Doomsday Preppers: David Nash

Our other Tennessee prepper this episode is David Nash, who is also concerned about the likelihood of a modern New Madrid earthquake.
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentDavid explains how he and his wife Genny have “chosen careers that fulfill us but don’t necessarily leave us with much in the bank”, ergo he is DIY all the way! Which is great—less is more! I like it!
He starts off by showing Genny his homemade ‘saline converter’ to turn saltwater to bleach, which he could then add to contaminated water to make potable.
I’m not totally sold on the chemistry(NaCl+H2O -> NaOH + Cl ->bleach?), but if it checks out, that’s not a bad little system!
And because David thinks ahead, he DIY’s himself a stringtrimmer motor/wood-burning steam engine contraption to charge the battery he’ll use to run his bleach-maker. I’m not sure how all that comes together—I have little mechanical knowledge of anything more complex than a forge-bellows, but if he can indeed charge a battery by burning sticks and small wood, that’s a winner.

After that, David reveals his build project: a geodesic dome shelter to resist the shaking expected in an earthquake.
He cuts the aluminum pipe framework pieces in his shop, assembles them with his dad’s help in the woods, and then drapes it with a big heavy-duty piece of signage tarp. The dome gets draped in three kinds of wire mesh (probably could have gotten by without the chickenwire), and is coated by sprayed concrete and then given a camouflage paintjob. It looks solid, if a bit melty organic, but to make sure they give us another requisite DP tannerite explosion test, with dad inside! (the shelter appears to survive).

I had a friend in the UP who built a shack along similar lines some years back—except he used steel cattle panels and reclaimed plastic sheeting and old carpeting, all bermed with soil, to make a sort of ‘longhouse’. Apparently it was pretty much invisible once the woods grew up around it.

Oh, and for lighting inside his dome, David installs a two-liter ‘light bottle’—a really genius DIY lighting system—and some DIY gutters for water catchment.

Anyway, geodesic domes (yay, Buckminster Fuller!) are always awesome, and I love the use of the reclaimed billboard tarp. For a non-mobile DIY bugout shelter in the woods, the sprayed concrete shell is probably pretty hard to beat (I wonder if their concrete sprayer would be compatible with any of the alternative ’cretes—something with more solar mass for passive heating/cooling?)

After watching this episode and about the same time coming across this art exhibit, I got to thinking about the utility of combining modern materials like David’s tarp (which already exist in great numbers) with traditional indigenous building shapes and materials. I can pretty easily imagine a band of neotribal folks walking or riding (horses—no Ancient Sunlight Juice for these sustainables) across the post-Long Emergency landscape (or even the Right Now landscape, if you can imagine such a thing!), towing their travois loaded with a couple of these waterproof billboards (emblazoned with images of golden arches or sports mascots or other similar logos that must have once held great significance to the old ‘uns of the Fourth World, but are now no more than mysterious runes) and a bundle of tentpoles, all ready to set up camp at the next watering hole.
Just something to think about, it’s always fun to combine ‘new’ and ‘old’ and imagine different ways of doing thing. After all, there is no One Right Way to Live!

Doomsday Preppers: David Mays

Alright, folks. It would seem DP has finally jumped the shark—or at the very least, hit peak media oversaturation, and exhausted its fifteen minutes as a rating$ juggernaut—and stopped producing new episodes, which mean there are only two I have left to cover this season…and I really couldn’t be happier. It’ll be a big weight lifted off my shoulders when I won’t have to subject myself to watching this program (one which, in the big picture, turned out to be pretty sensationalist, exploitative, and generally detestable) for the bigger purpose of uncooling its message.

It’s not 2012 anymore, and I think folks are kinda sick of ‘reality’ shows about midlife-crisis, middle-class white guys with more money than sense, delusions of grandeur, and hard-ons for ‘tactical’ weaponry and foodbuckets. Don’t worry, they’re still out there; but the media landscape has (unsurprisingly) shifted over the past two years to the point where Prepperdom isn’t such a hot commodity anymore. Which is fine by me, because while it means a little less blog traffic for this page, it also means less toxic, deluded, status quo-y notions being broadcast into the public mindspace.

