Words Have Meaning

Short-ish rant, this week. I’m struck by the apparent notion that a variety of things that would benefit the populace at large, or at least large chunks of it, are all “socialism.” At least, so sayeth our esteemed Senate Majority Leader.

According to him, reversing gerrymandering would be “socialism.” You know, undoing the damage done by a horde of Republican state legislatures, in a number of states. (PA, MD, VA, WI, and I’m sure many, many others.) I’m not saying Democrats don’t do it, or wouldn’t do it… But the D’s certainly seem to be much more on the “up-and-up” with regards to it.

Statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.? Yep. Socialism. Cementing the fact of the citizenship of the three-and-change million residents of Puerto Rico, thus their entitlement (oh, jeez… that word) to being rebuilt in a relatively timely fashion after a devastating hurricane. (I may be being optimistic, but having a bit more federal oversight might alleviate some of the political corruption down there, too…) And I’m sure the residents of D.C. would like some voting representation, given that they’re taxpayers, and all. Seems there was a war once, where that notion played a part. (Oh, and let’s not look too hard at the fact that P.R. statehood was a plank in the 2016 Republican platform, and was supported by Reagan and both Bushes… But now it’s socialism.)

Medicare for All? Socialism. (I’ll grant that, depending on how it’s implemented, it’s possibly at least partly socialism…) But providing healthcare to all of our citizens, as does every other industrialized nation on the planet is somehow “bad” because… reasons.

Not asking for citizenship on the census? Socialism. Never mind that it’s not the purpose of the census to determine such things. (The census determines how many people live here, and where, as its main goal–for determining representation in the House. All the other data they collect? They don’t really need it, when it’s all said and done)

None of that, of course, is inherently Socialism.  (Socialism is, of course, where “the proletariat seizes the means of production from the bourgeoisie.”  I would accept “the nationalizing of industries” as an answer.) Are they, maybe, social? Well, yeah. Lots of things are “social,” without being “socialism.”

And the false equivalency of “Nazis” with “Socialists,” since “it was the National Socialist Party, and it has it in the name!” can stop right now. The People’s Democratic Republic of Korea is neither the people’s, nor is it a Democracy or a Republic. Even though it says so, right in the name. (One of the first massacres the Nazis perpetrated was driving out all of the Socialists, let us not forget…)

Yes, they are “concentration camps” along the border. Almost by definition. Don’t like them being called that? How about disband the camps. Stop detaining people in them. Treat people, I dunno… Humanely?

And “Nationalist” does most definitely not equal “Patriot.” A better equivalency these days would be “racist,” or even “White Supremacist.” Those aren’t perfect definitions, no… but they’ll do for starters.

I was looking at the calendar a bit ago, and I realized that the next day I’m scheduled to post would be the Fourth of July… I’m going to skip that one, and will be back on the 18th, assuming we’re all still here. Happy Independence Day! May it be full of friends, fireworks, and good food. I’ll talk to y’all in a month!

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It Could Happen

On my commute to and from work, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. (My drive is about 45 minutes one-way with good traffic, and has been up to 3 hours with bad.) I listen to casts on a variety of topics–news, sociology, business, and personal finance, mostly. But one recently has caught my attention, and I’ve been catching an episode a day for the last week or so: “It Could Happen Here.

The overall topic is examining the possibility of, events surrounding, consequences, etc., of a potential second Civil War in America. I’m on episode eight or so thus far, and while there are a few minor points I might quibble about, it’s pretty realistic, believable, and quite sobering. The paranoid part of me wonders if maybe this isn’t how we’re going to go…

The author/announcer is generally on the left (although he describes himself as having “libertarian leanings”). He does, to my eye, a decent enough job of trying to balance things out: it’s not all about how the far right is going to rise up to destroy things–although it’s largely that. (When the reality is that over the last several years, about 64% of “terrorist attacks” in the U.S. have been right-wing extremists, 23% have been Islamic, and 3% have been left-wing [numbers are by my recollection, and come from the SPLC], things are going to skew one somewhat.)

He spends a lot of time drawing on experiences (memoirs, studies, personal visits) from various points in history when the shit really hit the fan–the Holocaust, various genocides, Syria, Iraq, and others). It’s really well-researched, and quite well thought-out. There are, as I said, a few points I might quibble with. I like to think that there’s a certain degree of “American-ness,” for lack of a better word, that would push things in unexpected, novel ways. (Perhaps I’m just kidding myself. Also, perhaps, there’s no guarantee that any “unexpected, novel” differences would be for the better.)

