Covid-19 and the Continuing Erosion of Private Property Rights

This article is the second in a two-part series. Check out part 1 here.

Even though the downhill trajectory we’ve seen over the last decades in terms of property rights is bad enough, nothing could have ever prepared us for what the covid-19 crisis would bring. Even those of us who have read enough history to know that there’s really no line that the state will not cross in its fervent pursuit of absolute power were sincerely surprised. How could the ruling elite deny us our birth given right to own our own body and mind? How could we forget the principles of the Enlightenment and what it means to live in a society based on personal freedom? If we are not allowed to own our own body and mind, then the concept of private property does not exist any longer.

It’s one thing to persuade millions of hardworking citizens to fork over a large part of their salaries to the state every single month, to pay exorbitant fees simply to take ownership of the home their parents left them after they passed away, or to pay a toll every time they wish to drive on a road that their money built and maintains. It’s quite another thing to be able to convince them that closing their businesses and being forbidden from going to work to put bread on the table is “for their own good.”

During the last two years, we witnessed an extraordinary shift the likes of which hasn’t appeared in history books in times of peace. The state, in most of the Western world, abused all the power and the leverage that it had accumulated over the governed, and the results were truly shocking.

Much like that frog in the simmering pot, we found ourselves at the boiling point, seemingly overnight. And the most striking thing about this entire pandemic ordeal, is that governments, the world over, have come out of it looking like Robin Hood instead of the sheriff of Nottingham.

With substantial assistance from mainstream and social media, the vast majority of the population remembers all the “covid relief” payments and all the handouts, once again erroneously classifying them as “free.” As for the revenue losses, the jobs that evaporated during the lockdowns, and the extreme distress and uncertainty countless households faced, all that was chalked up as the virus’s fault, as though it were covid-19 itself that forced millions of business closures.

The lessons that we learned during the pandemic must never be forgotten. For one thing, with autumn just around the corner, we could very well have a repeat of all the restrictions and enter “season 3” of the covid saga. In Europe, I recently saw mainstream news stories about the threat posed by the “omicron 5” covid variant (and since I tend to avoid these news sources in general, I suppose I missed omicrons 2, 3, and 4, or perhaps they were not as civilization-ending as number 5).

Come September, once…

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Zone 3 Gardening, by HollyBerry. Vegetable gardening in Maine.

My husband and I have been residing in the north woods of Maine for 17 years now. The USDA map shows that we are Zone 3b but we are situated in a low pocket that is Zone 3. Keeping a gardening/homesteading journal is the best advice I can give. You might think you will remember what types of plants did well last year and when that 1st frost was but in reality….

Gardening is very humbling. One sneaky frost or good hail storm can destroy weeks or months of hard work. Never take the weather for granted. Keep track of last and first frosts in your journal and write down successes and failures. USDA states that zone 3 has last frost of May 15. As I’m writing this, it is May 24th and yes, we had an unexpected frost this morning. And then 1st frost on September 15th. These dates are only vague guidelines. Keeping an eye on NOAA and having your own thermometers, barometers, etc is essential during the beginning and end of the growing season. I have seen mid 40’s in July and 85 degrees in late September. Knowing how to read the sky and clouds is also valuable info. On a cloudless night we know the temps will drop lower than the weather man will predict. A full moon also brings on cooler temps. We learned all of this the hard way. As we live literally in the woods, it is a constant battle keeping back the woods. Everything we do is small scale… rabbits, chickens and our garden. We have very little flat, usable land and are able to make the most of it. Last year we added a rainwater collection system and that has been a blessing.

Patience is required as a few nice, warmer days make you want to start digging and planting only to find ice and frost 3 inches down. The local stores and nurseries start putting out plants in May and a good amount of them will be frost damaged as they tend to just leave them outside and uncovered. When ordering seeds, its a good idea to research where the plant grows naturally. If something is growing naturally in zone 9 or 10 its a safe bet it wont make it outside up here. Even with a greenhouse it will probably be too cold and not enough sunlight going into fall to produce fruit. We started a while ago googling and you tubing growing food in northern Russia and other cold climate areas. Plants that do well in those areas should be fine here. When planting your garden, study the sun. We have very little sunlight in late fall, winter and early spring. I was shocked at how little daylight we had our 1st winter here. Know where the maximum amount of sunlight is and plant in that spot.

Growing in the Greenhouse

Artificially extending the growing season is necessary for a good harvest. We are fortunate to have a…

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What Does AC Service Include?


