Making things (yourself)

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

DSCF1800-webI find it extremely satisfying to make things myself, for myself and for others, whether it is upcycling things from what others consider trash or whether it is making things from other source materials such as wood or leather.

Admittedly, in most instance, the leather is being recycled from some bag or such that others have tossed out. “New” leather is rather an expensive commodity, or so it seems, especially in Britain.

Not only does it, in most cases, save money and you get something that you do really want, doing what you want it to do, but it also saves resources and is more sustainable. OK, I admit that you do need the tools and supplies for making your own things rather than buying but the investment in those tools will pay off in the long run, in monetary terms as well as in terms of satisfaction.

On top of that the satisfaction, and even pride, to be able to say “I made that myself” cannot be measured in any monetary terms. And on top of it you, generally, get exactly what you want and, if skilled enough, exactly in the way that you want it.

Often you cannot even buy what you may want or need and then making things yourself, by whatever way, is the only option. Unless, that is, you are willing to pay a lot of money for something custom made by a craftsperson. The neck holster for an Opinel (in this case a No. 6) pocket knife in the photo is an example for such a case, pardon the pun. There are none of those that you can buy off the shelf and thus the only option is to make it yourself.

Not only is that the only case that one could illustrate. There are others. And as regards to living a more self-reliant – notice that I do not say self-sufficient, as true self-sufficiency is not attainable – life making things yourself is and will often be the only way, and not just because the finances may be lacking.

All too often I just cannot find what I need anywhere – next up I need to make a belt pouch that suits my needs – the way I need it and then, as said, there is but one of two options and the second, a bespoke maker, I just cannot afford. So the only option left is number one which is to make what I need and want myself. One then has to consider the source material and get down to business.

At times making the things that I want means simply adapting and improving something that can be gotten cheaply at a charity shop or car boot sale (thrift store of flea market for those in other parts of the world) or using items that have been thrown away, that is to say trash, or that have come from other sources. It is all a case of horses for courses, as the saying goes.

© 2016

Growing Cucumbers Vertically - How to Grow Cucumbers in Small Garden

Learn how to grow cucumbers vertically to get the most productive plant. Growing cucumbers vertically also save lot of space, which is suitable for small gardens.

growing cucumbers vertically

Cucumber is a refreshing vegetable, especially if picked up fresh. It is eaten in variety of ways: raw in salad, cooked or pickled. It is easy to grow and only requires a warm, sunny exposure and deep and regular watering.

*What if you want to grow cucumbers but you have a small garden. Definitely, it will take a lot of space. In that case growing cucumbers vertically is an space savvy option.

Benefits of Growing Cucumbers Vertically

One advantage of Growing Cucumbers Vertically is that by this you can avoid a common problem of fruit rot associated with cucumber cultivation, which happens when fruit sitting in moist soil for long period of time. When you allow cucumber vines to grow up vertically, it improves the air circulation around the plant that prevents fungal diseases. Cucumber plants have sprawling habit and growing cucumbers vertically allow their leaves to absorb more sun, which result in healthy plant and large cucumbers. One more key benefit is that you can harvest the fruits more easily and in time.

Read more here.

Can Humanity Survive Without the Commons?

640px-Pannage_in_the_New_ForestOne of the most insidious things about enclosures is how they eradicate the culture of the commons and our memory of it. The old ways of doing things; the social practices that once bound a people together; the cultural traditions that anchored people to a landscape; the ethical norms that provided a stable identity — all are swept aside to make room for a totalizing market culture. Collective habits give way to individualism. Cherished traditions fall victim to whatever works now or saves money today. The colorful personalities and idiosyncratic lore of a community start to fade away.

Karl Marx memorably described the commoditizing logic of capitalism, saying, “All that is solid melts into air.” Enclosures eclipse the history and memory of the commons, rendering them invisible. The impersonal, individualistic, transaction-based ethic of the market economy becomes the new normal.

