Posts Tagged ‘zombie’

Doomsday Preppers: Bob Kay

I’ve scheduled this to post on 22/12/12, so if you’re reading this, congratulations on surviving the ‘Mayan End of the World’!

Season two’s next episode (‘You’ve Got Chaos!’) opens with a very interesting look at Johnny-come-lately bandwagon prepper Bob Kay from southern California wine country:
Bob KayAs a nutritionist, he has apparently made a boatload of money with some wonder-vitamins or some such whatsit.
Living in SoCal, it’s only reasonable to be prepared for a massive earthquake that, as he says, “will change society as we know it”. I think that might be giving mother nature a bit more credit than she deserves. Change how the affected people live for a while, yes. But change Society?, I dunno.

So, it seems that just last year, Bob was watching what I’m guessing was the pilot episode of Doomsday Preppers (the one that looked at the guys who are now the unseen ‘experts’ on these episodes), when he said to himself, “Look at these guys, building a self-sustaining greenhouse in the backyard pool, and their homemade wood-fired pickup truck, and their deer hunting for food! Surely I can do better than them, and use my discretionary income to buy my way to preparedness!” And so, in twelve months, he’s spent damn near close to a million dollars on his ‘preps’.
Our narrator explains to us that “Many preppers dream about the elaborate things they would buy if money were not an object”, which, combined with the profile of Mr. Kay, proves my hunch that the current model of preparedness isn’t really about preparedness, but conspicuous consumption.
So how does all this spending break down? Bob has two-and-a-half acres of land and a probably-6,000-square-foot-plus McMansion, and he’s spent $35,000 on exotic edible plants to landscape the place. Their 35,000-gallon swimming pool cost another $100,000 (they purify and drink some of the water, giving us yet another preppers-toasting-with-glasses-of-something-uncommon scene).

Then Bob gets to show off his $110,000 convoy of dream ‘bug-out vehicles’. Now, if you told me you’d spent that much money on six ultimate BOV’s, I’d expect you to unveil some, like, NASA-designed, Swiss-made, carbon-fiber collapsible bicycles with tubeless Kevlar tires. But not Bob Kay. He just has six motorcycles, because y’know, “Nothing impedes a motorcycle! You can get pretty much anywhere on it!” Sure, assuming you have enough petrol to feed it and you don’t come across any large downed trees on your travels. But once your fuel runs out, what then?
Okay, for a long-term, civilization-ending catastrophe, foot or hoof travel is the only sustainable way to get around. But for all other scenarios, bicycles are best. Why?
Zero emissions: bikes require—and burn—nothing but calories. Remember, RULE #1: CARDIO.
User friendly: no motor = way less moving parts to break and potentially ruin your day.
Nearly-silent: stealth might become a big factor when bands of marauders run amok?
Lightweight: try carrying that motorcycle over your head while crossing the ’quake-buckled 105:
So yeah, motorcycles might be fine for the man with the mid-life crisis, but in terms of preparedness, they’re not that great. And why Bob feels he needs six (he only has a wife and two daughters), I don’t know.

Anyway, at least Bob has his older daughter on-board with his prepping, which makes for some quality father/daughter bonding. From the way it sounds, she thinks up what they need, and he buys it.
Then they go to what I swear is the same bulk-food-store everyone on this show goes to. Our narrator reminds us that an average family’s annual grocery bill is about $3,700, and “Bob just spent over ten times that in one day!” When he gets home, he tells his wife he made a very “reasonable” purchase. His wife asks him what he’s going to do with $45,000 worth of freezedried chicken and such. Bob should say, “Eat it!” but I’m guessing it goes into a basement hoard to be sealed until disaster strikes. You know what I do with my stockpile of dehydrated fruits, vegetables, and meats (all free and courtesy of our wasteful food distribution system)? I eat it, and then I replenish it! It’s food, that’s what you do with it!

