Archive for November, 2012
While watching Doomsday Preppers on National Geographic Channel the other day, the following commercial ran:
Two night event
National Geographic Channel
The Real Doomsday
Starts Sunday 8 PM
Interesting. From their TV schedule webpage for Sunday night, starting at 8 PM ET:
Omens of the Apocalypse: The End is Near
The year 2011 gets off to a disturbing start. On New Year’s Eve, blackbirds die in Beebe, Arkansas by the thousands. Nearby, fish and more birds perish. Then a wave of unsettling animal deaths seems to sweep the globe. Are the deaths connected?
2012: Countdown to Armageddon: The End is Near
Are we three years from the end of the world? It’s the premise of this fall’s feature film “2012,” starring John Cusack. Based on the end of a cycle of an actual ancient Maya calendar that will end on December 21, 2012, NGC asks, “What truths lie behind the fears?”
And on Monday evening, beginning at 8 PM ET:
Doomsday: Book of Revelation: The End Is Near
The most controversial book of the Bible: prophecy or ancient history? The answer lies in the book’s cryptic words. Are they a code waiting to be cracked? To some Christians, Revelation describes a doomsday scenario known as ‘the end times,’ and they believe it’s unfolding right before our very eyes. Most scholars argue that Revelation is a product of its time with a powerful message. Two thousand years after its appearance, the battle over what it means continues to rage.
The Mayan Apocalypse 2012
The countdown to the predicted Mayan apocalypse began several thousand years ago, and time is running out. In this one-hour special, historian and filmmaker Paul Murton travels to America to explore how the phenomenon now better known as 2012 has swept across the Internet, with hundreds of websites featuring frightening predictions.
Enjoy the shows, for what they’re worth.
I recently watched the latest installment of National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers TV series, “The Time of Reckoning,” which aired Tuesday night, November 27. Episode 4 of season 2 featured the prepping team of Dr. Tom Perez, a retired chiropractor, and Steven M. Vanasse, a radiation safety officer, both from Houston, Texas.
Dr. Tom Perez
The first part of the show focused on the Perez family. Dr. Perez is married to wife Monica and the couple have thee children, Katarina (17-years-old), Thomas (12), and Matthew (6). According to Tom:
I’m preparing for a terroristic attack.
From the show:
Tom fears the dirty bomb- an everyday explosive like dynamite or TNT packed with radioactive material. Once detonated, its blast can spread radiation anywhere from a city block to several square miles. But that radioactive debris could lodge in buildings, and chemically-bind with concrete and asphalt, making decontaminating a city difficult and possibly forcing affected neighborhoods to be abandoned… A single dirty bomb could contaminate an area 30 times the size of the initial blast site which could cover up to 20 city blocks. The radiation would not be detected by human senses, and the effect of exposure could be immediate.
In the event of a dirty bomb detonation in Houston, the family would bug out to their 700-acre compound- “The Alamo”- 300 miles away in Brackettville, Texas.
“Doomsday Preppers: Doomsday Alamo”
Nat Geo Channel Video
Steven M. Vanasse
Later on in the show viewers were introduced to Steven Vanasse, Tom’s prepping partner. Steven is married to Gobriella Gubimelli and they have a daughter, Victoria Vanasse. According to Steve:
I’m preparing for a dirty bomb blast in the city of Houston.
In the event of such an attack, the Vanasse family plans on bugging out of Houston and meeting up with the Perez family at “The Alamo.”
Tom is the firearms expert. Steve is the radiation expert. And both are training the members of their young families to be preppers.
My thoughts about Doomsday Preppers “The Time of Reckoning”:
• Both the Perez and Vanasse families plan on bugging out of Houston in the event of a dirty bomb explosion. A number of viewers probably wondered why they wouldn’t just bug in, seeing that this type of weapon is intended to cause fear more than casualties and fleeing Greater Houston and a good portion of its 6.08 million residents could be very difficult- if not impossible- in such a situation. From the show:
Tom’s bug-out route bypasses over 3,000 miles of Houston’s highways, and once on the open road, they travel due west to their safe house- 300 miles away in Brackettville, Texas… It’s normally a 6-hour drive to Tom’s compound.
I’m guessing that drive would take significantly longer with a lot of other Houstonians on the road after a dirty bomb attack, and that Tom and Steve would rather not shelter-in-place because of the perceived danger from civil strife and other sorts of chaos that could happen in Houston after such an event. Considering the extent these guys have planned and prepped, I’d be surprised if bugging in wasn’t a viable option for them.
