Old ways and new with survival

On YouTube, amidst mountains of rubbish, you can also come across truly excellent historical information presented in a very entertaining  video format.  The above YouTube channel, Townsends, offers hundreds of videos exploring 18th century American living.  Along with fascinating historical information, this channel dishes up some amazing 18th century cooking, prepared as it would have been, back when bison roamed America’s fruited plains.   The Pemican video is part of a series of videos on this true early American survival food.

The Townsends YouTube channel offers dozens upon dozens of well-researched videos on 18th century cooking and living, presented in an entertaining and educational format.  These videos are like a walk back into early American life and you can almost imagine you’re living in George Washington’s time.  With my fascination with the American colonial time period, once I came across the Townsends channel, I wished I still had my cheap felt tricorn hat and quill pen.

In my last blog post, I took a pretty dim view of some of the “homesteading” videos I’ve watched on YouTube.  There seems to be a consumerist bent to how many of these people approach their “back-to-nature” lifestyle,  being motivated mostly by watching other popular YouTube homesteading “influencers”, then following advice gleaned via social media, embarking on moving into rural settings they are unfamiliar with and lacking financial plans and a means to provide for unexpected expenses.

The ground truth appears to be, their goal seems more to become quickly famous (popular) selling their beliefs about their back-to-nature lifestyle than it does to actually develop good working systems on their homestead and that bothers me.  Many of these people seem to spend more time working on their YouTube videos and social media than they do on finding practical ways to make their actual homesteading more productive.

Any home, requires food, water, heating, sheltering, waste disposal/sanitation systems.  Those are the basics anywhere humans live.  The more effectively and reliably these systems operate in a home, the more enjoyable everyday life becomes.  Absent dependable systems in the basics, the more stressful life becomes.  That’s just common sense, in colonial American homesteading or modern American homesteading.

Rather than be so negative about so much of the YouTube homesteading fad, here’s, the queen of common sense homesteader, Appalachia’s Homestead with Patara, who offers not only sensible homesteading advice, she offers the real deal homespun common sense advice, to people with no background in gardening or farming, embarking on a homesteading lifestyle.   Beyond all of the sensible things Patara says about finances and planning for her homestead, at minute 7:32, in the background is a simple clothesline.

I’ve watched another YouTube channel, of a homesteading couple, with a lot of young children, who have put out several videos where the mother laments about all of her off-the-grid laundry misery.  They are living with no electricity and this mother uses a ridiculously small, folding, wooden drying rack to try to dry clothes outside.  In a recent video, she praised her husband for helping her out with laundry… by carting some of their laundry to the neighbor’s, to wash and dry there.  How on earth this is being self-reliant, I have yet to figure out.  In another video, this father also talked about going to part-time hours at his retail job in a home improvement store, in hopes of being able to have more time to work at home… mostly, it seemed, on their social media video “business” ventures.

I kept wondering why on earth, living in the Ozarks and this man working in a home improvement store, he hadn’t put up some real clothesline outside, so his wife could make use of the many days of wonderful breezes there.  I lived at Fort Leonard Wood in the early 90s,  during my husband’s Army career and I had a clothesline in my backyard of our military housing.  On many clear, breezy days, I could fill up my clothesline, sometimes three separate times with loads of laundry.  I started laundry as soon as my kids left for school and got the first couple loads hung out.  Usually by noon, that was dry and I could hang out some more.  And if I had still more, by mid-afternoon, I could hang it out and get it dried.

I had a large capacity electric washer and dryer though, so on rainy days, laundry continued without any interruptions.  One time, living in MO,  the heating element in my dryer stopped working.  My husband went and picked up a new heating element and fixed my dryer when he got home, after working a very long day in the Army.

A clothesline is a common sense thing to have living a rural lifestyle, in most parts of the country.  It’s also one of those basics that could make laundry less of a trial with a large family and no electricity.  A sturdy clothesline doesn’t cost much to put together and for a family with small children, off-the-grid, it makes no sense to me why this mother spends so much time on YouTube lamenting about her laundry woes.

I kept wondering why her husband, who said he worked at a home improvement store, hadn’t put up some sturdy clotheslines, so she could make use of the great breezes that blow through the Ozarks.  Instead, this mother waxes on about amber teething necklaces, pricey amazon health food stuff and the kids, unsupervised, were mixing up batter with almond flour in one video.  I had priced almond flour for a recipe that called for it.  The Walmart store brand was $10 and some change for a 2 lb. bag.  The other brands of almond flour cost more than that.  I decided to stick with my all-purpose flour and skip trying this new recipe with almond flour.

As irksome as I found this couple’s laundry decision-making, it’s nothing compared to some of the YouTube preppers, like a lady waxing on about “dry canning” store bought rice and beans and claiming they have a shelf life of 30 years.  I wondered who on earth tested this “dry canning” method as a safe 30-year food storage method…  She did motivate me to go through my cupboards and discard some food that had long passed the expiration date, lol.  I have a bad habit of stockpiling store-bought canned goods and packaged food.  “Dry canning” store-bought beans and rice is advice, I’ll take a pass on, thank-you very much.

