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The Cult of Science

Asked what she would have said to the president if they had spoken, Greta Thunberg said: “Honestly, I don’t think I would have said anything because obviously he’s not listening to scientists and experts, so why would he listen to me?

“So I probably wouldn’t have said anything, I wouldn’t have wasted my time,” she said.

An Article about Science and the Pandemic

 

Published in the American Institute for Economic Research

Read it on their site HERE or below

– May 5, 2020

Should science play a role in guiding our responses – both private and governmental – to the COVID-19 pandemic? The answer, of course, is yes. No thoughtful person would for even a moment think to answer otherwise.

To answer this question “yes,” however, does not mean that you should turn yourself into an android programmed by epidemiologists, physicians, and other natural scientists. Even less does a “yes” answer imply that government policies should be crafted only, or even mainly, by these scientists. Indeed, to the extent that governments do treat the factual findings of natural scientists as sufficient grounds for commanding and controlling people, governments commit a logical fallacy – which is most irrational and unscientific.

David Hume famously exposed the “naturalistic fallacy,” which is committed whenever someone supposes that facts alone tell human beings what are and what aren’t appropriate courses of action. “Is” does not imply “ought.” Ever.

Of course, to lead a good life or to pursue sound government policy requires an awareness of the facts – an awareness as free as humanly possible from biases and superstitions. Reality is always relevant and, as Thomas Sowell rightly never tires of pointing out, never optional. But there is no “ought” that is divorced from human values, or from judgments about the relative weights of different and often conflicting human values.

Human Preferences are Facts, but Ones Not Discoverable by Science

To choose a course of action is to reject alternative courses of action. But on what basis is such a choice made? The answer is that the chooser believes that the benefits expected to result from taking the chosen course are greater than the benefits that likely would have been enjoyed had the next-most attractive course been taken instead. In what ‘currency,’ though, are these benefits reckoned? The answer, ultimately, is human well-being – whether the well-being only of the individual chooser or that of some larger group which the chooser does his or her best to take into consideration.

Human well-being, of course, requires being alive. And this well-being rises with greater physical health and with reduced risks of having one’s health put in peril. Life, health, and physical safety are unquestionably good and, hence, worthy to pursue. The sciences of medicine and epidemiology are, in turn, useful sources of information for pursuing these goods.

But physical health and safety are not of infinite value; they are not “priceless.” The same is true for life itself.

When stated so starkly, this observation strikes many people as being plainly mistaken. Yet everyone, every day, through his or her actions proves its truth. Every day every person acts in ways that demonstrate that he or she has many preferences that differ from, and sometimes are in competition with, the preference for survival and good health.

Here’s a familiar but useful example. In almost all cases when you travel in an automobile you increase your chances of being killed or injured. If you’re the driver, you also increase your chances of killing and injuring other people – your passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. Yet you nevertheless choose to travel by automobile, thereby proving that you value the increased convenience and speed made possible by automobile travel over either not making the trip at all or making it by some less-perilous means. To choose to travel by car is to choose to put your own life and the lives of many others in greater danger.

Importantly, your choosing to travel by automobile is not evidence of your rejection of science, of your irrationality, or of your being blinded by some dodgy ideology. Your choice, instead, is evidence that the outcomes and experiences valued by human beings include more than physical well-being. Your choice is evidence also of the reality that additional increments of many of these other outcomes and experiences – things such as convenience, comfort, time, pleasure, excitement, helping others, contentment, enlightenment – are very often worth more than are the increments of health and safety that are sacrificed by pursuing additional amounts of these other outcomes and experiences.

To recognize this fact (!) about human preferences is to recognize that epidemiologists and other natural scientists are emphatically not scientifically able to determine what is for us – the many individuals who comprise society – the best response to COVID-19. While information supplied by these scientists is useful and should play a role in determining public policy, no such information, regardless of its accuracy, is sufficient to reveal to us or to governments what the ‘best’ response is. To suppose that it can play this role is akin to supposing that your family physician can scientifically determine when, for how long, and for what reasons you ‘should’ travel by automobile.

And We Are Not a ‘Me’ or a ‘You’

Complicating matters further are these two additional facts: First, society is comprised of millions upon millions of individuals and families; second, each individual’s preferences are uniquely his or her own. My preferences for safety and health almost certainly differ in their details from yours, and the preferences of each of us differ from those of Dr. Anthony Fauci, from Pres. Donald Trump, and from any television news anchor or writer for The Week. And because my preferences are best for me while yours are best for you, and because at least some of my preferences likely conflict with some of yours, there is no one collective set of preferences from which a scientifically discoverable “best” course of action can be chosen.

This latter conclusion, take note, is proven by science. Several versions of this proof exist, but the most famous and firmly established is Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem. An implication of this Theorem is that, because different individuals have different preferences, there is simply no uniquely ‘best’ government response to COVID-19. And because that which doesn’t exist can’t be discovered, even the finest scientists working with unlimited budgets could not discover the ‘best’ response.

