Saturday, March 24, 2018

Understanding Geopolitics (and Why Preppers Should Care)

A trade war with China. North Korea's nuclear program. Iran's nuclear program. Terrorism. The Islamic migration invasion of Europe. Civil war in Syria (with Russia and America taking different sides). Genocide of Christians in the Middle East. Genocide of white farmers in South Africa. Chaos and collapse in Venezuela. These are just a few of the conflicts going on around the globe which could affect us in some way, particularly if any of these spiral out-of-control (accidentally or on purpose). Preppers and survivalists need to understand geopolitics so we can understand the potential dangers we face. 

In my article Prepper's Guide to Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop I mentioned the concept of "mental models." Mental models are the way we understand the world; the system by which we think. Mental models are important in any decision making process because they are what we base our judgment on - the better the mental models we use, the better our decision making will be. 

Military strategist John Boyd explains the importance of mental models by teaching that in any conflict it is not the one with the most information that wins, but rather it is the one with the best understanding of the information they have that wins.

Geopolitical Model: Chaostan 

Chaostan is the geopolitical theory (mental model) by economist and historian Richard J. Maybury which postulates that a large portion of the world is "the land of Chaos."  This land is made up of regions and countries with a long history of political & economic instability, little personal or economic freedom, and no experience with common (natural) law. These areas are often tribal, with people more loyal to ancient ethnic lines and religious sects than to their modern nation-states.

According to Maybury, Chaostan consists of about 91 nations, including most of the nations of the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Maps and a full list of the nations considered by Maybury to make up Chaostan can be found on the Chaostan website.

Chaostan covers about one-third of the world’s land surface. It contains a disproportionate amount of the world’s natural resources, including at least 80% of the world’s oil supply and 50 % of the world’s coal supplies. It also has huge amounts of natural gas, gold, silver, platinum, copper, tin, iron, zinc, timber and grain. These are the basic raw materials upon which industrialized civilization rests, giving Chaostan an inordinate amount of influence over Western economies.

It would be thought that a part of the world with such abundance of natural resources would be very wealthy. This is not the case. Although the ruling classes in these regions often have immense wealth, the common folks tend to be among the poorest in the world. In part, this is due to a lack of education, but mostly it has to do with the lack of concepts such as economic liberty and personal property rights.

In contrast to Chaostan, Maybury lists what he considers the “Lands of Liberty.” These are nations where a tradition of liberty has been established – the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, the UK, Ireland and most of Western Europe. In these areas, economic liberty and personal property rights are well-established & the citizens are more loyal to their nation-states than to tribal, ethnic or religious groups. Peace and prosperity (at least domestically), rather than chaos, are the hallmarks of these countries.

Some areas, such as Central & South America and much of southern Africa, exist somewhere between Chaostan and the Lands of Liberty. Only time will tell what direction these regions take.

It is also worth noting that the Lands of Liberty share a common heritage of Judeo-Christian values and worldview, whereas Chaostan is dominated by Islam (a perversion of the Abrahamic faiths) and other pagan religions.

How can the Chaostan model help in understanding world events? 

There is a vast difference between the worldviews & value systems of the Lands of Liberty and Chaostan that often make it difficult for the two civilizations to understand and interact with each other. Likewise, the disparity of wealth between the Lands of Liberty and Chaostan cause a certain amount of misunderstanding and mistrust between the two. The people of Chaostan often have negative feelings towards the West, including jealousy and anger. The people of the Lands of Liberty often look down on those of Chaostan as being backwards and even dangerous.

It is a mistake for the West to act like or pretend that these differences don't exist, or worse, that the two civilizations are morally equal. They are not. Western civilization (the Lands of Liberty), though not perfect, is demonstrably the superior civilization. The domestic peace and economic success of the West, along with its far superior record regarding basic human rights, relative to the lack of these in Chaostan, is proof of the better system. 