• “The Alamo” is an impressive bug-out location. When I first heard that Tom Perez had stockpiled 46,000 rounds of ammunition, I was kind of surprised at the large number. However, upon thinking the situation through (the Perez family alone consists of 5 preppers and their firearms) and being familiar with a number of recommendations being circulated in prepper/survivalist circles as to how much ammo should be stored for a SHTF event, that amount didn’t seem so astronomical anymore.
• On the other hand, when it was revealed that the Perez family only had 9 months of food socked away at the retreat, I was somewhat shocked. Considering all the preps Dr. Perez had already taken care of, I would have thought he’d have at least a year’s worth of food stored- if not more- at “The Alamo.” I’d seriously-consider buying more food before an armored car, as Dr. Perez said they were looking into at the end of the episode.
• When I heard Tom say:
I also have taken the liberty of contaminating 10 percent of my food and water supply if it is ever compromised. I am the only one that knows which supplies are affected.
I was initially surprised (concerned?) here too. But once I thought the situation through yet again, should this prepper network ever get dislodged from “The Alamo” by raiders, it would probably just be a matter of time before the unwelcomed “guests” get sick, giving the Perez and Vanasse families the opportunity to retake their retreat.
• I have to believe there’s a certain amount of distrust among the law enforcement community when it comes to preppers/survivalists. I thought it was a good idea for the Perez family to coordinate their preparedness efforts with local law enforcement. By doing this, not only did they establish a relationship with them- perhaps decreasing the chance they might be seen as dangerous “kooks” by the police- but they even received some helpful advice during their combined drill with the off-duty officers from the local sheriff’s department. For example, Deputy Ramon Gutierrez pointed out that the Perez family are less vulnerable if they stay in the limestone structures during an attack, and Deputy Forrest Spence emphasized family members need to be real aggressive when confronting a threat.
• I was impressed that Tom taught 17-year-old Kat, 12-year-old Tommy, and 6-year-old Matthew how to shoot, among other things. From the show:
Matthew, who’s been shooting since the age of 4, can hit a target from 100 yards away with his child-size sniper rifle.
Cutest little sniper you ever did see.
• Question- What’s up with Matthew’s boots? They look gargantuan on him.
• Another question- Is it just me or does Steven Vanasse look a lot like a younger version of actor Randy Quaid?
• The way the relationship between Steve and daughter Victoria played out in the episode was funny. Steve would say something about how proud he was of Victoria and how she’s coming on board with the prepping, and the young lady would indicate otherwise. In one scene, Steve brought her shooting for the first time at an indoor gun range. Victoria gave it a try- and it looked like she was a natural at it. Steve was just beaming about Victoria’s performance. Victoria tells viewers she probably won’t go shooting again. I had to chuckle when I saw that. A lot of my friends were just like that at that age. I was an angel, of course.
• The National Geographic Channel definitely got their shock value’s worth from this installment. If the Molotov cocktails and slaying of the goat weren’t enough (or Steve’s munching on its cooked eye), Tom Perez almost suffering permanent injury to his hearing from Steve firing his rifle in the hunting blind really took the cake. Cuidado, Esteban!
“The Time of Reckoning” was really interesting to watch, especially as Tom Perez and Steve Vanasse appear to be way ahead of most of their prepping contemporaries. This was apparent in the score they received from Practical Preppers LLC right before the show wrapped-up. But the episode was also painful to watch at times. Even more painful to make by the looks of things.
“I think it’s evil for people to propagate rumors on the Internet to frighten children.”
-David Morrison, astrobiologist, NASA Ames Research Center
Ahhh. After publishing that post about North Korea, I decide to have some Korean sweet chili noodles for lunch. While I was preparing the meal in my kitchen (Annie Chun and Mr. Microwave lent a helping hand) a recent conversation I had with my girlfriend came to mind. “You better drink lots of water after eating that crap.” No, not that one. It was the one about her cousin’s 9-year-old son getting upset because he had heard the world was going to end on December 21, 2012.
Dang it. I told him not to read this blog.
Just kidding. Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I don’t buy into December 21st “doomsday” theories. As I mentioned before:
As for me, whenever I hear these kinds of predictions, I think of the Bible (New Testament) and the First Book of Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 2:
For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
Well, “little man” and his mom will be happy to know that our government also does not think the world will end on December 21, 2012. But the feds are also hearing about frightened kids and suicidal teens as talk about this date continues to spread. And the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has leapt into action. Stephanie Pappas wrote on SPACE.com this Wednesday:
NASA scientists took time on Wednesday (Nov. 28) to soothe 2012 doomsday fears, warning against the dark side of Mayan apocalypse rumors — frightened children and suicidal teens who truly fear the world may come to an end Dec. 21.
