Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31 2015. Ducted fans seem finally to be coming into their own for VTOL aircraft. The TriFan 600 is particularly interesting.





The first VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft was the hot air balloon (which wasn’t too particular about where it landed).

Hydrogen filled airships followed (the Hindenburg disaster didn’t do much for their image)—and then came helicopters, and jump-jets like the Harrier.

More recently came the tilt-rotor—a good idea that hasn’t been implemented quite as intelligently as one might like). The V-22 Osprey performs pretty much as planned—and is much faster than a traditional helicopter—but is expensive, maintenance heavy, and not the most practical of designs. Given that it was designed specifically for military use, and development took decades, you would have to wonder why its fuselage is so cramped. It is too narrow to carry a Humvee, for instance.

All have their uses—and the VTOL capability is invaluable—but they suffer from cost and other limitations. VTOL is still, very much, a work in progress—though the signs are encouraging. The helicopter, itself—the kind with a tail rotor—does not look like the way to go.

Helicopters are affected by a limiting condition called ‘RETREATING BLADE STALL

A tendency for the retreating blade to stall in forward flight is inherent in all present day helicopters and is a major factor in limiting their forward speed. Just as the stall of an airplane wing limits the low speed possibilities of the airplane, the stall of a rotor blade limits the high speed potential of a helicopter. The airspeed of the retreating blade (the blade moving away from the direction of flight) slows down as forward speed increases. The retreating blade must, however, produce an amount of lift equal to that of the advancing blade. Therefore, as the airspeed of the retreating blade decreases with forward aircraft speed, the blade angle of attack must be increased to equalize lift throughout the rotor disk area. As this angle increase is continued, the blade will stall at some high forward speed.

As forward airspeed increases, the "no lift" areas move left of center, covering more of the retreating blade sectors:

The Tri-Fan 600 by the XTI Aircraft Company of Denver offers an intriguing variation on the tilt-rotor theme. It uses three ducted fans for the VTOL aspect—but only two are used for forward flight. The third is then covered by a sliding door to prevent drag.  You need three for vertical lift, but the wing takes over that task as forward momentum develops.

This is an ingenious design. The only downside that I can see—apart from the cost implications—is that it prevents the aircraft having a rear door with a tail ramp (which is particularly useful for casualty evacuation, cargo carrying, or military application). But, lack of a tail ramp shouldn’t matter as far as its current intended purposed is concerned.

Retreating blade stall is not a relevant factor when the ducted fans are used vertically as propellers.

Diagram of the TriFan 600



The following extract is from a piece in by David Szondy dated August 26 2015. The corporate website is at

Under development for two years, the TriFan 600 is designed as a six-seat, fixed-wing, composite-construction, fly-by-wire airplane with both VTOL capabilities and the speed and range of a conventional business jet. It would carry a pilot and five passengers at a cruising speed of 340 knots (400 mph, 644 km/h) and have a ceiling of 30,000 ft (9,000 m). Its two high-performance turboshaft engines give it a range of 800 to 1,200 mi (1,300 to 1,900 km), depending on takeoff method and payload.

Meanwhile, three ducted fans behind a sliding hatch provide vertical lift. One selling point of the aircraft is that by eliminating the need to travel to and from airports and transport passengers door-to-door (or helipad-to-helipad), it would be competitive even with faster conventional aircraft. The TriFan 600 will initially be targeted at business customers and is expected to cost from US$10 to $12 million.

On Tuesday, XTI Aircraft announced an equity crowdfunding campaign that the company refers to as the "first fundraising effort of its kind in aviation history." Based on new rules approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, backers can buy a stake in the company. The campaign is part of a larger fundraising effort that is also looking to attract venture capital, private equity, and high net-worth investors.

The new company boasts some high-powered officers, including Vice Chairman Jeffrey Pino, who is the former president and chief executive of Sikorsky Aircraft, board member Charlie Johnson, who is the former president of Cessna Aircraft Company, and Chief Engineer and board member Dennis Olcott, who served as chief engineer for Adam Aircraft and the PiperJet program.

If the fundraising effort is successful, the company aims to get the first proof of concept prototype completed in two-and-a-half years before building another one or two prototypes for further testing and FAA certification.

"We view equity crowdfunding as a creative way to involve everyone as true stakeholders working together to pioneer this all new way to fly," says Brody. "It's a way to turn all of our supporters into potential stockholders by providing the public a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get in early on something truly revolutionary."


Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 30 2015. Books that have affected me most over the last decade? In terms of thoroughly entertaining thrillers, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO series by Stieg Larson would top the list. These are thrillers with serious social content. Sadly, he died way too young.




I have got great respect for the Scandinavians (and apologize for lumping some quite distinctive nations all together. It seems to me that they have evolved the best ways of governing themselves that mankind has been able to evolve so far—and that is quite an achievement. And such such political and economic systems deliver a commendably high quality of life—as well as being more socially just than most—and being free-enterprise driven.

They are living proof  that capitalism can work if you adopt the right version of it. When capitalism is good, it is very, very good—but when it’s bad it’s awful.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they are satisfied—or that the end results are perfect. They are merely better that the others—quite a bit better, in my opinion.

The current American Business Model, on the other hand, is decidedly problematic. Any system which primarily benefits only a small elite, crushes the Middle Class, and leads to an ever expanding and largely ignored underclass—has to be regarded with the greatest concern.

I am far from sure that Americans have reached that view yet—despite the evidence of their own eyes and wallets.

Though I have visited Denmark many times, I have only been to Sweden once—where it was so cold the sea was frozen into weird and wonderful shapes. It is the only time in my life I have seen that—and I was deeply impressed. I was equally impressed by the build quality of the house I was staying in. It was so well insulated that despite the subzero temperatures outside, it was warm and cozy inside on the back of a minimal amount of energy. In contrast, my tiny thatched cottage in Ireland was so energy inefficient, I had to keep my Jotul wood-burning stove going virtually year around to avoid hypothermia. .

Why don’t we build this way in Ireland, I wondered. I still do.

Mind you, I loved my cottage with a passion—and the day we left it was one of the worst of my life. But love was never rational.

I still don’t understand why we are so slow to learn from each other. On the one hand, we are supposed to have a globalized world and virtually instant communication, yet somehow we haven’t yet worked out how to apply best practices everywhere—or even what those best practices are.

Why not?

Let me theorize.

  • We’re not very good at framing the question—and you need to start off with a question to find an answer. Being able to come up with the right question is, almost certainly, one of the secrets of life. I say that because I have come to the conclusion that answers are almost always out there. Truly intractable problems do exist—but they are very much in the minority. Strangely enough, my daily research—contrary to what one might expect since I trawl through some pretty grim stuff—seems to be making me into something of an optimist.
  • Many of us are still surprisingly insular. Europeans—most of whom are multi-lingual—tend  tend to have to be  outward-looking because of sheer geography and because they rely on other countries so much. Also, the downside of being excessively nationalistic is now a cultural norm given the horrors of two world wars. Americans tend not to be because of the sheer scale of the Nation and because American Exceptionalism is so much part of the fabric.
  • A disturbing number of people can’t seem to grasp things outside their own immediate experience—particularly if they don’t read. Reading isn’t direct experience, but second-hand experience is still valuable and helps with understanding.
  • Most of us resist anything that removes us from our comfort zone. I hate leaving mine—though love new adventures more—so  emerge from it with considerable frequency. You would think I would know better at my age.
  • Language difficulties hinder communication. It is relatively easy to understand the principles of how others do things so much better—but effective implementation normally involves grasping the details as well—and that is where you really need to speak the language concerned.
  • The status quo is fiercely and ruthlessly defended everywhere. People have a stake in what is—and are somewhat fearful of what might be.
  • We iconoclasts—makers of change—aren’t doing our jobs well enough. I suspect we are better at coming up with ideas than communicating them effectively. To the iconoclast, the merits of an idea tend to be self-evident, but that may well not be the case as far as others are concerned. Perhaps a little less creative arrogance is called for.

