Saturday Linkages: Holiday Edition

The Nativity, c. 1425
Fra Angelico (Fra Giovanni da Fiesole)

Google Nest or Amazon Ring? Just reject these corporations’ surveillance and a dystopic future

The deadly truth about a world built for men – from stab vests to car crashes

How our cities failed us this decade: We let big tech take over and dragged our feet on climate, but it’s not too late for change

Overlooked No More: Julia Morgan, Pioneering Female Architect

Just a whole bunch of cats in a whole bunch of Christmas trees

A Spider Web Garden Seat

Looking for a last minute Christmas project for your compound mates? How about a spider’s web themed garden seat. Yes, there’s measurements:

I spotted this 1920s gem on Archive.org in a promotional pamphlet, Beautifying the home grounds by the Southern Pine Association. This is the same source I used to come up with a new design for our entrance arbor and will blog about that when I put the finishing touches on it.

Saturday Linkages: Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind

Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind, John Everett Millais 1892.

Ornament Making in the Octavia Lab

‘The Best Thing You Can Do Is Not Buy More Stuff,’ Says ‘Secondhand’ Expert

Do This Before It Snows! Snow Blower Maintenance

A wheel education: the environmental diploma you earn by bike

Cypress Park’s “Egghead Stonehenge” takes a hit

Notes on an afternoon inside John Portman’s Bonaventure Hotel

Should I Worry About Death Cap Mushroooms in California?

Video: Furry porch pirate pilfers package from San Pedro pad

Writing Tip: Use Zombies to Kill the Passive Voice

Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City

Socialism is as American as apple pie. Yes, really

Grow old and be strong

Bozos in Space

Many thanks to the Root Simple readers who left comments on my post about my ambivalence on selling things through Amazon on this blog. One reader suggested IndieBound’s affiliate program and I just signed up for an account. Another reader noted Amazon’s convenience for folks who live in rural places, something that reminded me of how out of touch I am with life outside of big cities.

The Atlantic has a long profile of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos written by Franklin Foer that’s well worth reading. It has a number of Bezos factoids that caress all the keys of my trigger piano all at once. If you’d like to get me a-ranting just mention your idea that our future is in orbiting space colonies and that you pal around with Holllywood industry critters. Then there’s this:

At the heart of Amazon’s growing relationship with government is a choking irony. Last year, Amazon didn’t pay a cent of federal tax. The company has mastered the art of avoidance, by exploiting foreign tax havens and moonwalking through the seemingly infinite loopholes that accountants dream up. Amazon may not contribute to the national coffers, but public funds pour into its own bank accounts. Amazon has grown enormous, in part, by shirking tax responsibility. The government rewards this failure with massive contracts, which will make the company even bigger.

But, as the article points out, all of us Amazon Prime members pay a sort of tax every year. It turns out that tax may not make sense from a home economics standpoint:

When Amazon first created Prime, in 2005, Bezos insisted that the price be set high enough that the program felt like a genuine commitment. Consumers would then set out to redeem this sizable outlay by faithfully consuming through Amazon. One hundred million Prime subscribers later, this turned out to be a masterstroke of behavioral economics. Prime members in the U.S. spend $1,400 a year on Amazon purchases, compared with $600 by nonmembers, according to a survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. It found that 93 percent of Prime customers keep their subscription after the first year; 98 percent keep it after the second. Through Prime, Bezos provided himself a deep pool of cash: When subscriptions auto-renew each year, the company instantly has billions in its pockets. Bezos has turned his site into an almost unthinking habit. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Jack Ryan are essential tools for patterning your existence.

In addition to my problems with all the affiliate links embedded on the 3,345 posts on this blog I’m also left to ponder an alternative to our Ring doorbell that I bought before the company was owned by Amazon. I don’t like that Jeff is watching my front porch and turning over the data to the Man. I miss what the Bezos doorbell gadget replaced.

136 Garden Fundamentals with Robert Pavlis

On this 136th episode of the Root Simple podcast we talk to author and gardening expert Robert Pavlis about how to improve your soil, how to start seedlings in the winter, how to take care of houseplants and much more.

Robert Pavlis lives on 6 acres of land that he has developed into a large private garden he calls Aspen Grove Gardens that contains around 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees in southern Ontario, Canada. He is a Master Gardener, speaker and author on gardening subjects with a background in chemistry and biochemistry. Normally I go over questions with guests before we begin but Robert and I just started talking so we’ll join the conversation mid-stream as Robert is telling me about his upcoming book Soil Science for Gardeners. During the podcast we talk about:

  • Soil science for home gardeners
  • The problems with soil tests
  • Soil prep for native plants
  • Fungi inoculation products
  • How to open up compacted soil
  • Sources for organic material
  • Ugh, landscape fabric
  • Cardboard in the garden
  • Hügelkultur
  • Winter sowing
  • Baggie technique
  • LED lights
  • How to water houseplants

You can find Robert at: GardenFundamentals.com, GardenMyths.com on YouTube and via the Garden Fundamentals Facebook Group.

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If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected] You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.