(Note that this inability to discover “the” best response differs from – yet is made all the more indisputable by – the fact that individuals’ preferences change over time and that individuals learn. When individuals learn they frequently change their actions in ways that scientists who model their behavior find impossible to predict.)

The realities emphasized above do not mean that there is no legitimate role for government in this calamity. But they do mean, at the very least, that disputes over what are the best policy responses are possible – indeed, healthy – among men and women of intelligence and good will. Science does not reveal that any one particular response is superior to any of many other possible responses.

Yet I believe that the realities emphasized above mean also that skepticism of proposed responses should intensify the more heavily the proposals rely on top-down, one-size-forced-upon-all commands and controls. Economics, after all, itself is a science. And perhaps its most important discovery is that the amount of knowledge that is productively put to use in society decreases as more and more decision-making responsibility is taken from individuals on the ground and given to officials occupying government offices.

I can think of no greater offense against a genuinely scientific attitude than to support policies – especially ones adopted in haste and in a panic, and which diminish the amount of information that is uncovered and put to good use throughout society – simply because these policies are recommended by some epidemiologists.

 

 

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Thursday April 30, 2020

Thursday April 30, 2020

– 1st Quarter Moon Phase (@4:38 PM EST): step out, take action, breaking away, expression

– Moon in Virgo

– Sun in Taurus

– Best Days (from the Farmer’s Almanac) – Cut Firewood, Mow to Increase Growth, Dig Holes, Paint, Get Married, Entertain Friends, Host a Party, Travel for Pleasure, Kill Plant Pests

– Gardening tips April 29-30 (from the Farmer’s Almanac) –Grub out weeds, briars, and other plant pests.

– Aspect of the Aeon Sophia: (Wisdom): Tara – Goddess Who Guides

– Aspect of the Aeon Thelete: (Will/Desire): Ian, God of the East, God of Wisdom

– Sabian Symbol for the Solar-Lunar Month: “The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”

– Sabian Symbol for the Solar-Lunar Year: “A Triangle with Wings”

SUN: 11 TAURUS – A woman sprinkling flowers

EARTH: 11 SCORPIO –  A drowning man is being rescued

The Day’s Sabian Symbols are filled with water. And while the woman sprinkles her flowers, Mother Nature will be releasing a deluge on my garden this afternoon. We are in the windstorm before the flood here in Eastern PA as I write this.

Building on yesterday’s assessment, I am coming up with another list. This time let us consider lessons we have learned during this Zombie Apocalypse.

If you were reading Astrogarden’s for the last 2 years, a major theme has been on Prepping. One of the reasons I wanted to increase and improve my garden was to provide food for my family. Healthy, natural food. As clean and GMO free as I could manage. And in the case of cucumbers, I pickled and canned as well. We can do more. But it has been a start.

How Will The Corona-Zombie-Apoc Change Your Ways?

This is a list of things that I will be considering in the future. The Corona Lockdown caught people off guard. How many had to resort to facial tissues to wipe your butt when TP flew off the shelves? Newspaper? Leaves? A Corncob???

All kidding aside, everyone has seen the shortages. It has not been as bad as it could have been. We haven’t lost power or water. But we have had to change the way we do things. So this list will outline some of the things I can think of that need to be remembered in the future. These are things we

Stock Up on Personal Essential Goods – Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Tooth paste, soap, Lysol, Antiseptic Wipes, Bleach, Batteries, Matches

Stock up on Dry Staples (food) – Sugar, Flour, Canned goods, Beans, pasta, Water

Stock Medical Supplies – Most people have some things – mostly what you use everyday. But Zombietime reminds us to make sure we have a lot of other things: Band Aids, Alcohol, Peroxide, Advil, Antacid, Antihistimines

Plan a garden – Its the beginning of Spring. What better time to dig up a square in your yard and plant some tomatoes.

Protection – We have not reached apocalypse levels. But have you thought about how bad it could get? Would-you be ready if The Shit Hit the Fan? People rioting? Government locking down? How far would you go to protect yourself? Do you have reliable door and window locks?

What if we lose electricity? Do you have a batteries? Lights? Candles? What about a generator?

What do you know about your water supply? Do you have your own well? If not, where does it come from, before it hits your tap? ( I wrote a couple articles about this that can be found by scrolling down in the Prepping tab above.)

Do you have a radio – operated by batteries? Its a little old school these days, but its a pretty good idea to have one around. And even better, one that can pick up short wave bands. When all else fails, this is where people will communicate.

Do you have gasoline?

Do you have a charcoal grill (with charcoal)?

These are a few things to think about. Think about yourself in your own life. What things will you need? What things did you find missing what we went into lockdown?

Please share your thoughts and experiences.

 

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Wednesday April 29, 2020

Wednesday April 29, 2020

– Crescent Moon Phase: challenge, growth, struggle, expansion, gathering

– Moon in Cancer

– Sun in Taurus

– Best Days (from the Farmer’s Almanac) – Bake, Cut Firewood, Cut Hair to Increase Growth, Mow to Increase Growth, Dig Holes, Wax Floors, Get Married, Start Diet to Gain Weight, Buy a Home

– Gardening tips April 29-30 (from the Farmer’s Almanac) –Grub out weeds, briars, and other plant pests.

