Posts Tagged ‘family’

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.

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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!

Doomsday Preppers: Greg

© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
Our other prepper in this episode is Greg (no last name, though this is his website, and youtube channel)
Greg lives in the ‘burbs south of Nashville with a wife, daughter, and son. His prevailing worry is for an “economic collapse and the chaos that will follow”.
He goes on to recite the usual mantra about how after a collapse, money will be worthless and one’s savings account will just be numbers on paper. However, what he (or anybody else, for that matter) doesn’t seem to realize is that said money is already inherently worthless—everyone just treats it as valuable because everybody else still goes along with it. ‘Money’ is weird that way.

He shows off his preps in the ’burbs home—rain barrels, eight months of food, a garden, and rabbits. Not bad! Plus, we see that most of that stored food is home-canned, which is even better.
In addition to the house in the ’burbs, he also has a 30-acre property at an undisclosed rural location.

On this property Greg wants to build an innovative shelter for his family—instead of bugging out when things look rough, he wants to bug up. Apparently, Greg has had this idea for an ‘invisible treehouse’ for a while, and the producers thought it was so crazy they helped him make it happen. And so the majority of the segment is spent building this mirrored-box-on-stilts in the woods. Basically, it’s based around the idea of ‘adaptive camouflage’ so that it will always reflect its surroundings, which is handy for changing seasons. Of course, if you go out at night with a flashlight it’d be seen a mile away.
Semantically, I’m not even sure they should be calling it a ‘treehouse’—which in my mind, should involve being built in/on/around an actual tree. This thing is more of a ‘high hide among trees’. Whatever.
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
In the larger scheme of things, however, this ‘treehouse’ really just takes the place of other preppers’ underground backyard bunkers, in that they speak of escaping to them without a real plan in mind. Sure, you might stash some foodbuckets in your shelter, but to what end? How long do you expect to be staying there? How are you going to occupy your time while you’re there? These things deserve serious consideration.
Anyway, since Greg’s hypothetical scenario involves his family holing up in the ‘treehouse’, while—like the previous subject—he remains their sole protector (get them involved), he digs a little ‘spider hole’ nearby to help him get the drop on any intruders. Hey, at least his little periscope is pretty neat.

Oh, and in the interest of drama, Greg’s wife is scared of heights and so is unwilling to climb the rope ladder into the treehouse? His solution is to screw a board behind it so that the climber doesn’t swing while climbing; however this addition kind of negates the whole camouflaged point of the structure. Meh; whatever.

Doomsday Preppers: Robert

After a break for Thanksgivukkah, I’m back with season three’s next collection of elaborate survival-related construction projects, episode Survival is an Ugly Beast.
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentFirst up is Robert (no last name) of somewhere outside Dallas, TX; the episode guide says he operates a ‘survival store’ in the area?

He’s a former serviceman (Airforce) and it shows. It’s kind of disarming, because his face really reminds me of Cody Lundin, except that Rob ’Roids is bald, sweaty, sausage-necked, and on the complete opposite side of the spectrum from the AboDude.

Anyway, Rob is “preparing for martial law”, *summarily execute mannequin*; so…that’s pretty telling.
As before, a minimal amount of time is spent ‘showing off preps’. Their around-the-house stuff isn’t horrible: in addition to two years’ worth of stacked foodbuckets, he has two pretty big pv-solar panels and a battery bank he claims can power the house for a week. Not sure if that’s a week of normal Amerikan usage (all the lights on, bigscreen TV, A/C, dishwasher, &c.), but if they were to preemptively adopt a low-power lifestyle, that stored juice might last them two weeks or more, post-disaster! Also, I’m not sure if the batteries are ‘saved’ for emergency use only or if they just use that juice day-to-day? I’m hoping the latter, though I suspect the former.

And while the narrator announces that “Rob makes his own bullets”, it’d be more accurate to say he’s a reloader. Which of course brings us to his ‘stockpile of weapons’, because “firearms are important at any time, but especially after martial law is declared!” Alright, if you say so.
Rob shows off his arsenal of overpowered, high-capacity boom-sticks, up to and including a .50-caliber rifle (“If you can’t stop them with this, you probably need a tank!”—which is apparently what he expects to go up against).
Ugh. Seriously, this kind of puffed-up, ‘guns equal masculinity’, fetishizing, overcompensation nonsense is possibly the most significant—yet overlooked-by-most—root causes behind the rash of school- and other mass shootings in recent decades. Of course, you’ll never hear that perspective on the network news, which instead focus on mental health and gun control, which are easy to ‘fix’ in our system’s traditional manner—all together now: make a Program and throw money at it, while avoiding introspection and discussion (which might lead to making actual cultural changes). Blerg.

