Thursday, December 31, 2015

Anti-Federalist Paper 1: General Introduction


The Anti-Federalist Papers is the name given to the collective writings and speeches of over 50 Americans who opposed, or were critical of, the proposed new United States Constitution, for various reasons, during the ratification process from 1787 to 1789. Most of the essays were written under pseudonyms. 

Unlike the Federalist Papers (which had only three authors coordinating their efforts), the anti-federalist papers were not an organized effort. Scholars do not all agree on any one list of papers or authors.

Anti-Federalist No. 1

General Introduction: A Dangerous Plan of Benefit Only to The “Aristocratick Combination.”

I am pleased to see a spirit of inquiry burst the band of constraint upon the subject of the NEW PLAN for consolidating the governments of the United States, as recommended by the late Convention. If it is suitable to the GENIUS and HABITS of the citizens of these states, it will bear the strictest scrutiny. The PEOPLE are the grand inquest who have a RIGHT to judge of its merits.

The hideous daemon of Aristocracy has hitherto had so much influence as to bar the channels of investigation, preclude the people from inquiry and extinguish every spark of liberal information of its qualities. At length the luminary of intelligence begins to beam its effulgent rays upon this important production; the deceptive mists cast before the eyes of the people by the delusive machinations of its INTERESTED advocates begins to dissipate, as darkness flies before the burning taper; and I dare venture to predict, that in spite of those mercenary dectaimers, the plan will have a candid and complete examination.

Those furious zealots who are for cramming it down the throats of the people, without allowing them either time or opportunity to scan or weigh it in the balance of their understandings, bear the same marks in their features as those who have been long wishing to erect an aristocracy in THIS COMMONWEALTH [of Massachusetts]. Their menacing cry is for a RIGID government, it matters little to them of what kind, provided it answers THAT description. As the plan now offered comes something near their wishes, and is the most consonant to their views of any they can hope for, they come boldly forward and DEMAND its adoption.

They brand with infamy every man who is not as determined and zealous in its favor as themselves. They cry aloud the whole must be swallowed or none at all, thinking thereby to preclude any amendment; they are afraid of having it abated of its present RIGID aspect. They have strived to overawe or seduce printers to stifle and obstruct a free discussion, and have endeavored to hasten it to a decision before the people can duty reflect upon its properties. In order to deceive them, they incessantly declare that none can discover any defect in the system but bankrupts who wish no government, and officers of the present government who fear to lose a part of their power. These zealous partisans may injure their own cause, and endanger the public tranquility by impeding a proper inquiry; the people may suspect the WHOLE to be a dangerous plan, from such COVERED and DESIGNING schemes to enforce it upon them.

Compulsive or treacherous measures to establish any government whatever, will always excite jealousy among a free people: better remain single and alone, than blindly adopt whatever a few individuals shall demand, be they ever so wise. I had rather be a free citizen of the small republic of Massachusetts, than an oppressed subject of the great American empire. Let all act understandingly or not at all. If we can confederate upon terms that wilt secure to us our liberties, it is an object highly desirable, because of its additional security to the whole. If the proposed plan proves such an one, I hope it will be adopted, but if it will endanger our liberties as it stands, let it be amended; in order to which it must and ought to be open to inspection and free inquiry.

The inundation of abuse that has been thrown out upon the heads of those who have had any doubts of its universal good qualities, have been so redundant, that it may not be improper to scan the characters of its most strenuous advocates. It will first be allowed that many undesigning citizens may wish its adoption from the best motives, but these are modest and silent, when compared to the greater number, who endeavor to suppress all attempts for investigation. These violent partisans are for having the people gulp down the gilded pill blindfolded, whole, and without any qualification whatever.

These consist generally, of the NOBLE order of C[incinnatu]s, holders of public securities, men of great wealth and expectations of public office, Bankers and Lawyers: these with their train of dependents form the Aristocratick combination. The Lawyers in particular, keep up an incessant declamation for its adoption; like greedy gudgeons they long to satiate their voracious stomachs with the golden bait. The numerous tribunals to be erected by the new plan of consolidated empire, will find employment for ten times their present numbers; these are the LOAVES AND FISHES for which they hunger. They will probably find it suited to THEIR HABITS, if not to the HABITS OF THE PEOPLE. There may be reasons for having but few of them in the State Convention, lest THEIR OWN INTEREST should be too strongly considered. The time draws near for the choice of Delegates. I hope my fellow-citizens will look well to the characters of their preference, and remember the Old Patriots of 75; they have never led them astray, nor need they fear to try them on this momentous occasion.

A FEDERALIST

Federalist 3: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence (continued)


The following is the text of the third Federalist paper, published on November 3, 1787, under the name Publius (the pseudonym used by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay). Federalist 3 was written by John Jay. In this essay, Jay continues to argue in favor of uniting the states under one national government, rather than remaining completely separate and independent states, as a union would better protect the states from foreign influence and meddling.  

Federalist No. 3

The Same Subject Continued (Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence)

To the People of the State of New York:

IT IS not a new observation that the people of any country (if, like the Americans, intelligent and wellinformed) seldom adopt and steadily persevere for many years in an erroneous opinion respecting their interests. That consideration naturally tends to create great respect for the high opinion which the people of America have so long and uniformly entertained of the importance of their continuing firmly united under one federal government, vested with sufficient powers for all general and national purposes.

The more attentively I consider and investigate the reasons which appear to have given birth to this opinion, the more I become convinced that they are cogent and conclusive.

Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their SAFETY seems to be the first. The SAFETY of the people doubtless has relation to a great variety of circumstances and considerations, and consequently affords great latitude to those who wish to define it precisely and comprehensively.

At present I mean only to consider it as it respects security for the preservation of peace and tranquillity, as well as against dangers from FOREIGN ARMS AND INFLUENCE, as from dangers of the LIKE KIND arising from domestic causes. As the former of these comes first in order, it is proper it should be the first discussed. Let us therefore proceed to examine whether the people are not right in their opinion that a cordial Union, under an efficient national government, affords them the best security that can be devised against HOSTILITIES from abroad.

The number of wars which have happened or will happen in the world will always be found to be in proportion to the number and weight of the causes, whether REAL or PRETENDED, which PROVOKE or INVITE them. If this remark be just, it becomes useful to inquire whether so many JUST causes of war are likely to be given by UNITED AMERICA as by DISUNITED America; for if it should turn out that United America will probably give the fewest, then it will follow that in this respect the Union tends most to preserve the people in a state of peace with other nations.

