Category Archives: Interviews

Crypto Convos episodes and earlier interviews

Most of my video interviews are on my Youtube channel, but I thought I’d add them here too so you can see the progression. I started out just interviewing people in the space as being from Bitcoin Not Bombs but decided to develop my own show called Crypto Convos. In order of newest to oldest.

 

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne agreed to an interview a second time and this time he really got feisty. He may or may not have condoned hanging the bankers.

 

Jeffrey Tucker interviews me this time on scams in the bitcoin space. Informative and to the point.

 

My fellow Bitcoin Not Bombs comrade and me discuss his fascinating new project Bitcoin Authenticator.

 

As a follow up to the Bitnation debacle, two former team members talk to me about what happened and why they left.

 

I appeared on a panel of women active in the bitcoin space during Porcfest 2014. Stephanie was an excellent moderator and we focused on mostly subjects outside our genders.

 

The sound quality is pretty bad on this one but I am adding it anyway. Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof and I talk about her project Bitnation. Very soon afterwards, the project came under intense scrutiny and several team members resigned.

 

This long interview wasn’t nearly long enough for me. One of my best interviews to date, Thomas Hunt of MAD Bitcoins! and The Bitcoin Group and I talk crypto, 9/11, and all sorts of topics. This was a wild and fun conversational ride.

 

A special weekend edition of Crypto Convos gets to know Mike Kimberl of Sean’s Outpost better.

 

I’ve followed Andrea Castillo’s writings for some time now and she always has a unique and grounded perspective on a variety of topics.

 

Michael Goldstein is someone to keep an eye out for in the coming years. His organization The Satoshi Nakamoto Institute is an excellent resource for understanding bitcoin.

 

Chris Ellis drops some knowledge bombs in his appearance on Crypto Convos. Another insightful discussion.

 

Julia Tourianski (Brave The World) returns the favor by coming on Crypto Convos. Such a radical, needed voice in bitcoin.

 

The hyper-intelligent Stephanie Murphy of Let’s Talk Bitcoin and Fr33 Aid came on the show to talk freedom and crypto. Dr. Murphy has a wide range of abilities and her sultry tones have been heard on numerous shows.

 

I made a brief appearance for my friend Julia Tourianski’s (Brave The World) Declaration of Bitcoin’s Independence video along with Patrick Byrne, Charlie Shrem, Andreas Antonopoulos, Roger Ver, and many other heavy hitters. Julia’s work is brilliant.

 

My good friend and fellow Bitcoin Group panelist Will Pangman of Tapeke joins me from his car for the second episode of Crypto Convos.

 

The imitable Jeffrey Tucker was my first guest on Crypto Convos and we had a lively discussion.

 

I had to add this one of The Bitcoin Group live at Porcfest. What an amazing time with some of the best people out there.

 

Lafe Taylor and Lamar Wilson are two awesome guys who developed a co-op and the Pheeva bitcoin wallet. It was such a pleasure to interview these two.

 

Pamela Morgan runs Empowered Law, a Chicago based law firm that accepts Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for their services. They specialize in smart contracts, contract negotiation, and dispute resolution. I wish the off air stuff was recorded because Pamela is an amazing person and we had a great discussion afterwards.

 

Overstock CEO Dr. Patrick Byrne took time away from his busy schedule to hang with the Bitcoin Not Bombs crew in Phoenix, AZ. A very philosophical interview.

 

Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed agreed to talk to me during Freedom Summit in Phoenix. Cody is known for the 3D printed gun The Liberator and his work on Dark Wallet.

 

A destructive storm hit Pensacola and Sean’s Outpost helped several homeless people who were caught in the middle of it. Mike Kimberl describes how in this interview.

 

Michael Malice goes for the jugular with his book Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il and doesn’t disappoint. It was one of the most fascinating books I read in 2014.

 

This discussion with Chris Ellis is one of my favorites. Technically we were interviewing each other and I’m trying to keep up (as is the case with most of my older videos).

 

I interviewed security expert Kristov Atlas, author of Anonymous Bitcoin Book and host of Dark News on the World Crypto Network.

 

Bitcoin expert Andreas Antonopoulos sat down with me while he was in London. Apologies for the poor audio quality.

 

Mike Kimberl of Sean’s Outpost discusses recent events in which Escambia County Commissioners voted to petition for an injunction against Sean’s Outpost.

 

I sit down with Jason King of Sean’s Outpost during The North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami, FL.

 

Tatiana Moroz was my first video interview where we discussed bitcoin. She’s a talented musician and this interview was very fun.