Anyway, Rob links up with his ‘Nam-vet friend Gary, and decides the best way to protect his “family, supplies, and freedoms” is to surround his property with booby-traps. Honestly, I have a feeling we’re just seeing two grown men cutting loose and getting to act like boys for an afternoon. Because grown men making (and seriously considering using) booby-traps is all kinds of silly/disturbing, but goofing off with powertools and guns and building ridiculous, impractical ‘traps’ for shits and giggles sounds a whole lot like what I did with my buddies on the weekends in high school.

So, first up is an auditory alarm (tripwire + rat trap + shotshell), which doesn’t work. They bump it up a notch and move to tripwire + red phosphorus flares, which actually works, but will also probably burn down whatever tree you attach it to. Also, every single deer, coyote, or wild hog in the neighborhood would be setting off traps left and right. These are the kinds of things one must consider if you don’t want to do things half-assed.

Next up is essentially a punji-stick pit trap. Hey, don’t forget to smear ‘em with poop!
They ‘test’ it with a pig’s head. Whoo. I guess either Rob is only considering two-legged intruders, or he’s really hurting for wild game, because widespread use of spikey fall traps would result in a whole lotta dead-or-maimed critters.
Last up—because it’s not an episode of Doomsday Preppers without a tannerite explosion!—they put some boom-powder in some livestock tubs, surround with mannequins, and explode. Whoo.

Oh, and because context is for the weak, there’s a bit in which Rob tests out some one-way bulletproof glass. He shoots at it from one side, and then crawls into an empty oil drum and shoots up another mannequin. No idea what the point of that was, but for what it’s worth, enclosed metal spaces aren’t the best for shooting in without ear/eye protection.

And in the midst of all this, there’s a big chunk of drama spent worrying about a thunderstorm when Rob’s wife Wendy runs to pick up their daughter at school; she’s a little late getting back and Rob turns into a nervous wreck, because as he says, pretty much his only reason for existing is to protect them. Yet again—why not get the wife and daughter involved?: take a family survival course, get some skills and know-how, make sure every vehicle has a roadside survival kit, and hope for the best? I’m totally sick of all of these gung-ho, ex-mil Patriarchs thinking that the responsibility for family safety falls entirely on their shoulders—it shouldn’t.

The experts’ scoreless assessment pats Rob on the back for doing some TV-friendly stunts and suggests he think about storing seeds for food resupply. Rob responds with some corporate/military buzzword-y nonsense.

Doomsday Preppers: Kevin Barber

Like I said, ‘We Are the Marauders’ thankfully only referred to the previous numbskull. The other half of the episode consists of an update from a previous family profiled at the end of Season Two. And even better, this is a family that’s doing great things!
That’s right, Kevin Barber is back!

and, might I say, rocking a sweet suntan!

Last time we saw them, the Barbers had just packed up their suburban Kansas lives into a shipping container and moved to Costa Rica, where they set up a chicken coop and proceeded to eat a dozen kinds of fruit right off the trees.

They’re still required to have a single-issue preparedness motivator, so Kevin’s is still US&A Economic Collapse, but unlike pretty much every other person who talks into the camera on this show, Kevin doesn’t sound scared, paranoid, or like he’s spoiling for a fight, post-collapse. Instead, there’s just calm, levelheaded, healthy confidence. I wonder why that is? Could it be—just maybe—that Kevin seems to have peace of mind because his family’s survival plan takes a form that actually addresses his feared disaster? He’s not focused on hoarding guns, bullets, and purchased foodbuckets, or buttoning up in a concrete bunker—the Type I strategy held up by most would-be preppers as the one-size-fits-all ‘solution’ to every collapse contingency; such thinking is painfully inside-the-Box and as such only serves to play into the hand of the capitalist/consumerist system that bred the collapse in the first place. I have to believe the aura of fear that most preppers fairly radiate can only result from the realization that deep down, they know these ‘solutions’ are only temporary stop-gap measures: kicking the can, if you will, another six months or so further down the road (hmm, much like the US&A’s current infuriating pattern of debt-ceiling limit raising).
On the other hand we have Kevin Barber – who, instead of stumbling forward blind and unthinking, has hit the brakes on his suburban American daydream life long enough to take a good look at it, see what needs fixing, and make concrete changes to his way of life.