The JUST causes of war, for the most part, arise either from violation of treaties or from direct violence. America has already formed treaties with no less than six foreign nations, and all of them, except Prussia, are maritime, and therefore able to annoy and injure us. She has also extensive commerce with Portugal, Spain, and Britain, and, with respect to the two latter, has, in addition, the circumstance of neighborhood to attend to.

It is of high importance to the peace of America that she observe the laws of nations towards all these powers, and to me it appears evident that this will be more perfectly and punctually done by one national government than it could be either by thirteen separate States or by three or four distinct confederacies.

Because when once an efficient national government is established, the best men in the country will not only consent to serve, but also will generally be appointed to manage it; for, although town or country, or other contracted influence, may place men in State assemblies, or senates, or courts of justice, or executive departments, yet more general and extensive reputation for talents and other qualifications will be necessary to recommend men to offices under the national government,--especially as it will have the widest field for choice, and never experience that want of proper persons which is not uncommon in some of the States. Hence, it will result that the administration, the political counsels, and the judicial decisions of the national government will be more wise, systematical, and judicious than those of individual States, and consequently more satisfactory with respect to other nations, as well as more SAFE with respect to us.

Because, under the national government, treaties and articles of treaties, as well as the laws of nations, will always be expounded in one sense and executed in the same manner,--whereas, adjudications on the same points and questions, in thirteen States, or in three or four confederacies, will not always accord or be consistent; and that, as well from the variety of independent courts and judges appointed by different and independent governments, as from the different local laws and interests which may affect and influence them. The wisdom of the convention, in committing such questions to the jurisdiction and judgment of courts appointed by and responsible only to one national government, cannot be too much commended.

Because the prospect of present loss or advantage may often tempt the governing party in one or two States to swerve from good faith and justice; but those temptations, not reaching the other States, and consequently having little or no influence on the national government, the temptation will be fruitless, and good faith and justice be preserved. The case of the treaty of peace with Britain adds great weight to this reasoning.

Because, even if the governing party in a State should be disposed to resist such temptations, yet as such temptations may, and commonly do, result from circumstances peculiar to the State, and may affect a great number of the inhabitants, the governing party may not always be able, if willing, to prevent the injustice meditated, or to punish the aggressors. But the national government, not being affected by those local circumstances, will neither be induced to commit the wrong themselves, nor want power or inclination to prevent or punish its commission by others.

So far, therefore, as either designed or accidental violations of treaties and the laws of nations afford JUST causes of war, they are less to be apprehended under one general government than under several lesser ones, and in that respect the former most favors the SAFETY of the people.

As to those just causes of war which proceed from direct and unlawful violence, it appears equally clear to me that one good national government affords vastly more security against dangers of that sort than can be derived from any other quarter.

Because such violences are more frequently caused by the passions and interests of a part than of the whole; of one or two States than of the Union. Not a single Indian war has yet been occasioned by aggressions of the present federal government, feeble as it is; but there are several instances of Indian hostilities having been provoked by the improper conduct of individual States, who, either unable or unwilling to restrain or punish offenses, have given occasion to the slaughter of many innocent inhabitants.

The neighborhood of Spanish and British territories, bordering on some States and not on others, naturally confines the causes of quarrel more immediately to the borderers. The bordering States, if any, will be those who, under the impulse of sudden irritation, and a quick sense of apparent interest or injury, will be most likely, by direct violence, to excite war with these nations; and nothing can so effectually obviate that danger as a national government, whose wisdom and prudence will not be diminished by the passions which actuate the parties immediately interested.

But not only fewer just causes of war will be given by the national government, but it will also be more in their power to accommodate and settle them amicably. They will be more temperate and cool, and in that respect, as well as in others, will be more in capacity to act advisedly than the offending State. The pride of states, as well as of men, naturally disposes them to justify all their actions, and opposes their acknowledging, correcting, or repairing their errors and offenses. The national government, in such cases, will not be affected by this pride, but will proceed with moderation and candor to consider and decide on the means most proper to extricate them from the difficulties which threaten them.

Besides, it is well known that acknowledgments, explanations, and compensations are often accepted as satisfactory from a strong united nation, which would be rejected as unsatisfactory if offered by a State or confederacy of little consideration or power.

In the year 1685, the state of Genoa having offended Louis XIV., endeavored to appease him. He demanded that they should send their Doge, or chief magistrate, accompanied by four of their senators, to FRANCE, to ask his pardon and receive his terms. They were obliged to submit to it for the sake of peace. Would he on any occasion either have demanded or have received the like humiliation from Spain, or Britain, or any other POWERFUL nation?

PUBLIUS

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Long-Term Way to Protect the Second Amendment

There is an easy and fun way to protect the future of the second amendment over the long-term: Husbands, take your wives shooting. The more women who get into hunting and other shooting sports, the more secure the second amendment will be in the future.

Think about it. Wherever Mothers go, there go their children. The more that children are exposed to responsible gun ownership, and the safe & fun use of guns, the less fearful they will be of guns, despite the anti-gun indoctrination in our schools.

The future of the second amendment is being determined in the fight for the hearts and minds of children. The anti-gun activists know that the more fearful they can make children of guns while they are young, the more fearful they will be when they grow up. Fearful adults - who will be voters, politicians, bureaucrats, school administrators, teachers, and other positions of influence - will be easier to convince to do away with the second amendment and accept gun confiscation (the ultimate goal of gun control).

Have no doubt that the gun control crowd are already fighting hard to instill a fear of guns into children. Schools have enacted zero-tolerance policies that go way beyond banning the actual weapons from schools. Children are getting suspended, expelled, and sometimes even arrested for such absurdities as merely using the word "gun" in a paper, drawing a picture of a gun in art class, playing with a green plastic army man with a gun, biting a pop-tart into the shape of a gun, having a toy "bubble gun" that looks nothing like a real gun, and even holding their fore-finger and thumb into a gun shape while playing on the playground (no more playing cowboys and indians, or cops and robbers).

School officials understand the difference between a drawing of a gun and a real gun. They over-react to such an incredible extent not to discourage guns on campus, but to intentionally instill a fear of guns into students. Progressives know that if the current generation of students is afraid of guns, it will be easier to ban guns once they grow up.  

The best and easiest way to stop this intentional spread of the fear of guns into children is to get their mothers into guns. Take your wife or girlfriend to the shooting range. Take them hunting. Get them into guns. And the message will seep down to their children.

