Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wal-Mart: Our shoppers are running out of money

Like everyone else I keep hoping to see real signs of an economic recovery.  However, when looking at what is actually unfolding before our eyes there are many anecdotal accounts suggesting that we may not be in just a recession but a full-blown depression (a Gallup poll I saw today suggested that 29% of Americans believe we're in a depression).  Wal-mart has a lot of customers and if they're seeing people feeling the pinch you can bet there is a trend going on.  With higher than expected unemployment this week (isn't it always), the dollar losing value almost daily, and silver and gold surging through the roof it's no wonder people are concerned.  Which is why you're reading this blog or listening to my podcast in the first place, right? ;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

77 dead in massive storms striking Southern US

Just heard from my brother in Tennessee tonight that they were forced to head to the cyclone cellar.  These incredible storms have already caused loss of life and still seem to be creating problems.  Our best wishes to everyone in that part of the country. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The only thing that can hurt the economic recovery is high oil prices, so no worries right?

Here's the opening quote: "The American economy is now strong enough to withstand Middle East turmoil and the Japanese nuclear crisis. Only a big rise in the price of oil could stop it now."  Good think that's not happening, right?  *sarcastic off*
But look a little further down for the baseline assumptions they're working with:  "In part, that's because the economists think Americans will spend more freely in the coming months. Higher stock prices have made people wealthier. And a cut in the Social Security payroll tax is giving most households an extra $1,000 to $2,000 this year."  Yeah, I see people spending more all around me.  Don't you?

A Few Preparedness Headlines for Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eventually my plan for this blog is to try to provide daily postings with links to various survival/preparedness stories as they are unfolding.  This post is something along those lines:

More Nasty Tornadoes Coming For the Southern US
"An extremely dangerous outbreak of tornadoes will endanger many lives and property from northeastern Texas into Arkansas, northern Louisiana, northwestern Mississippi and western Tennessee late today into tonight." Click on link for more

Gas Prices Rise for 35th Straight Day, Now Above $4 Per Gallon in 7 States, DC
"Gas pump prices continue to climb, hitting $3.87 per gallon on Tuesday, though experts say the national average should fall eventually as Americans drive less.  Retail gasoline prices have increased for 35 straight days, adding 32.2 cents per gallon since March 22. They're above $4 per gallon in California, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Alaska and Hawaii." Click on link for more

Drought Likely to Continue in Southern US
"The extreme drought that has gripped parts of nine states — most of them in the South — is expected to drag on for several months or intensify, posing a risk for more wildfires, agriculture problems and water restrictions, national weather experts said Monday.  Portions of Texas and a small part of eastern Louisiana are the only parts of the nation that rank in the National Weather Service's worst drought condition category, said Victor Murphy, the climate service program manager for the southern region, based in Fort Worth. The "exceptional" drought level happens once every 50 to 100 years, he said."  Click on link for more

What is a Freegan?

I'm not saying I necessarily agree with this idea or lifestyle, but it is a sign of the times.  Freegans are people who try to "live off the excess of others", meaning they find discarded food, clothing and furniture and utilize it so they don't have to purchase those items.  I wonder if we'll see more of this if the economy continues to erode:

Anyway, here are a few links to check out on this topic that a poster on shared:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another reason not to have a smart phone

This is why we've rejected a lot of the "cutting edge" technology available these days.  What is concerning is how many people (especially those in the younger demographics) are okay with this.  Just think of how this could be abused, not to mention the efforts of Google and other companies to try to gather as much information as possible on people. 

$50 Silver coming any day now

I'm not as big on precious metals as some people as my focus in more on short-term survival strategies, but if you're interested in preserving wealth long-term they make a lot of sense.  However, it seems to me that $50 per ounce Silver is a fairly major psychological landmark to pass and thus it might be a bellweather for how things are really going for the economy (such as is discussed in this story). 