So, Bob and his older daughter want to get some weapons training. She starts out with throwing knives, which is like throwing your baby into the deep end of a pool; she says, “But my videogames make it look so much easier!” Knife-throwing has a ridiculously high learning curve, and even once you get the hang of it, I don’t think it’s a terribly useful skill. However, I am a big fan of hatchet throwing—which is more intuitive to learn, harder to miss, and should you hit your opponent, more mass = more damage.
Well, she wants to learn to shoot guns too, so daddy goes out and buys her a personal coach, a $4,000 tricked-out black rifle and a few hundred dollars’ worth of those 3-D plastic ‘bleeding’ zombie targets (for the record, single-use products such as those are inherently Evil). I just saw a program on the gun channel that showed how to make a cheap, easy, and effective human-sized target with a couple of cardboard boxes, some duct tape, and an old t-shirt. It was more realistic (the shirt means you can’t always immediately see where your shots are hitting), and more importantly, reusable! What’s wrong with that?

Never content with what he has, Bob wants to up the ante on his bug-out plan (you’d think with that ten-annual-salaries’ worth of food hoarded, he’d focus more on home security and bugging-in).
He says, “Nobody’s getting out in a car or truck, so you’ve gotta take it to a new level!” Ooh, now I’m intrigued. Is he going to redeem himself after the motorcycles, take it to a new level of sustainability, and show off a family set of matching all-terrain bicycles?
Nope, he buys a helicopter. Pricetag: $500,000.

So yeah. The experts tell him to think renewably and raise some chicken or rabbits. Bob says that the freeze-dried stuff he can purchase is good enough. The experts also tell him to think about his saltwater pool, and what he will do if his desalination equipment fails.  In which case, it’s ridiculously easy to make a simple solar still.

He gets 61 points (including only 11 out of 20 points for food? I don’t know how), for nine months’ survival time. Bob doesn’t believe it, and says that doesn’t factor in “business activities, barter, and his ability to live a longer time.”; I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.

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Doomsday Preppers: Jason Beacham

Up next is young Jason Beacham from Missouri:
I was curious to see how this kid comes across on the show, because he’s…well, a kid; at age fifteen, Jason is the youngest subject thus far profiled on the show. I’m willing to try and go easy on him, and cut him a certain amount of slack on account of being fifteen. I would definitely not have wanted a film crew following me and my friends around when we were that age (though it would’ve been way more exciting what with the blackpowder mortar and all), so I guess there’s a certain amount of courage—or foolhardiness—at work there. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with youngsters getting into disaster preparedness, the way this kid goes about it is a little disconcerting.

So, the issue he claims to be preparing for is “anarchy following economic collapse”. Jason’s first order of business should be to take off his cultural blinders and realize that Anarchy doesn’t mean moustache-twirling and bomb-throwing anymore: if you’ve ever dreamed of living in a world free of domination (whether from corporations, nation-states, arbitrary laws, patriarchy, racism, homophobia, &c., you might be an anarchist.
Unfortunately, he apparently intends to face this imagined challenge by abandoning his mom and siblings when the going gets tough, because they don’t really support his prepping activities. Now, this show has already shown families in which one party isn’t interested in the other’s prepping, but they still go along with it because, hey, they’re family. Not in this case; Jason’s mom seems to spend a lot of the segment looking like she expects him to start killing puppies or something at any moment. Granted, I think her apprehensiveness comes from the fact that he approaches preparedness the way most fifteen-year-old boys would (showy weapons and gas masks first, then food and water as an afterthought), which isn’t surprising for someone whose introduction to survival issues was the recent wave of Zombie 2.0 movies. (see my post from last year for more on this). Regardless, by not including his mom in his activities, he’s missing out on learning skills that could come in handy in a long-term situation—things like food canning, sewing, &c.
Now, while I still think his mom has her head in the sand (she asks him, “Don’t you wish you were like everybody else and didn’t worry?”), I can understand her concern with her son’s fixation with preparedness (There’s a funny bit where Jason looks into the camera and explains that he’s “not obsessed with prepping…”, as the camera pans across his four gas masks on a shelf. Hilarious editing!). Like when he shows off his arm-sword thing, straight out of the BudK ‘Display-Weapons-R-Us’ catalog. And when he brings out his ‘maceball bat’…oh boy.