Suggestions

I'm not a woman, but I do have some common sense suggestions for how to get your wife or girlfriend into shooting: Be patient. Make it fun. Don't be an asshole, talk down to her, or make it into some macho thing. Don't take over and try to make decisions for her. Let other people help - you're probably the wrong person to teach her how to shoot, no matter how good you are. Take a class together. Don't take her shooting or hunting, instead go shooting or hunting together (an important difference). Let her progress at her own pace.

I would love to get suggestions from women on how to get women into shooting sports. Please leave suggestions in the comments section below. 

Resources

Fight Back! -- Defending the Second Amendment (my article)

Shoot Like a Girl (website promoting women in shooting sports)

A Girl and a Gun (website promoting women in shooting sports)

Women and Guns (website)

National Shooting Sports Foundation (website)

10 Rules for Gun Safety - National Shooting Sports Foundation (website)

Concealed Carry for Women (book)

Personal Defense for Women (book)

Guns for Women: Patriot Nurse's Favorite Rifles!  (You Tube video)

Get Your Girl Into Guns! - Women and shooting (You Tube video) 

NRA's Women's Programs (website) 

NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program for kids (website)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Beware the Debate Tactics of the Left

A few years ago on Twitter, I had a debate over several days with three atheists (well, actually the debate was with one, with two others cheering him on). The atheist took a single scripture verse out-of-context, put a negative spin on it, and insisted that I defend that verse. I, naturally, refused to defend his spin of that single verse, and tried to explain to him the verse actually meant within the context of scripture, but he was having none of it. His insistence, backed up by his cheerleaders, was that I defend the verse as he presented it, or he would take my refusal as an admission that I really didn't believe what the Bible said. Absurd, of course.

Context matters. I can go though Ronald Reagan's speeches, find a single line or or two, and spin it to make him look like a full-blown Marxist. I can likewise cherry-pick a line or two from Obama's speeches, and spin it in such a way that makes Obama sound like a right-wing nut-job. Of course, context matters.

Be wary of people who only want to debate a single verse or two, a single quote or two, and don't want to examine the larger context. Be especially wary if they are putting a spin on it that you haven't heard before and with which you don't agree.

More recently, I have been challenged by a lady on Twitter over my support of self-defense. I've no idea if she is an atheist or just a liberal Christian. She tweeted a couple of Bible verses at me to "prove" to me that true Christians are supposed to be pacifists. She believes in the concept of absolute pacifism, that any use of aggression, force, or violence is wrong under all circumstances, even self-defense or the defense of others.

The scriptures she tweeted me were, of course, out-of-context, and she didn't/wouldn't discuss or even acknowledge verses that are problematic to her position. She also wouldn't discuss Jesus' own use of aggression and force (see John 2:13-16), when He made a whip and used it against the money-changers, overturning tables, scattering money, and driving the money-changers from the Temple. 

The assumption she was making, and why I say she believes in absolute pacifism, is that there is no difference between self-defense and unprovoked force; that by promoting self-defense, I am guilty of promoting violence. Of course, there is a big difference between self-defense and unprovoked force. Instead of debating her, I pointed her to my article on Biblical self-defense, and this website's Official Statement on Self-Defense. I seriously doubt if she read them.
  • Context matters. Don't feel the need to defend out-of-context verses or quotes. 
  • Only you define what you believe. Don't let the person you are debateing define your postions for you. You only need to defend your actual positions, not the spin they put on your positions.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Reaching Different Audiences With the Prepper Message

My main goal for this website is to encourage as many folks as possible to start preparing for the very difficult times that lie ahead. The worldly system, with its massive debts, increasingly limited freedoms, misplaced priorities, and misguided values, is simply unsustainable. Western civilization, in particular, is under attack from both without (Islamists) and within (elites who reject traditional western culture). I also believe that we have entered a time of increasing worldly persecution of traditional Christians and Jews, which will only grow worse in coming years.

My basic advice is simple: get out of the worldly system, build self-reliance, and make commonsense preparations. On the other hand, it can be difficult advice to follow. What does it mean to get out of the worldly system? How do you build self-reliance? What commonsense preparations need to be made? And, above all, how on Earth do you motivate people to do these things?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Different people are motivated by different things. They all have their own unique set of circumstances and concerns to deal with. What may make sense to one person, won't make sense to another. What clicks for one person, might not click for the next. That's why I try to write specific articles, and make specific suggestions, to specific audiences, even though it all is, at its root, the same basic advice. Perhaps you have people in your life - family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow church members - that you want to reach with the prepper message. Here are some suggestions to reach different audiences:

Audience: Newbies, Women, Others who may be intimidated by hard-core preppers
Suggestions: This group will appreciate a much more conversational tone without a lot of doom-and-gloom. Avoid technical jargon and acronyms, and use humor and personal experiences to make your points. This style is what makes Survivor Jane's book, What Could Possibly Go Wrong???, less intimidating to those new to preparedness and survival. Coming from a woman's perspective, with a woman's tone, women especially might find it speaking to them in a way that is more natural and comfortable.

Audience: Committed Christians who are already aware of increasing persecution.
Suggestions: Emphasize the Biblical context of what is going on in the world. Use concepts they have already heard of such as "persecution" and "getting out of Babylon" to connect with them. I wrote my articles Getting Out of Babylon! and Getting Out of Babylon! (part 2) especially with these folks in mind.

 Audience: Reality-Based Folks
Suggestions: Reality-based folks have little time or interest in a lot of theory or fluff. They want concrete, real-world, examples. Fernando Aguirre's book, The Modern Survival Manual, is a great example of this. In it, Aguirre relates his personal experiences surviving the economic collapse of Argentina in 2001, and the social problems and political totalitarianism that followed in its wake.

Audience: Folks who are already concerned with Peak Oil and Peak Resources.
Suggestions: The peak oil movement peaked (pardon the pun) a few years ago, but there are still folks around who fear peak oil, and peak other resources. Reach these folks by emphasizing the need to prepare for a low energy future, and talk about concepts such as energy efficiency, conservation, and recycling. This group also tends to be into permaculture. My early articles Introduction to the Modern Victory Movement and Eight Points of the Modern Victory Movement, were written for these folks, as are my Forest Gardening articles.

Audience: The Liberty Movement, Libertarian-types, (and some Anarchists).
Suggestions: Into Ayn Rand and Austrian Economics, Libertarians are very independent-minded and into very small (or even no) government. They are also very anti-authoritarian, so don't respond well if your message seems like you telling them what they must do, or (even worse) like you are suggesting government-imposed solutions. Libertarians do respond well to free-market ideas, building self-reliance, rejecting big government and other big institutions (corporations, the Fed, etc.). You can intrigue them with ideas on alternative ways of conducting commerce (barter, gold & silver, local currencies, bitcoin, etc.). I have found that Daxton Brown's book Going Galt: Surviving Economic Armageddon goes over favorably with this group.

