Tuesday, 11 April 2017

By on April 11th, 2017 in essays, personal, prepping

10:32 – It was 50.8F (10.5C) when I took Colin out at 0700 this morning, sunny and bright. By the time Lori showed up with our mail around 0915, it was 68F (20C). Ray of Ray’s Weather said yesterday he’d put away his snow meter for the year because we’re unlikely to see any more snow. But we’re still likely to see one or more freezes/frosts between now and mid- to late-May.

Lori had only two packages for us, both from Amazon, one the ARRL General Class license manual and the other a pack of five 7-gallon planting bags. Our lettuce is already sprouting gangbusters in the small starting pots, so we’ll probably use at least one of the bags for lettuce. I think we planted too much lettuce, especially since we don’t have any rabbits to feed it to.

We’re near finishing up several series we’ve been watching on Netflix and Amazon streaming, including a British series called Escape to the Country. In each episode, the presenter meets a couple who want to relocate to a rural area. The presenter shows them three houses.

I said to Barbara last night that nearly all of the couples are likable and remind me of us. They’re looking for the same thing we were looking for: to get away from big city rat race (or “rat run” as the Brits apparently call it) and live in a rural area. Most of them want to have a big garden. (Again, what Americans call having a green thumb in Britain is apparently called having green fingers. I think they do it just to annoy us…)

Another thing that struck us is the high prices of homes and particularly land in Britain. I suppose that makes sense, given their much higher population density. A nice home that might cost $200,000 in a rural area in the US often costs two, three, or even four times that in the UK, depending on how close it is to London or another large city. The buyers often say they want quite a bit of land with the home, but the homes they’re shown often include half an acre or less, what in the US would be considered a typical suburban residential plot. In the 20 or so episodes we’ve watched, only a handful of the properties they’ve shown have included even one full acre.

And detached homes are apparently pretty rare. A high percentage of the homes they show are semi-detached, which in the US would be called duplexes, and are pretty rare even in cities, let alone rural areas. And the Brits apparently have a lot more words and arrangements for sanitary facilities than we Americans do. In the US, a half-bath includes a toilet and sink, and a full bath includes those plus a shower and/or bathtub. In Britain, there are many different arrangements, including shower rooms that include only a shower, shower  rooms that include a shower and sink, bathrooms that include only a bathtub, and toilets that include only a toilet and no sink, which strikes Americans as bizarre. Where do you wash your hands after using the toilet?

At any rate, we’ve enjoyed the series. There are only 25 episodes on Netflix, out of (IIRC) something like 750 episodes that the BBC has broadcast over the last several years.


I read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction. Most of it uses any of several recurring memes, all of which make for a good (and easy-to-write) story, but none of which are particularly realistic. Here, in no particular order, are several of those memes:


There is no such thing as a zombie. Enough said. Serious preppers may tell you they’re preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse, but they aren’t serious. That’s just shorthand for preparing for any eventuality.

Walking Home

The protagonist of these stories is often stranded hundreds or even thousands of miles from home and loved ones, and proceeds to walk home. He or they have many violent encounters, but always come through pretty much unscathed. Using just what they have in their (usually outrageously heavy) backpacks, they make it home after weeks or even months of walking, conveniently finding everything they need to make the trip.

Some of these treks are more realistic than others, notably Franklin Horton’s Borrowed World series and Angery American’s Home series, but ultimately all of them are fantasies. The reality is that if the S really HTF and you find yourself more than two or three days’ walk away from home, you’re not going to make it unless you start that trek before the majority of people realize what’s happened.

For example, if I were writing such a scenario and had Barbara stranded down in Winston-Salem, 60 miles or so from home, I’m not going to have her walk home. She’s in excellent shape for a woman her age, but even so it’s just not practical. Instead, I’d have her walk some and hitch rides when possible. Her trip back home won’t take weeks, let alone months. Instead, she’ll leave the moment the Event occurs and arrive back home in a day, if not later the same day. Better yet, she’d just drive home, making the normal 1.5 hour trip in, oh, 1.5 hours.

Destruction of Electronics

The two best-known books based on this meme are David Crawford’s Lights Out and William R. Forstchen’s One Second After. Both are better-written than average for this genre. The problem is, their scenario is very unlikely. There are two mechanisms for such an event:

o a Carrington-class solar storm (coronal mass ejection), which would damage long transmission lines, transformers, and any AC equipment that was connected, but not unconnected electronics, such as automobiles, cell phones, pacemakers, etc. etc. The aftermath would be hideously bad, but would not destroy all electronics, let alone electric motors and so on. Note that a CME is predictable, and that the world would have probably several days’ warning to take measures to minimize damage.

o a high-altitude nuclear electromagnetic pulse (HEMP or just EMP) event would have extremely severe consequences, but the extent and level of severity are unknowable, simply because it’s never happened. There are simply so many variables that making even a rough prediction is impossible. It’s safe to bet that a major EMP event would do incredible damage to our electric power grid and any electric/electronic devices connected to it, as well as many unconnected devices such as cell phones and other portable electronics. As to vehicles, the common meme is that all of them would be damaged beyond usability with the exception of diesels and elderly gasoline vehicles, those made in 1980 or before, which use carburetors and distributors rather than fuel-injection. In reality, modern diesels would actually be as much (or as little) affected as modern gasoline engines. My guess is that a significant percentage of EFI gasoline engines would be unaffected, other than perhaps requiring the battery to be disconnected and then reconnected to cause the vehicle computer(s) to reboot. Those vehicle computers are generally very well protected, in what amounts to Faraday cages.

Rawles’ Golden Hordes

In his books, Rawles was one of the first authors other than Pournelle and Niven to predict ravening hordes of refugees flowing out of the cities and into rural areas, where they’d overwhelm the locals. That’s possible, of course, depending on the type of disaster that occurs. In a financial collapse or similar widespread disaster, we’d probably see the converse: people migrating from rural areas to the large cities, because that’s where government disaster relief efforts would be concentrated. Rural areas would be the last to get any such relief efforts, if indeed they received any help at all.

