Sunday, May 17, 2009

Potpourri XLI

I started worrying about the end of the world during the halcyon days of the 1980s, when the only(!) problem we had was nuclear anninhilation from the Soviet Union. Some of the same stuff you need to survive a nuclear war can also be used in the event of a hurricane or establishing a base on the Moon or Mars, come to think of it. Twelve years in Florida will cause you to think about these things. I also had a brief attack of survivalist paranoia after 9/11, but eventually calmed down. That doesn't mean I threw away any of my research. What follows below is a sampling of the stuff I uncovered for people who don't intend to depend on the government if civilization goes pear-shaped.

My survivalist-minded friends inform me that there are only a few things absolutely worth having in the event of civilization's collapse, with the top three being "guns, gold, and groceries." And if you're a right-wing nut job like me, you're hearing or reading a lot about that sort of thing these days, depending on what web site you read. So in the spirit of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse with style, here's a useful list of things you ought to own when the solid waste hits the ventilator:
  • Weapons, ammunition, and cleaning supplies (recommended outlets: Bass Pro Shops, Gander Mountain, or your local gun shop. If your neighborhood doesn't have these, you're just going to have to rely on the kindness of strangers or hope you have some of the other items below.) For close-range fighting, the sidearm; for long-range shooting and hunting, the rifle; for more practical self-defense, the shotgun--sawed-off or otherwise.
  • Gold ( or were recommended to me at one point)
  • Canned food (your local grocery store should be sufficient for buying this stuff, but other sites provide kits that will meet your needs for a month, several months, or a year, depending on how you place your bets.
  • Basic survival skills. You can look here or check out the U.S. Army's Field Survival Manual for reference.
  • High-quality outdoor gear, including hunting/fishing gear, suitable for where you live or where you plan to migrate. The outdoor stores above work just as well for these sorts of items.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicle. As near as I can tell, the best of the lot is the Land Rover, but those are a tad expensive. Still--you're going to need somewhere to keep a portion of all your other stuff, right?
  • Trade goods (e.g. priceless antiques, high-quality whiskey, useful/rare books, solar-powered watches, tools--recommended sources: wherever you can find them, but I recommend buying originals like Rolex or Chivas Royal Salute or Steuben crystal, not knockoffs).
  • Means of obtaining and storing gasoline, ethanol, or other fuel, along with a generator.
  • The Book of Common Prayer, The Bible, and a few other sacred texts. Inevitably, people are still going to be born, get sick, get married, and die, and these books provide the standard words to cover such eventualities. If you're an atheist, you might not need any of the above, but I will, and I'd appreciate it very much of something more than "good riddance" was spoken over my body. If you go before me, I'll say a prayer for you anyway. Promise.
  • Practical texts for rebuilding civilization. This includes things like How Stuff Works, auto repair manuals, basic engineering (yes, including aerospace--might as well dream big!), chemistry, physics, agriculture, cloth- and clothing-making, and biology texts. And, oh yeah, some basic education or people who have a basic education in all of the above.
  • Dogs. Preferably big 'uns, not lap dogs. They can hear and smell better than we can, serve as good guards, and odds are they'll be more loyal than some people, come the day.
  • Loyal friends with some or all of the above. Most likely these are country folks. I'm cool with that, are you?

What do you mean, nobody asked?


On a completely different topic, this site looks pretty cool:, where you can send an email to yourself in the future. I sent one for November 1, after I've been to Europe and finished up with the launch of Ares I-X by then. Of course this all becomes moot if we have the Zombie Apocalypse between now and then, but hope springs eternal.

Just saw this...Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin is now on Facebook. Wild.

This is an idea I'd like to take on, if I had a few billion in the bank: making a business out of clearing space debris from orbit.

Just saw this link on Dar's site: Nerd Girls.

Dan Linehan has a good interview about his SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History book on C-SPAN.

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