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28 February, 2009

Loading up on guns and ammo with no "real" preps...

I read a great post over at the West Virginia Prepper's Network on this subject that I agree with wholeheartedly and thought it was an idea worth expanding upon. First, a disclaimer: I will admit to buying a single, fairly inexpensive handgun and a single box of cartridges for it before embarking on my other more sensible preparations. I had myself convinced it might be foolhearty to spend money month-by-month to build a food storage program, acquire a generator and the fuel to run it, install a battery bank and solar/wind power (still on the list for the future), et cetera, with no way to defend any of it if the 'stuff' ever really does 'hit the fan'.

But, the disturbing trend we're seeing now is that people, wary of the almost-assured attacks that are forthcoming against American's 2nd Amendment rights, are spending thousands of dollars on assault rifles and tens of thousands of rounds of ammo, many without setting aside a single can of beans or rice or even spaghetti-o's. Not only is this, in my opinion, a foolish (and probably ultimately doomed) proposition, but it is possible that it might even represent a clear and present danger to those of us who have prepped more responsibly. We are all aware that the veneer of polite society is all-too-easily torn away in times of crisis and that is why the reactionary behavior of these folks makes me very nervous.

How long would it take in a really bad scenario before hunger turned these sheep into wolves?
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Solar Food Dehydrator Plans

A food dehydrator is a very handy item to have around any rural homestead. They have lots of uses, not the least of which is making wonderful homemade jerkey. If you were to lose power, though, the one on your counter-top might as well be a paperweight. For that reason, it is a good idea to print a copy of the wonderful instructions below for your records. You might want to go ahead and build one of these now or at least make sure you've gathered the materials you'll need to build it if the 'stuff' ever does really hit the fan.

Here you go: http://www.i4at.org/surv/soldehyd.htm
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The American Nightmare

The following is a lead feature in one of the most prominent English-language magazines coming out of India.


AMERICAN NIGHTMARE

In January, the U.S. economy lost almost 600,000 jobs across all major industry sectors. Frontline, "India's National Magazine"
Volume 26 - Issue 05 :: Feb. 28-Mar. 13, 2009
http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/stories/20090313260503300.htm

from the publishers of THE HINDU

VIJAY PRASHAD in New York

[Article begins with a photo of Obama signing the recent economic recovery act and features a photo later in the text of unemployed workers waiting for service at an unemployment office in Michigan.]

They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?

– Yip Harburg, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” (1931).


ON February 6, 2009, the United States government’s Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) released its monthly “Employment Situation Summary”. The first paragraph of the report contained startling data. In January 2009, the U.S. economy lost almost 600,000 jobs (the highest figure in 34 years). The official unemployment rate rose from 7.2 per cent to 7.6 per cent (the highest in 16 years). Since December 2007, which the BLS identified as the start of the current recession, the U.S. economy has lost 3.6 million jobs (2.8 million lost since September 2008). In the quiet, measured language of this data-collection agency, “in January, job losses were large and widespread across nearly all major industry sectors”. The scale of the number is unimaginable.

A White House forecast, released by the Bush administration days before it left office (January 16), pointed out that the U.S. economy would lose 235,000 jobs a month in 2009, or 2.8 million jobs. This estimate now seems modest. In November 2008, Goldman Sachs revised its own earlier estimate to suggest that in 2009 the unemployment rate would be over 7 per cent (it was then 5.6 per cent then). President Barack Obama went on air shortly after the BLS released its report. This was in itself remarkable since BLS reports are normally of no interest to the general public and are rarely reported on by the mainstream media. Obama acknowledged that this particular report bore “devastating news” and the data “could not be worse”. The head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, warned that if the government did not act swiftly “we are likely to lose millions more jobs and the unemployment rate could reach double digits”.

Obama recognised that while this number was enormous, “this is not an abstract debate. It is an urgent and growing crisis that can only be fully understood through the unseen stories that lie underneath each and every one of those 600,000 jobs that were lost.” Factories close their doors, small businesses pull down the shutters, houses are abandoned to foreclosure: people who lived their life with the promise of the American Dream are rapidly abandoned even though they have put in their hours for decades.

The numbers are magical. Inside that 600,000 figure are 207,000 manufacturing jobs; this is the largest decline of manufacturing jobs in a single month since the high point of deindustrialisation (1982). Alongside this figure is 734,000 “discouraged workers”, people who have stopped looking for jobs because they do not think they are out there. If you add these two figures, the picture is even more dismal. The decline in manufacturing has meant a gradual parity in the number of men and women in the active workforce. In the past year, men accounted for eight of the 10 lost jobs, and more men gave up looking for work than women.

Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman points out, “You not only have a near-equal number of women in the workforce, you have a lot of women in formerly two-earner families who’ve become the breadwinners. Breadwinners? Or should I say crustwinners. The other dubious part of this ‘equality’ for families is that even if women fill half of the payroll jobs, they don’t bring home half the pay checks. They still earn 78 cents for every male dollar. In two-worker households, husbands earn close to two-thirds of the income and usually hold the job with the health insurance.” That is gone. Women’s jobs (in health care and education, for example) might be more stable for the present, but they are also less profitable.

Inventory sits in warehouses and in retail stores as sales go down. Like a blood clot, these unsold goods clog up the system, dampening any need to increase production. The U.S. Commerce Department released its own dreary report, showing that new orders received by U.S. factories fell by 3.9 per cent in December, following a 6.5 per cent slump in November. Retail sales for January fell by 1.6 per cent (according to the International Council of Shopping Centres).

The verdict of The Washington Post was stark: “If the jobless rate keeps rising at the pace it has for the past two months, it will hit double digits in the summer and reach its highest rate since the Great Depression in the fall. Companies in nearly every sector of the economy have cut jobs or announced that they would take other steps to save on cost, including freezing or reducing pay or eliminating contributions to employee retirement programmes” (February 7, 2009). The January numbers, in other words, will be dwarfed by those figures that come for February, March, April, May and June. No one wants to consider what is going to happen after midsummer.

Those who watch the way the government collects the numbers are wary of this data. Government figures are only so good as the methodology used by its agencies. In 1995, the Clinton administration convened the Advisory Commission to Study the Consumer Price Index. Bill Clinton appointed Michael Boskin, the former head of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, to head the commission. The Boskin Commission’s report (1996) recommended that the BLS revise its method for sampling. As a result of this report, the BLS conducted a form of statistical pruning, cutting its household sampling size from 60,000 to 50,000. An important aspect of this cut was the reduction of households from inner cities, which have a disproportionate number of non-white residents and also of impoverished families. Further, the BLS began to exclude “discouraged workers” from its calculation of unemployment.

With Boskin’s new method, the poverty rate fell, as did the unemployment rate, and it was notable that (without the inner-city data) suddenly blacks enjoyed better economic health than before. This fabulous world renewed enthusiasm for the American Dream even as the reality hidden in segregated slums was quite different.

Statistician John Williams (whose newsletter is available at www.shadowstats.com) reanalyses the government numbers using the pre-Clinton era methodology. He finds that the current unemployment rate hovers between 13.5 per cent and 18 per cent(using two different data sets and formulae). As Williams lifts the statistical camouflage off the faked numbers, the situation seems more drastic. As columnist Alexander Cockburn put it, “the air is whistling out of the American economy”. It is this deflating balloon that worries even those within the inner circle of American power. Obama’s leading economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, recently said that the government must “contain what is a very damaging and potentially deflationary spiral”. The people who have lost their jobs have no cushion to maintain their lifestyles. The social security nets have been eviscerated, and of these, unemployment benefits are minuscule (indeed, because employers are penalised when their former workers go on unemployment, there have been many cases of workers being fired so that their departure does not increase the unemployment insurance that a firm must pay). Additionally, since the 1980s, the saving rate has plummeted.