Down on their tropical homestead, we see Kevin and his wife setting up rain barrels for water storage, showing off their chicken coop, and compost system. In an extension of their last appearance, they’re now butchering their own chicken by themselves, AND they say some nice words for it before they dispatch it! Awesome.

However, the majority of the segment follows the family as they set up an aquaponics system, which unfortunately is chopped into five-minute snippets and spliced with said previous ‘marauder’ asshat. Blerg, I swear, the decision this season to intercut between segments has resulted in a whittling down of actual material by about half…which means the other half is spent recapping what we’ve just seen five minutes before. Ultimately I’m afraid it’s a chicken-or-egg quandary—is this kind of programming a cause of shorter attention spans, or simply appealing to them?

While they’re working on getting set up, a caption suggests that aquaponics may date back to the Aztec use of floating gardens (the chinampa system), which is a pretty cool idea; I’d never thought of it like that before, but it’s totally valid!
When the time comes for Kevin to dig the pits to put his various fish ponds and algae tanks in, he doesn’t foolishly attempt to do it single-handedly (as you might expect of a deluded, gung-ho, lone-wolf prepper)—he gets the neighbors involved! AND he speaks Spanish while working with them! Imagine that! Building community by coming to together to build a system that can contribute to a local, resilient economy! In other words, Kevin has taken a gigantic step towards true survival, a notion that terrifies Amerikans—he has ‘gone native’. How’s that for progress?!

In the end, this family is too cool. Major thumbs-up. Their ducks look to be all in a row, and they have the groundwork laid for a great life off the grid…now if people in this country would only realize that they could do the same thing, without moving to Costa Rica.

Doomsday Preppers: Curt S.

This episode only spends time on one other person, ‘Curt S.’ of Somewhere in Oregon.

His artificial, single motivating fear is yet another ‘economic collapse’. While we’re just one episode in, I have a feeling that lone issue will continue to dominate the fears of those profiled on the show, just as it did last season (in which fully 50% described their fear of ‘economic collapse’, while none ever suggested that they understood why such a collapse is historically inevitable. It’s simple sustainability, folks).

In his mandatory talk-to-the-camera soundbite, Curt explains how “Government has been infiltrated by corporations, banks, financial institutions, labor unions, and special interests.” Alright now, ♪one of these things is not like the other ones!♪  Can you spot it? If you picked Labor Unions, you’re right! I’m not sure where this guy stands on the US&A two-party-political spectrum (I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the vicinity of Tea Party), but what’s wrong with labor unions? I pick up that they’ve got a reputation for taking mandatory breaks (“laziness”), but when the alternative is to treat workers like expendable cogs—as our prevailing production economy is designed to do—unions are about the only ones doing the right thing and treating workers like actual humans (or at least giving them the best possible treatment, given the work-or-starve coercion inherent in a civilized production economy).
There’s also a timely bit where he describes how there will be “very little commerce happening in America when the debt is due and the government shuts down!” Haha, how about that?! Of course, our most recent partial shutdown ended by kicking the debt-can down the road another six months, so we’ll likely have to go through the whole compounding Mess all over again soon enough. Also, he’s clearly operating under a civilized, limited concept of ‘commerce’. Believe me, folks on this continent were shipping useful stuff all over the place sans central government long before Whitey showed up.

Anyway, Curt’s family live on 80 acres of high desert, which it seems they’re eventually working towards making more self-sufficient and off-grid. Towards this goal, they’ve “built” a two-million-gallon lake (water supply), hooked up a 2400-watt pv solar array, and set up a 3,000-square-foot greenhouse (or at least, they’ve erected the framework). And then Curt proudly proclaims that he has thirty bug-out vehicles. Wait, what? I really hope he’s a mechanic or something. I can understand the need for redundancy, but seriously: a man, woman, and two children do not necessitate having that many vehicles. Do they even have the precious Juice to run them all? I doubt it.