Now, maybe I was spoiled by having been brought up generally old-timey, but I was taught that one should take pride in his work, and don’t do stuff half-assed. This kid’s project reminds me of this wannabe pyro guy I hung out with back in grade school who kept a stash of what he called ‘chemicals’ under his bed…that were just bottles of like, shampoo.
Witness the evolution of the interplay between makebelieve and craftsmanship. When you’re a little kid, you pick up a stick, call it a bat and fight invisible zombies. When you’re a little older, you pick up a toy baseball bat and beat on your friends when you’re playing Zombies and Survivors. When you’re a teenager, you halfassedly pound nails into a bat and call it a formidable weapon for use against speculative zombies in the future. And then there’s taking your time to cultivate useful skills (maybe you learn woodturning and make the bat on a lathe!) and gather proper materials, so you can actually make something you can show off and be proud of, and keep beside the bed to defend your family. This is a good argument for why we should bring back Shop Class in schools.
And personally, if I was in need of a homemade mace, I would’ve used like, sixteen-penny nails, drilled pilot holes, and hammered them all the way through so the heads would be flush, like so (compare with Beacham’s method on the left):

And naturally, once he brings out the bat he just has to test it, so the poor watermelon gets the Gallagher treatment. Of course, it would have been similarly liquefied just from being hit with a normal bat, and I don’t think the half-assed nails really did much. Plus, if you want to realistically test weapons on pumpkins/watermelons/coconuts/whatever, don’t put the test subject on the ground, put it at about shoulder-height. Of course the bat’s going to obliterate it with five feet of swing behind it!

Luckily, Jason isn’t totally a lone wolf, and he has a friend with whom he practices survival skills, and they decide to go on an adventure with another youngster who they might recruit into their fold. So they put on their packs and go walk around in some long grass until they find an abandoned building, and decide to camp there for the night. Well, they need a fire for cooking and heat, so they build one. Out of eight-foot-long lumber. In the corner of the room. As you might expect, it gets way out of hand, and the flames start licking the ceiling. Somehow they get it put out (there’s a hilarious shot of one of the guys splashing water from a liter bottle on the fire. I don’t think it had much effect). At the end of the night, they decide to let the third guy join their ‘group’ on account of having common sense (a rare commodity among teenagers), and give him a scrap of ratty camouflage to put on his pack. Now, I’m all in favor of making your own ceremonies and rituals and culture all diy-like, but again, make it something you can be proud of and have some style about it (back in high school, when my guy-friends and I got together and formed ourselves a group, we taught ourselves how to card-weave and made old-timey wool armbands for ourselves!).
Well, the kids use the near-disaster of their survival practice to “learn what to work on”—I would suggest perhaps learning how to build a proper fire—and assess what they feel confident in knowing—“we’re ready to make a shelter we can stay in”—no dude, you found an abandoned building and almost burned it down. Start small and learn to build debris huts.
In the assessment, the experts give him 50 out of 100 points, computed to four months’ survival time.

In the end, while it’s good to see young people getting involved in preparing for uncertainties in their future, I wish Jason would take a more balanced, productive, and sustainable approach (I know that’s asking a lot for most people, teenagers especially). Joining a Venturing crew would be a great first step, providing all the benefits of Boy Scouts (older male role models, practical skills, comradeship &c.) but co-ed!, as would be taking some survival courses, or maybe going to an Appleseed shoot to improve his marksmanship, and developing a skillset or two that would be applicable to longterm disasters—gardening, woodworking, blacksmithing, candlemaking, anything!