Audience: Tea Party-types, (and many Conservatives)
Suggestions: Tea Party types are into small government (but not as small as Libertarian-types prefer) following the Constitution (their interpretation tends to be not quite as strict as Libertarians), and fiscal conservatism. They're very concerned with government over-reach, the national debt, and often with border security and terrorism. They tend to be quite patriotic, and many (but not all) are religious. They often will respond well to the same sort of message as will the Liberty Movement or the Committed Christians, especially if the message is delivered in patriotic terms (save America!). In my essay Ways To Get Ready For The New Great Depression, I tried to reach out to this group through their economic concerns and anti-debt feelings, images of America's greatness in overcoming the Great Depression and fight WWII, and appealing to them to be a part of the solution. My Six-Point Plan to Take Back America was also written with this group in mind.

Audience: Liberals, Progressives, Hippies, Earth-Mother-types.
Suggestions: You might think these tools of the elites are beyond reaching, but that's not true. I wrote my essay, Ways To Get Ready For The Future for liberal friends of mine. In it, I stress community, conservation, and reconnecting to nature - themes that resonate with these folks.

The examples of fitting the message to the audience can go on and on. Folks who like fast lists may respond well to my article, A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End. Those who want more detailed, step-by-step instructions may be interested in Jim Cobb's book, Countdown to Preparedness: The Prepper's 52-Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness. Mark Goodwin's fictional trilogy, American Exit Strategy, may appeal to folks who need the imagery of stories to process things. We all have different learning styles.

The point, of course, is to tailor your message to your audience. If you are having trouble convincing a family member or friend of the need to prepare, change your tactics to fit their personality.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dean Alfange's "An American's Creed"


[Not to be confused with The American's Creed, by William Tyler Page.]

Dean Alfange (1897-1989) was an American politician who never won elective office, losing elections for both the House of Representatives and Governor of New York. However, Alfange held numerous appointed positions during his career. He is best known for his statement known as "An American's Creed" which stressed the importance self-reliance and individual & economic freedoms to the American spirit. Alfange won an award from The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, in 1952, for his creed.

This creed is often misattributed to Thomas Paine, from his pamphlet "Common Sense," and is wrongly called the "Entrepreneur's Creed." It does not appear in Common Sense. Thomas Paine did not write it, nor did Paine write anything called the Entrepreneur's Creed.


An American's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon—if I can. I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, this I have done. All this is what it means to be an American." --Dean Alfange, 1952

Friday, December 25, 2015

Book Review: Countdown to Preparedness


With the New Year is fast approaching, I hope many folks will make getting prepared & building self-reliance their resolution for 2016. My article A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End may be useful to you, as may How To Get Started Prepping / Building Self-Reliance (two ways to think about the same topic). If you want a more detailed, step-by-step approach, I recommend Countdown to Preparedness by Jim Cobb, which I review here: 

http://amzn.to/1RKyVgxJim Cobb, in his Countdown to Preparedness: The Prepper's 52-Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness, outlines the most complete, easiest to follow, step-by-step guide to prepping for disasters that I've seen. There are lots of disaster preparedness books on the market, some really good, others not so much, but none break down the preparedness process into a "do this, then do this, then do this..." outline in as a complete and systematic way as Cobb does. Follow his steps one-by-one for the next year, and you will be better prepared than 98% of the population for disasters of any kind.

Another positive aspect of this outline is that you can control the time it takes you to prepare. Follow his outline a week at a time, and you'll be extremely prepared within a year. Want to get prepared quicker? Then just double up on the weeks, doing two at a time, and you'll be extremely prepared within six-months. Want to get ready still faster? It will take some dedication and sacrifice, but you could do three weeks (or even four) at a time and be extremely prepared in only four months (or even three).

Even if you've been "prepping" for years, this book makes a great review of your preparedness, as you can quickly read through each week and see how your preps stack up against Cobb's recommendations.

As the name of the book suggests, Cobb walks you through a year of preparedness one week at a time (so, 52 chapters + introductory and wrap-up sections). Each week, he gives you lessons and tasks for that week, a "prepper savings account" goal for that week, a water storage goal, and a food storage list for each week. Don't worry, the goals for each week are practical, not "pie-in-the-sky." He also includes many other lists throughout the book (basic supplies, tools, hygiene, first aid/medical supplies, get home bag contents, evacuation bag contents, etc.) meant as suggestions to get you started thinking about what you need for your circumstances.

Much of the goals and tasks are meant to be cumulative over all 52 weeks. By that I mean that each week adds up, so you're not doing all of, for example, your food storage in one week. Rather, you acquire your food storage a little bit each week, so that over time you end up with a good supply of stored food stuffs. 

The book is more than just lists of supplies to acquire. Examples of some of the tasks Cobb assigns each week includes decluttering your home, talking with your family about prepping, making extra money, planning and planting a garden, learning first aid skills, dealing with any medical and dental issues you may have, firearms training, networking with other preppers, and making bug-out plans, among many others.

You can find Jim Cobb's Countdown to Preparedness on Amazon. He has several other books out. I also own (and like) the Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide and the Prepper's Financial Guide. (Ordering books through the links on this website helps support this website - so THANK YOU!).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How To Get Started Prepping / Building Self-Reliance

Anyone paying close attention to the news recently, or closely following economic and political trends, knows it is very likely that something bad this way comes. I'm not sure exactly when or what, but the current worldly system is simply not sustainable for much longer. I hope folks will use the approaching new year (new year resolutions!) as motivation to prepare for whatever comes, and to build the self-reliance they will need to survive, and help their families & friends survive. Here are my suggestions on how to get started:

THE Foundationn

The single most important thing you can do is to "get right" with God. I won't try to convince you, but I will tell you what I get out of it (in addition to my salvation!). Being in relationship with God gives me calmness, comfort, joy. strength, courage, and it helps focus my priorities. All good things when going through bad times!

How to get started? If you don't have a relationship with God, I suggest starting with a simple prayer. Something as simple as "God, I don't know you, and am not even sure if you exist. But if you do, help me find you. Thank you, Amen." Then crack open a Bible and start reading. Lots of people suggest John's gospel makes a good starting point. I think Mark's gospel, which is shorter, more action-oriented, and written for those not familiar with the Jewish religion, might make a better starting point for most people. Wherever you start, just start. God will take it from there.

Next Steps

1 - Improve your health and fitness. 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 (check out the Mayo Clinic article on the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet). Eat less sugar (a lot less). Build your strength & endurance. 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. Take care of any issues with your teeth or vision.