– Aspect of the Aeon Sophia: (Wisdom): Tara – Goddess Who Guides

– Aspect of the Aeon Thelete: (Will/Desire): Ian, God of the East, God of Wisdom

– Sabian Symbol for the Solar-Lunar Month: “The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”

– Sabian Symbol for the Solar-Lunar Year: “A Triangle with Wings”

SUN: 10 TAURUS – A Red Cross nurse

EARTH: 10 SCORPIO –  A fellowship supper reunites old comrades

How Has Life Under Lockdown Affected Your Outlook

2 months under Coronavirus House Arrest has has an effect on all of us. It has been as close to a Zombie Apocalypse as anyone has ever seen – or imagined.  And while we are for the most part stuck at home, we have seen that it is nowhere as bad as it could be.

We have not been hauled away and forced into FEMA Camps.

We were not welded into our homes (as people were in Wuhan, China).

We have not been forcibly vaccinated at the point of a gun.

Global Markets crashed, Unemployment skyrocketed, businesses have closed – but the government has tried to bail people out

We have Food

We are making more meals at home – less take out food

There have been shortages – but most people have managed

We have Entertainment – TV, Cable, Netflix, Disney TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube

We can communicate (phone, Social Media – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube)

Pollution has decreased. Air is cleaner. Water is cleaner

Nature has grown up around us

Families have become closer

 

Good things have come from this. Not all completely positive. But not all bad.

The game today, please list things you have encountered that are GOOD about the Coronavirus Lockdown. This is an exercise forcing yourself to see things as good.

Please leave comments about the good you have seen. We will look at other aspects later.

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Friday April 3, 2020 – When Venus and the Pleiades Dance

Friday, April 3, 2020

– First Quarter Moon Phase: Step out, Take action

– Best Days (from the Farmer’s Almanac) – Cut Firewood, Mow to Increase Growth, Dig Holes, Paint, Kill Plant Pests, THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO BECAUSE OF SOCIAL DISTANCING (but are good nonetheless) – Get Married, Entertain Friends, Host a Party, Travel for Pleasure,

– Aspect of the Aeon Sophia: (Wisdom): Chinnamasta, Goddess who expands the Mind

– Aspect of the Aeon Thelete: (Will/Desire): Ian, God of the East, God of Wisdom

– Sabian Symbol for the Solar-Lunar Year: “A Triangle with Wings”

SUN: 15 ARIES – An Indian weaving a blanket

EARTH: 15 LIBRA –  Circular paths

When Venus and the Pleiades Dance

This weekend we are blessed to see a relatively rare conjunction in the sky. This is when Venus will be conjunct the Pleiades. It is relatively rare because it only happens every about 8 years.

In addition to being between the Sun and the Earth, Venus also rotates on a different Plane from Earth. While Earth travels around the sun every 365 .256 days, Venus takes 224.7 Earth days (since that is how we recon time). Every 18 months, Venus laps us, causing a Retrograde.

I would liken this conjunction kind of like the instance of solar and lunar eclipses. It happens around the same dates early April and visible in the same spot in the sky – in the constellation of Taurus. So like eclipses, it happens at predictable times, though not all that often.

The inner planets of our solar system will always be visible to us close to the sun. As shown in this picture, viewing Mercury will be within about 24 degrees of the Sun and Venus about 45 degrees. For practical purposes, this must be done either at Dawn or Dusk – before or after the Sun rises or sets when the sky is dark enough to see them.

An easy way of sighting this is by extending your arm toward the sun with your hand out, palm facing out. The measurement between your thumb and little finger is about 25 degrees. So Venus will never be more than about two hands away from the sun and Mercury, less than one hand.

The Pleiades are known as the seven sisters. The Constellation is named for the Greek myth of the same name. The names of the sisters are Alcyone, Atlas, Electra, Maia, Merope, Taygeta, Pleione, Celaeno and Asterope. Visibly, these are the stars you can see unaided. There are actually over a hundred stars that make up the cluster, adding to its brightness.

Its brightness and uniqueness has earned it attention in star lore throughout the world. It is known as Matariki to the New Zealand Māori. Its helical rising in May/June traditionally starts the Māori new year. In Japan, the Pleiades are are known as Subaru. The car manufacturer Subaru uses a stylized depiction of the star cluster in their logo.

Astrologically, the conjunction of Venus and the Pleiades combines the troubled aspects of the Pleiades (Accidents, blindness, violence, feminine power. Ambition, honor and glory. Trouble with opposite sex. Bereavement; loss; sorrow.) with Venus. And Venus governs courtship and adoration, as well as personal taste and esthetics. Venus represents your values, including your relationship with finances and material possessions.

This is a strong conjunction that those who aspect it in their charts should be aware.

 

Star Lore of the Pleiades: The quotations below are from The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson, 1923. This book is a useful summary of two thousand years of lore concerning the ‘fixed stars’. Much of what is quoted below probably finds its origins in Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos.