If we are to understand the commons, then, it is useful to learn more about its rich, neglected history. Capitalist culture likes to think that all of history leads inexorably to greater progress, if not perfection, as society climbs towards the present moment, the best of all possible worlds. The complex, overlooked history of the commons tells a different story. It is an account of how human beings have learned new and ingenious ways to cooperate. It is a story of building new types of social institutions for shared purposes despite systems of power (feudalism, authoritarianism, capitalism) with very different priorities.

Read more here.

I am beginning to believe that the Left is right

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

640px-Charles_Moore,_former_editor_of_the_Daily_Telegraph,_at_Edmund_Burke_Philosopher,_Politician,_ProphetAlready in 2011 the authorized biographer of Margaret Thatcher, Charles Moore, wrote: I am coming to the conclusion that the Left is correct.

One of the big arguments of the Left is, so Moore, that that what the Right calls the Free Market, a very large scam is.

The rich operate a global system which permits them to accumulate capital by paying the lowest possible price for labor. The poor have to work harder and ever harder under conditions that daily become more insecure to make the rich ever richer.

The democracy, which should have brought financial security for most, is in the hands of the bankers, the media barons and other moguls, who own everything.

The neo-liberal myth that success and wealth at the top of society will lead to the effect that a great deal of it will filter down to those at the bottom has so far been proven to be humbug and a fallacy. On the contrary the rich are getting ever richer and the poor ever poorer and the so-called middle class is working towards total burnout in the hamster wheel.

But we must also see this as the aim of neo-liberalism, of the new fascism under capitalism, which is that if the people have to work harder and harder in the hamster wheel to make ends meet, often not only both partners in a family having to work but needing two jobs each to achieve this, keeps them from thinking too much, or not at all, about how things are and thus keeps them from revolting and from rising up against their oppressors. People who are too tired from trying to make a living are also too tired to rise up and man the barricades.

In addition the neo-liberals feed the people bullshit via the media that they control and keep them entirely dumbed down as to matters of politics. Bread a circuses was the Roman way and today things are not much different.

The media tends to present – in the main – only that what the governments and the neo-liberal elite tells them to present, and much of that is garbage. All intended to keep the masses dumb and subservient.

And on top of that they make people believe that they are free, with the help of the controlled media, as they, the people, are allowed to vote every four or five years, for a new team that oppresses them. If voting would make a difference, said Mark Twain, a communist, they would make it illegal. Think about that one.

We, the people, are told that we are free because we are allowed to elect the people that rule us, that is to say our oppressors. We, the people, are not free. It is an illusion created to keep us from revolting. True democracy means that the people govern themselves. Where precisely is that the case? In which country?

We do not need a new government, we need a new system. A system where there people govern themselves and where the means of productions are in the hands of those that labor. Period!

© 2016

8 Easy maintenance tips for front load washers

front load washing machine

Many people love their front-loading washing machines, thanks to their efficient use of water and energy, ergonomics and their gentler cleaning action on clothes. Indeed, many homes have traded in their old water-guzzling, top-loading machines for updated, high-efficiency models.

But these modern-looking domestic workhorses aren't perfect. A recent lawsuit alleges that some front-load models from the late 2000's were known by manufacturers to be "defective," as their design allowed for the rapid growth of mold and mildew, and yet, still sold to consumers.

Repairs and parts can be expensive too, meaning that in some cases, people are finding that it's more cost-effective to buy another machine altogether.

Read more here.

Growing Shade Garden Vegetables and Herbs

Growing Vegetables in the Shade

Some organic home gardens can do best in the shade. This is great news for those of us who don’t want to have to trim those decades-old trees in the backyard too much or live in older neighborhoods with large trees. And, those of you with balconies or porches with limited sunlight; this is great information for you, too.

Read more here.

The end of metals?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The world is fast running out of metals, it would seem. So, after peak oil now peak metal? Haven't we done damage to the Planet and its resources?

Metals have been used by humankind for millennia and in today's modern technology they are essential and indispensable.

