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Erik Ven

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since Nov 15, 2016
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Recent posts by Erik Ven

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3 years ago
I wanted to put this out here because it is tine sensitive and important:
Call For Action! The world's most bio diverse land based ecosystem, the Los Cedros Biological Reserve in Ecuador is about to be turned into a mining operation. Once this happens it is irreversible. Yeah, says who? We hear stuff like that every day. What if Geoff Lawton the world's utmost authority on permaculture, the guy who literally turned the desert into a food forest says so? Yes but it's not in our backyard, - Yes IT IS! We only have one Earth, everywhere is our backyard! Please help Geoff Lawton (and yourself) by spreading awareness of this crime and take action.
3 years ago
Two quick comments:

1, Putting an (expensive) traditional roof on a bag wall structure defeats the purpose of the whole "easy simple and low cost" approach of earth bag building. Additionally it makes the building vulnerable to high speed winds which might be an important factor in the Philippines. If it is not too late, it is a good idea to consider a vaulted earthbag structure. If you are interested I will be happy to assist with the design  

2, If you still want to put this roof on the bag walls, you will have to anchor the bond beam to the top three layers of bags with rebars. Also these layers should have a small (5-15% depending on your soil composition) cement in the mix. On the other hand if you mix cement in the top three layers, you stagger the bags or use a continuous tube, reinforce them with the aforementioned rebars, depending on the strength of the dried mix the bond beam may be unnecessary, since those three layers can act as a bond beam.

Good luck and please post some pics!
3 years ago
Fred, could you please elaborate on what this means? What exactly will be provided and to what means of cooking will the boots have access?
3 years ago
I had a conversation with Paul about something that just happened and he suggested that I ask the forum's opinion, since I am new here and I want to make sure that I don't violate any guidelines.

Earlier today, I have used a quote from Al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham's, The Book of Vision which goes like this:

"the truths...are immersed in uncertainties [and] not immune from error...Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency. Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency."

It was moderated out because: "Your signature seemed to be in direct conflict with the aims of this site, which is to promote discussion, not debate, and to discourage any member from claiming they have 'the truth'.  "

I don't post this question because I mind it to be deleted, but since questioning everything, and accepting only what has withstood the scrutiny of rigorous inquiry, is one of the principles by which I live and work it is important to me to understand what happened here. Also English is a third language for me so I may have missed something in the understanding.

I felt that the quote was exactly speaking FOR the rule that it was deemed to be violating. I felt that we can arrive to good practices and solutions by discussing all the options, debating over the possibilities, and if we do it a nice, non-confrontational way, we have a good chance to arrive to an excellent solution that may address all the problems it was created to address. It is about not accepting the DECLARATION OF THE TRUTH without suspecting and examining it.

Could you guys please help me out to see what I am missing here?

Thank you
My other question is in regards to a quote that I have posted from a 12th century scientist. I will not paste it here because it has been removed by  "staff" as something that is in conflict with the forums police according to which this site's goal "is to promote discussion, not debate, and to discourage any member from claiming they have 'the truth'"

The quote in essence said that one should scrutinize everything that is presented by anyone as "the truth" with suspicion and criticism, in order to either disprove it, or to remove all potential flaws through strict scrutiny, and recognize that the original statement was correct.

So to me it seems like that the explanation as to why the quote was removed, is in contradiction with itself, unless I have missed something important.

Me posting it is not that important, but I want to make sure I understand the rules here, and don't post thing that are contrary to them.

Can someone please provide clarification on this?

Thank you

paul wheaton wrote:

Through a rhetorical and logical discipline, I've come to learn that criticisms are always positively constructive

And all over the world you are welcome to exercise what you have learned.  Except here.

Here, you are asked to present your position.  Not critique the folks sharing in the thread.  

I am a little confused about this, and as Paul suggested in his first post in this thread I would like to ask for clarity.