The latest Survey of Consumer Finances shows that households have less wealth than in 2001. The saving rates went down from 9 per cent in the 1980s to 5 per cent in the 1990s to 0.6 per cent over the past few years. Unemployed people with no wealth and access to modest social insurance will certainly foreclose on the homes that they hoped would build them wealth; this will create less incentive for banks to lend, and once more lead to further job cuts. The cycle is inevitable and bleak. The North America chief economist of BNP Paribas Bank, Brian Fabbri, told The Washington Post: “The economy is suffering. Things are getting worse, not better. Everything is weakening at a faster pace than we have ever seen. You don’t need to embellish” (February 5, 2009).

The downward spiral of the U.S. and world economy has challenged the intellectual house of Milton Friedman’s monetarism. Things are at such a sad pass for proponents of laissez faire that the Cato Institute (a libertarian foundation) ran a full-page advertisement in The New York Times extolling its beleaguered principles. Even the most conservative Republicans (such as Senator Lindsey Graham) are resigned to such extreme steps as bank nationalisation. This would have been unheard of a few years ago.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan offered his own mea culpa before Congress as the theory that control of money supply is enough to provide a stimulus now sounds ludicrous.

Obama arrived in Washington with a proposal to raise $775 billion in stimulus spending. Within weeks he was able to push this Bill through Congress, which agreed to lift the amount to $787 billion. Admittedly, the thrust of the earlier Bill was changed quite dramatically: the legislature diverted much of the direct spending proposals towards further tax cuts. But, nevertheless, the idea that the U.S. government was going to borrow towards “shovel ready” job creation projects is quite astounding. The list of how to spend the money is already long: infrastructural spending, expenditure towards research and development and outlay towards education. There are many ideas, and many outstretched hands. Whether this money will actually create jobs quickly enough is an open question. The government says that the stimulus measure might create or maintain 3.5 million jobs. This would just about stem the tide of the jobs haemorrhaged over the past few months. As the chair of the Progressive Caucus in Congress, Lynn Woolsey, said, “the first thing to recognise is that while the Bill isn’t perfect, it’s $800 billion better than what we had a few weeks ago”.

Goldman Sachs’ economic analysis team looked at the stimulus package and concluded that the Bill “is unlikely to do much more than stabilise the U.S. economy in the near term. Unless recovery in the private sector proves to be much stronger than we expect over the next two years, we think more stimulus will be needed before the end of 2010.”

Obama inherited a federal deficit of $1.2 trillion. His spending will raise this to over $2 trillion, with every expectation that this will rise to $3 trillion. Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geither unveiled a plan with few specifics, dodging one large problem (an economy with insolvent banks) by offering trite promises about another (the joblessness). If the banks are indeed beyond salvation (the International Monetary Fund estimates that the bank losses are now at $2,200 billion), then it is unlikely that the various stimulus packages will do more than act as a stop-gap measure until something is done about them.

The government will make stimulus spending routine to prevent a social collapse until it comes to terms with what Martin Wolf of The Financial Times calls the “zombie institutions”, whose toxic presence is going to undermine the ability of hard-working people to get good jobs.
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27 February, 2009

Fiscal Responsibility?

So, if you're reading the blog today, you'll notice a theme. I'm not digging President Obama today, or I should say I'm even less of a fan than usual. I'm really not as much of a hater as it seems. I didn't vote for him, but once he won the election I tried really hard to get behind him; the problem is that I have a difficult time naming a single thing he's done since taking office that I agree with (unless you count decrying the puppy mills in favor of getting a shelter dog).

In addition to the gigantic, irresponsible stimulus bill, the White House released yesterday the largest federal budget in history, having swollen it to nearly $4 trillion. That's almost a trillion dollars more than last year. It contains, among other things, $674 billion as a downpayment on nationalized healthcare - this will need to climb to over a trillion dollars eventually, most likely in the next budget.

During their two terms in power, the Bush Administration ran the deficit up by $3.3 trillion and was rightfully crucified for the stupidity of it. Meanwhile, analysts outside the White House circle are speaking up, saying Obama's plan will add $3.7 trillion in only his first 20 months; if he gets a second term, it could be upwards of $7 trillion by 2016. But, is he being crucified by the media? No.

Obama plans to cut taxes for 95% of citizens and still be able to pay for all this myriad debt by increasing taxes on the richest 2% of Americans. Sounds great as long as you're talking about the uber-rich master of the universe types; that is, until you realize that this includes something along the lines of 80% of all small business owners. You know, the guys who hire everybody else to work for them. Common sense should tell you that, if you take more of their money away, they will have less to pay out as payroll and there will be fewer jobs. It really isn't rocket science, guys.

As it stands, by the end of President Obama's first term in office, we will have a 29% larger government than what we had previously; further, it is projected to swell to 57% its current size should he serve a second term. For someone like me who believes our government was already way too big, this is a rough statistic to read.

While I'm harping on the President, let me also say that the Republicans are only slightly less guilty and should be ashamed of themselves as well. They were responsible for 40% of the outlandish earmarks the American people will spend decades trying to pay back. The one point I'll make, though, is at least most of them never campaigned for office as being opposed to them like President Obama did. The cold, hard truth is that it is quite simply dishonest to play word games by not calling them earmarks; they're now referring to them as "special projects." How very clever of you.

This sort of behavior is why the Republican Senator from New Hampshire and former Obama appointee to the Commerce Secretary position Judd Gregg dropped out of consideration. Gregg, being fiscally conservative, could not get behind the president's spending plans and calls the situation a "fiscal tsunami" and says that it will "bankrupt the country." Gregg has stated that the President is panicking and sacrificing the future in order to attempt to solve the current crisis, and he knew he wouldn't be able to be a team player for that.

That's okay, though, because Obama has all the cheerleaders he could ever need. As though it wasn't bad enough that the media cowtows to him, we have the obviously unbalanced Nancy Pelosi (fresh from her psychotic trained seal impression the other night) at a press conference calling this new budget "a statement of our national values." What a whackjob!

I find it hilarious that within less than a two week period, the President signed the gargantuan stimulus bill and followed up by releasing the largest budget in history. But, what's really priceless is what he did in between: he hosted a conference on fiscal responsibility. Sorry. I Guess I forgot to laugh.
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Gun control for Mexico's sake...

Not surprisingly, it has been in the news recently that President Obama's administration has expressed interest in reinstituting the assault weapons ban that was put in place by Clinton in 1994 and expired in 2004. We all saw it coming, which is why gun and ammo sales have exploded so rapidly these past few months. But, what is surprising is what Attorney General Eric Holder stated recently was one of the reasons the administration was considering the move.

According to Holder, it is being considered-- at least in part-- to appease the Mexican government as officials there believe it could help to stem the tide of violence in that country. Yes, you heard that right - for the first time in history that I am aware of our elected leaders are about to infringe on the constitutional rights of American citizens in order to do a favor for outsiders.

Now, don't get me wrong; I feel for the people of Mexico. They are, by and large, good folks being forced to live at the mercy of rampaging criminal gangs with no help from their own government. Mexico is on the verge of being a failed state, whether their president cares to admit it or not. Violence there is out of control as drug cartels run amok, targeting state and law enforcement officials and threatening schoolchildren in an effort to extort Christmas pay bonuses from their teachers. It's a mess down there and it needs fixing. But, how much good do you really think is going to come to Mexico by denying a rifle to an American in North Carolina or Virginia?

While I'm sure there are instances of weapons being purchased in, say, El Paso and then smuggled across the border into Juarez, to how much of the violence is this honestly making a noticeable contribution? And, rather than ban the sale of the weapons outright, what are the current regulations regarding bulk sales? The guy who wants an AR-15 doesn't scare me; it's the guy buying 10 I'm worried about.
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Out of Iraq

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/27/obama.troops/index.html

So, I'm sure most of you are really stoked over Obama announcing that all of our troops will be out of Iraq by August of next year. Well, not 'all' as in that would depend on your definition of the word 'all'. We're pulling out 'all' the troops... except for the 50,000 that we're not.

When you read the article, be sure to pay close attention to the parts where it talks about America taking another step towards "leadership" in the middle east and how an American-approved Iraqi government should take part in middle east politics and how we should be better prepared to engage opponents in the middle east.

