Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

Doomsday Preppers: Richard Huggins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Doomsday Preppers: Freda

The series’ next episode (‘Let ‘Er Rip!’) opens with a visit to the Virginia homestead of Freda Stemick.
fredasHer producer-enforced single issue is “Chaos, caused by an EMP attack due to World War III.” The way she sees it, “we are setting the stages worldwide” for a nuclear shootin’ match, involving “somebody shooting a warhead in our direction”. To which I have to congratulate NatGeo on their perfect timing, seeing as how this episode comes a few days after Pyongyang decided to ratchet up their saber-rattling, abandon their armistice, and cut all ties with South Korea.

Freda is apparently descended from some of the Hatfield clan, so because she happens to still live in the woods of Virginia (instead of say, downtown Chicago), the producers rely heavily on that angle to play up the ‘backwoods’/‘folksy’ nature of the segment; if I were just a little bit more rhetorically-minded, I could probably say something about how the show’s constructed image serves to reinforce Appalachian stereotypes. Or something.

It’s probably a good sign that one of the first things out of Freda’s mouth is a declaration that her family has lived in the “mountains and valleys” of Virginia for hundreds of years. Could’ve fooled me – that doesn’t sound very Virginian. Here in Kan-tuck-kee, we call ‘em “hills an’ hollers”.
She goes on to talk about her great frontiersy forebears who “hacked their way through the wilderness” (which, remember, was only a wilderness because the indigs who’d been tending the place like a garden for thousands of years had been wiped out).

Because she’s aware of the unsustainable nature of our just-in-time distribution system, Freda’s put a big focus on making her homestead as self-sufficient as possible, starting with food. She and boyfriend Mike Davis keep a nice garden to produce fresh veg, most of which it seems they home-can. However, I noticed that their jars are—as we’ve too often seen—just out on shelves, unprotected with no shock buffers or anything to keep them from smashing to the floor. Remember, just because you’re preparing for one possible contingency doesn’t mean a different one can’t sneak up on you: a tornado or earthquake or inland hurricane could always come along and turn your larder into a pile of un-canned food and broken glass.
They also keep a number of chickens, with the intention of using eggs as a compact, versatile form of true wealth. In other words, Freda is the first person on the show to advocate a Barrelhaven-style, eggs-based barter economy! Finally!

Because she fears that having an arsenal of firearms would make her a target for a gun-grabbing government in the event of martial law, she has a bare minimum of traditional armament—twelve gauge shotgun, nine millimeter pistol, compound bow. However, her ever-crafty boyfriend has made a set of ‘throwing stars’ with which he is apparently a pretty good shot. Despite being a fan of improvised and handmade equipment, I’m always wary of single-use (weapon-only) items. Like I’ve said before, I find hatchet-throwing to be a useful skill.

While they’re supposedly in a pretty isolated area (though I saw big trucks passing through the trees several times) they’re concerned about smoke from their cooking fires attracting attention, so they decide to test out their solar oven!
Now, this is a subject with which I actually have experience, and so, some thoughts on the subject.
It should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of solar cooking; over the years I’ve cooked or dehydrated bushels of apples, bananas, peaches, tomatoes, daylilies (even mini pizzas!), using nothing more than the free and abundant energy radiating from the nearest star.
I’m not really a fan of the design of the oven we see them use (it’s basically a wooden cold-frame with foil lining the bottom). Personally, I’ve used a folding, all-foil-covered reflector-based ‘Cook-It‘ to good effect in summer, but simplest is often better: some of my best dried peaches and daylilies were done simply with a cheesecloth-covered wooden frame, placed on a concrete slab, with a large pane of window glass over it. In fact, bugs don’t bother the food, because it’s actually too hot under the glass for them to stand it!

Now, for actual cooking like, a pot of maize and beans, I’ve never tried going solar. For that kind of meal, it’s usually recommended to use a dark-colored pot, inside a sealed, heavy-duty clear plastic bag, all placed on or in the oven for several hours.
However, for simply dehydrating food, this is hard to beat:

I don’t have a car, but I do have a solar oven that I occasionally drive.