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An Interview on Aquaponics with Tim Frey

Tim Frey of Roberts & Roberts Brokerage is mostly known for his work with activists in the liberty community, but he has recently taken up aquaponics in addition to raised bed gardening and raising chickens for eggs and meat. We get to talk about his foray into aquaponics in the office on a regular basis, and it really is a fascinating development. I got the chance to interview him about the specifics of the operation, and believe this information is very useful to a broader audience, especially those who are looking into becoming more self-sufficient.

How long have you been growing your own food in general?

I started out soil gardening about 6 years ago. I cleared the grass out of a corner of our acre plus subdivision lot and started adding compost and manure to the Florida sand that was there and got started growing. A couple years ago, I shifted to mostly raised bed gardening which cut down a lot on the weeding and some of the other effort. I added chickens two years ago.

What encouraged you to start growing food and raising chickens?

I was encouraged by both the feeling that the skills might become a necessity in the future and the potential to control the quality of the food. I’d have to say though that the quality is why I continue doing it. I was really inspired to take on chickens by my good friend Mark of Green Acres Farm . Our family became somewhat of a test subject for Mark when he started out raising chickens and lambs. I wasn’t much of a chicken eater until I had one of his birds. It was delicious! The appearance, taste, tenderness and structure of the meat were way better than anything I had eaten in a grocery store or restaurant chicken. I bought chickens from Mark for a couple of years and decided to try raising them myself.

After growing food with soil, what made you want to switch to aquaponics?

I’ll probably continue growing in soil using raised beds. Some things like carrots radishes and other root crops aren’t suited for aquaponic or hydroponic growing. So it’s not a complete switch. Aquaponics seems like a clean and efficient way to grow many things. The fact that there are no weeds or soil pests also appeals to me. My understanding is the density of food production is greater even than raised bed gardening. So far, I’ve just completed construction of a basic small system using goldfish on my back porch. The idea is to grow salad greens and herbs were they can be readily harvested just by walking out the back door. If this works well, I plan to scale up and use some form of edible fish and build a green house or Aquadome similar to what Ernie has been working on.

How is your aquaponic system set up?

The system I built is pretty simple. I designed it based on a compilation of information I got watching YouTube videos and reading websites and papers online. The original design was two 3×3 foot grow beds, two 25 gallon water tanks and a “swirl” filter to remove most of the particle solids like fish food or fish waste. The fish live in one tank which is a 25 gallon reservoir tank sold for use in hydroponic systems. Water from that tank flows out to the swirl filter which uses the natural motion of the water to cause most of the fish solids to fall to the bottom of the filter. This filter is a five gallon food grade bucket and some PVC pipe and fittings. That water goes into a second 25 gallon tank called a sump tank. In my original design, this is where the one and only water pump is located. I chose a “Fish First” design, meaning I never wanted a failure in the system to kill the fish. Only “excess” water from the fish tank may be used. If the pump was directly in the fish tank and a leak or blockage developed in the system, the pump could empty the fish tank. So, the water pump moves the water up from the sump tank to the first grow bed. This bed will be used primarily to grow lettuces and other greens in a Styrofoam raft with 25 cutouts with net pots that allow the plant to have both access to the nutrient rich water and air to prevent drowning the root system. As this tank fills, it overflows to a second grow bed that is full of expanded clay pellets and provides nutrient rich water to the plants. The pellets serve as a medium to support the root system of other plants. I’m going to try some herbs (no, not that herb!), beans, spinach, cucumbers, and pepper to start with. This bed is using an “ebb and flow” or “fill and drain” method. Water flows through the lettuce raft bed and into the pellet bed. When the water level reaches a set height, it starts to drain out of the grow bed and down into the fish tank through a bell siphon. A natural siphon or suction is created which almost completely drains the grow bed and gives the plant time to get air to the roots before the cycle starts again. The increased level in the fish tank flows out to the filter, into the sump tank, and the process continues. One water pump, a tiny amount of electrical power and no other mechanical or electrical equipment is needed. It would be very easy to convert the system to run off of one small solar panel and small battery system for night time or cloudy days.

What are the benefits of using aquaponics vs. a soil based method and are there any disadvantages?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m hoping for greater food density and easier maintenance and upkeep.  It’s not easy to fight soil insects and since the ground never really freezes here in Florida, they continue year after year. I’ve run out of places to grow some things like zucchini because I know the root bore larvae is in that soil somewhere. I’ll still need to watch for caterpillars and other leaf insects but those are much easier to deal with because you can more readily see them and the damage they are doing. And, of course, there are no weeds! I also want to scale up to edible fish – I haven’t found any good recipes for goldfish.

 A breakdown of how Tim's aquaponic system works.

A breakdown of how Tim’s aquaponic system works.