Parts of it are rather grim. More than a few times, I caught myself saying, “they’d be doing that because…”, only to have the announcer reaffirm what I said (but with sociology, history, and statistics to back it up). I will say, however, that I don’t believe we’re quite as close to tipping in that direction as the announcer thinks. I don’t believe we’re all that far, mind you–but there are still saner heads out there, trying to be heard.

Regardless, it’s interesting, and definitely food for some thought. What say you, good readers? Has anybody else given this one a listen? What are some other good podcasts for folks of our persuasion? Let us know in the comments1

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Business As Usual

Or, perhaps, “busy-ness” is better.  We performed an “emergency” kitchen remodel last week, in addition to having to catch multiple bee swarms, keep the dogs from stressing out (disruption from the remodel), and the usual housekeeping, and getting ready for family to visit (it’s high school graduation season)–all in addition to the normal day-to-day activities of just keeping ourselves fed and clothed…

Meantime, out in the rest of the country, it looks to me like the Constitutional Crisis is continuing unabated, and may be coming to a head in the next week or two.

All that to say, I just can’t, this week. So I’m taking this one off.  I’ll be back with a “normal” post in two weeks.  Take care, y’all.

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Government Showdown

As I write this, on Wednesday afternoon, things on Capitol Hill have gotten a bit testy. (Well, okay, testier than usual.) The White House is refusing to comply with Congressional subpoenas, which is pretty much unheard of. The House is about to declare the Attorney General in contempt of Congress; also unheard of. The President is apparently trying to claim executive privilege over the Mueller report into him, which is… wow.

Meanwhile, we’re also looking at a potential trade war with China (again). A possible hot war with Iran. The administration has just agreed with Putin that there’s “no collusion, obviously.”

What exciting times we live in! Frankly, I’d rather it was a little more boring.

While I still don’t see any of this leading to a “Mad Max” EOTW scenario, it’s easy to see things getting worse before they get better. Remember: staple dry goods foodstuffs are your friend; buy what you eat; have a plan for things to take the occasional dump. Be good to your neighbors. And help each other out as much as you possibly can.

On the Home Front

Meanwhile, we’re getting our tomatoes and peppers in; the peas are coming up nicely, and we’ve got to thin the radishes. The major local flowering trees (tulip poplar and black locust, here in the mid-Atlantic) are blooming, which always gets the bees a little antsy–I’ve caught one swarm from my hives, and watched a swarm from elsewhere zip past overhead, just in the last several days.

I’d really like to get a crop of grains in, but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to manage that this year. I’ll have to settle for scattering sunflowers across the hillside out in the field (the part that’s too steep to mow), and hope for the best, there.

All of the fruit trees appear to be setting fruit–from the plums we planted two years ago (only one or two fruit, but they’re young), through the cherries (bumper crop this year, barring misfortune) and apples, to the pears and the “volunteer” peach trees. The vines and canes have begun blooming, as well, so there will be blackberries, raspberries, and wineberries.  The mulberry trees are all looking full. I’d really like to see the blueberries and grapes perform this year, but I’ll not hold my breath. And I’m curious if the butternut will give us more than two nuts, this year.

We’ve also started a new experiment, just to see how it goes. I’m calling them “Brussels Krauts;” basically, it’s making a sauerkraut out of Brussels sprouts. (I mean, kraut is made from cabbage, and sprouts are like little mini cabbages…) Basically, you clean them, halve them, put them in a jar, then cover them with a brine… More or less the same as kraut–except you’re doing the liquid thing, rather than relying on the salt to extract it. They smell just like kraut; we should be trying them soon. I’ll be sure to let you know how they work. (They’ve got to be better than the sulfury boiled-to-death Brussels sprouts of my childhood; fortunately, we’ve discovered the art of broiling them with a little salt and Balsamic vinegar…)

What say you, readers? How are your gardens? It’s getting towards time to start drying things (recall my solar dehydrator), and I hope to start solar cooking things, soon. Any good recipes to share? Tips for tasty long-term storage? Let everybody know down in the comments!

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Once again, I’ve been too busy to plan out a nice, meaty, solid post for you all…  So here’s a handful of smaller ones, smashed together.

