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Empress Placidia: The Mother of the Middle Ages

Empress Placidia: The Mother of the Middle Ages

I have been experimenting with videos: in the clip above, I tell the story of Galla Placida instead of writing it. I am not sure of which is the best way to tell stories, but maybe both have their logic and their advantages. Up to you to judge. (Versione in Italiano)

Galla Placidia was the last Empress of the Western part of the Roman Empire. Even though the data about her are scant, the more I learn, the more fascinating her figure becomes. I am seeing her more and more as the pivot point that marked the true end of the Empire and the beginning of what was coming afterward: the Middle Ages. Placidia may have been the last true Roman ruler and the first Medieval ruler in history. And I came to think that she pushed history in a certain direction knowing what she was doing. You can hear her story in the clip, above, or read it in a post that I published some years ago on “Cassandra’s Legacy” (Slightly reworked in this version).

From “Cassandra’s Legacy”

Chemistry of an Empire: the Last Roman Empress

A 5th-century medallion showing perhaps the only portrait we have of Galla Placidia (388-450 c.e.), the last (and the only) Western Roman Empress. The inscription says “Domina Nostra, Galla Placidia, Pia, Felix, Augusta,” that is “Our Lady, Galla Placidia, Pious, Blessed and Venerable.”  A contemporary of such figures as Saint Augustine, Saint Patrick, Attila the Hun, and – perhaps – King Arthur, Placidia had the rare chance of being able to do something that past Roman Emperors never could do; take the Empire to its next stage which was to be, unavoidably, its demise.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

ugo bardi, cassandra’s legacy, the seneca effect, roman empire, rome, imperial collapse

5 Reasons Why Home Freeze Dried Food is Better Than Store-Bought

5 Reasons Why Home Freeze Dried Food is Better Than Store-Bought

Freeze-dried food is an excellent addition to an emergency food supply.  If properly stored, it can last up to 25 years, maintains 99% of its original nutritional quality, and is very easy to prepare in an emergency with just hot water in under 10 minutes.

You can buy freeze-dried food directly online, but making your freeze-fried food is now possible and extremely easy.  Admittedly, there is a considerable upfront cost for one of these devices, but it will pay for itself in a short amount of time which we’ll discuss in just a moment.

So what advantages does home freeze-dried food have over store-bought?  In this blog, we’ll look at five things you should consider before you start the process of building out a sizeable freeze-dried food inventory.  I just recently did a video about building a one-year food storage setup and I’ll be adding a considerable amount of freeze-dried food to it shortly as I want food stored away that is already cooked in advance and ready if there’s a major event or emergency.  I’ve also done blogs in the past that go into a much deeper dive covering the freeze-drying process, which I’ll link to in the cards above and the description section below if you want to check those out.  So let’s jump in.

If you’re starting with developing your food inventory, there’s nothing wrong with picking up the typical Mountain House or other brands of freeze-dried food.  I just found over time that these items we’re about to cover were selling points for me as to why investing in one of these machines made more sense in the long run.  If you want to check out the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer anytime during the blog, you can check them out on my website at www.cityprepping.com/freezedryer

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

city prepping, prepping, preparations, freeze-dried food, food storage,

Grace Olmstead’s Uprooted Idaho, and My Own

Grace Olmstead’s Uprooted Idaho, and My Own

Last summer my family and I drove right by Emmett, Idaho, the ancestral home of Grace Olmstead, author of the wonderful, if imperfect, Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind. Idaho’s Gem County (Emmett is the county seat) is beautiful country, which it was good to reminded of. We were traveling from Spokane, Washington (where I was born and raised, and where my widowed mother–whom my children hadn’t seen in years, and needed to visit–continues to live in a cabin atop what we call Fox Hill just over the Idaho border) to Gooding, Idaho (for a big family gathering which, out of pandemic-related concerns for our mother’s health, we held someplace other than the old homestead). If we’d taken the interstate, we would have traveled faster, but missed the scenery, so instead we took state highways through the wheat fields of the Palouse, down into Hells Canyon, up again into the forested mountains around Payette Lake (we swam for a bit, but Sharlie, the legendary monster of Payette, made no appearance), and then down again towards Boise, before getting on the interstate and heading east across southern Idaho’s Snake River Plain to our destination. If I’d known that reading Olmstead’s book was in my future, I would have made sure we stopped for dinner in Emmett instead of later on.

