AI Harm Report: Iowa’s Book Ban Implementation Illustrates How New Tech Enables Bad Policy 

The rapid spread of Generative AI has recently entered a new front: censorship. An Iowa school administrator turned to ChatGPT to assist her in complying with the state’s recent legislative mandate to ban books with descriptions of sexual acts. The administrator had ChatGPT assess 50 commonly assigned books to see whether they described a sex act. Based on the results generated by ChatGPT, 19 of those books were removed from student access. 

This is just the latest example of how generative AI and its boosters can facilitate dangerous public policy, reinforcing the faulty belief that complex work requiring personal judgment—assessing context, propriety, artistic merit, and more—can be accurately performed by an algorithm. In this context, ChatGPT provides a handy list of books to ban while removing the workload and accountability from humans. And if those lists are incorrect, what are the community and authors harmed going to do—argue with a computer? 

Book banning, of course, is a problem that predates and extends well beyond bans based on automated or artificial intelligence input. In the counter-reformation era, the Roman Catholic Church attempted to halt unauthorized reading so people received information solely from priests and were less likely to interpret text themselves. In the 1930s, the Nazi party burned countless works by Jewish, communist, and other authors. Historically, books were banned in an attempt to keep the public uninformed so they wouldn’t question existing religious or political structures.

Nowadays, books are banned for… well, pretty much the same reason. Under the guise of protecting children from “harmful” or “offensive” material, schools and libraries are choosing or being forced to remove books with material that is deemed dangerous. The criteria for what makes information “dangerous” vary. Iowa is far from the only state banning books recently—school districts in Texas, Florida, Utah, Missouri, South Carolina, and many more have introduced bans this year as well. Often these policies effectively remove minority voices or block access to challenging ideas. Frequent targets of bans include content addressing sexuality (often including the existence of gay, lesbian, transgender, or non-binary characters), violence (often including racial violence), or profanity. 

The forces behind these bans seem to believe that children (and sometimes adults) should be prevented from interacting with uncomfortable or new ideas entirely rather than having the opportunity to engage with or question the material. The unfortunate result will be fewer adults who have encountered difficult issues and unfamiliar perspectives in a safe setting where they are able to discuss and explore—and therefore fewer adults equipped to engage with these issues and perspectives in the real world. Book banning is censorship. It is antithetical to the concept of free speech, it infantilizes the people it claims to protect, and it denies them the opportunity to think critically about the banned content. It does not keep weighty issues or differing perspectives from existing in the real world, it merely silences those attempting to engage with and educate others. It violates individual privacy and autonomy,…

Utilities Costs at a Remote, Off-Grid Home, by Mrs. Alaska

I have been asked: How much do utilities cost at our remote, off-grid home?

Since we live 40 miles from the nearest road, we receive no municipal services. No mail, electricity, telephone, Internet, water lines, or garbage pick up. Certainly no fire or police protection. So, if we want any of these conveniences, we have to make them happen ourselves. The bad news is that this involved high up-front costs and delays of several seasons and even years for both the materials and transportation. The good news is that the ongoing costs are very low.

People who are willing to live without most modern conveniences can certainly live very cheaply in a remote area, but if you want some modern services, such as utilities, you will certainly pay a lot more up front, and, in some cases, ongoing, for what is often inferior to the service in a city.

Since we have lived full-time out here for over a decade now, I thought I would summarize our upfront and ongoing costs for basic utilities and taxes. In cases of expensive infrastructure, I will amortize the costs over 10 years.

Taxes: Up to age 65, our property taxes ranged between $215 and 250 for five acres. When the first of us turned 65, we no longer have to pay taxes in Alaska on properties worth less than some threshold amount.
Mail: Many rural communities have no home delivery of mail. That is true for the closest community (2,000 people) to us. Like everyone else, we rent a P.O. box. The size we chose costs $300/yr. For some items that cannot be delivered to a post office box, a friend accepts delivery in a nearby town that does have home delivery. Because we have no street address (no roads!), it has sometimes been challenging to fill out forms for new bank accounts or credit/debit cards. Alaskans “get this” but other service providers have been stymied when I had to send them our PLAT number, which is the sort of geographic descriptive numbers you may have seen on the title to your home.

Trash and Garbage: $0. Because we raise so much of our food, and make others, like wine, beer, bread, and condiments, we do not accumulate much trash other than packaging. We repurpose what we can, burn paper and cardboard as fire starters in the woodstove and hot tub firebox, and haul back to a town dump any broken or unused glass and cans. Recycling is quite limited in Alaska. Almost all kitchen garbage goes into the gardens or is fed to the animals. (In many neighborhoods, residents pay extra to install bear-proof garbage cans.)