As summer wears on, that Texas heat can be overwhelming even when you have functioning air conditioning. If your AC unit breaks down, though, then you are guaranteed a truly miserable time. Keeping your home HVAC AC unit in good working order is a vital part of home life in Texas, but it can be difficult.

We are here to help you wrap your head around maintaining your AC system. We will introduce you to how to find an HVAC contractor in Bedford, TX, as well as the basics of installation and maintenance for HVAC AC units.

HVAC Installation

If your home does not have an HVAC air conditioning unit installed at all, you are probably miserably hot during the day. That means you should immediately install a new HVAC unit, and setting up the air conditioning for your home as soon as possible. Contact a team of professional AC technicians to get this set up; any HVAC contractor should be able to help you choose the perfect unit for your home and your needs.

HVAC AC Services In Bedford, TX

It is easy to find great HVAC AC services in Bedford, TX. With quality companies such as Master Tech Service Corp operating out of Bedford, all you have to do is get in touch for a quote, and your AC problems will be fixed within days. There is no need to wait! Get in touch with an HVAC contractor in Bedford today.

AC Maintenance

All air conditioning units will eventually break down; they have a limited lifespan, like all technology. But an AC unit that is neglected will break down much faster than one which receives regular tuneups and maintenance checkups. By getting your AC unit checked over on a regular basis, you can extend its lifespan significantly, helping it to stay operational for longer and saving you money in the long term.

Regular maintenance can help you to diagnose problems with your air conditioning unit and fix them before they get too serious or expensive. Spotting a problem before it breaks the entire system can help to keep you cool and comfortable through the summer heat.

AC Replacement

If your AC is less effective than it was, it might be time for a replacement. An easy way to detect an aging AC unit is to keep an eye on your energy bills. If the cost of running your AC is higher than it used to be for the same results, that suggests that it is becoming less efficient and approaching the end of its lifespan. This is inevitable and will happen to all appliances eventually. In this case, your best option is to contact HVAC engineers and sort out installing a replacement or some major repairs.


It is always better to solve a problem before it escalates into a crisis, particularly when you live somewhere like Texas, where the summer heat can be deadly. Keep a close eye on your AC unit, and get professionals to look at it if you ever suspect that it might…

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Episode 33: Meighen Lovelace

On this episode of Hobby Farms Presents: Growing Good, Colorado farmer Meighen Lovelace talks water issues in the West, empowering people to grow food in community, and your chance to speak truth to power with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. This is episode one of two with Meighen. Check back in for the rest of the conversation in two weeks!

Listen in for Meighen’s take on how to work with your land, including the hard decision she’s made to put her San Luis Valley farmland in cover crops for a couple of seasons, and the challenges of working with water rights of farmers and communities throughout the Western US. Meighen tells us about a gardening project she helped start at the Salvation Army when she was a client there herself and how it’s grown into a year-round urban farm with a four-season greenhouse and a training and job placement program. Then, Meighen talks about her Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute training and the permaculture forest greenhouse concept (including the simple climate battery, which you have to hear about!).

Listen in to the end for details about the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health—the first to be held since 1969. As a small-scale farmer and someone interested in food systems, you have a chance to have your voice heard! Meighen tells us about how.

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WIRED: Don’t Look Now, but Congress Might Pass an Actually Good Privacy Bill

“I think it’s a pretty fundamental shift,” says Alan Butler, executive director and president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “It gets at the heart of what I see as the major privacy problem in the way that ad tech has developed over the last 20 years, largely because there was no privacy law in effect. What’s developed is an ad tech industry that just gorges on personal information in every possible way it can, grabbing every possible piece of data they can find about people.”

Read the full article here.

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Quick Crops For Short-Season Vegetable Gardening

Sometimes when you garden, you have to accept certain things, such as the existence of powdery mildew and the fact that blueberries like acidic soil. Personally, I’ve had to accept the fact that no matter how much I want to grow Long Island Cheese pumpkins, they just aren’t suited to my zone 4a short-season vegetable garden in northern Wisconsin. 

When you live in the colder regions of the United States, you might not have the luxury of a 100-plus-day growing season. You’re working in a shorter time frame, and if you want your short-season vegetable garden to produce abundantly in the available days, you have to choose the right varieties.

But we know you want more out of your short-season vegetable garden than 30-day radishes and arugula. Luckily, you have plenty of short-season vegetable options, and here are 10 all-stars that are sure to shine in your garden. 