Even in a worst-case scenario, such as terrorists setting off dirty bombs in large cities, mass migrations to rural areas are unlikely. Most ordinary people in the cities will wait too long before deciding to evacuate, by which time it will be impossible to do so. Look what less than an inch of snow did to Atlanta in 2014. Interstates literally turned into parking lots, even though the event had been forecast well in advance. A dirty bomb attack or similar event that occurred with no notice would clog highways even faster. Accidents, disabled vehicles, and all of the other things that happen in such circumstances would make roads impassable, starting with the interstates and other main highways, but quickly clogging even 2-lane roads.

What Rawles and others ignore is what I call the tenth-value distance. How many miles of road is sufficient to cut the number of people down to 10% of the original number? That TVD obviously varies with the specifics for an area. For the Triad and Charlotte populations trying to evacuate towards Sparta, I estimated the TVD at 10 miles. In other words, if 100,000 people set out from the Triad heading towards Sparta, after 10 miles that’d be down to 10,000, after 20 miles down to 1,000, and so on. After the 60 miles to Sparta, that original number of people would be down to (0.1)e6, or one one-millionth of the original number. Call it one tenth of a person would reach Sparta.

That’s the good news, at least for Sparta residents if not Triad residents. The bad news is that the TVD applies to average people. The TVD for really bad people–one percenter motorcycle gangs, inner-city gangs, and so on–is much higher. Yeah, we’d see groups of them up here, but there are plenty of Good Old Boys here, most of whom grew up hunting and shooting. Gang members who decide to come up here to rob, rape, and pillage would find themselves dead pretty quickly.

Bugging Out

The concept of bugging out is hugely popular in PA fiction, but the reality is that it almost never makes sense to bug out except in a disaster that’s very localized. If a train wreck dumps toxic chemicals near your home or a huge wildfire is approaching, yes it makes sense to bug out, but the idea of a very localized disaster with everywhere outside the immediate area unaffected is, by definition, not an apocalyptic scenario. In a widespread catastrophe, leaving your home and going out on the road is simply stupid. At home, you have all of your supplies and you are surrounded by people you’ve known for years. Hunkering down preserves those advantages; bugging out gives up all of them in exchange for the uncertainties of the road. Even if you have a well-stocked bugout location, getting there is by no means certain. And even if you do get there, there’s a good chance you’ll find it looted and perhaps occupied by squatters. Hunkering down is far safer, even if you’re in a suburb of a larger city. Making a run for it is not far from suicidal.


PA authors love to cast FEMA/DHS as evil jackbooted thugs. The reality is that they’re mostly ordinary people. In a catastrophe, they’ll being doing their best to do their jobs. Sure there’ll be some petty bureaucrats drunken with power who make things for refugees worse than they might have been, and yes the realities of having to care for thousands or tens of thousands of people will require them to enforce strict rules, but the idea that FEMA/DHS will end up running concentration camps, let alone death camps, is ridiculous. They won’t be trying to make people miserable, let alone enslave them.

Not that things wouldn’t be miserable despite their best efforts. Even if the country mobilized every resource available, the state and federal governments simply don’t have sufficient resources to deal with even a regional disaster, let alone one that’s nationwide. There simply isn’t enough spare food sitting around to feed everyone, or pure water, or spare electrical generation capacity, or drugs, or anything else. Everything would be in extremely short supply, and conditions in such refugee camps would soon become unspeakably bad. But don’t blame that on FEMA/DHS. Just resolve to do what it takes to take care of yourself and your family and friends, because if there is a large scale catastrophe the last place you want to be is anywhere near a refugee camp.

Breakdown of Law

Another common meme is WROL (without rule of law). The idea that the government becomes utterly incapable of enforcing even fundamental laws like those against rape, robbery, and murder. Since they can’t or won’t enforce such fundamental laws, plucky preppers have to do it themselves. These preppers have no fear of ever facing charges for shooting people out of hand and so on, because the government isn’t there any more. Don’t count on it. State and local law enforcement may be overwhelmed initially, and in fact probably would be. But they’ll still be there, and when things begin to settle down they’re likely to show up at your door and ask you some hard questions about that pile of bodies surrounding your house. The metric will be “were these the actions of a reasonable man?” Law enforcement, particularly in rural areas and small towns, will tend to sympathize with ordinary people who were forced to use lethal force to defend themselves, but that’s about as far as it will go.

Isolated Cabins

PA novelists often fantasize about a family living in their retreat, a self-sufficient homestead miles from their nearest neighbors. In reality, such a site would be about as dangerous as living in a central city. Maybe more so. Isolating yourself geographically from bad events makes sense superficially, but only for as long as it takes you to consider the implications. Being miles from your nearest neighbor doesn’t mean the bad guys won’t find you. It just means the nearest help is miles away. The bad guys, if they have the common sense of a turnip, will ambush you, snipe you, and otherwise pick at you piecemeal until they’ve eliminated your ability to defend yourself, which was pretty limited to begin with. You’re on your own. No one is coming to help you. You and your family will die alone, and the bad guys will eat everything you have stored away and then move to the next isolated cabin and do it again.

It’s far better to put yourself in a small-town/rural setting where you have friends and neighbors. Not just for a common defense, but to share skills, knowledge, and other resources. I know a lot about a lot, but I don’t know everything about everything, and some or many of the things I know nothing about may turn out to be critical. That’s why Barbara and I chose to move where we did. There are a lot of people around here who have useful/critical skills, and by becoming part of the community we are preparing to share our own skills in the expectation that others will do the same.

So I’m preparing for none of those scenarios because none of them are very likely. Which brings me to the final common meme in PA novels, but this one actually does make sense.

Doubling Up

What Rawles calls “doubling up” essentially means sharing not just your skills but your living space with others who have complementary skills and supplies. In a critical situation, when you’re surrounded by potential threats, you need trusted people above all. You and your wife aren’t enough. Even if you invite your extended family to stay with you during an emergency, that’s probably not enough people. There’ll be loads of work to do and not enough people to do it all. Finding additional trustworthy people to be part of your group should be your highest priority.

And that turns out to be the toughest preparation of all for most preppers. And that’s why I’m storing extra food, because I want to be able to offer refuge to unprepared friends. People I can trust not to shoot me in the back if the S really HTF.

