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31 August, 2009

Making Your Own DIY Solar Panels: Don't Be Fooled, but Don't Be Discouraged Either

Assuming you haven't spent the past few years completely immersed in some arboreal forest without even the most meager access to the internet, it is a safe bet to say that you’ve seen the ubiquitous advertisements hawking kits, ebooks, and any number of other mediums with the promise to teach you how to "Build your own solar panels!" I say this because they literally litter the world wide web, leaving nearly every page I visit somehow oddly resembling my fraternity's old house the morning after that toga party we threw during my junior year of college. But, unlike said party, the surprise one finds when finally daring to look beneath the toga is often less than magnificent, which is my very cleverly cheeky way of saying that purchasers of these ebooks and DVDs, et cetera, often find that the supposedly simple process described therein is either far beyond their capabilities, or at the very least it is much more labor-intensive than they had been lead to believe.

Let me say, also, that I'm not saying the whole DIY Solar Panels thing is a bust. On the contrary, I think it shows a great deal of promise. But, the truth is it isn't nearly as easy as most of those ads would have you believe. The process requires skills and patience. The solar cells you will have to acquire are rather delicate and break very easily. You can find them all over eBay by searching for broken solar cells; to be perfectly clear, they still work even though they're broken. The power you get out of them is obviously reduced when compared to a new, pristine cell, but you augment that by piecing together broken cells. In the end, you can build a perfectly working solar panel.

And, the best part is that you can now see how these panels are actually put together, using the free video resource YouTube. You can watch any number of videos that will give you a clear idea of what exactly is involved in putting homemade solar panels together, using what you learn there to make yourself better at the whole process and not such a novice once you decide to shell-out the cash for the expensive teaching ebook or DVD... or, better yet, to completely bypass the costly product and just go it on your own. Yes, some of the videos are that good!

So, here you go, watch and learn. Hopefully, this will better prepare you to make your decision whether or not you are capable of taking on a project of this type. Good luck!

Image taken from XeSolar International Limited at www.xesolarcn.com/images/sdcp.jpg

30 August, 2009

Our Water Supply, Down the Drain

Water issues are something I've written about fairly extensively here on the blog as it is hands-down THE most important resource on our planet. As such, securing a supply of clean, potable water had better be the very first thing you think of when you think about survival.

And now, this article comes along and spells out for us the truth of which many of us were already aware: "A water crisis is threatening many parts of the country -- not just the arid West." In fact, the rights to water supplies have become such a source of contention lately that "more than 30 states are fighting with their neighbors over water."

The hardest part about the whole thing is that we, as Americans, are accustomed to simply engineering our way out of such predicaments, but those sorts of fixes come with problems of their own: we've already built so many dams and diverted so many rivers that "only 60 in the country remain free-flowing." The other quick-fix has always been to take our water directly from deep underground by drilling wells, but the levels in aquifers all over are now plummeting dangerously. A prime example of this can be seen by looking at the Ogallala Aquifer, which experts agree could be depleted in just a few short decades if water use continues at the current levels unabated. The simple truth is that most of the 'tech fixes' are either too energy intensive or present other problems that call into question their feasibility on a large scale; and that includes the oft-spoken of desalination of ocean saltwater as well as reclamation.

An important point that the article touches on only briefly is that "the real problem isn't shrinking water levels. It's population growth." This supports my contention that the ugly truth is that overpopulation is the true root cause of our most pressing issues as a civilization; namely Peak Oil and the very subject we've been discussing here, which many are lately referring to as Peak Water in order to emphasize the 'resource depletion' aspect.

As always, the best way for you to insure your ability to purify your own drinking water in the event of a disaster or survival scenario is to buy my water filters.

Previous Backwoods Survival Blog Articles on Water Issues:

- Peak Water Nearing Due To Climate Change/Overpopulation, Violence Erupting As People Fight Over Life-Giving Resource

- California's Water Woes Threaten the Entire Country's Food Supply

- The Death of Our Mighty Rivers

- What's in your water?

- "Water, water hardly anywhere."


H1N1 Influenza A - Swine Flu: 30 August Brief Update

It has become all but impossible and more than a little pointless to keep attempting to track the total number of A(H1N1) influenza cases worldwide, so much so that the World Health Organization themselves have ceased such efforts, and so these weekly updates will need to take on a somewhat different format from here on out.

By and large, the most up-to-date data (which is sadly more than a week behind) released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that influenza activity is at stable levels, but there are increases in some areas. "Two states (Alaska and Georgia) and Puerto Rico are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time. Any reports of widespread influenza activity in August are very unusual." Also, visits to doctors for flu have been "higher than what is expected in the summer and has increased over the last two weeks." (source)

Recent H1N1 Articles Here at Backwoods Survival Blog:

WHO Warns Of Severe Form Of Swine Flu

Swine Flu Vaccine FAQ for UK Citizens - A Guide To What We Can Expect Soon

H1N1 In The News:

Colombia says president has swine flu

Advice on when flu needs TLC or a doctor's care

Mexico May Top 1 Million Swine Flu Cases, Cordova Tells Reforma

Feds Put Focus on Swine Flu Vaccinations

Ohio School District Reporting 10% of Students Sick with Swine Flu

Health Workers are Reluctant to Get Swine Flu Vaccine

Saudi Arabia Restricts Hajj Pilgrimage in Anti-Flu Fight

Japan Swine Flu Spread has Begun

33,000 Infections, 130 Swine Flu Deaths in Oz "Just Tip of the Iceberg"


29 August, 2009

Survivalists, Town Clash Over Craftsbury Road

This article details a perfect example of how *NOT* to act if you're a survivalist.

