Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Doomsday Preppers and Solar Charger Test

Today we caught a couple episodes of Doomsday Preppers on the tv. We hadn't seen that show before as it was not available in Germany so it was pretty interesting. Some things definitely jumped out at me.

First the amount of people who were very prepared but seriously overweight amazed me. I'm not talking could stand to lose a few pounds or a bit of a belly but strait up obese. I just don't get it. The odds they will have to walk more than a couple miles, maybe carrying a moderate load like a get home bag, face a physical confrontation or pull their body over an obstacle are far higher than that they will need a year's worth of food, a Faraday cage or whatever. Also even if they have the discrete skills to survive a gunfight their fat body might not be able to move fast enough and their already taxed heart might give out due to the stress. I talk physical fitness a lot here. Running, lifting heavy things, ruck marching and generally how to be a modern day guerrilla or whatever else you wanna call it. You do not have to do what I do exactly but for goodness sake do something.

Other than that rather obvious note the biggest thing that jumped out at me were gaping holes in peoples preps. Mostly it was people with otherwise great setups that had no serious security plans. Some were seemingly intimidated by the subject and others were back to nature gardening types that are rather naive to the ways of the world.

I decided to do some testing with our little Bruton solar charger. It did a great job charging 2 AA batteries (holds 4 but I only had 2 dead ones) in about 2 hours. I tried charging a device via the USB port some time ago and it failed for undiagnosed reasons. However it did just fine with the batteries and they are what is really important so that is good. Looking at getting a bigger setup. Something large enough to charge a few devices and run some lights. Goal 0 makes some pretty nice stuff.

Anyway I hope you all have a great Sunday


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Get Home Bag, Walking and Life Update

I am not sure if it has been mentioned explicitly yet but our time in Europe is almost done. We are very happy to be headed back to the US. Travel and some experiences here have been great but a lot of everyday stuff is a hassle. Also the level of regulations, rules and such here does not mesh with my nature at all. We saw a lot of places and missed some good ones. Particularly we are bummed about not getting to Ireland but that is how things worked out. There is more travel here than we could have done even if time and money were not concerns. In any case it is about time to move on to the next chapter in our lives. We will be spending about a month catching up with folks in the PNW. After that we are headed to the Southwest. More on that later.

We have been walking a lot lately. The weather is good now and it is a solid way to get out of the house and doing something. I do not recommend walking as a form of exercise unless you are A) elderly, B) recovering from a serious injury/ illness, C) crippled or D) seriously overweight and or out of shape and working towards running a la couch to 5k or a similar program. However that does not mean walking is not without benefits. Most of the benefits are not really physical. Getting outside and spending time with your family in the area you live in is a good thing. If somebody told me they walk as a form of exercise who did not fit the above categories I would try to coach them towards a better path, potentially with some mocking involved. If somebody told me they walk regularly to get outside and for active recovery from more strenuous workouts like running or rucking or for some additional low impact/ intensity cardio I would say that was a great plan.

My get home bag setup needs some work. The primary issue is that I really like my Tactical Tailor bag and use it regularly. I like that bag for the task but it can't be in two places at once. This makes having it in the car with a variety of stuff loaded into it problematic. I have a couple of ideas. First a couple side pouches to hold 1 quart water bottles will help free up space in the main compartment for normal life stuff. (Regardless of what I do the bag needs this MOD anyway.) Second sooner or later I need to swap out that bag or get a replacement for normal everyday carry use. Something I have considered is putting most of the stuff that is in my GHB into something else like a wet weather bag or trash bag and then putting it into my TT pack if needed. Mostly this stuff is a full set of clothes with boots, socks, gloves and a hat. I keep this stuff in there because regularly I go on short trips in less than fully ideal clothing and the option to change into suitable clothes for walking is a good thing. I mulled this a lot but despite being an easy and ideal solution it came up short because while I carry the TT bag around a lot while using it as a normal bag it doesn't ALWAYS MAKE IT INTO THE CAR. Inevitably the day I needed it is the day it would be in the hall closet. So the question is what to do. The short term answer is pretty much covered. I ordered a used medium ALICE pack awhile back for $10. It will be a very inexpensive solution and such will likely fit for awhile. Not as nice or comfortable but for $10 instead of $150 that is to be expected. Still a rugged bomb proof pack. Down the road a nice high end bag like the TT or something from Hill People Gear would be great in this role but I will not be able to justify the expense for awhile. Likely I  would use the TT for a GHB and something a bit smaller for typical every day type use. Since I don't see any traction on this for at least 6 months or more likely 12 there is some time to think about it.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life is What Happens When You Turn The News Off

I seem to go into a sort of cycle with the news. Right now I am about sick of it. I still check out the drudge daily and if things get boring cruise the BBC. Instead of listening to the news at work I have been using a comedy show as background. I keep up enough to have a clue what is going on but really am having a hard time pretending to care.