I actually had this conversation with Lori quite some time ago. We’re better-prepared than Lori is, if you don’t count the fact that she has a 40-acre farm stocked with beef cattle and also has a year-round spring on the property. But if things ever got really bad, Lori knows we’d take her and her daughter in, and she volunteered to do the same for us. I hope it never comes to that, but it’s nice to have a fall-back position.

* * * * *

70 Comments and discussion on "Tuesday, 11 April 2017"

  1. MrAtoz says:

    Wow, that is a great summary, Dr. Bob. Do you mind if I copy and paste all your comments into one of those shitty Kindle books and put it up on Amazon? I’ll call it “Dr. Bob’s Guide to The Apocalypse.” I’ll give you a byline.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Sure, go ahead.

  3. nick flandrey says:

    Real life consequences of assuming WROL, and of trusting in blue costumes occupied by men.


    WRT golden horde. It does in fact happen and we’ve seen it first hand, although it doesn’t happen in the PA novel style, because the rest of the country didn’t fall in the disaster, or end in WROL. The hundreds of thousands who fled katrina in a wave did in fact make it out of NOLA . To some degree in a metaphorical sense, but certainly in a literal sense too, they DID lay waste to the surrounding area. For years afterwards the area around Houston’s relief effort (centered on the Astrodome) was devastated by violence and increased poverty. Displaced gang members fought with existing gangs for supremacy in our schools and on our streets. Like locusts, the refugees damaged our schools, depleted our monetary and physical resources, killed, robbed, and maimed our residents, and the effects of the wave of human ejecta washed thru Houston for MORE THAN TEN YEARS. Even just a couple of years ago, teachers were commenting to me that “Thank god the katrina refugees are finally working their way out of our schools.”

    We have whole cities filled with ” really bad people–one percenter motorcycle gangs, inner-city gangs, and so on.” If ROL didn’t stay up, and if the surrounding areas weren’t actively wary of the flood of katrina refugees, I believe we would have had the PA version, at least locally. It doesn’t take that many bad actors to utterly destroy an area.

    I remind people here that I was living and working in LA during the Rodney King riots. I saw first hand what just a few rampaging people can do. Parts of Hollywood burned to the ground. Smoke was blowing in my front door. I drove past the smouldering ruins of what were thriving businesses a day earlier. A co-worker had to shoot at looters to keep them from burning down his mother’s house. Another had to load his truck and flee ahead of the fires burning down the surrounding lofts. My roommate was attacked and hospitalized by a group of men who just didn’t like his skin color.

    The animals that fled Katrina stole vehicles including buses. They stripped entire car sales lots. The rioting crowds in LA were mostly on foot, but spread like wildfire. Local pockets broke out wherever someone had a grievance. The vast majority of people AFTER katrina didn’t stand around waiting to die, they left in waves.

    To add further first hand experience, I’ve now seen a couple of actual city evacuations. Yes, immediately everything gridlocks and stays that way for some time. But after that, there is a time when things open up again, and you can flee. If the disaster hasn’t hit yet, or devastated your area, that delayed opening can give you a second chance. It’s also a chance for the horde to move.

    So I’m not nearly as sanguine as our host about the golden horde. We lived thru the slow motion version after Katrina, and I’m certainly not willing to armwave them away, based on my first hand experience.


    Added- also we are many hours away from NOLA by vehicle without traffic. The horde leapfrogged locals (possibly due to the entirely reasonable reset to Jim Crow Era standards for outsiders- see the signs online) and headed for the bright lights…

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    But your experience is all from within heavily populated areas, and is all with localized disasters. I didn’t say there wouldn’t be golden hordes, just that they wouldn’t make it far outside the cities.

    Even Katrina barely qualified as regional in terms of the affected areas. And help was sent from all over the place. Winston-Salem sent a bunch of electric power trucks, law enforcement vehicles, and many, many tractor-trailer loads of food, bottled water, and other supplies.

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “Added- also we are many hours away from NOLA by vehicle without traffic. The horde leapfrogged locals (possibly due to the entirely reasonable reset to Jim Crow Era standards for outsiders- see the signs online) and headed for the bright lights…”

    Yep, so it affected cities mainly. And again, although the supply chain wasn’t hitting on all cylinders, it was still functioning if considerably degraded. Many gas stations, grocery stores, etc. in the affected areas remained open.

  6. nick flandrey says:

    “Many gas stations, grocery stores, etc. in the affected areas remained open.”

    This was mainly due, in the case of Katrina (and Ike), to pre-positioned assets. Because we can see hurricanes coming from a long way away, the response has time to move assets nearby. This helps considerably and wouldn’t apply in many scenarios.

    I acknowledge that my experiences have been urban and suburban. I’ll just note that that covers a large majority of people in the country. Unless your nearest wal*mart is a multi-hour drive, you’re pretty close to urban (or live in a rural island of development.)

    I’ll add that while a whole lot of people are in fact stupid, the human animal didn’t rise to prominence because it sat around and waited to die. People LEAVE when there is nothing left. Vis Katrina, vis Okies and the dustbowl, vis anywhere in Europe that got bombed in WWII. They’ll leave in stolen vehicles, they’ll commandeer buses, they’ll walk out carrying whatever they can. There will be attrition, and there will be dispersion, and especially if they have to cross thru a ‘resource desert’ their numbers will decrease even more, but humans have always banded together for survival. I don’t doubt that they will band together in the aftermath of disaster (and not in the good way).

    Throughout history, large groups of loosely aligned humans (called ‘armies’ in the history books, but comprised of some fighting men and a larger group of affiliates) have ranged through the countryside supporting themselves on whatever they could seize, laying waste to everything as they moved.

    Unless the disaster itself reduces population dramatically, I don’t see any reason for history to be repealed.


  7. nick flandrey says:

    ack, and now the whole morning is gone…..



