Posts Tagged ‘history’

Midsummer Foraging Fun with Garlic Mustard!

[Editor’s note: I originally wrote (and promptly forgot about) this back in June. Ah well, better late than never!]

If you’re not involved in invasive species control, you might not be very familiar with garlic mustard. Which is too bad, because everybody should know about it—this European plant is a major problem in North America these days. Luckily, unlike a lot of the nastier (usually Asian) imports, this one is at least good for something!
In fact, g.m. is one of the oldest known cooking spices—its use dates back all the way to the Old European Neolithic!

Since we’ve just passed the summer solstice, now is the perfect time to get out in the woods and kill two birds with one stone—help rehabilitate our local environment, as well as harvest a tasty seasoning! Earlier in the spring, g.m. can be gathered fresh and the leaves used to flavor dishes, but by now most of the plant has died back, leaving the seed pods for easy identification.

I took a quick barefoot woods-walk this afternoon, and in about twenty minutes managed to gather a good bundle of dried stalks:
Garlic mustard plants (June)
Because the delicate dried pods (or “siliques” for all you botanists out there) that contain the seeds will break open if you look at them the wrong way—and since we’d also like to prevent the spread of g.m.—it’s best to take extreme care while you pull the plant up by the roots to keep the seeds from shooting everywhere.
Garlic mustard pods
Once you have your bundle of plants, you can ‘shuck’ or strip the pods off the stalks; from here, it’s a simple matter of agitating the pods to release the seeds (I ground them around in this stone mortar before rolling bundles between my hands, and then winnowed away the chaff:Garlic mustard chaff
Garlic mustard seeds Now that I’m left with an ounce or so of pure seeds, I’m going to experiment and keep some plain and roast some others (to facilitate easier grinding), and then do some living history and season some venison with it. The seeds by themselves smell deliciously savory, with a hint of horseradish!


Doomsday Preppers: Dan Rojas

The other half of ‘Total Destruction!’ takes a look at Dan Rojas, of Tampa, Florida, which the show claims is the ‘lightning capital’ of the US&A. Yikes. So…just another reason to stay out of the Sunshine State?
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
Since he lives in the lightning capital, Dan’s prepping fear is for a Mega-Lightning Storm, one that could knock out the grid for an inconveniently long time. Hey, I’ll say this—that’s much more reasonable than an EMP doing the same thing, and given the intensification we’re seeing in changing climatic patterns, probably more likely.
A bit later in the segment, Dan says he believes such a megastorm could “create a modern-day Dark Age.” Unfortunately for us, that term is firmly rooted in our culture’s Myth of Progress, and it’s pretty fallacious. Recognize that the term ‘Dark Age’ only arose during the Renaissance, essentially cooked up by the PR spin-doctors of the day to convince the people into believing they were living through an extraordinary time of cultural rebirth and innovation, totally worlds away from those dirty, backwards ‘Dark Ages’. I think Michael Crichton said it best:

“If a benighted medieval world has proven a durable misconception, it may be because it confirms a cherished contemporary belief—that our species always moves forward to ever better and more enlightened ways of life. This belief is utter fantasy, but it dies hard. It is especially difficult for modern people to conceive that our modern, scientific age might not be an improvement over the prescientific period.”

Anyway, to prepare for an eventual grid-down scenario, Dan is making some solid choices to give his family a major step up on most folks. Although it’s given barely more than a mention, it looks like their entire backyard has been converted to a massive aquaponics system. Additionally, Dan and Denise have incorporated exercise routines into their day-to-day work—which is something that seems to be sorely lacking in most Preppers’ plans.

Because it’s not enough to spend more time showing the audience helpful innovations, instead the producers inject a bit of DRAMA and have the family do a lightning storm ‘bug-in’ drill—this amounts to running around, locking animals in cages, and—quite literally—trying to herd a cat. Whatever, it’s all for ratings.

Thankfully, we get down to the meat of the segment fairly quickly, and get to watch Dan put together a totally awesome The-Sun-Provides-For-Everything ‘survival station’. They start out with a visit to the local pawn shop to track down a pre-flatscreen television, containing a precious giant fresnel lens. Back at home, Dan (genius backyard scientist that he is) bolts together a frame to hold the lens, adds sun-tracking capability (solar-powered, of course), and right off the bat, starts a fire in second.