Take a step back and look at Saudi Arabia and then look at Iraq again. We've built a slew of permanent bases over there as well as the huge Green Zone. The Saudi Royals are a puppet regime that hides from their own people behind a military we paid for in exchange for oil... or is that what Iraq is about to be? Sorry. I got the two mixed up.

Where I come from, if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck...
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25 February, 2009

AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT PLAN

Okay, so apparently there's more good coming for West Virginia out of the stimulus than what was previously reported at http://www.stimuluswatch.org/. At the link below, you'll find the full text from http://www.whitehouse.gov/ of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. I've copied and pasted the section pertaining to the mountain state in case you don't want or have time to read the whole thing.

For the record, I still believe the stimulus will do more harm to the economy overall than good, but it's nice to see West Virginia is getting her piece of the pie. With any luck, it will strengthen our local economy even as it weakens the national.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/White_House_Releases_Additional_State1.pdf

AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT PLAN:
THE IMPACT FOR WEST VIRGINIA
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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is a nationwide effort to create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform our economy for the 21st century. Across the country, this plan will help businesses create jobs and families afford their bills while laying a foundation for future economic growth in key areas like health care, clean energy, education and a 21st century infrastructure. In West Virginia, this plan will deliver immediate, tangible impacts, including:
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-Creating or saving 21,000 jobs over the next two years. Jobs created will be in a range of industries from clean energy to health care, with over 90% in the private sector. [Source: White House Estimate based on Romer and Bernstein, “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” January 9, 2009.]

-Providing a making work pay tax cut of up to $1,000 for 670,000 workers and their families. The plan will make a down payment on the President’s Making Work Pay tax cut for 95% of workers and their families, designed to pay out immediately into workers’ paychecks. [Source: White House Estimate based on IRS Statistics of Income]

-Making 27,000 families eligible for a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to make college affordable. By creating a new $2,500 partially refundable tax credit for four years of college, this plan will give 3.8 million families nationwide – and 27,000 families in West Virginia – new assistance to put college within their reach. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of U.S. Census data]

-Offering an additional $100 per month in unemployment insurance benefits to 89,000 workers in West Virginia who have lost their jobs in this recession, and providing extended unemployment benefits to an additional 11,000 laid-off workers. [Source: National Employment Law Project]

-Providing funding sufficient to modernize at least 72 schools in West Virginia so our children have the labs, classrooms and libraries they need to compete in the 21st century economy. [Source: White House Estimate]

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Senator Byrd: Obama in power grab

This is very interesting and unexpected. Just when I thought the old curmudgeon had aged past the point of being an active player and was just keeping his seat warm for Rahall, he manages to surprise me and show some life afterall.




http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/19303.html

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Globe and Mail: Harvard Professor Says "Civil War" Very Much a Possibility

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090223.wferguson0223/BNStory/crashandrecovery/home
Harvard author and financial crisis guru Niall Ferguson has landed with a thud in Ottawa, spreading messages that could make even the most confident policy makers squirm.

The global crisis is far from over, has only just begun, and Canada is no exception, Mr. Ferguson said in an interview before delivering a presentation to public-policy think tank, Canada 2020.

Policy makers and forecasters who see a recovery next year are probably lying to boost public confidence, he said. And the crisis will eventually provoke political conflict, albeit not on the scale of a world war, but violent all the same.

“There will be blood.”
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News Links

A few links of interest:

Alternet: "Global economy is in the middle of a spectacularly sudden crash"

Los Angeles Times: Mexico's Drug War Spilling Across Border Into the U.S.

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24 February, 2009

Guardian UK: Britain faces summer of rage - Middle-class anger at economic crisis could erupt into violence on streets

Scary stuff...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/feb/23/police-civil-unrest-recession

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Smoke and Mirrors

Still snowy and cold here. It's only gotten up to 34 degrees (according to our weather station) but you can already tell a difference as we were finally able to turn off the kerosene heater about an hour ago. Maybe we'll get some nicer days now after this past bitter stretch. We sure could use it.

So, maybe y'all out there can help me with something. I've been listening to the news these past few days, and I'm either missing something or I'm just a dunce. President Obie is talking up this plan he's got to supposedly cut the deficit to $550 billion by the end of his first term or thereabouts. Well, that sounds great! But... um... I'm confused. Here's my problem: even prior to the retarded stimulus package they just crammed down our throats, congressional budget analysts were forecasting that this year's deficit would be upwards of $1.2 trillion, which is more than 8% of the whole damn economy. When you add this stimulus to it, we're topping $2 trillion dollars by the end of the fiscal year in September and we haven't even addressed the facts that AIG is now begging for more money, we still expect another 16% drop in the housing slump (this crisis was the result of about a 20% drop, which means it'll be almost double this bad next year), the states are going under, and the banks and the auto industry are begging for help. Now, I'm not an economist, but common sense aught to tell you that if you spend, spend, spend you're not making money - you're losing it and thereby going deeper in the whole.

Maybe I'm crazy, but aren't you supposed to build up a surplus in good times and then go into deficit in bad times? That's how my bank account works, or at least I better make sure it does if I don't want to go broke. And, am I nuts, or wouldn't getting it down to $550 billion really be just getting us back in the ballpark of where we were in 2006-2007 under Bush? Wasn't it screaming about that *HUGE* $550 billion deficit that helped the democrats win a bunch of congressional seats in 2006?

So, here it is: the change you voted for. Spend craploads of money and pray that we're somehow saved by the myth of supposed "sustained [infinitely] growth" and it all gets paid back so that, in four years, we're right back to where we started. Smoke and mirrors, I say.

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23 February, 2009

Aquaponics

One would be prudent to look into how they might keeping this running (pumps, etc.) if they were to have to try to do it without easy access to electricity, but-- as a means of providing you and your family with fresh, healthy food to eat-- a system like the ones they're pushing on the site below might go a long way to adding to our self-sufficiency. It's worth a look.

http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/index.htm

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100 Items to Disappear First

The following is a list that has been floating around the internet forever of the 100 items that disappear first in an emergency. I came across it as a text file I had saved to my computer a long time ago and thought you might find it useful as a guide on preparedness.

100 Items to Disappear First

1. Generators (Good ones cost. Gas storage, risky. Noisy; target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR OR WHITE PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won't heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes...buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. "Survival-in-a-Can"
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress's
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Goats/chickens


From a Sarajevo War Survivor:

Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war - death of parents andfriends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks.

1. Stockpiling helps. but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate near renewable food sources.

2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.

3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold's.

4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it's the easiest to do without (unless you're in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)

5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs enough heat to "warm", not to cook. It's cheap too, especially if you buy it in bulk.

6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more valuable as the war continues. Sure, it's great to have a lot of survival guides, but you'll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you'll have a lot of time on your hands.

7. The feeling that you're human can fade pretty fast. I can't tell you how many people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.

8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches.
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The light at the end of the tunnel...

According to our little weather station we put in this past Christmas, it's currently about 29 degrees on our front porch here in West Virginia. Last night it got down to 18 or so degrees and they're saying it could drop into the single digits tonight, before *finally* warming up after tomorrow, and we're running both our electric furnace as well as a centrally-situated kerosene heater. So, needless to say, we're a little on the cold side, and it just reminds me even more the importance of getting our preps in order. I've already purchased a high quality wood-burning stove rated to heat up to 2000 sq. feet, but finding someone to install it has been a pain - that's going to have to be a huge priority before next winter as well as adding more insulation.

As miserable as this winter has been at times, I can barely fathom what would've happened had we lost electricity more often and for longer than we did. Quite simply, we might've had to leave and go stay with family. There's just no excuse for anyone to be so dependent on an outside resource, whether you share my belief in the fragility of the system or not, and I'm not going to allow it to continue to be that way - not at my house at least.