On Max Brooks, as promised

Like most of the media I’ve loved and internalized, the oeuvre of Max Brooks can be as shallow or as deep as you want to make it.  It speaks volumes to his skill as a writer that I’m able to ask, Is the message of World War Z ultimately conservative? Environmentalist? Nihilistic? None (or all?) of these? Who’s to say?—it’s up to the reader’s own unique attitudes and interpretation to decide.

Unlike a lot of the other post-apocalyptic media being produced these days *coughAMCWalkingDead*, Brooks actually addresses healthy long-term survival approaches for when the SHTF in his works, and I’m very glad that he continues to comically preach his message of zombie PREparedness at universities around the country.
Of course, everybody always just focuses on the ‘what to use to kill zombies’ chapters—and then becomes disappointed when he explains how M-16s, AKs, and rocket-propelled chainsaws aren’t ideal.  Want to have some fun? Hand the ZSG to a twelve-year old boy and see if he picks up on the multipurpose survival knowledge that could see him through hurricanes, earthquakes, or civil unrest.  He won’t, because it’s The Zombie Survival Guide.

But look beneath the surface, and it seems that Brooks’ overall blueprint in both the ZSG and WWZ is to form self-sufficient and sustainable communities out of the wreckage of the old world. Or maybe that’s just how I read it; maybe I’m seeing what I want to see.  Like I said, it’s up to the reader.

Unlike the victims who populate most other zombie media, Brooks suggests a proactive approach to survival, which essentially boils down to the old adage ‘Leave early, go far, stay long’.  He recommends putting together a team not—like everyone else seems to want to—of supercommandos, but of prepared, well-trained individuals with skillsets suited to self-sufficiency—doctors, blacksmiths, farmers—well ahead of time, and taking this team to a remote, predetermined destination far from civilization at the first sign of trouble.

One thing I especially love about WWZ is how timely it is, incorporating “modern fears of terrorism, biological warfare, overwhelming natural catastrophes, climate change and global disease.” As Brooks has explained in various interviews,

“I think the zombie craze is very tied to the times we’re living in. The last time we had a zombie craze was the 1970s, and that was a time of anxiety, a time when people really felt like the System was breaking down politically, economically, socially, even environmentally; there really was this feeling that “it’s not working anymore”, and people were really scared, and they wanted to explore their apocalyptic fears but they didn’t want it to be too real. …. I think we’re living in very uncertain times right now…there’s such anxiety, and we keep getting slammed. And so much of the problem seem so big, and we feel so powerless.  Who knows what a credit default swap is? I don’t!”


Although published in 2006, Brooks foresaw our Great Recession, the election of our first African-American president, and private space companies like SpaceX. In addition, he peppers the novel with wonderful satirical critiques (he is the son of Mel Brooks, after all) of modern society. Our celebrity-obsessed ‘reality’ TV culture, the corruption of Big Pharma, and the hubris of the Three Gorges Dam all get raked over the coals.  By poking fun at lots of Big Ideas (like the fact that whitecollar Americans can’t do anything for themselves anymore, or that our militaries are always fighting the previous war, or that our globalized, import-based economy has neutered the US&A), he effectively exposes the precipice upon which our modern world stands.

Of course, just because Brooks’ world is nearly overrun with the walking dead doesn’t mean that everything becomes primitive; Brooks still sprinkles high technology into his postwar world.  The depleted oceans are crossed on futuristic ‘infinity ships’ powered by solar cells and saltwater (or some such phlebtonium), modern dirigibles dot the skies, and civilian spacecraft taxi astronauts to the International Space Station.

However, what really speaks to me in Brooks’ writings is how DIY and decidedly un-hi-tech his recipe to defeat the undead is: go back to basics (“Everything had a kind of retro feel to it”). Tactics? Straight outta the nineteenth century: marching in two ranks, or ‘reinforced squares’. Weapons? Nothing tacticool, just a semi-auto rifle with a wooden stock “like a WWII gun”, and a glorified head-cracking shovel.
Simple, Efficient, and with a healthy worldview behind it, Sustainable.