I suppose this sounds like my Three Little Pigs YouTube homesteading saga, so here’s another couple at Living Traditions Homestead (also in the Ozarks), who offer really solid, practical advice on planning and operating a family homestead business.  This couple planned for 7 years before moving to a homestead in the country.  They paid off all of their debt and appear to do their homework before making big decisions and changes.  They offer many interesting cooking and canning videos too.

My dream isn’t a family homestead, but to be completely debt-free and to eventually have a big backyard vegetable garden again and plant lots of flowers.  Whenever I browse seed company sites or walk into stores with gardening supplies and plants, my heart longs to buy, buy, buy, but I’m going to just grow some herbs and veggies in containers this year.  It’s the same response when I watch many homesteading and gardening videos, my eyes are bigger than my physical energy level and time.

For inspiration on container gardening, here’s another YouTube channel, a very nice couple at, Hollis and Nancy’s Homestead, who offer very clear how-to videos on container gardening methods.

You can learn many positive things from YouTube and social media, but often the “most popular” people or the videos with the most likes aren’t the ones offering the most sensible advice.  It’s best to take the time to wander through several YouTube channels when looking for “how-to” videos and think about what that channel is really selling before buying into  magical “healthy” products or lifestyles.

As the Appalachia Homestead lady, Patara, advises constantly, “Slow down and think before rushing into things!”  That’s sound advice on just about all aspects of life.

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Filed under American History, Food for Thought, General Interest

Our modern flower children…

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My grandmother’s wild herb books.  She was a believer in herbal remedies and modern medicine.

For a long while I’ve been thinking about social media and how it is changing American culture.  Some of the best behavior can be found on social media, but the negatives definitely seem to be outweighing the good, in the larger cultural context.

This blog post isn’t really just about needleworking, so, please stick with me as I  give some back story.

A couple of years ago I ticked off some women in a YouTube community by commenting and at that point I didn’t understand the dynamic of these mostly female cliques on YouTube, but they operate just like female cliques in the real world with certain popular women being the “queen bees” of the group.  I wrote a few blog posts about that experience, here, here, here, here.  I simply stopped watching those channels in that community, despite my love of needlework, because walking away seemed best.  What bothered me about this YouTube stitching community is so many of the needleworkers on their channels wanted to share their expertise, and don’t get me wrong, many of them are extremely talented, but many of them promoted stitching behaviors that are a recipe for disaster for new stitchers.  It seemed to me many of these women wanted to be “influencers”, is the hip social media word, I suppose, to encourage and promote both their YouTube channel and the love of needleworking, but they didn’t have any concern for giving bad advice or promoting fads that don’t help any stitcher become a better stitcher or learn how to complete more needlework  projects .  However, they weren’t actually concerned that they were promoting a recipe for disaster for beginning stitchers.  In 2017, I wrote:

“Whenever I learn a new type of needlework, I try to learn the basics first and practice a lot.  My mother taught me simple rules about embroidery and I still follow them.  These rules are in the instructions in almost every cross-stitch kit and book too.  They aren’t my mother’s rules, but the time-tested standards for embroidery, of which cross-stitch is a popular type of embroidery.

Anywhere in social media, I run into issues stating facts or an opinion that offends someone or evokes anger, so it was no surprise to me that on floss tube, I would offend someone.  The prevailing attitude is it’s taboo to say anything is wrong, apparently, even when what people are promoting is not only wrong, it’s a recipe for disaster for new stitchers.  Some stitchers started a facebook group called “Stitch Maynia”, which began as some event in May, where they focus on starting a new cross-stitch project every day in May.  Their focus is all about starting new projects, not about finishing what they start. They believe they are promoting cross-stitching and doing something good.

There’s now also a common attitude among many stitchers that it doesn’t matter how the back of their work looks, it’s all about that stitching makes them happy.  If you don’t care that your work is sloppy and a messy back on needlework is sloppiness (that’s a FACT), fine, but once you have a facebook group and a floss tube channel, with thousands of followers, well, you can become a corrupting influence very quickly.  This happens with Reality TV stars constantly too.

I tried to point out to a fairly new cross-stitcher that from years of experience with needlework and crafting, that starting too many projects leads to lots of unfinished projects and also added stress.  To keep track of this madness, there are floss tubers waxing on about all their “WIPs” (works-in- progress) and the spreadsheets, stitch journals and stitching schedules, they are using to keep track of it all.  Into this chaos, they insist they love stitching and starting so many things makes them”happy”.  For a new stitcher, this approach assures lots of wasted money, lots of unfinished projects and lots of poor needlework.

There is no foundation, of focused practice and good stitching habits, upon which excellent stitching is built.