From here, they pretty much just go nuts, using the abundant, free energy from our nearest star to make potable water (boiling pond water), cook chicken (using a parabolic mirror and cast-iron skillet, instead of the fresnel’s direct beam death-ray), and even melt zinc metal to cast a shiny, intimidating hunting knife. Basically, there’s nothing you can’t do with solar.
Just don’t call it ‘cool’. *rimshot*

I’ve poked around through Dan’s youtube channel, and he’s doing some pretty wild stuff; definitely worth checking out. It’s nice to see folks putting this how-to/diy kind of info out there, so that everyday people will see what’s possible in off-grid tech. I’m just waiting for the day when Dan’s niche isn’t considered ‘alternative tech’, but just ‘tech’.

Doomsday Preppers: Chad Hudspeth

Season three continues with episode two, ‘The Fight Ahead’.

As before, we cut between two families undertaking television-friendly stunts that really have little to do with true survival, much less addressing the root causes that necessitate the need (in their minds) for such measures.
First off is Chad Hudspeth, from Phoenix, Arizona.
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
Oh, where to begin?
Well, how about Arizona? What’s wrong with Arizona, you ask? Well, there’s nothing wrong with the area itself, just with Our culture’s approach to living there, which is—as usual—a one-size-fits-all solution: dig a concrete foundation (oriented to an arbitrary direction, because self-regulating, south-facing, passive-solar houses are for hippies), erect some stick-framing and drywall, call it a house, and then hook it up to The Grid. Unfortunately for the people living there, the truth is if it weren’t for that grid infrastructure, cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix simply Would. Not. Exist.:

“…the region has exceeded its natural carrying capacity so such an extreme degree that even mild to moderate disruptions in the energy supply will be disastrous. Transportation, air conditioning, and water distribution will become critically problematic in the years ahead. As oil- and gas-based agriculture fails, and it becomes necessary to grow more food locally, places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, Albuquerque,  and Los Angeles will painfully rediscover that they exist in deserts.”

Built to conform to our culture’s prevailing ostrich-like attitude (which denies the possibility that the grid could ever fail), such cities are completely reliant on Hoover Dam electricity for air conditioning (because it’s hot in the desert and our culture insists on building aboveground), petrol juice (for commuting to and from the sprawl), food, and water (from underwater aquifers which are being depleted faster than they are being replenished, because it’s the desert). What’s the answer? Probably first recognize the inherent weaknesses of the system as Kunstler and I have just broken it down (and then get out), but if you’re going to continue to stay in this environment, you might want to study the strategies—both successful and unsuccessful—of the indigenous locals.

With that out of the way, right off the bat, I pick up on a certain amount of, shall we say…off-ness in Chad’s obligatory talk-at-the-camera moments. He seems like someone who might know just enough to be dangerous, but he got his details from the wrong sources. For starters, he opens by explaining how “the Founding Fathers thought government was a terrible evil”.
Ohhh-kaayyy… I’m pretty sure that as Male, White, Western property-holders (aka the elites of their society – those with the most to gain from a formal, civilized, capital-g Government), they all thought top-down governing was pretty fine. True, there may have been some quibbles about the specifics of said governing (see Hamilton’s Federalism versus Jefferson’s more liberal model), and while the Framers did try to work in some more pure-Democratic, Anglo-Saxon and Iroquois influences (all that “by/of/for the People stuff”), the American system still came out pretty damn centralized. The pyramid might have three checked-and-balanced branches at the top, but it’s still a pyramid.

Chad seems to believe that the Powers That Be are “in control of policies coming down the pipe that are evil, something something not for the good of the people.” Is he a Tea Partier trying to make a veiled reference to the Affordable Care Act, or is this some conspiracy-theory stuff about how the guvvmint is controlling our minds with chemtrails and HAARP antennas in Alaska?
Either way, he believes that “As the man, it’s my responsibility and duty to protect my family.” Y’know, because women can’t be counted upon to protect themselves without a man around? A little later, his wife explains how her favorite survival tactic is Prayer, and she believes the scripture that says she’s supposed to defer and be submissive to her husband who knows best. Because hey, six thousand years of Patriarchy can’t be wrong! You know what a better, real survival tactic is? Re-empowering women. Seriously, FUCK THIS SHIT.

Oh, did I mention that Chad’s supposed fear is of a “nuclear strike by the US government, resulting in a genocidal siege”? … Again: ooookay. Hey, look on the bright side: at least it’s not economic collapse.

So, the positives:
Chad has a nice little aquaponics system in his backyard greenhouse. I think I saw some Swiss chard growing in it. He explains how “it’s far superior to traditional agriculture”: yeah, that’s because everything is far superior to traditional agriculture.
There’s about 30 seconds of his neighbor showing Chad how he can make biodiesel from the algae in his pond, but that’s all we get.
While the segment could have given the ignorant public a detailed breakdown of what the aqua system consists of and how it was put together, instead we get some tinfoil-hat fearmongering and a half-hour of digging holes with heavy equipment, because his plan is “to survive a genocidal siege by building a tunnel that will lead [his] family to safety”.