2- Pay attention to the world around you. Be alert. Practice Situational Awareness. Pay attention to the news - locally, nationally, and internationally. Watch for developing trends, and for possible unexpected/unintended consequences. Get a good AM/FM/NOAA weather radio with multiple power options so you can listen even when the power is out.


3- Pay off debt and establish an emergency fund. Do both at the same time. A lot easier said than done, I know, but it is a necessary step. My article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics may be useful to you, as would the Dave Ramsey website.

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). Have a good flashlight (or several) at home.

Stock up on food, water, cleaning & hygiene supplies, first aid supplies, medicine & medical supplies, batteries, ammunition, sturdy clothes & shoes, and other supplies. Don't get overwhelmed by trying to do it all at once. Aim for two weeks worth of food and water. Then build it up to a month's worth. Then two months worth, and so forth.

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.

Improve Your Security

Harden your home by installing security doors, deadbolt locks, improving outdoor lighting, etc. Take a self-defense course. Have your family take a self-defense course. Buy a gun and learn how to use it safely and effectively. New to guns? Check out The Gun Guide for People Who Know Nothing About Firearms and/or The Total Gun Manual.

Talk over with your family ideas about staying 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.


Plan Your Escape, Should It Become Necessary

Things may become dangerous in your area (fire, chemical spills, power plant accidents, crime, rioters/looters, government actions, etc.), so plan your possible evacuation. Where you will go? How will you get there? What happens if your primary path is blocked? Do you know alternative ways? What will you take with you?

1- Plan a Bug-Out location. Maybe its another piece of property you own. Maybe its a relatives home in another state. Or Aunt Ida's farm. If you have a set place to escape to, you may even be able to re-position clothes, food, and other supplies that would be ready for you when you get there. Make sure you know how to gt there. Map out at least one alternative route in case you're main route is blocked for some reason.'

2- Make sure your vehicle is in good shape, and fueled up. Make sure your spare tire is in good shape and that the jack and tools are in the vehicle.

3- Put together a small emergency kit for your automobile. Include things for the car (extra oil, transmission fluid, jumper cables, etc.). Include a good flashlight with extra batteries, and a road atlas or road maps. Also include things you might need in an emergency (a first aid kit, a warm blanket, bottles of water, power bars or other food, etc.)

4- Have a Bug Out or Evacuation Bag already packed for each member of your family. Include a change of clothes, some food, water, personal hygiene supplies, individual first aid kit, a compact new testament or prayer book, flashlight and extra batteries, emergency poncho, and whistle in each bag. Adults and teens should have additional items such as a knife, multi-tool, matches or lighters, duct tape, outdoor survival gear, sewing kits, etc. In the bags of children, be sure to include written information such as name & age of the child, family contact info, and lists of any allergies, medications & health conditions, should the child become separated from the rest of the family. Also include a favorite toy, coloring books, crayons, and/or a few other distractions for the kids. In your bag, be sure to include copies of insurance policies, deeds, birth certificates, vaccination records, medical records, bank numbers, passports, and other personal records (ideally in a small notebook or envelope, and possibly on a USB stick or other digital storage).

Build Long Term Self-Reliance

In the long-term you need to get out of the worldly system of dependence and learn how to do things for yourself - car and home repairs, sewing, gardening, home canning, and so-forth. Develop your DIY skills. Learn how to raise food. Develop homesteading 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.
 Special Needs
 
Finally, consider the special needs of some family members. Children, the
elderly, pregnant women, folks with disabilities, and pets, all may require special items, foods, medications, or assistance.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Self-Defense

Statement on Force and Self-Defense

I strongly believe in the unalienable right of self-defense, including the defense of others. It is a biblical concept, which can be proved with numerous passages from both the Old and New Testaments. (see footnotes 1, 2, 3, 4)

I strongly support the Second Amendment. We have the right to possess the tools of self-defense, including guns and knives. (see footnotes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)   

I reject retaliation, revenge, and vengeance, because God's Word makes it clear that such belongs to the Lord, not man. (see footnotes 1, 6)

I reject unwise and inappropriate use of force in self-defense. This includes being too quick to anger, and lacking self-control. Defensive force should only be used as a last resort. "Employing potentially lethal force out of anger, hatred, jealously, or revenge is always wrong and is condemned by Scripture." (see footnote 7)

I reject unprovoked aggression (the initiation of force without just cause). Aggression (force) is necessary, and ethical, in some circumstances to protect ourselves (or others) from actions or threats against our lives, freedoms, rights, or property. 

I reject the concept of absolute pacifism (the idea that force should never be used in all circumstances, even in self-defense). In fact, I consider refusing to help defend those in legitimate need, when you have the ability to do so, to be a potentially immoral and cowardly act.

----------
Footnotes

1) See the website Biblical Self-Defense for a lengthy examination of dozens of Old and New Testament passages on self-defense.

2) See my article Jesus, Self-Defense, and the Pajama Boy for a study of Luke 22 in relation to self-defense.

3) Two books on the subject of biblical self-defense that may be of interest are Stand Your Ground: The Biblical Foundation For Self-Defense, by Steve Jones, and A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism, by Greg Hopkins.

4) The article The Six Things Americans Should Know About the Second Amendment, by Richard W. Stevens, contains an examination of self-defense within a Judeo-Christian framework.

5) See The Bill of Rights, particularly the Second Amendment, and parts of my article Fight Back! -- Defending the Second Amendment.

6) See this page of the Knowing Jesus website for 34 verses on retaliation, revenge, and vengeance belonging to the Lord, not people.

7) Quote is from The Biblical View of Self-Defense, on the Biblical Self-Defense website.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Federalist 2: Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence


The following is the text of the second Federalist paper, published on October 31, 1787, under the name Publius (the pseudonym used by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay). Federalist 2 was written by John Jay. In this essay, Jay argues in favor of uniting the states under one national government, rather than remaining completely separate and independent states. 

Federalist No. 2

Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence


To the People of the State of New York:

WHEN the people of America reflect that they are now called upon to decide a question, which, in its consequences, must prove one of the most important that ever engaged their attention, the propriety of their taking a very comprehensive, as well as a very serious, view of it, will be evident.

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers. It is well worthy of consideration therefore, whether it would conduce more to the interest of the people of America that they should, to all general purposes, be one nation, under one federal government, or that they should divide themselves into separate confederacies, and give to the head of each the same kind of powers which they are advised to place in one national government.