Hmm! I didn’t really expect that the logic of my argument would lead to my criticizing myself—but writing leads where it leads.

Let me conclude by saying that this series of books is not only original, and remarkably entertaining, but a thoroughly enjoyable way of gaining an insight into the Swedish way of life.

It is not quite what you would expect.

Sweden prepares for ‘new Millennium’

Published August 21, 2015. By Lasse Winkler

  • Share

The sequel to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium books, The Girl In The Spider’s Web, is the biggest book release in Sweden this year and probably one of the most elaborate book launches in this country in modern times.

There is the literary challenge to consider. And the ethical aspect of producing a “sequel” to the late author’s trilogy, of course. But, unlike other markets where the book is launched this autumn, it’s the aspect of history you have to consider in Sweden.

It’s more than 10 years since Stieg Larsson passed away and the subsequent inheritance dispute exploded into public view. But in our country it’s still as if it happened yesterday. As one of the editors involved put it: “The inheritance dispute is still an open wound in the family. The conflict between Stieg Larsson’s life partner, Eva Gabrielsson, and his family of birth has always remained in people’s minds. It means that many people take positions. Without that we would have had a completely different situation.”

This fact has strongly affected the marketing strategy, both in the way the publisher Norstedts and the Larsson family have prepared for and approached the debate over the book so far, and the launch plans.   This July, before the campaign started, the father and the brother of Stieg Larsson issued an open letter that explained their reasons for agreeing to a sequel from David Lagercrantz, saying they saw an opportunity with “to let the characters and the milieu live on with respect and quality”.  They also wrote that all the income they would receive from the book would be donated to the anti-Nazi organization Expo, the organization Larsson worked for. Not long before Larsson died, he wrote a short note to himself saying that he wanted to give all the income from a fourth book he planned to Expo.
In the last two weeks,
the debate over the book has exploded in the Swedish media, led by some old friends of Larsson’s, and, to a lesser degree, by his life companion Eva Gabrielsson. They accused the family and the publisher of violating Stieg Larsson’s copyright and of being greedy, and criticised the choice of David Lagercrantz as the author, saying his upper class background is at odds with Larsson’s left-wing principles. The question: “What would Stieg Larsson say?” has made its round in many papers.

Norstedts has engaged with the debate on TV sofas and in the big daily newspapers in a low-key but effective manner. No one has ducked the tricky questions, which is a new standard in Sweden.
It is against this background one must understand the sharp boundary that is being made in the Swedish market between Stieg Larsson and the new book. It is NOT a new Stieg Larsson book. It’s a David Lagercrantz book, built by him on Larsson’s world of ideas and characters.

That message is reinforced in interviews and press releases, and in the way Norstedts has marketed David Lagercrantz so far. The cover of the English edition of the novel, with its clear reference to Stieg Larsson, would not be accepted in Sweden.

The marketing link in Sweden is the use of the Millennium logo, the same logo that dominates the covers of the three Swedish editions of Larsson’s earlier books. It’s also considered a better connection to Swedish readers who, the publisher believes, are more interested in the political aspect of the work of Mikael Blomkvist than your average international reader.
So far, the strategy seems to be working. All retailers have put in large orders and believe that they have a bestseller on their hands. Almost no retailer thinks that book buyers will be affected by the debate: they think that sales will be driven from curiosity. People will want to know if David Lagercrantz succeeds.

But there are some voices that differ within the trade. To quote one of a few critical booksellers, who remains concerned by the ethics of publishing a sequel to Larsson’s work: “The sad thing in all this is that the morality of the entire project will be determined by how good the book is [and its success as a bestseller]. It is a strange morality.”

Lasse Winkler is a former editor of Sweden’s book trade publication Svensk Bokhandel

Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 29 2015. The deliberate perversion of the meaning of words is major tactic of the Right—and a particularly ugly thing. It makes reasoned debate near impossible. That is just plain morally wrong—a thoroughly reprehensible (if effective) tactic. It is entirely reasonable to disagree. It is dangerous when you can’t communicate.






I find it truly ironic—and disturbing—that the U.S., a nation that enshrines freedom of speech in its constitution—should be as dominated by propaganda to the extent it is.

Integral to the the American Way of Life is a cradle-to-the-grave barrage of deception, distortion, exaggeration, myth, and delusion. In fact, there is so much of it, that it is difficult to think calmly and rationally—and considerable evidence that people are failing to do so.

The problem is compounded by a high level of ignorance in that a significant percentage of the population seems to know little of the substance of almost any issue you care to name.

Here, let me say that I don’t differentiate between government, political, academic or commercial propaganda (or any other kind). Most of it contains a substantial element of falsehood and is clearly intended to deceive.

Propaganda is a form of communication aimed towards influencing the attitude of a population toward some cause or position.

Propaganda is information that is not impartial and used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (perhaps lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information presented.

While the term propaganda has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and jingoistic examples, propaganda in its original sense was neutral and could refer to uses that were generally positive, such as public health recommendations, signs encouraging citizens to participate in a census or election, or messages encouraging persons to report crimes to law enforcement.

You would have to wonder about the impact on democracy of this egregious level of propaganda (and, just to be clear, I am not talking about neutral propaganda). The U.S. Constitution is based upon the idea that people vote from a position of a reasonable amount of information and rational self-interest.

The reality is very different.

I doubt that any nation is propaganda free—or even close—but, as always, it is a matter of balance and degree. The current U.S. information climate is just plain out of whack to the point where it is eroding the Nation’s very strengths—particularly its ability to resolve issues.

America has become a bitterly divided, socially unjust, ‘can’t do’ nation—mired in gridlock. It still possesses enormous strengths, and contains an abundance of talented people, but it’s structural flaws seem to have resulted in something akin to paralysis.

This is crazy!

Unless, of course, you are someone—a member of the ultra-rich or the substantial number of those who serve them—who benefits from the status quo, and is doing the manipulation.

Can anything be done about this all this?

Unfortunately, it will be extremely difficult to do anything about propaganda in the U.S. because of the Constitution—and because Americans are so used to pervasive propaganda they regard it is reasonable and normal. In short, like having freely available guns, driving instead of walking, and believing in rugged individualism ahead of social concern, it is culturally acceptable—which makes it exceptionally hard to change.

Nonetheless, ‘exceptionally hard’ should not be confused with impossible. The transformation of attitudes in relation to gay marriage illustrates that point.

This isn’t to say that everyone is happy with the way things are—many hate the excessive advertising on TV, for example—but more that the dominant view seems to be that having freedom of speech more than compensates for propaganda excess.