And to defend the compound, he boasts of owning 30 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. Dude, it’s too late, but next time you have the opportunity to broadcast the details of your arsenal to the whole world, take a deep breath…and then, don’t.

He takes the kids out back and they all do some offhand plinking. While there’s some initial anxiety (inherent in getting a nine-year-old girl to shoot a large-caliber rifle (SKS love!)), at least he doesn’t frame it all obnoxious and tactical, and drill the idea that they’re ‘gonna hafta shoot marauders one day’ into the poor girl’s head—it’s simply good skill practice in the backyard.

Curt is apparently very proud of his family compound’s isolation out in the sticks—he considers “not being near anybody one of your greatest defenses”—yeah, if you’re a deluded lone-wolf. If you were part of a community of self-reliant-but-connected (y’know, in the interest of ‘commerce’) families, that isolation would be a major weakness.

There’s a section where he gets a welding buddy to help him make a steel shield to block off the stairs inside their house. Note to producers: you lost an opportunity for more ratings—you could’ve shot at it first! And while we’re not sure how they plan to implement said shield (complete with peepholes and shotgun port), Curt spells out the reasoning behind it loud and clear—to keep people from “getting into my home and taking my Stuff!

Naturally, since we live in a Juice-guzzling, automobile-fetishizing culture and this show loves to pander to the lowest common denominator, a big chunk of this segment is concerned with souping up Curt’s old Bronco into a homemade tank “to survive doomsday roads”. I don’t get it—if everyone else is out of gas, who do they think they’ll have to outrun?

Anyway, they add a couple tons of steel plates, pipes, and a cowcatcher—so I think we can safely assume the vehicle’s fuel economy is now measured in gallons per mile?
Once the rig is finished, they just have to test it out, so they decide to replicate a typical driving situation in their hypothetical doomsday, by making a ‘roadblock’ (pile of burning shipping pallets). The armored truck easily plows through, kicks up some sparks, and everybody hoots and hollers and congratulates each other like they just landed a man on the moon or something. Boys with their toys…
Oh, and there’s another source of drama while all this car-modifying is going on—there’s a forest fire! Everybody freaks out (because I guess they didn’t factor local natural disasters into their plans), and piles into trucks and bugs out. But the fire department gets it under control and they promptly turn around and get back to welding. For future reference, if you’re in an area at risk for large fires, perhaps consider building your survival home from a fire-resistant material (I recommend cob); additionally, think about integrating fire-breaks into your compound’s design (hopefully stopping a fire in its tracks, or else letting it pass by with minimal damage).
Which brings me to woodlands, our country’s management of them…and the application via analogy of one to the other.
When I read articles on the effects of climate change, there’s always a mention of ‘increased likelihood of major forest fires’. Usually the author suggests such fires will result from severe droughts, but as long as we’re talking anthropogenic environmental damage, why does nobody ever bring up Smokey Bear? But what could possibly be wrong with that beloved pants-wearing, shovel-wielding ursine USFS propaganda-mouthpiece, you might ask? Simply this: the success of Smokey’s staunch anti-forest/wild-fire campaign (and Disney’s Bambi, for that matter) has resulted not in healthier forests, but in the conversion of woodlands (especially those Out West) into massive tinderboxes, by successfully applying a human moral code to natural processes, labeling forest fires as ‘bad’, and teaching impressionable younglings that they are to be prevented at all costs. In truth, these ecosystems evolved to rely on periodic burningsto remove undergrowth, enrich soil, and actually ‘activate’ certain kinds of coniferous seeds. By preventing regular burning (itself a key element in the economies and livelihoods of many successful, sustainable indigenous American cultures) from taking place, the Smokey campaign allowed scrub, undergrowth, and dead trees (a.k.a. FUEL) to build up, waiting for lightning or a clueless hiker to ignite it. The addition of climate-change-amplified drought and increased wind patterns into the equation simply means that the inevitable firestorms will be all that more intense.

Ready for the fun part? May I direct you to Chris Hedge’s latest missive, cleverly pointing out that the American/Corporatcrat system (although his position is completely applicable to the larger Western/Capitalist/Civilized matrix) currently takes the form of an unburned tinderbox. And like the woodlands of pre-Contact America, periodic burnings are required to ensure the health of the forest. The only question that remains is this: where will the spark come from?