These fears are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar. On the 21st, the date of the winter solstice, a calendar cycle called the 13th b’ak’tun comes to an end. Although Maya scholars agree that the ancient Maya would not have seen this day as apocalyptic, rumors have spread that a cosmic event may end life on Earth on that day.
Thus NASA’s involvement. The space agency maintains a 2012 information page debunking popular Mayan apocalypse rumors, such as the idea that a rogue planet will hit Earth on Dec. 21, killing everyone. (In fact, astronomers are quite good at detecting near-Earth objects, and any wandering planet scheduled to collide with Earth in three weeks would be the brightest object in the sky behind the sun and moon by now.)
“There is no true issue here,” David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, said during a NASA Google+ Hangout event today (Nov. 28). “This is just a manufactured fantasy.”
The SPACE.com article is a good read. NASA challenges “end time” interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the idea that a rogue planet (so-called Nibiru) is about to hit Earth, the fear that solar superstorms will fry the Earth’s power grids with the coming solar maximum, and concerns about a polar shift, among other things.
You can read the entire piece on SPACE.com here.
September 1995. Loyola University of Chicago, Rogers Park campus. My graduate school classmates and I are busy one autumn evening randomly-drawing names of notable political scientists to interview for a class project. I pick Alexander George out of Stanford University (was fantastic and insightful to talk to, by the way). My classmate and good friend Allison ends up with Graham T. Allison out of Harvard. I have no idea at that time how much Dr. Allison, now director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, would eventually contribute to my future knowledge about- and concern over- the threat of nuclear terrorism to America. The author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, which was selected by The New York Times as one of the “100 most notable books of 2004” and is now in its third printing, had this to say about the danger in a 2007 debate (also noted in my “About” page):
This debate asks how likely is it that terrorists will explode a nuclear bomb and devastate a great American metropolis. In the judgment of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the likelihood of a single nuclear bomb exploding in a single city is greater today than at the height of the Cold War. Nuclear Terrorism states my own judgment that, on the current trend line, the chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has expressed his own view that Nuclear Terrorism underestimates the risk.
From the technical side, Richard Garwin, a designer of the hydrogen bomb who Enrico Fermi once called, “the only true genius I had ever met,” told Congress in March that he estimated a “20 percent per year probability with American cities and European cities included” of “a nuclear explosion—not just a contamination, dirty bomb—a nuclear explosion.” My Harvard colleague Matthew Bunn has created a probability model in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that estimates the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack over a ten-year period to be 29 percent—identical to the average estimate from a poll of security experts commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar in 2005.
“The chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent.” And Dr. Allison said this in 2007. I’ll have to check with the Harvard professor and administrator to see if he still believes this is the case in light of the progress being claimed by the Obama administration in the “War on Terror.” But based on recent reports about advancements in the nuclear programs of both Iran and North Korea, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still sticking to his guns here.
Concerning Iran, the Associated Press reported Wednesday:
Iran will step up its uranium enrichment program by sharply increasing the number of centrifuges used to make nuclear fuel, a senior official said Wednesday, in direct defiance of Western demands.
The statement by Iran’s nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, is likely to escalate tensions…
“Despite sanctions, we will most likely see a substantial increase in the number of centrifuge machines this year. We will continue enrichment with intensity,” Abbasi was quoted by state TV as saying Wednesday. The Iranian calendar year ends on March 20.
His remarks came days after the U.N. agency said Iran is about to double its output of higher enriched uranium at its fortified Fordo underground facility. That could move Iran closer to weapons capability.
Anyone out there still think the Islamic Republic of Iran won’t be getting a nuclear weapon short of a military conflict?
I wonder if the Iranians will be televising the parade from downtown Tehran when that happens?
As for the North Koreans? Reuters’ Fredrik Dahl reported Thursday:
North Korea has made further progress in the construction of a new atomic reactor, the U.N. nuclear chief reported on Thursday, a facility that may extend the country’s capacity to produce material for nuclear bombs.
Pyongyang “has continued construction of the light water reactor and largely completed work on the exterior of the main buildings,” Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said…
North Korea says it needs nuclear power to provide electricity, but has also boasted of its nuclear deterrence capability and has traded nuclear technology with Syria, Libya and probably Pakistan.
At the end of summer, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was already thought to have 23 nuclear weapons in their arsenal.
The world was already a dangerous place, but grows even more so in our time. Especially as it concerns nuclear proliferation.