I take the time to talk about the landscape around these places because it is the land of southwestern Idaho, and the people who built small farming towns like Emmett on that land, that Olmstead approaches in her book with great–though sometimes uneven–passion and grace…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

media res, grace olmstead, russel arben fox

Running out of Ice on the Moon. How we Forgot the Problem of Resource Depletion

Running out of Ice on the Moon. How we Forgot the Problem of Resource Depletion

“The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert A. Heinlein, (1966), translated into Italian as “La Luna è una Severa Maestra.” It was probably the first science fiction book for adults I ever read in my life, I still remember buying it and taking it home in awe, as if I had in my hands a religious relic. It was also, possibly, the first time that I read about resource depletion. It was mentioned in the novel as a problem for the inhabitants of the Moon but, clearly, also as a metaphor of the limits to growth of Earth.

Thomas Huxley said that “it is the customary fate of new truths, to begin as heresies, and to end as superstitions.” It is a sentence that describes the cycle of ideas, you can call them memes, which tend to have a life-cycle similar to that of living creatures. They are born, grow, and disappear. 

The popularity of ideas is not necessarily linked to reality. The virtual world of ideas (the memesphere) may well be completely disconnected from the real world. So, the fact that an idea is forgotten or rejected doesn’t mean it is false or wrong. It is just the effect of memes going in cycles, growing and declining.

So, during the past few years, the idea that resource depletion was a serious problem for humankind became thoroughly unmentionable. In parallel, the memesphere got infected with a completely different set of memes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

the seneca effect, ugo bardi, resource depletion, robert heinlein, thomas huxley

Sir David Attenborough issues a stern warning to Earthlings in his new documentary film

Sir David Attenborough issues a stern warning to Earthlings in his new documentary film

Physicist Tom Murphy finds much to agree with in his review of the film: “We would keep consuming the earth until we had used it up.”

No 2722 Posted by fw, March 30, 2021“In the 1970s, we started noticing extinctions taking place right before our eyes.

Attenborough makes the point that no one wanted animals to become extinct, but that lack of awareness and a focus on personal benefits obscured the unfolding tragedy. Having largely eliminated or isolated ourselves from predators, achieved control over diseases, and mastered food to order, nothing was left to restrict or stop us. We would keep consuming the earth until we had used it up.” —Tom Murphy, Do the Math

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego. Murphy’s keen interest in energy topics began with his teaching a course on energy and the environment for non-science majors at UCSD. Following his natural instincts to educate, Murphy is eager to get people thinking about the quantitatively convincing case that our pursuit of an ever-bigger scale of life faces gigantic challenges and carries significant risks.

Below is my repost of Tom Murphy’s review of Sir David Attenborough’s new documentary, “A Life on Our Planet.” At the bottom of the repost is a SEE ALSO link to an embedded excerpt from a November 2011 video of a lecture by Murphy.

But first, by way of introduction to Sir David’s new film, here is the Official Trailer.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet | Official Trailer | Netflix (2:00-Min)

To read Tom Murphy’s review of this stunning new film, click on the following linked title.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

citizen action monitor, david attenborough, tom murphy, human consumption, fj white,

Food Crisis of 2021 in Europe

We are staring in the face of a serious food crisis in Europe as food prices rise continuously, and with further draconian COVID measures within the EU, they are bringing the food supply chains to a standstill. Our models have been warned that this 8.6-year cyclical wave into 2024 will be one of commodity inflation due to SHORTAGES rather than speculative demand. All the indications that the world is heading for a serious food price crisis are in play. The Food Price Index (FFPI) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) averaged 107.5 points in December 2020, an increase of 2.3 points (2.2%) compared to November 2020, which represents an increase for the seventh consecutive month.

With the exception of sugar, all sub-indices of the FFPI recorded slight gains in December, with the sub-index for vegetable oil again rising the most, followed by that for dairy products, meat, and cereals. For 2020 as a whole, the FFPI averaged 97.9 points, a three-year high, 2.9 points (3.1%) higher than in 2019, but still well below its 2011 high of 131.9 points. It is also interesting that the FFPI in 2002 was still 53.1 points. It only increased significantly from the financial crisis of 2007/08, only to then level off in the 90-point range. Since May 2020 it has increased by 18%.