The West does have the superior civilization, but does not have the right to impose its system on Chaostan through force. Nation building will never work in Chaostan because its people lack the necessary foundations for modern peaceful and stable nation-states. Simply put, they don't think the same way we do. Therefore, it is foolish to think we can forcibly squeeze them into a Western mold.
However, the West has the right and duty to protect itself from the very real threats posed by Chaostan. This includes controlling immigration (even "refugees") from Chaostan, and  insisting that immigrants, students, and temporary workers from Choastan adapt to the Western system while in the West. This means zero-tolerance for Sharia law and other forms of religious and cultural "accommodation" that are contrary to the Western system. This may also mean stopping countries like North Korea and Iran from developing nuclear programs because they lack the needed foundations to be responsible and peaceful nation-states. They will use their nuclear programs in an aggressive fashion because they know no other way.   

With such a large difference in worldviews, beliefs, values, and experiences, shouldn't the Lands of Liberty simply stop dealing with Chaostan? Nice idea, but it wouldn't work. The industrialized nations of the West need access to the immense natural resources of Chaostan. Chaostan needs customers for those resources. Chaostan also needs access to Western technology, medicine, and education. Like it or not, we need each other. Besides, the genie is already out of the lamp, so to speak, as the Lands of Liberty have foolishly allowed  many millions of immigrants and refugees from Chaostan into our countries without insisting on full assimilation into our culture. 

There are many lines of tension between the two sides. Virtually every hot spot and potential flashpoint in the world is explained by this model. The war, violence and poverty in Chaostan is mostly due to the lack of personal & economic liberty, including the lack of private property rights, as well as tribal & sectarian divisions. The inability & unwillingness of Chaostan immigrants and refuges to assimilate into Western culture is likewise explained. As preppers and survivalists, we must understand that these divisions and conflicts will continue and even grow worse as civilizations intermingle. We must be prepared for a world that will only grow more dangerous until the return of Jesus. Only God's intervention can solve these problems. 

Ultimate Reason Preppers & Survivlaists Should Care

Chaostan, with its war, violence and poverty, stands as a warning to the Lands of Liberty should we ever reject the concepts of personal and economic liberty, and our common Judeo-Christian heritage. Chaostan is our future should we continue down the path of collectivism, rejecting free markets and private property rights in favor of socialism, and rejecting personal and religious freedom in favor of imposing political correctness.

The Lands of Liberty can be  (will be?) overcome by Chaostan and lose our freedoms should we continue this destructive path. As I type this paragraph, fools are marching to take away our Second Amendment rights, the right to defend ourselves and our families. The giant social media companies are doing what they can to restrict our rights to Free Speech and Freedom of Religion. Congress just passed a massive budget which left the border wall largely unfunded. The Courts continue to rule against efforts to control immigration from Muslim countries. And we allow our schools and universities teach our children that Western civilization and traditional values are bad. Things don't bode well.

*****I want to give Richard J. Maybury full credit for his concept of Chaostan. The middle section of this article is my summary of Mr. Maybury's geopolitical theory, as best as I understand it. For more details, visit his website.

Mr. Maybury is also the author of a great set of educational books on economics, law, history, and personal finance called the "Uncle Eric Books." I strongly recommend these easy-to-read, highly informative books. Here are two of my favorites:

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?  A Fast, Clear, and Fun Explanation of the Economics You Need For Success in Your Career, Business, and Investments

Whatever Happened to Justice?  Explains what's gone wrong with America's legal system and economy and how to fix it.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Twitter has suppressed my account

It has become obvious that Twitter has shadow-banned, throttled, or otherwise suppressed my main account (@TimGamble). I first suspected this several weeks ago when my interactions (likes, retweets, comments) from others suddenly fell by 80% from what they used to be.  Even according to Twitter Analytics, my Tweet impressions have fallen by 44.6% in the last month. I haven't lost followers, and I am making as many tweets as before, so there is no real reason for such sharp declines.  So, I decided to run a little experiment.