“Iran nuclear chief: Uranium enrichment to be stepped up with new centrifuges, reactor.” Associated Press. 28 Nov. 2012. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-nuclear-chief-enrichment-to-move-ahead-with-intensity/2012/11/28/98834224-3965-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_story.html). 30 Nov. 2012.
Dahl, Fredrik. “North Korea pushing ahead with new nuclear reactor: IAEA.” Reuters. 29 Nov. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/29/us-korea-north-nuclear-idUSBRE8AS0OT20121129). 30 Nov. 2012.
Surprise, surprise. More evidence is out that points to the economic recovery that’s supposed to be taking place in the United States as being a big joke. Reuters’ Lisa Lambert talked about a new report that was released today by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Brookings Institution and wrote on the Yahoo! News website:
The United States has the most major metropolitan economies of all countries – 76 – according to an annual report on the 300 largest metropolitan economies worldwide that Brookings released on Friday…
Three and a half years since the 2007-09 economic recession ended, only three major U.S. metropolitan areas are experiencing an economic recovery, according to the Brookings Institution.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Those three metro areas are Dallas, Knoxville, and Pittsburgh.
Congratulations you guys.
Only 3 out of 76 major metropolitan economies in the U.S. experiencing an economic recovery?
Especially when you consider all that stimulus, all those bailouts, all that government intervention, all that new debt heaped on the pile these past couple of years. Lambert added:
“It was still better than last year when the U.S. had no metro recoveries,” Brookings Associate Fellow Emilia Istrate said.
0 recoveries to 3 out of a possible 76? Pardon me for a moment while I head outside to go dance in the streets.
Lambert, Lisa. “Only three major U.S. cities see economic recovery: study.” Reuters. 30 Nov. 2012. (http://news.yahoo.com/only-three-major-u-cities-see-economic-recovery-050732585.html). 30 Nov. 2012.
The last thing on the minds of many Americans this holiday season is probably the ongoing U.S. drought.
I’m concerned however. Especially as I’ve heard recent reports of the drought getting worse in areas of the country and forecasts for a drier-than-average winter for the nation’s breadbasket.
Carey Gillam wrote on the Reuters website this afternoon:
Drought is tightening its grip on the central United States as winter weather sets in, threatening to ravage the new wheat crop and spelling more hardship for farmers and ranchers already weary of the costly and ongoing dry conditions.
While conditions started to improve earlier in November, they turned harsh to close out the month as above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation proved a dire combination in many regions, according to the Drought Monitor, a weekly compilation of data gathered by federal and academic scientists issued Thursday.
Forecasts for the next several days show little to no relief and weather watchers are predicting a drier than average winter for much of the central United States.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Sounds like the “summer drought” may not be ending anytime soon. The same goes for rising food prices. Patrick Burke wrote on CNSNews.com earlier today:
U.S. Department of Agriculture economists are predicting that the price of meat, poultry and other farm products will continue to rise in 2013, thanks largely to the drought…
The price of poultry, which went up by 5.5 percent between Oct. 2011 and 2012, is expected to go up between 5 and 6 percent during 2013, according to USDA forecasts.
Beef and veal products are expected to rise by 5.5-6.5 percent in 2013 and the price of pork will likely go up by 1-2 percent.
I wonder how much of these rising prices is due to drought, and how much is due to inflation.
Gillam, Carey. “U.S. drought expands, blankets High Plains.” Reuters. 29 Nov. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/29/usa-drought-idUSL1E8MT5H220121129). 29 Nov. 2012.
Burke, Patrick. “USDA: Meat, Poultry Prices to Rise Even Higher in 2013 — Thanks to Drought.” CNSNews.com. 29 Nov. 2012. (http://cnsnews.com/news/article/usda-meat-poultry-prices-rise-even-higher-2013-thanks-drought). 29 Nov. 2012.
As I’ve said before, once in a while I hear chatter about Chicago being on the path to becoming the next Detroit. Not the hub of America’s auto industry that “old” Detroit once was, but rather “this” Detroit:
“Scary Movie 4 – Detroit: Before & After the Attack”
I guess conditions in the “Motor City” are getting so bad one Michigan state senator has gone so far as to say the legislature is going to have to “seriously consider dissolving” the city. From The Detroit News website this morning:
State Sen. Rick Jones has a solution for fixing Detroit’s ongoing political and financial problems: Get rid of the city.
“At some point we’re going to have to seriously consider dissolving the City of Detroit,” Jones told Insider.
You read that right.
Jones, R-Grand Ledge, is proposing the Legislature, which has the power to establish municipalities, should make the city part of unincorporated Wayne County.
Jones was unclear about what good it would to do to turn the city and its services for 700,000 residents over to a county with it’s owns financial and political problems.