The issues of police abuses has been weighing pretty heavily on my mind lately. Over a short time (since my being able to pay attention to these things at a relatively adult level) the changes which have occured are widespread and universally negative. Right now I do not have any additional thoughts on this topic which I am willing to share in a public venue.

Gang/ Mob attacks seem to be on the rise. The perpetrators, victims and area demographics seem to be quite consistent. The only thing that concerns me more than this is the total ambivalence of law enforcement about these crimes. The widespread efforts of government and media to conceal these events does not weigh positively into the mix either. I am not personally concerned about this. I do not frequent the kind of areas where this sort of thing has been happening. Also my life patterns, like being home at 7 to put the kid to bed, drops the odds even further. In any case it is still troubling.

Greece getting out of the Euro may almost be a foregone conclusion at this point. The idea of Euro bonds is laughable. Like cosigning for a loan your deadbeat brother in law/ whatever to get a loan it would require Germany be on the hook for things in the end. Like cosigning in general it is just a terrible idea. Banks or private markets are far better judges of who is a worthwhile risk than friends and family. I get what is in it for everybody but Germany, who actually has their financial house in order.

Also to complicate things there is significant risk to the Euro itself. As Tam put it "So Greece's profligate habits are threatening to drag the Euro under. Germany, the only wino at the bar keeping a squinty eye on the tab, is urging some restraint on Greece's part, which makes the Jerries the no-fun bad guy of the story."

The biggest way this inconveniences me is that it means I am not going to Greece which sucks. It was definitely on our short list before the mess of the last few months. Now the risk of getting stuck somewhere with a toddler in tow makes it a no travel zone for us. I guess it is a significant global risk, blah blah blah but I don't care about that.

So what did I do today?

After getting off work I came home for some quiet family time. For no clear reason I decided to make home made pizza. I had never done this but with some help from Wifey utter disaster was averted. I learned to do something new and we had a pretty good dinner. It was a nice quiet evening and I got something out of it.

It is worth noting that Dave Duffy wrote an article that inspired this one but was much better.

Anyway I hope you all have a nice quiet evening.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Randomness

So France elected a Socialist president. I am pretty ambivalent about this as I do not live there or have any meaningful ties to the place. This could be interesting because it would push back against Germany's austerity measures when it comes to their broke, dysfunctional and still running a deficit southern neighbor Greece as well as not far behind Portugal and Spain. Right now Germany is the only one that can really try to bankroll continued enabling temporary aid. As their smaller, poorer, weaker and generally far less masculine next largest European partner France has really helped this be a united front instead of mean old Germany. This could be fun to watch.

The thing that lots of folks don't seem to get is for governments spending  and income as measured by taxes or growth as measured by GDP are related. Spending affects the economy through jobs, buying things, etc. Increasing revenues via taxes can also hurt the economy. The typical IMF style austerity plan is really a downward spiral. Imagine a company deciding to save by cutting out the advertising that brings in customers or in a more extreme case a dairy farmer cutting expenses by feeding his cows less. Obviously not a good plan. I don't know the answer is. You can tell the debtors to shove it (if you owe the bank 10k they own you but if you owe them 10 billion then you own them) which Greece is not big enough to do; or to not get into the situation in the first place.

Mexico is still a mess. Their government can't or won't stop the cartels from acting with total impunity and doing things like hanging a bunch of bodies from bridges or decapitating people. If there is anything good in the future there I am not aware of it and in fact the place seems to be in a downward spiral. I would not be suprised if I get a paid vacation there at some point in the next few years.
Metals are down a bit but I am not sure it is buying time. I feel a dip coming.