One of the ladies who promotes sloppy needlework at Stitch Maynia quickly tried to tell me I was wrong and that it’s all about being happy stitching and that the back doesn’t matter.  She also told me she has 20 years experience at cross-stitch.  I didn’t even bother to respond, because it’s lost on her.  She has no idea how sad it is to smugly state she’s proud of doing sloppy needlework for 20 years. Sadder still is most of these needlewomen, caught up in this “feel-good” ethos will follow her advice and believe I am mean for stating that standards in needlework (just like everything else we take pride in) matter.  She proudly told me Stitch Maynia has 9,000 followers.”

https://libertybellediaries.com/2017/05/01/when-everyone-gets-a-gold-star/

The thing that irked me the most about many of these “popular” women  in that community is I observed new stitchers starting YouTube channels and wasting a lot of money trying to keep up with the Stitch Maynia crowd  – trying to start too many projects, not working to develop good stitching habits, not working to learn to get the basics down pat and not slowing down to focus on finishing projects.

I have needlework patterns back to the late 70s and I started counted cross-stitch in the early 90s, so I’ve acquired a collection of counted cross stitch patterns that I will never be able to have the time to stitch in this lifetime. I also have tons of scrapbooking supplies, rubber stamping and numerous other craft and needlework supplies.  I acquired a sizable fabric collection intending to some day learn to become a proficient quilter… except the few quilting projects I’ve done, I don’t enjoy at all.  I don’t really like quilting, even though I love handmade quilts.

Simple Diane Graebner cross-stitch pattern  in my q-snap frame, that I’m stitching right now and still need to add the apples, apple basket and goose.  This particular pattern was in the March/April 1996 Cross-Stitch & Country Crafts magazine.  Yes, I still pull out old patterns to stitch and that is why I am not getting rid of my large collection of cross-stitch patterns.

On YouTube, I’ve watched a lot of other crafting videos and learned a lot, just like I learned a lot from many of the needleworkers’ videos too.  However, each group of YouTubers seems to have the same dynamic of “influencers”, who become the most popular YouTubers in that community and then groupies (or subbies, since they are subscribers to the channel), who decide they want to be just like those popular “influencers”.  These groups also have the same dynamic of popular “influencers” trying to use their YouTube channel as part of an online business, along with social media presence on facebook, instagram, setting up etsy shops to sell their products or starting a Patreon subscription site, where followers can subscribe and get more content.  Many “influencers” also sell online class subscriptions.

All of this is fine and dandy and some “influencers” will be able to make some money, but here’s the catch – most won’t and most will waste way more money trying to be like the popular “influencers” than they will ever recoup in sales.  This social media “being popular’ fixation feeds the worst parts of American culture.

Several years ago, I started watching the “tiny house” shows on TV, which began a fad of many people opting for, as the sales pitch went… “living big in a tiny house”.  The things glossed over were the problems insuring houses in America that don’t meet building requirements and the problems with building codes in many parts of America in regards to placing a non-permanent structure on residential property.  Concurrent with the mindset of living with less stuff, expressed by many people opting for the tiny house living, are other fad lifestyles  focused on “back to nature lifestyles”, living off-the-grid, preppers, and “homesteading”, a term that has taken on many meanings beyond what traditionally was considered setting up a homestead to operate a family farm.

The things most of the YouTube people engaged in “homesteading” and living off-the-grid seem to have in common are most come from city or suburban lifestyles, most have no knowledge of farming, most mention learning about “homesteading” mostly from watching … you guessed it… YouTube videos by popular “influencers”.  Don’t get me wrong, some of the “homesteaders” on YouTube appear to be working very hard to safely and responsibly build a working farm, that can provide most of their family’s needs.  Separating the wheat from the chaff with homesteader channels can’t be determined by the number of YouTube subscribers a channel has.  Being popular does not equate to offering good advice or knowing what you’re talking about.

All of this sounded so familiar and it’s like the 60s and 70s type flower children, who wandered off into the rural countryside, to set up blissful communal living, have now set up YouTube channels to lead this new generation into the wilderness:

“Starting in the late 1960s, as many as a million young Americans — mostly white, college-educated and from middle-class backgrounds — left their homes in the suburbs and cities and moved, often sight unseen, to farmhouses, remote mountaintops and woodland clearings, with a goal of building their own shelter, growing their own food and living closer to the earth. A young Bernie Sanders was among them.

Far from being an eccentric anomaly, Bernie is in fact a classic example of a distinct, specific, historical phenomenon: the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s. The quirky details of his early bio — buying 80 acres of Vermont forest in 1968 and renovating an old sugarhouse into living quarters — are in fact shared by thousands of ex-urbanites across the country during the same period. My own parents moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to a northern Vermont hilltop in 1971 and, following advice from the residents of a local commune, began building the house in which I was raised, a geodesic dome.

As I explore in my new book We Are as Gods, so many people went back to the land in this period that they helped bring about one of the most unusual demographic shifts in American history, briefly reversing 200 years of steady urbanization.”