The world is fast running out of metals of all kinds and that at a very alarming rate and especially rare earth could soon become even rarer to the point of non-existence. Bauxite, the ore from which aluminium (aluminum for our American cousins) is made is almost coming to an end, or so we have been told already some years ago those experts often quibble as to whether or not this is the case, and for copper, zinc, and others things are also beginning to look quite bleak.

While some excuses are made as to those metals becoming rare, such as conflict zones, etc., fact is and remains that we are coming to the point that those are non renewable resources and that we are using them up at a rate of knots, in the same way that we have done it with everything, including fish stocks and the like.

Iron, copper, zinc, but also other lesser known metals, such as Europium, Neodymium and Lanthanum, so-called rare earth, are an important part of modern civilization. They are required for common alloys all the way up to electronics. Cars, computers, televisions, cellphones, but also washing machines and dishwashers – all those appliances cannot get by without all those different kinds of metals.

Time to mine the landfills

So-called “rare earths”, which are also metals/ores actually are diminishing at such an alarming rate that cellphones, computers, and other such devices must be recycled to reclaim those and industry has been calling for people to get old cellphone that they may have laying around and which they no longer use to the recycling centers.

--- So, this fact alone makes a mockery out of the claim that instead of the ICE motor car we will all be driving electric vehicles in the near future. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I have said before and will say again.

Another problem is, however, also that those very same rare earth are a major necessity for the production of solar panels …

Scientists around Thomas Graedel in a recent study have examined, aside from source and reserves of individual raw materials, also bottlenecks due to uneven distribution of deposits, social-political aspects, environmental risks in mining then as well as the possible substitution of those elements. The group does not see any shortages forthcoming in metals such as iron, zinc, copper and aluminium. However, unless things have very much changed in the last couple of years the reserves of bauxite have already been running very scarce some decades ago and this was one of the reasons for the drive of recycling of aluminium drinks cans.

So why suddenly the change in saying that we have enough aluminium, which in itself is not even an ore but is created from an ore, and other, including gold where it is said that the only reason of possible shortfalls is the reason that it has to be extracted using environmentally unsafe methods and dangerous chemicals such as cyanide. I, for one, vote for another reason for the change of the pendulum and that is that one does not want to put the cat among the pigeons. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want but when we go from announcements of some years ago saying that reserves of, for instance, bauxite are running out to now it being said that aluminium, as if it were an ore itself, is fine then something smells rather fishy.

Thus we need to recycle all metals that can be recycled and to that end we will have to mine our landfills in order to get at all of those that were, in previous decades, tossed thoughtlessly into those holes in the ground in the believe, apparently, that the Planet would be providing those at infinitum. In the same way as some of the Christian Right (even though they are wrong) in the US claim that oil will never run out as “the good Lord put it there for our use and he will replenish it for our use forever”.

© 2016

Can Human Urine Replace Chemical Fertilizers?


The Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, is likely the only organization measuring success in gallons of urine.

In 2012, Kim Nace, Rich Earth’s administrative director and partner Abe Noe-Hays collected 600 gallons of urine from friends and neighbors. The next year, the organization brought in about 3,000 gallons from 170 human volunteers. Rebecca Rueter, a board member for Rich Earth, invited members of the local women’s chorus to donate their pee.

Rich Earth hopes to double that amount this year to a round 6,000 gallons — enough to fill a third of an average American swimming pool. “We’ve given volunteers a few things to make it easier — some funnel devices and things like that,” says Nace.

The project aims to test human urine as a replacement for chemical fertilizers. Urine contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — essential plant nutrients that are usually mined from the earth or the air for agricultural use. In collecting human urine, Rich Earth is diverting the same chemicals from waterways to farms, making a potentially harmful substance a boon to crop production.

The urine collection scheme has had some unintended consequences for Nace’s home in Brattleboro, which hosts the so-called “urine depot.” There is a buzz of conversation as volunteers drop off 5-gallon jugs to be loaded into larger holding tanks. “When people realize that they produce something every day that can be helpful to the environment and the earth, it’s a very wonderful feeling,” says Nace.