Quotation from The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson, 1923. pp 181 -184.

The Pleiades or Atlantides were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, six of whom are described as visible and one as invisible or “lost”. They were the virgin companions of Artemis [Diana] and were translated into heaven in order to escape the importunities of Orion, or according to another account because of their grief at the fate of their father Atlas, who was condemned to support the weight of the heavens on his head and on his hands.

The names of the sisters… are as follows: Alcyone, Maia, Electra, Merope, Taygete, Celaeno and Sterope, and to these have been added the parents Atlas and Pleione

The missing or lost Pleiad has been said to be Merope, who alone married a mortal, Sisyphus, and hid her head in shame at being the only one not married to a God, but other accounts substitute either Electra, who withdrew her light in sorrow at the destruction of Ilium [Troy], which was founded by her younger son Dardanos; or Calaeno, which Theon the Younger said was struck by lightening. [Curiously, however, there are now seven again as the above photo shows.]

The Pleiades form a cluster with Alcyone as the principal star, situated on the shoulder of the Bull. For all practical purposes the longitude of Alcyone may be used for the whole group, as all are contained within about one degree of longitude.

Influence:  According to Ptolemy they are of the nature of the Moon and Mars; and, to Alvidas, of Mars, Moon and Sun in opposition. They are said to make their natives wanton, ambitious, turbulent, optimistic and peaceful; to give many journeys and voyages, success in agriculture and through active intelligence; and to cause blindness, disgrace and a violent death. Their influence is distinctly evil and there is no astrological warrant for the oft-quoted passage Job (xxxviii. 31)” Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades? “which is probably a mistranslation.*

*[The complete passage reads – King James Bible Job 38 31 – “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?” Vivian Robson was correct about the translation in the King James version. In the more modern New American Bible this passage is given as “Have you fitted a curb to the Pleiades, or loosened the bonds of Orion?” I have read that Jehovah’s Witnesses once believed that the Pleiades, specifically Alcyone, was the place of the eternal throne of God, on the basis of that passage, but this may be apocryphal.]

If rising: Blindness, ophthalmia injuries to the eyes and face, disgrace, wounds, stabs (operations nowadays), exile, imprisonment, sickness, violent fevers, quarrels, violent lust, military preferment. If at the same time the Sun is in opposition either to the Ascendant or to Mars, violent death.

If culminating: Disgrace, ruin, violent death. If with the luminaries it makes its natives military captains, commanders, colonels of horse and emperors.

With Sun: Throat ailments, chronic catarrh, blindness, bad eyes, injuries to the face, sickness, disgrace, evil disposition, murderer or murdered, imprisonment, death by pestilence, blows, stabs, shooting, beheading or shipwreck. If in 7th house, blindness, especially if Saturn or Mars be with Regulus. If with Mars and Venus the native will be a potent king obeyed by many people but subject to many infirmities.

With Moon: Injuries to the face, sickness, misfortune, wounds, stabs, disgrace, imprisonment, blindness, defective sight especially if in the Ascendant or one of the other angles, may be cross-eyed, Color-blind or the eyes may be affected by some growth. If in the 7th house, total blindness especially if Saturn or Mars be with Regulus and the Moon be combust.

With Mercury: Many disappointments, loss of possessions, much loss from legal affairs, business failure, trouble through children.

With Venus: Immoral, strong passions, disgrace through women, sickness, loss of fortune.

With Mars: Many accidents to the head, loss and suffering through fires. If at the same time Saturn is with Regulus, violent death in a tumult.

With Jupiter: Deceit, hypocrisy, legal and ecclesiastical troubles, loss through relatives, banishment or imprisonment.

With Saturn: Cautious, much sickness, tumorous ailments, chronic sickness to family many loses.

With Uranus: Active mind, deformity from birth or through accident in childhood, many accidents and troubles, many unexpected losses often through fire or enemies, marriage partner proves false especially if female, troubles through women, occult interests, unfavorable for children, if any, and lack of harmony with them, heavy losses at end of life, violent death. [Uranus was discovered in 1781.]

With Neptune: Bold, military preferment, honor, wealth, help from friends, many serious accidents, many travel, somewhat dishonorable occupation involving secrecy, ill-health to marriage partner and peculiar conditions respecting parentage, bad for children, may lose everything at end of life, violent death, often abroad while following occupation. [I am not sure from where Vivian Robson takes this information as Neptune was only discovered 76 years before her book in 1847.]

With Pluto: [There is no information for this planet. Vivian Robson wrote her text in 1923. The planet Pluto was discovered on 18 Feb 1930 and not named until May 1930.]

 

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Shelter In Place

The Zombie Apocalypse is upon us. Governors across the country are telling citizen to stay at home. And more and more we are hearing the term SHELTER IN PLACE.

Personally, this term scares the shit out of me. It is used in times of dire emergency:

Toronados

Tidal Waves

Hurricanes

Terrorist Attacks

Invasions

And now the Coronavirus is being equated with this. I disagree. And want it on record what they are saying and how I believe this is not only a misuse of terms. But also a bizarre grab of power of the government over the people.

