“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Low clouds, slow rain.


Low clouds this morning, so on the mountain top there's no visibility. We have had a steady drizzle of cold rain since yesterday afternoon.  It's supposed to get heavier as the day goes on, with another winter storm passing through this evening. Then snow on Tuesday night.  I can tell this is low clouds, and not fog, because there's a forest service web cam on a mountain top near here that has a 360 degree view of the mountains, including the one I live on.  By looking at that camera field, I can see that below a certain level it's clear.

Other than a supply run to North Carolina, we haven't gone anywhere or done anything note worthy. Christmas was quiet. Since we are not big on "New Years" the holidays are over. Two month, maybe two and a half months, of winter left. The coldest months.






I read One Second After again this weekend.   I think this is the fifth time I read the book.  It has a number of interesting facets, not least of which is that it takes place about two hours north of where I am located, near Ashville, N.C.

When this book came out, it attracted a lot of attention because it was one of the first to deal with the effects of an Electromagnetic pulse attack.  Although the science is sound, a lot of people really disliked the novel and you could be sure just mentioning it would draw scathing attacks, though the critics weren't very specific. They just didn't like the book.

I think the main reason is that it deals, in detail, with questions about how society would break down in the aftermath of an EMP attack.  Most of the conclusions it drew were not very pleasant for the self sufficient audience.

Among the questions it addressed were these:


  • In the event of a collapse, is local government justified in confiscating private property, including food supplies, weapons, tools, equipment, clothing, and other essentials.
  • Does local government have the right to conscript people for forced labor.
  • Does local government have the right to prevent non-residents from entering their domain, be it county, city, town, etc.
  • What do you do with criminals when you have no facilities for confining them.
  • Can local government make and enforce laws that impact on how individuals live, such as "you can't keep your dogs because we want to eat them."
  • Are "Survivalists" a legimate source of resources through the confiscation of their property and preparations.
The book essentially answers these questions affirmatively, not something that is calculated to please the kind of people who would have originally bought the book.

My personal thoughts on those issues are not generally in concurrence with the author.  Private property means just that. If it's mine, if I paid for it with money I earned, then it stays mine.  If some people choose to buy new cars and take cruises, that's their choice. If I choose to spend my money on improving my situation up here on this mountain, that's my choice.  I'm not responsible for covering the lack of foresight and profligacy of others. I might, under some circumstances, help people in distress but it wouldn't be because a bunch of local politicians set themselves up as tin pot dictators during a void in governmental structure.

If I work, it's going to be on my place, or on some project from which I derive some personal benefit. You can bet that if something happened up here along the story line of the book, the corvee would be used to have people slaving away improving the lot of our own little power structure in this county. They take care of themselves first now, and they would certainly be more inclined to do so in the absence of any legal restraints.

As for trying to keep "outsiders" from coming into the county and exhausting on hand resources, that has been done before, most notably during the Great Influenza of 1918.  I might be inclined to support that.

What to do with the criminals incarcerated in the county, I know what would be practical.  Maintaining large numbers of "bocas inutil" , consuming valuable resources, in times like those would not be practical.  Releasing a swarm of criminals on the local populace would not be practical. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I don't remember who said that but I concur with their logic.

I'm not inclined to change my life style in order to comply with laws predicated to force me to do so.

Looking at me as a cornucopia of "good things" and planning on harvesting those resources would be an error in judgment.  I don't give a whole lot of thought to the public weal, especially concerning sheeple, and I'm not inclined to change that point of view.


Even though I don't agree with the scenario as it plays out in the book, it's a good read. Sometimes you have to accept that things may not go according to your plan, and look at alternative situations.




35 comments:

  1. Just remember, he did pay homage to the survivalist. :)

    In the book, they were asked rather than dictated to on the food issues. If they participated, well good. If they didn't, they couldn't draw a ration card later.

    But I'm with you, don't show up at my door later demanding anything, especially after the crunch hit.