I have been trimming up some lately. I switched to light beer and have been paying more attention to what I eat as well as to portion sized. It seems to be working. Nothing huge really but I didn't need a massive course correction anyway. Hopefully in the next few days I finally kick this bug and can get back to doing some good PT. Don't worry I am still lifting heavy things in order to continue to be awesome. I don't believe in big changes in routines (powerlift for 3 months to "bulk" then do cardio and bodyweight to "tone" or whatever) but running, rucking and biking or whatever more during the spring and summer then hitting the gym a bit more in the winter when it is nasty outside seems like a pretty natural rhythm.
Anyway I hope you all have a decent Monday. Mine was pretty chill and I got to hit the gym so I will call it a win.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's Getting Cold

In the PNW and Germany winter seems to finally be upon us. This is a good time to dig out your coat, boots and gloves. We don't really travel outside of our immediate area so we don't worry much about a winter survival kit. If you do then adding a sleeping bag, etc to your car kit is probably a good call. In any case tossing an old coat, a hat, gloves and boots into your vehicle is too easy not to do. I find in your winter coat it is a good practice to put a pair of gloves and a warm hat into the pockets. They go unnoticed until you need them and then you've got them.

Personally I wear a lot of fleece. A fleece hat, gloves and jacket are standard during this season. If you are hard up for cash then surplus wool is a darn good way to go. Its only real drawback (aside from aesthetics) is that it is bulky and HEAVY. Not however an issue for most people unless they are doing something really active outside or trying to live out of a bag.

I like winter or definitely appreciate parts of it. One thing I like is that it is perfect for all those warm feel good staple meals. Lets fact it people don't really want stew or chili or chicken and dumplings in August when it is 100 degrees outside. Also I like quiet winter evenings. Instead of feeling lazy when I am doing nothing at 1900 on a weekday I am happy that I am warm and inside. Sometimes having a warm drink and just looking at the horrible weather outside is a pretty good passtime.

I think when PM's drop a little bit I am going to buy some silver. Almost bought on the last dip below $25 and likely will the next time it goes there. I kinda wanted to see if it would dip into the low $24 range but maybe I just need to get adjusted to the new reality.

As a final though after spending so much time freezing out in horrible winter weather my favorite winter passtime is probably looking at the horrible weather outside from my warm residence. A nice drink and slippers help.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Shades of Atlas Shrugged: Third World America

Third World America this article is disturbingly true. On another note Shades of Atlas Shrugged is going to be the series title for this sort of article.

I am not sure what the answer is. I do however think we need to create incentive's to promote desirable behaviors. [For example if we as a nation wanted to promote individual saving we could, say, not tax interest, dividends or capital gains on individuals with an income below $100,000 and a net worth below $750,000.] We aren't doing this. We aren't doing close to this. We are often in fact doing just the opposite. We have taken for granted that things are good and will stay that way. That no matter how much individuals or businesses get hammered they will stay in the same place and keep on doing the same thing. We've gotten cocky and lazy and it is coming back to bite us. Big time.

For example we need to attract manufacturing. America is never going to make sweat pants or t shirts cheaper than some random Asian nation where wages are a dime an hour. However I don't see why we shouldn't make computers, tv's, cars and all kinds of other stuff. Particularly the kind of relatively high tech manufacturing which employs more skilled individuals and pays them decent wages.

[If there is any positive way forward for America's low skilled blue collar workers it is if they can get the skills and we as a nation can attract this sort of higher skilled manufacturing jobs. The golden age for American manufacturing type workers from WWII to around the early 90's which has been dying a lingering death for awhile, set expectations which could not be maintained. Large numbers of people simply can't walk out of high school into a secure job that makes a comfortable wage with good benefits and retirement anymore.

I saw this play out on a smaller scale with the timber industry dying in the PNW. Some individuals were able to find a way forward in another job. Others managed to retrain and be successful. However when it was all said and done a lot of folks went from earning a comfortable middle class living to a couple bucks an hour above minimum wage or chronic unemployment. The restaurants and stores which these people patronized went under. Some towns died and a lot of others are sad shells of their former selves. The bottom line was that the jobs that went away were gone. The other industries were able to absorb some people, given that they received training, but a town that lost 100 timber jobs didn't suddenly have 50 new jobs as carpenters and another 50 for auto mechanics. Without some sort of X factor, such as a boom of high tech American manufacturing this will be the case on a larger scale.]

The biggest reason we have issues attracting or keeping these kinds of manufacturers is a grossly unfriendly business environment. Art Laffer said "Taxes don't redistribute wealth, they redistribute people (or I suppose businesses)" and the same could be said for regulations and all sorts of other little committees and agencies that make it hell to actually produce something. There are all sorts of ways America, or a state could do this. Simply streamlining the process for getting permits and clearances to build would be a good start. For a company that isn't going to dump tons of poison into the water system it should be a snap to open a factory. No taxes for 5 or 10 years would be a good one. Matching funds on select capital development would be another. Cheap or free energy would help too. Creating a work force which suits certain high tech manufacturing needs could work; especially if combined with a business friendly atmosphere and some tax breaks.