Our models project that the upward trend in the FFPI will intensify going into 2024. With the coronavirus mutating, as we warned ALL viruses do, as such, we have these various strains from Africa, Brazil, UK, and even California, are inspiring politicians to use this as an opportunity to restrict the population even further. These corona measures have extended to the food supply chains, disrupting them just as we see in electronics…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

armstrong economics, food, food crisis, europe, martin armstrong, food price inflation, food shortages, supply chains,

How To Do Your Laundry Off Grid If The Power Goes Out

One thing most of us rely on is our washing machine and dryer. During emergencies where the power grid is affected, it is important to know how to know basic off-grid strategies to manage your everyday home duties. This was highlighted in the preparedness manual, The Prepper’s Blueprint as a must-know skill. So how do you do your laundry if there’s no power?

Four loads of laundry per week is normally what we do for our family of four people. We also do sheets every week and blankets once a month. So what would happen if the power goes out, especially in the winter.  It’s not like you could wash your clothes in the frozen lake, right? And if you can, more power to you, but most of us will need to have a plan in place if there’s a long-term (month-long or longer) power outage or grid failure. So why not look at what those who live off-grid already do?

Washtub & Wringer

A galvanized washtub and wringer are a great option for your off-grid laundry. This is the most practical way for preppers to do their laundry by hand off-grid in large quantities. Plain and simply, this is just an old-fashioned washer and wringer. For around $240 you can grab a galvanized tub that will include 2 sturdy galvanized laundry sinks with drain and double stand. Next, you’ll to affix to it a laundry wringer, such as the Calliger Hand Crank Clothes Wringer. It will run you around $140 but will be worth its weight and cost if the power goes out and you need it. Wringing wet laundry by hand can be quite tiring and hard on your hands and wrists…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

sara tipton, ready nutrition, clothes washing, off grid,

Online vs. Onsite Permaculture Courses: Which is Better?

Online vs. Onsite Permaculture Courses: Which is Better?

When deciding which permaculture course to take, the question at the forefront of it is whether to go with an online and onsite (in-person) version. Like so many things in the world (and permaculture design), the answer to this is variable, dependent on individual circumstances, abilities, and goals.

In short, either one could be great (and we are happy to have you on the permaculture team); however, your first assignment will be figuring out which format works best for you, your learning style, your tendencies, your needs…your mental climate so to speak. So, rather than deciding outright which is better, this article will be looking at how each works so that perspective students might choose for themselves.

Whilst doing this, we’ll work under the assumption that PDC students usually take the course with at the very least a cursory knowledge of permaculture—some sort of sustainable living thing that has to do with growing food in seemingly unconventional ways—and want to learn further what permaculture is and, more so, how to use it themselves.

With that in mind, it’s important that courses cover the basics of the practice, providing the history of, the motivation behind, and the basic theories within permaculture. From there, students would ideally want to take on the practices of permaculture and begin applying them to their own lives at their own homes. After all, the point of permaculture is put into action these things that we have observed and learned about the world.

What to Expect from an Online Course

On the whole, online PDC courses, despite being cheaper, are much more in-depth than onsite courses. They tend to last for months and cover a broad range of subjects, including climates from all around the world.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Jonathon Engels, permaculture, permaculture research news, learning,

New England Ecology

New England Ecology

(Or Eat the Damn Deer)

Deer droppings

This week the garden finally thawed out. I can see the grass and soil and the lower trunks of trees again for the first time in months. And right along with that, I see enough deer droppings to cover an acre in an inch-thick layer. I know this because the cleared portion of my three and a half acres is just over one acre… and that’s about covered in deer poo. (OK, yes, I’m exaggerating. A little.)

So it is time to have the deer discussion again. This has been a recurring theme in my world ever since we moved to New England and I planted apple saplings as deer food. Or that’s their version of the story. Other unwitting deer buffets include six cherry trees, three walnuts, twelve each of the blueberry and hazelnut saplings that I intended as an edible hedge on the veg patch, several hundred-foot rows of corn, all the peas I ever planted, same for all the sunflowers, two really expensive apothecary roses (though never the rugosas), a whole slew of willow and viburnum, every strawberry that dared show its rosy cheeks to the sun, and possibly several hundred dollars worth of tulip bulbs.

Meanwhile, the deer diners have left tips in the form of small, blood-sucking parasites that gave my aging dog Lyme disease and hastened her demise. They also latched on to my body frequently enough to merit several trips to the doctor to be tested. (Four negative, one “probably but can’t confirm” because the little buggers go dormant. They may still be in there, causing periodic mayhem.)…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Marti’s Corner – 11

Marti’s Corner – 11


* Here is a packet of seeds like the one I mentioned last week. There are 40 different varieties of seeds. They are 100% heirloom. This means that you can save the seeds from year to year. There is a 5-year shelf life if kept in a cool, dark place. There is a 30-year shelf life if kept in the freezer. AND there are a gardening book that comes with it—16,500 Heirloom Vegetable Seeds 40 Variety Kit. The cost is $35. You cannot buy 40 seed packets for that price. But, in some of the varieties, you only get a few seeds. For example, bush beans only have 12 seeds included. Zucchini has only 8 seeds.  Anyway, check it out. Even though you only have 8 zucchini plants, just 1 or 2 zucchini, let go to seed will give you dozens of seeds for future use.