The dashboard of a car with windows just slightly opened (to let the hot air circulate) can be an effective dehydrator from March on through October (in the northern hemisphere); hell, in high Summer it’ll get hot enough that you can do two batches per day!
Attentive viewers will note that while we see Freda put a small pig in the cooker, we never see the results of the experiment. As she explains, “we originally planned to put the pig on the campfire and bake bread in the oven but time got short for filming and the crew said “just throw the pig in the solar oven”… I took it out of there within an hour and threw it on the stove.”
However, as our caption reminds us—solar cooking really only works in areas with abundant sun: much of Africa comes to mind; the forested mountains of Appalachia—where the sun comes up about ten in the morning, and goes down about three in the day—do not.

With the food situation well under control, we learn that Freda’s homestead has not one, not two, but three sources of fresh water (a flowing creek, artesian well and pump well?). Mike puts on his diy hat again, and comes up with a turbine wheel to put in the stream to make some free hydroelectricity. I don’t know if it actually charged their batteries, but if so, it’s pretty sweet.

Then they show off their ultimate “perimeter defense weapon”, which as it turns out, is Mike’s homemade catapult…of sorts.
It’s counterweighted like a trebuchet, but the counterweight isn’t articulated, which gives it an arc of swing more like a mangonel. Either of those designs can be solid when they’re followed (back in high school, I built an eleven-foot oak treb that could throw big rocks about 200 feet), but unfortunately this design borrows from both types and doesn’t perform particularly well. Or maybe it would, if they’d thrown something with some weight (like one of the many pumpkins we see lying around?), instead of the negligible-mass ‘throwing stars’.
Actually, I think the best solution in this case might be for Mike to trade his “catapult” to Brent (to go with his “castle”!) in exchange for some long guns to properly defend their wooded homestead.

The experts say her food plan is great, now she should stock up on medical supplies. They give her 56 points, for seven months’ initial survival. I don’t know why, but that seems low to me. Anyway, it’s always nice to see self-reliant country folks instead of the gung-ho beans-n-bunkers types.

Doomsday Preppers: Jeff Flaningam

The episode wraps up with a too-long look at Jeff Flaningam, the series’ third—and least interesting—missile-silo prepper. There’s really not much to say about this one either, because the producers seem to be majorly banking on ratings-friendly Awkward Drama in this segment.
jeff flaningamLike seemingly everybody this season, Jeff fears an economic collapse. Yeah, so what else is new?
It seems three years ago, Jeff bought another one of these Atlas missile silos buried beneath the plains of Kansas, and has been ever-so-slowly renovating it into a livable bunker. Of course, he’s from Wisconsin (800 miles away), so he’s only able to make it down to the silo a few times a year, so there doesn’t seem to have been much progress.
We get to see Jeff and a few of his buds waste some propane, while they show off their ‘flamethrower booby trap’ (Derek Price did the same thing a few weeks ago; it’s a weed-burner); meh.
Regardless, Jeff is lonely, and wants a partner to prep with him and help fix up the silo, apparently, to ‘flip’ it. And so, we come to the meat of this segment. He sets up a profile on a ‘nationally-known dating website’ (it’s Match.com), and proceeds to go on dates with prospective would-be ladypreppers. We then get to see bits of three different meet-ups.
The first one, Stephanie, is quite conventionally attractive, girly, and generally unthinkingly optimistic about the world (her type abound on Match).
The second, Laura, I would describe as a sort of ‘down home girl’ (and I mean that in the best way possible), who seems to have many practical skills that a prepper like Jeff would appreciate.
The third, Serle, is a former member of the Navy (and we know how much preppers seem to like military experience).

Now, I’m not the type to knock another guy’s approach to dating…but…Jeff approaches these women like a manager interviewing potential employees. C’mon, dude; if you’re going to define yourself by your prepping, at least let it wait until the second date.
Anyway, of the three women above, which do you think would make for the worst prepping partner, and therefore would also make for the most opportunities for awkward reality television when Jeff shows her around his own personal horror movie set missile silo bunker? If you said Stephanie, congratulations, you think like a TV producer!