 What problems have you run into as you were trying to get the project started?

One thing I learned was the amount of time and the steps needed to condition the water and make it ready for the fish. There is a definite process to this and it takes some time to do. Even after the system is ready for fish, there is about two weeks before the system is ready for plants. With soil gardening, you prep your soils and sow seeds or plant plants and off you go. Aquaponics takes time to really get established. I’ve also had to make one modification to the system due to the high temperatures here in Florida. Goldfish are not very heat tolerant and I found the water getting dangerously high some days. We had to resort to freezing blocks of ice in plastic bottle and containers and putting them in the sump to bring down the water temperature in the system. I’ve added a 55 gallon food grade drum and buried it in the ground next to the system to add water mass to the system as well as taken advantage of the cooler underground temperatures. I’m hoping that will hold the temperatures down enough. It could also be a useful way to keep temperatures up in the winter since we do see freezing temperatures here in the panhandle fairly frequently a couple months of the year.

The other problem I’ve run into is government regulation. I didn’t originally plan to use goldfish. Probably the best fish for this system is tilapia but those are prohibited in my district by Florida Fish and Wildlife. I may eventually use catfish or some other permitted fish. It would be nice to have something more temperature tolerant and edible.

For people wanting to start aquaponics in this area, what should they know about the solutions to the issues you faced?

There is a ton of information on the internet about both aquaponics and hydroponics. There are also kits being offered for people that don’t want to design and build or tinker with making it all work.

Have you found other people in the area that are creating aquaponic systems or are there resources people can go to for more information?

I haven’t found a lot of people in my area doing aquaponics. I did get some good advice from my local hydroponics supply store. We aren’t a particularly large city but there are two really good suppliers here; Healthy Gardens and Supply and Atlantis Hydroponics. It also recently occurred to me that some of the garden stores or places that deal with ponds might be a good resource of information about fish and water issues. I would also say that the amount of shared information on the internet is amazing. Everything from universities to county agents and tons of backyard enthusiasts have posted all kinds of information online.

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An Interview on Permaculture Based Livestock with Mark Casson

I met Mark Casson of Green Acres Farms when he started working at Roberts & Roberts Brokerage a little over a year and a half ago. Mark and his family are dedicated to permaculture based livestock farming where the animals are raised on their natural diets and allowed to roam free in a natural habitat. This approach to raising animals produces physically and mentally healthy animals that are much healthier for you than meat raised through factory farms. Having been to the farm, it is truly a great experience to see animals being raised the way nature intended, and though I don’t have land of my own yet, I have always looked forward to growing my own food and raising some small amount of animals for personal consumption.

The lovely Casson family.

The lovely Casson family.

Mark sells his food at the local Palafox Market in Pensacola, FL alongside other farmers and artisans. Due to regulations, his meat must be labeled “for pet consumption only,” even though it is truly the best meat I have ever had (don’t tell the regulators!). I got to pick his brain about his farming operation, and he had some valuable insights to share.

What made you want to start raising livestock specifically?

My father had wanted to be a livestock farmer and I think some of that carried over to me. I can remember as a kid going to the county fairs and I always really enjoyed seeing the animals. Sometimes people ask me why I don’t grow crops but I’m just not naturally inclined toward that. Raising animals is a more natural fit for me.

Does Green Acres have a philosophy about raising the animals?

Our philosophy for raising livestock begins with an understanding that healthy animals are a part of a healthy and diverse ecosystem. We are big fans of nature and in nature no animal, plant, or organism lives isolated. We are all dependent on thousands of other live forms. Worms, micro-organisms, and fungi all contribute to the health of the soil, which contributes to the health of the plants that grow in it, which provides clean air to breathe and forage for animals to eat, which provides healthy meat for us to eat. So, looking at farming in that light we manage our livestock in a manner in which will provide the best environment for worms, micro-organisms, and fungi to thrive. It has been said that we should not look at ourselves as livestock farmers or grass farmers but soil farmers. In truth, I think we need to be all of them.

What types of animals do you raise?

We raise chickens, turkeys, sheep, hogs, and cattle.  Oh, and a couple goats.  We’ve raised some ducks in the past but we don’t have any currently.

Happy chickens!

Happy chickens!

What are the hardest challenges you face operating an organic livestock farm?

What I think is hardest in an operation like ours is that being a farmer means being the investor, laborer, processor, marketer, customer service representative, accountant, and probably some other things I’m not thinking of right now. I have a hard time managing how to allot my time between the different roles. And then there’s how I value the time I spend in those roles from an accounting standpoint to understand which ones to drop when I don’t have enough time to do it all.

Could you explain some of the different personalities the animals have?

