About Me

My name is J. Kent Hastings. Welcome to this site about permaculture. Permaculture is “a design system based on ecological principles,” according to co-founder David Holmgren. Permaculture builds sustainable relationships between people and with nature. My first exposure to the term is documented here. Blogs build relationships with readers. The name of this blog is thus “PermaKent.”

I’m a novelist, co-author with Brad Linaweaver of Anarquia, an alternate history of the Spanish Civil War, feature film editor (Lady Magdalene’s, starring Star Trek’s Uhura, Nichelle Nichols, written and directed by J. Neil Schulman and also Crustacean, written and directed by L.J. Dopp), writer for Mondo Cult magazine, and web developer of sites including jazz and rock music promoter Sheldon A. Kaplan’s Atlantic City Pop Festival commemorative site.

During the 1990s I worked many a Dilbertish office temp job in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chico, and Las Vegas areas. I was active on the cypherpunks list, wrote for libertarian print publications, most famously for the late editor Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK3) and his New Libertarian magazine and The Agorist Quarterly. I was Doc Technical for J. Neil Schulman’s pioneering “Pulpless” paper-optional ebook and print-on-demand publishing venture. I also consulted on his even earlier digital book publishing attempt, SoftServ, which used BBS software, modems, and simple ASCII text files. My articles for SEK3 about public key crypto and the RSA algorithm prompted Neil to add digital signatures to the files so customers could prove the literary works were unmodified. This was a few years before PGP 1.0 was released in 1991.

I finished off the 1980s as a door-to-door canvasser, passenger van driver and sometime field manager at Citizens For A Better Environment (CBE) through the San Francisco office.

In the early 1980s (starting 1979 if anyone’s counting) I started my working life programming IBM mainframes for a service bureau, then worked directly for the Pacific Stock Exchange when they built their own computer operation. As automation got cheap and easy, the Exchange’s revenue decreased because they originally made money on “the float” (interest earned on money waiting to be transfered). Things were getting tight as they figured out their new business model, so I moved on to a more attractive position at the Sprint data center in Burlingame, a bit south of San Francisco, but still in the Bay Area. I had a nice view of airliners flying over the water.

When I interviewed, Sprint was part of the Southern Pacific railroad. When I started a month or so later, they were owned by GTE. A few years later, U.S. Telecom bought them and moved their data center to Kansas, but when I drove through Kansas in 2007, most of the highway had no Sprint cell signal. Another example of corporate stability.

My dad had sheep, grew corn in the back yard and raised chickens for eggs while my little brother played on a Buckeydome climber in the 1970s. I learned the basics of photography in my dad’s photo studio. My dad still does photography at The Enlarger, but despite the name, he uses Photoshop and large format inkjet printers instead of negatives, enlargers and chemical baths.

At Diablo Valley College, I majored in electronics and got my advanced FCC ham license, WA6ZFY, which is still good today, QSL via QRZ.com. Sprint asked if I had such a license when I interviewed without me volunteering the info first, so maybe it has other than hobby and public service value.

Aside from the usual propaganda you’ll get about amateur radio from ARRL, I found it revolutionary being able to set up free automated communication systems, even TCP/IP, the software that runs the internet, with servers hosting software and data over free packet radio. Amateur rules forbid encryption, music, and commercial use, but in the unlicensed spectrum an alternative internet with its own domain names could bypass the original if it becomes necessary.

That kind of independence is also possible with electricity, water and other resources we normally just get from the grid. Food, shelter, and income may be obtained independently as well. This kind of thing will get categorized here under “Self Reliance” or “Freedom.” Although alternative energy could also fit in with “Peace.”

During the 1960s, I went on family road trips as a kid throughout the U.S., including Big Bear in California, Bryce Canyon in Utah, the Great Lakes in Michigan, and the beach at Ensenada, Mexico. And I drank plenty of that damned TANG crap during the Apollo moon missions.

What I want to do here is bring together practical ideas from the organic hippie left, the backwoods survivalist right, and whatever direction the technomages are facing. “We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. We study the mysteries of laser and circuit, crystal and scanner, holographic demons and invocations of equations. These are the tools we employ, and we know many things.” Not much is seen of any of these cool ideas in mainstream media because self reliance with durable goods goes against consumer throw away culture.