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22 February, 2009

Letter Re: London Times: "It may already be too late to prevent serious social unrest"

"Well it isn’t so much that you are dooming-and-glooming. The insurance analogy is more appropriate. One of the things you didn’t mention in your post was the whole Y2K thing. Having worked in the computer industry since 1979 I was fully aware of the potential trouble that could have evolved. And boy was there a plethora of doom-and-gloom in the social atmosphere during the last quarter of 1999. I had friends stockpiling goods and ammo and even baby wipes (best invention since sliced bread). You name it. It was Y2K that taught me a lesson. “Prepare for the worst. Work towards, and hope for the best.” So I prepared. I still have a basement chock-full of stuff that is good until 2015! We worked our butts off in the computer industry and Y2K was a non-event. It did have the potential to be a disaster. But we humanoids made it go right. Again. Also, I don’t think oil, or the lack thereof, is as much of an immediate problem as our failing power grid in the US. It is frightening if you know the details of how antiquated it is and how close we really are to some major blackouts and extended periods of primitive living conditions (water plants offline, no electricity, food spoiling in you refrigerator). There are SO many things primed and ready to go wrong in this country. What? Me worry? Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best. And work like hell in the meantime to make things better for all of us." -- Uncle Mikey in WV


My Response: I briefly touched on the subject of the power grid issues in another post I made several days ago, but I'll have to admit most of the knowledge I have of it is secondhand. I should probably look into it further.

As far as the Y2K thing goes, you wouldn't believe how many people cite that specifically as a reason for them not to prep. I'm sure you've heard the "Chicken Little" arguments I'm talking about. Most people think that nothing happened because it was no big deal when, in reality, it was a huge problem that just got fixed in time. Can you imagine how bad it might have gotten had the problem gone unnoticed? Or even if it had been noticed, but not until just a few days before and there hadn't been time to fix it? People just have no clue.

Also, as far as Peak Oil is concerned, I'm not 100% sure it is an immediate issue either but I look for it to be as soon as the average guy realizes what's happening. The truth is that there will still be oil a hundred years from now. It isn't that its just going to run out. The issue is that we have depleted virtually all of the easy oil, the light sweet crude that sits on top. What's left is harder to get, slower to pump, and requires that other resources be expended to get it at all (in many instances they have to pump natural gas in just to create the pressure required to get the oil out and that's another unsustainable resource being wasted). I don't know of even one oil field that is still producing at the levels it was 10 or even 5 years ago, yet our usage increases every year without fail and so does that of China and India. That is a system that cannot sustain itself indefinitely.

If I'm being honest, I think we've already hit the peak and this is the plateau. I expect the sharp and undeniable declining portion of the bell curve to manifest between late next year and mid-2011... and then it's six-to-five-and-pick-'em as to what we can expect. Resource wars, I imagine. Hell, I think that's the real reason why we invaded Iraq in '03 - to get our foot in the door and a seat at the chessboard for when the game begins.

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Aspirin Water For Your Garden?

I ran across this article earlier and thought it worthwhile to post as now is the time of year all of us should be thinking about our gardens. Honestly, I've never heard of anything like this, and I'm thinking about giving it a try.

Apparently, the salicylic acid in the aspirin bolsters the immune system of the plants, helping them to fight off disease and apparently bugs as well. Who knows? It's worth a try, I guess. Anything to increase food production and thus furthe the self-sufficiency of the homestead.

She dissolved one-and-a-half uncoated aspirin tablets in two gallons of water and then sprayed the leaves every three weeks.

http://gardeningcare.110mb.com/news/newsindex.php?action=article&news_id=54

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Explosion kills 74 in northern China coal mine

Being from where we're from, these kinds of disasters carry a special kind of chill for those of us from West Virginia. It may have happened half the world away, but the truth is that it might as well have happened a mile from our front door.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29321397

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Snow, Snow, Snow...

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I tried to get a few pictures of how heavily it was coming down at the old homestead last night, but the snow was falling so quickly that it played hell with the camera. So, I guess you'll just have to settle for a few shots of the aftermath of our most recent West Virginia storm. It seems to have pretty much finished, but we'll see - they're still saying we might get like two or three more inches before it's all done.
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21 February, 2009

Another Letter Re: What a bunch of BS!

"Just for perspective’s sake, if the total stimulus package was 700 billion and we got 700k that turns out to be one millionth of one percent for the state.

Also, that list was a tad misleading in that they listed “shovels-in-the-ground” projects; i.e. things that the Mayors of the state said “YES! If we had xxx amount of dollars this instant we would be able to commence blah blah project within 24 hours of getting that cash infusion.”

So it was the Mayors of WV, and their lack of submissions at the 2008 US Conference of Mayors that left us with this paltry sum." --
Uncle Mikey in WV



My Response: That's an interesting point that I, for one, was not aware. I, like most people I'd imagine, thought that the lion's share of the blame lay at the feet of our congressional representatives. To be honest, most of these little towns are completely unincorporated and fall under the purview of the counties, so that would explain things a little better.

I would love to get some folks together and band a couple of these little towns around here together and incorporate them, so that we could actually get a chance to join the current century and enjoy some municipal services for once. People around here are so disenfranchised, though, that I doubt it would ever be possible.
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More Rosy Financial News Headlines... And Yes, That Was Sarcasm...

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ChartingStocks.com: "Citibank Bank of America may be nationalized within days"

CNN Money: Prepare for a Wave of Bank Failures, Including some "Big Names"

Sunday Herald: Warning for the West as Civil Unrest Explodes in Eastern Europe
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New MIT Innovation Converts Pedal-Bicycle To Electric

I can easily see where investing in such a conversion would be beneficial, to one's health, the environment and as an emergency preparedness measure. Health would improve because you might be more likely to ride a bike if you knew it had a little extra ooomph both to go longer distances and to take some of the work off your legs when going up hills. The environment would benefit from fewer fossil-fuel emissions. And, it would fulfill an emergency preparedness function because it is a vehicle you can still use to get around even when fuel is scarce.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29259226/wid/18298287/?gt1=45002
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London Times: National Trust says every Briton needs a garden

I can't underline enough how much I agree with the sentiment behind the article below. I am hard-pressed to be able to name a single reason why every individual/family shouldn't take the time to grow, even if it's on a small scale. You'd be amazed what you can grow in pots on your apartment balcony, and even if you don't subscribe to the idea that we're headed for hard times it will still save you money and you'll be healthier for it.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/02/20-4

"The National Trust is seeking to persuade every household, office and company to grow its own vegetables in a campaign that will create 1,000 allotments on its own land.

Gordon Brown is being urged to plant a vegetable patch at 10 Downing Street, and down the road the trust is to practise what it preaches by letting staff dig up the garden of its Westminster premises.

The trust has identified 40 sites that it hopes can be turned into allotments within three years, or where the former kitchen gardens of country houses can be restored and used to teach gardening skills.

Most of these sites are on trust farmland or vacant land next to estates, or are traditional walled gardens.

The trust has 3.6 million members and 100,000 people are already on waiting lists for allotments.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, director- general of the trust, said that this was just the first step and if necessary the number of sites would be reviewed. She will try to persuade other landowners to offer more plots.

The TV gardener Monty Don, who is backing the scheme, said that every politician should have an allotment - 'and if they don't keep it up properly they should lose their jobs and I promise you the country would be better run'. He added: 'Allotments connect ordinary people to the beauty and richness of growing things. In an age of deceit and spin and collapse there is absolute integrity in growing food.'"
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Yesterday Was A Mighty Doomer-ific Day

I just finished watching the season premiere of "Real Time with Bill Maher" that I recorded earlier (a DVR is a wonderful thing) and thought I'd blog about a few points while they're fresh in my mind. I'm sure you can tell from reading some of my other posts that my personal views are not exactly in alignment with Maher on a great many subjects, especially his complete disgust with anything even remotely religious. I will say that I do usually enjoy his particular brand of comedy though, and I'm a regular viewer of "Real Time" (I also loved his old show "Politically Incorrect") because I enjoy the panel-debate format. Also, he's a Libertarian like me; he just leans left with his libertarianism whereas I lean right.

Of course, there might also be something in the fact that "Real Time" airs late at night on HBO and so the folks who appear on that program tend to be less inherent on blowing smoke up our collective ass than they are on other political shows. Nah. That's probably not it at all.

First off, about 19 minutes into the show, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) admitted on-air that we, as a nation, are "fragile" right now "more than the people know and more than the citizens understand." She continued, "They know that we are in trouble, that we have an economic crisis and a sub-prime meltdown, but I don't think they know how close we are to collapse." Emphasis mine.