The Report

The Special Counsel’s report has been out for a bit now. That’s long enough for both sides to have come out with their takeaways. Long enough for the pundits to give us their opinions (in as many 10-second soundbite one-liners as they could find). Long enough for it to have already been overwhelmed by the latest goings-on… But not long enough for most of us to have actually read the report. I mean, come on–it’s four hundred some pages. Were it a sci-fi or fantasy book, and I still a teenager, yeah, that’s an afternoon’s work. But nowadays, I’m lucky to get 5 pages a night before I can’t keep my eyes open.

Still, I advise that we all take a minute and go through it. Maybe not word-by-word, but get a broad gist of the overall direction things point.

For starters, it doesn’t exonerate the president of anything. Mueller’s “no collusion” result seems to have been based on a very narrow definition of collusion (conspiracy, actually, but “collusion” seems to be the accepted term). It does seem to point at extensive obstruction of justice–which is one of those crimes that it’s illegal to attempt, much less to actually perform.

I think the direction is clear from there. But I also know that politics is involved, and so we the voters will probably be the ones actually moving the ball, in 2020.  May I suggest that whatever democratic candidate is chosen in the primary–whether they’re the one you chose or not–you still vote for them in the general election?  Because not doing so is one of the reasons we ended up with Trump. Perhaps not the biggest, most important one–but certainly a factor.

A Brief Rant

I’ve mentioned that I’m a translator. As such, words are important to me. And I get that “fingernails on a chalkboard” sensation when I see them being used… not improperly, necessarily, but poorly.

Case in point: I recently saw a silicon cake mold, for making cakes in the shape of a handlebar mustache. (No, really. Stay with me…) The box for said mold claimed that it was an “All-Purpose Silicon Mustache Cake Mold.”

Apart from being generally wrong, I take umbrage at the description of this as “all-purpose.” In fact, I see really only a single purpose to the item: Making things shaped like twelve-inch handlebar mustaches. (I’ll grant that it doesn’t have to be just cakes–but it’s still not “all-purpose”.)

Then there’s the Discovery Channel, with a series of shows about sinkholes. They claim that sinkholes are “popping up all over!” Well, if by “sinkhole” they mean “geyser,” or perhaps “volcano,” maybe. But really, sinkholes do more of a “falling-in” than a “popping up.”

Don’t get me started on the commercial for a product, boasting that “many of our clients are men! Or women!”  Well, yeah…

I could even get into the whole “this isn’t a Democracy, it’s a Republic!” thing, but I’ll save that for its own post. (Hint: we’re both, and neither…)

Good Description of Prepping

One of the best descriptions of prepping I’ve seen lately: “Prepping, mostly, is boring. Pay off your debts. Make sure you’ve got at least a few days’ worth of food in the pantry. Make sure you’re ready for whatever types of emergencies hit your area–hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires.”

Playing off of that, I’ve mentioned that I’m working on the financial end of things; we got close to $17k paid off last year (cars, credit cards, house), and we’re on track to do better this year. All this while also paying for the children’s extracurriculars, and for home improvement, and fixing things that needed fixing, and all of the daily regular stuff. It can be done, if you set your mind to it, and come up with a system that works for you. (I’m fond of the Dave Ramsey debt snowball, and I’m doing something similar–but there are many systems that’ll work.)

How about you guys? How are you doing with the “daily plod”? What preps have you done lately?

Posted in Critical Thought, Government, Make it Stop, Planning, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Not Much Going On

I apologize, folks, but I’ve been absolutely too busy to think much about what to write, this week. I’m in the middle of an inter-office shift in my day job, and at home–well, it’s springtime.

It’s the “springtime” stuff that has me busiest. All of the trees are blooming and such, if a little later in some cases than I think they might. (I thought I recalled the cherry trees blooming before the apples and pears; the pears are about halfway done, and the apples are getting ready to start, while the cherries appear to be just beginning to consider sending out buds…) We need to get into overdrive to get the early part of the garden in–brassicas appear to be fine, but we have to do lettuce and radishes, and start the potato beds and the like.

The hens are happy with the longer days, and now that the last of them is done molting, we’re getting an ample supply of eggs. While we’ve seen a couple of hawks around, they haven’t struck lately; the dogs have the raccoons pretty well run off, and the lone fox I’ve heard at night has kept its distance. (Even if it didn’t, I’m fairly confident in our “layered defense” for the chickens.)