* Here is another choice Spring Garden Bundle. The number of seeds is not listed but probably similar.

Picture of lots of seeds

* One last choice from Seed Armory.

* I wanted to share this video by my friend, Kris. He has been getting his family prepared for a while now, as you can see from this site. He just finished this video:  How to Build 1 Year of Food Storage – Ultimate Guide – YouTube. Everything you need to know and all the “how to’s” included!

* I just found this website. Mary’s Nest: Mary’s Nest – YouTube She has videos on EVERYTHING: sourdough starters, stocking a pantry, how to preserve crisp pickles, homemade yogurt, natural remedies for colds and flu. It’s a treasure trove of information. Check it out!



If you are still unsure about packing rice, here is a YouTube video to show you how. How to Store Bulk Rice – YouTube

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 COOKINGFIRST AIDFOODGARDENINGMARTI’S CORNERSKILL, city prepping, prepping, preparations, food preparations, food storage


Can organic farming feed the world?

Can organic farming feed the world?

I discuss various aspects of so-called ‘alternative’ agriculture at some length in Chapter 6 of A Small Farm Future1, and I don’t intend to retrace many of those steps here. But there’s a couple of further things I do want to say in this blog cycle. Here, I’ll focus on organic farming.

On page 125 (and also page 150) of my book I cite a 2007 study by Catherine Badgley and co-authors2, one of whom is Jahi Chappell who sometimes comments here, so I’m hoping he might weigh in with his thoughts on this post. Their paper suggests that organic agriculture based on biological fixation of nitrogen is capable of meeting global food demands without reliance on industrial synthesis of nitrogenous fertiliser (from now on in this post I’m going to use the symbols N to refer to plant-available nitrogen, BNF to refer to biological (or ‘organic’) nitrogen fixation and SNF to refer to synthetic/industrial nitrogen fixation). Interestingly, the Badgley paper also suggest that while organic yields in rich countries are typically lower than their ‘conventional’ counterparts, the opposite is often the case in poor countries, a point to which I’ll return.

Since the publication of my book, I’ve become aware of various papers by Professor David Connor critiquing the Badgley paper, and more generally the notion that it’s feasible to feed the world without SNF. Although I identify with organic/alternative agriculture and have never used synthetic N in my own farming, I don’t take an absolutely purist line about it in relation to the global food system. If SNF is necessary in some circumstances, I’m not going to lose sleep over it. Still, SNF is an energy-intensive business requiring a complex industrial infrastructure…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

chris smaje, small farm future, organic farming, organic food production, organic agriculture, food production

The Rise & Fall of Empires, Nations, & City States has been Going on for Thousands of Years – It’s Just Our Turn!

COMMENT: Marty: I was re-reading Herodotus and saw early in his book a reference to the rise and fall of civilizations pertinent to the concept of capital flows:

Herodotus, Histories 1:5

“For many states that were once great have now become small; and those that were great in my time were small before. Knowing therefore that human prosperity never continues in the same place, I shall mention both alike.”

Here is the source for the above translation:


I studied Ancient Greek in college.  “Prosperity” is the proper translation of  “Eudaimonia” (Greek: εὐδαιμονία) in this context.  See also:

I thought you may find this of interest in case you hadn’t noticed this before in your readings.

Be well and thank you for your work and your continuous improvements of Socrates.


Winged human-headed bulls, the powerful guardians of ancient Assyrian gateways, serving such a purpose for the royal palace of Nimrud.

REPLY: Yes, great to point that out. To put this in context for the non-Ancient historian, when Herodotus had written that, it was about 2,000 years after the rise and fall of the Sumer Empire, which is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia. There were the Minoans, Troy, Greek Heroic Age, Babylon, and Cyrus the Great who conquered Lydia, the Hittites, and the Assyrians.

Civilization in its primeval state was already at least 6,000 years before Herodotus. It was ancient history to them of the Greek Heroic Age when Evander entertained the stranger of Troy…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet

Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet

Where is humanity going? How realistic is a future of fusion and space colonies? What constraints are imposed by physics, by resource availability, and by human psychology?  Are default expectations grounded in reality?

