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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Archive for the ‘BHM Website’ Category


It’s time to say goodbye.

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Correction: In trying for brevity, I made the third paragraph of the blog post below misleading, as Dave pointed out and as is clear from some of the many reader comments. Dave is NOT de-emphasizing politics in the magazine or on the website in general.

What he actually said was that the overabundance of politics on our Facebook page does not reflect what the content of BHM is about and that it made BHM look like a political magazine, which we are not. As a result, he wanted to stop posting politically-oriented blog updates on Facebook. Clearly, I should have said, “de-emphasize politics on Facebook.”

Further, his decision was in no way responsible for my ending this blog. It was merely something I chose to interpret as a coincidental message that reinforced what I was already thinking.

My apologies to Dave and to any readers who were misled.


It’s strange how things happen.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been thinking that the hour or two I devote each day to reading for and writing my blog post could really be better spent on other things.

Then yesterday, Dave called and said he’s decided to de-emphasize politics and since politics and current events are what I most enjoy writing about, it seemed like the universe, through Dave, was telling me to listen to myself and call it quits, so that’s what I’m going to do.

I think I’ll use those hours to do a bit of non-political writing, get things done around the house, and to spend time with my new grandson. After all, someone has to teach him the really important English words like liberty, freedom, rights, libertarian, honor, justice, commitment, character, and responsibility and what they really mean.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to read my various scribblings, especially those of you who visited daily. I very much appreciate the time you gave me and the many comments you left, even the ones that disagreed with me or took me to task.

Some final thoughts, or rather, quotes I hope you’ll think about:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. ~Thomas Jefferson

The first duty of a man is to think for himself. ~José Martí

When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty. ~Thomas Jefferson

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. ~Oscar Wilde

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. ~Benjamin Franklin

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~Thomas A. Edison

Revolution is just another word for “nothing left to lose.” ~Me

It is never too late to be what you might have been. ~George Eliot

And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love, you make. ~Paul McCartney




Don’t you just love it when they show their true colors?

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Late last month, in response to an online Op/Ed he wrote, BHM Publisher Dave Duffy received this email:

Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012 3:55 PM
Subject: Ron Paul is a disaster for Republicans


I have been a long time fan of yours but you are wrong viz a viz Ron Paul. He has, IMHO, the best chance among the Repugs to beat Obama. Too bad you can’t see that.

Love your mag and website. Been going there for years.

Eldridge Currie
Burnaby, BC

Didn’t that sound like Eldridge is a nice guy who likes the magazine, the website, and Ron Paul?

Two days ago, he sent this follow-up:

Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 3:09 PM
Subject: Fw: Ron Paul is a disaster for Republicans

Hey Duffy, you right wing asshole, don’t answer your email. Head up your ass like most repug americans?

If you or your readers want REAL freedom, move to Canada. Our Charter of Rights has your lame Constitution beat. Open your fucking mind and get real.


Quite a difference in tone, eh?

Dave typically ignores posts like that second one, but I asked him if I could respond in his stead.

We don’t know if Mr. Currie is bipolar but if so, the difference in the tone of the posts certainly suggests he’s been skipping his meds. If he is not, Eldridge apparently belongs to that group of self-important folk who believe the world revolves directly around them and that everything they write should prompt the recipient to drop everything and dash off an immediate reply.

It never occurs to such folks that others may have jobs to do that limit their time to engage in email debates or even to respond to every email or blog comment. Sadly, many of us work long hours, Dave included, and while we all do our best to read every email, responding to them all would preclude doing anything else — like publishing the magazine or keeping the website updated.

As to his contention that “Our Charter of Rights has your lame Constitution beat,” may I point out the Charter of Rights of which he speaks defines rights granted to him by his government.  The Charter says, right at the beginning:

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Sounds nice, but rights granted by governments can be easily altered or taken away by governments. And who gets to define the “reasonable limits”?