Does this mean that constructive criticism, of theories, ideas, etc, that may contradict scientifically tested, peer reviewed and proven facts is not welcome here?

For example:

"Post:  Early morning water flows uphill and thus can provide a stored energy battery for later use.

Response: It is well known that the flow of water is driven by gravity and as such it always goes downhill, with the exception of capillary action (wicking) in certain materials under certain circumstances. If you have contrary information to this I would really like to see it as I may have not considered every factor when I have formed my understanding of fluid dynamics."

I think that while the response is critical of the post, it is constructive in providing scientifically well established information, it is also nice, and leaves the door open to the possibility that the responder have missed some crucial information, and invites the poster to share it.

Is this an acceptable form of discourse, or not?

Getting food is the responsibility (financially and logistically) of the Boots, or is it provided to them as part of the provisions in return for the work?
3 years ago
Todd, the principle you want to utilize is called thermosyphoning and you can read about it here:

I think that there are a few problems with your design idea.
1, The restricted flow between the barrels, through the piping system will almost certainly arrest the movement of the water.
2, since the opening of the barrels are on the top, and that is where the warmer rising water collects and at the same time the colder water sinks. they immediately mix with each other and create a cooler water. This will repeat itself four more times and in my estimation by the third one the temperature will be approximately the same in the fourth and the fifth barrel, therefore there will be no thermosyphoning.
3, If you cut out the bottom and top of the barrels the mixing described in 2, will occur with an even greater volume and quicker and the heat loss closer to the surface will be faster than the heat gain on the bottom and practically there will be no heat reaching the top.
4, Sealing the cut off barrels agains the tremendous pressure that 250 gallons of water can create will be very difficult and probably expensive

To create an reliable thermosyphon flow you would have to build something like the contraption in sketch I attached.

Both branches would have to be insulated to avoid heat loss and heat gain in the pipes, as that can arrest the circulation.    
Even though this setup is technically feasible I am still not convinced that it can deliver the results you are hoping for, for the following reasons:
This setup will work better, the greater the temperature difference between the soil temperature and the greenhouse temperature. The soil mean temperature in Wisconsin is between 42F-47F at a depth of 30' at 10' you can add about 3F in the summer and subtract 3F in the winter. ( source: )

Considering that your greenhouse should not cool below 35 degrees if you don't want your plants to freeze,  the temperature difference between the gain and the loss side of the system is between 4-8 F (in the winter). I highly doubt that this difference is enough to create an efficient heat exchange that would keep your green house above 35 F. If the temperature drops further it will accelerate the flow, but because of the thermal inertia, there will be a delay in heating it back up , which can cause the plants to freeze before they thaw.

A water pump added to the system can accelerate the the heat transfer between the two barrels, but depending on the size of the green house you may need a lot of barrels to keep it warm. The number of barrels would have to be calculated so that the heat transfer between the surface of the barrels and the interior air in the greenhouse would be greater than the heat loss between interior air and the walls and roof of the greenhouse.

Heating (and cooling ) your greenhouse with heat extracted from (or disposed of to) the ground is possible but I think there is a more efficient and reliable way to it, which I will describe and illustrate with pics in a later post.  

3 years ago

Jeremy Franklin wrote:These notions of big bad business taking advantage of the little guy are mostly perpetuated by people who have never seen the numbers.

To make sure that no one thinks I am talking out of bitterness or ignorance, let me just say that I have been CEO of three companies and COO/CFO of one in two countries in two different continents, over the course of the last 30 years. I have seen all the numbers that there are and I am very familiar with the inner workings of well established businesses just as startups and companies on life support. I have walked away from it because I realized the immense damage capitalist corporate culture causes to individuals, society and the planet in general, and once I became aware of it I was not able to keep doing it and sleep well at night.
As for the real numbers, see further below.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:I think the difference between "work" and "a job" is mostly mindset.