Miniature White Cucumbers

A brief description of these will suffice because their name says it all: They’re small (3 inches) and white. But moving beyond their physical description, Miniature White cucumbers are nicely prolific with good flavor, plus they produce quickly, putting cucumbers on the table in 50 to 55 days. 

And while they are admittedly smaller than your typical slicing-type cucumber, thanks to the volume that Miniature White produces, your harvests will be impressive. Miniature White cucumbers have a crisp texture that’s delicious in salads or sliced for snacking.

Here’s an added bonus: Miniature White thrives happily in containers, which is a nice option if you’re limited on garden space or want to be able to bring the plants indoors on cold autumn nights.

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Read more: Succession planting keeps the garden full of delicious, homegrown produce!

Emmylou Tomatoes

I used to try growing beautiful large tomato varieties such as German Pink, but even though my garden did its best, the growing season here is just a little too short to reliably produce large tomatoes in abundance.

I can grow the early season varieties and cherry tomatoes all day long. But I sometimes just want the fun of growing a big tomato. 

Last year, I tried Emmylou and was really pleased with the results. Emmylou produces gorgeous red tomatoes that are surprisingly large for the speed with which they mature (75 days from transplant). I liked that they were resistant to cracking, and they also exhibit disease resistance, which is another plus for this extra-special tomato.

Neon Pumpkins

Just because we live in colder climates doesn’t mean that we don’t want to grow pumpkins. Now of course we can plant miniature pumpkins, like the charming Casperita, which is adorable and matures in about 75 days. But sometimes you just feel like growing a jack-o-lantern-sized pumpkin, right?

But large pumpkins are slow to mature, and that’s why you need Neon. It’s a very pretty, 8-pound pumpkin that has a reputation of being perfectly ideal…

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FCC Chair Rosenworcel Probes Carriers on Geolocation Data

Today Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel sent Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) to the top fifteen mobile providers, requesting information about their data retention and data sharing practices related specifically to geolocation data, citing a recent FTC staff report on troubling internet service provider (ISP) data practices. The FCC’s inquiries included what geolocation data these providers collect, how that data is collected, how long they retain that data, in what country(ies) the data is stored, policies for transferring that data to non-law enforcement third parties, as well as consumer notification and opt-out policies. Providers have until August 3, 2022 to reply. In the accompanying press release, Chair Rosenworcel identified the highly sensitive nature of geolocation data, especially when combined with other types of data. EPIC routinely calls for greater protections against location tracking, and recently urged the FCC to require privacy disclosures of providers in the Commission’s Broadband Nutrition Labels.

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Grow Peppers To Spice Things Up At Dinner & Market

Does your garden selection need spicing up? Peppers can be a great option whether you grow them to enjoy fresh from the garden, store in the pantry or perhaps even diversify your farming operation’s income strategies by selling your produce through local farmers markets or fruit and vegetable stands.

A local produce stand owner, a local pepper producer and a local garden store manager share their tips for making pepper production a success.

Recommendations for Produce Stands

Owned by Donald Hughes, Hughes Produce, located in Dunlap, Tennessee, is a local, family-owned business that has been in operation in the Sequatchie Valley for decades. From spring to winter, they carry a variety of items ranging from fruits and vegetables to Amish butter and cheese. 

As for peppers, the business sells more of the mild variety. “But even people who don’t like a lot of heat will add a half or a whole hot pepper for flavoring,” Hughes says. Customers of the produce stand use peppers to make salsa, chow-chow, relish and pickles. They also freeze jalapeño peppers to make poppers on demand.

For those wishing to grow peppers to sell at a local farmers market or produce stand such as his, Hughes recommends packaging peppers in smaller containers. His best-selling peppers are bell, rainbow bell, jalapeño, cayenne and serrano.  grow peppers growing garden hotVasin Hirunwiwatwong/Shutterstock

Common local peppers

Hughes offered the following descriptions of these locally grown peppers.

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California Wonder

This is a juicy, sweet, bright red pepper that is approximately 3 to 4 inches in length. This pepper is not a hybrid. It’s great as a stuffed pepper, for use in chow-chow and as an ingredient in fajitas.

Sweet Banana

This mild/sweet yellow pepper turns red as it ripens. Approximately 6 to 7 inches in length, it’s a long, narrow pepper known for its large yields all summer long. 