Interesting perspective on surviving the recent events in Egypt

I came across this tonight in another forum but thought it was a very compelling narrative about the events that we've seen taking place in Egypt.  This is definitely worth reading in much the same way that FerFal's writings on surviving the 2001 collapse in Argentina are useful for the survivalist/prepper.

James Rawles on "33 Ways to Encourage Atlas to Shrug"

I thought this was an interesting analysis of current events over at and thought I'd share.  I've reprinted it in its entirety (according to the terms Rawles listed at the end) but you can find the original here:

33 Ways to Encourage Atlas to Shrug

Ayn Rand's 1957 novel "Atlas Shrugged" is enjoying renewed popularity following the release of the new Atlas Shrugged movie. Rand's story describes a group of American industrialists that lose patience with onerous regulation and taxation, and "shrug"--disappearing from their normal lives to relocate to a hidden valley called Galt's Gulch. While this tale is fictional, it has some strong parallels to modern-day America. And despite the fact that Ayn Rand was an atheist and favored abortion, she was a good judge of the inevitable tendencies of elected governments. When I consider the regulatory and tax burdens that have been implemented in my lifetime--I was born in 1960--I believe that Rand had amazing prescience. Let's face it: We no longer live in a free market capitalist nation. At best, it could called a "mixed" economy with statist tendencies, and verging on socialism.
Reading the news headlines in recent months has led me to believe that the Galt's Gulch concept has a lot of merit. If The Powers That Be wanted to encourage the Atlases of the world to shrug, they couldn't have done a better job. What is the best way to get the most productive Citizens of our nation to go on strike, and retreat to "gulches"? Consider the following "to do" list for those whom Ayn Rand called "The Destroyers":
  1. Remove the homeowner's mortgage interest tax deduction. Yes, they're pushing for it.
  2. Reinstate the Federal estate tax and pre-Bush Administration income tax levels. They want to impose the old tax rates on anyone with an income of $250,000. Oh, and the CBO's budget predictions are all using the assumption that the 2001 tax cuts are reverted. Is this wishful thinking (to make the increases in the Federal debt not look quite so bad), or a fait accompli?
  3. Nationalize IRAs and 401(k)s. Yes, its under discussion.
  4. Increase taxes for unemployment-insurance funds. This is already in progress.
  5. Drag out approval of new mining operations with endless Environmental Impact studies. They're already doing it.
  6. Inflate the currency to rob those who save money--a hidden form of taxation. Standard practice for 40 years.
  7. Drag out approval of newly-developed medicines. Now the status quo.
  8. Push up the rates for "sin" taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and other items. Already implemented in 2010.
  9. Increase the Minimum Wage. Several states have done so, but even worse yet, some unions are pushing for more socialist "Living Wage" laws
  10. Raise import tariffs. Each new tariff causes problems. Didn't they ever hear Ben Stein's high school Economics lecture on the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? (OBTW, Ben Stein is now warning about an economic collapse.)
  11. Increase the tax paperwork burden by requiring "1099-MISC" reporting of all cash transactions over $600. (Attempted, but thankfully set aside for the time being.)
  12. Increase the cost of doing business through mandatory insurance. (The "labor burden" for an employee with a nominal salary of $17 per hour ($35,360 gross, annually) is an additional $20,029 per year.) Workman's compensation, in particular, is getting painfully expensive.
  13. Increase sales taxes. Several states have increased sales taxes, since 2009.
  14. Increase property taxes, as home values decline. Many counties have hiked their tax rates.
  15. Continue to increase the size of the government (and its debts). The Federal debt increases are looking inexorable.
  16. Push for increased mandatory employer-paid benefits for company employees like mandatory health insurance for part-time employees and European-style long term parental leave. Also, push toward excluding companies from government contracts unless they have expanded health care coverage.
  17. Mandate payment of state sales taxes on out-of-state purchases for Internet and mail orders. Yes, they're still pushing for these taxes, and for regulation of the entire Internet.
  18. Create a pervasive Nanny State mentality. For example: penalize companies and consumers for high trans-fat foods, and alcoholic beverages that taste too good.
  19. Sue the makers of guns that actually work just as they were designed. (At least a partial law shield law was enacted, in 2005.)
  20. Use taxpayer funds to destroy classic cars that are in running condition, while subsidizing hybrid cars that use batteries that will pollute landfills for centuries.
  21. Over-regulate small firms out of business. Dry cleaners are a prime example.
  22. Fine farmers and ranchers for using traditional practices.
  23. Create a European-style Value Added Tax (VAT). Yes, they're still pushing for it.
  24. Legislate expansion of company-paid health insurance to cover everything from same sex "domestic partners" and autism to sex change operations.
  25. Lobby for mandating that companies pay for three weeks of paid vacation per year for all employees.
  26. Institute dozens of unfunded mandates from the Federal level, that must be compensated for with higher state, county, and local taxes.
  27. Increase license, permit, and vehicle registration fees. In progress. Meanwhile, institute "temporary" tax increases. These surtaxes on income, sales, or real property are described as "temporary." (But don't be surprised if they are not repealed.)
  28. Providing free education to illegal immigrants while levying taxes on home schooling families for services that they don't use.
  29. Make it illegal for owners to protect their livestock from predators.
  30. Remove the salary cap on Social Security tax "contributions". The liberal think tanks are pushing for it.
  31. Encourage a litigious society where huge lawsuits are filed over trifles, and where the makers of products can be sued even if product buyers intentionally misuse products.
  32. Implement carbon taxes and credits. Still in early stages of implementation.
  33. And lastly, the big one: Implement socialized medicine. Despite a strong public outcry, it is now Federal law. But thankfully there is a push to rescind part or all of it.
The shrugging and gulching has already begun...
Reading the foregoing might have you inspired to find your own Galt's Gulch. Although I admit a personal bias, one practical option that I can suggest is the American Redoubt. (I'm the originator of the plan.) The Redoubt region is inside of the continental United States, so moving there is much more realistic than moving offshore--at least for most of us.
Many folks are now ready to vote with their feet. Atlas is starting to shrug.
Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved by James Wesley, Rawles - Permission to reprint, repost or forward this article in full is granted, but only if it is not edited or excerpted, and all links are left intact.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chip's new project: Biochar