    And the author floated the idea that these guys didn't seem crazy now on the flip side of things like they were made out to be before the EMP.

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    1. This comment got stuck in my spam filter and I didn't find it until today, 3 January 2015. I'm really sorry about that, but better late than never.

      It seems to me, that the people who were good at storing things away, were getting hosed because the community assets were being handed out to those who didn't do any preparing, and that the well prepared were equally entitled to a share. I felt like they were being penalized for having their acts together. I agree that the prepared were presented in a positive way, though.

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  2. Oh yes, the coldest months are coming right up! A good time for us all to hunker down and stay snug. :)

    Thank you for the book review and recommendation. I found it at our public library and requested a copy. Sounds like a good read.

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    1. I don't plan to do much non-essential outdoor work until Spring. The days are too short, it's much harder to work in the cold , and the whole winter mindset is difficult to reconcile with a lot of activity. I think the book is a good one for articulating ideas that most of us don't really give a lot of thought to, although the protagonist is a sort of anti-hero and if his opinions represent those of the author, then the Professor and I largely disagree. Let me know what you think of it.

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  3. I'll be getting your rain tomorrow, Nothing like getting up and going to work in the early morning hours when its cold, foggy and wet.
    The first book I read on post apocalyptic life was Alas, Babylon back in the early 70's. and of course it was all about the good old Cold War heating up. I wonder what the will label our current era in the future.

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    1. Alas Babylon is a classic, and one of the first post apocalyptic themed books I ever read. I still read it again every few years, just for the sheer enjoyment of it.

      I saw where you were going to get this storm up your way. It's nine o'clock in the evening here now, and the rain is picking up considerably.

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  4. We had a bit of sunshine this morning, which is more than I have seen in the past few weeks. Our White Christmas came a day late with maybe three inches of snow on the ground. Temps are still tolerable - tolerable meaning anything above zero!

    I have to wonder how many people would stand by and let the government walk off with their preps, especially the food storage, knowing that it would mean starvation of their family. I know that there are federal laws that allow the government to walk off with anything they want to take in what they deem an emergency. I don't know about our local government. But I do know that those of us who think ahead and put food by for whatever comes, would probably fight for it. Like many of my vintage, I don't store food for just myself. I have over a dozen people in my immediate family that I take into consideration when I preserve and stock up on food. That's over a dozen people who would have to look elsewhere to eat should my food storage be gone. And those people are worth fighting for.

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    1. I have no doubt that here, if our local potentates wanted to decree confiscation in unsettled times, they could enforce it in the town itself but I have some reservations about their ability to do so in the countryside. As you point out, losing your supplies will impact the people who are relying on you, and quite aside from the issue of right and wrong , the practical aspects of the question would have the most impact on what people do if they are going to be cleaned out. I have no doubt the "Big Wigs" here could come up with platitudes to justify something like that, but I am equally certain they'd never stir out of their castle on the hill (our new, opulent court house) to enforce those rulings. They might get the sheriff's department to do it, though. Just as in the book the town council decided not to include the Franklins , a "legendary survivalist clan" in their plans for confiscation, I think risk analysis might lead them to leave certain other people alone as well here.

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  5. Harry,

    No rain here, just snow and low temperatures. As we get closer to the month of January and early February temperatures will be even colder. We don't do a lot during the winter other than things around the homestead. Every now and then we venture into town. As for the New Years, we would rather stay home and out of the party scene so many others enjoy. Partying is not our cup of coffee/tea, we would rather hunker down and stay outside of town.
    Stay warm up there on your mountain, give your wife a big hug. Happy New Year to you both.

    We have this book....it makes for a great read.

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    1. I think it's wise to stay off the roads on New Years. There are a lot of people out driving drunk , and the Sheriff's Department and Highway Patrol are out in full force. I have no desire to meet either group on a cold, dark highway. Besides, like you and your husband, we are not terribly social people in terms of going to late night parties.