  8. Dave Starr says:

    On TV:
    Thanks for the point out on “Escape to the Country”, my wife and I will take a look. A somewhat similar BBC series you might want to chat is “Homes Under he Hammer”, where in each episodes three properties, mostly residential but often some commercial and “one off” items are sold at auction and the buyers renovate these properties and show them off and have them informally appraised to see if the renovation seems profitable.
    Pn Prepping:
    WRT your thoughts on EMP, I have a lot of years of experience in EMP protection/hardening with the military. In a great many areas we still don’t know all that we don’t know but I find your evaluation pretty much spot on. An excellent guide to some thoughtful basic strategies today, thanks.

  9. Miles_Teg says:

    “…and toilets that include only a toilet and no sink, which strikes Americans as bizarre. Where do you wash your hands after using the toilet?”

    That was completely routine in Australia until the last thirty or so years. The house I grew up in in Adelaide (built 1952) had a toilet with… you guessed it, a toilet, and nothing else. It was next to the laundry, we washed our hands in the laundry sink. The bathroom, with bath, shower and sink was three rooms away.

    My house in Canberra (built in 1977) had a bathroom with toilet, sink/vanity unit, bath and seperate shower. The master bedroom had an ensuite of shower, vanity/sink and toilet. This is the trend nowadays. A friend’s house had a toilet with small washbasin in it – the first time I’d seen that. Next room was the real bathroom.

    Housing in Britain is so expensive that even people with good jobs have to content themselves with one bedroom flats or buying a house with a (platonic) friend. Even in country towns duplexes are the rule.

  10. Miles_Teg says:

    There are zombies. I saw them on the Deadly Earnest Show…


  11. Miles_Teg says:

    “…a high-altitude nuclear electromagnetic pulse (HEMP or just EMP) event would have extremely severe consequences, but the extent and level of severity are unknowable, simply because it’s never happened.”

    What about Starfish Prime?


  12. Greg Norton says:

    Another thing that struck us is the high prices of homes and particularly land in Britain.

    Doesn’t the gentry still hold a lot of land in the rural areas?

    I would also imagine that London has a lot of bug out pads owned by Mainland Chinese similar to what we saw when living outside Portland. Dad still works in the motherland while mom and kids hide in a leafy suburb of an English-speaking country, ready for the day when the SHTF at home.

  13. dkreck says:

    In probably half the new homes I’ve seen (my daughter has been looking) there is a trend to but the toilet in a separate but attached to the bath water closet. I’m guessing it provides a method to share a bathroom with a better sense of privacy.

  14. Miles_Teg says:

    Greg Norton wrote:

    “Doesn’t the gentry still hold a lot of land in the rural areas?”

    Not just in the country. The Duke of Westminster – one of the richest men in Britain – owns/owned a substantial amount of property in London. In 1990 in London I looked at real estate prices – often you didn’t buy a house, you had a 19 year or whatever lease, paid for up front. When your lease ran out you were out. The prices were still insane.

  15. DadCooks says:

    WRT housing in the UK and most of Europe for that matter:
    IIRC it used to be that ordinary people (us commoners) could not own land or certain classes of property (like all swans and deer in the UK belong to the Queen). There are a lot of “homes” in the UK that were built before we were even “The Colonies” so indoor plumbing and electricity had to be squeezed into these small homes. Sanitation is a relatively new concept, and still unknown in the majority of the world.

    My Mom and Dad visited our relatives in the UK about 20-years ago. They were all living in homes that were passed down from generation to generation, all “leased” from the Queen. They were not free to make any modifications without “Royal Approval”. My Mom was a larger than normal woman and had a hard time fitting into the very small bathroom and using the bucket-sized “johns”. My Dad was 6’2″ and had to practically bend in half to get through the doors and walked stooped over through the house.

  16. OFD says:

    ” My Dad was 6’2″ and had to practically bend in half to get through the doors and walked stooped over through the house.”

    Ho, ho, ho, I feel his pain, even after the fact, as it may be.

    This house was built in 1830 and even Murkan peeps of that time were on the average significantly smaller; wifey is 5’10” and has to duck going up and down the stairs and I have seven inches on her. I call it the Hobbit House. Built for hobbits but orcs live here now.

  17. pcb_duffer says:

    [snip] There is no such thing as a zombie. Enough said [snip]
    Around here, they’re called meth-heads. Distinguished from the zombies of Hollywood myth only by their different odors, and their absolute willingness to roll over on anyone and everyone they know when confronted by law enforcement.

    [snip] the effects of the wave of human ejecta washed thru Houston for MORE THAN TEN YEARS [snip]
    I suppose I should be glad that most of the Katrina refugees of the ‘human ejecta’ class went west, toward the sort of big city they were familiar with. We got a decent number of refugees here, but the problems they caused were asymptotic to zero.

    [snip] Even Katrina barely qualified as regional in terms of the affected areas. [snip]
    Katrina was noteworthy because (A) it affected a very large and economically important city and (B) the mass media went hog wild trying to pin all the blame on the sitting POTUS, whom they despised for political reasons.

    [snip] My roommate was attacked and hospitalized by a group of men who just didn’t like his skin color. [snip]
    I’ve had that happen to friends / employees here, but the miscreants have always been Blue Eyed Devils. The police didn’t expend a lot of effort investigating.

  18. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Starfish Prime was 55 years ago, when the world was different. Nearly all electronic devices were tube-based, and suffered no damage (nor for that matter did transistor-based stuff). The area was very isolated. Power generation and distribution was still local, so by definition there could be no cascading power grid failures. For all intents and purposes, the environment in 1962 was little different from when the Carrington Event occurred 100 years earlier.

  19. nick flandrey says:

    ” Even Katrina barely qualified as regional in terms of the affected areas.”

    I was gonna let that pass without comment, but the rain has me back at my desk so–

    If this is your perception of the event, it is wrong. Completely wrong. Understandable since you are out of the area, and only had the MSM to rely on for coverage, which was focused on NOLA.

    I don’t like relying on wikipedia but it has a nice summary article on this very subject.


    Pull quotes, but do RTWT, it’s not long, and I left out the half dozen states that were only incidentally affected.

    “The effects of Hurricane Katrina, in August 2005, were catastrophic and widespread. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history, leaving at least 1,245 people dead, and a further 135 missing. The storm was large and had an effect on several different areas of North America.”