It has until lately been a received and uncontradicted opinion that the prosperity of the people of America depended on their continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly directed to that object. But politicians now appear, who insist that this opinion is erroneous, and that instead of looking for safety and happiness in union, we ought to seek it in a division of the States into distinct confederacies or sovereignties. However extraordinary this new doctrine may appear, it nevertheless has its advocates; and certain characters who were much opposed to it formerly, are at present of the number. Whatever may be the arguments or inducements which have wrought this change in the sentiments and declarations of these gentlemen, it certainly would not be wise in the people at large to adopt these new political tenets without being fully convinced that they are founded in truth and sound policy.

It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, wide-spreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a particular manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions, and watered it with innumerable streams, for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together; while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient distances, present them with highways for the easy communication of friendly aids, and the mutual transportation and exchange of their various commodities.

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.

Similar sentiments have hitherto prevailed among all orders and denominations of men among us. To all general purposes we have uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection. As a nation we have made peace and war; as a nation we have vanquished our common enemies; as a nation we have formed alliances, and made treaties, and entered into various compacts and conventions with foreign states.

A strong sense of the value and blessings of union induced the people, at a very early period, to institute a federal government to preserve and perpetuate it. They formed it almost as soon as they had a political existence; nay, at a time when their habitations were in flames, when many of their citizens were bleeding, and when the progress of hostility and desolation left little room for those calm and mature inquiries and reflections which must ever precede the formation of a wise and well-balanced government for a free people. It is not to be wondered at, that a government instituted in times so inauspicious, should on experiment be found greatly deficient and inadequate to the purpose it was intended to answer.

This intelligent people perceived and regretted these defects. Still continuing no less attached to union than enamored of liberty, they observed the danger which immediately threatened the former and more remotely the latter; and being persuaded that ample security for both could only be found in a national government more wisely framed, they as with one voice, convened the late convention at Philadelphia, to take that important subject under consideration.

This convention composed of men who possessed the confidence of the people, and many of whom had become highly distinguished by their patriotism, virtue and wisdom, in times which tried the minds and hearts of men, undertook the arduous task. In the mild season of peace, with minds unoccupied by other subjects, they passed many months in cool, uninterrupted, and daily consultation; and finally, without having been awed by power, or influenced by any passions except love for their country, they presented and recommended to the people the plan produced by their joint and very unanimous councils.

Admit, for so is the fact, that this plan is only RECOMMENDED, not imposed, yet let it be remembered that it is neither recommended to BLIND approbation, nor to BLIND reprobation; but to that sedate and candid consideration which the magnitude and importance of the subject demand, and which it certainly ought to receive. But this (as was remarked in the foregoing number of this paper) is more to be wished than expected, that it may be so considered and examined. Experience on a former occasion teaches us not to be too sanguine in such hopes. It is not yet forgotten that well-grounded apprehensions of imminent danger induced the people of America to form the memorable Congress of 1774. That body recommended certain measures to their constituents, and the event proved their wisdom; yet it is fresh in our memories how soon the press began to teem with pamphlets and weekly papers against those very measures. Not only many of the officers of government, who obeyed the dictates of personal interest, but others, from a mistaken estimate of consequences, or the undue influence of former attachments, or whose ambition aimed at objects which did not correspond with the public good, were indefatigable in their efforts to persuade the people to reject the advice of that patriotic Congress. Many, indeed, were deceived and deluded, but the great majority of the people reasoned and decided judiciously; and happy they are in reflecting that they did so.

They considered that the Congress was composed of many wise and experienced men. That, being convened from different parts of the country, they brought with them and communicated to each other a variety of useful information. That, in the course of the time they passed together in inquiring into and discussing the true interests of their country, they must have acquired very accurate knowledge on that head. That they were individually interested in the public liberty and prosperity, and therefore that it was not less their inclination than their duty to recommend only such measures as, after the most mature deliberation, they really thought prudent and advisable.

These and similar considerations then induced the people to rely greatly on the judgment and integrity of the Congress; and they took their advice, notwithstanding the various arts and endeavors used to deter them from it. But if the people at large had reason to confide in the men of that Congress, few of whom had been fully tried or generally known, still greater reason have they now to respect the judgment and advice of the convention, for it is well known that some of the most distinguished members of that Congress, who have been since tried and justly approved for patriotism and abilities, and who have grown old in acquiring political information, were also members of this convention, and carried into it their accumulated knowledge and experience.

It is worthy of remark that not only the first, but every succeeding Congress, as well as the late convention, have invariably joined with the people in thinking that the prosperity of America depended on its Union. To preserve and perpetuate it was the great object of the people in forming that convention, and it is also the great object of the plan which the convention has advised them to adopt. With what propriety, therefore, or for what good purposes, are attempts at this particular period made by some men to depreciate the importance of the Union? Or why is it suggested that three or four confederacies would be better than one? I am persuaded in my own mind that the people have always thought right on this subject, and that their universal and uniform attachment to the cause of the Union rests on great and weighty reasons, which I shall endeavor to develop and explain in some ensuing papers. They who promote the idea of substituting a number of distinct confederacies in the room of the plan of the convention, seem clearly to foresee that the rejection of it would put the continuance of the Union in the utmost jeopardy. That certainly would be the case, and I sincerely wish that it may be as clearly foreseen by every good citizen, that whenever the dissolution of the Union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim, in the words of the poet: "FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL TO ALL MY GREATNESS."

PUBLIUS

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Unhealthy Modern Lifestyle

A new medical study has revealed that 90% of all cancer cases are lifestyle-related, rather than genetic/DNA-related. Many other diseases plaguing modern folks, such as heart disease and type II diabetes, also largely have lifestyle-related causes. This means that they are, in most cases, preventable. It is our unhealthy modern, worldly-lifestyles that are driving these diseases to epidemic levels. And it is the rise of these diseases that have pushed medical and insurance costs sharply upwards in recent decades. If we are to get healthy, as individuals and as a society, we need to abandon the unhealthy modern lifestyle triggers for these diseases.

Unhealthy Modern Lifestyle:

1) Tobacco use in all its forms. Like it or not, various medical studies have proved that smoking and other uses of tobacco are directly responsible for about 22% of all cancer cases (not just lung cancer). Smoking and tobacco use are also responsible for a wide-range of other health problems.

A word on second-hand smoke: Being occasionally exposed to second-hand smoke is unlikely to cause cancer. However, prolonged and consistent exposure to second-hand smoke, such as living with a smoker for years, can lead to cancer and other health problems. This is especially true for small children whose lungs and immune systems are still developing. Parents who smoke ARE putting their children's health and lives at risk. If that truth offends you, that's your problem (and, unfortunately, your child's problem).