The U.S. Constitution grants no rights because the Founders understood there was no need to do so. This was made clear in our Declaration of Independence:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Rights flow from the Creator, not from government. Here in America, Eldridge, we citizens grant our government certain rights to do certain things, not the other way around. And while it is true that the Federal Government has, of late, far over-reached by assuming powers never granted to it, it is also true that Ron Paul, the Tea Party Movement, and millions of others are working to rectify that problem.

Eldridge may also want to consider why it is that so many of his countrymen continue to cross the border in order to obtain health care they either cannot get or would have to wait great lengths of time to receive in Canada. Of course, if Obamacare is allowed to fully kick in, that will put a stop to such crossings. Why pay to wait here when you can wait there for free.

I suppose, having grown up in a socialist nation, Eldridge must be excused his ignorance of things like absolute rights and true freedom. But I can’t excuse ignorant rudeness, which is why I asked Dave to let me use the letters for this blog post so I could ask you kind readers…

What do you make of Mr. Currie’s two emails?

As regards rights and freedom, which do you think is the better document — Canada’s Charter of Rights or the U.S. Constitution?

And if you were Dave and received these emails, how would you respond to Eldridge?


Yesterday’s Internet blackout protest victory should be only the beginning

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

If you stopped by the Backwoods Home website yesterday between 8 AM and 8 PM, you found a protest screen instead of the blogs, Forum, articles, an other site content.

I’m pleased to say congressional support for the legislation that was being protested has largely been withdrawn, for the moment, as a result of the protest. I say ‘for the moment’ because folks like former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris “The Dope” Dodd, currently chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America condemned the SOPA “Blackout Day” as a “gimmick” and an “abuse of power” by the Web companies participating in the protest against pending anti-piracy legislation.

As a former US Senator, I guess Dodd would know all about abuse of power.

There are many reasons why so many companies and websites participated in the protest yesterday. But this morning, the following story in my local paper made me realize the one, big, overarching reason.

China plans to collect identities of bloggers

BEIJING – China will expand nationwide a trial program that requires users of the country’s wildly popular microblog services to disclose their identities to the government in order to post comments online, the government’s top Internet regulator said yesterday.

The official, Wang Chen, said that registration trials in five major eastern Chinese cities would continue until wrinkles were worked out. But he said eventually all 250 million users of microblogs, called weibos here, would have to register, beginning with new users. Wang indicated that under the program, users could continue to use nicknames online, even though they would still be required to register their true identities.

Wang leads the State Council Information Office, which regulates the Internet and the government’s domestic public-relations machine. He also is a deputy director of the Communist Party’s propaganda department and, in particular, is in charge of China’s lavishly financed recent efforts to burnish its image worldwide.

The government has said it is studying real-name registration of microbloggers to limit the spread of malicious rumors, pornography, scams, and other unhealthy practices on microblogs, which have become a major source of news for many Chinese.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

Here in the United  States, there are many in government who would love to have the kind of absolute control over the Internet that the Communists exert in China. Legislation like SOPA and PIPA are the foot-in-the-door many have sought since the Net graduated out of academia and into the real world where it’s been a game-changer in so many fields, including politics. A political protest as widespread as the one yesterday could never have happened pre-Internet and many, like Dodd, would very much like to ensure such things never happen again.

Some will say it’s a far leap from SOPA to forcing bloggers to register with their real names and contact information, but two decades ago, those same people would have said the idea of government agents feeling the genitals of adults, children and even babies in diapers before they’re allowed to board an airplane could never happen in America

Thomas Jefferson said “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” For far too many decades, far too many Americans have been too lazy or simply unwilling to pay that very modest price.

Yesterday’s protest showed that we can, still, make a difference if enough of us band together. If you are reading this blog, or Claire Wolfe’s blog, or Massad Ayoob’s blog, or any of the thousands of similar blogs on the Net, you’ve already opened your eyes, you’re already one of the vigilant.

But vigilance isn’t enough. It’s only the first step. Action is the second step.