    “Hurricane Katrina’s devastating impact on the state of Mississippi caused a complete re-evaluation of hurricane command centers, safety, and offshore gambling. …. Afterward, all Mississippi counties were declared disaster areas (see map).

    The Gulf Coast of Mississippi suffered massive damage from the impact of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005, leaving 238 people dead, 67 missing, and an estimated $125 billion in damages.[18] Since Katrina made its third and final landfall on the Louisiana/Mississippi state line, the storm’s powerful northeastern quadrant hammered areas of Mississippi, as well as Alabama, causing extensive wind and flood damage.”

    “Alabama suffered widespread, moderate-to-heavy damage caused by hurricane-force winds, flooding by a storm tide of 14–18 feet, and tornadoes.[21] Massive damage occurred along coastal areas, pushing small ships and oil rigs ashore, flooding fishing areas with dozens of shrimp boats, destroying marinas plus hundreds of boardwalks, and swamping beachfront homes or hotels, with widespread tree damage and roofs or shingles torn off. Afterward, 22 counties in Alabama were declared disaster areas”

    “Texas avoided any direct damage from Hurricane Katrina, but the state took in an estimated 220,000 people who sought refuge from Louisiana.”

    “…on September 3, a wave of over 120,000 additional evacuees began pouring into Texas at a rate such that, as of September 5, it was estimated there were roughly 139,000 evacuees in official shelters around the state. This, added to the estimated 90,000 that were already in hotels and homes, overwhelmed local resources.”

    “…By September 6, Texas had an estimated 250,000 evacuees and Governor Perry was forced to declare a state of emergency in Texas and issued an impassioned plea to other states to begin taking the 40,000-50,000 evacuees that were still in need of shelter.”

    I respectfully submit that a storm which kills over a 1000 people, wipes out coastal areas in 3 states, and has an entire state declared a disaster area, and displaces a few HUNDRED THOUSAND people is NOT “barely regional.” The effect on the oil industry was similarly devastating as 95% of Gulf production was impacted. They were cleaning up oil rigs for YEARS.

    The long term impact on TX alone was dramatic and deleterious and we only got the people. The changes to state and national disaster planning were dramatic and echo to today.

    Truly massive amounts of money were spent on the recovery.

    Anyone who thinks Katrina was just about NOLA doesn’t have the whole story.


  20. lynn says:

    If the USA MOABS the nork missile facilities, what is the chance of China EMPing the USA ?

  21. Robert Bruce Thompson says:


    You’re right. I shouldn’t have said “barely regional”. It wasn’t even close to that. “Localized” would better characterize it . Very small death toll, very limited damage in a relatively small coastal area.

    “Regional” disasters would have 100 if not 1,000 times the death toll and property damage that covered most or all of a region. A “region” is something like the Midwest or Southeast or Mountain States, NOT just small parts of a few states.

  22. medium wave says:

    The hundreds of thousands who fled katrina in a wave did in fact make it out of NOLA . To some degree in a metaphorical sense, but certainly in a literal sense too, they DID lay waste to the surrounding area.

    After the initial period of looting ended, the New Orleans area experienced remarkably low crime rates for several YEARS as a result of the underclass scum having decamped to Houston and, to a lesser extent, Atlanta.

  23. OFD says:

    Do we know, then, what the “crime rate” became for Houston and Atlanta subsequent to the Katrina episode?

    I am always suspicious of government-generated crime statistics, having been a crime statistics officer at one time for a while (on top of my regular chit, of course, thanks to the previous stats officer being a drunken loose-cannon maniac, who slapped whatever crap together once a month and sent it in). I did them accurately and carefully, and as a result, the much higher figures for both violent and property crime stats made the local nooz media, papers and tee-vee. I was then taken right the fuck outta that gig immediately and it was given to another drunken loser.

    So who knows how town, city and state departments actually compile and submit the stats to the reporting agencies, in my case the MA State Police and the Feebies.

  24. SteveF says:

    The FLASHLIGHT from hell. Still a one-hand carry, though.

  25. MrAtoz says:

    Understandable since you are out of the area, and only had the MSM to rely on for coverage, which was focused on NOLA.

    I didn’t feel a thing. 😉

  26. Greg Norton says:

    From the “Ruh Roh?” Department:

    Chef Boyardee canned Ravioli has disappeared from Costco and Sam’s shelves locally.

    If the situation isn’t due to a recall, it is certainly odd. I can’t recall a time that you couldn’t buy that stuff by the 8 pack at the warehouse clubs.

    My kids eat it at a rate that we need a new 8 pack every month or so, and I tried to keep a backlog of a couple of 8 packs, a habit from FL hurricane preparedness.

  27. nick flandrey says:

    It’s a region, it’s got a name- The Gulf Coast. Some call it the Mid-South although that includes Georgia.

    It had a bigger area of effect than an atomic bomb would have.


  28. nick flandrey says:

    “Do we know, then, what the “crime rate” became for Houston and Atlanta subsequent to the Katrina episode? ”

    Certain crimes increased and the increase was reported despite political correctness.


  29. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I wasn’t able to find it here:


  30. nick flandrey says:

    @greg n,

    I’ve noticed lots of things go missing at costco. Some are then replaced with Kirkland versions, some return after some amount of time.

    3 packs of ham steaks- disappeared, haven’t returned.

    Big bag of regular M&Ms, gone for 6 months, peanut in it’s place. Just returned and the associate said peanut was going away.

    The cereals come and go. No Healthy Cheerios in months (multigrain, purple and white box). Sometimes no Honey Nut Cheerios for a month or two. They had my brand (Sunrise Vanilla) for a short while, then gone.

    Blue Ribbon Bacon- gone. Replaced with not as good Kirkland.

    Naan bread- gone for a while, replaced with house brand pita, now back but only in the mini size.

    Our store has switched eggs from a normal 18 pack to “cage free” in 24 packs. That’s as close to regular eggs as you can get. They also switched to large from extra large. Smaller eggs, unwieldy package, higher price.