So in honor of this. I want to be sure that anyone who may want to know what the CDC says that Shelter in Place should mean. And decide what you think about the actions of the government.

Per the CDC:

Stay Put – Learn How to Shelter in Place

Sometimes the best way to stay safe in an emergency is to get inside and stay put inside a building or vehicle. Where you should stay can be different for different types of emergencies.
Be informed about the different kinds of emergencies that could affect your area and ways officials share emergency information. Ask your local emergency management agency external icon about the best places to take shelter during different types of emergencies.

Get Inside, Stay Inside

If local officials tell you to “stay put,” act quickly. Listen carefully to local radio or television stations for instructions, because the exact directions will depend on the emergency situation. In general you should:

  • Get inside. Bring your loved ones, your emergency supplies, and when possible, your pets,
  • Find a safe spot in this location. The exact spot will depend on the type of emergency,
  • Stay put in this location until officials say that it is safe to leave.

Stay in Touch

Once you and your family are in place, let your emergency contact know what’s happening, and listen carefully for new information.

Once you’re inside and in a safe spot, let your emergency contact know where you are, if anyone is missing, and how everyone is doing.
  • Call or text your emergency contact. Let them know where you are, if any family members are missing, and how you are doing.
  • Use your phone only as necessary. Keep the phone handy in case you need to report a life threatening emergency. Otherwise, do not use the phone, so that the lines will be available for emergency responders.
  • Keep listening to your radio, television, or phone for updates. Do not leave your shelter unless authorities tell you it is safe to do so. If they tell you to evacuate the area, follow their instructions.

Sheltering with pets

  • Prepare a spot for your pets to poop and pee while inside the shelter. You will need plenty of plastic bags, newspapers, containers, and cleaning supplies to deal with the pet waste.
  • Do not allow pets to go outside the shelter until the danger has passed.

Sealing a Room

  • In some types of emergencies, you will need to stop outside air from coming in. If officials tell you to “seal the room,” you need to:
  • Turn off things that move air, like fans and air conditioners,
  • Get yourself and your loved ones inside the room,
    • Bring your emergency supplies if they are clean and easy to get to
  • Block air from entering the room, and
  • Listen to officials for further instructions.

Once officials say the emergency is over, turn on fans and other things that circulate air. Everyone should go outside until the building’s air has been exchanged with the now clean outdoor air. For more details, read FEMA’s Guidelines for Staying Putexternal icon.

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Where Gardening, Harry Potter and The Zombie Apocalypse Meet

Quora

A funny thing happened on the way to the Quora today.

I came across a funny question that somehow brought these things together. The Question:

If humans disappear, and the only thing that survives is a Harry Potter book, would a species discovering it believe that it’s actual history?

You can read the question and answer here on Quora.

https://www.quora.com/If-humans-disappear-and-the-only-thing-that-survives-is-a-Harry-Potter-book-would-a-species-discovering-it-believe-that-its-actual-history

Now you may be asking, “What the hell is Quora and why on earth are they talking about this?” If you are unfamiliar with Quora, I will let you know that it is a wonderful Timesuck.

Quora is a social network allows people to pose questions about different subjects and encourage answers and discussion. You choose the subjects you see and jump in if you have an interest in the question.

For bloggers and other online marketers, it is an amazing little piece of social media. It allows you to answer questions and promote yourself as the “expert” in a certain esoteric field. Preferably its a field that might be interested in what you have to say (or sell).

When I started on Quora (last spring at some point), my interests were astrology, prepping and gardening. By connecting with these communities, I could see what others were talking about. And then write articles on these subjects. That way, I could come back and link the articles as another form of social proof in answering a question.

Early on, I decided to opt out of the Astrology discussions. I found that most of the questions were about Horoscope astrology. It took a lot of time to sift through it and I had no interest in most of it.

Now What about Harry Potter and Zombies?

So with the question I noted above, a couple of my favorite subjects came together. I follow the harry Potter discussion group. That started last May when I began reading the Harry Potter books again. This has become an annual thing – usually at the beginning of the summer. And as I am finding, the other followers of this group are way dorkier than myself – as if that was possible.

But as the question goes, it is like a Dead Sea Scrolls kind of find. What would this piece of pop fiction say to an extra terrestrial or our 2000 year ancestors in the future. Now forget for a moment the Harry Potter part of this equation. Chane the conditions of this story and make it about the Zombie Apocalypse.

Call it a Noah’s Ark flood. Another example is the movie 2012, where the crust of the Earth displaces and everyone dies. Author Graham Hancock talks about this in his books Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods.  Mr. Hancock suggests that the timing the the Flood of Noah may be provable in the archeological record.

And if you consider that civilized society could have existed (think Atlantis), and a flood covered the Earth, who would be left?