So, Stephanie meets Jeff at his front gate, where he proceeds to put a blindfold on her and drive her to his silo. Personally, if I were this girl, I’d have my pepper spray out and ready to go. You don’t just meet a girl in the middle of nowhere, blindfold her, and then take her for a visit to the creepiest place imaginable without raising some red flags.
Anyway, Jeff shows her around the place, which sure doesn’t look like it’s had three years’ worth of improvements made to it. In fact, it looks like it’s straight off the federal auction block 50 years ago.
Eventually they make it down to the heart of the silo, where Jeff reveals his biggest prep: 1,400,000 gallons of water! Well, that’s impressive, until it turns out retrieving any requires one to rappel down several stories with an empty Gatorade bottle. Seriously, a bucket on a rope would be easier. Of course, the poor girl isn’t going to drop down a giant concrete tube for a measly sip of water of unknown quality, so I guess she belays him while he brings some up. Then he runs it through a homemade charcoal/sand/gravel water-filter-thingy, giving us yet another instance of preppers awkwardly toasting and drinking weird things.

In the end, because—aside from owning a dilapidated missile silo and a whole lotta (albeit hard-to-retrieve) water—Jeff has no stored food or weapons or anything, the experts give him 56 points, for 2 months, and in his update he tells us he has installed his new hydraulic front entrance. So, yay!, no more having to weld the door shut each time he leaves!

Doomsday Preppers: Cameron Moore

I’ve set this to publish at 00:01 01/01/13, so Happy Arbitrary Point in the Solar Revolution!

‘Escape From New York’s second would-be survivor is Cameron Moore, a medical student worried about a meltdown at the nearby Indian Point nuclear facility, located about 35 miles from Manhattan. Like everyone else on the show, what he’s really worried about are the hordes of panicked city-dwellers, unable to find food without a job and unable to keep the economy moving forward with purchasing power; Cameron explains that the world economy is bound to the fluctuations of the US economy, itself bound to that of New York. What’s the word for the opposite of self-sufficiency? Other-dependent? Whatever it is, the modern world seems based on it, and its scope is almost beyond comprehension.
Cameron says that “When the shit hits the fan, I’m bugging out!” and so to help him through a mock bugout, he partners with head of the IPN, Aton Edwards.
Edwards brings up something I wonder if many think about—he reminds Cameron that once he leaves his apartment, everything left behind will become “a museum…of what we shouldn’t do ever again”. I’m not sure if that’s a reference to the long-lingering nature of nuclear radiation, or civilization itself. Either way, I think folks assume that when they bugout in a disaster, they’ll be coming back eventually, and those folks might want to consider the possibility that might not be the case. Check out some of the images of Chernobyl or other hastily-evacuated areas, and you’ll be surprised how quickly Nature comes back to reclaim and rewild.

Like Margaret Ling, they plot a path out of Manhattan and have one night to execute their plan. Aton radios Cameron to grab his bag and they head out, with Cameron jogging while Aton bikes. Cameron starts to fall behind, which isn’t surprising—sustained jogging is pretty tough for nonatheletes. It’s been years since my crosscountry days, so I’m in the same boat; if I don’t go for a jog like, every other day, my endurance never improves. In which case, I suggest Cameron try ‘scout pace’, which I think is just about the best way to run. Scout pace—running/jogging a set number of paces (I like to do about 30), followed by walking for the same number, rinse, repeat—gives you just the right amount of time to get your breath back before your next stretch of running.
Like I said, Cam has trouble keeping up with Aton on two wheels, who suggests Cam open himself up to the possibility that he may have to steal a bicycle! Now, I assume this is a scenario Edwards has set-up ahead of time; he’s not just having Cameron steal a random bike! They make a big deal showing how Aton carries a small pair of bolt cutters in his pack, which they use to cut the lock off the bike. However, if they kept their eyes open for a pre-2005 Kryptonite lock, they could save the weight and just open it with a Bic pen!

Aton suggests Cameron carry a can of bear mace instead of regular pepper spray, which comes in handy when two guys conveniently happen by in the park. Again, I assume this was a setup. Also, how did they get people to sign up to be on the business end of the spray?

There’s a scene where Cameron and Aton are shown carrying their bikes up a flight of stairs. You can’t do that with a motorcycle! Just one more reason bicycles are the perfect survival vehicle.