I don’t share that view. I’m not a great believer in absolutes. Just about everything needs to be qualified to work. It’s simply a fact that society needs rules and regulations to function. In truth, I’m not overly fond of that aspect of life—but I entirely accept the necessity (with the proviso that any and all rules and regulations need to be enforced with understanding and tolerance).

The following brief thoughts are based upon the assumption that the Constitution can be (judiciously) modified where this matter is concerned. Pigs will probably engage in aerial acrobatics first—but I don’t like raising issues without offering solutions (or at least some indication that solutions are available)—so here goes. Note that I am not aiming for perfection here. I’m more concerned to get some balance back in—to make a start. And yes, I know it will be perceived as somewhat naïve to harbor such thoughts. So be it.

  • The legal fiction that corporations are people needs to be overturned and corporations given their own discrete set of rights, obligations, rules and regulations. These should include the principle that corporations have an obligation to tell the truth—and to justify their claims.
  • We need some kind of social mechanism—less a court than an arbitration system—possibly with ‘naming and shaming’ involved—which would allow people who make blatantly false statements—to be challenged. No, I don’t yet know how this might work—but I’m thinking of something that might change the culture. Smoking, for instance, was once socially acceptable—and now it is not. The same transition has taken place where drinking and driving is concerned. I would like to see egregious lying regarded with equal disdain. As matters stand, there are considerable advantages to lying—and scant downside. Similarly, cheating is now widespread. This all adds up to a decline in values—with the American Business Model leading the rush to the bottom.
  • The U.S. would benefit greatly from study how Europe reins in corporate power and its associated propaganda. Their combined solutions are very far from perfect but, in total, they have a substantial restraining effect. Capitalism is like a dog which needs to be kept on a tight leash.

And now for David Morris’s interesting piece.

Words Matter: What the Language We Use Tells Us About Our Current Political Landscape

David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its initiative on The Public Good. He is the author of “New City States” and four other non-fiction books.  

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.”  A fine sentiment, but any child subjected to cyber bullying knows that words do indeed matter.

Language evolves.  Sometimes a word that once was negative becomes positive, like “terrific” which originally meant terrifying.  Sometimes a word that was once positive becomes negative, as when “awful” changes from awe inspiring to very bad.

In politics too words matter, and in politics too language evolves.  In the last 50 years we have witnessed a politically motivated sea change in the meaning of old words and the introduction of new words, all intended to undermine our sense of compassion.


The prime example is how we’ve changed the meaning of the word “liberal”.   For almost 700 years the word meant generous, selfless, noble, tolerant.  When the word began to describe a political philosophy it mostly retained its original meaning.   According to the Oxford English Dictionary, aside from being “broadminded” a liberal is someone “favoring political reform tending toward democracy and personal freedom for the individual.”

And then the 1960s happened.  The Great Society, and civil rights legislation, spawned a change in the definition of liberal.  We began to hear the phrase “bleeding heart liberal” to describe someone excessively softhearted.

The miracle of Google’s ngram allows us to trace the popularity of words and phrases in million of books. As we can see, “bleeding heart liberal” comes of age in the 1960s.

Within 20 years the word “liberal” had been demonized.  Long time Chicago based columnist Mike Royko wondered why the term had become so negative if the major criticism of it was that a liberal was too compassionate.  He thought the reason was racism.  “So I learned that in Chicago, as in many parts of the South and other big cities, the word liberal has one basic, simple definition.  It’s just another word for ‘nigger lover’”, Royko  concluded.

In his Acceptance Speech of the New York Liberal Party Nomination in September 1960 John F. Kennedy proudly  declared himself a liberal and defended the word against criticism,   “…if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who … cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties— then I’m proud to say I’m a ‘Liberal.’”  For many, JFK’s definition suggested a government aggressively overruling local sentiments to force states and communities to allow blacks to vote unimpeded and integrate them into neighborhood schools and jobs and the general society.  The South especially but not solely rejected both the policies and the word.

The assault on the word “liberal” hit its peak in 1988 during the Dukakis-Bush Presidential campaigns. Coming out of the Democratic convention in late August Michael Dukakis was 10-15 points ahead in the polls.  An aggressive campaign  orchestrated by Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes attacked Dukakis as a “card carrying liberal”, evoking language used by Senator McCarthy in his attacks on leftists as Communists.  A highlight of the campaign was a series of ads about Willie Horton, a black man who while on furlough under a program begun when Dukakis was Governor of Massachusetts had raped and killed a white woman.

The strategy paid off. Late in the Dukakis campaign Royko  reflected, “Republicans have used (the word liberal) like cops beating a confession out of a suspect. Admit it, Mike Dukakis, you are guilty of being a liberal.  Confess, confess.”  And noted, “Dukakis, who started in the primaries saying he was a liberal, now grimaces when he hears it and says he’s not a complete liberal after all.”

By the 1990s the word “liberal” had almost become radioactive.  A famous 1996 GOPAC  memo titled, Language:  A Key Mechanism of Control offered election campaign advice from Newt Gingrich to Republican candidates.  The memo helpfully listed dozens of words candidates should use to promote themselves and denounce their opponents.  On the negative list was the liberal along with words like “intolerant”, “traitors” and “corrupt.”


For many of the same reasons the term liberal, once so positive became so negative, the word “welfare once so positive it was included in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution became a blasphemy.

When FDR promoted the idea that we must collectively accept responsibility for helping those in need the term “welfare” had admirable connotations.  Tellingly, the first federal welfare program, Aid to Dependent Children, was part of the aptly named Social Security Act of 1935. But welfare was done in by one of the same forces that did in liberal:  racism.  In the 1960s many came to view welfare largely as an African- American phenomenon.  They were helped along in this misconception by a media that dramatically overrepresented the number of blacks among the poor, especially in stories involving welfare cheating. Indeed the racially-tinged term “welfare fraud” was introduced in the late 1950s and by the late 1970s its use became commonplace in the political arena.

Under President Reagan, who famously campaigned against “welfare queens”, the federal government financially penalized states that gave welfare to ineligible families.  As if to underline the objective of the initiative, no financial penalties were imposed on states that did not offer assistance to eligible families!

By the 1990s Bill Clinton was reelected on his promise to “end welfare as we know it”.  Which he did. The difference in the names of the 1935 law creating a federal commitment to the poor and the 1996 law that all but ended it reflected our new more tightfisted values.  The 1935 Social Security Act gave way to the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.

The word welfare, like the word liberal, had become lethal.  A 2006 poll by the National Opinion Research Center reveals how much words matter.  More than 65 percent of those surveyed thought government spends “too little” on “assistance to the poor.” But when the phrase “assistance to the poor” was replaced with “welfare” only 20 percent thought the government spent “too little” while 46 percent said it spent “too much.”


In the last generation old words took on new meanings when politicians tied them to race.  And new words were introduced that widened the miserly lens to take into account wide swaths of the population.

One of them was the word “entitlement”.  The word “entitle” had been in the vocabulary for hundreds of years.  But “entitlement” was coined very recently and almost from the beginning was reserved for describing federal programs and had a negative connotation.