First off, the kind of threatening and confrontational behavior exhibited by Mission New England in this instance is precisely why when people hear the word 'survivalist' they immediately envision some nutbag in full camo, hiding in the woods Rambo-style with his rifle on full-auto, living off MREs and itching to shoot somebody the first chance he gets.

Calm yourselves, boo boos. Try some decaf. IT ISN'T TEOTWAWKI YET, so you can't act like it is and challenge every kid who comes by your retreat on a mountain bike with your flippin' AR-15. Nor do you have the right to verbally threaten folks; in most states, that constitutes an Assault charge.

Secondly, their lack of discretion in this matter has resulted in media attention and has therefore all but destroyed any security living on their compound might have afforded them. The only way it could be any worse, at this point, would be for it to make it to the national news, and some enterprising reporter publish a map pointing out their exact location. Long-time readers will recall that I have written previously about "The Importance of Exercising Discretion with Regards to Your Survival/Emergency Preparations."

In short, security is a big part of the mindset of survivalism, and Mission New England has just forfeited a great deal of theirs through their own foolishness.


Solar Panels Drop in Price

Here is one article that put a big smile on my face, as a drop in the price of solar panels is one of the few things I hoped would result from the disastrous and irresponsible spending we've seen undertaken at the end of the Bush Administration and compounded upon exponentially by the Obama Administration since taking office.

Alas, the prices still aren't where they need to be in order to make it feasible for most people to go solar. To be clear, I am not ever going to take on $77,000 of debt putting in a large solar setup like the gentleman in the article did, nor would many of you reading this, I would wager. My interest is in a smaller off-grid setup with battery backup, whereby I would run my refrigerator, freezer, and a few other things exclusively from the battery bank, but not my entire house. This way, when the grid goes down, I would lose power also, but I would retain such necessities as cold food storage, water well pumping, the ability to maintain battery-powered rechargeable LED lanterns and flashlights, two-way radios, et cetera. In short, I want solar (as well as wind and hydro) as a survival prep, but to make that doable the cost still needs to fall some more.

And, according to the article, the drop in price this article is referring to had nothing to do with the spending spree in Washington anyway, but rather is the result of an increase in the supply of polysilicon, a crucial ingredient used in the making of most solar panels, as well as "more plants churning out the panels themselves — especially in China."

Funny, seeing as how we were told repeatedly by President Obama that we'd be putting Americans back to work and reopening our old factories to make solar panels and wind generators and the like. What happened to that idea?


Letter Re: "The Climate Change Climate Change: The Number of Skeptics is Swelling Everywhere"

A reader who asked to remain anonymous wrote:

"The premise that increasing CO2 emissions (human caused or natural) lead to increased global warming is built on a cause-and-effect falsehood. The actual research and historical records shows -- that increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere does not precede increasing global temperatures, but instead, the cause-and-effect relationship is exactly the opposite, that is, CO2 levels increase after increased global temperatures, not before. Start reading here for an illustration of the beginning deceptions behind the myth of man caused global climate warming. This link offers an honest, objective analysis, although it does not mention or document the falsity of the causal relationship. You can find that by further research. Here's more: here and here.

Please make up your own mind, don't let me or anyone else do it for you. Best."

SM's Response: As I said previously, I am decidedly on the fence. As such, I would say that my blog is probably one of the few places on the internet where you will find information supporting both sides of the argument. But, the truth is that the entirety of human existence spans such a finite portion of the life of this world, and documented history an even more finite span, that I have real doubts as to our ability (as a species) to even be able to answer these kinds of questions... much less to simply trust that we're getting it right. The bottom line is that this planet was making weather long before the earliest days of mankind and it will likely be doing so long after we are a dim memory. To think we know it all is hubris.


28 August, 2009

Sun's Magnetic Field Fading, No One Knows Why

Visits to sites like spaceweather.com confirm the unexpected and somewhat disconcerting quieting of the sun of which this article speaks and of which we've all been hearing lately as a linchpin of the argument against the veracity of theories about Climate Change/Global Warming. I say 'somewhat disconcerting' because, while it is true we are supposed to be heading into a period of greater solar activity, human existence (and especially documented history) represent barely a blip in the lifetime of the sun, therefore whatever behavior we human beings have managed to observe doesn't really represent a meaningful amount of data upon which to base any definitive idea of what is 'normal' behavior on the part of the sun. All we can really speak to is what has been normal over the past few hundred years.

The fact remains, however, that the sun has been seemingly asleep for the most part for many weeks now, during a period when it should be quite active. One prevailing school of thought is that we could be heading into another era like the "Maunder Minimum" of 1645-1715, a period that "coincided with the middle — and coldest part — of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America, and perhaps much of the rest of the world, were subjected to bitterly cold winters." The article linked-to in the first paragraph seems confident that whatever cooling the lack of sunspots causes won't be enough to counteract Global Warming, but in my opinion all bets are off when it comes to such an extensive drop in temperatures.

And, in the long run, perhaps we should be grateful.

Just look at this article from December 2008, citing that there is reason to believe there are huge breaches in the magnetic field that acts as our planet's solar defenses and predicting a flurry of solar storms that should be happening right now.

Perhaps the sun falling oddly quiet is a blessing.


WHO Warns Of Severe Form Of Swine Flu

As many of us have been warning from early on in the emergence of this disease, it is a mistake to discount the danger solely based upon the seemingly docile nature of the average infected persons illness. This is because we have known from start that the virus is a recombinant strain, meaning it is particularly likely to mutate in ways for which we are unprepared. And now, it appears a new, more severe form of the illness may be emerging. The article does not make it clear, however, if this is the result of a mutation or if they are simply emphasizing a factor of which we are already aware - that this virus possesses the capability to hit young people very severely and even kill them on occasion.