    Switched the kirkland sliced ham (lunchmeat) from a 3 pack of ziploks to a 2 pack in a ‘deli tray’ style package that doesn’t seal well.

    speaking of costco, I’ve returned my kirkland dishwashing pods. They didn’t clean in my washer and left a strong fragrance on the dishes. Also returned my Kirkland “Free” laundry liquid. Didn’t clean clothes at all.

    I continue to use the kirkland laundry pods though. They work well and have mild smell.

    I also note the price deflation on maple syrup. It’s down to $11.99 from $13.


  31. OFD says:

    It’s Region 6 for the Feds; otherwise just a “Division,” like New England, itself just part of Region 1 WRT to the Census Bureau definitions.

    Depends on who’s defining “region.”

    Since the Feds got involved with Katrina in a big way, I think I’d have to classify it as, yes, a full-fledged Region. If a similar-sized storm hit New England, then according to the Feds, we’d be a region, too.

    The two monster storms that live on in our family memory are the 1938 horror and 1954. My mom, aunt and uncle were little kids for the earlier one, and had to be evacuated via rowboat from their neighborhood in Fairhaven, MA, as it had become an island and getting smaller by the minute.

  32. Robert Bruce Thompson says:


    I’m curious about how our very different expectations affect what you’re doing to prepare that differs from what I’m doing.

  33. nick flandrey says:

    That is an excellent question. I’ve got a civic association meeting in 15 minutes, so I’ll have to get back to this.

    But that’s exactly what should come out of this sort of sharing.

    Horde vs no horde looks like a huge difference. In practice, I’ll have to think about if it really is wrt preps….


  34. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    More ammo for you?

  35. SteveF says:

    Field-expedient claymore mines, my good fellow.

  36. Greg Norton says:

    I’ve noticed lots of things go missing at costco. Some are then replaced with Kirkland versions, some return after some amount of time.

    That doesn’t explain Sam’s. Costco strives to be PC, but Sam’s doesn’t in general.

    Sam’s does have a variety pack of the Chef Boyardee pasta bowls, but they dropped the 8 pack of the Ravioli cans at the same time as Costco.

    speaking of costco, I’ve returned my kirkland dishwashing pods. They didn’t clean in my washer and left a strong fragrance on the dishes. Also returned my Kirkland “Free” laundry liquid. Didn’t clean clothes at all.

    I know the Kirkland dishwasher pods went useless the year WA State clamped down on phosphates. When we lived up there, we never had clean dishes until the landlord was forced to replace the dishwasher due to a circuit board problem (2007 capacitors strike again).

  37. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “Field-expedient claymore mines, my good fellow.”

    I thought seriously about that, but I decided to go with a bunch of 0.1-gauge shotguns instead. They have much more throw-weight, won’t singe the house behind them, and are reloadable. Just for old times’ sake, I will a sign on them, “This side toward enemy”.

  38. Nightraker says:

    Re: SHTF scenarios and realistic risk assessment

    It’s hard to predict actual effects without knowing the severity of the “Event”, or even what “Event” occurs. Memoirs such as Ferfal in Argentina’s monetary collapse or Selco’s hunkering in the Bosnian war zone are thought provoking but mostly applicable to urbanites.

    Preppers are actually logisticians just trying to side step trouble. The Discovery Channel had a logistics analysis of WWII recently that mentioned pre-fab ports built at the Gold and Omaha beachheads and a pipeline laid across the Channel as a major element of the Allies continuing success with the Invasion. Never mind the super human efforts of the Soviets in moving their industrial plants East.

    So, a small town is definitely the hot prepper ticket but Murphy’s Law still applies. What if TPTB decide to disperse Winston-Salem for some urgent reason and bring in thousands of refugees to Sparta’s high school or some other local “shelter” and then treat it like the Superdome? Just askin’!

  39. H. Combs says:

    “…and toilets that include only a toilet and no sink,
    The older home we rented in Nottingham UK had a downstairs WC that held only an ancient loo (toilet) with tank mounted near the ceiling. I thought it was an artifact of postwar UK design. Then we moved to a newer home in Wellington NZ that had a huge bathroom with spa tub, modern vanity but the toilet was in a separate, tiny, room. Actually it was convenient, I could use the toilet while the wife or daughter was using the tub.

  40. H. Combs says:

    We visited the Mississippi gulf coast last year, well over a decade after Katrina, and​ the damage was still extreme and evident for hundreds of miles. The wreckage of homes and businesses still litter the landscape. Like most, I thought only New Orleans was affected, I was badly mistaken.

  41. Nightraker says:

    Ah, the Brits! It’s been four decades, so… I remember thatched roofs being installed on NEW construction, never mind renewing old ones.

    There was the quite prosperous gentleman and his wife who had my family over for cocktails before dinner. His daughter proudly displayed her immaculate converted attic room in their several century old home. The massive timber running waist high thru the room holding the roof together was only slightly disconcerting.

    I wasn’t even driving yet, but was disturbed several times by the occupant of the left hand front seat cruising down the motorway blinded by the newspaper they were reading.

  42. SteveF says:

    the occupant of the left hand front seat

    That would be the passenger, wouldn’t it? Or did you mean the right front seat?

  43. OFD says:

    Did another two-hour Planning Commission meeting; I am being appointed to it this coming Monday at the Selectboard meeting. Getting massively interesting intel so far, too; tonight’s haul was a very nice set of color and color-coded aerial/satellite photos of the whole AO from several perspectives, with roads and utilities and other stuff labeled, along with boundaries. This was in conjunction with a discussion of the proposed expanded sidewalks and bike paths in various areas. Interesting that this bay village is considered an “island” kinda sorta cut off from the larger town.

    Also getting more intel at each meeting on just how things work here now, and in the past.


    So Monday the Selectboard meeting, after that, a meeting per week of one or the other, plus the monthly meetings of the Legion post and gun club/range.

    This may not seem a huge deal to other peeps but it’s kinda huge for me, in that I’m finally getting to where I can un-isolate myself. A common hazard for all too many of Uncle’s war-weary chillunz.

  44. lynn says:

    Went to a rock concert tonight with Fran Cosmo and a dozen band members. They played for two hours. Cosmo used to be one of the lead singers for just another band out of Boston. We and our 2,000 friends in San Antone loved them.