This textbook, written for a general-education audience, aims to address these questions without either the hype or the indifference typical of many books.  The message throughout is that humanity faces a broad sweep of foundational problems as we inevitably transition away from fossil fuels and confront planetary limits in a host of unprecedented ways—a shift whose scale and probable rapidity offers little historical guidance.

Salvaging a decent future requires keen awareness, quantitative assessment, deliberate preventive action, and—above all—recognition that prevailing assumptions about human identity and destiny have been cruelly misshapen by the profoundly unsustainable trajectory of the last 150 years.  The goal is to shake off unfounded and unexamined expectations, while elucidating the relevant physics and encouraging greater facility in quantitative reasoning.

After addressing limits to growth, population dynamics, uncooperative space environments, and the current fossil underpinnings of modern civilization, various sources of alternative energy are considered in detail— assessing how they stack up against each other, and which show the greatest potential.  Following this is an exploration of systemic human impediments to effective and timely responses, capped by guidelines for individual adaptations resulting in reduced energy and material demands on the planet’s groaning capacity. Appendices provide refreshers on math and chemistry, as well as supplementary material of potential interest relating to cosmology, electric transportation, and an evolutionary perspective on humanity’s place in nature.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

finite resources, finite planet, growth, thomas w. murphy jr.

“Things Are Out Of Control” – There Is A Shortage Of Everything And Prices Are Soaring: What Happens Next

“Things Are Out Of Control” – There Is A Shortage Of Everything And Prices Are Soaring: What Happens Next

In Wednesday’s press conference, Jay Powell confirmed that the Fed is setting off on a historic experiment: welcoming a conflagration of red-hot inflation for an indefinite period of time in an overheating economy, with the underlying assumption that it’s all “transitory” and that inflation will return to normal in a few years, and certainly before 2023 when the Fed’s rates will still be at zero.

There is a big problem with that assumption: while FOMC members, most of whom are independently wealthy and can just charge their Fed card for any day to day purchases of “non-core” CPI basket items, the vast majority of the population does not have the luxury of having someone else pay for their purchases or looking beyond the current period of runaway inflation, which will certainly crush the purchasing power of the American consumer, especially once producers of intermediate goods start hiking prices even more and passing through inflation.

Many readers may not recall, but one such instance of “transitory” inflation that proved to be anything but and led to the infamous Volcker Fed and its double digit rate hikes, was the price of oil which took off in the Arab oil embargo and then refused to come back for over a decade.

The Powell Fed, however, is eager to brush aside any analogues to previous episodes of runaway inflation which it sees as having a demand component, and merely ascribes what is taking place to unprecedented supply chain disruptions – i.e., collapse in supply – as a result of both the trade war with China and, more recently, the covid pandemic, which have unleashed chaos among traditional supply-chain intermediaries.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Villagers & Pillagers: Who Will Survive the Collapse?

Villagers & Pillagers: Who Will Survive the Collapse?

The road to Slab City and Salvation Mountain. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Unless you live in a state of denial you’re probably like me, troubled about the future. There’s not much left of mine, but my daughter’s generation and their children will have to survive the aftermath of fossil-fueled civilization on the ravaged, toxic planet we’ve left them. How will that look? Will democratic eco-settlements rise from the ruins, gain a foothold, and begin healing the planet? Or will tribal warlords rule the rubble?

Some folks, with the aid of renewable energy, permaculture, and other adaptive Green technologies, are already preparing for collapse by vastly improving upon the “back to the land” communes the young utopians of the Woodstock generation once created. Back then, dropping out of consumer capitalism and living on the throw-aways of American affluence wasn’t very hard. Here in northern California, the Diggers’ collective and the novice farmers of Morningstar Ranch shared whatever they could score from Goodwill, rescue from dumpsters, harvest with their limited gardening skills, or make with the aid of the Whole Earth Catalog. And, if communal life became too difficult, dropping back in was easy. No one was preparing to survive the collapse of industrial civilization. They believed automation and abundance would soon make workplace drudgery unnecessary.[1]

Today, a new generation of ecovillagers embraces the same anti-consumerist convictions. But the world has changed. Mother Earth is in critical condition. America is no longer awash in cheap energy; economic growth has flat-lined; upward mobility has gone into reverse. For now, most Americans get by with shabbier versions of daily life and cling to the hope that sooner or later progress will resume. But denial won’t stop carbon-addicted civilization from breaking down as it trashes the planet…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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