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/how-the-back-to-the-land-movement-paved-the-way-for-bernie-sanders-65188/

The modern-day flower children iteration set up a YouTube channel, quit their day jobs and decide to embrace “homesteading”, hoping to earn enough to live off hawking their lifestyle on social media, selling subscriptions to their Patreon site.. and as new gardeners, they hope to grow enough food and raise livestock to feed their families and still have enough of their fresh, “non-GMO” produce to sell at farmers’ markets…  Some of these homesteaders, on the quest to become YouTube famous quickly, have young children living in this chaos, where neither parent has any knowledge or experience at subsistence farming.  Yes, most of these YouTube “homesteaders” are pursuing subsistence farming as their sole means to support their family… oh, and the dream of becoming YouTube famous…

Many use their children as actors on their YouTube channel, hoping to attract more subscribers, while they ramble on about how they are pursuing a pure simple lifestyle, unlike the terrible values in our consumer lifestyle…

Here’s the thing, it’s fine to try to set-up an online business using social media.  It’s not fine to use your children as stage props, while they are living without even basic functioning water, sanitation, or heating systems in your hovel.  It’s not fine to acquire livestock, you have no means to properly feed, shelter or pay vet bills.  Large livestock are an expensive investment.  It’s totally irresponsible to be unprepared for the cost of feeding and caring for them, but it’s beyond reckless to drag small children into a living situation, for which you have no training, no experience and no skills to provide even the basics of safe water, sanitation and heating… because you want to “live off-the-grid”. I watched videos of one such family seeking  YouTube fame, where the father had a low-level retail job and talked about going to part-time hours, so he would have time to devote to promoting their new Patreon site and doing the YouTube videos… oh and I guess, in between all of their online time…  work on the family “homestead”.

Speaking as a mountain girl, who grew up around some of the most self-reliant, tough country folk, here’s the reality check for “homesteading” and “living off-the-grid” – the biggest part of being self-reliant is learning the basics of self-reliance in rural living before moving you and your family into a rural area you are unfamiliar with and unequipped with the skill sets to thrive in.  Learn the basics before wandering off into the wilderness or countryside.  If you don’t learn to properly plan, disasters and accidents will very likely befall you, your children, your livestock and your crops.  Listening to advice from YouTube famous homesteaders bypasses the single most important thing that can mean the difference between survival and disaster in rural America – get to know your real neighbors and work hard to establish close community ties.  In an emergency, sending text messages to people you know on social media is no substitute for calling someone in your neck of the woods for help.

Your best resources for information on a rural area, which you are unfamiliar with, are the locals and many rural areas still have a county extension office, where you can get a great deal of agricultural and home food preservation information for free.  The locals can direct you to the best places to get supplies, they can offer sound advice about the land and local climate, they can become your closest lifeline of support in an emergency.  Relying on popular YouTubers advice isn’t a recipe for self-reliant living, it’s a recipe for calamity.

We had some flower children set up communes on old farmsteads in the 70s, in our rural area.  They had no clue how to live in the country, but at least they were living in a large group and many of them came from affluent family backgrounds, so they had the means to buy the necessities, because they sure weren’t going to survive on the fruits of their agricultural labors.  This iteration of the back-to-nature movement, unfortunately, seems to be individual couples, many of them with young children being swayed by YouTube famous “homesteaders”.

 

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Just claptrap…

The Left and media remain stuck on the “C” words…

The legal eagles among the punditry class kept reminding us that “collusion”, whatever that even really means in this Dem spin narrative, is not a crime.  In the past few days, reports that Mueller’s report may be coming in the next week or so  Schiffted the prevailing spin narrative, with Rep. Adam Schiff trying to pivot away from “collusion” and  lay down a new spin bread crumb trail of more fact-free innuendo… Trump conspired with Russia and Trump is controlled by Putin.

Former FBI Deputy Director  and acting Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe now entered the fray with a new book launch, replete with the requisite media book tour, offering up another version of events… that contradicts both James Comey’s version of events and, the IG Report, which found McCabe lacked candor (lied) when talking to investigators.  On the right, Trump claims the Dems are conflicted and many of the Trump flame-throwers assert the Comey FBI and top Obama officials were trying to enact an illegal coup after the 2016 election.

Amidst this circus… I’m spending more time cooking and crafting with a clear conscience that even if the Mueller report drops soon, for the foreseeable future America will remain stuck in 2016 craziness

Add in the Jussie Smollett hoax out, allegedly out of sheer cupidity over his salary, and it’s just so much constant crap, that I’ll soon be looking for a cliff here in the GA lowlands to toss my PC over…

Okay, I’ll cease this nonsense now, but never fear America’s SPIN info war still continues…

#No2016ClosureOrConclusionInSight

Yesterday afternoon, my choices were to spend time writing a blog post or cook.  I made a casserole dish of stuffed bell peppers, of which most of it ended up going into plastic containers in the freezer for quick lunches for me later, since I’m the only one who will eat them.  And I made baked salmon, fried potatoes with garlic and made some brussel sprouts for my husband to eat.  I even had time to work on  stitching another plastic canvas tissue box cover.