  45. lynn says:

    I live in a small town in Texas, only 130,000 people. We dont even make the list of top 25 cities in Texas.

  46. Nightraker says:

    “That would be the passenger, wouldn’t it? Or did you mean the right front seat?”

    Didn’t mean to be oblique. The inattentive British passenger in the American driving position was upsetting to this United State-ian. Never mind round-abouts, dual carriageways or sidewalks in the hinder boonies. 🙂

  47. OFD says:

    One of my favorite blues-rock guitarists bit the dust this afternoon at his house down in Groton, MA.

    Requiescat in pace, J. Geils. Only 71. I’d seen him recently in a video online doing an interview at his house and showing his guitar collection. He didn’t look too well then and I was surprised by the change.

    Saw him and his band live twice; one at the Bangor, Maine, Municipal Auditorium, and once out at Fillmore West in Sodom-on-the-Bay. Both times they rocked the house down. I’d listened to their front man, Peter Wolf, when he was still a DJ at the old WBCN in Boston, late at night, coming down off acid trips.

    Meanwhile here at the Hobbit House, Mrs. OFD is hurting bad from the old scar tissue she got just above her hip from falling onto a rock in a fall from her horse. Did something to it recently and is in a fair amount of pain. Says moving and stretching helps it. And I just totter along per usual with continued chronic back pain and sciatica and trying to lose the inner tube and get outside much more often. Couple of old fart cripples destined for the knacker’s yard.

    Requiescant in pace, fratres et sorores; semper paratus; tempus fugit irreparabile…

  48. nick flandrey says:

    Gonna put off til tomorrow what I can’t do today….

    back from the civic mtg, where I’m further convinced that most people are ignorant, some willfully, and some are stupid besides. They complain about ‘developers’ while living in a home built by developers, in a community that only exists in Mr Hillendahl’s field because of developers, shop at stores, eat a restaurants, visit Drs, and all in environments and buildings built by ‘developers.’ Yet you’d think they worshiped Satan and drank blended baby smoothies for breakfast.

    Tired, and need to get to bed. Traveling on United tomorrow. Joy.

    Pity about J.Geils, didn’t think he was quite that old.


  49. brad says:

    As others have said, that’s an excellent summary of dumb ideas in PA books. Although there’s nothing wrong with the Zombie Apocalypse – those books just land in the fantasy category. For the rest of us, it’s a joking way of explaining our mentality to people who think we are loony. Want more than a day’s groceries in the fridge? Whatever for?

    Various bits of reading lately have reminded me: most people have such a basic misunderstanding of government. They regard “government” as some sort of separate entity, usually benevolent. They don’t understand that governments consist of people, and individual people are good, evil, apathetic, ambitious or whatever. In actual fact, the anonymity granted by being part of a government seems to bring out the baser tendencies. Why do people feel it’s ok to trust someone from a government, when they wouldn’t trust some random person off the street?

    I think the United adventure with the bloodied doctor is what brought this to mind. How often do police overstep their authority? “He was resisting arrest”, a couple of days of administrative leave, and the issue blows over. Yet when a private corporation (n.b. through a cop) attacks someone, it’s major headlines. Just goes to show how people have come to accept governments being unnecessarily violent, whereas we would never accept this from a private company or individual.

  50. Ray Thompson says:

    I live in a small town in Texas, only 130,000 people

    I live in a small town in Tennessee. Only 5,000 people, max.

  51. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Lynn’s “small town” is about 70 times the population of our small town, and 12 times the population of our whole county.

  52. nick flandrey says:

    @brad, you are correct. The water under the frog is approaching boiling point. You can look back (if you remember, most don’t even try) and see point after point where another slip down the slippery slope happened. But at no point was the slip big enough to say “no further” without looking like an extremist. No single point was enough of an issue to make it your hill to die on.

    And that is how we lose our civilization and our freedom. The ‘funny’ thing is, people recognize the effectiveness of this technique when they are using it. Almost anyone realizes that they can get what they want a little bit at a time. They seem astonished though, when the technique works against them.

    Even for causes I support, I see the tactic of incrementalism used effectively. Someone posted a link to a gun rights graphic that shows the states slowly recognizing the right to carry. Win a victory here, use the precedent to leverage there, and keep fighting.

    Even the ancients knew this with the warning about letting the camel’s nose under the tent.

    And it’s everywhere. Look at your car for example. Think about the changes from something like a 1968 or 69 Mustang to a similar ‘sporty’ entry level car of today, like the Scion. The mustang was an engine in a metal box with a couple of seats. The scion has fuel management computers, telescoping steering wheel, abs system, crumple zones, airbags, seat belts only a serious racer would have had, carpet, stereo, fuel injection, sophisticated lighting, engineered bumpers, and the list goes on and on. MOST of these things were mandated bit by bit by law or regulation, or were the direct result of regulation. Some were the result of other forces (entertainment system forex) but most come from CAFE and other legislation, here and abroad.

    Are the features desirable? Some are. Is the vehicle safer for the occupants in the event of a crash? Probably. Does all that crap make a crash more or less likely? I’m leaning toward MORE….

    Every aspect of our lives has been subject to the same creeping incrementalism. Even religion has been subject to it.

    Couple this with people’s basic laziness and you end up with a small group of people who care about an issue driving policy for the larger group. The left in the US recognized they could win thru indirectly moving into and dominating all the soft power positions, and they did.

    There isn’t any quick way to fix it, and the evidence is that you can’t without a major reset. One example is almost no law, no matter how bad, is ever repealed. It’s just tweaked and refined and added to, until sometimes it’s opposite where it started.

    I’m afraid that the only way it will change is violent upset either from external forces or internal. The frogs are waking up, looking around and saying ‘How did this water get so hot?’ and they don’t like it. I guess we’ll see if enough frogs see the pot or if they think they’re in a Jacuzzi…


  53. Miles_Teg says:

    An attack on a German soccer team’s bus by…

    1. Catholic nuns?

    2. Swedish school girls?

    3. A mooslem nutter?

    Answer at 11


  54. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, yes, the thesis certainly has problems, but the fucking muslims should at least be congratulated for allowing a woman to pursue a hard-science Ph.D., no matter how worthless.