In the end, they reach the Hudson River where Cameron sets out for the opposite bank in an inflatable kayak. Wait a second, where’d that come from? Has one of these guys been carrying an inflatable kayak around in his pack all night? And if not, how do you covertly hide something like that on the bank of the Hudson?
Cam paddles across—they edit the trip to be dramatic (it’s not)—and reaches “the promised land”, Jersey! That’s great, but, um, now what? We never hear if he has prepping buddies he’s going to meet up with or anything. I hope so, because as scary as getting out of Manhattan would be, crossing through New Jersey might prove scarier!

Case in point.

Doomsday Preppers: Brian Murdock

Up next is Brian Murdock, late twentysomething from Massachusetts.
brianmurdockHis segment doesn’t have much material, most of it is occupied with generic ‘reality’ show drama, which I have no interest in.
He’s worried about a third world war looming on the horizon. Honestly, I don’t think it’s such an outrageous concern. In fact, my cousin told me about an article she recently read in a popular magazine that pretty much said a world war would be likely in the next forty years or so. Brian sees it beginning with an early US&A-on-Iran strike, followed by Tehran retaliating with a strike on Tel Aviv. I think that might be a little simplistic by not factoring in nations like Russia, backer of both Iran and Syria—and let’s keep in mind that as I write this, signs are good that Assad is preparing to deploy chemical weapons on his people, possibly forcing the hand of the US/UN.
Allow me to springboard. However and whenever stuff goes down, I remember Einstein’s famous quote, “I don’t know what weapons World War Three will be fought with, but I know that World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones”. That may be true—eventually—but there are several things wrong with our notion of being “bombed back to the Stone Age”. First, ‘Stone Age’ societies don’t just spring out of the ground, they’re products of three million years of evolution, and they’re societies that Our Culture has been doing its damnedest to annihilate for the last eight thousand years or so. How many people in Our Culture, given a core of flint and a hammerstone, could craft a workable projectile point? Hell, I can barely knap an Olduwan chopper if I’m lucky—something my ancestors 2 million years ago would’ve had little problem doing—and I study this stuff! Second, calling them ‘Stone Age’ is to misunderstand how these cultures work. Sure, stone plays a part, but it’s like calling our society the ‘Glue Age’—glue plays a part, but it’s hardly the foundation of our way of life.

Anyhow, Brian has an prediction about this forthcoming war—he claims that it will claim exactly 2.3 billion lives.

Huh. That's oddly specific.

Huh. That’s oddly specific.

Because he lives near a major city, Brian is an ‘apartment prepper’. The narrator informs us that to get started as an apartment prepper usually costs $1,500. The very fact that this can be so easily estimated just makes me go ‘Ugh!’: It’s prepping-by-numbers; it’s like saying, ‘If you want to be ‘indie’, just buy x, y, and z!’ There is more than one way to ‘be prepared’ for unseen situations, and believe it or not, sometimes it has nothing to do with how much stuff you’ve bought.
Anyway, instead of being stuck in his apartment, Brian sells apparently all of his belongings for $75,000, and uses the money to buy an RV and 50 acres in New York. Awesome!, now I’m interested. Is he going to be a mobile, nomadic rubbertramp with the NY land as a home base? Is he going to use the RV as temporary housing while he builds his offgrid earthship?
Nope. He’s going to get a Columbian mailorder bride, bring her to Boston, and then whisk her off in the RV to the property in NY. Whoah-oh, culture-shock time!!!
Brian says he really likes this girl because “her culture’s way of life is already well-suited to prepping”. I hope that’s so, because I don’t see Brian doing much in the way of growing potatoes or raising goats and chickens. But apparently, the idea of ‘prepping’ is a foreign concept to Tatiana because back in Columbia, it’s ‘bad times all the times’! So, when the WW3 bullets start flying and she has to hit the ground, she should be right back in her element?

They do some target practice…shooting bananas. Way to waste food, bro.
The experts give them a 43 (including 4 points—a new low—on food storage), computed to eight weeks initial survival time. Now, we know the points don’t matter, but it still seems a little harsh.
In their post-filming update, we learn that they’re now married, and they’re planning to move into the RV in NY in a matter of days. Good luck, guys.