Doomsday Preppers: Martin Colvill

The series’ fourth episode starts out with a look at Martin Colvill, an ex-cop (and apparently a voice actor as well!); he is now another trucker with miniature dachshunds.
Having lost their home to foreclosure in ’08, he and his wife have now become semi-nomadic, living out of the cab of their big rig. Having firsthand experience already with the financial crush, he says he’s preparing “to survive the next great depression caused by a worldwide economic collapse.” He predicts this will occur within the next three to five years, probably brought on by China calling the US debt.
As a trucker, he recognizes the fragile nature of our current system—and that without trucks to make deliveries, America stops. And so, “to help America be the country it should be again”, he is dedicated to preventing total collapse by making his deliveries in a safe and timely manner—so basically, he’s the Postman of freight!

Here is when this show gets it right—showing something besides family after family who have simply spent a bunch of money to build a bunker/storeroom and fill it up with canned goods. I like that this guy’s motivation is more than just simple fear—he has a great can-do, 20th century-American ethic. I like that he reminds me of one of my uncles. I like that they have a sewing machine in their truck. I like that their food storage is mostly dehydrated veggies.

Anyway, concerned about his parked truck being an easy target for roving bandits, he heads to a sporting goods store to check out camo netting. While there, he brings up bugout bags with an younger employee, and to his surprise the kid admits to having one too! Martin explains how he wants to survive so he can be part of the rebuilding process (his heart’s in the right place, but I still cringed), and the kid’s reason? “Hey, it’s all gonna hit the fan sometime!” Like, it’s just somethin’ to do, man! While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this kid putting a pack together, I don’t think that’s good enough. If people are going to start making plans for their own survival, I think they should really sit down and have a good, long think about their motivations for doing so.

During this profile, it’s revealed that his wife Sarah has some kind of cancer. This is sad, but it’s a good example of what the folks over at Zombie Squad call an ‘everyday zombie’ (they use the zed-word to get attention, but it’s really a metaphor for any kind disaster). For all the guns and camouflage and dried foods, it’s kind of silly to obsess on the remote possibility of a major catastrophe, when the person sitting next to you is wasting away. While End of the World-type prepping is big and exciting, folks should really focus on the possibilities that have the higher likelihood of happening—which are probably going to be smaller-scale, close-to-home disasters (losing one’s home to foreclosure, or one’s wife to cancer, for example).

The last section of this segment has Martin’s ex-Air Force brother organize a weird little scenario to test his skills or something, some kind of simulated highway accident that turns out to be a trap. They set it up to be some huge firefight, but it ends up with Martin facedown on the road for wanting to help an injured motorist (like I said, his heart is in the right place). His brother leaves him with advice that boils down to: watch out for yourself and the wife, and that’s it. Every man for himself.   Harsh.

Coming soon…

So, I was watching some program about Ötzi on the Nat’l Geo. Channel the other day* when I saw an advert for an upcoming series in February: DOOMSDAY PREPPERS!**

Ohh boy. *Eye roll* This should be fun. Granted, I’ve only seen one ad and poked around a bit on the Channel’s website, but I can already tell how the show will play out.  Obviously, based on the profiles on the site, they’re going to try to put each of these people in their own category: the survivalist party girl, the hillbilly prepper, the down-to-earth guy with too many knives in his bag.  They’ll be sure to put a big focus on Guns! guns! guns! (I’ll be curious to see if ammo! ammo! ammo!, or reloading get mentioned).  Likewise, they’re making a big deal about what specific type of scenario everybody’s ‘prepping’ for. Like, lady smiles into the camera and confidently declares ‘I’m so-and-so, and I’m hoarding silver for a global economic collapse brought on by hyperinflation!’ Except for the guy in LA who’s focused on earthquakes (which makes sense, because it’s California!), everyone else is prepping for some single event. That’s honestly pretty dumb, because in today’s world, Nothing happens in a vacuum.