Last night I spent time stitching and watching more YouTube videos… landed on more cooking videos of dishes from around the world, which will likely be the subject of another blog post.

Cheers…

“A word used by Britons on any occasion, covering any meaning from ‘thanks’, ‘hello’, ‘no problem’, to ‘an alien just raped your chinchilla in the left corner of my blue garden shed’. Usually followed by the term ‘mate’, which is also 100% devoid of semantic content and meaning. This phenomenon is taken by some continental scholars as strong evidence that all Britons are telepathic.”

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cheers

 

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Aquamarine vs. turquoise ( a 2015 blog post)

Here’s my so simple 2015 plan, that even a 5 year-old would understand it:

Finally, here is a post on factions, that’s so simple even a 5 year-old can understand the problem.  Adults might get stuck in their rigid ideological beliefs. All beliefs are not morally equal – some when carried to extremes have horrific consequences for millions of innocent people, while others can do remarkable good for the entire world.  That is the TRUTH.

Let’s say you believe very strongly that a color is aquamarine and I believe equally as strongly that that color is turquoise.  Being that we both believe a different thing, many avenues are there for us to choose.  We could argue and get so angry that we end up hating each other and never speak to each other again.  I could feel so strongly about my belief that I kill you.  We might even  kill each other fighting over who is right. I could even decide that it’s not enough to just kill you, but because you’ve convinced your whole town that the color is aquamarine, it’s necessary to kill all of them too.

Of course, on the less extreme side we might agree to consult an outside expert on color to settle the matter, perhaps, we could call the Crayola Company, after all they’ve been naming colors since 1885 in Easton, PA, near where I grew up.

We might argue, passionately and often, clinging to our beliefs (as President Obama accused those rural people in PA), but in the American tradition, we could agree to disagree and at some point, shake hands and say, “Let’s go have pizza!”  Presented to most 5 year-olds, the vast majority will agree that it’s stupid to kill other people just because we disagree, on the other hand most adults refuse to even listen to differing opinions.  Maya Angleou, renowned poet, expressed it exactly right:

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” –
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/26244-hate-it-has-caused-a-lot-of-problems-in-the

So, in America, being a country forged together by a people committed to INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM, we have The Declaration of Independence to ensure our God-given, unalienable rights are not infringed upon:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Sadly, in America our political partisanship swirls dangerously to extremes – where hate has swelled to such a level  that many Americans choose to receive all of their news from sources that align with their political views.  The hate and extremism goes so far that even the President of the United States works to divide Americans into hostile camps.  Distrust turns Americans into furtive enemies, partisans avoiding those who hold an opposing view, with ideological walls being girded to lock out all who dare to disagree.  Even codes are enacted in our universities to silence opposition.

We must tear down these partisan walls!  We must work to find common ground, or we can not face the threats beyond our borders.  President George Washington warned about the dangers of extreme partisanship in his Farewell Address:

“I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

So, beyond my stating it is a parental duty in a civil society to train your children to respect the rule of law.  George Washington tells you that it’s a duty to discourage extremist politics – the duties are required to be a good citizen.  I wrote a post in 2013 titled, “The duty of a wise people”. on this subject.

There was a time, not so long ago, when American school children were routinely taught about this speech and  American principles.  Sadly, today I suspect many school children don’t even know who George Washington was. And mentioning The Constitution, too often and too loudly, will get your name on a Homeland Security watch list as a right-wing extremist…

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Yes, the Russian threat is serious

The day kind of got away from me, so it’s after midnight and I’m finally trying to write a blog post.  I ran to my local Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market for some groceries this afternoon, did some laundry, then made some homemade beef stew for supper.  After cleaning up the supper dishes, I intended to sit down and write, but then I got the idea that I needed to make PA Dutch Pickled Beet Eggs (you can find plenty of recipes on YouTube).  Of course, I have several types of vinegar, but I forgot to buy more plain old apple cider vinegar this afternoon, and which I used the last of about a week ago.   So that meant another trip to Wal-Mart.  I have a glass gallon jar with a lid, specifically for my pickled beet eggs, because I make them fairly often.  Since my husband doesn’t eat them, I only made a dozen eggs, which will last me a while.

I use hard-boiled eggs, 2 cans of sliced pickled beets, 1 small sliced onion (optional)  I add a couple of bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, and a few whole cloves, but many people don’t add these.

I put 1/2 c. to 2/3 c/ of sugar and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar into a medium saucepan, heat on medium.  Pour the juice from both cans of pickled beets into the pan.  Add the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Place the shelled hard-boiled eggs, beets and sliced onion in a clean gallon glass jar.  Onions are completely optional – I like them pickled and use them on salads, along with the beets and sliced pickled eggs.   Pour the cooled liquid into the jar.  Place the lid on tightly and gently shake the jar a bit to make sure the eggs are completely covered with the pickling liquid.  Refrigerate.  Every day gently shake the jar.  The eggs will be well pickled in a couple of days.  After a week or so, you can remove the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cloves, if the  flavor is getting too spicy.