Mark Liberman  writes that the earliest cluster of uses of the word entitlement was associated with post- WWII veterans’ benefits, as in this 1947 Popular Mechanics ad about the GI Act:  “Don’t risk losing your veterans entitlement.”  He adds, “But this seems to be the last as well as the first context where entitlement is commonly used in a positive or even neutral way.”  Very quickly entitlement changed from a legitimate claim to an illegitimate claim.

At first the word was associated largely with federal programs like food stamps that people qualify for without first paying into.  But eventually it came to encompass all federal programs that guarantee a benefit to specific groups, even previously sacrosanct programs like Social Security and Medicare for which eventual recipients pay for through taxes.

Soon politicians conflated entitlements with welfare.  In the 2012 election this became explicit. The Washington Post reported, “Milt Romney framed the 2012 presidential election…as a choice between an ‘entitlement society’ dependent on government welfare and an ‘opportunity society’ that enables businesses to flourish.” Romney  added, “Even if we could afford the ever-expanding payments of an entitlement society, it is a fundamental corruption of the American spirit.”

For Romney almost half the country is now dependent on handouts.  “(T)here are 47 percent of the people…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement.”

It is instructive that the word “entitlement” is AWOL for federal programs that help the rich rather than the needy.   The Earned Income Tax Credit program, which provides a refundable tax credit for workers earning below a certain level is often called an entitlement.  But capital gains tax rates that are less than half those imposed on labor are never described as an entitlement even when the Washington Post  reports, The

400 richest taxpayers in 2008 counted 60 percent of their income in the form of capital gains and 8 percent from salary and wages.  The rest of the country reported 5 percent in capital gains and 72 percent in salary.”

Military spending also is immune from the language of entitlement.  But as a Virginia-based defense analyst using the pen name Werther  explains.“$550 billion, give or take, is what is required simply to sustain it in garrison and have the Blue Angels perform the requisite number of air shows during a year. Should we ask it to do anything, even merely adjust its normal deployment schedules to sail down to Haiti and deliver supplies, that costs a billion or two extra. Actual wars, needless to say, cost hundreds of billions extra. Imagine a fire department that charges residents a premium every time its fire engines leave the station house, and you have understood the U.S. military”

The $550 billion is the military’s entitlement.  Anything they actually do to protect the country costs extra.


The rise to prominence of the new increasingly negative word “entitlement” has been accompanied by the changed meaning of the old word “equity.”

Six hundred years ago equity meant fairness.  Equity courts in England were intended to infuse a sense of conscience into the proceedings.

But in the last generation the other secondary definition of equity as property has become so dominant as to virtually eliminate its original meaning. Indeed, its use has now spread to sectors that have not used the term before. Non-profit organizations are increasingly substituting the word equity for equality or justice.

A 2013 report by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for example, is title, “The Business Case for Racial Equity.”  A major source of good socially oriented ideas, Policy Link observes, “As the country witnesses the emergence of a new racial and ethnic majority, equity—long a matter of social justice and morality—is now also an economic imperative.”  And adds, “An equity-driven growth model would grow new jobs and bolster long-term competitiveness while at the same time ensuring that all—especially low-income people and people of color—have the opportunity to benefit from and co-create that growth. “

Human capital

Other new terms emphasize the new commerce-based way of thinking that now dominates policymaking. Consider the term “human capital” which again was first used in the 1960s.


Or the even more widely used term “market-based

Words matter.  Language evolves as societies values change.  Today our language tells us that we are human capital, that policies must be market-based, that welfare is an expletive, that no one is entitled to anything and that liberal means profligate and intolerant.  No wonder it is so hard to have a conversation that speaks to the social, empathetic and altruistic side of human nature.

Friday, August 28, 2015

August 28 2015. Does writing ever day mean writing every day? Yes it does—and you’ve got to read too. Now, think in terms of decades—and you may even become competent. It tends to be hard to make something difficult look easy.





The following piece is written by Teresa Buczinsky (typical Irish name) and she makes her point well. I can’t overstress the importance of it—if you want to become a writer. And, yes, I found it on – which I guess you could call the thinking-person’s Facebook (if you were being a little unkind).

Initially, it doesn’t really matter what you write about because the whole idea is to transform the rather unnatural act of turning thought into the written word into a reflex—something that is hard-wired into your muscle memory.

That may seem near impossible at first—but if you persevere (and aren’t flattened by stress, frustration, old age, or a terminal heart attack) you will be amazed.

“I can never think what to write about,” is not a valid excuse (though the one I am given most frequently). As my friend, Ian likes to say, “Get a grip!”

If you really can’t think—you are dead. Think about that! 

If your thoughts are muddled—that proves you are no more than human (good to know) but be relieved to discover that one of the great benefits of writing is that it promotes order out of confusion—or should. Simply put, you have to think clearly to write clearly. You are forced to—and by your very own self at that. How much more democratic can you get!

It can be a painful process—and take years (decades?) but it’s fun when you get there. Or so they tell me…

Now, let me introduce you to Teresa—who wrote what follows (pretty damn well).

Teresa Buczinsky Division Technology Coach, Teacher, and Perpetual Learner

Teresa Buczinsky

The One Writing Tip You Can’t Live Without

It’s in Latin, but it’s not really a secret: Nulla dies sine linea.

Maybe you don’t even want to be a writer. Maybe you just want to be good at writing when you have to do it. Maybe you want to stop feeling humiliated every time you respond to a friend’s post on Facebook or write a thank you card to your aunt for the handmade sweater she knitted for your birthday. In either case, if you want to be a decent writer, the one thing you have to do is write. You have to write a lot. It doesn’t matter if the writing is so bad that every time you reread it, your curl into a ball of disgusted shame. You still have to write.

Photo Credit: Physics and Astronomy Art Group

Last week, blogger Joe Bunting wrote about a high school pottery teacher who divided his class into two groups. He told one group that all they had to do was produce one perfect pot by the end of the year. If they accomplished this goal, they would earn an A in the class. The second group had a different goal: they had to produce fifty pounds of pots by year’s end. The teacher didn’t care how good the pots were. Fifty pounds would earn an A for the members of this group. Can you guess which students produced the best pots by the end of the year?

By school’s end, the 50-pounders were throwing fabulous pots. The point here is that if you are trying to get better at your craft, you should aim atquantity rather than quality. If you want to be a better writer, aim to writemore rather than better.

And you have to write every day. When I say “every day” I mean every single day. This does NOT mean you can skip five days and then make up for it by writing all day on Sunday. Okay, yes, maybe you can take a day off now and then, but not very often. You have to write (almost) every day. Here are what famous writers have to say about writing every day:

  • “Every morning between nine and twelve I go to my room and sit before a piece of paper. Many times I just sit there for three hours with no ideas coming to me. But I know on thing: If an idea does come between nine and twelve, I am there ready for it.” —Flannery O’Connor
  • “…most important, you have to write every day…the fact is that most productive writers show up for work as dutifully and with as little fanfare as any civil servant.” — David Bradley
  • “You have to read and write on a daily basis. You have to be utterly vulnerable on the page and utterly ruthless in revision.” — Chris Offutt
  • “I worked every morning…. Every single day, regardless of whether I had a novel or a story or nothing, I would be there…just like you would be for your job…even though you don’t know if any customers are going to come, you have to be there just in case.” — Daniel Wallace
  • “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” — Stephen King

Stephen King at his writing desk. Photo Credit: Open Culture

To see a little more of what Stephen King has to say about the importance of a daily writing practice, take a look at his advice in his book, On Writing.