Talk to your neighbors and friends. Send them links to eye-opening news reports, articles, and blog posts. Loan them the books you read and ask their opinion.

Do something!

The window of opportunity to effect positive change in America is still open. Yesterday’s protests proved that. Let’s take advantage before it slams shut.


Do you have any ideas of ways to engage folks who have heretofore shirked their duty to remain vigilant?

Or do you think it’s too late to do anything and if so, why?


Backwoods Home website joins SOPA strike

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Wednesday, January 18th, Backwoods Home Magazine will participate in the Internet Strike in opposition to SOPA.

The entire website will go dark for twelve hours beginning around 8 AM Eastern. All traffic will be redirected to a Strike page where visitors will be encouraged to send a form email to their Congresscritter.

In addition to Backwoods Home, these sites have also confirmed they will participate in the strike:

Google, Wikipedia, reddit, Mozilla, WordPress, icanhazcheezburger network sites (FailBlog, theDailyWhat,Know Your Meme, etc), Tucows, VanillaForums, The RawStory, Open Congress / PPF, Internet Archive, Miro, Universal Subtitles, Namecheap, TwitPic, dotSUB,,, MineCraft, Tor Project,, RageMaker, Destructiod, Red 5 studios, A Softer World, Greenpeace International, The LeakyWiki, XDA-Developers, Center for Technology and Democracy, Electronic Frontier Foundation,, Major League Gaming, Imgur, Monticello Capitol, Crypto Cat, Colossal Mind, Errata Security, FreakOutNation, SlashTHREE, Focus On the Facts, City News, Strategy Tune, WPS Security Lock, openSUSE, Smirking Chimp, Bread Without Bullets, iSchool at Syracuse University, nomacs Image Lounge, ComputerHope, PhantomTS,,, DatelineZero, Liberty Confidential, Victor Rix, WJSimpson, Spurs of The Moment, peeje, DigiBase, Ron Bercume Design, Jazz Sequence, Plague Studio, ViperZeroOne, and Elephant Talk Wiki

If you have a website or blog, please join us. You can get the code you need to display the protest page by clicking here.

If you are reading this before 8 AM or after 8 PM Wednesday, you may CLICK HERE to go directly to the protest page on our website to fill out the short form to send a protest email to your Congresscritter.


Forum News

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Sorry, folks. I’ve been so busy today I’ve not had time to even think about a post so some BHM website news will have to do.

We made some alterations to our Forum, the biggest of which is the addition of a BHM Advertisers board in the “Forum” section.

Current magazine and website advertisers will be able to post special offers, discounts, etc. for our Forum visitors.

We’ll be notifying the advertisers over the next few days and we hope many will choose to participate.

We just posted our own Special Offer, a $5 discount on two of our big anthologies. We’ll be posting another one tomorrow.

Click Here for the BHM Advertisers board in our Forum.



When something isn’t better than nothing

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Now that House Republicans caved last Friday and settled for half of what they wanted to avert a shut-down of the 20% of government they admit is non-essential (many would say the number is closer to 75%), the push is on for all to position themselves as suddenly budget-conscious and willing to make hard decisions.

It’s all smoke and mirror, of course. The much-touted and decried $38.5 billion in cuts amounts to a measly three percent of the current-year deficit — not a reduction in the total $14+ billion debt, mind you, just a 3% reduction in this year’s addition to how much of America China will own. Instead of borrowing $1,270,000,000,000 ($1.27 trillion) we’ll only need to borrow $1,231,500,000,000 ($1.2315 trillion). So pardon me if I respond to all the hoopla and back-patting over the cuts with “big f*****g deal.”

It’s been three days since the “unprecedented” cuts were made. In that time, the debt has increased about $10,5 billion. By April 20, twelve days after passage by those brave souls on Capitol Hill,  it will have increased $41.7 billion. And by the time May 1 rolls around, we’ll owe the Chinese $76.5 billion more than we did last Friday.

That budget deal was nothing more than applying a little grease to the squeaky wheel while the wagon falls apart around it.