Like, I’m grateful that he’s not all Type I, gung-ho, ex-military, guns, gear, and-tacticrap (that’s the other half of this episode), but he could very easily go the other way and have a really solid footing to survive lots of disaster scenarios if he just focused his efforts on more sustainable food production—convert the whole backyard to aquaponics, or raised beds, or anything, really. Unfortunately, he’s really completely mainstream in his thinking, believing true survival can be attained through deft use of the all-powerful checkbook and credit card. As a caption informs us, “The first thing Chad did in his prepping was to take his funds out of the bank and invest in goods he thinks will flourish during martial law”. From the folks I’ve seen on this show, the most misguided ones are those who ‘turn Prepper’ overnight and take the same approach to being ‘prepared’ that we do to everything else in this culture—throw money at it! (Conversely, the best off are those who have already been living innovative, self-reliant, frugal lives, often as part of a community of like-minded folks.)
It’s as if Chad one day decided he was going to become a prepper, googled ‘prepping supplies’, and got roped into some fringe-y websites that told him he needed to bury a shipping container and build an escape tunnel through his backyard.

Unfortunately, Chad wraps up his segment saying: “I am an American. I have the American spirit. My advice to others would be to do the same things that I’ve done.” So, in other words, drop a lot of money on bullshit ‘solutions’ you mistakenly believe will somehow help you?

And then he says something about how “the men with the power have been swayed by demonic or satanic powers.” Wait, what??! Huh? Is he suggesting the Koch brothers are black-magick-wielding occultists? I have absolutely no idea what to make of that statement; like I said, the things he talks at the camera are just a bit off.

And as always, the experts tell him good job. And as always, final segment ‘The Odds’ functions as our dominant Mother Culture mouthpiece, once again reassuring us that we have “checks and balances to protect our personal freedoms and prevent any one group from taking power”, so go back to sleep.
Except for, y’know…corporations?

On ‘Children of Men’

I often describe this film to the unfortunate folks who haven’t heard of or seen it as “2007 turned up to 11” (actually, I think I did read an interview with the art director (or someone?) who explained that the future of the film had to be “like the present, but more so”). In that way, it’s like the cinematic equivalent of James McMurtry’s 2005 We Can’t Make It Here Anymore, a song that similarly captures the turned-up-to-11 bleakness of the Bush years:

Basically, it’s all the worst parts of the Oughts, where if you watched the news it looked like a possible war with Iran, climate change data was coming in and being disregarded, bird flu was on the horizon, Somalia was imploding (again), and it was gray and rainy for like, a month straight. Well, add a pandemic of infertility and throw it all into a blender with some beautiful cinematography and a very interesting soundtrack and Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men is what you get. In other words, because its roots are solidly in the actual present, it’s an entirely plausible (and thereby cautionary) future.

Together, this film and Max Brooks’ World War Z have probably had the biggest impact on my outlook of a postapocalyptic world; since both futures draw inspiration from histories past and present, both reinforce the fact that almost nothing happens in a vacuum: waves of refugees can result from distant wars (“Africa devastated by nuclear fallout” a background newspaper reads), rising sea levels (Maldives, anyone?), crop failures (don’t even get me started on totalitarian monocrop agriculture), &c.  It’s a good exercise—I can look at a scenario in one of these works and see how it might have come to be, and then pull back farther to see how it relates to what’s happening now.
By extension, these two properties have also played a huge role in influencing my philosophy on our idea of ‘survival’ in its current form, doomsday-ism, &c. As both are essentially topical, applicable, and political (as opposed to the apolitical, purely-entertainment ‘Zombie 2.0’ media wave), I don’t worry about The End of the World; I’ve always found it more important to focus on The End Of The World As We Know It (aka The End of Our Culture’s Unsustainable Way of Life), I educate myself on the key shatterpoints in play (and their root causes), and then imagine (or find in history) sustainable alternatives to embrace.

On a superficial level, this is also one of the few films where I see or pick up on something new each time I watch it (ditto for reading WWZ). I would love to see an annotated version of the film that takes time to point out all the little shout-outs (everything from Banksy’s art, Pink Floyd, and T.S. Elliot to next-gen military hardware and the use of oranges as foreshadowing a la The Godfather, &c.).
Actually, that might be a fun future post

Finally—and people always look at me like I’m batshit insane when I say this—this is my Christmas movie. Why? Best let me deconstruct it:

Our story takes place in December.
A man and an expecting woman travel together, going through many obstacles.
The woman is with child, but not by the man.
The woman’s child is the result of a miraculous conception.
The child will apparently redeem humanity.
The protagonist goes through his journey wearing sandals.