      I think it's a good book, it makes you consider things that are generally just ingnored or brushed aside in most post apocalyptic fiction. The only other good discussion of those issues I've seen was in the first book of the "Deep Winter" trilogy.

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  6. My problem with the book was that, while enjoyable, the last third seemed to be derivitive of 'Lucifers Hammer' - survivor stronghold having to square off against cannibal looter army. Nothing terribly new in that section. The rest of the book was pretty good though.

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    1. Zero, I'm in agreement that both books have shared themes in them, but I'm not sure that Forstchen ever read Lucifer's Hammer. He's not a survivalist, and this was the only book he ever wrote to my knowledge on the subject of survivalism. His latest book is about a terrorist strike on the U.S. and nothing he wrote in between was really oriented towards the audience he catered to in "One Second After."

      The Golden Horde is a pretty common concept in these types of books. Rawles has them in his books, as you know. I'd like to ask Forstchen if he read Lucifer's Hammer, though. I wonder if he has a web page. I'll have to check. He's touchy and it might make him mad, I remember when his book came out and got some criticism he wrote a screed in some magazine (was it Forbes, I think) rebuting the comments that offended him. Well, the worst he could do would be just delete my email.

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  7. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    Down here in South Texas its cold, rainy and it downright sucks! (I need to find a way to divert this crap weather up north to them damn Yankee's that are used to it)

    I read "One Second After" Years ago. I get all the concepts.

    In Texas we are a personal property state and we are well armed compared to many other parts of the country. Yeah' there maybe fed laws to come and confiscate personal property but there are two important things to remember.
    1. Fed gov in time a major, major national emergency I think will shutdown due to their own incompetence and beuracracy. Most fed employees will 'run away' like rats leaving a sinking ship.
    I think this may happen in time of EMP strike or the entire electrical grid being hacked by bad guys oversea's and it will lead to total disorder (and I mean total disorder)
    2. Confiscation of property wont go very far. I think after a short time, many people will be sending brass, copper and lead at high velocities and the bad guys confiscating the property will get bogged down, shot up and things wont go to well. This ain't Ukraine in the 1920's. Yeah' I know at least fifty percent of Americans are on the dole, but for the most part, most Americans now don't have the cultural mentality that Europeans have that allows them to be easily subjected.

    Americans (at least real Americans) are like Ferrets. All we need are a few basic rules like the Constitution to govern activities. Otherwise its every Ferret (American) for himself. The more rules that are applied, the more rules will be broken and more chaos created.

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    1. Hey Harry,

      (captaincrunch)

      I almost forgot. I talked with a person who is involved in law enforcement and is 'like minded' and he said he talked with other persons in his field about what to do with bad guys in time of total disorder. One scenario is to the small time dirtbags go (car thieves, small pot dealers etc) The Murderers, Sexual Predators, etc. would face 'draconian measures'

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    2. Hey Harry.

      (captaincrunch)

      I wanted to say 'let the small time dirtbags go"

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    3. CC, I agree with the gest of your comment. Not many people are going to scrimp, save , and expend the effort to build up their stockpile and then roll over when some fat politician in the town says they have to hand it over "for the common good." Private property used to be a sacred concept in this country but the more power the Democrats gain, the more "wealth redistribution" and "fair share" become operational concepts for the government.

      I watched a British miniseries once called "The Survivors." It was about a flu epidemic that killed almost everyone in the UK. In the early stages, the jailers just let the convicts who did not die outright loose, because it was inhumane to keep them locked up with no food and water. Ironically, one of the principle characters in the whole series is a convict who immediately murders the guard who let him out of his cell. What's even stranger is that as the show goes on, he is the only one of the band of survivors that an American could even vaguely emphatize with. The rest of the British survivors are Kumbaya types who want to love their enemies and beat the flower drums. In one scene the convict and a member of a rival clique are shooting it out, and the both have these rediculous weapons. One is an over and under 20 guage and the other is something equally ludicrous.

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  8. The fact that folks think that another person's pantry is fair game is why so many people also stock-up on ammunition. Many people would GIVE people food to help them, but NOBODY wants to allow folks to STEAL it from them.