I agree with you on that, but the distinction I was trying to make was not that. It is between a job and income. It's an entirely different topic.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:I've had several jobs, and I've been self-employed several times. I can tell you, you're always working for someone else. If it's not a boss, it's a client, and after a while, you start to realize that the differences are mostly just in the paperwork.

You are absolutely right, but again, what I was trying to address was the issue of  who’s  benefiting from your work mostly, and who has the security of having his needs met without the exploitation of others, causing social imbalance, poverty, and suffering and a collapsing ecosystem.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:Eric, your scenario of taking home 10% of what you produce vs 100% of what you produce is just not accurate. First, anyone who has been in upper management at a company will tell you that labor and the associated expenses (benefits, payroll taxes, etc) is almost always your biggest expense on your profit and loss statement, frequently as much as 40-50% of revenue. After you add other overhead as well as marketing, etc, you're considered to be doing pretty well if a company is making as much as a 25% profit margin.  Many are fighting for 5%. The simple fact of the matter is that if any company could make a 90% profit margin off your work, it wouldn't take long for another company to come along and offer you 15% and take 85%, and then another offering 20 for 80, etc

Again you are right in the short run. What happens in the long run though, is that those companies, (both the ones fighting for 5% net margin, and the ones that offer more than others) either go bankrupt, forced out of the business by those who are making the big bucks, or simply bought out. Another option is that the CEO who operates a company like that is swiftly replaced by the board, or if not, the board gets replaced by the shareholders. If you are working in a corporate environment you must know very well that the only measure of corporate health is the size of the profit. If you begin to care about the well being of your workers beyond the level that ensures that your profit is growing, you are in the crosshairs of the firing squad whether you know it or not.  

Jeremy Franklin wrote: Most companies are run by good people who want to treat their employees right.

Well, I am not sure what info or data is backing up that statement but what I see is cutting corners in safety on the Dakota oil fields which in turn is killing people for a couple of dollars more, outsourcing jobs to Asia for more profit, creating job losses in the US and empowering sweatshops and  child labor overseas, oil rigs blowing up,  automating even low level, regularly person to person jobs such as a fast food cashier, making millions of people losing healthcare with the stroke of a pen, hiking up life saving medical supplies' prices, spending millions of dollars lobbying to get our representatives doing anything and everything to pass legislation to maximize corporate profits, perpetuate war and suffering to enrich the weapons industry tycoons, and I could go on for hours even in the small business sector. In my book those who make these decisions in order to maximize profits are not good people, even if they are faithful to their wives, love their children and provide for their families, and maybe even make charitable contributions.

Jeremy Franklin wrote: And the reason these companies exist, and why people work for them is that as a large group of people, we can generate a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

That is why co-operatives exist. Companies exist solely for profit and people work for them because they are tricked into thinking that it is the only way to survive,, or because that is the only way to service their debts in which they were also tricked into.
I seriously doubt anyone would work for a corporation where the profit goes into the shareholders pocket if they had the chance to work for a co-op where the profit goes into their own pocket, or at a higher level of social conscience, to the community.

Jeremy Franklin wrote: Yes, if you work for yourself in a business that has no expenses and no taxes, you can take home 100% of your revenue. However, that revenue will not be on the same scale as what you can produce as part of a larger company.