Are you convinced yet? If not, you will be. Most of you will have written 145 pages of first draft material by mid-December, and you are going to be amazed by how much you grow as writers. Your writing practice will be your Christmas present to yourself this year.

Of course, if you are like most beginning writers, you don’t believe me, and you are now beginning to panic.

Photo Credit: Waking Times

You may even be thinking that you should stop and see your counselor during your lunch period because this class can’t possibly be for you. You’ve never even written twenty pages in a single semester. How can you possibly write 145? And what will you write? You have no idea where you should even begin. You’ll probably just sit in front of a blank computer screen for days on end, crying. Or worse, you’ll comfort yourself by starting a World of Warcraft marathon so you don’t have to think about the 145 pages of work waiting to be completed.

Allow me to put your mind to rest. In the twenty-five years I have taught this class, I have never had a student who was not capable of writing two pages every day, six days a week. That’s all you will have to do to have 145 pages by mid-December. Much of this writing you will do in class. Some you will do outside of class. Your goal is to write for at least twenty minutes outside of class every single day.

What will you write about? Whatever you want to. You can write stories about topics that interest you, song lyrics, poetry, theatrical scenes, fan fiction, or narrative pieces about personal experiences. Some of you already know what you want to write about. Maybe you have a story you began over the summer. Maybe you’ve been carrying around an idea for a long time, and now you finally have the chance to get it onto paper. Others of you may have no idea how to begin. For those of you who need help getting started, here are a few ideas:

  • Sit in a public place and describe the people you see. Imagine what they do for a living, where they live, who they love, what problems may preoccupy them.
  • Eavesdrop on people talking. Write down parts of the conversations you overhear. (This is a great way to develop an ear for dialog.)
  • Pick five minutes from your day and show what happened, moment by moment. Include conversation, the thoughts going through your mind, and details about the sounds, sights, smells, and textures you experienced.
  • Tell about a recent experience, but add fictional elements to your story. Include thoughts, bits of conversation, and sensory details to bring the scene to life.
  • Find a good book and pull out a sentence or two that you like. Use this sentence to begin a story of your own.
A Word of Advice

Photo Credit: The Toast

Although you shouldn’t care much about quality when it comes to first-draft material, you will find that your early drafts are easier to revise and develop into finished stories if you avoid writing in the style of a traditional diary: Dear diary, Today was a great day! Tony smiled at me in Physics. I think he’s going to ask me to prom. I’m worried about how I will afford it if he does; if I ask my mom for more money, she’ll have a fit.

This kind of writing is useful as a chronicle of your life and gives you helpful practice with language and expression, but you and maybe your more generous family members are the only ones who will find it interesting. If you want to write about your personal life, get in the habit of showing the experience instead of talking about it. Often, using the third person point of view rather than the first person will make this easier: Tony flipped his hair out of his face and tilted his head to one side. He felt Claire watching him from across the lab and turned toward her, smiling. Her face flushed red as she smiled back, then nervously turned away, fumbling with the pages of her physics book.

Can you see the difference? Using the third person to provide an experience for your reader will help to engage them.

Now you are ready to begin writing. Tomorrow, we will start class by sharing a little. Come ready to tell us what you wrote about for your first 20 minutes of Creative Writing homework.

Can you now guess what “Nulla dies sine linea” means?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

August 27 2015. Customer’s cash should be seen—but they should not be heard. They can be a downright nuisance. Anyway, we’re right. Why? Because we’re the….




All too many companies seem to lack that particular perspective—with employees trained and culturally oriented to defend the institution, much in the manner of fending-off boarders, rather than resolving the issue. Maybe they lack the imagination that effective empathy requires. It’s a serious problem—and adds to the friction of life. It’s a pain. Its tedious. It’s common.

I do a great deal of interviewing as a writer—and absolutely love it. I find listening to another human being, as intently as I do, to be an extremely intense and emotional business—especially if you can get them to open up.

All it takes is a little torture. We writers have ways, you know.

I normally can, because I am genuinely interested, and do my homework as a way of paying my dues. I have found from experience that the more you know up front, the more people are willing to tell you (which is a little counter-intuitive—but true).

Knowledge is an indication of interest (and professionalism) and that builds trust. If people trust you, they are more likely to talk to you. And the more you know, the better questions you can ask.

I developed this mindset way before I became a writer—and was somewhat surprised to find it was less than common in the corporate and institutional worlds. There, the mindset seemed to be largely defensive—and still remains so to a significant extent.

My experience over the years has led me to take a great interest in what used to be called human factors—and now seems to come under the heading of UX or User Experience.

This seems to be somewhat problematical where Apps are concerned—yet the key to a good app is that it be intuitive and that you have a good UX (a term I don’t much like because it is not immediate clear to the uninitiated—which makes it jargon).

On the other hand, if you don’t use jargon, people in the business think you don’t know what you are talking about. Jargon is the verbal equivalent of a secret handshake. It gets you into the club.

These days, software companies now (mostly) seem to try very hard to make their software user-friendly, but suffer from several disadvantages.

  • They are too familiar with their own products—so make assumptions. That is both natural and understandable from a producer’s perspective—but dangerous. You need to be able to flip your mind and see things from the user point of view.
  • The kind of people who write Apps often don’t use them in the same way as end-users. Indeed, they don’t necessarily use them at all. Coding is not the same as using! And coders are weird (even if they are taking over the world). Damn Martians!
  • Designers tend to be influenced by fashion trends to an excessive degree—so will go for pale print, set in small type, because it looks in vogue instead of making it readable (and so on). Appearance is extremely important—I hold designers in high esteem—but a striking design will not compensate for a lack of functionality (which includes readability).

I’ll save my UX war stories for another occasion—and refrain from that joke about their being X rated...

Let me point you, instead towards this rather charming story.

Jennifer Aldrich--UX & Content Strategist at InVision ~ UX Blogger at

Jennifer Aldrich

The Difference Between UX and UI

A year ago I was burning the midnight oil working on a project. My daughter snuck up behind me and peeked over my shoulder.

“Wait… isn’t your job doing UX?” she asked.

“Yep,” I replied.

She responded very innocently, “So why does that screen say UI? Are they the same thing? What’s the difference between UX and UI?”

I sat back in my chair and stared at her for a sec, and said, “You know what? Give me a minute.”

I was suddenly struck with the realization that even folks who are professional designers have a tough time explaining the difference to each other, let alone trying to explain it to family and friends. And kids (mine included), know IMMEDIATELY if you’re BSing, and they aren’t afraid to call you out.

Post-its and Sharpies to the Rescue

After giving it some serious thought I whipped out my trusty Sharpie and some Post-it notes and started to doodle.

I wound up with a little dude with spikey hair on a bicycle.


My daughter looked it over and said, “Oh! So the UI is the part you use, and UX is how you feel when you use it.”

I was so pumped. Clearly it wasn’t a comprehensive explanation of every nuance between the two, but she grasped the high level concept in seconds.