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    1. Amen. Nail on the head with that one.

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    2. I'd help out my own family, or my personal group of internet connected friends. I doubt I would be much inclined to do more than that, though. As you say, I certainly would not sit by and have someone take my goods, be they your standard mark one mod five home invaders, or someone with a little piece of paper from the county commissioner.

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  9. My mom lives in Arkansas and one year their sheriff handcuffed prisoners to trees in the state forest because he had nowhere to go with them. I think he then set up a tent city on state land! It sure has been a dismal 30 days or so. I can't remember a time with such a long stretch of cold, damp weather.

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    1. The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, according to a speaker I heard on "Coast to Coast" last night. Imagine letting that mob out into an environment where law enforcement no longer existed! It boggles th3 mind.

      This December was very cold and dank here as well. I ran the main heater in the house constantly, on low setting. I also had to run heaters in the closed in portion of the barn, the shop, and the apartment. Energy costs are going to account for a large portion of my expenditures this year, as they did last year.

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  10. The science in the novel is weak. It doesn't even agree with the report (which has now had some key addenda removed) that the author's website linked to. Even blasting autos with short range elctro-pulses did not knock out any car permanently, and only knocked out one of the five trucks they tested it on. The main body of the report said that the stoppages in traffic would be due to traffic lights going out and greater electrical utility problems: not disabled vehicles.

    There is no "science" of the EMP. It is a grab bag of ideas thrown together. In general it is problematic that one nuclear weapon would have the power to such widespread damage outside of what the actual blast would do. The comparison with solar storms is a non-starter. A solar flare has geometrically more power behind it than individual nuclear weapons.

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    1. Russel, that's an interesting opinion and one I've heard before. However, even 30 years ago, the U.S. military spent large sums hardening communications and command and control equipment against the EMP threat. I attended a two week course at Quantico , VA in 1981 that dealt solely with EMP. I think the impact of EMP on electronic components is largely dependent on the proximity of the device to the blast, the size of the blast, and the altitude at which it was detonated.

      I watched a two hour special on "America's Doomsday Plan" , I believe on the History Channel not long ago. In discussing the Presidents Hidey Hole and alternate command posts, they emphasized EMP protection. When they talked about the Presidents Airborne Command post EMP and all the things they have done to withstand it figured prominently in the discussion.

      All this leads me to believe that we probably won't know just how dire the threat is until someone actually sets one off, there are some very intelligent people who take it seriously. I think when the author wrote his book, less was known about EMP than is now.

      I have a DVD of a Science Channel documentary called "Electronic Armageddon" (I can't spell that and this program has no spell checker) that I'll dig out and try to post, It's probably only a few bucks now and it might interest you. It's about EMP from both solar activity and weapons.

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    2. Don't forget that the effect was felt 800 miles awsy in Hawaii, back when test explosions were happening in the South Pacific.

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    3. That's true. I think those tests were what first brought the subject to the attention of the military.

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  11. I read it quite a while ago as well. As you said, I don't agree with it, but I could certainly see it happening.

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    1. It makes sense. It's a poor man's weapon of mass destruction, and as someone pointed out recently , you could mount one on a clapped out old freighter, launch it from offshore, and do a lot of damage to our infrastructure. The time required to repair everything damaged by EMP, or even just the damage to the most vital components of the overall infrastructure, would certainly be considerable. Since we are just barely keeping our society together as it is, I hate to think what would happen if even one section of the country was subjected to an EMP of significant power.

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  12. Scary stuff - and even scarier to consider how one would get through a worst scenario situation. I mean, one can plan, but, how long would that plan be enforcable for...? Honestly?!

    I do believe though that being in a remote situation one has a better chance than being in a town.

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    1. Dani, most of the people respected as leading proponents of the survivalist lifestyle in this country hold the same view. J.W.Rawles , one of the best known guiding lights in the community, encourages people to move to a rural area of the U.S. known as the redoubt. Generally, the higher the population density around you, the more difficult your situation.