I decided to post the same comment, at the same time. on the same day, using the same hashtags (#maga #news) to both my Twitter account and my GAB account (same id: @TimGamble). I would then compare the interactions on both. Since my Twitter account (over 10,000 followers) is much larger than my GAB account (about 1,300 followers), the Twitter post should receive a lot more interactions than the same post on GAB. Here is the post, and the interactions:

"USA Today has article in which they blame soaring teen suicide rates on not enough funding for mental health & addiction programs. No. Cause is public school system indoctrinating teens to believe their country is bad, traditional values are bad, human life isn't important & world is ending anyway (climate change)."

GAB Interactions: On GAB, this post earned 40 likes, 25 reposts, and 9 comments. A total of 74 interactions. Most of those within the first hour after posting. 

Twitter Interactions: On Twitter, this same post received 0 likes, 0 retweets, and 0 comments, for a total of 0 interactions.  

Same post, same day, same time, same hashtags. 74 interactions with my much smaller GAB account. 0 interactions with my much larger Twitter account. Any doubt that Twitter is messing with my account in some way?  

Why is Twitter suppressing my account? I don't know for sure. I do know I am quite civilized in my behavior on Twitter and elsewhere - no personal attacks, no threats, no obscenities or vulgarities. In other words, I have not given them any legitimate reason to suppress my account, which is probably why I haven't been banned outright.  I suspect that the reason is a number of pro- second amendment tweets I made in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting in February. The timing of the suppression of my account fits perfectly. 

What I'm doing about it

Twitter is a private company. They can treat their customers as poorly as they want, for whatever reasons they want. What they need to realize is that doing so will only hurt them in the long-run, as customers move on to better platforms. 

I will remain on Twitter for now, but have decided to move most of my activity to GAB (please follow me there at I also have a back-up account on Twitter @RusticLife1 which hasn't yet been suppressed.

The problem with GAB is that it has a bad reputation as a hang-out for white supremacists, neo-nazis and other unsavory folks. There are those types on GAB, but I have found most folks there to be just regular folks. The few bad characters I've noticed in my timeline, I have simply unfollowed them and removed them from following me. Problem solved. 

Click the Frog to follow me on GAB.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How To Prepare For a Future of Resource Scarcity

This is an essay I originally published in 2008 on one of my old blogs. It was primarily intended for an audience concerned about peak oil and resource scarcity, but it is valid for most other concerns, too. I am reposting it here with a few minor changes to fix typos and update links.

 How To Prepare For a Future of Resource Scarcity

This is a general summary of the basic advice advice I give anyone concerned with potential disasters such as peak oil, environmental problems, or economic and political collapse.

1. Educate yourself on the potential problems our society is facing. Read Patrick Moore's essay Environmentalism for the 21st Century (opens as a .pdf) to get an overview of the real environmental and resource challenges faced by our civilization. Read Richard Maybury's book Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? to gain a better understanding of our economic problems.
2. Reduce your home energy usage as much as possible. Turn off lights, TVs and electronics whenever you leave a room. Remember to unplug your various chargers (cell phone, I-Pod, etc.) when not in use. Set your thermostat to conserve energy. Switch from incandescent lighting to LED lighting. Replace old appliances with new, energy-efficient models. Super-insulate your house. Install energy efficient windows. Consider heating with a modern wood stove. Consider a passive solar system for your home.

You may be interested in my article  Reducing home energy use, and costs, by 60%.

 3. Reduce your use of fuel for transportation. Make sure your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and the engine is well-maintained (tune-ups & oil changes) to maximize mileage. Drive less by walking, car pooling, using public transportation, and planning & combining trips. Replace your old vehicle with a newer one that gets better mileage. If you have a long commute to work, consider moving closer to your job or finding a new job closer to home. 
4. Get out of debt.It will not be a good time to owe large amounts of money to a bank. Take a look at your situation, to what extent do you live on credit? If you have a large house could you make do with a smaller one, and reduce your repayments? Make getting out of debt a family priority and use it as an opportunity to simplify your lifestyle.” –Rob Hopkins in Permaculture Magazine.