Electricity: For $12,000, my husband assembled a 120-foot guy-wired tower and mounted on it (included in the $12,000) a 1 kw wind turbine, 4 solar panels (we added 6 on a turning pole later, after prices plummeted), an antenna that he pointed to a telephone repeater 40 miles away, satellite dish for Internet, and other antennae…

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How To Grow Sprouts At Home In Just 1 Week

How To Grow Sprouts At Home In Just 1 Week | Homesteading tallest) { tallest = thisHeight; } }); group.height(tallest); } equalHeight($(“.dg-grid-shortcode .dg_grid-shortcode-col”)); $(window).resize(function() { equalHeight($(“.dg-grid-shortcode .dg_grid-shortcode-col”)); }); }); ]]> Sorry, this product is unavailable. Please choose a different combination. ]]>

Novelist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born August 30, 1797.

Novelist Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born August 30, 1797. She was best known as the author of  Frankenstein. Here is the opening of Britannica’s biographical  note:

“The only daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, she met the young poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1812 and eloped with him to France in July 1814. The couple were married in 1816, after Shelley’s first wife had committed suicide. After her husband’s death in 1822, she returned to England and devoted herself to publicizing Shelley’s writings and to educating their only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley.”

August 30th is also the birthday of the late Joachim Rønneberg, a hero of the Norwegian resistance during World War II. He was born in 1919. His exploits earned him the War Cross With Sword, Norway’s highest military honor. In April 2013, Rønneberg was presented with a Union Jack during a ceremony at the Special Operations Executive (SOE) monument in London to mark 70 years since the successful Gunnerside heavy water plant sabotage mission. Rønneberg died in 2018, just one year short of his 100th birthday.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

Today we present another entry for Round 108 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. The photovoltaic power specialists at Quantum Harvest LLC  are providing a store-wide 10% off coupon. Depending on the model chosen, this could be worth more than $2000.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any of their one, two, or three-day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  4. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  5. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
  6. Two sets of The Civil Defense Manual, (in two volumes) — a $193 value — kindly donated by the author, Jack Lawson.

Second Prize:

  1. A SIRT STIC AR-15/M4 Laser Training Package, courtesy of Next Level Training, that has a combined retail value of $679
  2. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).
  3. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC.
  4. Montana Survival Seed is providing a $225 gift code for any items on its website, including organic non-GMO seeds, fossils, 1812-1964 US silver, jewelry, botany books, and Montana beeswax.
  5. A transferable $150 FRN purchase credit from Elk Creek Company, toward the purchase of any pre-1899 antique gun. There is no paperwork required for delivery of pre-1899 guns into most states, making them the last bastion of firearms purchasing privacy!

Third Prize:

  1. A $300 gift certificate from, good for any of their products: Home freeze dryers, pressure canners,…

How To Raise Ducks For Eggs | Tips & Tricks

How To Raise Ducks For Eggs | Tips & Tricks | Homesteading tallest) { tallest = thisHeight; } }); group.height(tallest); } equalHeight($(“.dg-grid-shortcode .dg_grid-shortcode-col”)); $(window).resize(function() { equalHeight($(“.dg-grid-shortcode .dg_grid-shortcode-col”)); }); }); ]]> Sorry, this product is unavailable. Please choose a different combination. ]]>

Charge Your Garden Tools With Solar Power

Ongoing improvements to batteries have helped increasing numbers of gardeners to cut the cord—and the need for gasoline—for their string trimmers, edgers, lawn mowers and other gadgets. These days, in fact, you can even find heavy-duty equipment such as tillers, chainsaws and wood chippers powered with long-lasting rechargeable batteries.

Maybe you’ve already replaced some of your older gas-powered tools with electric or fully rechargeable, cordless models. To save money in the long-run—and go even greener—consider setting up your very own portable, solar charging station for your garden tools.

“In terms of having an off-grid charging center for your tools, that’s a relatively simple setup,” says EcoFlow’s Ryan Oliver, head of communications for North America. Established in 2017, EcoFlow specializes in portable power and renewable energy. “You can use a solar panel directly connected into a large storage battery and then with that large battery, the power station would be charging your individual [tool] batteries,” he says. “There’s enough capacity in these portable solar panels these days combined with putting that into a battery that you’re going be able to power a lot of outdoor tools.”