Instead of trying to hammer businesses for every dime we need to help them grow and employ more people and buy more machinery or other stuff. If every little bureaucratic despot and city councils could realize factories bring jobs; jobs which they desperately need we would be in such a better place.

As for infrastructure I think this is being blown out of proportion. Not significance but priority and who needs to be involved in addressing it. The answer is not big over reaching stimulus but government at all levels adjusting their priorities. Look at it this way. Most sane people would fix a hole in the kitchen floor before going out for a night on the town. If the family car breaks next week they don't need a stimulus from somebody; we need to shift our budget around and figure out how to fix it. If that doesn't work we can raid our hard earned savings. Governments from town to state have forgotten this. They need to make the important stuff work even if it means letting go of some of the flashy unessential stuff.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recharging The Batteries

There is only so much doom and gloom a guy can take. Sometimes you've just got to relax. Today we went to this festival thing. Every little town in Germany has at least one to celebrate something or another, if just Pilsner beer and standing around in a closed off street. It was pretty fun. Had some pretzels and checked out all the stuff that was for sale. Wifey got a wicker basket which she has been wanting. We sat around for awhile just enjoying the nice day.

Tonight we went out to dinner which was cool too. Had a nice walk to a quiet place with really good food and very reasonable prices. Haven't been there for awhile though for no particular reason. Maybe we are creatures of habit but we always order the same thing. It was a really nice day.

Also Wifey said something new this evening. She said "enough crazy for today". I took her hint and changed topics.  I am sure that Wifey, while a great sport about this can use one. Even I can use a change of topic now and then.Suppose we all have times where we've just got to think about something else. I think we all need to think about other stuff and just live for awhile now and then. Recharging the batteries and all that stuff. Tomorrow I've got some stuff to do but just relaxing today was really nice.

Remember folks, this is a marathon not a sprint. Take some time to relax and enjoy life. It will help your efforts in the long run.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Random Thoughts On Living in Europe

Things I miss:
being able to listen to decent talk/ news radio or decent radio stations in general (my car doesn't have a cd player)

decent television
Walmart
Generally being able to get anything at good prices
decent cell phone deals
lots of food: real McDonald's, Arby's, Teriyaki, Chinese, Taco Truck beef burritos, maple bars, Krystal, the list goes on.
being able to do most anything on the weekend or in the evening

Things I am enjoying:
all the beautiful scenery and history
great beer
traveling
Turkish food
almost nonexistent violent crime

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Rural Living for SHTF Security

Yesterday I ended up driving some distance through rural Germany. To quote a co worker everything is so beautiful I just want to take pictures of it all. Anyway more importantly I want to talk about how they live. Rural Germans live in little villages.

Village is a term I will use in the future because it is to me more descriptive than the ubiquitous phrase "town". There is a church, a couple little bars, a Gasthaus or two, a small market, maybe a couple random shops and then a few dozen houses. Between a village and the next it might be as little as 5k or more like 10+ in any given direction. In the middle are fields of all types and woodlots.

People pretty much everywhere have traditionally clustered together for collective security. In wild and crazy days that are generally past an isolated family farm was easy pickings for some brigands or bandits. However 5-30 families clustered together could put up a defense and make the juice not worth the squeeze. In Germany the local villages control who can and can't build outside of the village area. Not saying it is right or wrong but well, German. Seeing a farmer driving a tractor with a trailer from his house in town to his fields a couple kilometers away is common place. Basically they live in town and go out to work their fields.

Rural Americans have for a variety of reasons (lower population densities, high gun ownership, sense of community, etc) gotten a pass from the violence that strikes elsewhere. Rural farmers in  Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe and South Africa have had a horrible time. Most of them lived in large family compounds, were quite well armed and often had combat veterans in the family. These folks were driven from the land their ancestors farmed because they were killed or legitimately feared being killed. A steady nerve and an FN-FAL did nothing to protect them. There was a rather unique situation in both South Africa and Zimbabwe where what essentially amounted to gangs of armed thugs got a get out of jail free card for anything they did to rich white people who somewhat justifiably (though short sight idly since they fed everybody) fell out of political favor. This is a stark reminder that how much law enforcement helps or hinders you is at least loosely related to the political favor of whatever group (s) you are identified with. It isn't nice to say and I hope it never gets that bad in America but it is something to consider.