I consider getting out of debt to  be a very important, yet often overlooked, area of preparedness and survival. My article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics is full of tips and information on how to eliminate debt.
5. Raise at least some of your own food. We need a modern victory garden movement. Look up articles and books on lasagna gardening, forest gardening and container gardening for ideas on how to grow your own food. Plant fruit & nut trees and berry bushes. Urban dwellers should look into rooftop gardening or joining a community garden or food co-op. Steve Solomon's book Gardening When It Counts is a good place to start for gardening advice.
6. Reduce your personal consumption of everything. Adopt a simpler lifestyle. Live well within your means. Be a saver, not a consumer. If you had to, could you support yourself and your family on half your present income? You may have to some day, so start making the lifestyle changes now.
7. Be a life-long learner. Improve your job skills. Learn about personal finance. Study permaculture. Learn about the ecology and natural history of your region. Learn useful skills such as auto mechanics, carpentry and home repair. Learn first aid and CPR. Learn to sew, and to preserve food. Learn how to save seeds. Learn how to hunt, fish and forage for wild foods. Learn the skills your grandparents had.
8. Reconnect to the natural world. Spend time in nature. Take up outdoor hobbies such as gardening, hiking, fishing, camping and bird watching. Learn the names of trees, wildflowers and “weeds” native to your area. Learn what kinds of soils are in your region. Learn where your water comes from. Visit nearby parks and wildlife refuges. Visit your local natural history museum or botanical gardens. Learn the names of the birds and butterflies common to your backyard.
9. Be a part of your community. Join a local church or synagogue. Meet your neighbors. Participate in a community watch program. Volunteer with a local museum or environmental group. Support your local farmers’ market. Whenever possible, shop at locally-owned businesses instead of the big box stores. Attend the meetings of your city council, zoning boards and other local government organizations. Let your voice be heard!
10. Get healthy. If you smoke or abuse drugs or alcohol – stop! Adopt a more plant based diet such as a traditional Mediterranean diet, or even become a vegetarian. Eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Exercise will help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure & cholesterol, control blood sugar and get fit. Walking, bike riding and swimming are three cheap & easy ways to get more exercise. Getting enough deep sleep is an often overlooked yet very important ingredient to good health.
11. Conserve water. Install low-flow showerheads and faucets in your home. Learn about xeriscaping. Mulch your garden and flower beds to help retain moisture. Plant trees. Consider installing dry composting toilets in your home. Use rainwater catchment techniques to provide water for your garden or to wash your car. Learn how to purify rainwater for human consumption.

DON’T EVER THROW GARBAGE OR POUR CHEMICALS INTO A STREAM, RIVER OR LAKE. Report to the authorities anyone you see doing so.
12. Consider where you live. Most people end up living near where they or their spouse grew up, or perhaps to be near a particular job. But you might be better off relocating. Actively consider where you live: Is the community you live in really the best place for you and your family? Will it still be the best place for you in ten years? Things to consider: crime, pollution, taxes, educational opportunities, economic opportunities, economic diversity, climate, rainfall, nearby resources, cohesiveness of the community, style of the local government, availability of public transportation and farmers markets.
13. Keep stores of food, water & supplies. Today, we run out to the markets whenever we need something. We have a just-in-time supply system, so we don't need to store things for future use. But the slightest problem can lead to a system-wide disaster. We need to re-learn the art of storing necessities in case of emergencies. Things to store include food, water, medicine, vitamins and personal hygiene products, as well as other useful items such as batteries, sewing supplies, first aid supplies, duct tape, matches, candles, lamp oil, etc. If you were cut off from buying things for several weeks, or even a month or more, what would you run out of? Figure out ways to store those things.
14. Restore nature. Plant trees. Clean up local lakes and streams. Rebuild soils through composting and vermiculture. Participate in pollinator conservation efforts. Practice organic gardening and lawn care. Eliminate your lawn entirely. Participate in the National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat program.
15. Don’t dwell on the negatives. Be a hopeful realist. It is important to understand the problems we face. Just don’t obsess over them. Instead, start working towards solutions. Acting to make positive changes, even small ones, will increase your confidence and encourage yourself, your family and your friends.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