On our farm the chickens will generally do their own thing but come to us for food, where turkeys on the other hand are curious animals. Anything a turkey sees that looks a little different, they will peck at and sometimes swallow. Sometimes this might be a piece of plastic or something else that isn’t digestible. I’ve seen 7 turkeys standing around in a circle staring at a cotton mouth snake. They are just curious and not always smart animals.

The sheep have that flock mentality; if one runs they all run. It makes sense as they really don’t have any good self-defense in the wild.

Hogs are an interesting animal. They are smart, curious, fast, and strong. A momma hog is probably the most potentially dangerous animal on a farm. You really want to think through how you handle your hogs. Like when you need to load them into a trailer; if you set it up so it’s calm and easy then great, but if it’s stressful once they will remember and the next time will be even more challenging.

Don't mess with Mama Hog.

Don’t mess with Mama Hog.

Our cows get moved from pasture to pasture almost every day so they are used to us and are relatively calm but still not pets.

Switching to turkeys, what made you decide to focus on raising them along with the other animals?

Raising animals this way to eat provides food that is delicious. It makes eating truly enjoyable and when do people enjoy eating more than any other time of the year? Thanksgiving! The response we get from customers over our Thanksgiving Turkeys has really been great. It really is the best venue for this type of food; you’ve gathered people you care about together, the center of attention is food, and the star attraction is a turkey. How great does it feel to present a turkey that you know was raised well, is healthy for your loved ones to eat and they are going to rave about how delicious it is?

[Interviewers note: I can personally vouch for how delicious those turkeys are. You have to reserve them early because they will sell out, and my mom is still raving about how good the turkey was from last year. There is nothing you can by in a store that even comes close to the quality of Mark’s turkeys, and having been to the farm, I know they were raised lovingly and had happy lives.]

Bulls foraging on their natural diet.

Bulls foraging on their natural diet.

What are some issues that have come up raising the turkeys?

Young turkeys don’t have the best survival instincts. After they get about 3 weeks old we let them out of the shelter during the day but they don’t have the common sense to go back in for protection at night. If you don’t herd them back into the shelter and it rains they may get chilled and die or an owl may decide that Thanksgiving has come early and enjoy a turkey or two.

How does farm life benefit your family specifically your children?

Raising the kids on the farm gives them a connection to the environment, it exposes them to the real relationship between life and death (the fact that nothing lives without something else dying). It teaches them real truths about life which most of our society are unaware of or chooses to deny.

It’s very difficult to run a farm and not everyone is cut out for the work, but do you have any advice for how people can incorporate the lessons you learn on a farm into their lives even if they lack the resources to do it themselves?

One of the things we learned early on in this farming/food journey is that labeling, even on the products at the health food store, are meant to sell the product, not to inform the consumer. My advice is to really inquire into the sources of the foods you eat the most of every day; the ones that make up the majority of your diet. It’s a lot of work but if you do it just for your main staples it could really make a difference.

Baby turkeys lack survival skills, so they must be kept isolated for a time as they mature.

Baby turkeys lack survival skills, so they must be kept isolated for a time as they mature.

People can sometimes idealize farm life, but what expectations would you advise people to have or not have if they choose to start raising livestock or farming on a large scale?

Most of the benefits of small scale farming don’t come in the form of dollars but they are plentiful none the less. Living in a conscious relationship with the natural environment, the health that comes from an active lifestyle and eating great food, and knowing that you are doing something that is improving the environment and the health of the people you sell to are all truly rich assets in life and should be counted as such. If assets such as these are high on your list for things that would be counted as valuable in your life then I think you should consider this lifestyle. But from my experience and that of others I have talked too, a humble financial return for a great amount of time and labor invested should be a part of the plan. An additional source of income is usually a good idea.

Learning real world skills on the farm prepare children for the future.

Learning real world skills on the farm prepare children for the future.

I’ve read some articles claiming there’s resurgence in people growing their own food and raising their own animals. What do you see for the future of farming in this country? Do you think there is a trend towards more people becoming self-sufficient as times grow harder?

There is definitely a movement of people getting back involved with the production of their food and I think that is a great thing. More and more people are interested in and moving toward self-sufficiency and in doing so are upsetting the status quo. The future of farming will continue to see industrial agriculture using government regulators to try to maintain their control over the food supply in this country, and many times they will be successful in creating regulations that make our type of farming illegal. It usually comes in the form of food safety regulations. I mean who can argue with that? Of course we want our food to be safe.

What will be interesting to see in the long term is, “Do we have the resolve to physically work hard for our health and well-being, without much financial reward and then stand up and fight for our right to continue?” So, the future of farming depends on this resolve.

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