What I want to know is, where’s the guy who says, “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m doing this because I study anthropology and history, and watch films by George Lucas and James Cameron, and read Jared Diamond and Daniel Quinn and Tolkien, and I think our ‘civilization’ isn’t such a good thing. I’m transitioning to a radical, sustainable lifestyle for when 10,000 years of global Taker monoculture finally compounds and bites us in the ass.”

Oh, right, I forgot. I’m not on this show.

And so, because it’s 2012 now, and apparently Everyone’s getting caught up*** or cashing in**** on the whole TEOTWAWKI/Armageddon/Apocalypse/Z-Day/Mayan thing, I figured I would too.  I’ll try to make this a feature as this series airs, and report back with some hopefully-helpful-and-not-too-smug-or-snarky commentary.

*while the majority of their lineup seems to indicate their desire to become the ‘Drugs and Prison Channel’, their archeo-based specials are usually pretty well-done, and at least they didn’t suggest the iceman had anything to do with extraterrestrials, like the ‘History’ Channel would’ve done.
**Aurrrughh, I hate that word; it sounds like a teen stereotype from a high school in the future. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there’s anything better; ‘survivalist’ smacks too much of early-90s right-wing militia types. I guess ‘Prepping’ sounds more open-ended—‘preparing for’ and ‘getting ready for’ almost imply a definite nature of whatever-is-coming, or even a known timetable!
***For Christmas, one of our very sane and well-adjusted friends sent us—in addition to ‘normal’ gifts—a hardcover copy of Kunstler’s The Long Emergency, and several pounds of organic heirloom beans.
**** I’ve already seen Hornady ‘zombie ammunition’, Hogue ‘zombie’ pistol grips, and a Leuopold ‘zombie’ rifle scope.  I’m sure there will be much more to come.

On Apocalyptic Mindsets

(I’ve touched on some of these topics before, but recent conversations helped me get the ideas more coherent.)

In the last decade or so, we’ve seen absolute glut of apocalyptic-themed media.  And I do mean glut: in film alone, we’ve seen three Adaptation Decayed <Blank> of the Dead from George Romero, 28 Days/Weeks Later, a “RomComZom” (Shaun of the Dead), serious drama The Walking Dead (adapted from the comic series), awkward comedy Zombieland, The Book of Eli, I Am Legend, The Road (from the excellently bleak Cormac McCarthy novel), Children of Men, 2012, a forthcoming Red Dawn re-make, and the list goes on.  That’s not to mention the dozens of video games, and the entire oeuvre of ‘the world’s foremost zombie expert’, the eminent Max Brooks.

Overall, I don’t think this surplus of PAW (post-apocalyptic world/wasteland) tales is a bad thing.  Anything that gets folks thinking about the state of our world and their own survival is good, in my opinion.  While I don’t have a problem with bringing apocalyptic themes into the public mindset, I usually don’t like how most of them play out…especially the zombie ones. Generally, the pattern goes like this: a group of Survivors get together, somehow find lots of guns (never any mention of ammo!), go to a mall (or pub or wherever), lock themselves in, and proceed to defend against the hordes until relieved by the Authorities, or until they’re all killed.

If you asked me, I’d say this approach is about the farthest thing from survival that I can think of, and it’s totally unsustainable.