How to give prepper advice to your non-prepper family and friends

Preppers and survivalists are often unfairly portrayed as paranoid and backwards. We are often labelled as right-wing nut-jobs, gun-nuts, conspiracy-nuts, or just plain-nuts. This makes "regular" folks reluctant to hear the our message of self-reliance and commonsense preparations for any future emergencies So, how do we get around that unflattering image, so that we can reach our family, friends, and neighbors?

The following is advice that I give to my non-prepper family and friends. How the advice is given is what I want you to notice. I've intentionally toned-down the message so as to not turn off non-preppers to the advice given. There are no acronyms or prepper jargon, no extreme "head-for-the-hills and hide" advice,
no politics, no conspiracy theories, no end-of-the-world doom-and-gloom, or any of the other stuff that might turn off "regular" folks to the idea of prepping. Yes, I think folks need to do more than what I present here, but if they at least follow the advice given here, they'll be better off than 95% of the general population.

1) Get you finances in order.

This means reducing your expenses, and living within your means (a budget or spending plan is an excellent tool for achieving this goal). Setting aside an ample emergency fund is also very important. Also: Pay off your credit cards and consumer loan debt. Avoid new debt. Refinance your home into a fixed mortgage. Pay it off if you can. Keep some extra cash in a safe place at home in case the ATMs are temporarily down. Spend a lot less money than you make, even if it means cutting back on your lifestyle. Make sure you have adequate insurance. There is a lot of good information on how to get your finances in order throughout the archives of this blog.

Check out my article Get Back To Basics for much more on this important topic. 

2) Make health a top priority.

Being sick doesn't just feel bad, it is expensive! A top priority for you and your family should be improving and maintaining your good health. Stop smoking and abusing drugs or alcohol. Get adequate sleep on a consistent basis. Eat healthy. Eat less sugar (a lot less). Be physically active every day (walking, hiking, gardening, yard-work, biking, swimming, tennis, yoga, and exercise videos are just a few ideas). Visit your doctor and dentist for regular check-ups. Don't take your eyesight for granted - have regular eye exams.

3) Take care of your mental health and attitude.

Surviving difficult times requires having your "head screwed on straight" and being able to think clearly. You can't do that if your frozen from fear, having a panic attack, or going through some sort of addiction withdrawal. Take care of your mental issues now, before a crisis occurs. 

Check out my article Prepper's Guide to Mental Health and Emotional Preparedness for more on this important topic.

I also think getting right with God is a very important part of this step. I encourage everyone to pray, read the Bible, and attend the church of your choice. My relationship with God gives me great comfort and peace, helps me remain calm in bad situations, helps me stay focused on my true priorities, and provides the moral foundation for decision making. All very useful for survival. Not sure about God? Talk to a local minister or priest. Or check out the websites The Roman Road and Peace with God.

4) Take basic precautions.

There are a lot of basic, commonsense precautions everybody should make: Have a good first aid kit at home (and one in the car). Take a first aid & CPR course. Have smoke & CO2 detectors in your home (check the batteries). Have (and learn to use) a fire extinguisher. Do a home safety inspection (if you know a boy or girl scout, they have to learn to do these for various merit badges).

Make sure you have at least a week's worth of groceries, water, and other supplies on hand. Two weeks' worth is even better. An entire month's worth is better still.You never know when a snow storm, hurricane or other event may make it impossible to go shopping for a few days or even a few weeks.

Have a good flashlight and battery-powered radio at home, along with extra batteries.

5-Way Powered Emergency AM/FM/SW & NOAA Weather Alert Radio

Keep your cell phone fully charged at all times.