A quote:
"Doctors are reporting a severe form of swine flu that goes straight to the lungs, causing severe illness in otherwise healthy young people and requiring expensive hospital treatment, the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

Some countries are reporting that as many as 15 percent of patients infected with the new H1N1 pandemic virus need hospital care, further straining already overburdened healthcare systems, WHO said in an update on the pandemic."

Just to clarify, this has the makings (if it continues) to fall perfectly into becoming one of the nightmare scenarios we've talked about from the start: the disease overwhelming the medical establishment. Keep in mind that there are a limited number of ventilators and so, should the number of infected persons in need of help breathing continue to rise, we could see the death toll begin to skyrocket.

Please consider stocking up on a few bottles of cough medication, but I would advise you, in this case, to stay away from the stuff with cough suppressants. Buy the kind with an expectorant instead, as you want to keep your cough loose and productive should you or a loved one come down with this bug.

Here is a great summary of what to look for in both symptoms and treatments.


27 August, 2009

Playboy Magazine Jumps On The 2012 Party Train...

... and, believe it or not, they A.) somehow managed to interview a guy who isn't a complete nutter, and B.) made it through the entire article without being overly condescending. Heck, the reporter even ended the thing with the idea that he himself should make it a point to be better prepared in the future. Read the article here.

By and large, I would call this one a win for the survivalist/prepper community as a whole with respect to public perception. Of course, I say that while fully believing that all the hoopla surrounding 2012 is just a bunch of hokum.

Here are a few articles I've written previously on the subject:
2012 is B.S.!!!

In the long run, however, I have no problem with people prepping their butts off for 2012. Emergency preparedness is a lifestyle choice I wholeheartedly recommend, and so prepping for a non-existent disaster that is supposedly going to hit us in 2012 just means these folks will be well-provisioned in the event of any other calamity. All in all, I don't care why folks prepare, just that they are prepared.

It makes just as much, if not more, sense than taking out an insurance policy. I only wish it was as widespread a practice.


The Climate Change Climate Change: The Number of Skeptics is Swelling Everywhere

Here is a link to a pretty decent article from the Wall Street Journal regarding recent movement in areas of the public consciousness against the idea of so-called 'man-made' Climate Change/Global Warming.

As I have written previously, the jury is still out for me - not on the inescapable reality that the climate is undergoing a change, but rather on whether or not human activity is the cause.

The fact remains that most climatologists support the theory. According to the article, "Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers," which is true; but what they fail to tell you is that a great many of the 'scientists' they are referring to are physicians, marine biologists, dentists, geologists, etc. What they are not are climatologists.

However, it is not lost on me that the article also pointed out "Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, [who] expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief." Truthfuly, who knows how many closeted skeptics there really are within the community of actual climate scientists, afraid to speak out and alienate themselves and possibly ruin their careers?


Obama Nominates Bernanke for 2nd Term As Fed Chairman

Looks like we're going to be stuck with ol' "Helicopter Ben" for another term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

How is it that Obama is turning out to be such an absolute moron?

"Ben approached a financial system on the verge of collapse with calm and wisdom, with bold action and out-of-the-box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic free fall," Mr. Obama said, with the Fed chairman standing at his side. His "bold, persistent experimentation has brought our economy back from the brink."

I would wager that the 2.5 million people who are out of work since the current Presidential Administration took office don't feel much like we've "put the brakes on our economic free fall..."


26 August, 2009

Larry Flynt Calls for A National Strike

It is a sad day indeed when a purveyor of pornography seems to be one of the guys who truly gets it. Say what you want about Larry and his smut-pedaling, but I've always had a soft spot for the guy because of his activism. How many others would have gone through what he's gone through to protect your constitutional freedoms from being infringed upon by the dogooders of this world with their censorship stickers, hoping to control what you see and hear... and think?

And, true to form, he is once again speaking the truth as only Larry Flint can about the current sorry state of affairs and trying to do something about it. Nothing will come of it, however, as the sheeple are far too deep in their Big Mac-induced thought comas to be roused by anything as easy to ignore as an article they actually have to read (oh, the horror) in order to understand. If you want real results these days, you better start buying ads on the upcoming season of Dancing With The Stars.

Here are some choice quotes from Larry Flint's latest call-to-action:
"The American government -- which we once called our government -- has been taken over by Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich. They are the ones who decide our fate. It is this group of powerful elites, the people President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "economic royalists," who choose our elected officials -- indeed, our very form of government. Both Democrats and Republicans dance to the tune of their corporate masters. In America, corporations do not control the government. In America, corporations are the government.

This was never more obvious than with the Wall Street bailout, whereby the very corporations that caused the collapse of our economy were rewarded with taxpayer dollars. So arrogant, so smug were they that, without a moment's hesitation, they took our money -- yours and mine -- to pay their executives multimillion-dollar bonuses, something they continue doing to this very day. They have no shame. They don't care what you and I think about them. Henry Kissinger refers to us as 'useless eaters'..."


Old American Dams Quietly Become a Multibillion-Dollar Threat

As if we weren't already pretty well layed-out with things to worry about, here this article reminds us of an issue about which we had perhaps forgotten: our aging dams.

"... The average age of America’s 80,000 dams is 51 years. More than 2,000 dams near population centers are in need of repair, according to statistics released this month by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials....

... the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our dams a grade of “D” in its 2009 report on the nation’s infrastructure..."

Sounds a little like a projects that could have benefited from some of that stimulus money to me, but why worry about a little thing like national infrastructure? We all know those dollars are better off in the pockets of Goldman Sachs, AIG, and all the overseas funds to which AIG funneled billions of dollars.