Small-Scale Solar

In some areas, professional landscapers have already begun transitioning to portable, solar systems to charge their garden tools. “There are rules being set up in local jurisdictions around the country banning the use of gas-powered, outdoor tools,” Oliver says. “So, you’re going to see landscapers actually installing solar arrays on their vans and using that to charge a battery system, which is ultimately going to charge the individual batteries that their tools require.”

Unlike large, permanent solar panels connected to the established electrical grid, portable solar panels and their connected battery packs are much smaller, less expensive, and can be operated independently from the electrical grid for ease of charging things like garden tools on the go. “A lot of our stuff is used by campers and outdoor enthusiasts,” Oliver says. 

While older panels are large and rigid, many new solar panels are designed to be more mobile. Some even collapse for extra portability. Nevertheless, when establishing your a solar charging station for you garden tools, Oliver says, “The idea is you would keep your solar panel and the portable power station in an area where it’s not going to move much.” 

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That could mean mounting the solar panel outdoors and sheltering the connected battery pack inside a nearby barn, garage or greenhouse. (Incidentally, the battery pack itself doesn’t take up much space. A 250-watt, portable battery pack is typically about half the size of a toaster. A much larger, 3,600-watt battery is roughly the size of a desktop computer.)

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Components & Costs

If you’re the DIY type, you can choose the individual components, including a solar panel, battery pack and inverter on your own. (An inverter is a piece of equipment…

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Choose the right knife for small game hunting – Survival Common Sense Blog

You can skin and field dress squirrels, rabbits, upland game and smaller animals with many different styles of knives. Here’s how to pick one that can do the job, without breaking the budget.

by Leon Pantenburg

Harvest a limit of squirrels, rabbits or upland game, and you’ll soon learn what knife works best for field dressing and cleaning the carcasses. Some skill and a sharp knife makes the job easy; a large, unwieldy piece of cutlery makes it a chore.

I made this knife and cardboard sheath 40-some years ago. The blade is quite usable and the sheath still does its job quite well! It doesn't work all that well for small game cleaning.

I made this knife and cardboard sheath 50-some years ago. It doesn’t work all that well for small game cleaning.

Generally speaking, when it comes to processing small game, smaller is better. A large Bowie-style knife is a really bad choice for this task, and it only takes one session with your large  survival knife to prove that.

Likewise, the wide, stubby blade of a big game skinning knife isn’t the best choice either.

During my formative years of small game hunting in Iowa, I was enamored with the concept of  a large hunting knife. I couldn’t afford one, so that lead, at age 13,  to my first foray into knife-making.

After a lot of grinding and work, I made a clip point hunting knife with a six-inch blade. I didn’t have any leather, so a temporary sheath was made out of cardboard and tape. Today, 50-some years later, that combo resides in my gun cabinet.

Though the blade held an edge well, it didn’t take long to figure out it was too big for much besides stabbing bears and hand-to-hand combat. I habitually carried a pocket knife, as all farmboys did, and ended up using it for all my small game work. A standard middle-sized Stockman with a clip, a sheep’s foot and a spey blade was all I ever needed until I took up big game hunting.

Before buying anything, here are some attributes to look for in a small game knife:

Ease of sharpening: In Iowa, the daily bag limit for rabbits was 10, and my hunting buddies and I might limit out. The same thing could happen with pheasants or quail. A successful hunt could mean a long processing session. A three-bladed pocket knife was a good tool choice, because when one blade got dull, I could switch to another. But no matter what knife you choose, it needs to be easy to sharpen and must hold an edge well.

These folders (from top) Bucklite, Winchester Trapper, Puma Bird Hunter and Opinel have all worked well as small game knives.

These folders (from top) Bucklite, Winchester Trapper, Puma Bird Hunter and Opinel have all worked well as small game knives.

Easy to carry: When small game hunting, I like to field dress…

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Step-By-Step Guide on How to Freeze Strawberries and Keep Them Fresh

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Freeze Strawberries and Keep Them Fresh tallest) { tallest = thisHeight; } }); group.height(tallest); } equalHeight($(“.dg-grid-shortcode .dg_grid-shortcode-col”)); $(window).resize(function() { equalHeight($(“.dg-grid-shortcode .dg_grid-shortcode-col”)); }); }); ]]> Sorry, this product is unavailable. Please choose a different combination. ]]>

Brush Up On Your Poultry Trivia With These Chicken Facts

It’s inevitable: Once you start keeping chickens, you become an encyclopedia of all things poultry. If you’re like me, you get your hands on every publication available in pursuit of new chicken facts. I have five bookshelves dedicated to chicken books. I have acrylic magazine holders stuffed with issues of Chickens and Hobby Farms. My browser features a folder full of bookmarks for reputable chicken web sites.