Now please understand, I almost never agree with Maxine Waters (mainly because I think she was knee-deep in the whole crooked-as-a-dog's-ass ACORN stuff); but when a member of the United States Congress says things like this and not a single person on the panel or the host challenges them on it, maybe you ought to remove your head from your anus and take note. Add to that the very doomerish Glenn Beck show yesterday that I blogged about earlier, and it was an interesting day in the news for preppers.

And then they went on to talk about a subject I've been interested in these past few days - Obie sending 17,000 more troops to the poppy fields after he got elected by campaigning as the anti-war candidate. Well, I don't like to say I told you so, but...

I wasn't doing the blog yet back then, but I told everybody who would listen to me rant that if they wanted to vote for him fine but not to do it just because they were against the war. My logic being that when he was making all his promises about getting us out of there, he was not yet privy to the intelligence explaining the real reasons we invaded and why we were still there in the first place. He wasn't lying; he was simply in the dark, I believe, and now he's being faced with the uncomfortable reality.

I'm not going to tear-off on a rant here, but I believe we are seeing the very beginning stages of what this world is going to look like from now on or at least for the foreseeable future. We are enmeshed in a high-stakes game of chess and the Middle East is the chessboard. It may very well have cost John McCain the Presidency when he said that we were going to be over there for a hundred years or whatever, but he was the only one telling us the truth.

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20 February, 2009

Letter Re: What a bunch of BS!

In response to my post yesterday about West Virginia getting shafted in the so-called Stimulus, I received the following email.

"Wow holy crap. well it looks like DC, Delaware and WV are the only ones that are being reasonable in their views of the spending of this stimulous monies.. I thnk it is dispicable, the obvious greed and padding of projects most states have put in for. This money could be used in a much smarter way than just blowing like it is. I LOOKED AT THE DETAILS OF SOME OF THOSE JOBs in different states..... Hawaii is killin...they are actually outfitting some of the homes there with solar power to hedge the cost of electricity. I think we need to move...lol. and Va beach.... sheeeesh. Sure would be nice if someone with morales were in charge of the distribution of this huge stimulus payload." -- Jeff in VA


My Response: I agree totally. Here we have a region where almost none of the towns have any sort of infrastructure because they were started as coal camps and then left to stagnate when the companies pulled out. As a result, most places don't even have sewer service - it all just dumps into the river. The counties have been talking about installing individual septic systems for years, but there's no money.

Meanwhile, they steamroll the largest spending bill in history through congress, while our representatives quite obviously sit on their respective asses and fail us once again. The bottom line is that I'm against the stimulus; I halfway think it's all just a ruse to turn us into a socialist oligarchy (while the other half thinks they're just trying to prop our dead system up a little longer before it all collapses). But, if we have no choice but to be subjected to this asinine stuff, could we at least get a little of the gravy? Could somebody help us fix a road or a bridge or something, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Disturbing News Regarding Bird Deaths

I'm not sure what this might mean or if it, in fact, means anything at all, but I just read another story about dead birds falling out of the sky. Emphasis on *ANOTHER*. This story comes out of New Zealand (source: http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/top-stories/5335350), but there were eerily similar articles in the news recently about the same thing happening in both Tennessee (source: http://www.nwtntoday.com/news.php?viewStory=22769) and New Jersey (source: http://www.zootoo.com/petnews/thousandsofdeadbirdsrainoverne-1151).

Could be a coincidence, but I gotta say it piqued my interest. So, I did a little research and the same thing happened a while back in Texas (source: http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/general/news/story?id=2724535) and Australia (source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-427997/Dead-birds-rain-towns-half-world-apart.html).

I have no idea if maybe it might just be nothing, but it seems very odd to me and I am leary of coincidences. Further, it seems awfully creepy to me. With all the odd stories about birds failing to migrate the way they're supposed to and Colony Collapse Disorder causing all the chaos with bee populations, one has to ask is this like the canary in the coal mine?

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Spoon-Feeding The Masses: Glenn Beck 2/20/2009

I don't know if any of you guys follow Glenn Beck, but I have to say as far as the mainstream media goes he has to be one of my favorites. He gets a bit of a bad reputation for being a little too emotional, but one has to realize that his shows are opinion shows - they aren't meant to be straight-up professional newscasts (as if that really even exists anymore anyway). Also, people get all over him for supporting the War in Iraq and his religious views, et cetera, but I for one don't think you should right off everything a person has to say just because you disagree with part of it. And, putting all of that aside, people seem to forget that he was one of a minority who more or less predicted this mess we're in now and tried to warn everybody several years ago. He also is the only person I know of who occupies a position in the public eye who has more or less admitted on-air to being a prepper just like us in his private life.

Well, earlier this evening on his show, he fast-forwarded the calendar to five years from now and presented several scenarios. It was then the job of his guests to outline the "worst case" for viewers in describing what "could" happen in those scenarios, and I have to say it was refreshing to me to see that kind of thing laid bare in the mainstream media. His guests, by the way, included Gerald Celente, two former CIA agents and experts on the geo-politics of the Middle-East (one of which was Robert Baer, now an author), two military experts, and author Ben Sherwood of the book "The Survivor's Club."

The only thing that was a little off-putting to me was the feeling that people who worry about these sorts of issues are on the fringe or nuts or whatever, but I thought Glenn did a pretty good job of explaining that it's important to plan for the worst whether you expect things to get that bad or not and that nobody was saying these things definitely were going to happen - just that they could happen. And, honestly, even if he himself believed it was a done deal that these things would come to pass soon, he could never say that on the air and keep his audience. People aren't ready for it, and so- I believe- this is his way of spoon-feeding it to them. Baby steps, folks; that's how you have to bring some people along. He's doing precisely what I would do were I in his place.

Great job, Glenn!

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19 February, 2009

A Small Victory

Well, I've been keeping an eye on things to see how the blog is progressing with respect to search engine visibility and the Googlebot has finally scrawled us! If you search for us on Google, we only manage to find our way into the top ten listings if you input the ridiculously wordy string "west virginia rural living emergency preparedness blog" but I suppose that isn't too bad for a site that isn't even a month old. Anyway, here's to celebrating the little victories and looking forward to a greater web presence in the future...

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What a bunch of BS!

So, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a fan of the American Socialist Act of 2009 aka the Stimulus Bill that Obie signed the day before yesterday. It might have something to do with the near-psychotic freakout rants I throw into whenever it comes up in conversation. Still though, I've been carrying around this glimmer of hope that just maybe, at the very least, West Virginia would get some of that almost unfathomably huge chunk of money involved and be able to benefit somehow.

That is, until I checked my email this afternoon and saw that a friend of mine had sent me a link from stimuluswatch.org and there it was. Amid the hundreds of projects earmarked for other states, there was our *one* single entry: $700,000 piddly-ass little dollars to build a town hall in Athens. I am so angry that I'm ending this blog post now, without further comment, for fear that if I continue to write I will most-likely end up calling for someone's head on a plate.

http://www.stimuluswatch.org/project/by_state/WV

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18 February, 2009

Very Low-Cost Solar Water Distiller

This seems to me to be a decent emergency preparedness product and they claim it will be available to purchase as early as this Summer for under $30 U.S. The only problem I see is that you would need to purchase more than one unit, as the rated output of 1.0-1.7 liters per 24 hours is not a lot of water at all. In fact, it's just slightly over a quart, and that at best might be enough to keep one person alive in an extreme emergency with nothing at all left over for cooking, hygiene, et cetera.

http://www.watercone.com/product.html

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Wilkins Ice Shelf collapses

When reading this article, one should not forget the one I posted a while back regarding the loss of these ice shelves as it makes this news even more worrisome.

http://www.thinkspain.com/news-spain/16286/wilkins-ice-shelf-collapses

"A 14,000 square km shelf of ice, almost twice the area of the Basque Country, has broken off the Wilkins Ice Shelf in the Antarctic. Scientists believe the ice shelf is crumbling as a result of global warming."