The real danger to you and I now is that the growing population over the years has resulted in people settling downstream of many of these now dangerous structures. "... dams that once could have failed without major repercussions are now upstream of cities and development..."

In the event of a catastrophic dam failure, one living within its flood-zone would have precious little warning (if any) and the only option would be to escape to higher ground. It would be, quite truthfully, a flight from certain death with a devastating wall of water bearing down on you and leaving nothing in its wake but utter destruction.

This would be one of those rare times when sheltering at home would be a decidedly bad idea; you would be better off grabbing your bug-out bag and heading (literally) for the hills.


BBC NEWS: DNA clue to honey bee deaths

"Scientists say that mass bee deaths may be caused by viruses that disrupt gene expression."

Other theories abound as to what is causing Colony Collapse Disorder. The most convincing ones I have heard prior to now are:
  1. It isn't one thing that's killing the bees, but rather a cumulative effect from pollution, pesticides, loss of habitat, genetically engineered crops, etc. has conspired to weaken the bees to the point where they can no longer cope.
  2. The process of bee farming (loading the hives on trucks and driving them miles and miles, all around the country in order to 'sell' their pollination as a service to farmers) has stressed them and confused them to the point of collapse. Bees depend on their location a great deal, using elements such as the angle of the sun and the locations of plants and other natural landmarks to help them navigate around. When these things are out of whack, they are quite literally lost, and that stress has been theorized as a possible cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.
The pollination provided naturally by bees is a required component of agriculture, making Colony Collapse Disorder a threat to the human food supply.


25 August, 2009

Mexico's Cantarell Oil Field Likely DEAD By The End Of 2010

"The eighth largest oil field in the world will be dead by the end of next year."

Cantarell, one of the largest oil fields on the planet and, by far, one of the most secure sources of oil for us here in the United States, is now officially in its death throes AND this news is coming much sooner than it was expected. The inherent implications for the U.S. economy and for the potential future decline of other super-giant fields is nearly unimaginable.

"The result is that Cantarell was pumped out effectively and hard, especially after the technique to re-pressurize the field was adopted. This allowed for a spike high of daily production to be captured for several years, late in its life when a field would otherwise go into gentle decline. The result? Quicker monetization of the oil for the benefit of the Mexican state. But then the price: a catastrophic, fast crash."

Why is this important? Nevermind that it signals the death of the eighth largest oil field on the planet and, geographically, the most secure source of oil for the U.S. in a world that promises to be rife with future chaos. All that is required to clearly see
why this is a disastrous development, even in today's world, is to understand that Cantarell makes up a big chunk of Mexico's overall oil production and Mexico is ranked third among the countries from whom we import oil. Therefore, you can expect higher prices, whether you believe in Peak Oil Theory or not.


BBC: Methane Seeping From Arctic Sea Bed

It has been theorized for some time that Global Warming/Climate Change would eventually reach a tipping point where melting ice would release massive trapped deposits of methane, a greenhouse gas that is nearly thirty times more destructive than carbon dioxide. And, it appears now that it may be occurring just as predicted.

The rapid reintroduction of such material into the atmosphere is theorized to result in a considerable ratcheting-up of the effects of Global Warming/Climate Change. Only time will tell if the theory is correct.


The Mogambo Guru: Basket cases

Read the full article by clicking here.

A quote:
"... even the unemployed have a stake in the recent stockmarket bull run, which is one of those good news/bad news jokes, in that the bad news is that it is rising stupidly in defiance of reality and common sense, whereas it is seemingly good news for all of the people who have all their entire financial future invested in paper assets that are already showing losses and for the unemployed who hope to get a job with some of those same companies or companies catering to them.

I can't remember if there is an Aesop's fable about the folly of putting all of one's eggs in one basket..."


24 August, 2009

China Aggressively Reducing U.S. Debt Holdings

We've been talking about it for quite a while, but it is a simple truth that China has more or less been financing our government for decades through the process of purchasing U.S. debt holdings in the form of Treasury Bonds. Simply said, the U.S. has, for many years, been like one of those unfortunate people caught-up in the trap of using payday loan services: you're broke and payday is days away, so you use the service to get a cash advance. On payday, you have to pay it back, plus hefty interest fees. Once you've paid the fees, however, now you have even less cash to hold you over to your next paycheck, so you end up using the service again... and again... and again... and now, just a few paydays later, you're completely dependent on debt financing. Paying back the payday loans and the interest fees eats up your entire check and returning to use their service is where you get the money to live on and pay your bills.

That is how the U.S. has been operating for the past several decades with China (and other bit players) as the payday loan service.

Until recently, it was no big deal. Our credit was golden and China was more than happy to loan us the money we needed. Over the past year, however, our reputation has suffered and our dollar has weakened, and China has apparently seen the writing on the wall as they are now aggressively reducing their position in U.S. debt-denominated holdings.

A quote:
"The United States needs to borrow nearly $10 trillion over the next decade, including about $1.6 trillion this year.

Where's it going to come from?"

Also, be advised that the author of the piece linked above states at one point that, "For now, the money we're borrowing is coming from somewhere, thankfully," but, as we discovered recently, that 'somewhere' turned out to be a case of us simply moving money from our right pocket to our left and then pretending it was new money we didn't have the moment before.

The plan was chucked after being discovered, but the point is that things are obviously worse than the author who wrote the article linked above is aware and TPTB are letting on.


How Quickly Could The Dollar Collapse?

Essentially, the author of this article is of the mind that the hyperinflationary spike that would no doubt accompany any collapse of the dollar will begin and end in a matter of a few weeks. In their scenario, we would then simply return to the same kind of deflationary period we are in right now, which is financially ruining tens of millions of Americans and pushing them toward insolvency and bankruptcy in droves.