Anyway, episode ‘Nobody Will Be Ready’ cuts between the two Davids from Tennesseee; both guys are supposedly (but not unreasonably) preparing for a quake along the New Madrid fault line.
First up is David Mays:

© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment

Transparency clause: David and his wife Holly run an essential oils business (remember, this show has almost always been about ‘preppers’ using their appearance as publicity for their own enterprises).
Even though they live in a tract of burbland, their family seems to be taking some good first steps to increase their self-reliance by raising silkie chickens in the backyard, and growing aeroponic vegetables in a vertical garden tower.

But David’s main hobby, it seems, is flying drones!
Huh.
While the military-capitalist-corporate-industrial hegemons rain down remote-piloted death and destruction on foreign civilians of colour, here at home the basic technology has trickled down to the prosumer level, allowing armchair hobbyists to tinker about and remote-pilot their own camera-equipped drones around their pre-apocalyptic suburban wastelands! Isn’t our modern age great?

David’s plan post-quake is apparently to use his ‘drone army’ to ‘patrol’ his neighborhood, and equip them with various payloads—like one of those GoPro cameras that are all the rage right now, or a disposable camera-turned-improvised taser, or an ultralight silver parachute of medical supplies.
I dunno, I feel like it might just be easier and more productive/rewarding for David and/or the family to get out in the neighborhood on foot, meet their neighbors face-to-face, and start turning their subdivision into an actual community. Get a couple more families in the cul-de-sac on the chickens-and-gardening bandwagon and they could have the seeds of a nice little self-reliant network. Just a suggestion.

Doomsday Preppers: ‘Dr. Dave’

This not-terrible episode wraps up with a look at Dr. Dave Jensen of Colorado, who has supposed fears of an EMP.
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
‘Dr. Dave’ (as the show insists on calling him) is a big proponent of holistic medicine, which really is only logical for a survival-minded person, because as he explains, our modern (read: unsustainable, Petrol Age) approach to dealing with sickness is “based on technology and prescription drugs”.
And so, the good doctor runs a clinic founded on ‘natural and alternative healthcare’ practices…or as it was known in the pre-petrol world, healthcare. Think acupuncture, herbal remedies, ‘traditional Chinese medicine’ and—because this is Colorado!—prescription cannabis.

Of those, the only one I have a problem with is the Chinese junk, mostly because of its obsession with body parts of critically-endangered animal species, but also because I think it’s a whole lotta placebo-effect bullshit. For example, if I was feeling crummy and someone reputable gave me an exotic-sounding tea made from fire-berries that are only found in the mountains of the Sun (or albino rhinoceros pancreas, or something), then I’d think it must be really special stuff!, and I’ll probably start to feel better.
Seriously, when one or two hundred species a day are going extinct, there’s really no good reason why this junk medicine should still be perpetuated—well, except for the one billion Chinamen claiming “it’s tradition!” Yeah, so is patriarchy; doesn’t make it worthwhile.

Because there’s not really too much else to discuss in this segment, here are some thoughts on medicine in a post-collapse/disaster world.
Let’s say hypothetically—even though I don’t believe in isolated scenarios, they make for good thought-experiments—some out-of-the-blue, Hollywood-style disaster (planetwide solar flare or something) goes down offscreen, knocking the civilized world down the ladder of technological progress a few rungs. With electronics now shiny doorstops, things are looking very similar to the early 19th century (instead of consuming Apple products, people are consuming actual apples again!)
Now, assuming that 1) pre-disaster, a sufficient number of people were well-versed in pre-modern medicine (I’m thinking plants with proven medicinal qualities—pennyroyal and willow, likesay, not Chinese powdered lily stamens or whatever), and 2) people remember how to pass on information without electronic intermediaries, what’s to say a happy balance couldn’t be struck between the advances of our current model and the healthcare approach of the recent past?
You know, when something is broken, it is acceptable to pick out and save the things that work and dispose of the rest. What’s worth saving in modern medicine? Antibiotics and sterile theory. What was good about medicine a few hundred years ago? How to heal folks with what Nature provides, without reliance on petroleum or complex technology.
Think of that wistful “I wish I knew then what I know now” sentiment, but applied to medicine.
Penicillin is easy to culture. At the minimum, how difficult is it to throw your medical instruments into boiling water? Ethanol is ridiculously easy to make. Honey is antibacterial…
Meh, as usual, I’m sick of the prevailing, Progress-based belief that if the Grid goes down, folks will immediately revert to trepanning each other with stone tools (which, of course, would require a functioning means of passing on information about both lithic industries and brain surgery!).
But, I digress.