And the bees all appear to have survived the winter. They seemed to be doing well when I inspected them this weekend–good laying pattern, and they were bringing in plenty of pollen. I saw the first dandelions in the fields yesterday (meaning they’ve probably been there a day or two longer), and that’s typically the “starting gun” for the bees’ activity. I should be getting some new queens in about a month, with which I plan to split both hives and double my colonies. I’m not really looking for a big honey harvest this year, although they might surprise me–but if I play things right, I’ll be well situated for next year.

How are your preps going?  Do you have your gardens set up?  (Even a small patio garden–or a kitchen windowsill garden–is a great start.)  What’s going on in your neck of the woods?  Let us know in the comments!

Posted in homestead, Quick, Skills and Practice | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Cat’s Out of the Bottle, Djinni Won’t Get in the Bag

The inescapable news of the last week or so is, of course, the Mueller Report. Basically no-one has actually read it yet, so I’m not going to spend much time on it. But “not much” is not “none.”

Frankly, I’m a little surprised that it came out as soon as it did. I was, quite honestly, thinking that we’d more likely see it come summertime at the earliest–with “October, 2020” as a distinct possibility. So that’s a pleasant surprise.

Despite all of the hand-wringing and lamentations spawned by Barr’s summary of a summary, I’m not sure that it’s as “bad for the Left” as all that. It’s almost certainly not as “good for the Right” as they’re making it out to be. With the understanding that there are certainly parts of the report that will rightly be redacted from the public, at least at first–ongoing investigations and the like–it’s telling that they haven’t released any of the report yet.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, if the report truly fully exonerated the President, it would have been released immediately, and Fox News would be reading from it every half-hour. Instead, we haven’t seen even a single, redacted page. The report went from “lies, a witch hunt, fake news!” to “completely clears the President, no collusion!” in a flash–in fact, in much less time than it should take to read through it. (I’m being generous, and assuming that Trump can read. Probably moves his lips, and anything over three syllables is right out…)

So let’s not freak out about the whole thing, until we actually see some of it. (And curious it is, too, that the Republicans in Congress suddenly don’t want it to be released. As they are so fond of throwing at others: “If you didn’t do anything wrong, what do you have to hide?”)

That’s actually more time than I wanted to spend on the whole thing… All I can advise is patience. Karma sometimes works with incredible speed–and other times, with infuriating slowness.

I’m seeing lots of chatter about the Interwebs regarding fear of a coming economic collapse, and how folks have been preparing for it–to include digging through rolls of quarters and dimes from the bank, looking for old (silver) ones to separate out.

Here again, I’ll advise patience. Economists have predicted eleven of the last two crashes, and they show no signs of improving their track records. On the flip side, the one certain thing that can be said about a crash is that there will be one. No idea when, naturally, but one is certainly coming. Could be tomorrow, or next week. Could be in a decade or two.

Remember that all financial things involve a bit of risk. But also that all prepping involves a bit of risk, as well. Financial collapse is just one more thing to worry about–but I wouldn’t worry too hard, if you’ve got everything else in order. By “everything else,” I mean your main preps (72-hour kit, anyone? knowledge base? skill sets?), and your community. (I leave it as an exercise for the reader which is more important…) Beyond that, I’d say things are far to dependent on your personal conditions for me to give any meaningful overview.

The 72-hour kit, you’ll recall, is to help out in the event of an “imminent” disaster (flood, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, fire)–they’re for shorter-term, but more “in-your-face” disasters. Knowledge and skill sets will carry you through most longer-term ones, and even (to an extent) the majority of “Mad Max” scenarios, when it comes down to it. And if your community is cohesive, and ready to deal as a group with the various curve balls that come along, you’ve basically got an army to back you up when it hits the fan.

That’s it, for this week–spring is springing, and I’ve got ridiculous amounts of things to do around the homestead. The early vegetables are in the garden (brassicas, mostly). garlic and onions overwintered fine, and need to be dealt with. The asparagus appears to have survived, and is sending up the first shoots. The bees overwintered–both hives, it looks like, although one is weaker than I’d like–and I’ve got to get them going for the first nectar flow. All the things!  How is spring looking for you guys?  Let us know in the comments!

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