Their thoughts on collapse:
"... Bear in mind that the dollar is already a fundamentally valueless IOU, not money, and it is therefore only mere perceptions that need change to make this so in practice. That could happen -- globally -- in the space of time it takes to air the evening news.

Moreover, it is not the reichsmark or Zimbabwean dollar that we are talking about, but a currency in which nearly everyone on the planet has a crucial stake either directly or indirectly. Under the circumstances, and given the lightning speed at which news travels these days, it is not difficult to imagine how a global run on the dollar might become unstoppable in mere hours.

The world may be ready and perhaps even resigned to the dollar's collapse; what few seem to be imagining, however, is how very quickly the collapse could run its course around the world -- as quickly, even, as a run on a single bank."


Russian Newspapers Report: Pirates Seize Ship On Behalf of Israel, Preventing Arms From Reaching Iran

It hasn't gotten much play in the mainstream media that I've seen, but the following report of interest surfaced on Friday:

"Pirates recently gained control over a Russian ship off the shores of Sweden in order to prevent weapons smuggling to Iran on Israel's behalf, according to a report by Russian newspaper Nuvia Gueta." (source)

And, later, from a different source in Russia...

"A Russian newspaper claimed Friday that suspected pirates who boarded the freighter Arctic Sea were actually agents of the Israeli secret service trying to stop it smuggling arms to Iran. According to Russian media, the Arctic Sea may have been carrying illegal X-55 cruise missiles destined for Iran hidden among its cargo of lumber." (source)


James Howard Kunstler: Financial Crisis Called Off

Say what you want about JHK, he definitely hits the nail square on the head with these commentaries.

Read the full article by clicking here.

A quote:
"... America loves the word "recovery" as only a catastrophically sick society can. "In recovery" is the new universal mantra of loser individuals and loser nations. Everybody in the USA is in recovery...

To sum it all up, the US economy is in recovery. Paul Krugman says that we'll soon realize that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing. He actually said that on the Sunday TV chat circuit. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I would really like to know what you mean by that Paul, you fatuous wanker. Do you mean that the Atlanta homebuilders are going to open up a new suburban frontier down in Twiggs County so that commuters can enjoy driving Chrysler Crossfires a hundred and sixty miles a day to new jobs as flash traders in the Peachtree Plaza? Do you mean that the Home Equity Fairy is going to wade into the sea of foreclosure and save twenty million mortgage holders currently sojourning in the fathomless depths with the anglerfish? Do you mean that all the bales of deliquescing, toxic "assets" hidden in the vaults of Citibank, JP Morgan, Bank of America, et al, (not to mention on the books of every pension fund in the USA, and not a few elsewhere) will magically turn into Little Debbie Snack Cakes on Labor Day weekend? Do you mean that American Express and Master Card are about to declare a Jubilee on accounts in default everywhere? Do you mean that General Motors will produce a car that a.) anyone really wants to buy and b.) that the company can sell at a profit? Are you saying we get a do-over, going back to, say, 1981? Did we win some cosmic lottery that hasn't been announced yet? What's growing in this country besides unemployment, bankruptcy, repossession, liquidation, gun ownership, and suicidal despair? In short, are you out of your mind, Paul Krugman?

The key to the current madness, of course, is this expectation, this wish, really, that all the rackets, games, dodges, scams, and workarounds that American banking, business, and government devised over the past thirty years - to cover up the dismal fact that we produce so little of real value­ these days - will just magically return to full throttle... This is not going to happen, of course. It is permanently and irredeemably broken - this Rube Goldberg contraption of swindles all based on the idea that it's possible to get something for nothing. And more to the point, we're really doing nothing to reconstruct our economy along lines that are consistent with the realities of energy, geopolitics, or resource scarcity. So far, our notions about a "green" economy amount to little more than blowing green smoke up our collective ass..."

James Howard Kunstler is an author and among the leading voices in the charge to be prepared to change how we live as Peak Oil approaches. He is the author of The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century as well as the fiction novel World Made by Hand: A Novel.

For my part, I try to strike a balance between agreeing with his thoughts on Peak Oil, while thinking him a little naive for his 'sunshine and lollypops' pro-urban vision of the future and his self-professed unpreparedness.


23 August, 2009

World Population Data Sheet Projection: 8.1 Billion by 2025, 9.4 Billion by 2050

Here is a link to the data in PDF format.

Some of the highlights:
  • World population increased by 83 million since 2008
  • Current 2009 world population: 6.8 billion
  • Projected world population in 2025: 8.1 billion
  • Projected world population in 2050: 9.4 billion
  • Virtually all of the increase is projected to occur in the third world
Oddly enough, the report projects the same numerical population increase in the 25 years after 2025 as it does for the next 16 years leading to 2025. The reason for this is that apparently the rate of increase over the last few years has been slowly falling and is expected to continue to do so. That seems like wishful thinking to me, but I can't rightfully dispute it since I had no clue it was declining at all. Apparently, it seems to be tied directly to education and socioeconomic conditions, which explains why future increases are forecast to occur most heavily in the third world where education is substandard and poverty is rampant.

Still, even with a slowing in the rate of the increase, the fact remains that the world's population is still increasing to levels far beyond the planet's carrying capacity.