Use it in salads, pickled, in chow-chow, as a relish and as a popper that is filled with cream cheese and onion and wrapped in bacon. Hughes says that hot banana peppers have less heat than jalapeño peppers.


Primarily known as a hot pepper variety, new varieties exist that have less heat. Although not seen this way in a typical grocery store setting, these peppers are green or bright red when ripe. They are approximately 2 to 3 inches in length. Most commonly used when cooking Mexican dishes, these versatile peppers are also great for pickling, in chow-chow, in hot sauces, in poppers and more.


A medium to hot chili pepper, this dark green vegetable is usually 7 to 8 inches in length, thick-walled and 2 to 3 inches wide. It makes a great addition to chili. 


For the uninitiated, their wrinkled appearance may make this pepper seem old. Turning red when ripe, this pepper is about 6 to 7 inches in length. Use it in a hot sauce, for drying…

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American Data Privacy and Protection Act Advances in Congress

The American Data Privacy and Protection Act, as amended, was favorably reported by the House Energy and Commerce Committee today on a 53-2 vote. EPIC commends the Committee for its work and had sent a letter to Committee members urging support of the amended bill. 

The bill would set data minimization obligations for companies that collect and use personal data, impose special protections for particularly sensitive data and the data of minors, establish digital civil rights safeguards, require transparency of algorithmic decision-making, prohibit cross-context behavioral advertising, and provide for enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general, and individuals.

“This is not a perfect privacy bill, but we do believe it would establish critical protections for Americans and make much needed advancements for privacy rights at a time when those rights are very much at risk,” said Alan Butler, EPIC Executive Director. “This is not the end of the process, it is the start of the process. The law will be strengthened over time via rulemaking and litigation. But it is past time to pass a federal privacy law.”

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Feisty Pickled Peppers From Austin’s Flat Brim Farmer

“I’ve seen my pickles used to add a tangy or sweet flavor to a charcuterie board, chopped up in a creamy dip, chicken salad, tuna salad, dill pickle pizza or wrapped in bacon and grilled,” says Trey Gonzalez, who runs the Flat Brim Farmer pickling emporium in Austin, Texas.

Focusing on a range of pickles, peppers and jams, Gonzalez’s offerings mingle hot honey habaneros next to amped up jalapeños, all fronted up by pop art-influenced packaging.

Running through creative ways to incorporate pickles into mealtimes, Gonzalez adds, “The brine makes a nice marinade for chicken wings or to add some zip to a margarita, Mexican martini or my favorite, michelada.”

Taking a minute out from pickling duties, we spoke to Gonzalez about his family farming roots and the current roster of peppers. We also got the scoop on a little something he calls Mexican candy corns.

A Family Farming Journey

Gonzalez’s path to launching Flat Brim Farmer has deep family roots.

He recalls his mom’s father being a sheriff who ran a local farm market on the side. After retirement, he hauled produce from South Texas to wholesale markets in Houston.

When Gonzalez’s own father retired, he pursued a dream of working on land he owned, ultimately focusing on hay and produce.

“This is where the love of growing produce started for me,” recalls Gonzalez. “Fast forward 40 years. I’m right back doing what both grandfathers did for a living, just on a smaller scale.”

Preparing for Jalapeños

Similarly, the decision to make jalapeños a key part of Flat Brim Farmer came from Gonzalez’s family roots. Both of Gonzalez’s grandparents made salsas and his great-grandmother loved to can.

“As I grew older and got more into growing my own produce, I thought I’d do something that would combine both of my family’s interests but not salsa,” explains Gonzalez.

“My own vegetable plants were producing so much, especially cucumbers. I thought I would experiment with pickling spicy flavored cucumbers and jalapeños.”

Read more: Check out this video to learn more about growing your own chili peppers.

The Flat Brim Collection

When it comes to Gonzalez’s favorite chili peppers, he holds up a list including jalapeños, serrano, habanero, tabasco and occasionally Carolina reaper varieties.

“I have outgrown my space to grow much of what we use, so we also locally source,” he adds. “I’m very particular about who we source from. We grow organic, and we only buy from farmers who practice similar methods.”

Embracing the Austin Heat

Farming in Austin means Gonzalez deals with two growing seasons for cucumbers, plus decent summer and fall seasons for peppers.

“They like the heat,” he says. “The keys to keeping it successful for me in our zone starts with quality soil, an organic fertilizer program and using companion planting methods. This will help attract beneficial insects with minimal needs of insecticides and assist with pollination and…

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