Collecting Rainwater for Drinking, with an Eye to Flint, Michigan

Trying to collect drinkable rainwater, we are back to trying plastic. I bought some 3 mil that is not especially said to be food safe, though I am sure such a thing exists: an 8×10 or so piece of food plastic. We wonder about the plastic dissolving into the water, and we won’t be leaving it in the sun. I have a frame about 3 feet off the ground, so I took dowels and wrapped the plastic around the dowels, attached this with staples, then draped this over the frame. Then small dowels were similarly wrapped into the sides, and a few staples solidifies the whole thing. Three rocks hold the center of the plastic over the hole in my 5 gallon Absopure bottle, with a coffee filter and funnel in the opening.

No one has confidence in rainwater for drinking, and this seems strange to me. I will surely test what I get, by evaporating it to see what remains, but we expect this water to be very clean.

In Flint, Michigan, water from the Flint River has caused lead poisoning throughout an entire city. No one has said yet, or even asked, why the water was dissolving the lead pipes. The whole response of government to the crisis is a fine example of why we do not trust government.

But the people of Flint might have gathered water from their roofs to wash in, in rain barrels, rather than for example trying to bathe in expensive bottled water. My method could be set up on the cyclone fence in the back corner of most yards, with three 2 by 4’s as the minimal frame. Course, the same factory that poisoned the river is probably upwind as well!

I would start a business making rainwater collectors: One of plastic, one of 100% cotton, wrapping dowels to drape over a frame with a rock and hole in the center. This is a patentable, marketable invention. So too would be a sheet of stainless steel with a card table-style folding stand. But my best would be stone, beginning with a granite collector maybe 4×6, tapered with a hole in the middle. These might be beautiful in a garden. Finally, imagine statue like sculptures, maybe with three giant clam, various inventive things, cleanable and designed to collect rainwater clean enough to drink.

Ben Carson and Foreign Policy

   We had the opportunity to go see Ben at Eastern Michigan University on Wednesday. We found ourselves a bit more healed and revived by his Jeffersonianism, which emerges through the things usually thought to be the issues. His speech was on health care, and the press acknowledged for the first time that he did have a plan, rather than reporting snippets thrice removed from what the man has actually thought and said.

   The Question has been raised as to whether Ben Carson has the right experience to handle foreign policy. He addressed this criticism toward the end of his appearance. He referred to Ronald Reagan, an actor, who I myself, at the time of his election, though incapable of handling foreign policy. He said that foreign policy is very much a matter of common sense, and referred to the economic method of countering Russian ambitions.

   Common sense is the basis of foreign policy excellence, but there is of course a great deal more involved, requiring not only extraordinary intelligence and the right goals, but also a liberty from the entrenched Washington interests of a career politician, not to mention the political incorrectness of a wealthy T. V. bully-clown. Now, maybe what Putin needs is to have a guy who shoots from the hip like a drunkard, so that he does not know so well to expect what our decency will do. Maybe this would do world politics some good, but that is not what the American people want, nor would that carry, in the long term, advantages that outweigh the harms. Ben Carson has the intelligence to handle U. S. foreign policy, and may well be equal to the task of U. S. Chief Executive.

   The snippet reported in the Press, apparently from an interview conducted before his speech, was the Carson response to a recent suggestion, by the Republican leading in the polls,  that an Inquisition be instituted regarding immigration. Ben just visited the Syrian Refugees, and reports that they want to stay in Jordan. While, for practical reasons, we may not be able to do certain things regarding immigration, we should help the Jordanians care for these, looking to their future repatriation in a healed Syria.

   What has occurred in Syria does seem to make a third movement, an alternative to both ISIS and Assad, more difficult. In doing this, Russia has revealed that they are willing to play checkers with human happiness for their own imagined political advantage, revealing their baseness for all the world to see.

   As a neurosurgeon, Ben Carson has lived a life where life and death situations are routine. Growing up on the streets of Detroit, too, he understands an environment of crime and power politics, and even how to thrive in this. This steady hand makes him potentially very trustworthy regarding the use of modern weapons. We suggest he is the steady hand on the trigger for our century, even as Ronald Regan, in the past one, proved to be.