One could say this situation is somewhat like that in the American Southwest near the Mexican border. I really wouldn't want to be a rancher within 2 gas tanks drive of the Mexican border. In Argentina living rurally is a bad idea, a very bad idea. Will America every get like this? I certainly hope not. If our economy gets much worse and folks who believe violent criminals are innocent disadvantaged youths get/ stay in power things could get worse.

The idea of a reinforced family compound out in the hinder boonies is nice. However realistically in any place isolated enough to be a good family compound candidate jobs are a real issue. If Pa can figure out how to earn a living that is great. However the odds that sons John and Tim and sister Jills husband can find jobs at livable wages which they can commute to are not good. The idea that everybody will just show up if S hits TF is great for a couple of very limited and unlikely scenarios. The odds that 6 armed like minded individuals will be hanging around your house on a random Wednesday when 6 meth heads decide to pull a home invasion on the couple with the nice house and all the guns/ stuff who live alone way outside of town are slim. You are going to be alone watching TV with the Mrs and there will be 6 guys coming to your house.

We have talked about living rurally vs in a small town before 1, 2. There are potential advantages to both. However just maybe a modest house in a small town on a big lot and a field with a shed/ barn a little bit out of town is an option to consider. I just think it is worthwhile to consider history and how peoples who actually lived through centuries of very rough times live. Furthermore it is naive to think that all villages/ small towns will turn into tyrannical little fiefdoms but rural people will be entirely unaffected by said fiefdoms AND not see a major increase in crime of things go truly crazy. The real answer is that rural people could well have most of the same problems as those in town AND face a real security problem.

Thoughts?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

This week I was pretty busy with some other stuff. For once it wasn't work which was real nice. Did however get some stuff done. We have like 60 Euro's worth of coins to change into bills and put into the fund. Yeah the euro is going through some rough times but seeing as it is the currency in the area I live in keeping some around is just something smart people do. I don't keep a whole lot of money in euro's but a few hundred bucks is just smart.

Also I read a couple of books on Afghanistan which was cool. Kill Bin Laden was good. It talked a lot about the challenges of fighting in rugged mountainous terrain and working with indigenous Afghan forces. Charlie Wilson's War was very interesting.

I read part of a book on money stuff but it sucked.

Also I got a pair of 3 d cell mag lights with some batteries to feed them.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why Apologize


These
Are good




 
JFK'S
Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when
DeGaule decided to pull out of NATO.  DeGaule said he wanted all US
Military out of France as soon as possible.


 
Rusk responded,
"Does that include those who are buried here?"


 
DeGuale
Did not respond.


 
You
Could have heard a pin drop.






 
When in England ,
At a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the
Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of
'empire building' by George Bush.


 
He answered by saying,
"Over the years, the United States has sent many of
Its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom
Beyond our borders.  The only amount of land we have ever asked for
In return is enough to bury those that did not
Return."

 
You
Could have heard a pin drop.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
There was a conference in France
Where a number of international engineers
Were taking part, including French and American.  During a break,
One of the French engineers came back into the room saying, "Have you
Heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft
Carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims.  What does he
Intend to do, bomb them?"

 
A Boeing engineer
Stood up and replied quietly:  "Our carriers have three
Hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are
Nuclear powered and can supply emergency  electrical power to
Shore facilities; they have three  cafeterias with the capacity to
Feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand
Gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a
Dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and
From their flight deck.  We have eleven such ships;
How many does France have?"

 
You
Could have heard a pin drop.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
A U.S. Navy Admiral
Was attending a naval conference that included
Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French
Navies  At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large
Group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries.
Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a
French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many
Languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, "Why is it that
We always have to speak English in these conferences rather than
Speaking French?"

 
Without hesitating,
The American Admiral replied, "Maybe it's because the
Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't
Have to speak German."
 
You
Could have heard a pin drop.


 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
AND
THIS STORY FITS RIGHT IN WITH THE ABOVE...

 
Robert Whiting,
An elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.
At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport
In his carry on.
 
"You
Have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked
 Sarcastically.

 
Mr. Whiting
Admitted that he had been to France
Previously.

 
"Then
You should know enough to have your passport ready."

 
The American said,
"The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."

 
"Impossible..
Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France !"