2) Substance abuse. This unhealthy lifestyle category includes both the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of legal drugs and alcohol. And, yes, this includes the use of marijuana.

An occasional alcoholic drink probably won't cause health problems for most people, and in fact a daily glass of red wine may have health benefits. However, heavy alcohol consumption - certainly to the point of getting drunk - can cause serious problems over time, including liver disease and even several forms of cancer.

Marijuana currently enjoys a favorable status in modern society, and legalization is happening everywhere. Both sides of the marijuana debate are guilty of exaggeration in promoting their viewpoint. It is neither as dangerous as its opponents claim, nor as safe as its supporters claim. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Occasionally smoking a single joint of marijuana is unlikely to cause health problems, but prolonged and consistent marijuana use can, including various types of lung problems and even the lose of IQ points.

3) Lack of physical activity. Modern society is very sedentary. Most folks get little physical activity on a regular basis. According to a 2012 study, "conclusive evidence exists that physical inactivity is one important cause of most chronic diseases. In addition, physical activity primarily prevents, or delays, chronic diseases, implying that chronic disease need not be an inevitable outcome during life."

Lack of physical activity is a major contributing factor to obesity, lack of fitness, strength, and endurance, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, stroke, joint problems, balance problems, colon cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, several gallbladder diseases, and even erectile dysfunction, among other problems.

4) Unhealthy diets. The modern diet is extremely unhealthy - overloaded with sugars, salt, unhealthy grains, and various substances such as preservatives, dyes, and other chemicals we were never meant to eat as food. Also, Americans typically eat huge serving sizes, consuming way to many calories for our sedentary lifestyles, leading to the current obesity epidemic. Fast foods, junk foods, and other heavily processed foods are very unhealthy.

5) Sunburns. Exposure to sunlight is not dangerous. In fact, we need it for vitamin D production. Don't be afraid of being out in the sun or of getting a healthy tan. However, even too much of a good thing can be bad. Repeated sun burns, to the point that it is painful and causes skin peeling, can lead to various problems such as skin cancer and other diseases.

6) Lack of quality sleep. I know plenty of people who claim to get by on six hours of sleep a night or less. You might "get by" with less, but the research is overwhelming - adequate sleep is very important to good health. Lack of adequate sleep not only makes you tired, but according to research, impairs your concentration, memory, fine motor skills, and negatively impacts your mood. Not only that, but a long-term lack of adequate sleep compromises your immune system and plays a role in developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type II diabetes, and even several forms of cancer. Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis really is a must for your health.

6) Environmental toxins. The modern world is filled with any number of dangerous chemicals and other environmental toxins that we are exposed to on a daily baisis in concentrations much greater than normally found in nature.  These include air and water pollution, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, PCBs, VOCs, phthalates, chlorine, and even heavy metals like arsenic, mercury, and lead.

Beneficial Lifestyle Changes

1) Stop smoking and using tobacco in any form.
2) Stop using and/or abusing illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, and marijuana.
3) Greatly increase your physical activity.
4) Lean to eat healthy, and in moderation.
5) Don't avoid sunlight, but do avoid getting sunburns.
6) Make a habit of getting at least seven hours of sleep every night ("catching up" on the weekends doesn't count).
7) Find ways to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins.

Websites and Other Resources

Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan (on the Mayo Clinic website)

Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Pyramid (on Dr. Andrew Weil's website)

Traditional Asian Diet (on the Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology website)

The Paleo Manifesto (fascinating book by John Durant)

8 Weeks to Optimum Health (book by Dr. Andrew Weil)

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Action Plans (book)

Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal (book) 

American Cancer Society (website) 

Quitting Smoking (on the American Cancer Society website) 

Eating for Good Health: Anti-Cancer Foods (article on this website)

Improve your health, fitness & vitality (article on this website)


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Prepper Kit Fails - Five Items to Avoid

The following is my list of prepper kit items that might sound good, but in practice don't really work. Avoid these items!

1) The Wire Saw (sometimes called a Commando Saw) - A small, lightweight wire saw sounds like a great idea to include in survival kits and bug-out bags. But I remember a survival show host (Les Stroud?) using one in an episode of his show, and the wire ring on one side pulled off with the first tug or two. #EpicFail

After seeing that show, I decide to test mine out. Although the wire ring didn't pull off on mine, after only cutting two small (about 1/3 inch diameter) pine branches, the wire became so bent, twisted, and kinked up that I could not cut completely through a third branch with it.

My solution: I traded up to a survival pocket chain saw. Its a chain saw blade with two nylon hand straps, and comes with a pouch that can be worn on your belt. Its too big for a Altoids survival kit, of course, but small & light enough (less than one pound) to easily carry in a bug-out bag, tackle box, or keep in the glove compartment of your vehicle. For small limbs, the wood saw on my Swiss Army Knife works very well.

2) The Emergency Fishing Kit - The problem with MOST of these kits, particularly the ones small enough to fit in an Altoids tin or similar mini-kit, is that there is not nearly enough fishing line to really be useful. Plus, the gear included in many store-bought kits are also too small and often cheap quality. There are even a couple of #FAIL videos on You Tube of folks trying unsuccessfully to fish with them. I tried out the gear I had in my old Altoids kit and had the same problem. It just didn't work. (I've since abandoned the idea of an Altoids survival kit as just a little too small to really be practical.)

My solutions: I actually have two solutions to suggest. First, I keep a Ronco Pocket Fisherman in my vehicle. You might remember the old TV commercials of the folding rod & reel with a built in tackle box? Yes, they still make them. Way too big for a mini-kit, but at only about a pound, they can be carried in or on a bug-out bag (I can clip mine securely to the back of my pack).

The second possibility is the small emergency fishing kit assembled by the folks at Survival Resources. It actually has 50 feet of of fishing line, plus other quality gear. The kit comes in something like a pill bottle which, at 3.5 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, is too big for an Altoids tin, but is still small enough to easily carry in a bug-out bag or other larger survival bag.  Click here to go to their website, then scroll to the bottom of the page to find it. I'm not affiliated with them in any way, other than being a satisfied customer for several years, but tell them I sent you!

3) The Birthday Candle - Years ago, when I first got into making survival kits, I read several articles and forum posts recommending including a small birthday candle or two in your kits. The idea is that you can use a match to light the candle, which will take longer to burn, allowing you time to more successfully light your campfire with it. The problem is that birthday candles are so thin that, when you tilt them sideways to stick to the kindling, they almost instantly melt, leaving you with a hot waxy goo on your fingers and no fire!