Today’s opinion piece by former Senator John Sununu was interesting.  He talks about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.

It’s an interesting essay, but what caught my eye was a throw-away line:

This year, the House passed stronger budget rules. It remains to be seen how effective they are, but something is better than nothing.

But is something better than nothing?

A promising kiss goodnight is better than nothing when you are hoping to be invited in after a date. Winning your dollar back on a lottery scratch ticket is certainly better than losing it. But something is not better than nothing when that something lulls you into a false sense of security; when it makes you believe the “something” is something of substance when it is not; when it projects the illusion of a reversal of course when all it really does is ever so slightly delay arrival at the inevitable.

I believe the best way to stop our headlong flight into national bankruptcy and ruin is to cut spending to a level below tax income. Then increase tax revenue as Reagan did by across-the-board tax cuts to stimulate investment and job creation and use the increased revenue to retire debt.

Cutting $1.4 trillion dollars will hurt. There’s simply no way around it.  And it will hurt some folks more than others. I suspect it will hurt Backwoods Home readers less because they understand self-reliance and are generally not part of the majority who have been thoroughly seduced into expecting that government will always take care of us no matter the cost.

And regardless of whether Congress does it’s job or just keeps on delaying the inevitable, it will have to ask Americans to tighten their belts and give up what we can no longer afford to provide. As such, they should lead the way by eliminating all their perks and privileges. They can eliminate departments not authroized in the Constitution. They can get serious about eliminating fraud and other wasted funds across  the board.

They can start acting like leaders for a change instead of privileged royalty.

The 2012 budget will soon be before them. You can help them overcome their political fears with phone calls and letters and email voicing your support for doing what is necessary to save the Union. The more folks who promise their support, the easier it will be for them to ignore the entrenched powers and do the right thing.

Do it for yourself. Do it for your children.


Have dreams of homesteading and self-reliance? There’s lots of help available.

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Are you an urban homesteader – someone who lives in the city or a suburb but wants to achieve as great a level of self-reliance as possible?

Your first stop on the web, of course is right here at Backwoods Home. You could spend weeks or months consuming all the free information we have online.

The first place to start would be our Article Index, which currently lists nearly 800 articles. You’ll also want to register for BHM‘s Homesteading & Self-Reliance Forum where you’ll find folks at all stages of the journey to self-reliance, including many who’ve been living the life for many years. NOTE: Please read and pay close attention to the email requirements for registering. We hate to have to refuse folks.

Once you’ve read everything we have online, you might want to consider acquiring some of our Anthologies. Many folks order one or two at a time to build their library slowly, but if your finances permit it, our Print Anthology Special and our Whole Sheebang will save you considerable cash and get you a free one or two year subscription to boot!

There are also lots of related titles by various authors in our Bookstore.

For those in the city and suburbs, you’ll also find many great titles about urban homesteading on Amazon including these best-sellers:

The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!

As for magazines, after you’ve subscribed to the best, Backwoods Home, you might also consider:

Countryside Magazine


Urban Farm

Mother Earth News

What it comes down to is that turning dreams of  homesteading and/or self-reliance into reality need not be an overwhelming, learn-as-you-go process. The knowledge and experience of others who have already succeeded is just a mouse-click or a turn-of-the page away.

If you have any other suggestions for books or magazines that would be helpful for those starting out, please share them in the Comments section.

– – –

Recommended by Storm: The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler and Chris Royer

Recommended by Jason Hoover: The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour and Let’s Get Growing by Crow Miller


Comments, rights, soldiers, and an iron bar

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

I’ve always been of the opinion that folks should say what they mean and mean what they say and that they should do it in a civil and respectful manner.

As a former denizen of the now-ancient Internet newsgroups, I long ago learned that name-calling, belittling, marginalizing, cursing, and the like generally does little more than demonstrate the writer’s limited vocabulary and inability to mount a convincing argument based in fact.