 
The American senior
Gave the Frenchman a long hard look.  Then he
Quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in
1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen
To show a passport to."

You
Could have heard a pin drop.

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I am proud to be of this land, AMERICA

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Future Is Not Set

Dollar to regain parity with Euro, if it still exists.

Belgians vote on future, united country in doubt. 

We need to not fall into a pre WWI mindset that history is set and all that can change is minor details. Seriously if you take a look at any period of (just to toss out a number) say 50 years in history some crazy stuff happens. The future is not set and things will change. Currencies will fail and borders will change and countries come and go all together. There will be conflicts.

I think that most notably sooner than later European nations and in particular Germany (man they really aren't happy about this Greek bailout madness and the Euro tanking) are going to collectively forget about the massive horrors and almost two entire generations of young men lost in WWI and WWII and give up on their whole recent pacifism kick. They may come to question the status quo in the tried and true fashion of war.

Just like the last 50 years (or any recent start point you choose) it is going to be a wild ride. Buckle up tight.

Our advertisers pay us so you don't have to. Please click on their links and check out what they have to offer. Seriously these folks sell some really cool stuff at very fair prices and it is worth giving them a look. A click a day will keep this place up and running. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

quote of the day

"The way to crush the bourgeois is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation." – V.I. Lenin

Thursday, April 22, 2010

quote of the day

"If every Jewish and anti-nazi family in Germany had owned a Mauser rifle and twenty rounds of ammunition and the will to use it, Adolf Hitler would be a little-known footnote to the history of the Weimar Republic." - Aaron Zelman, co-founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership

Thursday, April 1, 2010

quote of the day

"We're never gonna survive, unless... We get a little crazy"
-Seal

One of the 'joys' of living overseas is a lack of decent radio stations to listen to. German music seems to be split between dance/ techno and bad random old American pop music so there isn't much to be had there. I listen to the AFN station because I am too cheap to have a CD player in the car. The music is pretty random, otherwise I would not listen to Seal. However this quote is pretty good none the less.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thoughts On The 20th Century

The 20th century was a heck of a time. It probably saw more change for the living conditions of normal people than any other period. Around 1900 most peoples lives were pretty darn close to how they had been since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  Most peoples lives revolved around working on a small family farm or in some sort of a shop. In big cities people worked in the labor intensive factories and such. By the end of the 20th century the lives of people were radically different. In the US something like 2% of people feed the rest. Instead of a typical farm being a guy with a couple hundred acres and a mule or two it is tens of thousands of acres worked by a man with tractors and combines. Even now massive agricultural businesses are making farming not viable for the typical family farm. Communication and massive technological innovations have radically changed the lives of all but the poorest people (I mean like Zimbabwe poor, not American poor) into something unimaginable back in 1900.

One of the biggest single misconceptions in the opening part of the 20th century was that history was set. It is really tempting to think that somehow the era you are in is the ultimate creation of all of history, but it is entirely inaccurate.  War came about early as in part because the recently unified Germany sought to gain power and territory. The beginning of the century saw the massacre of almost an entire generation in the fields of Western Europe. The fall of the massive and decayed Ottoman Empire happened immediately after the war ended. Also WWI brought America onto the forefront of the world stage for the first time.

It is easy for us to look back with perfect hindsight about how foolish it was for people and nations to think history was set back then but we far too often laugh at those folks but think the same thing ourselves about today. Nations are going to gain and lose territory and power through natural coming of age (India, maybe China) and decay but also the old fashioned way, by taking it from someone else. Also I think it would be a dangerous assumption to think that even Europe is done with war. They may well come out of the shell shock of WWI and WWII and revisit old ambitions, rivalries and feuds. Just as the 20th century saw all of these events the 21st will also.

Economies will collapse. Some will just sputter out because of new developments making areas undesirable and products unnecessary and others will fall apart in spectacular hyper inflationary crashes. When this happens a few rich, smart people will be able to see it coming and prepare. As almost always is the situation it is normal average people who get the worst end of these collapses.

Lots of folks talk about how a hyper inflationary collapse is coming for America. Some say that it is coming next week and that gold will hit $9,734 an ounce. They also often say that a certain type of gold coin is best and happen to be selling them. I do not know if this will happen. Maybe we will just have a period like the late 70's and early 80's with fairly high unemployment and only 15-20% inflation. I know America is a huge, powerful and amazing nation. If anybody could figure a way out of the box it seems we are painting ourselves into it would be this great nation, however I am not so naive to think it could not happen here. If nothing else minimizing debt, particularly adjustable interest rate debt is always sound advice. If you have a few bucks that do not go strait to putting a roof over your head and food in the kitchen buying some silver and gold is a good idea.