It is definitely true for those in upper mid management, and executive positions.
For most people however, this is less and less true as the corporate culture is built on infinite growth of production and profit. To back this up here are some numbers:
The GDP in the US is $16.77 trillion, and the total workforce is 159,640,000 people as of Dec 2016. The median pay nationally is $51,939, which totals a 8.3 trillion pay. Out of the 159.6 million workforce, 22 million are government employees with a total pay of 1.85 trillion and 2.5 million executive positions with a median pay of $121,435, which totals in  which adds up to about 260 billion.  So the $16.77 trillion is produced by 135 million people which comes to $124,000 per worker. These 135 million people are paid $6.1 trillion, which comes to $45,427.00 per person of which an average 30% is paid in different forms of income and work related taxes, which leaves them with $31,799 which comes to $ 15.29 an hour provided that you are working 40 hours all 52 weeks of the year ( no holidays or vacations), which is 20% less than what a single supporter of a 1 child family would have to make as a living wage in Jefferson County, Mississippi. (Mississippi is the cheapest place to live in the US)
Now this is 25.6% of the value produced by the individual, and is better than my estimate was, but this also includes higher paying, non-executive, managerial jobs, ( I just didn't want to go into that detailed of a research to take those out, right now) and 50% of the people in this bracket makes less than that. So I think, my 10% estimate is pretty close to the reality of Average Joe.

Jeremy Franklin wrote: Personally, I would rather have 10% of a million dollars than I would 100% of 30 grand.  The fact of the matter is, with my skill sets and personality type, I can make more working for someone else, pay somebody to build my house for me, and still have more left in the bank than if I did all the labor and built the house myself. (There are other reasons for doing it yourself, but speaking strictly financially, that's the reality)

I think you are right. Whether you want a job or not depends on many factors  One of them is whether your goal is making as much money as you possibly can, or just to produce everything that you need to live well. And living well also has a different meaning for different people . However if we have a sense of social and environmental responsibility, and we take the pillars of Permaculture seriously,  it is hard to participate in the corporate rape of the planet and systematic exploitation of the poor.
It's just simple math that every dollar that one has beyond their needs, makes someone else fall a dollar short of meeting their needs.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:I think what most people object to is a mindset where you "have" to go to work every day, and you "have" to do what someone else tells you to do. This sense of what feels like enforced slavery grates on our sense of self and our natural inclinations of freedom.  But, again, this can be rectified with a simple shift in perspective.

Agreed again. It is easy trick our minds into thinking that we are free, especially when the alternative is understanding that we are disposable slaves in the cog work of the system we call the “free world” ( Cognitive Dissonance is one the mind’s most powerful bondage) The problem is that the moment one makes that shift, is the moment when one becomes a willing slave to those who don’t care about other human beings, let alone other non-human living beings.

Jeremy Franklin wrote:As I said in the beginning, if your goal is money vs just working to grow your own food or work your land for your own benefit - if currency is at all in play, then you are working for someone else. You are performing a service - something that they want done, not you - in exchange for money. Whether you get paid as a W2 employee or a 1099 contractor, or cash under the table, that's mostly paperwork and in the latter case, small scale tax evasion. But you're still doing a task that has no personal meaning to you in exchange for currency. When you understand that, then you understand that you can always walk away, no matter what the paperwork says. You always have that option, so long as you own the consequences of your actions and believe in your own ability to earn somewhere else. With that knowledge comes the freedom we all crave.

Someone who had subscribed to the current social programming and up to his ears in student loan, car loan and mortgage debt, cannot afford to just walk away anytime. Especially if their skill is easily automated. They need careful preparations, sometimes even for years, if they don’t want that step to cause a catastrophic collapse of their family economy. Right now if you are a high ranking executive, you may feel that your job is secure, but let me tell you that my best friend is a VP at G&S and she is currently tasked with automating herself out of her job.

Jeremy Franklin wrote: I work for someone else in what you call a "job," but I do so by choice, because it's the most efficient way to get the most money for the least amount of effort on my part. But because my expenses are so much lower than my income (and even more so, when my land will largely be supporting my food needs) I know that at any point if things get sour or I'm just not having fun anymore, I can walk. Just having that knowledge in the back of my mind makes all the difference in the world, and frankly, gives me a much greater capacity for putting up with other people's shit, just because I know I don't "have" to.

From what you wrote it sounds like you are in a very privileged position at least jobwise. I was there, and now I know that I had a very difficult time to see from there  the position in which my employees were, let alone understand their struggles. Now I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to break out of it.  
4 years ago