Doomsday Preppers: Tom Perez & Steve Vanasse

Be warned: this is a ridiculously long write-up. But it’s not my fault!—this episode (‘The Time of Reckoning’!) takes a detour from the show’s usual format to focus on just a single group of would-be survivors. I understand the film crew spent almost two weeks with these folks, which is staggering, when you consider that someone like Chris Nyegres from Season 1 was with the film crew for just three days.
TomPerez&SteveVanasseSo, this group is headed up by Dr. Tom Perez; he’s a retired chiropractor from Houston, TX with a wife and three kids between the ages of seventeen and six or so. Living in a sub/urban area, Tom is concerned about a terrorist ‘dirty bomb’, but as with most of the folks profiled, what he’s really afraid of is the potential chaos of terrified people taking to the streets (as the caption reminds us, a dirty bomb wouldn’t likely be a WMD but rather a weapon of mass panic).

As part of their preparations, the family does an all-out bugout drill twice a month, from their 6,800 square-foot home to their rural retreat 300 miles west. Channeling last week’s Johnny O and his focus on redundancy , Tom has three backup routes in place to ensure he reaches their 700-acre compound.
For what it’s worth, if you’re all about ‘operational security’ and keeping your location under wraps, perhaps showing a satellite image of your property with a clearly-labeled map later on is not the best idea. Anyone with GoogleEarth and too much time on their hands could probably zero in on it pretty easily.

So, about this compound. Dr. Tom calls it ‘the Alamo’, and according to our narrator, he has poured  TWO MILLION dollars into its two cinderblock houses, which are supposedly bulletproof.
TomPerezcompoundTheir pantry is full of buckets of food from the company whose ads get shown during commercial breaks. Meta product placement! Tom claims that of their food stockpile, ten percent has been purposefully contaminated, and he’s apparently the only one who knows which. I have to wonder at this—first off, what’s the point of poisoning food? Is this some kind of ‘nutrient denial system’ to intruders should they take the compound—a kind of “If I can’t have it, no one can!” sentiment? Seems selfish. Second, why doesn’t he let his family in on the secret too? What if something happens to him, and his family unknowingly eats a can of poisoned peas? Now they’re all dead.

Food aside, he has a nice water-getting setup, which uses a windmill to pump sweet, sweet H2O directly from his local aquifer. This water he stores in a couple of massive concrete tanks. Tom seems to think that in a disaster scenario, the roving bands of marauders who get through his seven-foot-high perimeter fence will make it their priority not to attack his home, but his concrete water tanks. Well, you can’t be sure until you test it, so he mixes up some homemade ‘molotov cocktails’ to lob at the tanks. Unlike last season’s Pat Brabble, Tom keeps it legal by getting supervision from some local law enforcement, but he also bases his half-assed firebombs on high-proof liquor. Granted, he does go one step beyond Mr Brabble and adds some laundry detergent, but it’s still pretty dumb: a gallon of only 80-proof Kentucky vodka will run you twenty dollars or so, while you could get five gallons of unleaded petrol for the same price, and the petrol would make his little Molotovs actually perform like he wants. For what it’s worth, I recommend diesel fuel with a quantity of Styrofoam melted in, or petrol and laundry soap (not detergent).

While he’s got the (Border Patrol?) officers around, Tom decides to spring an ambush scenario on his family, with the off-duty LEOs playing the role of marauding ‘bad guys’. Basically, he comes inside, gives the code word for ‘someone’s coming!’, and everybody take ups what I’m sure are supposed to be ‘defensive positions’.
Pop quiz time! If you knew there was trouble on the way and were  in a bulletproof house, where would you go for maximum defensive advantage? If you said Outside at ground-level out in the open, well, congratulations, you think like the Perez family. Because that’s honestly what they do. We’ve been told the house is bulletproof; people are not! Stay in the house, go upstairs(at least one of the Alamo houses has two stories), and sight in your targets from a window. Faulty tactics aside, while this ‘ambush’ is going on and everybody’s making themselves into easy targets, one of the cops sneaks up behind Tom’s teenage daughter and disarms her. Well, the youngest son is watching, with his gun trained on the officer who has a gun to his sister’s head. I can’t believe I actually wrote that. And supposedly “the kids don’t know” that it’s a drill. Which begs the question—what’s to stop the kid from shooting the officer? Either dad made sure to lock up all the ammo before this went down, or the kids really do know it’s a drill. Because if not, that could’ve ended really badly.

