A friend asked how hard it is to raise chickens. I answered as follows, based on my research into the subject (not based on personal experience since I'm not allowed to keep chickens where we live inside the city limits *wink*)

Chickens must be the easiest and most productive animal to raise. They need a run, a coop, food, and water. Other than the materials and labor to set up the run, coop, etc... The only maintenance required (assuming the run is big enough and you setup the coop correctly) is refilling the feeder, and cleaning out the water dish on a regular basis to keep disease at bay. A poorly designed coop will require regular cleaning, and a run that is too small or poorly placed will require hay or other composting material and semi-regular mucking out.

A rooster is NOT required for eggs, although some people claim that only fertilized eggs are worth eating.


Set the run up on a slight slope, with the high end having easy access to throw in compostable materials (food scraps, lawn clippings, garden waste, etc...) and the low end having an easily removable gate to shovel out the lovely rich compost / fertilizer they produce. The ideal setup would have a drop of a few feet from the low end into a compost bin where the mixture of chicken poop and compostable material would drop and cook into a rich but usable material for your garden. Chicken poop is to rich to use directly, so it must be mixed with other materials (they do that naturally in the run) and then let set for some time to cook.

Setup the coup OVER the run (or lifted up on stilts) with a chicken wire screen under their roosting perch and a very slight slope (darn near flat) from the nesting boxes down to that screen and just a strip of wood to keep the eggs from rolling out onto the screen. Then the nesting material (sawdust, etc...) will randomly migrate out and down through the screen, they will poop through the screen while roosting (which they do a LOT) and that poop will be mixed with compostable materials in the run as they scratch through it. Chickens have a close relationship with their own poo. They let bugs, maggots, etc... grow in it and then scratch those out an eat them.

If you build your garden beds high enough and surround each bed with a waist high fence, you can let the "girls" out once in a while to clean the back yard of snails, bugs, spiders, etc... They don't like to eat ants, and they DO like to eat your best garden greens in the most destructive and wasteful ways possible. E.g. just the main root from each pepper plant.


Smell: Really not as bad as people think, assuming the run is large and either setup smartly or kept clean with manual labor. But there is a bit of a whiff on hot days...

Flies: No matter how clean you keep it, chickens shit, and you will get flies.

Spiders: Spiders follow from flies. We have more black widows per square foot than any place I've ever lived.

Garden and grounds: They WILL get out, and they WILL destroy something you lovingly planted. They like to scratch or dig up flowers, veggies, etc... Any area that they frequent will be laid baron by their constant digging for bugs and the overly rich power of their poop.


HR1: Indexed and serchable version of the stimulus bill

http://www.USARecoveryAct.com has a pdf version of the stimulus bill with a full index, table of contents, etc.. which makes it a lot easier to browse. Worth the $6 they charge to download it.

I can't wait to see how big business will warp the intended use of our tax dollars for their own purposes. Maybe this pdf will enable some of us to find ways to recover part of our taxes as funding for new business opportunities? If we don't, they will!


Violence, moral delimmas, and "The Watchmen"

Our local youth group leader suggested using "The Watchmen" as a "jumping off point" for the discussion of moral delimas. I was torn; thought about it a lot, and wrote the following:

As I continue to read reviews and hear from friends who have seen "The Watchmen", I become more and more concerned about the level of violence in the film. A number of people have been very concerned about the full frontal male nudity that appears repeatedly in the movie, but that doesn't really bother me too much; what does disturb me greatly are close-ups of someone's head repeatedly hacked with a hatchet, people exploding from the inside out, rape, etc... My coworker who loves horror flicks told me she was shocked by this movie.

I'm trying to find the time to go and browse a copy of the comic book version to see if it is any less disrespectful of human life, but my general understanding is that it is no better.

I've tried very hard to teach my children that violence is not acceptable. That any human who sees a violent act or a simulation of a violent act should be sickened by it. I am greatly concerned that our youth, through video games, movies, and "art" are becoming inured to the horror of violence. It continues to amaze me that parents, on the one hand allow their kids to play first person shooters, and on the other hand are shocked and horrified when a few of them follow the example and go "Columbine" on the world.

I've made exceptions in what movies I allow them to see, and those exceptions were meant to teach them that violence IS part of our REAL world. So I would not mind if they watched "Saving Private Ryan" or "Glory" or "Casualties of War" because they show what can and actually has happened at the hands of violent men. We watched "Master and Commander" together and didn't turn away when the cabin boy lost a limb and the decks were slick with blood. We watched "Georgia Rule" together and talked about rape and incest. I don't mind "CSI" or "Bones" because they show violent people being brought to justice, and the violence is presented in a shocking way that tends to make it even more unacceptable. "House" shows that blood and guts are a natural part of what is inside us.

The movies and video games I despise are those that make violence an accepted part of the story, or even go so far as to glorify it. "Saw #", ("Texas Chain" or otherwise), "Grand Theft Auto", etc... So many make violence the primary method of solving a problem, showing "heroic" men mowing down their opponents while glossing over the fact that those men helped to create the situation that made the violence necessary, or at the very least, were unable to find any better way to solve the problem. "Commando" was a perfect example: His daughter was kidnapped because of what he did for a living.

"First Blood" (the first Rambo movie) was an exception, because he did everything he could to avoid the violence while still protecting his freedom. Some of the old Chuck Norris films tried to present violence as the last resort. In "Burn Notice", the lead actively tries to solve problems with the lowest possible body count. "MacGyver" etc...

Having said all that, and I said it mostly to make sure you understand how I, as a veteran of foreign wars feel about violence in media, if you are sure that the benefit of pursuing "The Watchmen" as an example of morel dilemmas outweighs the damage of exposing Allie to that sort of unnecessary violence, then I will give my blessing to her seeing the movie and reading the comic. I have respect for your opinion, and a great appreciation of your efforts. As a man, I bow to the better record of your sex with regard to violence, although I think most of that is due to the men getting sent in to deal with the problem after everyone else has failed.

If you say it's worth doing, I will trust you with my daughter. I do not speak for my wife.

I wish you could find another "jumping off point." Perhaps something about the tradeoffs between dropping the nuke on Japan and letting the war play out conventionally? Or any of the many stories of ordering young men into a loosing battle to win a war? If it has to be violent, why not "Full Metal Jacket" or "Born on the 4th" or "Forrest Gump" or even a few episodes of "MASH" like the ones about Hawlkeye loosing his mind because the noisy chicken the woman smothered when the V.C. were passing the bus wasn't actually a chicken. There's a moral dilemma for you... All of us dead or just the one little... hatchling.

I hope you teach them well. I don't think I could take on that job.


My answer to "Afghanistan South" by Patrick J. Buchanan

A friend sent me the "Afghanistan South by Patrick J. Buchanan" email, which goes on about how our boarder with Mexico must be better patrolled to keep the drugs and drug cartels out and this was my response:

The solution to this is easy: Decriminalize drug production and sale. Production will move into the USA, and Mexican exports will become unprofitable for the cartels who will then fold up and go away.

Pour the funds currently used to police the boarder, chase drugs, and imprison drug users into drug use education, marketing campaigns against drugs, and the enforcement of driving or other critical activities while under the influence of ANYTHING. We should be telling our people that although drug production and use by adults is not illegal, there are very good reasons why they shouldn't use drugs, that drug use is uncool (like the anti-smoking ads) and that if they get caught high while doing anything of a critical nature, they will go to jail. That includes:
- Being the adult in charge of a minor while high
- Supplying drugs to a minor or allowing a minor to steal drugs from them.
- Driving or operating any machinery high
- Showing up for work high
- Applying for any sort of medical care while the after traces of any drug is present in your body. E.g. if you have lung cancer and THC in your hair, you don’t get treated unless you can pay for it. You pay the price or die. If you have rotting teeth and traces of meth, your dental program doesn’t cover the work.
- And so on.

On the other hand, if anyone wants put their responsibilities in good hands, lock themselves up in their bedroom, and go for a ride, that's just fine.

And most importantly, if you want to grow some pot or poppies or brew up some LSD and sell it that should absolutely, perfectly legal. In a location and with equipment to manage the explosion hazard, you should be able to make meth. The drug lords would shrivel up and wash away.

Actually, you don’t even have to decriminalize drug USE. You just have to allow us to produce it to meet the demand. The fact that I am not free to make and sell drugs is a major offense against the constitution of the USA in my opinion. Not that I would ever want to, but I am allowed to make and sell guns, booze, porn, and so on, and it is morally wrong and just plain stupid that I can’t make and sell drugs. The law that says I can’t has created this drug crisis as surly as if it had ordered the scum in Juarez to kill each other and us.


Fixing Congress

My friend Al says:
I don't have a blog for my various strange ideas, but you can post this if you like it.

Congress is out of touch. They are insulated from voters by the rich few who finance the campaigns. Here's a few ideas to get them back in touch.

* Take congress off the their health care package. Give them health care through Medicare (or make them buy their own on the open market). They don't get any more medical coverage after they lose their job (OK, they could qualify for COBRA).

* Take away the retirement program for congress and put them on social security. Right now, they don't pay into social security and they have their own retirement package.

* Put them on a pay for performance package. Their pay should be linked to the economic performance of the country. When the country runs a deficit, their pay gets cut. You could link it to GNP or some other indexes. They can then make choices knowing that the result will hit their wallet.

Three simple things that could really change the way congress works.


What is the Justice System doing to bring some to Dick and G.W.?

Honorable Karen P. Hewitt
U.S. Attorney’s Office
San Diego County Office
Federal Office Building
880 Front Street, Room 6293
San Diego, California 92101-8893
Karen.P.Hewitt@usdoj.gov ?

Honorable Bonnie Dumanis
San Diego County District Attorney
330 W. Broadway, Suite 1300, San Diego, CA 92101
619-531-4040 (phone), 619-237-1351 (fax)
publicinformation@sdcda.org (email)

Ms. Hewitt / Ms. Dumanis,

Isn't there anything that you could (should) be doing to move our country towards making the former President and Vice President pay for their crimes?

Does it not worry you that your predecessor / colleague lost her job after putting Cunningham in jail for his crimes?

If you let people like those who fired her go unpunished for their other crimes, it sends a CLEAR message to the current administration that in the future, they can take politically motivated action against YOU if you fail to do what they want?

- The lies about Iraq.
- Warrantless wiretapping.
- War crimes such as torture.

Clinton lied about a blow-job, Nixon lied about a break-in; they were both at least investigated. Here you have a man who may have ORDERED the commission of war crimes and you can't even open an investigation?

People go on about "no man being above the law" and we both know that’s not as true as people hope, but when it is a case as obvious as this, doesn't something need to be done to at least maintain the illusion?

James Newton

See also:
- http://www.groundsforimpeachment.com/
- http://feralhouse.com/titles/images/BushImpeachment.pdf
- http://www.wexlerwantshearings.com/

NAIS is a scam.

NAIS was designed by NIAA (the National Institute of Animal
Agriculture), a corporate consortium consisting of Monsanto,
industrial meat producers such as Cargill and Tyson, and surveillance
companies such Viatrace, AgInfoLink, and Digital Angel. The NAIS
scheme fits agribusiness, biotech, and surveillance companies to a T:

1) They are already computerized, and they engineered a corporate
loophole: If an entity owns a vertically integrated, birth-to-death
factory system with thousands of animals (as the Cargills and Tysons
do), it does not have to tag and track each one but instead a herd is
given a single lot number.

2). NAIS will only be burdensome and costly (fees, tags, computer
equipment, time) to small farmers which helps push them out of
business, thus leaving more market to giant agribusiness.

3) Agribusiness wants to reassure export customers that the US meat
industry is finally cleaning up its widespread contamination. NAIS
would give that appearance ... without incurring the cost of a real

4) NAIS will allow total control over the competition: Owners of even
a single chicken would be required to register private information,
the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates of their 'premise'
and if any animal leaves its 'premise', the owner will be required to
obtain an ID number for it and have the animal microchipped. All
information, including 24 hour GPS surveillance would be fed into a
vast corporate data bank, allowing for ease of false slaughter to
hide true problems or to substitute biotech's genetically engineered

5) NAIS may allow plundering of farmers through required DNA samples:
DNA samples would be invaluable to Monsanto and biotech corporations
genetically engineering animals. Farmers who raise heritage breeds
would have no say in how their distinct DNA would be used and to the
sole profit of biotech companies.

6) The advantage for the surveillance companies is obvious:
Compulsory tagging of 6 million sheep, 7 million horses, 63 million
hogs, 97 million cows, 260 million turkeys, 300 million laying hens,
9 billion chickens, and untold numbers of bison, alpaca, quail, and
other animals -- and new animals being born, means a massive
self-perpetuating market.

Please take action now to stop this insanity. Our health and our
lives depend on it.

Stop NAIS Action Page: http://www.peaceteam.net/action/pnum942.php