Just recently I was talking with some rural folk about the efficacy of using something called "Biochar".  It's a fairly simple idea whereby you make a type of charcoal that "can store carbon while improving soil" for use in organic farming.  While I'm not (thus far at least) convinced of the evidence for man-caused global warming I don't think it's a bad idea to figure out new methods that make farming easier and more effective while (assumably) protecting the environment.  To quote from one of the above articles:
Biochar is made by decomposing biomass, like plants, wood and other organic materials, at high temperature, in a process called slow pyrolysis.  "Biochar offers one of the few ways we can create power, while decreasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. And it improves food production in the world’s poorest regions by increasing soil fertility. It’s an amazing tool," said Jim Amonette, a soil chemist at the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  
The part that grabs my attention, of course, is the idea of improving food production while increasing soil fertility.  I'm planning to start some efforts this summer using Biochar and I'll be sharing with the audience how it goes.   

FEMA Courses (for credit) about Emergency Management

As you've heard me discuss on the podcast now and then I am not "anti-government" in any respect.  I don't like certain overreaches, like most Americans, but I also see value in some of the things our nation's citizenry does together, such as providing a strong military, good roads, and taking care of those who truly can't help themselves.  So with that said, there are some things provided by the government that I think are a net positive and one of those aspects is the Emergency Management Training offered by FEMA as shown above.  Here are some of the focus areas they offer courses in:

  • Incident Management
  • Operational Planning
  • Disaster Logistics
  • Emergency Communications
  • Service to Disaster Victims
  • Continuity Programs
  • Public Disaster Communications
  • Integrated Preparedness
  • Hazard Mitigation 
The specific course list is here:

And you can get college credit for completed courses here:

