food trucks.   I stood in line for about an hour and a half on Saturday to get a couple of sandwiches for us.   Now it was a decent sandwich and the creamy spinach soup Mary had was fucking amazing, but it was a real downer to have to stand in the kind of lines they had – and I went to the shortest one.   They had those food trucks and in one of the buildings a small food vendor that had similar lines.     I understand that the Wisconsin State Fair was going on so most mobile vendors were probably there, but I’m surprised that’s all they could come up with.    I don’t know if they had some kind of cultural criteria for the vendors that excluded more run-of-the-mill things, but I’m sure a lot of people would’ve been really happy to have a regular hamburger or slice of pepperoni pizza if it meant waiting 15 minutes instead of damn near 2 hours.   They should’ve had at least twice the food vendors they did.      Sunday we stopped at a Trader Joe’s on the way and picked up some things for lunch, which saved us a lot of time and a little bit of money.

I also heard a few people complain about how un-environmentally friendly the event was.  No recycling, composting, etc.   Just the normal kind of trash you’d expect from any other event.   They said it was due to the event just getting off the ground in Wisconsin, which I think is fair.   Although it’s nothing I dwelt on, I did notice it that there wasn’t even some kind of token effort to have it be a little more crunchy.    Maybe next year…

Joel Salatin made some kind of comment about how events like this are nice because you know that you’re not alone.   I agree 100%, it’s great to know that there are other people out there doing things like planting gardens, raising chickens, becoming self-reliant and living more sustainable or at least people who WANT to do these things of things.   Although there’s a ton of other sources of info out there, Mother Earth News is still an institution that can pull a lot of us together after all these years.   Thanks for making it happen and hopefully I’ll see you next year in Wisconsin or Kansas….

Here’s Henry and I and an emu.   I didn’t trust this thing, it had a really crazy look on it’s face, like a sadistic smile.   Plus it made a really deep growl, I didn’t know they did that.

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Us and a goose.  I trusted this thing.

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Protesters Tap Water Supply at Detroit Mayor’s Mansion

Article

The saga of America’s most dysfunctional city continues…

Well, I thought this was kind of a funny act of political theater.   Based on the photograph of the protestors and it being “Detroit Citizens Against Tar Sands” behind it, I’m going to guess that these guys aren’t the ones who had their water turned off (there’s a certain bourgeois tinge to this kind of activism).

I’ve heard different stats, but this article has about 40,000 people without water in Detroit, stemming from a recent crackdown on past due bills.   The city is still in dire straits financially and so are many of the city’s residents.   People can’t pay their bills and the city can’t keep giving something for nothing because they’re broke too.   It’s been called a “human rights crisis” and it is a tragedy but there’s not really a lot of options for the city.   How will they raise the capital to unfuck the situation?   By collecting past due bills, which the majority of the citizens are behind?

Running water is one thing that separates us from, well, much of the third world.  A lot of places don’t have it and it’s one thing we really take for granted that we have so much of it.  It should be a real psychological blow to the United States that we now have a part of the country where people aren’t getting access to water.    Yes they could just pay their bills and get it but they can’t afford it.   I know it’s easy to say that “those people” have a bad habit of blowing their money on bullshit before spending it on practical things, but I have a hard time believing that someone wouldn’t prioritize running water over frivolous things once faced with the prospect of having it shut off.   I believe that a lot of people aren’t capable of paying their back bills and would if they could.    I’m sure that there’s enough cases of poor prioritization leading up to getting behind but still….

Also, not having running water sucks.   In my own life I can think of the great “floods of ’93” when Des Moines Water Works flooded and we were out of water for about two weeks.   We had people shipping in bottled water and the city bringing in bladders of non-potable water set up at schools and parks where you could go get it to flush toilets, clean things, etc.   Walking a couple of blocks to get a bucket of water to flush the toilet sucked.    That was just a temporary inconvenience.

I also remember a house of a friend in high school that was where all the local latch key punk kids hung out because it was pretty much Indian country.    They had the water shut off.   Mom was a terrible hoarder and the place was the biggest shit-infested rat hole I’ve ever been in.   Not having water caused uh, complications in the household.   Dishes piled up, nothing got cleaned and people started pissing into bags and throwing it in the tub.  Eventually the tub rotted out, or so the story goes.   The house had to be torn down once they finally moved out.   If you didn’t want to shit into a bag, you had to walk to the gas station down the street.    The moral of that story is that when there’s no water in marginal situations, it can cause a bad situation to really, really get worse.   Most of these neighborhoods in Detroit are probably beyond “marginal” and when people owe more in water bills than their home’s value (so some stories say), bailing doesn’t sound like a bad idea leaving more abandoned (and completely fucked) housing in the Detroit area.

I guess I have spent some time in the third world without running water…parts of Iraq!   Yeah, it’s miserable.   It’s kind of a gross subject, but one thing we’re extremely fortunate for in the United States is the fact that most of us don’t have to deal with shit.   Like human feces.  We flush it down the toilet (with clean water) and that’s that.   When you don’t have water, the “there is no ‘away'” maxim really applies here.   We don’t have to deal with the smell and hygiene problems that come along with it in an urban area and I’m sure that’s about to become reality in Detroit, if it hasn’t already, compounding the people’s misery.