Based on what I’ve read on survival message boards, it seems the majority of survivalist folks have this idea (based, no doubt, on the popular apocalyptic media they’ve consumed) of shouldering their tacticool 100-pound ‘I’m Never Coming Home’ pack, loading up their black plastic rifle with a thousand rounds of ammo (maybe some body armor too, just for fun), and setting out for their fortress retreat in the woods, where they will live on canned soup and astronaut food for the foreseeable future.
Apparently they all want to look like this guy:

My approach is quite different.  If shit goes down, and I have to ‘bug-out’, I’m pulling on my homemade leather shoes and a 1930s canvas rucksack—mostly filled with home-dehydrated fruits and nuts liberated from dumpsters (because I eat like a caveman)—rolling up a wool blanket and canvas tarp for a bedroll, grabbing a walking stick, and cross-country hobbit-ing the fuck outta there (I’ve been told many times that my gear has “an old-school cool” vibe about it, and I’ll admit it’s no accident).  Instead of approaching an emergency as an act of war, I see it as an adventure.  I’ll head for the family farm, where I’ll set up shop, replant my garden, and continue living in the plain-livin’, quasi-permaculture sorta life I grew up with.  And y’know, I might just keep on living like that, even after whatever crisis abates.

Because, like Stewart Brand of the Whole Earth Catalog once put it:

“We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into the Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion – guilt-free at last!”

I’ve written about it before, but it just really distresses me how the current survival movement is based all towards ‘rebuilding’ the post-apocalyptic world.  And what are these people going to base their new world on?  The only one they’ve ever known…the one that turned them into time-clock slaves and disconnected (figurative) zombies filled with postmodern ennui: the one that collapsed in the first place!

Consider, for an alternative, possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of prose I think I’ve ever read: Chuck Palahniuk’s vision in Fight Club for a post-collapse world:

“…picture yourself planting radishes and seed potatoes on the fifteenth green of a forgotten golf course.  You’ll hunt elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center, and dig clams next to the skeleton of the Space Needle leaning at a forty-five degree angle… …stalking elk past department store windows and stinking racks of beautiful rotting dresses and tuxedos on hangers; you’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life, and you’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower.  Jack and the beanstalk, you’ll climb up through the dripping forest canopy and the air will be so clean you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn and laying strips of venison to dry in the empty car pool lane of an abandoned superhighway stretching eight-lanes-wide and August-hot for a thousand miles.”

If—and that’s a big if—we’re going to rebuild, we’re going to need some fresh perspectives.

“What we call human nature in actuality is human habit.”

Something that has always bugged me in my continuing preparedness efforts is the way that modern survivalists seem geared towards weathering any catastrophe, but with the end goal of ‘rebuilding society’ or ‘rebuilding the nation’; this usually turns into a discussion of the code of law in postapocalyptic bartertowns.

My problem with this?  Excluding unforeseen natural disasters, I would argue that any event which could seriously threaten our society would probably be due to 10,000 years of civilized life finally catching up to bite us in the ass.*  Any effort to rebuild would just be attempts to return to the only world the survivors had ever known—which is likely the same world that created whatever disaster caused the S to HTF.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see a real eco approach to preparedness/postapocalyptic survival.  The closest thing I’ve found is the book “The Urban Homestead”, in which the authors use tongue-in-cheek quips like “shitting in a five-gallon-bucket [composting toilet] will be the logical choice in the postapocalyptic world when there’s no water for flushing and the zombies are scratching at the door” to demonstrate their awareness of the simple fact that eco living=self-sufficient=long-term survivability.  Meanwhile, survival forums are full of gung-ho red-blooded Merkans who view composting toilets as hippie junk, and who plan on fighting zombies for their God-given right to waste valuable resources down the commode.

My interest in survivalism/disaster readiness stems from the hope that when shit does go down, I’d like to be around to help steer the rebuilding in a different direction, one which will hopefully prevent similar bad stuff from happening again in the future.  However, it seems that shifting the cultural mindset towards that different direction would involve moving away from norms that have been business-as-usual for the last few thousand years—patriarchy, stratification, large-scale agriculture, militarism, etc.

*Max Brooks’ World War Z is a great example of this—the Zed virus is introduced into the First World as a result of globalization, allowed to persist by Big Pharma, and spreads exponentially as a result of dense populations.

**^ title quote from Jewel Kilcher.