Some of what FEMA offers does not appeal to my survival/preparedness/disaster readiness sensibilities, but a number of their courses seem like they would cover extremely useful information.  Check it out to see if anything they've made available looks interesting to you. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

"The Postman" author David Brin on the threat of EMP

Since I just reviewed one of his books it seems like a good time to share his thoughts on the threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse, whether natural or man-made.  Brin is an excellent "forward-thinker" and is an example of someone who projects into the future and sometimes gets it right.  This is an excellent (and quite short) article for anyone who wants to understand a little more about the threat of EMP.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Economic Indicator?: McDonald's to raise prices

I guess that it's getting more difficult to hide the jump in food prices.  Manufacturers can use smaller packaging and hope people don't notice, but fast food places can only make their well-known food items so small before it becomes really obvious to their consumers.  It seems that indicators like this are starting to pop up all over, which makes me wonder if the average person is indeed beginning to notice. 

And yet another earthquake hits Japan...

This one apparently made buildings sway in Tokyo.  Preliminary report is 6.3 on the Richter Scale.  I've heard that these types of aftershocks can go on for months and even years possibly.  How hard would that be to cope with after the carnage we saw on March 11th and shortly thereafter?  What a powerful reminder of the importance of the "mental" side of survival and disaster readiness.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Even more storms hit Southeast US

With everything else going on in the world it seems these massive storms haven't been getting the news attention they deserve.  Well, it looks as though that region is in for another bout of nasty weather.  It's these types of short-term disasters that are the highest-probability events people should "prep" for and the past week or so in the Eastern/Southeastern United States has been a strong reminder of that fact.

CNBC: $6 per gallon gas by summer?

This keeps on getting better and better, doesn't it?  I mentioned $5 per gallon gas on yesterday's show but it looks like it's quite possible we'll blow by that benchmark.  Now's the time to start thinking how that would affect your driving habits and daily life, not to mention the increase in the costs of basic foodstuffs and other sundries due to the rise in transportation costs. 

Zerohedge: It's Official-China Will Begin Dumping US Dollars

This is one of the signs I've been keeping an eye out for.  China holds a lot of US Treasuries so this could be one of those catalyst events that begins a snowball effect.  Even if you think that's a paranoid way of looking at it, one has to admit that this is not a good sign by any means. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

20 reasons that you need to prepare and store food

I just became aware of this blog because of a link posted on  I've glanced through a few articles, but this one really peaked my interest.  I also read a similar article in the most recent issue of Backwoods Home magazine and may do an upcoming episode using ideas touched on in this post.  Suffice it to say, it's becoming more and more obvious that there is a potentially troublesome food crisis coming on a global scale in the near future and the elements listed by this author are just a few of the reasons.  I highly recommend you read this article when you get a chance.

UPDATE: Jack Spirko over at TSP has also done an episode about how to prepare for the eventualities detailed in the above blog post:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another New Zealand earthquake

Looks like a 6.4 magnitude....  As you've heard me say I'm keeping a close eye on any tectonic activity around the Pacific region.  I would say this qualifies....

S&P downgrades US economy... Yikes!

The New York Stock Exchange is down 220 points as of the moment I am writing this....  What is the significance of this move?  Despite the dismissal of its significance by the White House this is an indicator that there are many major concerns facing our economy, not the least of which is the political will to do anything about it.  These are the types of indicators that I look at in order to try to project how things are going to be going six months, twelve months, two years out.  No matter how you slice it there is little to suggest that further economic problems lie ahead for all of us. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011 reviews of the Big Berkey water filters

I've heard almost universally positive comments about the Big Berkey water filters.  Sadly, I don't have one yet but do plan to get one in the near future.  Because I've had questions about these I thought I'd provide a link to where you could read reviews by people who have purchased them and find out if one of these might be right for your situation. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good online tool for tracking radiation in the US