Doomsday Preppers: Rodney Dial

I had really hoped Doomsday Preppers had jumped the shark after their mini-season, but alas.
And so…they’re back. Can we really be surprised this show—loathsome parade of swagger and dick-measuring that it is—got picked up for a third season? When ratings (=profit$) are involved, of course not!
Because I really do have better things to do, until I see someone on this show doing really good things (y’know, demonstrating positive, life-affirming attitudes, progressive thinking, and real solutions—in other words, the polar opposite of what I think we’re in for this season), I’m gonna try and keep these commentaries short.
S03E01(‘Take Back the Country!’) opens with Rodney Dial of Ketchikan, Alaska.
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentHe’s worried about “a major earthquake in the Alaska area”, which would likely result in a large tsunami. This is not entirely irrational, seeing how he’s right on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

As we’ve come to expect by this point, Rodney couches his fears using the same worn-out Survivalist mantra of ‘after three days without groceries, people go crazy!’. But don’t worry, because he also believes that “after a tsunami, only those who know how to live off the land would survive”.
Of course this sequence is intercut with a bunch of stock footage of rioting crowds in urban centers, which really clashes when juxtaposed against Ketchikan’s “quiet fishing village”. Seriously, with the right pre-disaster attitude, a small-ish town (Ketchikan is only about 8,000 people) stands a way better chance (compared to a major metropolis) of actually becoming a real community and coming together for mutual support in the event of a disaster!

Rodney apparently has “20 years of military experience”, so you know what that means—he’s all about black tactical crap, big talk, and showing off! Oh, and he runs a tattoo parlor.
Apparently, he’s dropped $100k on his wholly misguided ‘preps’—these include a 5,000-gallon grain-bin-as-rain-barrel (cool idea, but how watertight would that be?) and only six months’ worth of food storage (for a family of three), but don’t worry, he has a tank! (clearly used as mobile advertising for his tattoo shop):

© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment

boys and their toys…*eyeroll*

Our narrator points out Rodney’s battlewagon is designed “to establish authority”—in other words, let folks know you’re the one holding power over their lives. This, of course, has been the policy of every Younger Culture military from Uruk up to Amerika: flaunt all the life-destroying goodies you’ve made, to keep the citizenry in line and make sure they know who’s in charge.
Rodney’s teenage daughter thinks dad’s tank is “kind of embarrassing”, and I have to agree—seriously, couldn’t he have just bought a red convertible like all the other mid-life crisis dads?

There’s a bit where Rodney goes scubadiving for sea cucumbers for the family to eat. “They’re everywhere here!” he says, which I’m pretty sure is exactly what they said about Atlantic cod, bluefin tuna, and the American bison. Thankfully, as soon as Rodney says that, a caption pops up, mirroring my thoughts—letting us know that overharvesting of sea cucumbers is strictly regulated. Of course, such in-system sanctions do nothing to combat the deeper, more insidious implications: this Man helps himself to these organisms because he has been taught by his culture that he is superior to them, and so he can continue to exploit them, giving nothing back, until they are gone. This is the pattern of our civilization.

About half of Rodney’s segment is wrapped up with his delusion of making underwater supply tube-caches to keep goodies out of the hands of his lawless neighbors. There’s some drama resulting from forcing a typical teenage girl to do something she doesn’t want to (she gets a piece of metal in her eye; she gets better), meh. They weld up these steel tubes and drop them out in the ocean (hope they don’t rust in the saltwater!), because if they can’t have supplies, nobody can! (or…something). Apparently, while they don’t want to rely on a boat (which could be lost in our hypothetical tsunami) to retrieve their caches, they do want to rely on terrestrial landmarks like trees? I got news for ya, dude—if your tsunami does go down, the landscape’s gonna look pretty different.
At least he has a cool improvised tank-free diving setup, using an innertube, compressor and battery.

Oh, and of course: to keep us watching, it looks like they’re cutting each show’s segments together, so unlike in previous seasons, we don’t just get a 15-minute block of JoeBob, then a block of BobbyJoe. This of course gives the producers more opportunities for dramatic cutaways. Ugh.

Aaannnd…it also looks like they’ve done away with season two’s ‘expert assessment’ scores? We still have an ‘assessment’ section, but it’s not quantitative: it’s mostly just the narrator telling our subjects ‘good job on buying enough stuff to make you feel ‘prepared’; now think about how you’re going to refill those foodbuckets’.