H1N1 Influenza A - Swine Flu: 23 August Brief Update

Laboratory confirmed cases of A(H1N1) Swine flu now stand at 265,083, a 13% increase over the final number of 234,771 published here one week ago. The following is a breakdown of the up-to-date statistics:

23 Aug - 265,083 cases - 2,681 fatalities
16 Aug - 234,771 cases - 2,238 fatalities
9 Aug - 211,296 cases - 1,770 fatalities
2 Aug - 186,728 cases - 1,404 fatalities
26 July - 161,933 cases - 1,108 fatalities
19 July - 135,040 cases - 860 fatalities
12 July - 114,249 cases - 611-617 fatalities
5 July - ? - ?
28 June - 70,873 cases - 344 fatalities
21 June - 51,360 cases - 253 fatalities
14 June - 35,538 cases - 180 fatalities
7 June - 24,973 cases - 149 fatalities
31 May - 17,822 cases - 119 fatalities
24 May - 12,495 cases - 92 fatalities

There are now 2,681 confirmed deaths worldwide from the A(H1N1) Swine flu virus. That is roughly a 20% increase over the total fatalities that had been reported as of last week. (source)

Some links of further interest:

Infectious disease risk in swine flu jabs

Pandemic H1N1 Spread to Turkey Farms in Chile

Widespread Pandemic H1N1 School Outbreaks in Southern US


Florida Sells Unlimited Water Rights For $230

The article linked below was actually from last year, but it was re-posted recently on a site I frequent and I thought it important enough to pass on here regardless of the time that has passed.

A measly $230 in permit fees is all that it cost Nestle in return for being allowed to pump hundreds of millions of gallons of water a year from a spring in Madison Blue Springs State Park to their nearby bottling plant. That's right; no charge for the water (which they are bottling and selling for profit) and no taxes - just $230 in permit fees. In fact, the contract (which is good through 2018) even entitles Nestle to hefty tax refunds from the state of up to $1.68 million, $196,000 of which had already been paid out when the article was published last year. (source)

I'm all for capitalism, but jeez Louise...

How can these guys get away with this kind of environmental Hunnism when Florida is dead-smack in the middle of a bitter dispute with its neighboring states over a region-wide shortage of water?


Old Knowledge Database

One of the users over at the LATOC Forums took the time to painstakingly compile an amazingly detailed database of pre-1917 (that means no copyright protection) books on subjects ranging from how to make farm tools to natural health care to raising animals. Some of the books he rounded up are from all the way back in the 1600s:

LATOC Forum Old Knowledge Database: Hundreds of Books *For Free*


22 August, 2009

Sharlet's "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power"

Here we have an example of religious fundamentalism gone off the deep end.

"The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet depicts an elitist group, connected to powerful politicians on both sides of the aisle, corporate titans and foreign dictators, and dedicated to "biblical capitalism", taking laissez-faire economics to the max." (source)

The scary thing about these guys is that they believe anyone who has ever risen to power couldn't have done so without the approval of God, including Hitler, Pol Pot, etc. To them, notions of good and evil are meaningless. To that end, the author was interviewed on Real Time with Bill Maher a few weeks ago and quoted the group's leader as telling another member something to the effect of that he wouldn't judge him even if he were to discover that he had been abusing young girls, because he would consider the position the man had had risen to and assume that it was obvious God chose to bless him anyway, and so he would consider him righteous no matter what evil acts he had committed.

You may be asking yourself what any of this has to do with the philosophies of survivalism and/or emergency preparedness, and the answer is simply that I wanted to shine a light on the kinds of people who make up the elites in this country. As far as I'm concerned, knowing that a group like this (to whom issues of morality are meaningless) counts among its members many members of congress as well as high-ranking military brass makes the need to prepare for an uncertain future all the more prevalent.


North Korea Threatens Nuclear Strike Over Joint Military Exercises

Well, the day started off pretty nicely with North Korea seeming to ease back from her usual violently paranoid schizophrenic stance and agreeing to the reestablishment of a number of mutually-beneficial economic projects with their neighbors in the south that have been in limbo during the recent hostile state of relations.

But, needless to say, it was not to last.

Mere hours later, "North Korea was making announcements in a more familiar tone – one of violent indignation against South Korean and US forces in the South.

Its fury was provoked by an annual series of computer simulated exercises called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, conducted over ten days by the US and South Korea. The North routinely accuses the two allies of using the exercise as a pretext for preparing an invasion."


Military Manuals and Other Useful Texts

By way of Jim Rawles at SurvivalBlog.com, here is a link to Steve'sPages which has an obscene selection of US and Canadian military manuals and other useful texts:

Steve's Pages: Download US and Canadian Military Manuals *For Free*


21 August, 2009

Record High Ocean Temperatures

More evidence is being uncovered lately as to the veracity of Global Warming/Climate Change with record high ocean temperatures being recorded. Of course the debate continues to rage (and rightly so), due to occurrences of anything but warming in some areas. Where I live, for instance, it was uncomfortably hot and humid today, but this was only maybe the 10th or 12th really hot day all year; Summer is nearly over and we feel like we haven't really had a Summer this year. Honestly, I'm beginning to wonder if Climate Change is going to conspire to turn the Appalachian forests into something resembling the Pacific Northwest or Ireland; it's been mostly in the low to mid-60s and rainy all Summer long here, and all the rain even caused a return of the same blight responsible for the 'Irish Potato Famine' of the mid nineteenth century. And, my story is not isolated. Lower than normal temperatures are being seen in lots of places. (source)

The problem, as I see it, is that folks get too hung up on the warming in Global Warming, a poorly chosen name for the concept that is responsible for most of the confusion about it. Climate Change is a much easier to understand concept and there is an ongoing effort to try to replace the more-confusing GW, but by and large it is too late to win that fight as GW has become too ingrained in the public psyche. By and large, the warming we are talking about is on a macro as opposed to a micro level, meaning the overall mean temperature is rising. The region you live in considered a micro-climate. If you live in Denver, Colorado and it is January, you expect it to be cold; but, if you hop a jet to Miami, Florida, you won't see any snow because Miami and Denver exist in different micro-climates.