Sharing is Caring

At that point I decided, on a whim, to post a pic of the doodle on Twitter. I had never posted a single one of my doodles anywhere on the internet in my entire life, because, not going to lie, stick figures are the extent of my artistic skill, but I figured that maybe some parents somewhere could use it to explain what they do to their kiddos too.


I got up the next morning and flipped open my Twitter app and was astounded to discover that over a hundred people had retweeted my doodle. This was back in the day when I only had about 1000 followers, so the number was crazy to me. I manically started replying to each person thanking them for their retweets, and wished A LOT that I had branded myblog URL on the doodle. Lesson learned.

3 Days Later…

3 days later thousands of people had tweeted, retweeted, shared, favorited liked and posted my Post-it note doodle all over the inter webs. Folks had even begun translating it in to other languages!

Crazy Town

All of a sudden, I started getting a flood of emails related to the doodle. People began asking to use it in articles and presentations. Professors emailed asking if they could include it in their design curriculums. A publisher contacted me and asked if I would consider writing a book about user experience. Not one, but 2 authors asked if I would illustrate their books. A flood of requests came in asking for t-shirts and mugs and wall prints. My blog blew up. I went from a few hundred readers each month to an audience of thousands of readers each month.

It was by far the most excessively random thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.

Doodling Is Awesome

So yeah. Never under estimate the power of doodling. You never know where it may take you in life. ;)

This doodle was originally posted on March 4, 2014.

August 28 2015. A nation’s resources are finite—so the issue of guns or… infrastructure (for example) is crucial. We are talking choices here. The U.S. mostly gets it wrong.




The figures shown in this graphic reflect a bad enough situation—in that U.S. defense spending is disproportionate and excessive—but the reality is a great deal worse.

This is because total U.S. spending—if you factor in all expenditure to do with National Security such as the Veterans Administration, Intelligence, the Black Budget, and Homeland Security (which really should be part of the Defense Budget) —actually exceeds a $1 trillion a year. That is nearly real money.

The Defense Budget undercounts the reality by a significant amount—but is politically more acceptable.

This has a number of consequences. Virtually all are adverse.

  • It makes a relatively small number of the ultra-rich, and the corporations they control—better known as the MICC (Military Industrial Congressional Complex), ever richer. This, in turn, promotes wealth and income inequality, and gives the ultra-rich the resources to dominate the political system. A corrupt Congress, which feeds off this money flow—and thus has no incentive to mitigate it—is the result. As a consequence, this disastrous situation is self-perpetuating.
  • It makes unfriendly nations feel threatened—with very good reason—and drives a global arms race.
  • It encourages the U.S. to become involved in one unnecessary war after another—wars which drag on for years, but where the U.S. rarely wins—which have a profoundly destabilizing effect upon the world, and cause untold misery.
  • It fosters greed and undermines integrity.  People are much motivated by incentives, and the National Security field is one of the prime areas “where the money is.” Unfortunately, laying your hands on enough of it—ahead of the competition—has come to require engaging in some decidedly dubious behavior. Bluntly, Pentagon custom and practice fosters a culture of opportunism, careerism, and corruption—which is unhealthy for society as a whole, and incompatible with the purported ethos of those dedicated to National Defense. Duty, Honor, County is what is advertised, but is not what is practiced. “Going along to get along” is the prevailing code. Faust did much the same thing.










  • It drains energy and talent away from areas where it might do the most good—and utilizes them in a much less productive way. It short it wastes a nation’s greatest resource—it’s human capital—on a truly epic scale. The U.S. remains an innovation powerhouse but it has been losing ground commercially in sector after sector—though it totally dominates the international arms trade. 
  • It wastes finite natural resources and manufactures on a scale to match—and, inevitably, drives prices up for the rest of the community.
  • It damages the only world we’ve got. Because so much military activity, and its associated materials (fuel, explosives, depleted uranium, mines, nuclear weapons etc.) are detrimental to the environment in some way, it does incalculable harm in that area—to which must be added a distressingly large human health toll stemming from the toxic nature of many of the items used. Simply put, no matter how much care is taken, the very nature of what the military do is polluting, destructive, and harmful—and that is before the effects of combat are factored in.
  • Above all, it distorts overall government expenditure so that fundamental matters of import—such as infrastructure—are neglected, while defense thrives. When a nation will spend over a trillions dollars a year on military matters yet refuse to help its long-term unemployed, its priorities are seriously adrift.

The argument here is not that the U.S. does not need to be strong—and eminently able to defend itself—but that current defense expenditure is out of balance with the underlying need—and is not only distorting government expenditure, but is actually undermining America’s real strength—its economy.

A final, and most disturbing point to note, is that even though there is a legal requirement for the Department of Defense to be audited every year—the Pentagon is not audited. The organization that spends most taxpayer money year after year is unaccountable.The official story is that it can’t be because there are too many incompatible accounting systems. A reasonable person might think that with the kind of resources that the Pentagon has at its disposal, this issue could, and should, have been resolved decades ago. It hasn’t been. It festers on. Congress—which is responsible for both allocating funds and oversight—keeps on shoveling money in regardless. Congress is, of course, complicit—and is a key component of the Military Industrial Congressional Complex. Its members get paid off though PAC (Political Action Committees) donations and though having defense-related jobs located in their constituencies—and jobs buy votes. An underlying characteristic of the MICC is that everyone in it gets paid off. It is all very cozy, extraordinarily profitable, criminally dangerous—and out of control. The MICC is absolutely a threat to world peace because, to justify its existence, it has a vested interest in keeping the U.S., and its allies, in a state of chronic insecurity—whether the enemies are real or not. In many cases, though the hostility is real enough, the capabilities of such enemies are grossly exaggerated.

And thus the champion of democracy defends itself.

The U.S. has created a thieves’ paradise—and they are making the most of it.

But here is the irony. Despite a massive breakdown in trust of almost all U.S. institutions, the military are still approved of by over 70 percent.

That would be commendable if support for our fighting troops was the issue—but when the MICC is able to bathe in the same glow of approval, it is another matter entirely.

Oh, and by the way—why does the U.S. have over 800 military bases around the world (whereas other countries, in total, have about 30)?

U.S. defense overspend—and its related consequences—constitutes an existential structural defect which, like so many of its other core problems, is being largely ignored.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August 26 2015. You need to be fit to write—or to do pretty much anything to the best of your innate capabilities. In the U.S., these days, that would make you abnormal. Being sick is the new normal. Nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug for a chronic or other medical condition, with antibiotics, antidepressants, and opioids topping the list. This is a (legally) drugged nation. Zombies don’t do democracy well. Neither do Drombies.





“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Warren Buffett

You would think Americans would pay attention to Buffett—who has more credibility than most—but it is interesting to note that it is still largely considered unacceptable to use the term “Class warfare”—and the media avoid it like the plague—despite abundant evidence that it is happening.

This is like standing in the middle of a Nazi extermination camp, and refusing to accept the evidence of your own eyes—even as the screams of the dying and the odor of death fill the air—and the ash from the chimneys incinerating the executed drifts around you.

What is going on here! What don’t Americans notice what is being done to them?

In truth, I’m not sure that being legally drugged quite makes you a zombie, but it certainly dulls your faculties, and makes you indifferent to events and developments which should concern you greatly—and would, if you were entirely sentient.