Lately I've kept the above site open in a browser window just to monitor regional developments relating to the nuclear disaster in Japan.  I'm not saying it's the only site or even the best dedicated to that purpose, but it is worth seeking out information from various sources to stay well-informed.  If you know of other sites that offer a similar stream of information, feel free to let me know and I'll share it with listeners. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Feral hogs on the rampage in Texas

I occasionally talk about some rather strange ideas such as wild pigs or dogs rampaging during a post-disaster period.  If you look for them, however, you'll find similar stories happening even during times of normalcy.  Here in this story is described feral pigs causing problems in an area of Fort Worth.  Now just imagine this on a larger scale if/when the normal mechanisms of modern life are not there to hold them at bay.  This is one of the reasons I recommend people own a firearm or two for hunting/pest elimination purposes if at all possible. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Inflation actually 10% using prior method of calculation

Is this a surprise to anyone?  The idea of not including energy and food costs for calculating inflation is ludicrous and is obviously done in an attempt to deceive (in much the same way as how unemployment is currently calculated).  What impact does 10% inflation have on the economy?  Well, do we honestly think that wages are keeping up with inflation at present?  Are we returning to '70's style stagflation?
Without a doubt.

The Coming Geopolitical Upheaval

I honestly believe in 6-12 months or so we'll look back on events that have transpired between now and then and our heads will spin.  So much is happening so quickly in the Middle East that it's likely to be a traumatic time in World History even without the recurring natural disasters that seem to be some prevalent at present.   Now, more than ever, it makes tremendous sense to be a prepper. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fukushima disaster raised to highest crisis level (equal with Chernobyl)

This whole epic disaster has been heading this direction for some time.  What really jumps out at me is this line:
"The agency believes the cumulative amount from the Fukushima plant is less than that from Chernobyl."  The agency believes?  While the official tallies say only fifty or so died from Chernobyl the rise in cancer rates throughout the affected areas (including Europe I might add) probably mean the numbers were much, much higher.  Who's to say what the ultimate outcome will be of this, but have you noticed that the media is paying very little notice to what's happening in Japan of late?  As I often say, "Hmmmmmmmmmm....."

Gas to $5 per gallon by Memorial Day?

This is the current headline on the Drudge Report, and it is an important one.  Any guesses about what will happen to the "recovery" if/when fuel prices surge to $5 a gallon?  This will be a major "price point" in my estimation, where families will be hit hard enough (as in 2008) that there will be no question about the country sinking back into the Great Recession (as if we ever emerged from it in the first place). 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Brazilian school shooter had ties to which religion?

It's amazing how many articles I've read through today about this event that make no mention at all to this suspect's connection with Radical Islam.  Nor do they mention the stringent gun control in Brazil and the fact that despite those restrictions Brazil has much higher gun crime rates than the oft-maligned U.S.  (Notice this quote on the Wiki page: "Although Brazil has 110 million fewer citizens than the United States, and more restrictive gun laws, there are 50% more gun deaths;other sources indicate that homicide rates due to guns are approximately four times higher than the rate in the United States." )  Once again, it's not the freedoms of law-abiding citizens causing problems in our world, despite the Brady bunch talking points so often quoted by the major media outlets.  These awful incidents can happen anywhere (Mumbai, anyone?) as long as there is evil in the world.

US heading in same direction as Greece, Portugal

It seems this slow motion economic collapse is perhaps the most predictable catastrophe in history.  But will the squabbling politicians ever show the political will to institute the changes that can head off disaster?

South Korean schools close due to radiation worries from Japan

I was curious if we'd start to see developments like this in the region.  Looks like it's beginning.  If these reactors continue to release streams of radiation who knows how widespread this will eventually become?

And another earthquake in.... Mexico?

Coinciding with the major aftershock in Japan today (from 7.1 to 7.4 according to the news reports I've seen) we also have an earthquake in Mexico on the opposite side of the Pacific.  Doesn't look to be as powerful, but it is strange to see it happening at roughly the same time.  I know geologists say the plate interactions are unconnected....  But is it possible they could be wrong?  My next episode will be on the potential for a massive Cascadia Subduction Earthquake off the coast of the West Coast of the US and Canada and how it relates to all these other ones we're seeing around the "Ring of Fire". 