The rising temperatures we are concerned with when speaking of Global Warming/Climate Change are being recorded on the macro level and so do not necessarily apply to individual micro-climates, at least in the short-term. In order to be able to answer these and other criticisms, this site has a lot of good info. But, the bottom line truth is that nobody really knows. All of the data collected shows that temperatures are rising, but in the long run how much is a century or so worth of statistics really worth when compared to the long history of our world?


Israel weighs Iranian threat

We've touched upon the issue of Iran's budding nuclear program on the blog in the past, but suffice to say I believe Israel is being painted into a corner here. Taking military action against the Iranians now would be a bit hard to sell, but the fact remains that they cannot allow any country that has professed such open hatred for them to ever become a nuclear power. The time will come when they have no choice but to act, world opinion be damned.

A quote:
"Israel makes no secret that it sees Iran is its biggest threat but the scale of the threat is less clear cut.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not missed an opportunity to name Iran as the number one threat, and like his predecessors he has said Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran.

Tests are ongoing for Israel's arrow missile system, designed to intercept incoming rockets -- although Israel does not openly say which direction they'd come from.

Last week, CNN filmed Netanyahu aboard an F15 fighter-bomber jet while touring the Hatzerim air force base near Beersheva. He said: "My biggest impression today is the obligation to carry out the mission of defending Israel."

Last month, two Israeli warships and a submarine made a rare journey through Egypt's Suez canal. Last year, the Israeli air force tested its fighter jets and helicopters on a 870-mile sortie -- roughly the distance between Israel and Iran's main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

The official line... Israel's security is a continuing concern. The common perception is that some, if not all of these exercises were a show of strength for Iran..."

To continue reading, click here.


20 August, 2009

New FEMA Administrator’s Message For Americans: Get In Touch With Your Survival Instinct

Returning visitors to my blog are no doubt aware that I have had few positive things to say about President Obama's administration since they took office, but I must give a rare pat on the back when it comes to the appointment of Craig Fugate (pronounced few-gate) to the post of FEMA Administrator. This guy seems to be a real straight shooter.

Here is a quote from a recent article spotlighting the man in the Atlantic:
"... A bear of a man with a white goatee, an aw-shucks accent, and a voice just slightly higher than you expect, Fugate has no university degrees but knows enough to be mistaken for a meteorologist by hurricane experts. He grew up in Alachua County, smack in the middle of Florida. Both of his parents died before he graduated from high school. As a teenager, he followed his father’s example and became a volunteer firefighter. Then he became a paramedic, earning the nickname “Dr. Death” for having to pronounce more people dead on his first day than anyone before him. But he found his calling when he moved into emergency management, in 1989. Obsessively planning for horrible things he could not really control seemed to inspire him. “He is emergency management,” says Will May Jr., who worked with Fugate for more than 20 years and is now Alachua’s public-safety director. “That’s what he does. He spends practically all his waking life working in it, thinking about it, talking about it, planning how to do things better.”

Fugate is well respected, which is not the same thing as being well liked. “If they wanted a politician, Craig’s not your man,” says Ed Kennedy, who drove ambulances with him in Alachua. “Craig’s personality is more ‘Speak straight, don’t powder-puff it.’” Already, Fugate is saying things most emergency managers say only in private.

“We need to change behavior in this country,” he told about 400 emergency-management instructors at a conference in June, lambasting the “government-centric” approach to disasters. He learned a perverse lesson in Florida: the more the federal government does in routine emergencies, the greater the odds of catastrophic failure in a big disaster. “It’s like a Chinese finger trap,” he told me last spring, as a hailstorm fittingly raged outside his office. If the feds do more, the public, along with state and local officials, do less. They come to expect ice and water in 24 hours and full reimbursement for sodden carpets. But as part of a federal system, FEMA is designed to defer to state and local officials. If another Katrina hits, and the locals are overwhelmed, a full-strength federal response will inevitably take time. People who need help the most—the elderly, the disabled, and the poor—may not get it fast enough.

To avoid “system collapse,” as he puts it, Fugate insists that the government must draft the public. “We tend to look at the public as a liability. [But] who is going to be the fastest responder when your house falls on your head? Your neighbor.” A few years ago, Fugate dropped the word victim from his vocabulary. “You’re not going to hear me refer to people as victims unless we’ve lost ’em. I call them survivors.” He criticizes the media for “celebrating” people who choose not to evacuate and then have to be rescued on live TV—while ignoring all the people who were prepared. “This is a tragedy, this whole Shakespearean circle we’re in. You never hear the media say, ‘Hey, you’re putting this rescue worker in danger.’”

At his first all-staff meeting with FEMA employees, Fugate asked for a show of hands: “How many people here have your family disaster plan ready to go? [If you don’t], you just failed your first test … If you’re going to be an emergency manager, the first place you start is at home.” Already, Fugate is factoring citizens into the agency’s models for catastrophic planning, thinking of them as rescuers and responders, not just victims..."

Sounds like a great choice to me!!!


Buffett Says Unchecked U.S. Debt Threatens Economy


Billionaire investor Warren Buffett was recently quoted as saying we have successfully avoided an economic meltdown and might just be on a course to full recovery, but that the government must now worry about the enormous amounts of debt that threaten our economic stability.

Apparently, he's not of the Austrian school of economics, though, as he also "'resoundingly applauds' actions by the Federal Reserve and the Bush and Obama administrations to pump trillions of dollars into the financial system." Come on now, Buffy... you're smarter than that!