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  13. Sounds like an interesting read. We are having trouble with poaching here. People we have specifically told not to in the past (it has been an ongoing thing). The game warden is supposed to be setting up trail cameras. They have also been baiting, which is illegal, and they cut a trail on our land for their ATVs. I'm pretty ticked off about the whole thing.

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    1. That has been a problem for me as well. People come in on the border of my property, on the back side, and steal my silver maple trees. They cut them down, trim the trunk, and drag the tree off with four wheelers. Some years back my dogs and I caught some people doing that. I told them to get off my land and not come back or I'd shoot them. Calling the Sheriff's department would be a waste of breath on something like that here. I have also run off people hunting on my property. If they had asked, I would have politely declined, but when people just come on my land they forfeit all expectations of a courteous discourse with me.

      Poaching is dangerous in a lot of ways. What we run into here is people poaching black bear for their body parts. I report suspicious activities and individuals to the forest service because I am revolted by poaching. But I also realize that the people who poach are also the people who will burn down your house, poison your live stock, or shoot you in the back when you are opening your gate. If you look at old pictures of me outside, you will see I am always armed and that's one of the reasons. It may also be why I rarely am bothered because when I moved here early on I had a hair trigger and people didn't want much to do with me. I am calmer now but it would be awfully stupid for someone to intrude on me or be a threat.

      I hope you and your husband are very careful. Poachers are the scum of the earth and they are criminals. If they get caught, they lose their weapons, vehicles, and go to jail. If they think you "peached" on them to the DNR they or their relatives may seek revenge on you and your family. I admire your courage and your values, standing up against them. Most people choose to look the other way.

      By the way, you can stop the trail thing. Get some six foot lengths of rebar, drive them into the trail, across ways, at an angle. Cross them so that you have stakes leaning into each direction. When they hit those things on a four wheeler, it will mess up their dope, but good.

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  14. It spit snow in Nebraska a few days ago. It hasn't been warm enough to melt it. I heard that we were supposed to get more snow soon, but I don't know when.

    That book does sound interesting. We just went to the library yesterday. My husband got 4 books on Mesa Verde, and other spots near there. He liked one so much, that I bought it for him on Amazon.

    I still can't get my 6 year old to read very much. The 9 year old reads like it's going out of style. I just got him into the series of "The Indian in the Cupboard". He likes biographies, history, and movies to. I asked him if he wanted to read a book on Steven Spielberg? He said, "Mom I already read a book about him from the school library." He's such a nerd. My husband said one of the Mesa Verde books he put on hold is a children's book, so I'm sure my oldest will get into that.

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    1. Alissa, is your husband interested in Anasazi culture? If so, he might like Turners "Man Corn." There's also a beautiful PBS special on Chaco Canyon, narrated by Robert Redford. It's available on VHS or DVD, and I am sure your library can get it for you. I have it on VHS if you have one, you are welcome to borrow my copy.

      It is cold here, drizzling and low cloud. We are expecting freezing rain Thursday, which is the worst. It takes out the power lines, and the roads become impassable. I think we have everything we need but we will probably go into town here shortly and make a walk through at Walmart to see if that jogs our memory on anything we might need.

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  15. I enjoy that book as well. Very lately, its become much more personally relevant in that the daughter had a physical condition which would through time, ultimately cause her death. I'm in the same position, having just gone through heart surgery and becoming blood thinner medication dependent because of the heart valve installed. Once the medications wear out, I develop a blood clot and 'stroke out'.

    So I guess my preps have become preps for others - thats okay. Just one less thing to worry about :^)

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    1. I have, in the last few years, began to think more in terms of passing this place and it's contents on to my kids, and less in terms of it actually being a retreat for my wife and myself. We both have age related health issues, but that's a natural part of life. Like you, I don't worry about it much and I focus more on each day and less on what may happen tomorrow. That seems a sensible attitude to me.

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