"If the 20th century taught us anything it is that life is pretty cheap"- Jim Rawles on Coast to Coast Radio

Lots of people died in the 20th century. World War One darn near killed an entire generation of young European men. World War Two did a pretty good job on the next generation.  Russia has been unsuccessful in proving that a country can kill off its entire population through revolution, war, government produced famine leading to starvation starvation and just plain purges. They do however get an A for effort.

Speaking of famine food has been used as a weapon multiple times in history. Most notably the Holodorm comes to mind.  Seriously I think Russia has a running bet with somebody that they can kill off more of their population than anyone else. Though Pol Pot might have won that one. Anyway things can get bad and people go hungry, not missed a meal, like those starving African kids in the aid commercials hungry.

Sometimes war or economic craziness or nutty national policies mess up the normal flow of food that begins with production (farms, ranches, etc) and ultimately ends up in our kitchens. What can we do as individuals to mitigate this? Storing food obviously comes to mind. Having multiple ways to procure food is probably prudent. Debit cards are good but having cash as a backup is very prudent. If you are worried about a situation where a single currency/ country collapses then having some other currency on hand might be prudent. For a long time this was the dollar, nowadays Euro's, Swiss Franks or Canadian dollars might be good. A single ATM transaction worth of a foreign currency might be a big deal for your family some day. If nothing else it is cool to reference your foreign currency reserves. Again as with the hyper inflationary situation having some precious metals is a good idea if you can afford it. Assuming food is available you can get some of it if you have precious metals, as noted in Zimbabwe. Depending on your situation and how concerned you are about this particular possibility (or saving money, healthy eating, etc) producing some of your own food can be a good move. In my opinion if it is possible with your lifestyle producing some food is a good idea. However it is not a cure all. If a 40 armed men with a tank show up they will take what you have, sorry but it is true. Storing some food off site in a cache might not be a horrible idea depending on your level of concern and overall scenario. Again in a perfect world having multiple ways to get food, multiple ways to grow/ harvest your own food and multiple ways to trade/ barter/ buy food would be nice.

On a tangent I greatly enjoyed the little Reece's peanut butter eggs I ate while researching/ writing about famine. I also like having ice cream while watching Survivor and Lost.

I do not think the 21st century is going to be as bloody as the 20th. If nothing else the combination of Nuclear Weapons creating a MAD scenario between some larger nations and the faster, more technological nature of warfare the body count will almost certainly be lower. However it could still be pretty darn bad under a variety of situations. Also it doesn't matter if the total number of people killed is far lower then the last century if you and your family end up being part of the death toll.

Even aside from fully state vs state conflicts groups of people will kill each other. Sometimes states kill certain minority groups that are present within their society. Also sometimes states sponsor or allow to act without fear of intervention a group that is actively killing another group. Our world started the 20th century with a few genocides and mass killings in Turkey and Russia then finished up with a couple of bangs in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The time in the middle wasn't exactly calm either.

I would be quite surprised if the  21st century doesn't have a few times when certain groups of citizens are targeted by state or quasi state actors. What can be done to minimize ones risk to this sort of cultural/ ethnic/ racial violence? Well if a place seems like a cultural/ ethnic/ racial powder keg now then it might not be a great place to live, especially if you belong to the wrong cultural/ ethnic/ racial group for that area. It probably isn't politically or socially correct to say that but IMO it is something to consider. Matthew Bracken's books depict some events in the South West and California which one might want to think about.

I guess in conclusion I will reiterate a few key points. History isn't set and nations will rise and fall. It is prudent to take some common sense steps to mitigate your exposure to economic collapses, famine and cultural/ ethnic/ racial violence. This century is going to be a lot like the last one just with computers and Ipods. There are certainly new risks (terrorism, EMP's, etc) but the old ones haven't gone away.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Put The Gun Away Even Though Nobody Is Coming To Help You?

Glad I don't live in England. Germany doesn't have the greatest gun laws but it seems pretty darn safe. Of course if you flash a big wad of cash in a bar and then leave drunk through a dark alley there is a risk of being robbed. However if you apply a bit of universal common sense it seems like one of the safest places I have lived.

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