This segment following Dr. Dave really felt more like the pre-Season Three iterations of DP, because there isn’t really a Big Dramatic Build-Project with him. He already has a greenhouse (thumbs-up!), a ’69 Airstream trailer (extra points for retro style!), and a pre-’78 truck and motorbike (no computers=EMP-proof, in theory).
We do see him add a solar panel to the top of his Airstream, to power his growlights and hydroponics setup.

And just for fun—because he’s all about pre-modern medicine—he takes the nuclear family foraging for leeches! Not to nitpick, Mr. Narrator, but is it foraging if the leeches aren’t going to be eaten? Whatever; semantics aside, you can’t go wrong with Mother Nature’s all-natural bloodsuckers. They’re certainly better than going all medieval and just sticking somebody with a sharp piece of iron to bleed them.
And old-time style points if you keep them in one of these jars:

The experts tell Dave he’s done a good job and his trailer project is commendable. Dave accepts graciously and says he’s happy with their assessment, because “it boils down to being sustainable”. Damn right, doc. Are you taking notes, would-be capital-p Preppers?

Doomsday Preppers: Richard Huggins

Season 3 continues with a not-terrible episode “No Stranger to Strangers”. We’re back in Texas, but this time it’s not as belligerently chest-thump-y.
On the side of a highway outside the DFW metropolis lives Richard Huggins.
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentThe show has him claim to be preparing for a “Nuclear attack by a terrorist state”. For a historical-pictorial discussion of that phrase, please see my post on Mike Adams’ segment from last season.

Richard shows off his three years’ worth of food stored up, much of it home-canned, which is always good to see: it shows he and his wife realize there’s more to being prepared than simply buying foodbuckets.

From what I can gather, Richard’s machinist’s shop is focused on special effects fabrication, which throws almost everything we see of him into question. When he claims that he has “300 weapons ranging from a crossbow to a Thompson”, I have to wonder how many of those are actual functional weapons, and not ‘dummy guns’ (blank-firing or otherwise) or props that he might rent out to film companies.

Honestly, with that in mind, from what we see of Richard, I wouldn’t even call him a prepper. He really just looks like a movie-weapon-replicator/prop-supply-house-owner with a classy character moustache, who just happens to own a 1919 Browning (and probably a few other real weapons too—this is Texas, after all).

That BMG takes center stage in Richard’s ‘preps’, as—after he turns a car into Swiss cheese—he settles in with his buddy Seth to put together a ‘pillbox’ and ‘grenade launcher’. As a last line of defense against city-fleeing refugees, they install ‘claymore’ mines—although like I’ve said, given what we know about Richard, I’m pretty sure that C4 he’s packing into those empty claymore shells is Play-doh or something. There’s some drama when the ‘teargas’ from his grenades starts wafting back towards their position, and then when the ‘mines’ don’t immediately go off when they throw the switch. Meh, smoke and mirrors.

Probably the best part of this segment is Richard’s buddy Seth’s comment at the end, when he says of Richard, “He’s old-school…but it works!”. People have said the same about me before, and it’s a sentiment I wish the tacti-happy survivalists (and the larger community of consumers in general) would adopt. I’ve written about it before, but when the dominant paradigm is an Ancient Sunlight-fueled culture of disposability, embracing the so-called ‘old-school’ should only be natural for those with a desire to survive the ongoing decline of that fragile system.

Doomsday Preppers: Kevin Poole

The episode’s second profile is of Kevin Poole, whose family lives outside Washington DC, and is using this appearance to pimp his business, Triton Shelter Technologies Bunkers.

© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment

Hypothetical disaster of choice: EMP.
Preparations: walk-in faraday room; private gun range to protect family (???); “manufacturing facility to produce anything [he] wants or needs”. Well, at least until the EMP goes down, at which point all those fancy machining mills and computerized cutting torches will count for nothing.
Building project: ‘Baby Bunker’.
Because all three of his daughters are—or have recently been—pregnant at the same time:
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment

Well, at least two-thirds of the daughters are at least hypothetically on-board with dad’s prepping, and make some dehydrated baby food. Hey, thumbs-up for dehydration; it’s the best.

Anyway, we spend the next 20 minutes watching yet another steel box (closely resembling a trash compactor) being welded together. Ugh. Once again, I completely fail to understand the thinking behind the prevalent idea of bunker-as-survival.
Are these people seriously thinking of living long-term in underground tin cans? Where’s your water going to come from? If you’re going to be relying on electricity for lights/heat/cooking— because nobody concerned about life without Juice ever actually considers living without Juice—how are you going to generate it? Where’s your waste going to go?
On this last point, Kevin at least spends a minute considering it, before adding a ten-foot pipe off the side of the bunker. I’m still not clear if the trash tube is just for household waste (like, food wrappers and papers?) or sewage? Either way, Kevin seems to think it’d be a good place to put a dead body—because suicide rates are really high in bunkers! Wow, can’t say I’m surprised. Huh, in that case, maybe buttoning up underground isn’t such a great idea?

Whatever, I have a feeling the bunker we’re seeing get built is maybe a show model for Kevin’s business. In which case, this segment is really a 20-minute advertisement.

During his closing remarks, Kevin proclaims how, “in America we have a lot of creature comforts that other countries don’t have. If you’re willing to work hard, you can gain anything, do anything you like. Live in any kind of home, drive any type of car, have a swimming pool, whatever you like!”
UGH. People, WAKE UP. That ‘American dream’ lifestyle of creature comforts, convenience, and consumption (and bunker-survival, too, for that matter) can only be possible because of abundant and cheap petroleum. Without the Black Stuff, it’s a dead-fucking-end.
And besides, if people like this continue to affirm that the single best thing about Amerika is the vast array of consumer goods one can purchase (after being coerced into willful slavery—exchanging one’s time for the idea of money—of course), we deserve collapse.

Doomsday Preppers: Kenny

Season three barrels ahead with episode “No one will ever know’, beginning with Kenny (no last name) of the fittingly-named Gun Barrel City, Texas.
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentThere’s very, very, very little worth mentioning in this episode, so I’m going to try and keep this short.
Kenny—who uses antlers in all of his decorating!—is preparing for a hypothetical second American Civil War, of citizens against the guvvmint. His strategy for preparation takes a form identical to the western-style civilization that bore the American system: namely, massive weaponization. Or in other words, if you’re worried about your future ability to survive unforeseen contingencies, the best way to prepare is ‘firepower through purchasing power’. Kenny has $135,000 worth of firepower (65 guns?), a ‘scuba room’, and 40,000 rounds of (as Kenny says) amma-nition, plus a damned-impressive bullet-reloading setup. However, I don’t think he has ‘everything’ to produce his own bullets—all the empty brass, powder, and bullet molds in the world aren’t worth much without primers.

There’s a moment of squeamishness when Kenny lets his daughter draw blood for his private blood bank—to complement his collection of medical supplies, y’know, to patch up all the anti-guvvmint freedom fighters he expects to get shot up in his civil war scenario.

Rest of profile: build “ultimate rooftop command center” onto his existing house. This amounts to a 13,000-pound plywood box with walls full of sand.
Required stunt 1: testing bulletproof window material (friend stands behind glass while he shoots. Friend survives).
Required stunt 2: shooting at armed friends ‘invasion drill’ + exploding ‘mines’.