In your car, have a first aid kit, flashlight, and jumper cables. Make sure your spare is in good condition, and that all drivers in your family know how to change a tire. Keep your gas tank full. Keep up with basic maintenance, such as oil changes, brake jobs, tires in good shapes, headlights and taillights working. In winter, keep a blanket or extra jacket and gloves in your vehicle, just in case.

5) Consider your security.

The first and most important tool for personal security is awareness. Awareness of your surroundings and the potential risks of your situation is essential. However, awareness is about more than just simply paying attention.It also means both knowing what to look for, and how to access (make decisions about) your surroundings.

See my article Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop for a much more in-depth discussion.

Also consider the physical security of your home. How easy would it be for someone to break in? Harden your home by replacing weak external doors with heavy-duty security doors. Consider a home security system. Consider a gun (and if you do, PLEASE take the time and effort to learn gun safety, how to shoot your guns, and how to maintain your guns).

Guard against identity theft (an extremely fast-growing crime). Protect your personal and financial records. Don't give away too much information on Facebook and social media. Burn or shred important papers instead of just throwing them out.

Talk with your family about ways to stay safe when away from home, including shopping in groups, parking in well-light, highly-visible locations, avoiding dangerous areas of town, letting people know where you are going and when to expect you back, and paying attention to your surroundings.

6) Build Self-Reliance.

Self-reliance means learning how to do things for yourself - car and home repairs, sewing, gardening, home canning, and so-forth... Develop your DIY skills. Accumulate a good tool kit. But, mostly, it means to develop an attitude of taking care of yourself and your family, instead of waiting around for others or the government to take care of you.

Remember New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Remember all those people standing around in knee-deep water waiting for the government or someone else to help them? That is called "learned helplessness." Don't be like them.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Why Preppers Have a Hard Time Building Community

I received a good, thought-provoking comment from a reader earlier today. It really got me to thinking about building community. Rather than a quick  reply in the comments section, I felt it worthy of deeper consideration.

Here is the reader's comment:

The most difficult aspect to me continues to be building community. I was electronically connected to local prepper groups for four years, and attended meetings over a year, mostly sitting off in a corner, before I felt comfortable enough to have a one-on-one coffee session with anyone. We've discussed "community" many times, but I just don't see a "safe" way to bring in neighbors pre-disaster. I need a good plan to bring in folks almost immediately post-disaster initiation to hopefully avoid the community going bad.

Here are my thoughts:

Finding and building community is something that most preppers/survivalists agree is a good idea, but find it very difficult to do in reality. I certainly struggle with this issue, and I've heard from lots of others who struggle with it, too. Why is finding or building community so hard?

A large part of the reason it that we are looking at the issue in the wrong way, or at least in an incomplete way. We seem to focus on the external - Who should be in the group, who should be excluded, where to find group members, when/how to talk to them about preparedness, how can they be integrated into a group...

We largely ignore the other half of the equation, the internal. We ignore ourselves, and our own attitudes and problems. It is these internal issues that may be blocking our efforts to find/build community. It comes down to our inability or unwillingness to trust others.

Let's face it: many of us are very independent-minded (I want to do things my way and only my way), cling to our own individuality, "compromise" is seen as a dirty word, and delegation of duties and responsibilities is difficult (what if they don't do it "my way'). 

Most of us are not very trusting by nature, which is part of why we are preppers in the first place. After all, if we really were trusting, we would trust the government and other authorities to take care of us in an emergency. In fact, we are suspicious of others by our very nature.

A successful community requires we trust each other, but most of us are not wired to be trusting of others. Therefore, we end up looking for "perfect" group members, folks we can absolutely trust and feel extremely safe bringing into the community. Yet there are no perfect people, so we are doomed to look continuously without success.   
Perfect is the Enemy of Good

Understand that I am not advocating blindly trusting everyone and anyone. We do need to consider the character, trustworthiness, and compatibility of folks we let into our lives and community. But, if we are to be successful, at some point we have to be willing to say "This person isn't perfect, but they are good enough."  Hopefully, they will be willing to say the same about you. After all, you are not perfect either.    

You might like these other articles I've written on the topic of community: