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April 3rd, 2003 - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Apr. 3rd, 2003

01:19 am - Quest for non-toxic housing.

Some dude with "environmental sensitivity". A nice summary of unusual housing alternatives:


02:21 am - $15,000 Underground House


Web page of Mike Oehler, author of $50 & Up Underground House Book. I like the book, althought it doesn't go into enough detail regarding plumbing, waste treatment, electricity, etc. Has anyone seen the video series?

07:10 pm - Sunny John Moldering Toilet


Design for a Solar Moldering Toilet

Introductory opening provided by Peter Bane, editor of The Activist, the premier journal of Permaculture consciousness in the Americas.
One of the most basic characteristics of any human community is how it deals with its body "wastes." Rich societies have developed quite complicated and expensive systems for removing human wastes from houses and cities, usually by dumping them, treated to one degree or another, into subsoils or bodies of water. While this avoids most of the problem of contagious diseases which can be spread by contact with human wastes, it hastens the loss of soil nutrients from farmland and it carries other risks of contaminating surface and ground water.
In contrast, traditional peoples and societies with lower levels of energy and resources available to them have usually disposed of body wastes by returning them to farm and garden soils. While these practices are more ecologically sound because they close the nutrient cycle from field to table and back again, they have often been linked with high levels of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infection and mortality.
Historic advances in public health were associated with the installation of underground sewer systems in European and North American cities, ensuring that public officials in those countries remain heavily divested in technologies of disposal. No politician or government official wants to be even remotely connected with an outbreak of cholera! This common sense, but incomplete, view has become more and more entrenched as society has become increasingly regulated and homogeneous. Extending the mentality of "out of site, out of mind," the septic tank and leach field system has become the disposal method of choice in rural areas, while an economic tug-of-war goes on in the suburban fringe between municipal sewers and septic systems. Since passage of clean water legislation nearly 30 years ago, city and town wastes have been more thoroughly treated by municipal sewage plants, mitigating some of the worst pollution of streams, lakes, and coastal water, but at a huge and increasing financial and energy cost.
In choosing an appropriate technology for treating human waste, how do we walk a middle ground? To render wastes harmless for reuse in the soil and to ensure that they are returned to the agricultural food web we need to look beyond the flush toilet, the pit privy, and the open sewer. To take responsibility for eating and shitting, we need new tools.

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07:21 pm - Culvert Housing and Rhoades Pedal Powered Car

Culvert Housing

Rhoades Pedal powered car

08:01 pm - Honey House (Earthbag construction)


09:51 pm - _Shut Up and Let the Lady Teach_ by Emily Sachar

Comments by Jim Glass on a post to Arnold Kling's blog regarding the economics of teacher pay.


"The private schools maintain parity or better in quality because..."

4. They don't impose Byzantine Ed School certification requirements to limit the market of available teachers (and thus drive up salaries).

Anyone can teach in a private school if the those running the school deem them qualified to teach. Not so in the major unionized urban school systems. In fact, a "reverse filter" applies, since an Ed School degree is generally required for certification, and Ed School students as a group have the lower average academic qualifications (SAT scores etc.) than people in other University departments. So not only are great numbers of graduates in other fields steered away from teaching but those steered away have better average qualifications in terms of academic achievement.

Larger pool of better qualified job applicants = better employees at lower cost.

When PBS was running those "all big expert" roundables a few years back they did one on public education and an Econ nobelist, Becker IIRC, observed, "I can teach econ at any university and I can teach it a private high school yet I am deemed unqualified to teach econ at a public high school." To which the Education Commissioner of my home state, NY, replied in words that as a proud taxpayer of NY I shall always remember: "Nobody ever taught you how to conduct a birthday party in class".

There's a great book that reveals more about how the urban school systems actually work than you'll get from reading a hundred academic studies: _Shut Up and Let the Lady Teach_ by Emily Sachar, a former NYC public school teacher. It recounts her personal experiences.

She was a Stamford graduate in economics who had spent 10 years as a prize-winning journalist for Newsday, who decided altruistically to give it up for teaching -- *exactly* the sort of qualified achiever the public schools claim to want.

Her experience in getting hired was that she expected she would naturally teach English or Math, due to her work experience and education. But she was deemed unqualified to teach English because she hadn't studied English in college. (Her book on all this was nominated for a Pulitzer). And she was deemed unqualified to teach Math because she had no algebra courses on her college transcript, only calculus courses -- she'd finished studying algebra in high school, and that didn't count. So they assigned her to teach Social Studies, about which she knew nothing. She lasted one year -- the altruism beaten out of her.

It's really a very fine and disturbing book. A few years old and out of print, but well worth looking up in the library. (As I said, nominated for a Pulitzer.)

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