19 August, 2009

Welcome Advertiser: Lehman's

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Seeking Alpha: Banking Crisis of Historic Proportions at Our Doorstep

"With everyone (well, almost everyone - I am one of the lonely skeptics) convinced that we have stepped back from the "edge of the abyss", the title of this article may be viewed as laughable. When you connect the dots, as I will in this article, you will at least stop laughing, and, maybe, realize that we still have a big problem.

We have a confluence of five factors that have the potential to create damage to banking not seen in 80 years, and that includes the Great Depression. We'll hit these factors one at a time.

First Factor: Banks Are Not Doing Enough Business

Commercial bank credit growth has dropped to 2%, according to Jesse's Cafe Americain..."

To continue reading, click here.


Mish Shedlock: FDIC Bankrupt as of Friday August 14, 2009

Five more banks bite the dust, bringing the total number of failures for the year thus far to 77. Here is the link to Mish's blog post.


18 August, 2009

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UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon: Four Months Remain to Secure the Future of the Planet

Yep, you read it correctly. According to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, we now have only four months before global warming kills us all, rendering mankind extinct.

Okay, okay... I'm being facetious. I suppose what he meant was more along the lines of arguing we have four months left to do something to reverse the process, which is much more reasonably, yet just as false. The truth is that climate doesn't turn on a dime; it takes decades to be able to look back and see palpable shifts. So, if you are among the folks who believe in Global Warming/Climate Change, then sit back and resign yourself to the fact that any changes made now will not even be obvious for many, many years and the effects we are experiencing now are the direct result of the choices made by folks 20, 30, or maybe even 50 years ago.

Personally, I'm still on the fence about the whole thing, but I must admit I am swayed by the fact that most climatologists support the theory. I mean, yeah, there's a petition floating around that was signed by gobs of "scientists" who say Global Warming/Climate Change is hokum, but a quick bit of research shows you that a majority of these "scientists" are dentists, biologists, geologists, etc. but what they aren't are climatologists. So, for me, the jury is still out.

What I find laughable though (or is it terrifying?) is that even very seemingly intelligent people appear blinded to the obvious truth that this is being used as a means to ram disastrous Cap & Trade laws down our throats. Fear and worry are being drummed-up as a means to sell these measures as being necessary for survival. "It's for the good of the planet and we have to hurry before we all die from the effects of Global Warming brought on by the over-use of fossil fuels," is the message as usually delivered by former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore who fervently hopes you forget the inconvenient facts that 1.) he just stepped off of his gas-guzzling private jet so he could give the speech to which you are listening, and 2.) he is personally heavily invested and poised to make billions off Cap & Trade.


H1N1 Influenza A - Swine Flu: Swine Flu Vaccine FAQ for UK Citizens - A Guide To What We Can Expect Soon

As the title indicates, the following is a Frequently Asked Questions document for the A(H1N1) Swine Flu Vaccine as it pertains to residents of the United Kingdom. I thought it might be useful information even for us here in the U.S.


The government plans to start vaccinating high risk groups with the new swine flu vaccine in October. The programme requires 2 doses of the swine flu vaccine to be given 3 weeks apart to each patient meaning it could be early new year before the first faze of vaccinations are complete. It is still unclear as to whether the government will chose to vaccinate the entire population with the swine flu vaccine.

Who will be the first to receive the swine flu vaccine?

1. People who are aged between 6 months and 65 and in high risk groups will be the first to have the new swine flu vaccine.

2. Next the swine flu vaccine will be offered to pregnant women who are in the most suitable trimester to receive the jab.

3. Next group eligible to receive the swine flu vaccine will be people living with someone who has a compromised immune system or over the age of 65 in a high risk group. Frontline health and social care workers will also be vaccinated at the same time..."

To read further, click here.


James Howard Kunstler: The First Die-off

Read the full article by clicking here.

A quote:
"... for those of you already acquainted with some of the classic "doomer" themes, which is that the first "die-off" of The Long Emergency will not be one of human beings but of our beloved automobiles. Personally, I think the car die-off will come on with stunning rapidity as a combination of factors merge to make these colossal traffic jams staples of nostalgia in decades to come. As usual, the public is clueless about this, gulled by a cretinous news media into the earnest expectation of endless techno-miracles.

The funniest of these lately are the glad tidings from ("The New" ) General Motors. They came out last week with a laughable hype-fest for their proposed electric car, the "Volt," scheduled to arrive in the showrooms around 2011 (about the same time that all the mortgage-backed-securities sitting in Wall Street's vaults melt into a monumental puddle of radioactive goo). We're told the Volt will get the equivalent of over 200 miles-per-gallon, at less than 25 cents a charge from the plug on your garage wall, blah blah. They estimate that it'll cost about $40,000. Do we detect a little problem right there? Like, the whole adult US population is going to rush out and buy new cars priced the same as today's Mercedes Benz? Good luck with that, GM, especially when money for car loans will be about as easy to get as a royal flush in online poker. And good luck with changing out the battery for ten grand a couple of years down the road, so to speak. And good luck also with your expectation that the roads and bridges will remain drivable in the years ahead, as every municipality, and county, and state slides into bankruptcy and the paving machines sit rusting in the DOT marshaling yards.

What is wrong with our brains? Are they turning to yeast?..."

James Howard Kunstler is an author and among the leading voices in the charge to be prepared to change how we live as Peak Oil approaches. He is the author of The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century as well as the fiction novel World Made by Hand: A Novel.

For my part, I try to strike a balance between agreeing with his thoughts on Peak Oil, while thinking him a little naive for his 'sunshine and lollypops' pro-urban vision of the future and his self-professed unpreparedness.