Now, when you have 700 acres and a six-mile perimeter to defend, it’s a lot for just five people. That’s why Tom has joined forces with another Houston family to share  the work of running a prepper fortress. Help comes in the form of Steve Vanasse and his wife and daughter. Because he does radiation contamination testing for a living (as a “Nuclear Assessment Officer”), he also shares Tom’s apprehension towards the possibility of a dirty bomb attack in Houston.
To help make his family a valuable addition to the Brackettville compound, Steve takes his daughter to the gun range to teach her to shoot. Excellent! As an NRA Range Safety Officer, I’m all about teaching younglings the essentials of safe gun handling. Steve is surprised that his timid daughter is apparently a naturally good shot, but I’m not: in my own experiences and those of folks I’ve talked to, women are generally better shooters than men.

Back on the ranch, the Perez family is playing poker, with bullets as currency. Haha! Nice to see they keep themselves occupied while they’re practicing survival living, instead of just like, staring at the wall until it’s time to go home, though it’d be better if they were engaged in some sustainable, long-term activities like gardening. Anyway, dad decides it’s time to learn the boys how to butcher livestock. Wonder why his daughter misses out on all the fun?—hopefully because she already knows how. Tom thinks the sound of a shot will be too noticeable (or something) in his postapocalyptic wasteland, so he’s making the boys dispatch a goat with a knife. For what it’s worth (quite a lot actually), I’d personally risk the bullet and do it proper-like, and shoot Brother Goat from the back of the head (with such thick butting foreheads it’s not much use stunning sheep and goats from the front like you do with cattle). Regardless, that’s not as TV-dramatic as having your boy slit the trussed-up goat’s throat while it’s still alive, so that’s what he does. Afterwards, Tom dabs some of the fresh blood on his boys’ faces, as a kind of rite-of-passage. Which is good, because that’s something sorely lacking in this culture.

The Vanasse family decides they’re going to come out to the compound too, so they break out the Tyvek suits and Geiger counter, and bug out. And because they’re so concerned with simulating a dirty bomb attack, they seal up the car’s vents with Duct Tape…which means they can’t run the air conditioner!—which was probably the scariest thing yet for most of the folks watching. When they reach the gates of the ‘Alamo’, Tom uses it as an opportunity to test his family’s friend-or-foe training, or something. Even though I assume they’ve seen each other before, the Perezs train their guns on the Vanasses and treat them like they’re a pack of wild raiders. It’s dramatic and stuff.

At some point, the wide-eyed Steve quips something about how in a disaster, their families could “form the basis of a whole new society—maybe a better society!?” So that’s why these two families joined up?—so that someday they’d have two breeding pairs of youngsters to repopulate the earth? (Which means somebody’s winding up with his sister. Ewww.)

Tom and Steve go out in the bush and test out some more ‘defensive’ devilry. This time, Exploding Targets!!!1! (I’m guessing this is some of that Tannerite/Sure Shot mix I see in Sportsman’s Guide.)
The guys take it up a notch and strap their exploding target on a coupla bottles of petrol for a nice big fireball, which they observe from their hunting-shack-on-stilts. Well, Tom shot the first one, so it’s Steve’s turn next. Steve is armed with some kinda high-dollar black plastic short-barreled rifle with a 100-round magazine(!), skeleton buttstock, big honkin’ scope, and (as our narrator reminds us) a muzzle brake.
Apparently when he takes the shot, the muzzle was well inside their phonebooth-sized shack, and so the report is amplified so much that (even with fancy hearing protections) it knocks Tom onto the ground. Well, he’s stunned and dizzy and vomiting and generally concussed; of course he’s not bleeding out of his ears or anything, so it can’t have been that bad. Then there’s some friend drama when Tom threatens to cut Steve out of the group for being so safety lax, but eventually he comes around, and they barbecue the goat and Steve sucks out the eyes. Yum!