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17 February, 2009

DOOMSDAY 2012: THE TRUTH & THE LUNACY, PART 4

In many ways, this article may seem a continuation of the last installment in this series because-- like part three-- it will deal quite a bit with the subject of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs for short) as well as other solar phenomena. I would ask, though, that you indulge me as I attempt to present another of the many theories held to by those who believe the year 2012 will spell mankind's doom... and explain why this is one theory perhaps we should all take a long look at before we dismiss it.

Just exactly what a CME is and how they occur was covered fairly well in the previous installment of this series, so it would be pointless to repeat that information here. What you do need to understand, however, is that CMEs are the product of solar flares. A solar flare is a massive, violent explosion that occurs in the atmosphere of a star, heating plasma to temperatures measured in the millions of degrees on the Kelvin scale and accelerating electrons, protons, and ions to velocities approaching the speed of light. Further, they are producers of all different kinds of radiation and mostly occur in the vicinity of sunspots (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_flare).

It is interesting to note that solar physicists are predicting a peak in the sunspot cycle some time around 2011 or 2012 that could produce larger than normal solar flares and CMEs. It has been theorized that some of these may carry with them the capacity to interfere with power grids and satellites in orbit (including military equipment). In fact, it has long been known that solar flares and CMEs were a hazard to not only our technology but to us as well. The radiation risks posed by these phenomena are among the major concerns in discussions of manned missions outside near-earth orbit. These phenomena release a cascade of high energy particles that can pass through the human body, resulting in serious biochemical damage to our cells (source:
http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/pr/PR_display.asp?prID=06-10).

Despite the fact that there is a global warning system in place to attempt to mitigate any potential damage that could occur from such phenomena, very strong ejections can cover the distance from the sun to earth in a surprisingly short span; as little as a few minutes. That does not leave much room for error in a situation where the only real way to avoid the powerful surges that can overload transformers and integrated circuits is to shut down the electricity prior to the CME reaching earth.[1]

On March 13, 1989, a flare hit the North American continent and fried electric lines causing the failure of the Hydro-Quebec (Canada) power grid, effectively turning out the lights on more than six million people for several hours (source:
http://www.windows.ucar.edu/spaceweather/blackout.html). As if that weren't bad enough, many experts believe that this outage only remained within provincial borders because it did not occur during what would be considered a peak load time for the grid. Had this happened during the summer or winter's peak usage times, it could have spread across the northeastern United States possibly as far south as the Washington, D.C. area (source: http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/eiskappenman.html).

And then, in the latter part of 2003, a series of powerful flares fell upon northern Europe, resulting in vivid auroras and severely inhibiting both satellite technology and radio transmissions (source: ttp://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/power_outage_031031.html). A second series followed Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005 (source: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/050909_solar_flares.html).

But, neither of those examples even begins to approach the severity of an event that has come to be known as the “Solar Superstorm of 1859.” For several days leading up to September 1st of that year, numerous sunspots and solar flares were observed; the largest of these was witnessed by the British astronomer Richard Carrington and caused a massive CME to be hurled toward our planet. The result was the most powerful solar geomagnetic storm in recorded history that lasted for more than a day and caused telegraph systems all over Europe and North America to short-out, resulting in many fires (source: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/mystery_monday_031027.html). Auroras, typically thought of as being associated with the far north Arctic regions, were seen as far south as Italy and the Caribbean. In fact, the lights that appeared in the skies over the Rocky Mountains were so bright that they awoke gold miners, who began to prepare breakfast because they thought it was morning (source: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=bracing-for-a-solar-superstorm). Scientists today have been able to study the severity of this occurrence due to the fact that it left traces in the ice of Greenland (source: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7142).

The nightmare scenario with regards to all of this is to imagine what would happen if another solar storm with the ferocity of the one in 1859 were to hit us today. At the time that storm hit, the telegraph was a little over a decade old and was a technological marvel that had changed the world. Then this storm came along and brought it to its proverbial knees. Can you even imagine the level at which we-- with virtually every aspect of our daily lives wrapped-up in our tech-nology-- would be affected if a superstorm like the one in 1859 were to occur now? Let me tell you, it would be catastrophic.

Rolling blackouts would begin as they did in 1989, but they would not be limited to just one specific region. Without going into a great deal of technical detail, it is my understanding that the surges created would cause permanent damage to vital components such as transformers and even possibly the power generation apparatuses themselves, causing billions if not trillions of dollars in damages. But the real problem, as I understand it, is that the resources, parts, et cetera, needed to effect repairs on the fried components simply do not yet exist in the quantity required to affect such extensive repairs everywhere and at the same time. Quite simply, the lights would go out and they would stay out for a long, long time. Areas would have to be fixed and brought back online one-at-a-time over a period of not days, weeks, or months but instead years.

Imagine winters with no electric heating; no electrical appliances; running water being un-available in most areas due to no electricity to run the pumps; no way to preserve the food in your refrigerator and/or freezer or at the grocery stores either; no air conditioning in the summers - all of that and having to go to bed every night with the knowledge that it could be years before things are back to normal. The sad truth, I believe, is that the very threads of society would more than likely unravel themselves after just the first few weeks.

In closing, I should say that even though this scenario is by far the most plausible to me, I still struggle with it even being considered as a "Doomsday 2012" theory. The only thing linking the two is the forecast of the time around 2011 and 2012 representing the peak of the current sunspot cycle and even that prediction is not related to a specific date in any way. I suppose that if I had to lend credence to any of these theories, though, it would be this one as I believe it does represent a serious threat, 2012 or no 2012.


Print Reference

[1]Joseph, Lawrence E. (2007). Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation Into
Civilization's End. Morgan Road Books.


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FREE Hidden Electricity!

It seems to me that this could be very useful if utilized correctly. Many, many times we have been without power during a storm yet still had telephone service. This could conceivably be a way to have emergency lighting that doesn't depend on batteries or costly kerosene/lamp oil. Just be careful if you decide to try this, because I'm thinking the light you use would need to be LED or something similar that pulls low amperage to keep from frying something in the process ;-)

http://www.instructables.com/id/FREE-Hidden-Electricity!

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London Times: "It may already be too late to prevent serious social unrest"

I've never really been one of the guys to put a lot of faith in scenarios calling for all-out societal collapse and/or social unrest. My prepping has always been more about getting through natural disasters and other short-term emergencies rather than surviving some neo-apocalyptic event. I can trace it back to the blizzard of '93; I wasn't quite 16 years old yet when that one hit and it left an indelible mark on me. Multiple feet of snow so deep my cousin had to go out a window and dig a path around to the front door so we could get it open; no power except what we could squeeze from an old generator; warming up a pan of water on the kerosene heater to clean up with; those are the things I remember and it lasted more than 3 weeks. Then another blizzard (though not as bad) in '96, 9/11 and the floods in Mcdowell County in the early part of this decade, and the debacle that was Hurricane Katrina all over the TV set. And then, there is the steady decline of oil production that I firmly believe is going to drastically change the way we live, even if it's a little bit at a time. Those are the reasons preps are so important to me.

The older I get though and the more articles like the one below that I read, I can definitely see why people believe truly dark times are around the corner. I guess, in the long run, it really is kind of like buying insurance for your house. You never expect or plan on it burning down, but you buy the insurance just in case.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/columnists/article5729034.ece

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16 February, 2009

The Current Unsustainable Monetary System: A Helpful Teaching Tool

Please watch this very well put-together little piece by Paul Grignon that has shown up on several internet sites lately and does a wonderful job of explaining what money really is and how it's really created. Trust me; most of you will be very surprised! Hopefully, this will help you understand not just how bad the current economic crisis is but also why, as well as why I and many others believe the current monetary system is unsustainable.


1 in 9 U.S. housing units vacant

Another hard look at just how bad the housing crisis has gotten...

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2009-02-12-vacancy12_N.htm

"A record 1 in 9 U.S. homes are vacant, a glut created by the housing boom and subsequent collapse...

The surge in empty houses, condominiums and apartments is creating a wave of problems for communities desperate to shore up property values and tax revenues that pay for services. Vacant homes create upkeep and safety problems that ripple through neighborhoods."