Add in propaganda induced distortion, distraction, and delusion. and perhaps the correct term should be ‘drombie’—as in drug induced, zombie-like, behavior (accentuated by over-work, long hours, endless commutes, and minimal, or no, vacation time).

People get very, very tired when they don’t take vacations—and, at least as important—they lose perspective.

Above all, you don’t think, question, or protest. You go with the flow—and when you are not working, you seek escape.

You are well accommodated. In the U.S. it is easy to be entertained to death (over two years sooner on average than if you lived in another developed nation). The system does not want you to think—and death probably ensures that.

I’m not entirely sure about that point. I’ll check it out after the event.

I’m not normally into coining words but I rather like ‘drombie.’ Drombies are real. Zombies are fictional.

Be that as it may, the American public has been extraordinarily supine in the face of a whole series of initiatives by the ultra-rich, their supporters, and the corporations (and other institutions) they control, which have rigged the system to the great disadvantage of most Americans.

How have they rigged the system? This didn’t happen overnight—but it’s a process which has accelerated in recent years. The main thrust started in the early 70s but first became visible under Reagan. Just about everybody—including me—liked Reagan, but he was the front man for a lot of bad things.

Was he, personally, sincere? He probably was. However, I am far from sure he understood the consequences of his actions—or those initiated by others in his name. 

But, I digress.

Let me list some examples just to illustrate my main  point.

  • Persuading the Supreme Court to classify corporations as people in legal terms.
  • Setting up think-tanks and other institutions to give apparent validity to Right Wing arguments.
  • Using the media—which they own—and other propaganda (derived initially from commercial experience) to communicate those arguments to the American people in such an effective way as to persuade them to vote—repeatedly—against their own interests. One of the pioneers of this level of sophisticated manipulation of the public was Edward Bernays, one whose greatest claims to fame was that he made it fashionable for women to smoke.
  • Dominating Congress though lobbyists and by funding PACS to the point where the views of most Americans were not even considered.
  • Pushing through Free Trade deals which allowed corporations to thrive—because they could manufacture more cheaply abroad—but  which caused American jobs to be exported by the millions, their factories to be closed, whole communities to be wrecked, and the U.S Economy, as a whole, to suffer severely.
  • Pushing through endless tax breaks for corporations and the ultra-rich to the point where the corporate contribution to the tax base has been substantially diminished, and the ultra-rich now pay a significantly lower percentage of their income in tax than do most Americans.
  • Forcing through the Citizens United judgment which allows the ultra-rich to deploy virtually unlimited money in support of their political objectives.

Well, there is much more to it than that—including practices relating to union-busting which are borderline or illegal—but the above gives a flavor of what has been a remarkably consistent, well-funded, ingenious, and successful campaign to secure capital’s position as the dominant force in the U.S. and weaken labor to the point where trade unions would be largely irrelevant, compensation reduced for most, and most gains accruing to a tiny ultra-rich minority.

In effect, the Constitution has been hijacked—and representative democracy replaced by a plutocracy—de-facto government by a small number of the ultra-rich for their own benefit.

This hasn’t been done in the traditional way—by a coup backed up by obvious force of arms. Instead, the perpetrators have used the system to force its own distortion.

Let me emphasize the word ‘distortion.’ The Constitution has not been destroyed. Instead, its spirit and intent have been perverted.

This has been done openly, but discretely—and has incurred virtually no effective opposition. This is clever stuff. A leading feature has been to use the legal system, which is supposed to work to the advantage of all, to be tilted to favor a few—but which still remains the law (so can be enforced by whatever means are necessary and available).

In the U.S., the heavily militarized police, and other national security and law enforcement agencies, have every type of weapon and other coercive force available—with incarceration to excess backstopping the lot.

Where there has been opposition which looked as if it might reach critical mass and fight back—the Occupy movement, for example—the full resources of the modern surveillance state (from militarized policy to infiltration) are deployed to isolate, fragment, and smear it. In fact, Occupy still exists, and does much excellent work, but has been rendered no longer newsworthy so largely irrelevant. Whether effective or not, its image has ben altered. It is now perceived as being irrelevant—and perception is nearly everything

When you have got the Supreme Court on your side—and you own the media—you can do amazing things with the U.S. Constitution—without changing a word.

Is the U.S. a Great Country—or what?

That is a joke—indeed, a cliché—that has evolved into a serious question.

From Dr. Mercola of  The man writes well—and supports his arguments with a great deal of data.

Contrary to the impression you get when listening to the drug advertisements on TV, your body is by nature designed to move toward health, and away from disease.

But to do so you need to provide it with the right lifestyle ingredients it needs to heal and thrive. And drugs are not on that list. The simple truth is, most disease is rooted in poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.

Unfortunately, most physicians are taught very little about the use of food for healing when they're in medical school, and many never take the time to learn even the most basic nutritional principles.

This is why most conventional doctors cannot guide you in nutritional healing, and why many are outright suspicious about claims that food can heal.

Exercise is another critical component of health, and studies have shown exercise to be as effective a treatment as many drugs, including antidepressants and medications for prediabetes and heart disease.

Statistically, Sickness Is More Prevalent Than Wellness

Statistically speaking, you’re far more likely to be some level of sick than you are being healthy. For starters, nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug for a chronic or other medical condition, with antibiotics, antidepressants, and opioids topping the list.

Other signs indicating that sickness has become is the prevailing norm include the following statistics:

  • Obesity rates are on the rise, and one in five deaths is now linked to obesity.
  • We are in the midst of a worldwide diabetes epidemic. In the US, more than 115 million adults age 20 and over have either diabetes or prediabetes.1

    Of that number, nearly 30 million already have type 2 diabetes — a statistic researchers predicted in 2001 wouldn’t be reached until 2050.2

    Diabetes has increased over 300 percent in just 15 years,3 and all told, nearly ONE-THIRD of the 320 million people living in America today have either prediabetes or some form of diabetes.4

  • One in eight Americans aged 65 and over currently have Alzheimer's, and that number is expected to rise to one in four within the next 20 years.

    At present, more than half a million Americans die from Alzheimer's disease each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer.

  • Cancer rates are projected to rise 57 percent in the next 20 years, with 13 million people dying from cancer each year.
  • Over half of the US population has at least one clinically diagnosable allergy, and allergies and diseases of the immune system have possibly quadrupled in the last few decades.

Best you visit his site and read the full thing. This is sobering stuff. Primarily he is arguing no more than if we eat intelligently and exercise we will normally be reasonably healthy—because that, mostly, is the natural order of things.

It has the ring of sense.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 25 2015. An article of faith—as far as I am concerned—is that the answers to most issues are out there. What stops us looking—and finding them? Laziness; inertia; ignorance; lack of intellectual curiosity; vested interests? We’re surrounded by solutions—positively wallowing in them—yet the end result is that we live with way more problems than we need to. People are deuced odd!





There seems to a Calvinist streak in some people that makes them ban good, sensible things (to the detriment of almost everybody).

The Irish side of me still can’t really grasp that the U.S. was crazy enough to implement Prohibition—and the way hemp has been demonized comes into exactly the same category of truly spectacular idiocy (something of a Congressional specialty). Still, you have to admit that they certainly excel at something—even if only foolishness.