CBS 60 Minutes, Leslie Stahl on the Use of Confidential Informants

In special report, Leslie Stahl has explored the use of what are called “Confidential Informants” in our glorious war on drugs. Police threaten those caught selling pot to scare them into becoming instruments, in the attempt to turn in others. In two cases, the relatively innocent slaves were murdered by the drug dealers. The practice, which includes incentive to entrapment, is quite extensive. Those captured are ordered to tell no one, so that they have no lawyer, and those messy questions about tyranny and the Bill of Rights can be avoided.

Marijuana as property in right and law is an amusing and difficult question. Since it is not a legal possession, it is wrong to defend it from thieves. While illegal, it is also wrong to sell, as opposed to give it away, because government does have a power and a duty to regulate commerce. There are some things, like sex and snake oil, in which it is not good to allow commerce. But these fine points of legal philosophy do sometimes escape your average American sophomore, especially those pursuing jobs and technology, rather than education. What appears to the sophomore is that marijuana is expensive and not harmful or wrong, and so what they do appears to them more of a joke than a crime.

But the law prohibiting marijuana is unconstitutional, making “crimes of things that are not crimes,” as Abraham Lincoln is thought to have said in the Illinois legislature regarding the prohibition of alcohol. “…A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded” (Jack Herer, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, p. 11). This sounds like Lincoln because the language implies the rare understanding of natural right.  And this is regarding the toxic, addictive and socially destructive alcohol. Things are not crimes because they are illegal, but the legislature tries to articulate crimes in law and prevent them. That is, things are to be made illegal because they are crimes. Again basically, in America, crime is when one citizen violates the rights of another to life, liberty or property. It is the purpose of government to secure rights, not to legislate the popular vision of the good or the morality of those entrusted with police powers. The law against marijuana is unconstitutional, and we cannot retain our liberty as a nation while this error continues. It is time for a rational supreme court decision striking down the prohibition. Or will they call anything commerce that the executive tells them to call commerce?

   Practices like this use of confidential informants have turned our nation into a network of citizens spying and entrapping their fellow citizens, under the compulsion of those who hold the arms and power, like any other modern tyranny. As I told an uncle recently, I am getting a bit tired of not knowing who the people around me are. When, for example, the Michigan State Police set women on the crowd at the Hash Bash, a constitutionally protected assembly, and then proceed with their tentacles of entrapments and compulsions.

   To spy on others places those others in one’s power regarding the information obtained. For a parent, holding a natural office to rule over the child, this may not be always wrong. But to spy on free citizens and equals is to place them in one’s power. To place another in one’s power is, against a free nation, an act of war. Nations spy on one another because they are in what is called a “sate of nature” with regard to one another, and this condition, without law and impartial judge, is in part, or potentially, a state of war. When my government spies on me, they make me a subject rather than a citizen, and place me in their power, to be used as their instrument, should they only wish or conceive to do so. Our suggestion is that we do not want to do this, and the solution is oversight, accountability and meaningful recourse when these powers are abused. Congress has abdicated the oversight of the executive branch, which is why tyrannical characters have been promoted as police. We need to restore the honor of police and government in general, by doing our part as citizens, through our legislatures, to get ahold of our government. Again there are lawsuits in the most obvious cases, and we pay them while the general abuse goes unaddressed.

Collecting Rainwater from Roofs for Drinking

   Here is an advance in my attempts to design drinkable rainwater collecting devices: It is not quite the  solution, but on the right track: A section of the roof of a house could be sprayed with glass or something like glass, and the water collected in a drinking water gutter, then stored inside the house or inside the wall, in a tank for drinkable water. An eight or sixteen foot section is all that would be needed to collect five to fifteen gallons from a good rainstorm. Wherever the sky is still clean, rainwater should be safe to drink. One could see what, if any, impurities are in it by evaporating some off, and even test the ph or acidity, to see if it is that of water. Glass is not quite right because it is breakable and slippery, and a rainwater collector would have to be cleaned. But this is the direction experimental designs might go, and it is surprising that these problems have not been solved yet.

   On my inventions page, I had hoped to design small people pods as minimal shelter for the homeless and refugees. I hoped that these could be made to collect and store rainwater. It is amusing how much heat or energy and how much water are wasted with the current roofing system of tar shingles, which are designed to solve a different problem.