The really ironic thing is that Detroit might be one of the most water-rich places on the planet being right on the Great Lakes.

 

One YEAR After by William Forstchen to Release Soon

Looks like the sequel to William Forstchen’s One Second After will be released on September 15, 2015 and available for preorder now.

I thought One Second After was a really good book that stood above most others in the doom & gloom/apocalyptic fiction world.   Forstchen manages to paint a vivid picture of what life would be like immediately after an EMP attack in his small North Carolinian town and it wasn’t pretty.   The scenes of eating pets, elderly people devouring the thawed frozen waffles in the looted grocery store and the struggle of the main character’s type I diabetic in a world where insulin just wasn’t coming will stick with me for a long time.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this one will have.   Sure, the immediate aftermath (I think I went a couple months out from the initial attack) is exciting, but a story about society beginning to pick up the pieces with all the challenges that a major EMP attack has the potential to be a be a good story with lots of things to think about.

Based on the way One Second After didn’t sugarcoat anything or have any survivalist super hero characters, I imagine this one will be just as powerful as the first.

Millennials Who Are Financially Secure Have One Thing In Common…

…Rich parents, according to this article.

I think there’s tinges of resenting people that have more than you and hints that “someone should do something about it” to the article, but it brings up some good points slightly under the surface.

Anecdotally I think it’s a pretty fair general statement that most millennials that are above the curve probably had some sort of help from parents (not even necessarily “rich” ones) with their two biggest expenses being housing and education.  The idea of putting something aside for your children was a pretty common one for boomers, like making a college fund for little Jimmy and Chloe.  Some people resent this but as the article suggests, it can be a great way to help get your children a notch up on life.   Yeah, there’s definitely trustafarians that squander intragenerational wealth in their early years but whatever.   I don’t see anything wrong with this and I hope that when the time comes I can help little Henry  financially with something meaningful in his life, whatever that may be.

I think the first thing that jumps out at me is the issue of the cost of higher education and the emphasis on it that our parents (hey, I think I’m technically a millennial) put on it which turned out to be a flop for more of us than we would like to admit.   Most of us with an IQ anywhere north of room temperature were given the “College Uber Alles” speech all throughout school and warned that if we didn’t go to college, we would wind up flipping burgers and living in our parents’ basement….Hey, that sounds a lot like what a lot of millennials are doing right now, only with several hundred dollars a month in student loans and maybe something little more glamorous than flipping burgers, like serving coffee or opening mail.

I know it’s too late for most people struggling with student loans to return their education, like an ill-fitting sweater from the Gap, but is it time we as a society start talking seriously about whether or not college is *really* a good idea for everyone and whether or not the current system of going for four years to get a general degree is really the right way to go about?  Hard questions need to be asked and I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen any of the lifetime earning charts where they compare someone with a high school diploma, a dropout, a bachelor’s degree and a masters side by side in the past 10 years or so, just like the ones we were bombarded with in school.    Higher education as we know it today is great for some people and for others, even well-intentioned ones it winds up being more trouble than its worth when you factor in employment prospects and the final bill.

The other issue is housing.   If the millennials aren’t able to afford “starter housing” now, how will they be able to afford their friend’s dad’s 5 bedroom 4 bath McMansion in the suburbs when it’s time for Mr. Johnston to check out into the condo he has lined up in Florida?   The article does some math on how long it would take for the average millennial to save up a 10% down payment with student loans and a mediocre income and it’s usually somewhere in the neighborhood of a decade.     Something’s gotta give there or else there’s going to be a shitload of these left to rot on the market or sold at incredibly low prices to the handful of people who can afford it.

So younger folks are getting priced out of the “hip, cool” markets of Generation X, like San Francisco, Portland, New York, Austin and Seattle?  I wonder how living patterns will change over the next decade or two.   I wonder if more millennials will start looking towards the small towns that have been gutted over the past generation with rock-bottom housing prices or even the smaller cities where the cost of living is significantly lower, like the places that currently have around 50,000-100,000 people.     I can also see places like Des Moines, Omaha Duluth and Dubuque on the upswing from this trend, just thinking in my immediate area.    It would be interesting if this situation sparked a migration back into America’s small towns.

The really really big thing that jumps out to me is the idea that it shows how it’s likely that there’s going to be a huge wealth gap between generations.   The baby boomers are about to start liquidating everything to pay for retirement AND apparently keeping little Johnny above the water….Who’s going to be there to buy their McMansions, small businesses/practices, shares in their IRA/401ks?   I really don’t know.   There’s always someone out there to buy and of course prices will drop accordingly, but the question is who because it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a large and vibrant American middle class to pick up the (large and economically vibrant) pieces when it’s time for the baby boomers to check out.

If we want to talk about wealth inequality today, just wait until all of this shit starts panning out…

 

With that said, I truly believe that there will be some great opportunities for regular folks when the wealth starts reshufflin’ if they play their cards right.

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