Because all that^ is stretched out and constantly recapped, there’s really not much to talk about. Like I’ve said before, this kind of southern-fried, heavily-armed Type 1 survivalism really has zero appeal to me.
Anyway, dude, assuming even half of your 65 guns were bought from federally-licensed firearms dealers, the guvvmint has about 30 or so 4473 forms with your name on them.
Ergo, the guvvmint knows you have a lot of guns. Thanks to your appearance on this show, they know you’re all puffed-up about being ready to violently defend your rights. Should your little civil war scenario be preceded by a nationwide gun-grab (and/or ‘neutralization’ of potential troublemakers), your little plywood rooftop box isn’t going to protect you from a UAV strike or a helicopter rocket or pretty much anything more powerful than a single infantry rifle squad.

And in the interest of food for thought, here’s a good enough place to raise the issue that self-identified Preppers seem to be by-and-large middle-aged White Men—who historically have been, for the last 6,000 years or so, the sole group at the top of the pyramid. So what are all these guys so afraid of that they feel the need to buy scores of weapons and stock up on supplies?

At the end, Kenny says something about “working together to take back the country”, or something; but to my eyes, he seem more interested in being in a position to shoot trespassers than in working together.
Meh.

Doomsday Preppers: Bret and Shane Maggio

The other half of this episode is spent with Bret and Shane Maggio of Fruitland, Utah:
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentThey’re supposedly preparing for a “collapse of the US economy that will lead to a lawless society”, at which point one of the guys points a pistol at the camera, with his finger on the trigger.
Bad form, sir. Remember, folks:
the four rules of gun safety(Also, this is exactly the kind of macho, guns-as-macho-posturing-accessory bullshit I was talking about last week.)

Since pretty much their entire profile is spent in pointless-diversion-land, I’m gonna focus more on what they say than on what they do, and try to unpack their comments.

To begin: people around the world get by just fine (likely better than Us, in fact) living in what folks of Our Culture would consider ‘lawless society’. Just because there are no Hammurabi-style stone tablets (‘laws’) telling citizens ‘Thou Shalt Not __ for Fear of Retribution From the State-sanctioned Brutes Allowed to Use Violence to Strip You of Your Rights/Property/Life (‘police’)’, doesn’t mean that these societies were/are bloodbaths, with people running about willy-nilly raping and killing each other on a whim. Unlike civilized/statutory law, groups with functioning tribal laws are aware that people are going to misbehave. Instead of having a group of top-of-the-pyramid, above-the-law elites telling citizens the things they aren’t allowed to do (knowing full well that they will do them anyway) and then punishing them, tribal laws focus more on group decisions to decide consequences for actions on an individual basis.

Sidebar: take a minute to notice how violence in pyramid societies always flows downwards—you never hear about about police hassling Congressman, but they sure do love to bust heads when it comes to the ‘homeless’—but when violence is directed upwards, they call it revolt and rebellion. Hey kids: think about defying gravity.

“When the dollar loses its value, the government isn’t getting paid; systems collapse! Imagine turning on the faucet, but there’s no water; going to the grocery store but there’s no food on the shelves. These systems could collapse at any time, leaving people no choice but to fight for survival!”
Yeah, guys, these systems could collapse at any time (because we continue to increase their complexity and therefore their inherent fragility), but if people took proper steps before said collapse (organize, localize, communitize), they wouldn’t have to fight for survival.
Also, the system that allows for city water in the desert and Just-In-Time resupplied grocery stores is a fundamentally unsustainable one powered by ancient sunlight, a blip on the long timeline. The only smart thing to do would be to consider ways of living outside that matrix of control, or better yet, make it obsolete!

Next comment: in their collapse scenario, “Nobody’s going to be able to be governed.”
WAIT, WHAT? I’m pretty sure this means ‘The government won’t be able to govern its citizens!’, or, more accurately, ‘The top-of-the-pyramid elites will have lost their grasp on the systems used to exert control over the rest of the pyramid’.
C’mon, what would be so bad about that? You’d think such a scenario would be fully embraced by an open-minded citizenry of ‘freedom enthusiasts’, because I don’t think any sane person really wants to be governed—but then again, we live in a culture that’s been drilling into our heads the meme that we should want to be governed for the last 5,000 years, so sane people are a rare commodity.