It’s fine to add more hard-boiled eggs to this pickling juice a couple of times before making up a fresh batch.

Now, onto politics.  I wanted to clarify something, in case anyone doubts that I take the Russian information warfare threat seriously.  I take it very seriously. What I don’t take seriously is how the Dems and mainstream media are using the “Trump/Russian collusion” and the “Russian bots everywhere” hysteria to incite fear and to create another one of their pathetic, partisan narratives for their SPIN information war.

No one in the mainstream media, American politics, even our national security officials even view the “SPIN war” as a real domestic information war, dedicated to fueling partisan divides and spewing 24/7 agitation propaganda at the American people.  THAT is the larger problem with trying to deal with hostile foreign information warfare directed at America.  Our domestic SPIN war creates a wide-open media space for hostile foreign info war operators to flourish.  Heck, they just need to “amplify” domestic SPIN war messaging at respective domestic partisans and they blend right in here.

I think our national security people fully grasp the cyber/technology aspects of hostile foreign information warfare activities and work very hard to try to counter those threats.  Things like protecting networks, protecting our electrical grid, preventing cyber attacks, cyber theft, the endless hacking assuredly are easier to grasp than information operations geared toward manipulating the American people (mass media agitprop efforts, psychological operations, etc.).

After decades of the Left’s very real culture war in America and the advances of political correctness, replete with morally bankrupt terms and ideology, America no longer has a coherent sense of American values and principles and finding any firm common ground, for Americans to rally around anything presents a real challenge.  Americans unifying around anything usually lasts less than 24 hours before the partisan rancor shatters the calm.

For a few years now,  thought pieces occur fairly regularly at online political commentary sites, asserting American is already in a state of  “civil war” and I’m willing to concede the extreme partisan divides in America have deepened and definitely corrode hopes of national unity on almost anything, but I remain optimistic.  The challenge with dealing with aggressive hostile information warfare geared toward deepening partisan divides among partisans, who are likewise working to deepen partisan divides, is, well, obviously we are making it easy for our enemies to “divide and conquer” us.  This point, I’ve stated many times already – we are our own worst enemy and unless and until our rabid partisans stop our domestic SPIN information warfare, there’s no hope of countering hostile foreign messaging operations.

The best defense against hostile foreign information messaging operations is an informed citizenry, who are united by some common values and principles, so working toward that seems more important than all sorts of hysterical, knee-jerk censorship efforts.  Just trying to get Americans, who have different political views, to embrace my “let’s go have pizza” solution, which I wrote about back in 2015, might be a good start.   I’ll repost it.

 

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Filed under Culture Wars, General Interest, Information War, Politics

Russian bots everywhere…

Lately, if you listen to mainstream media news, pundits and Democrats, we all are seeing Russia from our browser window…  here a Russian bot, there a Russian bot.  All roads lead to the Kremlin in this new Dem Red Scare environment.

JK posted a comment the other day, mentioning two links, one to a 2016 article at The Root , about Hillary Clinton’s use of the superpredator term as being racist, the other, a February 13, 2019 article, BLACK CRITICS OF KAMALA HARRIS AND CORY BOOKER PUSH BACK AGAINST CLAIMS THAT THEY’RE RUSSIAN “BOTS”, at The Intercept, which deals with the hashtag, #ADOS (American Descendants of Slaves) falling under a cloud of suspicion as being a Russian bot operation.  This recent article also alleges that the 2016 attacks against Hillary/superpredator issue were also a foreign bot generated operation.  A CNN commentator made the charge:

“Angela Rye, a CNN political commentator and board member of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, has said she believes that some ADOS arguments are not organic, but were “paid for by Russia.” She added that she’s “not saying everyone who uses the hashtag is a Russian bot,” but she does believe “it originated from Russian bots.” Rye went on to argue that the same is true of critiques relating to “some of the stuff around the crime bill” circa 2016 — presumably referring to critics of Hillary Clinton who questioned her support of the bill now widely understood to have caused overwhelming harm to black Americans.”

https://theintercept.com/2019/02/13/ados-kamala-harris-cory-booker-russian-bots/

Rye is a lawyer and Seattle native, liberal activist, not an intelligence analyst.

The actual creator of the #ADOS hashtag, Antonio Moore, takes issue with the Russian bot allegation:

“THE CREATORS OF the hashtag — Antonio Moore, an attorney in California, and Yvette Carnell, a political commentator — are neither Russian nor bots and are demanding an apology.

Carnell told The Intercept that she thinks calling out ADOS is an effort to delegitimize the grassroots movement they’ve worked to cultivate and to “undermine a real debate that we have about Kamala Harris within the black community.” For years, Moore and Carnell have been doing regular YouTube and radio shows together where they discuss issues like reparations and the racial wealth divide under the lens of “native descendants of American slaves.””

https://theintercept.com/2019/02/13/ados-kamala-harris-cory-booker-russian-bots/

Alleging “Russian influence operations” has become part of the Left’s SPIN messaging now, so I expect a lot more of this and also more of the corrupt Dem false flag operation, like the one they pulled in 2017 during the Moore campaign … fielding fake Russian bots.  In this corrupt political media environment, it’s impossible to know which are real Russian bots and which might be fake Russian bots, or even some other hostile country’s bots (there’s a subject for another blog post – foreign threats besides only Russia).  Russia isn’t the only foreign country waging online influence operations in American media, but it’s the only one the Dems and mainstream media want to talk about.