You can certainly make a case that alcohol in excess can be harmful (as can most things) but about the only way hemp can do serious damage is if you hang yourself with a rope made from it (fortunately a rare inclination as far as most Americans are concerned—in a medicalized gun culture, it is so much easier to take a legal drug overdose or blow one’s brains out).

In truth, hemp products are so spectacularly useful, in so many different ways, that you’d have to wonder if hemp wasn’t banned out of sheer jealousy. It’s as sexy as sex and redefines the word ‘erection.’ The damn stuff can grow 14 feet in 14 weeks.

My sense is that most of us get through the day without thinking much about hemp—and knowing even less.

Our loss.

Read on.

Welcome to the next EVOLUTION in Green Building:

In April 2011, our film crew attended the 2nd International Hemp Building Symposium, in Granada, Spain, where we interviewed leading professionals in the hemp building industry from around the globe.  Later that year, we filmed in Great Britain, with Lime Technology UK as we followed the hemp trail back to where the industrial hemp used for America’s first hemp houses was imported from.

America’s First Hemp House was built in Asheville, NC by healthy home designers Anthony Brenner & David Mosrie (formerly of Push Design) and Hemp Technologies using hempcrete in 2010.  Hempcrete has been successfully used in Europe for over 20 years.  Hempcrete is a mixture of hemp hurds (shivs), lime and water, and is used for construction and insulation.

Hempcrete’s resistance to pest, mold and fire helped Asheville’s former Mayor and his wife save 60% on their homeowners insurance, as the owners of America’s first hemp house.  A hemp house requires minimal heating or air-conditioning, and can help cut energy bills by 30% to 50%.

Read Robert Clayton’s informative blog about building a hempcrete home in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

hemp house qualities

A carbon-negative REVOLUTION in Sustainable Building

Did you know that buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S.? Hempcrete has incredible thermal qualities that can cut energy bills in half, thereby reducing our carbon footprint and our reliance upon coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy.  While the average home lasts 80 years, and ends up in our landfills, hemp houses can last 300 to 800 years, and can be recycled back into the earth.  Hempcrete can keep homes and buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, with minimal use of air conditioning or heating.

During its growth process, the hemp plant sequesters over 15 tons of carbon.  It takes just 2.5 acres of hemp to produce enough hemp shiv to build a 1,250 sq. ft house.  Hemp can grow up to 14 feet in just 14 weeks, requires NO pesticides, minimal fertilizer and irrigation, and is an excellent rotation crop.  If 900 traditional homes were built using industrial hemp, over 45,000 tons of CO2 would be saved during the building process.

Adams Brewery in Southwold, Suffolk, UK built their beer warehouse with hempcrete. Thanks to hempcrete’s incredible insulating qualities, the building requires no heating or air conditioning.  The beer is brought to the warehouse at a colder temperature, and the building continues to keep the beer cold at a constant temperature of 51 to 55 degrees, like a giant, environmentally friendly cooler.  Using hempcrete, Adnams distribution centre saved over 500 tons of CO2.


It’s Easy Being Green (and Non-Toxic, Mold-Pest and Flame-Resistant with Hemp)

IF you think that green building means healthy homes, you’re not alone, but to date, the green building industry has mostly focused on creating the most energy-efficient homes, rather than the healthiest homes. Green homes are tightly sealed to insure that heating and air conditioning don’t escape in order to conserve energy, but harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, polyurethane and flame retardants are found in building materials like MDF, PVC, fiberglass, plastics, paint and sealants are also trapped in with its inhabitants. The VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) in these products can continue to off-gas over time, adding to indoor air pollution and a myriad of health problems.

In comparison, hempcrete is a non-toxic, carbon-negative building material whose breathable walls naturally help to filter toxins from the air, creating great indoor air-quality. Hempcrete is mold-mildew-pest and flame-resistant, making it ideal for areas prone to fires and flooding hempcrete can be used for walls, flooring, insulation, roof insulation and plaster.

One of hempcrete greatest strengths is its ability to regulate humidity. Typical building materials leave homes with fluctuations in humidity, which can mean condensation that can lead to mildew and mold.  Mold remediation is an expensive procedure that often requires the use of dangerous chemicals.  If the mold has caused structural damage, it can cost a homeowner $10,000 to $30,000 or more.  If not dealt with, mold can cause serious health risks to those living, working, or going to school in homes or buildings that have mold.  Many homeowners are often surprised to find that their homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover mold.  This is true of most insurance companies because of the high costs associated with remediation, and the difficulty in identifying when the mold occurred.  Imagine trying to sell your home, and finding you have to spend $10,000 to $30,000 out of pocket for mold remediation.


Hemp’s outer fibers are being used to make healthy, non-toxic insulation, as an alternative to standard, fiberglass insulation.  It offers comparable or better results than traditional fiberglass insulation. Hemp fiberglass is able to absorb and release moisture which helps to regulate internal moisture levels, reducing the risk of condensation, mildew and mold, making a home more healthy and comfortable.  Like hempcrete, hemp insulation is non-toxic, carbon-negative, mold-fire and pest-resistant, sustainable and biodegradable, with great sound absorption, humidity regulation and thermal resistance.

Hempcrete can be sprayed on the facade of existing buildings, and lightweight Hempcrete can be applied between ceiling rafters to make homes more energy-efficient.  A six-inch layer of Hempcrete sprayed on an existing building can make a huge impact upon one’s energy bill.

Hemp is making other strides in the construction business.  In 2011, Larry Serbin, the owner of  Hemp Traders announced the availability of the world’s first formaldehyde-free, non-toxic hemp particle board as a healthy alternative to MDF (medium density fibreboard).  It doesn’t warp, making it great for bathrooms.  It’s great for homebuilders, cabinetmakers and carpenters, for use as furniture, shelving, flooring and molding.

Hemp Shield® offers the first 100% Hemp Oil based deck finish for wood based products that is produced in the U.S.   It outlasts most petroleum based products, and contains no formaldehyde or other harmful chemicals, and is pest and mildew-algae and fungus–resistant.

hemp house top 10


One hemp house =  10 acres of trees.
One hemp house can sequester the same amount of carbon as ten acres of trees.

Number of weeks it takes to grow enough industrial hemp on 2.5 acres to build a 1,250-sq-foot house

Amount former Asheville Mayor Russ Martin and his wife Karen Korp saved on their homeowner’s insurance after moving into their hemp house

Cost of Martin-Korp House energy bill for a 3,400 sq ft home in the winter in the mountains of NC

Cost per square foot to build America’s First Hemp House in Asheville, N.C. Domestic production could cut the price tag in half.

The number of times a Ford Escort could have circled the globe in comparison with the CO2 emissions potentially saved by
Adnams Brewery for building their warehouse with Tradical® Hemcrete®.

BILLION.  Estimated potential of the current market for Industrial Hemp.  When you buy or sell hemp products, you help make this a reality.

Number of years the average Hemcrete building is expected to last.

Number of tons of CO2 emissions potentially saved by Adnams Brewery in Southwold, Suffolk UK for building their warehouse with Tradical® Hemcrete®.

Lbs. of industrial hemp are needed to produce the same amount of THC found in one marijuana cigarette.