Yesterday, I was faced with a post that was generally well written but which contained both condescending and insulting remarks. What to do? My choices were to approve a comment as written, edit it before approving, or just deleted it.

It took but a few minutes thought to realize that just approving it would be rewarding bad behavior, encouraging more, and inviting flame wars. And I don’t have the time, nor am I comfortable with changing what people say. So I deleted it.

Everyone is welcome to comment on any of my posts or on any of the comments left by others. But think before you write. And please keep them civil and respectful, especially when disagreeing with other readers. Any comments which cross the civility line will be deleted.


You may have figured out I’m a fan of Jeff Jacoby’s columns. He nailed another one yesterday with Union ‘rights’ that aren’t.


It seems the Army will soon be instituting tougher fitness tests “to make sure all soldiers have the strength, endurance, and mobility for battle.”

I wonder if they’ll also start letting the soldiers shoot back instead of living – and dying – with absurd rules of engagement.

Politics has no place in war except to negotiate and end to it. Either let the military do what they’ve been trained to do or bring them home.


I really like reading stories about folks who beat off bad guys. The latest in my neck of the concrete is about the owner of a convenience store who took an iron bar to the guy with a knife who tried to rob her store.

My only regret is that after taking care of the hand with the knife she didn’t lay the bar upside his head. With extreme prejudice.


Holy cow…er…horse – followup

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

There were a lot less comments this morning on Facebook about the horse meat issue than I anticipated. Of course, it was pretty late when I last checked last night and folks do have to sleep. And today is another day.

One thing I’ve noticed about the Facebook comments is that name-calling and other personally disparaging remarks seem to be coming from only one side – those opposed to consuming horse meat.

Why is it that the self-righteous – even those who make otherwise good arguments to support their opinion –  so often find it necessary to denigrate opponents?


Holy cow…er…horse!

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Yesterday, Backwoods Home received four emails taking us to task for an article we published in 2004 about eating horse meat. The writers were generally offended that anyone would even consider eating a horse. Considering that the article has been online for nearly seven years, and is read about 6500 times each year, and that until yesterday, we averaged about one or two “I’m offended” letters per year, we thought it odd that four would arrive in one day.

Then we logged into Facebook and found six or eight generally strident posts about the evils of eating horses. Some were downright nasty so we deleted them, fearing the issue would snowball, as things can on Facebook, and consume the page. We also decided to remove the article from the website.

One that was done, I posted a notice on Facebook to let folks know the article was removed and hoped that would be the end of it. Little did we realize the reaction we’d get.

Within minutes, there were nearly a dozen comments. An hour later, over 40! Most were taking us to task for removing the article, accusing us of bowing to political correctness.

When Dave returned from a meeting, we discussed the reaction to the removal. He read the posts and decided we’d made a mistake. The article had to go back online. Here is what he had me post on Facebook:

I asked Oliver to re-post the horse meat article. It was a mistake to remove it to appease folks who objected to it. Next thing you know we’d be removing more “touchy” articles. For 21 years, we have refused to water down the magazine to avoid offending people. We can’t start being PC now. The horse meat article is part BHM’s history. Like it or not, agree with it or not, editing history is always a bad idea. ~Dave

Actually, he was considerably more eloquent than that but Facebook only permits 420 characters per post so we had to edit out about 150 characters while keeping all the main points.

Again, we figured that might be the end of it and how wrong we were again. I’m writing this about two hours after posting Dave’s message and already there are 73 comments!! I don’t even want to guess how many there might be in the morning.

If Facebook is not your thing, or even if it is, please feel free to weigh in on the issue here.

I have a full schedule for tomorrow but I’ll do my best to update this post if the controversy continues.

I asked Oliver to re-post the horse meat article. It was a mistake to remove it to appease folks who objected to it. Next thing you know we’d be removing more “touchy” articles. For 21 years, we have refused to water down the magazine to avoid offending people. We can’t start being PC now. The horse meat article is part BHM’s history. Like it or not, agree with it or not, editing history is always a bad idea. ~Dave


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