My phone’s Contacts app has entries for professors of poultry science, avian veterinarians and chicken breeders. You’d think that I probably know everything there is to know about chickens … but I don’t. I learn new facts about chickens with pretty much every article I research and write.

When I discover new facts, I get excited all over again and eagerly wait for my family to get home from work and school so that I can share my new knowledge about our chickens with them. Naturally they’re not as enthusiastic as I’d hope—perhaps because they’ve been at computers all day. But, luckily for me, I can share these nuggets with all of you.

Here are four sets of chicken factoids I recently learned for you to enjoy and perhaps share with your own poultry people.  

Production Pro 

The United States leads the world in poultry-meat production, surpassing the planet’s 194 other countries in output. America raises more than 513 million chickens and more than 216 million turkeys annually, with more than 59 billion pounds of that being broilers

Those 730 million birds brought in approximately $77 billion dollars in revenue in 2022.  As enormous as this seems, the U.S. actually only produces 17 percent of the world’s poultry, with China and Brazil following close behind.  

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Chicken Chow Down 

America not only produces the majority of the world’s poultry; it also consumes most of the world’s chicken. About 15,000 metric tons of chicken is eaten each year in the U.S., and it’s easy to understand why: chicken wings, fried chicken, chicken soup, roast chicken … Americas just adore chicken.

Not only is it a tasty protein, it’s also an inexpensive one, much less costly than beef, veal or seafood. Chicken’s affordability definitely helps put a chicken in every American pot.

But it’s not just the U.S. that loves chicken. Global consumption of poultry is estimated to be 136,000 metric tons in 2023, more than nine times what the U.S. consumes.The country that eats the most chicken after the U.S.? China

The Real Eggsperts 

The United States is also a global leader when it comes to egg production, with more than 109 billion eggs produced annually. According to United Egg Producers, more than 55 percent of America’s annual egg production is consumed right here in the U.S. Less than 1 percent of the US’s annual egg production—about 0.15 percent, or 160.8…

How to Treat Severe Burns Off-Grid


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Estimated reading time: 21 minutes

How to Treat Severe Burns Off-Grid

Many of us have experienced a burn at one time or another. Fortunately, most of us have only endured 1st degree or 2nd degree burns resulting in blisters but no serious damage. Anyone who suffers a 3rd degree burn or worse has usually been rushed to a hospital for immediate treatment and long-term medical care.

But what do you do when the hospitals are too distant, overwhelmed, or in extreme circumstances –simply closed or unreachable? Explorers, backpackers and people living in remote locations often have both the supplies and expertise to deal with significant injuries, including burns. But most of us may be at a loss when the bad burns happen.

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Beyond Basic First Aid


Severe burns often require medical equipment and supplies you won’t find in a standard first aid kit. Even something as basic as severe sunburn may challenge the average kitchen first aid kit.

There’s also a question of first aid knowledge for burns. A lot of us know what to do with a cut or even a deep wound or broken bone. How many of us know how to recognize the difference between a 3rd and 4th degree burn, and what to do about it?

A 3-Step Review

To begin, we’re going to cover the 5 basic types of burns and how to diagnose them. Then we’ll explore the common and not so common occurrences that result in burns. Finally, we’ll go over immediate first aid steps, supplies and most important –continuing care of someone who has suffered a burn.


All of this assumes no doctors or hospitals are available either because of your location or the surrounding situation.

We’ll also cover some resources for traditional and ancient herbal medicines for burn treatment that may be necessary in an off-grid environment without access to professional medical care.

1. The 5 Degrees of Burns

Each degree of a burn is progressively more serious. The most common are 1st and 2nd degree burns but the more severe 3rd and 4th and 5th degree burns can happen to anybody.

1st Degree Burns

1st degree burns happen every day. The usual symptom is a feeling of painful heat at the sight of the burn, redness, itching, dryness and irritation. Anytime the affected area comes in contact with a surface or touch, the pain increases.

A 1st degree burn is sometimes referred to as a superficial burn because it only affects the outer layer of skin (epidermis). 1st degree burns do not form a blister and usually heal within 3 to 6 days without scarring.

2nd Degree Burns

2nd degree burns are also common. Blisters are the primary symptom in addition to redness, swelling and pain. If the…

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