You don’t have to look far to find Dems and Leftists seeing Russian collusion and influence operations everywhere in American political SPIN messaging activities these days.  The political pressure on social media giants to be more aggressive at dealing with Russian influence operations ramped up and just today CNN  reported:

“Three online video channels designed to appeal to millennials have collected tens of millions of views on Facebook since September. But the pages pushing the videos do not disclose that they are backed by the Russian government.

The pages are run by Maffick Media, a company whose majority stakeholder is Ruptly, a subsidiary of RT, which is funded by the Russian government. Although Maffick Media has hired contractors and freelancers in Los Angeles in recent months, the company is not registered in the US, it is registered in Germany.
Facebook suspended the pages on Friday, saying it would reach out to the people running them to ask that they disclose where the pages are run from and their affiliation with their parent company in order to get back on the platform.
The move was an unusual one for Facebook. The company does not require users to provide information about parent companies, but it is rolling out ways to try to increase transparency about who runs popular Facebook pages, and it has been taking aggressive steps to tackle covert government-backed information operations on its service. In 2016, a Kremlin-linked troll group ran a network of pages designed to look like they were operated by real American activists.”
Here’s a CNN Business report from today, How the Russians did it, by Donnie Sullivan, who is the same CNN reporter, who reported on the Covington/Phillips video and the anonymous @2020fight, cited as the main Twitter account that amplified that video.  Sullivan writes:
“A federal indictment against 13 Russian nationals made public on Friday provides new insight into how the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked Russian troll group, set up a vast network of fake American activist groups and used the stolen identities of real Americans in an attempt to wreak havoc on the U.S. political system.
According to the indictment, the group, which is based in St. Petersburg, Russia, began monitoring the social media pages of real American activist organizations in 2014, before setting up fake pages and personas that became, the indictment says, “leaders of public opinion.”

The pages were designed to look like they were run by real Americans. They focused on a number of divisive issues in American life, including race relations, religion, immigration, and the 2016 presidential election.On Facebook alone, an estimated 126 million Americans may have been exposed to material the group produced, the social media company told Congress last fall. The indictment provides a fuller picture of how the Internet Research Agency worked. It details a sophisticated operation that allowed the group to achieve such wide reach. The agency had a budget of over $1.25 million by September 2016 — big enough to include money for bonuses.

“To measure the impact of their online social media operations, Defendants and their co-conspirators tracked the performance of content they posted over social media,” it says. “They tracked the size of the online U.S. audiences reached through posts, different types of engagement with the posts … changes in audience size, and other metrics. Defendants and their co-conspirators received and maintained metrics reports on certain group pages and individualized posts.”

The group worked hard to make its work look like it came from real Americans. Apart from the occasional typo — or a phrase that, in hindsight, was clearly written by a non-native English speaker — the group’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr pages were convincing. They looked like many other politically-themed pages on social media: Designed to take advantage of Americans’ divisions, to get engagement by stoking outrage.”

https://money.cnn.com/2018/02/16/media/internet-research-agency-mueller-indictment/index.html

This CNN Business report chronicles Russians hiring unsuspecting Americans and even one incident of the Russians using a stolen identity, including the social security number, of an American citizen.  This report also mentions the alarming 2016 incident where Russian influence operations orchestrated two opposing events, on the same day, at the same location in Houston, to try to incite an actual real world confrontation:

“The Internet Research Agency also worked hard to ensure that its influence would stretch beyond social media and into the physical world, the indictment says. It successfully organized real demonstrations.

In one case, as CNN has previously reported, the troll group organized and promoted two opposing events on the same day at the same location in Houston, Texas.”

Yes, it’s obvious the Russians upped their influence operations in America in recent years, however the mainstream media/Dem/Left new Red Scare SPIN messaging effort serves only their shallow, single focus, partisan political agenda of trying to delegitimize Trump, by any means necessary.  The absurdity of their new Red Scare messaging coupled with the destructive calls to censor social media and online speech bode poorly for American free speech rights.