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A Slippery Slope...

I hope you've enjoyed and been able to learn a thing or two from the Doomsday 2012 Series that I've been writing. Rest assured that the series will continue, but today I wanted to take a break from that and present a few varied items of interest.

One thing that really has my head reeling lately is all the talk about nationalizing the banking industry (source: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Government-may-have-nationalize-weakest/story.aspx?guid=%7B0DFB5950%2D747C%2D44BF%2DA8FB%2D3F444F5FEE2A%7D) and that seemingly sensible people are actually talking about this as though it's a good idea. Even senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), for whom I have always held a great deal of respect, was quoted recently as saying that he would not remove the option of nationalization from the proverbial table.

I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can fail to see the inherent danger that comes along with such a drastic move. It isn't bad enough that this act would place your money under the manipulative hand of an incompetent bureaucratic system, which- not coincidentally- is also why I'm leary of nationalized healthcare (do you really want the same sort of people who run the DMV in charge of your hospitals?). But, it's even worse than all that.

My greatest fears with regards to the Patriot Act, for instance, had nothing to do with George Bush. It was a question of what could happen sometime in the future when the precedents set by that legislation could be used for even darker purposes. That is what scares me when I read about such things as nationalization of industry and salary caps for executives - it is, in its bones, a move toward socialism, and once those first steps are taken I fear it could be a slippery slope to that dark place.

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15 February, 2009

DOOMSDAY 2012: THE TRUTH & THE LUNACY, PART 3

In part two of this ongoing Doomsday 2012 series, I described to you the "Magnetic Pole-Shift Theory," and explained why I do not believe it is a theory one should concern themselves overly with. I also attempted to make the argument for why I believe it doesn't even really belong as a member of the family of theories revolving around what is going to happen to mankind in the year 2012.

Today I present a third belief held by many 2012 Doomers: Coronal Mass Ejection.

A Coronal Mass Ejection or CME is defined as an ejection of material from the solar corona (source: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronal_mass_ejection). This material is, in fact, a huge cloud of hot plasma that may accelerate ions and electrons and is often preceded by a shock front. It is when that shock reaches Earth that a magnetic storm can result (source: arc.iki.rssi.ru/mirrors/stern/Education/wgloss.html).

People who believe that this is what we have in store for us in 2012 point to evidence of huge conflagrations caused by some atmospheric event in Earth's distant past (source: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11909). Current scientific theory suggests that the event described in the source article was caused by an exploding comet, but these people assert that the same affect could occur from a very large CME.

Author and researcher Dr. Paul LaViolette points to odd areas on the surface of the moon that have been turned into glass, which is obviously a result of the application of an extreme source of heat. This phenomenon was documented first by other scientists and it is accepted as fact that they do not correspond to meteor strikes[1]. LaViolette believes that when the sun is super-energized and at the peak of its cycle it is capable of producing CMEs that are more intense than any ever witnessed by the modern world. If such a blast was aimed directly at Earth, he theorizes, it could take as little as a few hours to get here and could become trapped magnetically against the atmosphere of the planet[2].

Were this to occur, proponents of this theory claim, it would manifest itself as a massive reddish-orange form with streaks of dark material and swirling eddies of flame or energy and it would lay against the upper atmosphere, while tongues of flame spread downward so far that they actually touch the ground in some areas and scorch the Earth's surface. They point to ancient Hindu scriptures that describe the god Shiva as having multiple appendages and applying to him the titles of "The Destroyer" and "The Transformer" of the world in order to strengthen their case. They also point out the puzzling archeological evidence that has unearthed some mammoths that died so suddenly they still had the unswallowed food in their mouths that they were chewing when they died and theorize that this is due to the fact they suffocated when one of the huge flaming tendrils got too close and sucked all the oxygen out of the surrounding area. And, going even further, they use the Bible to make their case as well: Mal. chapter 4 "the day cometh that shall burn as an oven;" Rev. chapter 8 "there followed hail and fire mingled with blood and they were cast upon the Earth and the third part of trees was burnt up and all green grass was burnt up" and chapter 16 "angel poured out his vial upon the sun and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire and men were scorched with great heat."

The fact is that there are strange things going on in our little corner of the universe these days. It is a fact, though not widely spoken of outside scientific circles, that other planets are experiencing warming, not just Earth (source: http://www.livescience.com/environment/070312_solarsys_warming.html). Now, I'm sure our behavior as a species hasn't done much to help the situation, but you're going to have to work pretty hard to convince me that driving an SUV on Earth is causing Global Warming on other planets. And, as if that weren't enough, apparently the Heliosphere, a sort of egg-shaped bubble that surrounds our solar system and protects us from cosmic radiation is mysteriously disappearing and NASA has launched a probe to try and learn more (source: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/23sep_solarwind.htm). There is interesting research that I believe might explain some of this. It suggests that everything we are seeing is cyclical and that Earth experiences various different affects based on the relative location of the Milky Way Galaxy as it travels through the universe (source: http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/sep252008/714.pdf). In my opinion, this may be an explanation for everything from past ice ages to mass extinctions in the fossil record to the current warming we are experiencing.

Another intriguing thing about the CME theory or, more accurately, Dr. LaViolette's theory that it has happened before is that I was able to find very little evidence online of major criticism from other scientists. Now, that could mean that he isn't considered important enough to warrant such criticism or it could be a sign that no one has been able to refute his work.

Either way though, it seems to me that the only thing really tying any of this specifically to the year 2012 is a desire to do so on the part of believers. Yes, the sun will be at the peak of its cycle in 2012, but it was at that same peak in 2001 and 1990 and further, because it happens every 11 years. Yes, there are odd things going on, and we do not yet have any explanation for some of it, but none of it points to 2012 with any specificity whatsoever. This is a doomsday scenario that could possibly happen, but it could possibly happen in 2020, the year 3000, or quite possibly never.


References

[1]Gold, T. "Apollo II Observations of a Remarkable Glazing Phenomenon on the Lunar Surface." Science 165 (1969):1345.

[2]Excerpt from Paul LaViolette's 1983 Ph.D. dissertation, "Galactic Explosions, Cosmic Dust Invasions, and Climate Change."


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14 February, 2009

DOOMSDAY 2012: THE TRUTH & THE LUNACY, PART 2

In the first installment of this series I examined the "Planet X Theory" that dominates a large part of the 2012 Doomer's attentions and tried to show why I believe it is nonsense. Still, this is only one of the many differing ideas that attempt to pinpoint the nature of what form the supposedly approaching apocalypse will take. In today's article, I will delve into another of these ideas, complete with my own research and opinions.

Another theory of the "2012 Apocalypse" asserts that a shifting of Earth's magnetic poles could be triggered as a result of a reduction of Earth's inherent magnetism. And, oddly enough, scientific findings seem to indicate that such a reduction or shrinking is actually occurring and has been for quite some time. In fact, it is accepted that the intensity of our planet's magnetic field has been weakening for the past 2,000 years and has declined better than 10 percent over the last 150 years alone (source: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/earth_magnetic_031212.html).

One part of this theory that can be immediately discarded is the frequent mention on online sites claiming NASA sources have admitted to something of this nature being predicted to occur in 2012. Like most untruths, this one finds its basis in a kernel of fact. The shift to which NASA is referring to is in regards to the sun, which shifts its polarity about every eleven years (this occurred last in 2001 and will occur next in 2012). It is a wholly normal event that very rarely affects our lives at all, mostly being a nuisance for satellites and radio operators. Still, that small bit of debunking only removes a piece of information that proponents of this theory use to try to cement their beliefs; it does not discredit the theory itself, and so we must continue in our examination.

The Earth has an iron core that creates a magnetic effect as it spins, much like any electromagnetic motor. Believers in this theory pose the question: what happens when you switch the polarity on such a motor? The answer being that it results in a reversal of rotation. Armed with that, their theory asserts that the Earth's metallic core would follow this same rule. I must admit that does, at the very least, sound logical to me, but I say that with the caveat that the science involved is way above my head. Next, they remind us of the fact that our planet's iron core is surrounded by a molten liquid layer and then a hot plastic layer that moves easily under pressure. It is for these reasons that they believe that - rather than total destruction of all life - this sudden reversal would create massive coastal tsunamis, huge Earthquakes and other phenomena for a short period as the planet rights itself.

