Doomday Preppers: Derek Price

The second group featured in the ‘superbunker’ episode is Derek Price of Bear Grass, North Carolina.
Daniel, Haven, and Derek PriceDerek and his family run Deadwood, a Wild West-themed park that they use as a profitable cover for their prepping activities.

Price is worried about a solar flare and/or EMP that will “end civilization and send us back to the wild west!” A bit later on he says something about how he fears a disaster that would be responsible for “sending our way of life at least back to the wild west.”
There are a couple of things that need to be dealt with in those statements. First off, our conception of the so-called ‘Wild’ West is largely a result of Hollywood Westerns and dime-store novels.
Second, as long as people keep thinking like this, the only result of something like a massive solar flare or EMP would be a regression in our level of technology; Derek’s statements reveal Our Culture’s assumption that civilized people in our past somehow lived differently than we do today. The fact of the matter is—technological inflation aside—our ‘way of life’ is the same as that of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, English, and just about every other Empire of the last 6,000 years or so. The Old West, even in its non-Hollywood reality, was still Civilized.

However, yet again, the real fear isn’t having to live without juice, but the “lawless days that might ensue if society breaks down due to loss of electricity.” I wonder if learning to live with less electricity would be a good start? Y’know, wean ourselves off?, so that when the effects of peak oil (which already happened, by the way) dramatically rear their heads, we’ll be used to it? I’m a big fan of the Transition Town movement.
So, while his driving concern is the same as everyone else’s, in a departure from others on the show, Derek is at least able to admit and possibly embrace his paranoia and obsession. It’s a nice change of pace from the suburban folks who look at the camera and say, “I’m not crazy!” as they stack cases of astronaut food; Derek just shrugs and says, “Eh, maybe I am.”

Derek gets together with his brother Daniel (ex-military type) to review possible sniper positions around Deadwood. To patrol their property, they use their miniature train powered by biodiesel. That’s pretty shiny. Then they cut some bamboo punji sticks. Some folks will say, “Bamboo in North Carolina?” It’s not native (though related to native river-cane, which once choked the banks of all the big rivers in the Ohio valley) but I say it’s a sustainable, sturdy material; go for it.
They stick the punjis in the ground, test ‘em out with some kind of dummy, and determine that the intruder would be lethally wounded. Daniel seems pleased, and remarks, “…that person’s dead, and that’s what we want!” WOW. I don’t think we’ve yet heard such blatant death-mongering on this show. Along the same lines, earlier one of the Prices remarks that “If an EMP were to hit, this is where I’d want to make my final stand.” Right, because like everyone else in this terminal death-culture, you’re at war with the world.

And then they wheel out the CANNON. Yes, you read that right. Cannon. I guess they have several around the park for demonstrations and ‘atmosphere’, and they want to see about using them for defense. So, to test the shot spread (to find out if it’s an effective defensive weapon?) they load it with plastic BBs and Pydrodex-type ‘gunpowder’, and then take about five tries to get it to fire. No wonder! Swap the modern powder for some good old-fashioned Black Powder, none of that needs-open-flame-to-ignite junk.
The whole cannon Charlie Foxtrot leads Derek to conclude that “vintage weapons are unreliable.” Hmm, do I detect the voice of Our Mother Culture and her myth of Progress (newer is always better)? If you think vintage weapons are unreliable, I suggest you visit your nearest frontier rendezvous shooting-match, and watch some of the old-timers use their handmade flintlocks to reach out and touch small targets at ridiculous distances.
Also, I understood the cannon was supposed to be part of their wild west show? If so, why do they act like they’ve never used it before?

As part of their anti-intruder techniques, Derek is teaching his son to “patrol in the dead of night”, which is funny…because it looks like the middle of the day the way they seem to have every light in the place switched on. What I don’t get is this: if they’re supposedly preparing for a scenario where the grid doesn’t exist, you’d think they would practice in a situation that approximated what they expect to deal with. Y’know, like with the lights off?

So, they want to do an invaded-by-marauders drill. They divide up into two teams and make their battle plans. Our narrator informs us that they’re wielding “real weapons…but the safeties are on.” Doesn’t matter; firearms should always be assumed to be loaded, and if they are (I swear I heard someone chamber a round), relying on a manmade mechanical device still doesn’t mean they’re safe.
Then there’s the bit when Derek’s eleven-year-old says he’s going to “get his assault rifle”. Ohboy. That’s exactly the sort of thing—especially in this post-Newtown environment—that will give the anti-gun lobby some very potent ammunition (pun…intended?)

In their analysis of his preparations, the experts tell him to beef up his water storage; Derek counters that he can filter (what’s already naturally-occurring on his property?). In the end, he gets 68 points, which now somehow works out to twelve months (funny, the last guy got eleven months for the same amount)?

In the post-filming update, Derek and his dad demonstrate the hand-pumped well they’ve put in. Nice to see a slightly more Appropriate level of technology to get their necessary liquids (compare to Bryan Smith who insisted on hooking his aquifer up to electric pumps and fossil fuel-dependent generators).

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