Whew. So, the experts assess them and say that their “food resupply plan is impressive”. Which is weird, because I didn’t see any gardening going on, nor did I see a huge pen full of goats. So what’s that all about?
The experts suggest that they should  “build a bunker under the Alamo, in case they come under attack”. Y’know, because it’s not enough to have two million dollars’ worth of bulletproof houses. Early on in the segment, Tom talks about how he likely spends five to six hours a day just “determining what [he] [has] prepped…to have the most current MREs, rifles, ammo &c.” That combined with the experts’ bunker recommendation just proves what I’ve always thought—that the Type I survival model (of which these guys are perfect examples) has little to do with actual survival and is just the latest iteration of Keeping Up With the Joneses. Look folks, if you have discretionary income, there’s always gonna be someone out there with something bigger, newer, or shinier than yours, so maybe take a big step back and ask yourself if more purchases will really help fill that empty place inside.
The experts give them 77 points (a new high!), which is supposed to equal fifteen months survival time.
And in the post-filming update, we learn that Steve’s daughter is taking defensive driving training (now, I know Tejas is pretty wild, but isn’t she like, eleven?), while he and his wife are learning fencing (not sure what good that’ll do in defending the Alamo), and HAM radio. Tom’s update reveals that he’s started homeschooling his kids (he calls it “Doomsday Academy”), and to my dismay, they’ve taken the expert’s advice and started building a bunker. Oh boy.

Doomsday Preppers: Johnny O

Season two’s second episode (“You Can’t Let Evil Win”) begins with a look at “Johnny O”, a father from Pennsylvania.
Because he lives near four nuclear power plants, he is concerned about a terrorist attack on US nuclear sites, and of course, panic that will likely result from a meltdown.

Johnny seems to imagine that people would immediately “resort back to hunter-gathering; living in small, broken packs.” Honestly, I don’t think that’s even very likely, because Our Culture’s overreliance on domesticated, heavily modified foods has meant that most people of Our Culture are inherently biased towards undomesticated foods—since we’ve spent a majority of the last six thousand years doing our best to eradicate societies who happen to live differently from us—and so the majority of the population isn’t going to know which plants are good (or even safe) to eat. After all, hunter-gathering societies themselves are built on foundations stretching back thousands of years and handed down from generation to generation; if a catastrophe happens and the three day grocery store resupply-chain is broken, most people aren’t going to suddenly start foraging, they’re going to scavenge at best, and take what they can by force at worst.

As for the bit about “small, broken packs”, I have no idea what he means by that. Sounds like family units to me, or perhaps “micro-tribe” is a better classification. Either way, it’s the way our species evolved, and it’s a far less “broken” way to organize ourselves than the way 99.9% of humanity lives now, so what’s wrong with it?

Johnny is all about redundancy. He’s big on the “two is one, one is none”-type stuff, which means he has about four of everything. As for food, at least he’s thinking longterm and keeps a flock of a dozen chickens, and has an insufficient-looking garden. When one of the chicks dies, he uses it as an example to teach redundancy to his maybe-Special four year old.

Pro: he calls the dead chicken ‘one of our friends’. I would prefer something like ‘sister chicken’, but it’s a start.
Con: he puts the dead chicken in the trash can. First off, it’s gonna start smelling really bad in a day or two. Second, show the dead critter some respect and at least toss it into the woods where someone can scavenge it, instead of consigning it to the landfill.
They do some target practice both with firearms and archery, which is always a good mix. Then they do a ‘mock bugout’, and I’ve never understood the way pretty much every group on this show does it. I’ve always thought that the idea behind ‘bugging out’ was a quick, grab-the-bag-and-get-out-the-door type of situation. But it seems that every mock bugout we’ve seen on the show has consisted of someone shouting “We’re bugging out!” and then proceeding to spend the next hour or two to pack up all their gear into their ‘bugout vehicle’ of choice. I’m sorry, I thought the point was to have everything all ready to go when the time comes?
So, he loads up the 4-wheeler and the trailer with the johnboat on top, and waits up in his tree stand for his wife and her twin sister to come along. He passes out hunting-camo suits for them all to wear (y’know, because they’re trying to keep a low profile), and they all pile into the boat.
For future reference, it’s hard to keep a low profile when you’re bugging out with two camo-clad platinum blondes with bright red backpacks.

He says, “preppers are very intelligent, creative people. They think outside the box.” We’ll see about that. Furthermore, he says that in an emergency, people will be “going to go to the person who is prepared.” Absolutely true, as our culture seems to have lost its drive for self-reliance; in which case, maybe he should plan on stocking up food for more than four people?

Experts give him 68 meaningless points, which somehow works out to 12 months survival time.