In detail, they theorize that when the inner core reverses directions the liquid mantel will act just like any other liquid in a similar situation and start to swirl, eventually causing tension in the crust and resulting in major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions all over the world. Then, cue the hurricane-like winds caused by the facts that the winds would now be blowing in an opposite direction to the earth's spin. Then come the tsunamis as the crust and the core spin out of sink with each other, causing the oceans to buffet first the leading edge of the continents moving in new directions and then recede back into their basins and wash up over the opposite shore of each continent.

On the surface, this theory sounds not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Unlike many others, it is strengthened by seemingly accurate or at least plausible science, even though the debunking I accomplished above could be argued to remove this theory from the 2012 discussion altogether by destroying the NASA/2012 connection. Still, it seems perhaps to hold water as a generic Doomsday scenario. The problem here is that the people who espouse this theory also often try to strengthen their argument by pointing to the ancient worldwide flood myths, et al. There is where it sort of falls apart for me. Unless science is completely off its rocker and missing this call big time (which I'll admit is possible), the last time Earth experienced a pole-shift was around 780,000 years ago (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_reversal) long before it is commonly-accepted that man has existed upon the earth. The point being that, even if you believe in the possibility of the flood (which I do), it is a bit of a stretch to blame it on a pole-shift. Also, it is interesting that none of the major scientifically-accepted historical extinction events coincides with the times of previous pole-shifts.

In my opinion, the only way you can give credence to this theory is if you also subscribe to at least one of the many "hidden history of mankind" theories that claim previous civilizations existed and were lost to memory long before the blossoming of what we currently believe were the first great societies of man. To my mind, that would be necessary in order to explain how people were here to observe an occurrence as remote as the last pole-shift. It simply isn't logical to believe in one and not the other. You must be willing to accept the one before you even consider the other.

With that being said, and in addition to the facts stated earlier in this article regarding the false NASA information, I don't consider this particular theory as a viable one any more than I did all the Planet X mumbo-jumbo. Honestly, I do have to confess that I've been intrigued by some of the things I've read on the "hidden history" subject, so I won't totally discount the possibility. For me though, any time the likelihood of an idea being proven true is dependent on so many other things also falling into place the odds are not in its favor. My advice would be to file this one away with the many other possible but unlikely doomsday scenarios, such as comet impacts, supernovas, et cetera.

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ABC 20/20 Special : Initial Response

I'm sure quite a few of us watched the ABC Special last night and I have to say that my first reaction is that it wasn't nearly as negative as I feared it would be going in. Sure, there was endless talk about the drug abuse and dental difficiencies, but it was handled rather tastefully and I feel like even an outsider watching would be ultimately left with less an impression of ignorant hillbillies and more of an understanding of the hopelessness of a people who have been beaten down by life's trials.

Anyone who knows me knows I would be the last one to make excuses for a drug abuser. I've had a hard life too and haven't become a pill or meth head, but this transends the availability of a drug culture as a means of escape. As they did a good job of pointing out in the 20/20 piece, you can look at photos from decades ago and clearly see worry in the eyes of little children and the faces of the adults all communicate a sense of exhaustion and brokenness. None of this is new to Appalachia. It's just that now there exists relatively easy access to a means of escaping it all, even if only for a few brief hours.

You see an almost identical problem in other economically-shattered places. A nearly picture-perfect example of this can be seen in the rampant alcoholism that ravages many Native American Reservations, the difference being that Appalachian people don't have a multi-million dollar lobby working in our favor in Washington and they won't let us build casinos to try to pull our heads up above the water.

I suppose all we can do is hope that people on the outside watched the Special and it helped them to see the plight of these people. Only time will tell.

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13 February, 2009

DOOMSDAY 2012: THE TRUTH & THE LUNACY, PART 1

With the Y2K non-event well behind us, there are many these days that have effectively zeroed-in on yet another upcoming date as the focus of their fear and fascination - December 21, 2012. In case you are a part of the minority who are unfamiliar with that date, it marks the end of the 13th B'ak'tun cycle in the Long Count of the ancient Mayan calendar and, more ominously, it is the date on which the calendar itself abruptly ends. Coupled with the facts that the Mayans exhibited knowledge of astronomy and mathematics far beyond that which we had previously believed them capable and that some interpreters claim to have deciphered accurate predictions of future events described within the calendar, many believe this abrupt ending is itself a foretelling - that December 21, 2012 is the date of the Apocalypse.

One can only wonder why it is that throughout history mankind has repeatedly chosen this date or that as the coming end, only to see those dates come and go uneventfully time after time. That is a question best left to others more qualified than I to examine the psychology of the phenomenon. Instead, it is my intention through this series of articles to examine a few of the more prevalent and widely-espoused theories of just what it is people expect to happen in 2012.

Perhaps the most widely-known and yet also the strangest theory is the belief in the upcoming return to our solar system of a large planet or perhaps a very small star commonly referred to as Planet X.

Planet X is supposedly in an elongated, elliptical orbit in the earth's own solar system; this is the theory proposed by author Zecharia Sitchin. It is his belief that the human race was visited by a group of aliens in ancient times. He claims to have discovered this through affecting his own retranslations of ancient Sumerian texts (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetical_astronomical_object_(non-scientific)#Planets_proposed_by_Zecharia_Sitchin), but these claims are universally derided by established professional scientists, historians, and archaeologists.

Sitchin proposed that the Asteroid Belt, our moon, and in fact Earth itself was formed as a result of a catastrophic collision of Nibiru (which, by many accounts, supposedly orbits Planet X as a moon) and a thriving world that once existed between Mars and Jupiter called Tiamat sometime between 65 million and 4 billion years ago. Likewise, he asserts that the body we know as Pluto began its existence as a moon of Saturn known as Gaga before being flung out to its current location by the gravitational disruptions caused by all this. Further, the author attributes the creation of the ancient Sumerian culture to the "Annunaki" (or "Nephilim"), a race of aliens who live on Nibiru.

The bones of the theory is that it is the impending approach of these celestial bodies that is the culprit behind all the weirdness we're seeing in the solar system recently, and that as they get closer things will get even worse before climaxing in some terrible calamity around 2012.

But, like most other outlandish theories, the more independent research you do the less likely they seem. First off, the information I described above is actually a melding of two separate claims by two separate individuals that occurred over time via websites and internet bulletin boards.

Zecharia Sitchin is responsible for the creation of Nibiru, but it was years later that the concept of Planet X was presented. Planet X was "invented" by a woman named Nancy Leider who is a self-proclaimed "contactee" who says she channels messages from extra-terrestrials called Zetas via an implant in her brain. She claims she was chosen to deliver a warning to mankind that Planet X would sweep through the solar system in May 2003, resulting in a magnetic pole shift that would cause great destruction. Her vehicle to deliver this message was through her website ZetaTalk that she started in the mid-1990s (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zetatalk). And then, as I said, the two theories were nitpicked and melded together by the internet community to form this hybrid amalgamation of amateur doomsday drivel. In fact, Sitchin himself vehemently disagreed with Lieder's claims of impending global cataclysm.

In my opinion, Nancy Leider is at best an odd duck and not someone I would personally put any faith in; and, at worst, she may very well be suffering from some form of paranoid schizophrenia complete with delusions of persecution and voices in her head. Her explanation, by the way, for why the end did not come in 2003? The aliens deliberately gave her a false date in order to confuse the "elites." She then claimed they would give her more information after the 2008 election but quickly backtracked on that as well.

What a nut bag!

So, if you've been sitting up on the internet at night worrying about the approach of the dreaded Planet X or Nibiru or whatever it's called, take a deep breath and let the crazy out. They do not exist.

For more information, see http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/planetx/index.html.

We'll be examining our next theory of 2012 doom tomorrow in Part 2 of this series.

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