Imagine now if the Earth were to be hit by an asteroid, causing a catastrophic flood. Or a Volcano. Or a nuclear war. Would EVERYTHING be incinerated? Would there be survivors? What would happen to them  with all the trappings of life taken from them? No libraries. No internet. Food Shelter Clothing gone. Society gone. It would be full on survival mode. The strongest, the bravest, the smartest survive.

It is against that backdrop that you consider how they might see that Harry Potter novel. Ignore that they would have to figure out the language (remember how long it took history to remember how to read Hieroglyphics). Place it against the backdrop of a new reality. How would they see it?

 

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September National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month

September has been declared National Preparedness Month by the US government. This observance is sponsored by FEMA, and is annually renewed by the President like all of the other super important Observance days and months, like National Ice Cream Day and National Donut Day. So many of these things are put together for congresspeople to justify their existences and say that they have actually sponsored a bill.

While I am poking fun at government programs, I see some value to this, though in a squeemish sort of way, which I will get into in a minute.

Wyomissing ParkMother Nature at work

For us here in Eastern PA, FEMA had some work to do. And this work bears upon the whole idea of being prepared. Note that these pictures were ones I borrowed from the local paper. But in my travels, I passed each of these spots and witnessed this.

Yesterday, August 31, we got some more rain. About 5 inches of rain in about 3 hours. These storms have been hitting this area over this summer. Sometimes 10 miles away and they miss us completely. Other times we just get a part. For us, this was our direct hit day.

Sinking SpringsI was out driving my kids around through the hardest part of the storm. Spent a lot of time driving around flooded roads and behind slower, more cautious drivers. I saw cars deluged on the side of roads, streets flooded, drains clogged, streams over flowing their banks. It was a whole lot of water.

The hardest hit area is called “Sinking Springs.” It’s known for being lowlands, prone to flooding and sink holes.

We received a call in the middle of it from our Daughter in law, crying that her basement was flooding. When I got there, it had reached about 6 inches of water. My assessment was that the sewers had filled and were pushing up into all the homes. After about a 1/2 hour of squeegeeing water into the sump pump, all was better. Luckily they had not gotten around to finishing the basement, so the worst of it was the boxes of Christmas decorations getting wet and an old throw rug.

Many of the other neighbors were not so lucky, and will spend the rest of the holiday drying out their lives.

One of the Newspaper articles noted that the Western Berks Emergency management department would be working on these issues this morning. Since that department consists of one person (My next door neighbor who I named McGreggor in an earlier post) busy is right.

And What the Hell does all this and FEMA Mean about Prepping and Gardening?

The idea of preparing yourselves, is to be ready in case something happens.  When you experience these things, you are reminded of the things you might need and do not have.

Communication: One of the victims of the storm has been the cell phone network. Apparently a T-Mobile substation got flooded out. It rendered about half the cell phones in the area useless (mine included). It works sometimes, and by now may be on. But for about 24 hours, people could not communicate. Power stayed on though.But for a while, people could not get ahold of me.

Food and Water – Not something we had to worry about. We went out the the store and had no problems.

Batteries for flashlights? We needed a flashlight going down into the basement. Had to see if it was safe to walk through. There was one flashlight that only kind of worked. We used cell phone lights. But again, it wasn’t long. A few years ago, our power went out for 24  hours during a snow storm. We had to break out candles and run out to Walmart for touch lights.

As for FEMA, you do not hear much about them unless you know Police of Fire workers (I know both) or follow conspiracy theories. For Police and Fire, FEMA is just another link in the network. They sneak around and do funny things – usually helping the police by doing the time consuming paperwork involved in accidents and disaster.

For the rest of us (at least me), they scare me. Why? Because FEMA are the agents of the government that can enact Martial Law in the case of an emergency. And anyone with that power, scares me. especially when he is my next door neighbor who barely speaks to me. I am not expecting much help from him if the shit hits the fan. We will be on our own. But should the Shit Hit the Fan, consider how much help the authorities will be for you in your life and how much you need to be ready for whatever might happen.

So back to preparedness Month. I will offer you the basic statement from EPA.gov

September is Preparedness Month

Each September, National Preparedness Month encourages and reminds Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.

Homeowners, families, communities, and businesses can use this opportunity to find ways or help others understand more about preparing for disasters and reducing risks to health and the environment. There are many ways to reduce risks from contamination, leaks, spills, hazardous materials, and other dangers. This page doesn’t include all possible ways of preparing but provides many ideas and links to more information. SEE THE REST BY CLICKING HERE

And there is a surprising amount of good information on this site and a myriad of other government sites (Your tax dollars at work). Its like a bunch of online pamphlets with decent practical advice. I will share more of it later. Funny thing is that most of the advice they offer is the same kind of things that you find on prepper site. But it has a government spin on it. Like, “Do this and then call the authorities.” Its up to you whether you want to rely on government or rely on your self.

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Collecting Water

Last week we received about 4 inches of rain. We were stuck in an east coast weather pattern that brought tons of moisture up the coast from the Gulf of Mexico. And while our little town is about 20 miles from the real deluge and flooding, we got our fair share of rain.

