Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hero lost; soldier refuses to torture

Allysa Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native, served with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a "non-hostile weapons discharge."

She committed suicide, it turns out, because she refused to torture.

This is quite a change from when I was a kid. In movies, news, and TV shows I knew we were the good guys because we didn't torture people, even bad people. I'm not gullible. I know we actually did torture. My step father talked about interrogation methods in Vietnam that Green Berets used. But the cultural norm was that good countries don't torture. Bad countries do torture. We are a good country.

But what are we now?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Aboriginal Living Skills School

I know little about this guy, but it looks interesting. Learn how to survive in hard times.

I heard a story here (Phoenix) of Native Americans wondering about the white man when he first started showing up in these parts. Sometimes the locals would find a dead white person out in the desert and wonder why they died when there was food and water right nearby. Of course, it was because the white guys didn't know what was edible and what wasn't in that environment, and they didn't know the signs of where to find water. All it takes sometimes is a little education.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

vegetable garden seed sales up 30%

•Gardening. Sales of vegetable seeds and transplants are up 30% from 2008 at W. Atlee Burpee, the USA's largest seed company. The National Gardening Association says 7 million more households will grow food this year than in 2008 — a 19% rise. A book on building root cellars is the top seller at Johnny's Selected Seeds in Winslow, Maine, supervisor Joann Matuzas says.
•Canning. Jarden Corp. says sales of its Ball and Kerr canning and preserving products are up more than 30% from 2008. Sonya Staffan, owner of The Jam and Jelly Lady commercial cannery in Lebanon, Ohio, is offering twice as many classes this year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

3 economists trash bailout plans

Job programs, not temporary tax cuts, for one. This is a thought-provoking article.

Robert Shiller pointed out that economists failed to predict the problem by not considering the psychology behind the housing bubble and Wall Street excess. "We've gotten very speculative in our thinking. There was a psychology that developed... You still have these economists that say it can be explained by building costs, population and interest rates but we say it's more about the culture."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

how to eat during a Depression,0,1456860.story?page=1

Advice from some who went through the 1930's Depression. Some useful information here.

I think we should all start gardening. Our cabin property in South Dakota doesn't get much sunlight because we're in a valley, but I plan to grow a vegetable garden as an experiment anyway. Another problem there is deer eating the plants. Chicken wire will fix that, hopefully.

Monday, April 6, 2009

will smaller, more efficient houses be the new norm?

While a not-so-whopping 881-square-feet might sound too tiny to some, we at Naturally Savvy think it's the perfect sized home for singles, a young couple or a small family. The two-bedroom homes from U.S. national developer KB Home feature an open-concept kitchen/living/dining room on the main floor, with the bedrooms, a laundry room and a full bath on the upper level. There's also a two-bay tandem garage to park your hybrid or electric car.

A small home automatically requires less heating and cooling, so you're already saving energy and the environment by opting for a smaller space. Other eco-friendly features that makes these homes Energy Star qualified include:
-Low-e windows (the "e" stands for emittance or emissivity) feature a metallic oxide coating that doesn't let heat or UV-rays pass through, which will keep warm air in during the winter and prevent heat from the blazing summer sun from turning your home into a sauna in the summer.-Energy Star certified air conditioners. Cooling systems are almost a necessity in Houston, so these small spaces are equipped with 14-SEER air conditioners. (SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which basically rates the efficiency of cooling systems; the higher the number, the more efficient the system.) A 14-SEER system is the cutoff for Energy Star heating and cooling systems, which are the 25 percent most efficient units.-Water-saving Moen faucets and low-flow toilets that aid in conserving H20.-low-VOC paint by Sherwin-Williams and KB Home (an exclusive co-branded product) is used throughout the home.-Energy-efficient appliances are standard and extra-energy-efficient models are optional.-Eco-friendly carpet that meets the Carpet and Rug Institute's Green Label Plus low-VOC standard, and that contains post-consumer recycled content--diverting old carpeting from landfills.-Programmable thermostats helps home-owners keep their energy usage in check (so long as they keep the house a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter months).-Upgraded insulation prevents heat and cool loss.
Tankless Water Heaters, Bamboo Flooring, and more!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Roosevelt's Fireside Chat #28

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, or race or creed. Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries, or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of farmers to raise and sell their products at a return which will give them and their families a decent living;
The right of every business man, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad; The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, and sickness, and accident and unemployment;

And finally, the right to a good education. All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

how bankers game the system

"[T]he way that you do it is to make really bad loans, because they pay better," he told Moyers. "Then you grow extremely rapidly, in other words, you're a Ponzi-like scheme. And the third thing you do is we call it leverage. That just means borrowing a lot of money, and the combination creates a situation where you have guaranteed record profits in the early years. That makes you rich, through the bonuses that modern executive compensation has produced. It also makes it inevitable that there's going to be a disaster down the road.

William K. Black, professor of economics and law with the University of Missouri

Saturday, April 4, 2009

more on our overcrowded prison system

The United States has by far the world's highest incarceration rate. With 5% of the world's population, our country now houses nearly 25% of the world's reported prisoners. We currently incarcerate 756 inmates per 100,000 residents, a rate nearly five times the average worldwide of 158 for every 100,000. In addition, more than 5 million people who recently left jail remain under "correctional supervision," which includes parole, probation, and other community sanctions. All told, about one in every 31 adults in the United States is in prison, in jail, or on supervised release. This all comes at a very high price to taxpayers: Local, state, and federal spending on corrections adds up to about $68 billion a year. ..

With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different--and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter.