Posts Tagged ‘Army’

Doomsday Preppers: Firefighter Mark

It seems they’ve saved the best for last, because this is possibly the most over-the-top, ridiculously-deluded prepper profile we’ve seen yet—but if you take it with a truckload of salt and remember that we’re just seeing grown men ‘playing Army’ and goofing off, it might help keep you from wanting to repeatedly bang your head against the wall:

Our final (thank goddess!) segment finds us in Georgia, following around one Mark Sanders:

click the pic for Mark’s youtube channel of apparently random bullshit!

Right off the bat, Mark wants us to know that he really takes his self-identification as an Amurikan capital-P Prepper seriously. ‘Wolverines!’ sticker on his OD jeep, extraneous stars&stripes bandana on his shotgun, &c.…
Mark’s cooked-up paranoia is of a “foreign occupation of the Yoo-nited States of Amurika”. At least he’s not so misguided as to believe we’ll be occupied by terrorists (I’ve already commented here on the interplay between terrorism/occupation).
However, Mark does state right from the get-go that he believes “it’s gonna be like Red Dawn!”: y’know, with Russian paratroopers and stuff. As we’ll see throughout the segment, that particular piece of 1980s Cold War jingoism seems to take up a significant portion of Mark’s thought process (my guess is, he saw the flick in theaters as a youngling and has been fixated on it ever since).

We see him do the requisite food hoard show-off (six months worth) and then get right into the meat of our Prepper Build Project: Mark and his band of firefighters/paramilitary wannabes decide it’d be a worthwhile endeavor to make a ‘Trojan Horse’ out of a 500-gallon propane tank, y’know, so they can ‘get into the enemy base’. Ohboy.

But…they don’t get very far in their building project before they decide to test their mettle by waterboarding each other. Seriously. At least I’m 90% sure that’s what they did; I dunno, I don’t think it’s one of those things you can really fake for TV, and they come across as just crazy enough to do something like that.

For some reason or other, we also see the guys try cooking up some homemade sugar-and-potassium-nitrate smoke bombs. I really, really hope they got the recipe from a 1980s dial-up text-based bulletin board system, just ‘for teh lulz.’ Seriously, this is what my friends and I did in high school, so again, I feel I should stress that we’re just seeing grown men goofing off in this segment.

So, what exactly is their half-baked plan to ‘infiltrate the enemy base’? Apparently it involves leaving the tank (with the guys in it??) in a public place where they hope their occupying enemy will happen by with a hankering for some propane, at which point they’ll immediately tow it back to their ‘enemy base’, leaving Mark and the boys to pop out and yell “Wolverines!”

They believe accomplishing this requires adding a ‘periscope’ (tiny mirror on a wire) to their propane tank, cutting a man-sized hole in the bottom of the tank, putting said tank on a trailer, and equipping said trailer with a trapdoor and yet another spike-strip ‘trap’ for following vehicles.
To ‘test’ their ‘plan’, Mark and his boys all squeeze into the tank with their guns and nightvision and body armor and junk, and then sit tight and wait to get picked up by an enemy tow truck.

When one just happens by, their group’s other member follows the truck in his vehicle and keeps in constant contact with Mark (via radio headset, of course!). However, in an actual occupied scenario (with curfews and such in place, remember), I really don’t think there’s any way their buddy would be able to tail them in the tank and provide radio tips.

Once they’re in place, just listen to the way Mark explains their plan—“Team 33 is getting ready to bail out, cause havoc behind enemy lines!” Man, so much puffed-up swagger. And when they’re done? “We were able to get behind enemy lines; it was nothing less than brilliant, it was executed perfect!” Yeah, okay, if you say so.

What I want to know is this: why don’t we see—instead of all this camo-clad macho posturing with his bros bullshit—how Mark deals with four small children and an unseen wife on a bug-out to their retreat location? Oh right, because that’s a scenario people might actually learn something from watching, especially as it’s the far more likely situation!

Meh, I am so done with this show; <micdrop> I’m out.


Doomsday Preppers: ‘the Lifeboat’

Season Three’s last episode—which I really hope will also be DP’s last as a series—starts off in south-central Texas, with a group of would-be survivors under the leadership of a fellow named Joe:
Joe’s segment of the episode feels like a throwback to seasons one and two, as this time it seems there’s no big Prepper Project to fixate upon and fetishize.
He’s worried about an impending cyber-attack, which he believes would see America “reduced to horse-and-buggy days, or at best the 1950s”. I’m not really sure what to make of that, I guess mid-20th-century tech was more analog than today’s digital gadgets, but they still ran on copious amounts of electric Juice, and so were still very much reliant on the grid.

In the requisite show-off-the-goodies bit, ‘nam vet Joe has stockpiled his little group of 28 with two years worth of food, 1500 gallons of water (which, at a gallon per person per day, is less than two months worth, so I hope they have a resupply plan), and a fancy ‘communications center’ full of radios he hopes to use to contact fellow survivalists.

There’s a segment where Joe and his well-educated wife D’Ann (pronounced Dee-Ann, apparently) get some folks together and talk about setting up formal schooling for their little post-disaster colony. Y’know, because as Joe says, “to reestablish society (*eye twitch*), you’re going to need education.”
Dude, don’t worry—when our culture’s little civilizational experiment goes belly-up sooner (more likely) or later (as it will, unless our dominant paradigm—Business-As-Usual—changes), the folks still hanging around will still be learning, just as people were learning long before our culture came along and started building pyramids. However, I’d probably bet their learning won’t be spent in a series of concrete boxes, in a little uncomfortable desk for nearly half the day for twelve years, memorizing the names of dead, old white men and the dates of battles against less civilized Others, probably all while being advertised at. I’d bet their ‘education’ won’t be designed to keep them out of the labor market until an arbitrary age at which point some of them will go become the reliable worker/consumer-cogs they’ve been trained to be, while some will go on to more of the same type of ‘education’, proving they can sit in little desks for four more years, before going on to be slightly-higher-paid worker/consumer-cogs. Because that’s how education works when your culture’s Way Of Life revolves around keeping your head down, being obedient, and collecting green paper (to be exchanged for locked-up food).
This piece does a good job exploring the issue, but in a less-grumpy package! Basically, children learn best when they’re allowed to follow their own interests and learn organically.
Unfortunately, Joe’s little post-disaster school begins by making an improvised blackboard, which is fine if your education system is all about rote memorization and sitting in rows. Then they weed through a bunch of donated books to be ‘preserved’ against digital obsolescence. They put a priority on ‘The Classics’ and Math and Science. I wonder how many of those ‘classics’ they themselves have read, and appreciate, and how many they’re just keeping around because they’re ‘The Classics’?

And then the other shoe drops, when Joe declares that he is “developing a lifeboat to ensure the continuation of humanity.”
Wait, what? Is he suggesting that his digital disaster of choice could somehow make the human species extinct? I understand that he’s worried about a “Level Three cyber-attack that will disable our tech-driven culture” (to which I roll my eyes and say sarcastically, ‘Oh no…’), but maybe I missed something along the way where he makes the leap from ‘grid-down’ to ‘Extinction-Level Event’?

Regardless, here’s (one of the many places) where self-identified preppers and I part ways. Folks on this show always frame their fear-arguments in terms of what would be lost in the event of their disaster of choice. I, on the other hand, imagine what would be gained (or regained) should something happen to cause our culture to take a little trip down the complexity ladder it’s built for itself.

Anyway, in the course of all this lifeboat-retreat-group stuff, there’s some father-figure drama between Joe and Welder Wes (a ‘security specialist with military experience’ who just comes across as a fuckup). There’s also some go-nowhere fluff where Wes tries to set off yet another improvised trap involving a shotgun shell (in the name of ‘perimeter defenses’). You know you’re dealing with Old Minds when borders are ‘hard’ (instead of fluid) and to be defended with force.
And, really? We’re meant to believe that their crack ‘military strategist’, a supposed ‘former Navy SEAL’, is this toothless cowboy-hobo ‘Catfish’? Give me a break.

What’s halfway framed as their Prepper Project is the guys putting a little work in getting their gyrocopter to fly. I dunno, while it looks like a helluva lot of fun to tool around in a small aircraft with apocalyptic pedigree:
the great Bruce Spence in 'The Road Warrior', for you unfortunates(and who wouldn’t love a bird’s-eye view of your own backyard?), it also looks pretty complex. To paraphrase Max Brooks, “How many moving parts are there in a [gyrocopter]? I don’t know, but it only takes one to break and take it offline.”

As his little sum-up segment, Joe espouses how “We live in a very fragile world that we created for ourselves. We’re reliant upon systems that are reliable as long as they’re untouched, but once they fail we’re in real trouble.”

Why is it that while I often agree with these folks’ opening and closing statements, it’s the in-between parts that leave me banging my head against the wall?

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.

Doomsday Preppers: Mike Adams

Up next we have Mike and Jessica Adams from Salem, Oregon, whose family runs a barbecue restaurant, Adams’ Rib (I’m not sure if that’s intended to be a biblical pun?, but if so, ha!).
jessica-mike-adamsAdam’s doomsday scenario is a “terrorist occupation”, which he seems to think will be a good excuse to smear ketchup on his face, Rambo-mascara-style. Why not yell Wolverines! while you’re at it?

I don’t have much to say on this segment itself—there’s just not enough ‘material’ there for me. The fact that he openly admits his concern originates from a jingoistic artifact of 1980s Hollywood should give you a good indication of what to expect. Really, a lot of this segment is flavored with the kind of naïve adolescent speculation I remember from similar ‘what-if?’ discussions, back in high school or whatever. Y’know, we’d be hanging out down at the river and my friend would say, ‘If a zodiac boat full of Bad Guys came around the bend right now, how would you defend this position?’ And I’d make up something about holding the high ground with a belt-fed machinegun with help from my camouflaged sniper buddies.

In his imaginary scenario, Mike imagines that the terrorists will coordinate a series of dirty-bomb attacks across the country…and then close all the grocery stores so nobody can eat. Of course, because his family owns a restaurant, he thinks they’ll get special treatment…because you know how much terrorists love barbecue! ???
However, I would guess that unless his restaurant uses all fresh, local ingredients, that wouldn’t last long because they’d be just as subject to the just-in-time, three-day supply chain as everybody else.

And besides, I think Mike is fundamentally confused regarding how terrorism works:

To the US&A occupiers in Afghanistan today (or the Soviet occupiers 30 years ago), the Taliban, Mujahideen, and their lot are terrorists.


To the German war machine 70 years ago, the partizaners of occupied eastern Europe were terrorists.


To the white expansionist settlers in pre-1890 America, the indigs playing erratic retaliator were terrorists.


To the English lobsterback officers 230-odd years ago, those pesky colonial squirrel hunters shooting them from behind trees were terrorists.


Really, I could do this all day.

In other words, sudden out-of-the-blue attacks (often directed against the empire du jour) fall nicely under the umbrella of terrorism… …Occupation, however, does not. That’s definitely an actual standing army-type deal. The whole point of hit-and-fade attacking is ‘if you stick around, you’ll be a target’. Had the Cuban/Nicaraguan/Soviets of Red Dawn parachuted in, assassinated a bunch of government officials, and then had gone to ground, they’d be terrorists. But as soon as they started rounding up citizens for reeducation and patrolling the streets, they became occupiers, and thereby easy targets for a gang of high school terrorists.

Remember: one’s definition of terrorist depends entirely on which ‘side’ one is on.

Mike shows his brother how to install filters on their home’s rain barrels—hey, it’s Oregon, makes sense. This gives us yet another scene of preppers clinking glasses and drinking something.