They conclude their talk-to-the-camera portion by admonishing “If you don’t have a plan to get out of civilization and get to a bug-out location, you’ll be caught up in the mess!” Hey, for once, we are in agreement!: getting out of civilization is the only way to ensure one’s survival.
endangered-species
So why are these guys not taking their own advice (we’re told they live in the ’burbs and have corporate jobs, which would suggest they’re entrenched in the very System that makes their collapse all but inevitable)? I guess when they said ‘get out of civilization’ they just meant ‘get out of the city’, not ‘get out of the entire life-destroying Matrix’. Ugh. Hey, don’t expect things to change if you can’t see the bars of your cage.

We’re told that their family has ‘been preppers’ for 40 years, going all the way back to their grandma. They say that their “family has a preparedness mindset”…yeah, guys, because you’re Mormons; it’s a tenet to have years and years of stuff stored up, so that the members of your made-up cult will outlive the other made-up cults.
‘Show-off preps’ time: food stored, water and filter, and 5,000 gallons fuel, “so that when doomsday comes, we’ll have all the comforts of home for several years.”
Hey guys, you do realize that all those comforts of home are part and parcel of that civilization you said to get out of, right? If the aim of your post-disaster living is just to prolong and perpetuate the unsustainable pre-disaster lifestyle of comfort and convenience…well, you’re just setting yourself to fail. Again.

Anyway, the guys think that all their preps “will make them a target”. Well, yeah, now, because they’ve broadcast the details to the world. If they actually downscaled and lived quietly off the grid, who would know? Of course, that would make for ‘boring’ (read: possibly educational) TV, so they decide to build themselves a ridgetop ‘sniper tower’ (with zipline)!

Man, one thing’s for sure, watching this show has really strengthened my ability to read between the lines. I would guess what we’re really seeing here are a couple of city slickers building a zipline tower for the kids to play on when the family gets together at grandma’s house, calling it a ‘sniper tower’ to get it on TV and/or have NatGeo pay for it, and bringing in a prior serviceman to complete the illusion.

So Bret and Shane get their vet sniper to come in, take some long-distance shots, and give the project his seal of approval. We then waste some time watching kids work harder-not-smarter dragging materials up the hill. There’s a discouraging moment when one of the guys’ younger cousins observes, “Prepping seems like a lot of hard work: you have to buy a lot of stuff and build a lot of stuff!” Well, yeah, if you’re going off what we’re shown on DP, or if your goal is to continue living within the System and become a capital-P, self-identified Prepper.
On the other hand, rewilding/unlearning/unbranding, enlightening oneself on big-picture issues (learn to recognize root causes!), building community, and increasing one’s self-reliance are often extremely cheap, if not gratis (and pay off way more!).

Once they get the ‘tower’ built, they string a cable down to a tree at the bottom of the hill—allegedly a quick-escape zipline. As a ‘professional zipliner’ (I am literally paid to fly through the trees), this is an area in which I have extensive experience.
Now, on my outfit’s 440-feet-long, 30-feet-of-drop zipline, most folks hit speeds in the mid-twenties (mph). And yet, simple trigonometry tells me that our line has a downward angle of only 3.9 degrees. Compare this to the Maggio’s homemade cable, which we’re told is 250 horizontal feet, with a vertical drop of 70 feet; this works out to a downward angle of around sixteen degrees! And yet, when they send a couple of sand-filled tires (to approximate someone’s weight) down the line, the guys act totally surprised that they come in like a meteor and plow into a tree! Well, duh! Those tires were probably pushing 60!
Also, for the record, I’d really recommend using a proper harness (bonus tactical points!) and a double trolley (Petzl makes good ones).

Once their platform built is finally built, they bust out the black guns and execute some watermelons to prove they can…but only at like, 150 yards. What gives? I thought the point of the tower was to be able to hit trespassers at their property line 400 yards away?
And then they explain how if they can’t eliminate an intruder from the tower, then they’ll go down on the zipline and fight at ground level? Dudes, just stick with the high ground.

At the end, the experts say their tower is ‘not effective from a military standpoint’, probably because a ridgetop is a terrible place for ‘sniping’ (silhouettes against the sky and all that). Whew, good thing we’re talking a family fun tower, and not actual military!

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