Seeing all this precipitation (and thinking about my water bill) I would love to be able to save some water for some of our less rainy days and weeks. Not only would it be good for me and my yard, it also helps in the whole self sufficiency thing. You ask, what happens during the zombie apocalypse when there is no electricity to run the pumps – meaning no public water system. Our closest water source is just 5 blocks away. But Wyomissing Creek is not big enough to supply the whole Borough.

Of course, storing and using rainwater brings up a whole slew of issues. And none of them cause anything but anger and irritation to me. And most of my irritation is over the potential of my own community finding one or more reasons why they will say I can’t do it.

For me, there would be 2 main reasons for storing rain water. 1) First, my downspouts have issues anyways. I need to do work on them (mostly cleaning) and this would be a great time to include barrels with the upgrade. 2) Second would be to help with watering my garden. With all the rain, I have not had to turn the hose on in the past 2 weeks. But when its not raining, I am watering a lot. The idea of being able to save what is coming down naturally – and having it closer to the garden than my present hose, is appealing.

In looking into these, I have found that they are not too expensive – ranging from between $100-$400, depending on the style and size. On the one hand, cheaper always works. But at the same time, I think the wooden barrels look really stylish.

I will need to get at least 2 of these barrels – for the East and West corners of the house.  They will be in the front – as these are the spouts giving me the most problems.

But What about the Neighbors?

This is the part I am most concerned about On the one hand, I have one neighbor who I know is going to give me a hassle. He gives me shit about everything I do, so I have grown to expect it. He will be the one to glare at me when I am installing it. Then go to the Borough (where he is a council member) to determine whether I have broken any rules and regulations. I know he has already gone to them with other issues. And for my water downspouts, he has been able to do nothing. He tried to get me sited for not pealing paint around these same spouts about a year ago.  But even the fact that it sometimes runs over into his yard has not given his grounds for a formal complaint. It would be just my luck that he will find some reason to get me in trouble after I have paid for the barrels.

If my problems do not go further than an irritating neighbor, I will be blessed. Because there have been so many others who have tried collecting their rainwater where the issues have become serious.  As written on Accuweather.com a couple years ago:

Is collecting rainwater legal in your state?

By by Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather Staff Writer
November 15, 2016, 4:50:11 PM EST

Some U.S. states have laws restricting collection of rainwater, making it difficult for the average homeowner to set up a rainwater harvesting system.

Strict regulations and restrictions have been put in place over the last century. Currently, nine states have laws restricting the collection of rainwater, but the severity of those laws differ.

The issue of illegally harvesting rainwater went viral in 2012 when a 64-year-old man, Gary Harrington, was sentenced to 30 days in jail in Oregon.

In the western U.S., any use of rainwater is subject to legal restriction of some sort. In the 1860s, miners in Colorado experienced water shortages and developed a system to divide water based on a priority system.

This system developed into the prior appropriation system, which is basically calling dibs on water.

“Stream flow is supplied by precipitation in the form of rain and snow, so if the supply is taken away, stream flow will decrease,” Jeff Deatherage, water supply chief in Colorado, said.

However, this issue has nothing to do with the environment. In fact, a number of independent studies proved that letting people collect rainwater on their property actually reduces demand from water facilities and improves conservation efforts.

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My Latest Book Find – Getting Out

Getting Out by Ryan Westfield

Getting Out (The EMP #1)Getting Out by Ryan Westfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s great when you find the right book at the right time. And as I am writing a blog myself that focuses on prepping, its so much fun to see all the things I am researching and writing about put into action in a good story. Water, food, clothing and shelter are just the start. next you must consider what to do about every other person out there trying to do the same thing you are. Staying alive.

It is a not so gentle reminder about how fragile our life is. How we take for granted all the trappings of life. And it makes you really think about what you might do if things fall apart and the shit hits the fan. Are you ready for it? Or will you get left along the roadside unable to fend for yourself?

And guess what. Its a series too. Looks like I have my reading list set for a few weeks!

View all my reviews

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Water Around the World: Is it Safe? and How does it taste?

Some Perspectives about Water from Some World Travelers I have Known

I grew up in Southern California in the 70’s and 80’s. We were always in a drought condition, and would be yelled at for watering the lawn and washing your car.  Tap water tasted like hell, but we always knew it was safe to drink.

We also used to go camping a lot. We would go to the Mountains and the Desert. Our trailer had a sizable water tank that we could drink from. we would also bring a 5 gallon Sparklett’s bottle for drinking. All of this to know we were safe.

montezuma's revengeI wasn’t aware of unsafe drinking water until my Mom starting using the catch-all scare tactic – Montezuma’s Revenge.  The name alone was enough to have us worried. We were told that if you drank unsafe water, you would get it. There was never an explanation about what it was, but diarrhea and barfing were part of it. And that fear alone was usually enough to keep us from drinking from streams or ponds while out in the wilderness hiking.

When we got older, my younger sister studied up on Giardia – AKA the Thunder Shits – which became the new name for it. Either way, the rules were simple. Do not drink from streams while hiking. And when you are in Mexico DON’T DRINK THE WATER! Else Montezuma may come for a visit.