Apparently Mike’s stockpile of doomsday food is skimmed off the top from the restaurant? So it’s all smoked and jar-canned meat? That’s fine, I guess. Personally, I’ll stick with my homemade jerky (ham, venison, beef, take your choice). Aside from pemmican or a properly-cured country ham, it’s about the only long-term survival meat I’ll stick with. And why not?: no mess (I’ve worked my fair share of barbecue festivals; smoked meat is greasy and has no part in a discussion of long-term survival); no glass jars; keeps forever.

About this point, we come to the standard “not everyone takes prepping seriously” part of the segment. And oh, what a surprise, enter the girly sister. Jennifer even gets her own bugoutbag from Mike…and it’s even pink! And so is the duct tape inside! Her rationale for not thinking about issues of survival is apparently, “If something happened I don’t see us surviving, so what’s the point?” Ohboy.

Thankfully, Mike’s wife is on-board with his prepping…but she has the serious kind of epilepsy. That’s all I’m gonna say on that topic, because the association of certain movements with certain 20th century political movements effectively make it impossible to ever talk about improving genetic health without being branded a monster by most folks.

While Mike grows St. John’s Wort in the garden as a maybe-backup to her month’s supply of medications, in Mike’s ‘occupying terrorists’ scenario the terrorists have also occupied the pharmacies! Mike and Jessica then go exploring Salem’s storm sewers with map in hand, hopefully coming up near one of these ‘occupied’ pharmacies (they don’t). I mean, it’s fun to explore sewers and such, but in this case because it’s as part of such a weird hypothetical situation…I dunno. Meh.

The experts give them 52 points for five month’s initial survival time.

Doomsday Preppers: David Sarti

The series’ second episode begins by featuring David Sarti. As I understand, he’s a youtube personality from Tennessee and gets a lot of heat for his weight, so I’ll try to be constructive.
As an ex-trucker, he draws inspiration from what he knows—he’s apparently concerned that an EMP will destroy the transportation system of the country—and so focuses his preps on radio, food storage, and yappy-dog-based security.

While I disagree with a civilized, grain-based diet, I like that his food storage is basically huge sealed bins of dried corn, and he’s well-aware of the monotony of eating the same thing. However, if he thinks that eating cornbread will be boring, it’s probably because he’s not eating ‘Yankee’ cornbread (which is sweetened, unlike the southern stuff). He should try my mom’s recipe.

He says, “People believe they can just become hermits. That’s fine and dandy, but if you want to rebuild society, you need to communicate.” Look, David, I get it – you’re a HAM guy, you’re used to chatting on the CB, you like to talk, so you focus on comms. I understand what you mean—hell, I’ve had dreams where I was back on the radio again, broadcasting useful postapocalyptic info out into the wasteland—and I hate to be a broken record, but people need to get over this obsession with rebuilding. If you’re going to talk about rebuilding, at least try to think outside the civilized box.

With regards to health and fitness, this guy is a perfect candidate for a killer juice fast, a la Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. I’m starting to realize that there’s a ‘trucker body type’ and it can best be described as…morbidly American.  If nothing else, let him serve as a motivation for others: this is what a civilized, processed-food, sedentary lifestyle looks like.

Doomsday Preppers: Megan Hurwitt

Ahh, the Texan ‘twentysomething urban party-girl survivalist’.
Unrelated to her survival strategy, there was just something…off…about this girl. I’m not sure what it was; maybe she’s too eager or anxious or whatever. The shot of her toasting the end of the world (there’s a lot of this on the show) with her girlfriends was kind of weird. She enthusiastically claims that she’s “prepping for a catastrophic oil crisis, and when the SHTF I’ll be fitter than you are!” Okay, so you’re using this as motivation for physical fitness? That’s valid, but remember that there’s more to survival (and overall wellness, for that matter) than just being physically fit. Anything else?

In addition to LOTS OF BULLETS, she claims to have a seed bank for vegetables and herbs, but I really don’t see much evidence of her capability or willingness to actually grow any, as she seems to be more focused on exercising on playground equipment.

Apparently, if they have to bug out, the boyfriend is going to kill the cats. Which is really stupid: if you’re going to kill them, you could at least have the respect to ensure that they didn’t die for nothing, and eat the damn things. Maybe their spoiled lives could give you that extra bit of protein needed to sustain you on your ill-advised trip through the wasteland.
Speaking of the wasteland: for future reference, if you want to try and evacuate yourself from a potentially dangerous area without attracting attention, 1) don’t do it with your headlamp blazing, and 2) put on some pants. Also, I’ve been to urban Texas; calling sewer lines and rivers ‘somewhat-fresh streams of water’ is a huge overstatement. Sure, I guess you could purify them, but only after you strained out all the shit and dead armadillos.

But wait, what? She’s waiting for everyone to leave, and then she’s bugging out?! I thought the whole idea behind a bugout was to leave at the first indication that things were about to go south, so you’re long gone by the time they do? Honey, that’s not a bugout, that’s too little, too late.

Additionally, even though her prepping plan is based around a gas crisis, she still seems to think there will be opportunities to get more fuel for her truck…on the way down to (wait for it!)…Mexico. Why she plans on going south of the border of all places, I dunno; living in Tejas, she should know full well that that country has been teetering on the precipice of becoming a failed state for years.

However, it’s nice to see her getting some rudimentary bushcraft training; I would happily choose a sharp piece of flint over a dull piece of steel any day. (This is as good a time as any to mention the shows’ messages that pop up from time to time, usually to correct a mistake uttered by one of the preppers. Case in point: Megan claims that cooking catfish will reduce its nutrients; caption: Cooking fish doesn’t affect nutrition. But it will kill parasites!)

Part of the ‘experts’ evaluation of her strategy is “your food is inadequate.” Her response (“That’s all we can afford!”) shows that this poor girl is obviously unaware of the criminal amount of quality food out there just waiting to be scavenged for free.

And, in the end, she decides the best thing to do is enlist in the US Army. :-/

I came across an interesting interview with Ms. Hurwitt in which she explains the extent of the editing done to this show. She thankfully comes off as much less of a nutbag.

Barefoot in a war-zone

Early last month, I heard a story on NPR about the US Army taking a stance on so-called ‘minimalist shoes’.  Basically, the top brass decided to crack down on these alternative shoes and that servicemen and women must now wear standard footwear.  When the story came on the radio, I thought, “Well, duh.”  I can’t say I was really surprised that the Army made this ruling and prohibited the use of minimalist shoes by its personnel: they claim these types of shoes “detract from a professional military image”, and I’m sure they do – the whole point of a uniformed standing army is that you’re all supposed to look the same.

Apparently, the Army isn’t having a problem with grunts wearing these shoes while out on missions (which would be absolutely silly, but not for the reasons you’d expect), but instead when they’re out doing PT (physical training).  This is where I have to disagree with the ruling.  If you want your personnel to be in top physical condition, minimalist shoes —since there is no way on Earth the Army would let people train while actually barefoot (like hippies!)— are the way to go.  The benefits of this type of running have been espoused byplenty so I won’t bore you with a retread of the topic.  I usually run barefoot and I’ve seen the advantages, but I hate pushy folks who try to convert others to their way of thinking, so if somebody wants to give barefoot running a try, it’s up to them.

Actually, I kind of wish some Army guys had been running missions while wearing these kind of shoes before this ruling went out, so that I could point and laugh.

Honestly, wouldn't you?

Not because of how silly a decked-out-in-full-battle-rattle grunt would look while wearing colorful rubber gorilla feet but because of how incompatible the conflicting ideologies are.

Your average Army man—wearing combat boots and body armor, carrying an 80 or 100-pound ruck and some kinda black rifle—is a product of the ‘civilized’ world’s military-industrial complex.  He carries everything he needs on his back.  He’s big, loud, and heavy, and you can be sure his feet strike heel-first when he runs.

Compare him to your barefoot Bushman.  This fast and light fellow carries little more than a bow and a handful of arrows, because as a hunter in his natural habitat, he is in his element.  Everything he needs, Nature provides.  He’s ‘uncivilized’, but he’s healthier and happier than you or I.  Emulate him.