Magnitude 7.4 earthquake hits coast of Japan

Just under a month has passed since the devastating earthquake struck Japan, followed by a major tsunami and still ongoing nuclear crisis.  Now another major earthquake has struck the area and they are expecting a tsunami of up to six feet in height.  Unbelievable.  I recall some of the experts saying that if another earthquake/tsunami hit the reactor area it could be very bad.  It sounds like we should be prepared for "very bad" then...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gold and Oil Prices continue to rise

I'm watching this current cycle to see just how high oil and gold will ultimately surge.  Gold going up is usually an indication of economic fear and oil prices rising to the current levels pretty much signals disaster for the economic "recovery" in my humble opinion (and I truly hope I'm wrong).  With the looming government shutdown in addition to these other indications of concern things are probably going to be getting much more interesting in the near future...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jericho TV Series-Special Feature "What If?"

My wife and I just finished another complete viewing of Jericho-Season One.  One of the special features on the final DVD is the program called "What If?" about nuclear disasters which might be of interest to my listeners.  Here is a link to a YouTube version of the program:

Videos on Hydroponics

Here are a couple of videos about setting up a hydroponic operation that might be useful for anyone planning to build something along the lines of what I discussed today:

Information on wilderness shelters

Yesterday I discussed some basics of improvising wilderness shelters.  This knowledge is good to have for the outdoors types who enjoy hiking, camping, hunting, etc. and who might someday find themselves needing to whip up a quick shelter to survive the night.  In addition, it is useful for everyone else with the idea that if you were ever forced from your home you would still be able to keep yourself and your loved ones protected from the elements.  Above are some links relating to this general theme. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

US Government spends 8X what it brings in during March

This can only end in pain....  What happens when we can't borrow the money to cover all of these expenditures?  Let's hope someone comes up with a miracle (like a balanced budget and paying off previous debt) and soon or we are all in for a very hard crash that will likely make the Great Depression seem like good times.

Inflation is here... As if you didn't already know that!

Anyone who has spent even five minutes in a grocery store of late knows that inflation is real and that coupled with wage stagnation signals some pretty serious problems for most families.  This is one of the chief reasons I'm always advising people to purchase necessary food and tangibles now at today's prices and to stock up on anything they know they might need.  This article was a reminder of why that approach is so valuable. 

McDonald's to hire 50,000 people on one-day?

The article from CNN seems to suggest this is signs of a recovering economy.  I sure hope they're right...  On the other hand my tinfoil hat wonders if this announcement coming at the same time of the President's 2012 campaign launch is something of a payback for allowing McDonald's to opt out of the Health Care debacle?  Quid pro quo along the lines of GE's $0 tax liability despite $14 billion of profit, perhaps to give the impression of an improved job market? 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Another reason why dogs are great for survival and preparedness

What a positive story!  Too often it's easy to focus on the negative, but this certainly has a connection with the idea of "survival", in this case the overnight survival of a two-year-old.  Dogs offer many advantages in a survival context (early warning, protection, companionship) but of course you have to store food for them as well.  Regardless, this account was a great illustration of the value of canines so I thought I would share.*

(*NOTE: The "parents" in this case seemed to do a lousy job at watching this child, but that doesn't negate what the dog did to watch over the little guy...)

Yahoo News: Japan Nuclear Crisis Spurs Mormon Survival Planning

Interesting points made in this article and, as is often the case, in the comments below.  I especially liked this post by a commenter named "Grey Lady":

These folks have the right idea about being prepared. You never know when something will happen - natural disasters or smaller scale catastrophes. I lost a job, but was able to provide quite well for my family for several months until I found a new one because I had lots of food in the pantry and freezer. We turned the heat down to 50, but pulled the extra blankets out of storage and kept warm. If I hadn't had that, we would have had to go on food stamps and welfare. It isn't hard to stock up slowly.