With this in mind, I have always been extra careful with the water I drink.

So when it comes to water – whether it is at home, or when you are away, what things do you think about? I have traveled a little bit – through at least 30 of the United States, Northern Mexico (OK TJ and as far as about 60 miles into Mexico), Montreal, Canada and then a month in Jolly Old England. And with the exception of Mexico, all of the water I have encountered was considered to be “safe”.

That does not mean it was drinkable taste wise. Desert water usually sucks. Many mountain springs taste wonderful, but others have such high mineral content as to taste awful.  Swampy areas (The Caribbean and East Coast USA) taste swampy or like a swimming pool (that is a swimming pool filled with swamp water and Chlorine). They leave much to be desired. As far as big cities go, it is said that New York City has great tasting water. I do not remember myself, though I have been there many times.

So I have asked some of my friends on Facebook who travel a lot about their thoughts are on drinking and traveling.

Iceland Hot SpringsPaul Constantine – who I went to high school with. He has traveled as a tourist extensively:

When you asked this question the first country that came to mind was Iceland. The country is loaded with huge waterfalls and numerous rivers. The water is clean and cold. You can drink right out of the streams. You can’t do that in most parts of the world without getting sick. They use their hot springs as bathing areas.
Most of Europe is like being in the the U.S. you have better water quality in the country side and less desirable water near the major cities. I usually drink bottled water to avoid getting sick.
Natural Springs in BulgariaRoland and Galina Denzel – Also a high school friend and his wife who is from Bulgaria.
I live in an area with hard water, so it’s always interesting to me how ‘slick’ showers feels when I travel. It makes me wonder about the drinking differences.
Many of the places we travel don’t have consistently safe water in the city, so they (and we) drink filtered or bottled, but it’s great when we go to the villages where they get water from wells. The water tastes pretty amazing. This city boy kind of cringes at first, but I’ve never gotten sick from the mountain springs in Bulgaria. They come bubbling straight out of the ground and taste so pure and clean.
Sheldon Forrest – American expat and regular world traveler.
Usually my rule of thumb is anywhere outside Canada, the US, or Europe, to drink only bottled water (plus juice, plus beer/wine). I seem to recall the tap water in Japan was ok, but I relied on bottled water in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and of course India.
Ganges RiverIt was suggested to me to immerse in the Ganges at Varanasi, the holy city, only the water there is totally septic…because it is too far downstream at that point with too much waste entering along the way…but I did immerse at Rishikesh (where the Beatles went to meet the Maharishi in ‘68) because, being in the Himalayan foothills, it is much closer to the source, and it is translucent enough that you can see fish swimming in it, meaning it is water that won’t kill fish, like in Varanasi. Got all the spiritual benefits with none of the health problems.
UgandaThere is absolutely nowhere in Latin America or Africa where I would drink tap water.
NOTE: Sheldon wrote this to me from Paris as he was preparing for a trip to Africa, where he has been for the past couple weeks. This picture is of water buffalo (I think) in Uganda.
Bridget Goodman – Southern California Expat living in Khazakstan.
1) Kharkiv, Ukraine, 2001: Instructed not to drink the tap water, only bottled. Water from shower head either icy cold or burning hot, no in between. Sometimes no hot water for a week, sometimes no water for a day or two.
2) Lviv, Ukraine, same time period: told that because of old pipes there is only water available from the tap from 6-9 am and 6-9 pm.
3) Astana, Kazakhstan, present day: No one drinks tap water. 5-gallon water dispensers in nearly every university office. Frequent leaks and outages mean sometimes no water for a few hours to a day, and then when it comes back the water comes out brown for a while. That’s why I usually have a bottle in the bathroom and one in the kitchen filled with tap water on reserve in case I need to wash hands, brush my teeth, or heat water for a “bucket bath”.
But, final story: going into the hills of Almaty on the way to Big Almaty Lake. Our driver found a place to stop with a natural spout. It was the purest cleanest tasting water I have ever had in my life.
Hope that’s enough.
These different stories about water around the world tell us a lot about the variability of safe drinking water around the world. Consider areas of the world like China and India – with huge populations of people. What about people living in Latin America and Africa. Do they just have a natural resistance to their local waters that allow them to drink it? Or what adaptations have they made to their lives to accommodate for their water. Does it show in higher rates of death and sickness?
These are questions I do not know how to answer. But they make the idea of having safe water to drink seem a whole lot more important than we think about. Is it a mark of civilization that we place such a priority on safe drinking water?
I remember reading the play An Enemy of the People by Henrick Ibsen when I was in high school. It was written in 1882. In the story, a whistelblower discovers that a new costly waterworks project has been compromised by a polluting factory (a paper pulp mill if I remember correctly). He discovers the problem right before the water works is brought online. But before he can tell the town, the people in control stop him – in order to protect themselves from the costly repairs that it will take to make it safe. They demonize the whistleblower to cover up the problem. Seems a whole lot like what has happened in Flint Michigan if you ask me.