Read more here.

Impact Journalism Day: Global Indigenous youth taking the planet in their hands

Sick of waiting: Indigenous youth leaders and climate change advocates Amelia Telford and Joseph White-Eyes are fighting ...

t was 2009 and a severe storm had battered Kingscliff, her home on the east coast of Australia. Several metres of beach and dune disappeared, while cranes were needed to shift whole buildings back to save them from the water's edge.

The Kingscliff coastline was "barely recognisable".

"The swells picked up, we had high tides. It was washing away the banks and the sand dunes ... the erosion was incredible."

Ms Telford, a young Indigenous Australian from Bunjalan country, said it was the first time she realised she had a lifelong responsibility as an Aboriginal woman.

"We are the ones that have looked after the land sustainably for generations, over 60,000 years and we know best how to manage our land," she said.

"So I feel a real sense of responsibility, as so many of our young people do, to stand up and protect what we fought for, for so long."

Ms Telford is a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and was the 2015 Australian Geographic Society Young Conservationist of the Year.

The 22-year-old is the founder and director of Seed, a "young, black and powerful" network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fighting for "a just and sustainable future ... powered by renewable energy."

"We look at climate change with a focus on energy," Ms Telford said, "looking at coal and gas, how we need to transition our energy systems and our economies from a reliance on fossil fuels to systems that can be powered by the sun and the rain."

Seed has connected Indigenous youth from around Australia, working to campaign against coal seam gas, mining, and calling on the Australian government to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

"For myself in Australia, I often look to different stories from overseas, particularly around the US and Canada where indigenous communities are sick of waiting around, sick of promises made by governments and are standing up and building solutions themselves."

It was Ms Telford's interest in First Nations people around the world that led her to Joseph White-Eyes of South Dakota, more than 13,500 kilometres from her home of Kingscliff.

Read more here.

The Green Party – Neo-liberalism masquerading as socialism

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Instead, as it once did, the Green Party masquerading as an ecology party it now tries to pretend to be the alternative left party to the Labour Party and presents itself as such. It is not an alternative to the Labour Party, which itself, when it was re-branded under Blair & Co into New Labour, turned from a party of the working class into a neo-liberal establishment party and it is still the same now under Corbyn.

The Green Party of the UK may have, once upon a time, started honestly as a party that had ecology and the biosphere at heart but more and more it drifted onto a neo-liberal course until it became a farce (and the same goes for the Green Parties in other EU regions as well) and is now using different guises to further its neo-liberal agenda.

The “liberal” part of this term sounds good, doesn't it? It sounds progressive, for the people, and for a fairer system a bit like the Liberals of old. But do not be blinded by that or by those parties, and the Labour Party of today is on the same aircraft carrier, for neo-liberalism is the new fascism, standing for an oligarchic system, rather than a democratic one. Not, let me hasten to add, that we have a democratic system anywhere. Democracy is a good thing; it would be nice if we would give it a try some time.

Neo-liberalism is diametrically opposed to democracy and especially to socialism. It is the antithesis to both. Only it is difficult to recognize as their exponents spout all that liberal verbiage, and the Green Party definitely makes all the right noises at present to confuse people.

The Green Party is not a “left” party and definitely no party of and for the working class. It has left (pardon the pun) its original course, which was supposedly a concern for the biosphere, and has turned into a neo-liberal outfit that is following the same course as all neo-liberal parties and organization.

The working class at the present moment in Britain does not have a real proper party, unless we count the CPGB, which I don't really do, but neither Labour, in its current form and under the leadership of a turncoat and a traitor, can be see as one. The Green Party definitely is not and never can be a party of the working class as it has, aside from the neo-liberal outlook today, an entirely different line. The same goes also for the Greens in Germany and, alas, in many other countries. They are not of the working class and also not for the working class and that, as said, aside from the neo-liberal agenda that they are pursuing now.

Don't be fooled, Green does not equal Red, does not equal Left and Socialist.

© 2016