But he said outstate lawmakers like himself are growing tired of the City Council delaying implementation of the financial consent agreement state and city leaders signed in April, inching perilously closer to payless paydays and bankruptcy.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Detroit’s finances appear pretty bleak. According to Reuters last night, not only did Moody’s Investors Service lower the city’s debt ratings deeper in the junk category Wednesday, but:
Moody’s also placed a negative outlook on the lowered ratings, citing in part “the rising possibility that the city could file for bankruptcy or default on an obligation over the next 12 to 24 months.”
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
Here’s hoping Detroit can find a way out of their serious financial and political mess.
And that chatter about Chicago becoming the next Detroit doesn’t pan out.
“Political insider: Senator says to dissolve Detroit if it can’t fix its problems.” The Detroit News. 29 Nov. 2012. (http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121129/POLITICS02/211290357/Political-insider?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s). 29 Nov. 2012.
“Moody’s cuts Detroit debt ratings deeper into junk.” Reuters. 28 Nov. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/28/detroit-moodys-downgrade-idUSL1E8MSDCJ20121128). 29 Nov. 2012.
Last night I decided to take it down a notch and watch some TV. Disappointed The Middle wasn’t on, I surfed the various channels until I came across a movie I believe I first saw on WGN-TV’s Family Classics with Frazier Thomas years ago. The movie was The Time Machine, a 1960 sci-fi film based on the 1895 novel of the same name by H. G. Wells in which a man from Victorian England builds and uses a time machine to travel into the future. Rod Taylor starred as H.G. Wells.
As I watched the movie, one scene in particular grabbed my attention:
Is it me, or does the world of the Eloi, the post-humans H.G. Wells encountered in his travels, also ring a bell with you here in 2012 America?
Here’s the latest on the so-called “Quinn Gun Ban” in the state of Illinois. From the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action website yesterday:
Illinois: Gov. Quinn’s Amendatory Veto Shot Down in the Senate, Moves to House
Your Action Is Needed!
Today, Governor Quinn’s procedural maneuver to enact a gun ban (previously reported here) through use of an amendatory veto, was overridden in the Illinois Senate by a 49 to 4 vote. Now, there is one remaining hurdle before victory can be declared since this veto is now going to the state House for an override vote.
We have learned that due to this loss, Quinn is now shopping around a new semi-auto ban for future introduction in the Illinois General Assembly. Your NRA-ILA will continue to monitor any activity in Springfield and will keep you informed of developments as they occur. It is critical that NRA members across Illinois continue to remind their state legislators of their responsibility to defend the Second Amendment now and in the future.
Your Action Is Needed! Now it is more important than ever for you to contact your state Representative to ensure that the Quinn gun ban is completely dead. The Illinois House of Representatives will be convening tomorrow for their veto session and will vote on the Governor’s proposed changes to Senate Bill 681. Contact your state Representative TODAY and respectfully urge him or her to vote to override the Governor’s amendatory veto on Senate Bill 681!
Contact information for all state legislators can be found by clicking here.
New York City-based financial news and opinion organization 24/7 Wall St. has just released their 2012 list of best- and worst-run states in America. While they ranked all 50 based on financial health, standard of living, and government services data, 24/7 Wall St. declared the top 5 best-run states to be:
1. North Dakota
The top 5 worst-run states are:
2. Rhode Island
5. New Jersey
Last November, 24/7 Wall St. named Illinois the 2nd worst-run state in America. Up to 3rd this year? High-fives all around the “Land of Lincoln” today. Here’s what 24/7 Wall St. had to say about Illinois this year:
> Debt per capita: $4,790 (11th highest)
> Budget deficit: 40.2% (2nd largest)
> Unemployment: 9.8% (tied-10th highest)
> Median household income: $53,234 (18th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 15.0% (25th highest)
Although many states have budget issues, Illinois’ faces among the biggest problems. In 2010, the state’s budget shortfall was more than 40% of its general fund, the second-highest of any state. Both S&P and Moody’s gave Illinois credit ratings that were the second-worst of all states. In addition, the state only funded 45% of its pension liability in 2010, the lowest percentage of any state. Governor Patrick Quinn has made the now-$85 billion pension gap a top priority for the new legislative session beginning in January.
“$85 billion pension gap.” Make that $96.8 billion last I heard.
And as for Wisconsin, where I plan on moving to in a couple of years? 24/7 Wall St. ranked the “Badger State” the 21st best-run state in America this year- down from 16th in 2011.
You can find out where 24/7 Wall St. ranked your state this year by going here on their website.
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