Showing posts from October, 2013

Another low impact New England house idea - clay slip and wood chips

As I noted previously, New England farmers raised more rocks than crops over the past few centuries. The last ice age scraped all the dirt off the granite and formed Long Island. However, after the farmers gave up on New England, and more efficient fuel sources replaced wood, New England's forests have returned in abundance. My previous proposal for a New England gabion house uses the abundant rocks, but needs spray foam, which is not a low impact product, to provide insulation. Lately, I've been reading about slip-chip walls. Basically, wood chips are coated in clay and lightly stuffed into a wall form then allowed to dry out. As in many low impact homes, the thicker the walls, the better. Some builders use reed mats as permanent forms. Other builders have used a double wall of (free) pallets for a straw-clay infill on the Pine Ridge reservation. Straw and wood chips trap air which increases the insulation properties of the in-fill. Processed hemp will work as well, but, fool…

Head Start: an expensive program with few short term results but great long term results

During the current government shutdown of 2013, one of the programs that is currently stopped is the early childhood education program started 50 years ago called Head Start. Originally, it was believed that earlier education would improve the IQ of those children who participated. This did not happen. In fact, not much happens. The Department of Health and Human Services itself found very little difference between third graders who were or were not in Head Start when they were three and four year olds. This finding is trumpeted by conservative essayists at places like the Heritage Foundation. However, when the subjects are revisited every 10 years for 30 years, a different story emerges. While Head Start cannot increase a child's IQ, it can introduce the practice of self-control, something not every child is born with yet every child can learn. Here is a big quote from the previously linked article.
Surprisingly — or perhaps not, if you think about it — the study found that the a…