  55. nick flandrey says:

    And there is no shortage of flat/young earthers here either. Although, none of them are doing it as PhD a thesis.


  56. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, it’s been known for only about 2,000 years that our planet is a globe. You can’t expect everyone to keep up with the literature.

  57. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “An attack on a German soccer team’s bus by…”

    I’ll guess 1. You gotta watch out for those damned Catholic nuns.

  58. SteveF says:

    It’s part of the Nun Wars, the ongoing battle for superiority between the different communities of nuns. The soccer team was simply collateral damage.

  59. brad says:

    Ya, thankfully this time the dweeb was incompetent. Three bombs, and the only injury was a fractured wrist. Ok, and a totally freaked out football team. Needless to say, they postponed the game yesterday; they’re supposed to play tonight instead.

    For the moment, the prog forces in Europe seem to have stabilized themselves. The alt-right didn’t do well in Austria, and Marie Le Pen is losing ground in France. Which just means that the terror attacks, rapes, etc.. will keep coming. The next wave of alt-right/alt-west is inevitable, and will almost certainly succeed in taking power. I’m guessing, not long after Brexit, so in 3-5 years. Then we can finally begin cleaning house, get rid of today’s de facto open borders, and put in place a sensible and controlled refugee policy.

  60. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’m not sure why Europe would accept *any* islamic refugees. As they’ve made clear, as a group they have no intention to assimilate. Any country with anything approaching rational leadership would not just refuse to accept any more refugees, but would expel any currently within their borders.

    I proposed a rational immigration test the day following 9/11. Require any prospective immigrants to eat a ham sandwich and piss on a copy of the koran. If they refuse, reject them. Better yet, shoot them.

  61. OFD says:

    “I’m sure Mrs OFD is familiar with this…Bastards.”

    Indeed. And it’s made life harder for us over the past eight years. She has to pay up-front for her accommodations and cab rides and meals and then get reimbursed weeks later included in her pay checks and is responsible for the taxes thereby. But by that time the bills have piled up again and so on and so on, rinse and repeat. They supposedly are required to turn the invoices around and pay the contractors by 30 days but at least a third to half of the time it’s late. The last two or three got done by very close to the deadline. And they give the idiot staff member responsible TEN DAYS before she even has to LOOK at the invoices. This person would be challenged tying her shoes and is unfortunately representative of a large part of Mordor’s work force. The upper echelons continue to rake it in and mis-manage to their hearts’ content, though.

    “I proposed a rational immigration test the day following 9/11.”

    Gee, I bet you’d change your hostile and Islamophobic mind in a hurry if YOU saw all those pictures of dying babies on the beaches!

    I’ve pointed out before to certain peeps up here that the vast majority of “refugees” seem to be mobs of sullen young musloid males of military age and I get the reactions you’d expect: anger, incredulity, and being blown off immediately. All THEY see are dead kids on the beach or some other kid who got slapped around by moronic skinheads in East Bumfuck, Nebraska. Hopeless, I guess, until we get a few hundred of them moving to Snarlbinz here. At which point my main solution is to:


  62. SteveF says:

    all those pictures of dying babies on the beaches!

    What I said at the time is what I’ll say now: if their babies are dying because the parents and society don’t care enough to keep them alive, then why should I care about their lives?

  63. OFD says:

    There were probably two or three pics that some enterprising photog guy, maybe Mr. Ray, took, and those were then splashed all over the MSM and innernet so the usual parties could wax hyper-dramatic and commence their usual extreme virtue signaling. Meanwhile we’ve all seen the crowds and mobs of angry-looking and sullen young men and these are the guys who set refugee camps on fire, as per the recent incident in France with rioting between Afghans and Kurds. “Cain’t we all jus’ git along??”

    These are also the guys who engage in other entertaining capers, like spraying rock concert-goers with rifle and pistol fire, setting cars on fire all over Sweden daily, if not hourly (maybe to keep warm), and raping European girls and women at their leisure. While their own governments tell these women to basically lie back and try to enjoy it.

  64. lynn says:

    I live in a small town in Texas, only 130,000 people

    I live in a small town in Tennessee. Only 5,000 people, max.

    Lynn’s “small town” is about 70 times the population of our small town, and 12 times the population of our whole county.

    My parents moved us to Sugar Land, TX in 1977 when I was a senior in high school. The population at that time was 2,000 people and there was farm land between Sugar Land and the Houston megalopolis. So in 40 years, the population has increased by 65 times.

    The population of Fort Bend County in 1977 was 96,000. Today it is 768,000. An increase of 8 times.

    All of this is overshadowed by the Houston metropolitan population which is somewhere between 6 and 8 million, depending on what areas you include and who you believe.

  65. lynn says:

    I read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction. Most of it uses any of several recurring memes, all of which make for a good (and easy-to-write) story, but none of which are particularly realistic. Here, in no particular order, are several of those memes:

    I have no problems with any of this analysis. Still, the books are fun and involving to read. When I go on the road nowadays, I carry food and water and a few other items in my vehicle. Just in case of an extreme event.

    My wife went to funeral for a friend’s mother recently who passed away at the age of 97. Her friend’s mother and father were deployed by the US Army to a small city in Germany in 1946. Her mother kept a journal of their two year stay in Germany. They lived off the Army base in a German house that survived the war. They had plenty of food since she “shopped” on the base. The Germans were in serious food shortages due to the after affects of the war. The single most amazing item to her mother was the number of orphans running loose in the neighborhood, eating from trash cans and such. She started inviting them to lunch at her home and ended up feeding all of the orphans in the neighborhood each day until they went back to the USA. She called this her Christian duty in her journal.

  66. lynn says:

    I read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction. Most of it uses any of several recurring memes, all of which make for a good (and easy-to-write) story, but none of which are particularly realistic. Here, in no particular order, are several of those memes:

    No nuclear or huge meteor strike ?

    My favorite term for invaders / bad guys in PA fiction is the MZBs in “Light’s Out”. MZBs = mutant zombie bikers.

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