Now, did I just outline Cuaron’s Children of Men, or the story of the Nativity?

shanti shanti shanti!

The Suburbs: ‘Deep Blue’

Here are my place and time
And here in my own skin, I can finally begin
Let the century pass me by
Standing under a night sky, tomorrow means nothing

It was with this song that I first started to suspect that there was an ‘Arcade Fire Sound’, which I can now articulate as ‘dystopian songs in A-minor with funky electronic backings’.
Once again, we have a reference to at long last being able to start or begin. Could it be that our singer—like that of The Smashing Pumpkins’ Muzzle, with its epiphanic climaxis at last at peace with his place in the world? After all, in the infinitude of multiverse, there can really only be one you in this time, this place.
As for that last line, the night sky falls neatly into the category of uncivilized Wild imagery; when you spend time soaking in the non-human world, you begin to realize how silly our attempts to control the flow of time really are. Spend an evening stargazing and tomorrow really does mean nothing. Here’s an experiment: go to bed early one night, then get up an hour or two before sunrise, and just watch and experience how the sky changes colour in the foredawn. There’s something sublime about the slow glow of a sunrise that the instantaneous flick of an electrically-charged liquid crystal can never capture.

I was only a child then feeling barely alive
when I heard a song from the speaker of a passing car
And prayed to a dying star, the memory’s fading
I can almost remember singing la la la, la la la la…

Now, another quintessential-Butler verse vignette: our singer as a boy (if it’s Win, this takes place in the ’80s), a car drives past, the radio plays some half-forgotten song. As for the identity of that song, Win has suggested that it might’ve been Depeche Mode, which would be pretty awesome if that’s the case. My real question is—what’s the dying star? Is it the general state of things, or our relationship with technology (because at its heart, that’s what this—and the next—song is all about)?

We watched the end of the century
Compressed on a tiny screen, a dead star collapsing,
and we could see that something was ending
Are you through pretending? We saw its signs in the suburbs!

Now, after turning the page of the millennial calendar, things are different. Glowing screens abound; people walk around all day with shiny devices stuck to their faces, cutting them off from all those around them; people experience life with gadget-screen as intermediary, recording and uploading every trifling moment of our lives. We’re connected, but we’re not connecting.
When our singer “was only a child”, the star (and the state of things) was merely dying; twenty-odd years (an entirely insignificant amount of time, on the planetary scale) later, that star has now died, and begun to collapse.
What could they see that was ending? While I’d like to say ‘the System’ or ‘the suburban way of life’, I think it would hit closer to the mark to say a world in which people were just people—we weren’t completely married to (and overly reliant upon) our beeping, glowing screens just quite yet.
I suppose it’s possible the Singularity is the endpoint of this path down which we’re blindly proceeding, but we must remember that it didn’t happen overnight, the signs were there in the ’burbs for all to see.

You could never have predicted that it could see through you,
Kasparov, Deep Blue, 1996
Your mind’s pulling tricks now
The show is over so take a bow, we’re living in the shadows of…(something unintelligible)

Solid recent-history reference. For those of you who might not have been around or were busy watching MTV in 1996, Deep Blue was the IBM supercomputer that—with shades of Watson— saw through and beat chess champion Gary Kasparov in their first game. Granted, Kasparov eventually won the six-game match 4-2, but Deep Blue won the rematch 3½-2½ the following year.

Was Kasparov’s loss—to a machine—one of the “signs” seen in the suburbs?

The bit about living in the shadows is tricky, because it gets lost in the mix under the “la la la la” refrain; it might be “shadows of the night”, “shadows of the song”(that’d be a nice callback), or “shadows of the lie”, each of which could alter the interpretation of the song.

Hey, put the cellphone down for a while
In the night there is something wild, can you hear it breathing?
And hey, put the laptop down for a while
In the night there is something wild, I feel it, it’s leaving me

Note that they don’t sing, “Hey, throw the cellphone/laptop away”, just to “put [it] down for a while”. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the technology—cellphones and computers aren’t innately bad, if you use them to talk to friends and loved ones instead of playing Angry Birds or trolling the comment sections of Youtube—just don’t abuse and overdo it to the point of becoming grotesque and rococo, “where you have all this information that you don’t need or want but the medium is there so it’s filled up.”

(And yes, I’m completely aware of the irony that I’m writing this on my laptop, to be broadcast out into the electronic aether to be read by strangers. But at least when I’m done, I’m going to do just what Win and Regine say, and put the laptop down for a while, and go do some wood- and leatherworking with handtools.)

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.

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).