There’s even a “bipartisan”, absurd online McCarthyite listing of alleged Russian bot accounts – Hamilton 68, which is the work of the Alliance for Securing Democracy. Hamilton 68 is rolling out a 2.0 effort soon, geared toward:

“Starting in 2019, we will transition to a new interface that will communicate Kremlin information operations in a manner less vulnerable to misinterpretations, with a particular focus on the outputs of overt, Russian state-sponsored social media accounts and websites – reflecting what we believe is an increased role of such accounts in driving narratives (the list of monitored accounts will be available to the public). The new site will incrementally incorporate new functions and visualizations as they come online; always improving, updating, and adapting to the outputs of Putin’s propagandists operating across the entire mainstream and social media ecosystem.”

https://securingdemocracy.gmfus.org/hamilton-68/

What’s the point of publishing lists of suspected Russian bots, thereby letting the Russians know which of their bots, are compromised?  Honestly, how many Americans are going to scan lists of alleged Russian bots while using social media?   If they do come into contact with a Russian bot, so what.   On social media you have complete control on who you choose to communicate with.  On Twitter, you can mute or block accounts, that you don’t wish to see.  Instead, of all this public fear mongering about Russian influence operations, the real intelligence operators should be quietly upping their game.

In my opinion, instead of media efforts hyping the new Red Scare, the time and effort would be better spent trying to educate Americans about American constitutional principles, good citizenship and treating other Americans with respect.

On Twitter, I’ve been accused several times of being a bot.  I have very few followers, dropped a few recently –  52.  I could not care less really.  Being “popular” has never been a goal of mine, nor has “amplifying”  my message to large numbers of people.  I hope a few select people might listen to my message.  For 20 years, I’ve been trying to expose “SPIN” as a vicious information warfare operation targeting the American people and it’s been run by the Dems/Left colluding with the mainstream media to “amplify” the Dem SPIN messaging and control the “spin cycles”.  Controlling the SPIN effectively controls public opinion in America.

For the umteenth time, hostile foreign influence operations have easy pickings fomenting distrust and divides in America.  Along with escalated Russian influence operations in recent years, the Dems/Left ramped up their SPIN info war and Trump broke through the Left’s lock on controlling SPIN messaging in America.  In my opinion, while all the hostile foreign influence operations are a serious threat, the much larger threat to America’s political institutions comes from within.  We have both political parties and our media totally invested in a very corrupt, divisive scorched earth homegrown SPIN information war, which provides our enemies with non-stop messaging ammunition to foment more anger and division.

Along with being “unpopular”, often I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness warning about our domestic, scorched earth SPIN information war, as the civil carnage and wholesale public corruption leave American culture a virtual wasteland.

The Dems and the media hyping Russian influence operations creates only fear, hysteria and a sense of helplessness among Americans. 

Teaching Americans that each and every one of them has the power to defeat Russian influence operations (or anyone else’s influence operations) in their own lives would do more to empower Americans.  How about teaching Americans to fearlessly think for themselves?  How about teaching them to not let media and political figures scare them?

Online influence operations are ONLY words and videos promoting a message, which every American can CHOOSE not to buy into.  Don’t let other people scare you about communicating with people on social media and expressing your opinions online.

 

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Filed under Corrupt Media Collusion, General Interest, Information War, Politics

Color me a skeptic

Last week in a comment, I mentioned the ProPublica report, FIGHT THE SHIP: Death and valor on a warship doomed by its own Navy, written by T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi.  This report contains a detailed narrative about the USS Fitzgerald collision with a cargo ship on June 17, 2017.  This report has generated a lot of online commentary.

Here are two takes from War on the Rocks: THE FITZGERALD COLLISION: IN SEARCH OF THE ONUS, by Bryan McGrath and (MORAL) HAZARDS TO NAVIGATION AT SEA, by Doyle Hodges.

ProPublica has a 2nd installment to the USS Fitzgerald report: YEARS OF WARNINGS, THEN DEATH AND DISASTER: How the Navy failed its sailors, written by Robert Faturechi, Megan Rose, and T. Christian Miller.

I don’t know anything about naval operations, so the War on the Rocks articles provided added context for me on how to begin to assess what happened.  Despite all of the larger Navy problems, on that shift, it seemed to me like just basic navigational procedures weren’t followed.  It also struck me that beyond any mechanical/technical issues, that with adequate communication by the officer in charge with her subordinates, this collision likely could have been avoided.  She didn’t communicate with her subordinates at all.  All of that shift’s failures likely speak to larger issues of how the Navy trains, mans, and operates, but in my mind, the question is did the officer in charge know what the basic safety protocols were and why on earth didn’t she communicate with her shift?

Large system failures often become obvious as more smaller system failures happen repeatedly.  The debate over accountability in my mind runs to holding those directly in charge on the ship accountable for that smaller system failure that cost the lives of 7 sailors.  However, the Navy, in light of these other serious mishaps, needs to tackle a serious institutionalize accountability and more importantly, a dedicated effort to fix the larger institutional problems.

Too often the high-ranking decision makers, whose poor leadership and planning caused the training and manning problems, end up being left in place to police themselves, leading to a cyclical bad PR incidents, then endless reports, followed by endless rounds of demands for “accountability”.   A few scalps down the chain of command will be offered up to appease the “accountability” gods, but often the top brass, who created most of the large system problems, remain in power and unscathed.

Yep, color me a skeptic when it comes to “accountability” at the highest levels on the U.S. military… or  anywhere else at the top levels of the federal government.

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