My solution: Don't waste your time on birthday candles. You can get various types of long burning and storm proof matches to include in your kits. And I recommend that most folks include a small lighter in your EDC.

4) "Survival" Knives - You know the type I'm talking about: the ones with the hollow handles with various survival supplies inside. These tend to be absolutely horrible - cheaply made, dull blades, crappy supplies. Worse yet, they are not full tang, with the knife blade and hollow handle being held together with little more than a spot weld or two. They will not hold up to the hard use of an emergency.

My Solution: There is no need for your knife and survival kit to be the same thing. Get a good quality, full tang, sheath knife. Something like the Cold Steel Pendleton Lite Hunter might be a good and affordable option for most folks. Another, slightly more costly but still affordable, option would be the Gerber Prodigy Survival Knife. I own and like both.

5) Snare Wire - I've got two problems with the snare wire included in most survival kits. First, its too light weight to go after anything other than small rodents (the wire that came in the Bear Grylls survival kit I wrote about recently was barely more than thread). Second, there is only enough for one snare trap. Experts in trapping (and I am not one, but have spoken to several) will tell you that even if you know what you're doing, you'll be lucky to get anything more than 10% of the time. This tells me that if you really want to have a chance to eat, you need to set up several traps to increase your chances.

My solution: There are lots of spools of Vietnam-era surplus snare wire still available. It is 24-gauge wire and comes in four 40' sections on one wood spool for a total of 160'. Plenty of snare wire for many traps, and a spool is light enough (about 2.4 ounces) to easily carry in a bug-out bag. Most importantly, learn where and how to set-up snares traps before you need to depend on them. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Gear Review: GorillaDrive USB Flash Drive

http://amzn.to/1QkkcbZ
In my recent EDC pocket dump article, I mentioned that I carry a USB flash drive on  key ring. It is a GorillaDrive, and has proven extremely rugged - true "hard use gear," in my opinion. I actually have three. In addition to the one on my keychain (32 GB), I also have two (64 GB each) that I keep in my bug out bag. I will explain exactly why I really like my GorillaDrives later in this review, but first let me describe how I use them.

The Gorilla  on my keychain is my everyday workhorse flash drive. I keep a backup copy of my important personal papers and pictures on it (encrypted with Rohos software which I downloaded myself), lists of family & friends, along with their contact and other information, maps & driving directions to assorted destinations I may need, music files (you gotta have some fun), and various videos and .pdf files relating to survival and prepping, as well as my work & school related files. Since it is on my keychain, it goes wherever I go.

The two GorillaDrives I keep in my bug out bag contain a backup of the files on my laptop's hard drive, which I update monthly. That way, if I ever have to bug out without my laptop, I've still got all my files.

Why I Really Like My GorillaDrives

One word: rugged. Two words: extremely rugged.

I've had the GorillaDrive on my keychain for almost 3 years now. Between school and work, it has been used daily, often multiple times each day, during those three years. 've dropped it countless times, onto carpet, hardwood flooring, tile, cement, dirt, gravel, and even asphalt parking lots. I've carried it in freezing weather, raining weather, and very hot weather. I even left it outside overnight once (by mistake) when the temperature was in the mid 20s. Despite frequent and hard use for almost three years, I never once have had my GorillaDrive fail or even a single file lost or corrupted.

The GorillaDrive is designed for hard use - they call it "ruggedized for extreme durability." It is made from a special silicon compound with a metal loop, and is designed to be pressure/impact resistant (up to 250 psi), heat resistant (up to 225 degrees F), and water resistant (up to 65 feet). Although they don't list freeze resistance, as I said mine did survive outside overnight in below freezing weather, and I've carried in in even colder weather. And it lasts (again, for almost three years and counting).

Monday, December 7, 2015

Review: Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife

Click for larger image.
In my recent article on building a compact emergency survival kit, I mentioned that my kit includes a Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife. This is a great small knife to include in various compact survival kits, being just 3" long when closed and weighing only 1.3 ounces. It easily fits in an Altoids tin (see the picture below) for those making those kits, as well as easily fitting Maxpedition Micro Pocket Organizers and most other small bags & pouches.


Click for larger image.
It may be small, but this knife is also big enough and tough enough to actually be useful in many situations. By contrast, the Swiss Army Knife Classic keychain knife's blade is an inch shorter and much more slender/delicate, and it is a locking blade, which the SAK Classic isn't. The blade, frame, and clip are made entirely of high-carbon stainless steel. Total length of the knife when opened is 5¼". My knife is a half-serrated blade, but it is also available with only a plain edge if that is your preference.

My knife came quite sharp, and there is no wobble in the locking blade. The pocket clip, though I don't use it, seems quite sturdy. Overall, the Gerber paraframe mini knife seems like a very well-constructed, quality mini knife. For its size and price, it can't be beat.

Currently (Feb 27, 2016) Amazon has this knife on sale for $7.97 (regular price is $16), but that price is subject to change at any time. It is a great knife for compact kits, for a small EDC folding knife, and/or a stocking stuffer. 



Saturday, December 5, 2015

Building a Compact Emergency Survival Kit

A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted a compact emergency survival kit. It needed to be small enough to easily slip into the cargo pocket of my pants or the inside pocket of my jacket or coat, or my vehicle's glove compartment, or in a briefcase, backpack, pocketbook, etc. This was not to be  a part of my EDC, but rather a separate kit to supplement, in an emergency, what I normally carry on and with me.

Bear Grylls Survival Kit
My first thought was to buy one. I purchased a Bear Gryll's Survival Kit at Target for $22.99. It consisted of a bright orange zippered pouch, a water-proof polypropylene inner pouch, 10 waterproof matches with striker paper, a Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife (quite sharp), a fire starter, cotton ball (for fire tinder, I guess), whistle (quite loud), some waxed cordage (think dental floss), some cheap nylon cordage, a bit of very thin snare wire (frankly, not useful), and a couple band aids and alcohol wipes. Also included was a folded sheet of fairly standard wilderness survival instructions. Overall, an okay but not great survival kit. I figure the kit is actually worth about $16 at most, so I paid about a $7 premium just for the Bear Grylls name.

Being a bit disappointed, my next thought was to build one myself. I had tried to build an Altoids tin survival kit previously, but didn't like it -- was just a little too small, limiting the gear too much. Then it struck me, I had the beginnings of a good kit in the Bear Grylls kit I just purchased. All I really needed to do was upgrade a couple pieces of the gear included in the kit, and add some stuff that wasn't included.

Fully stuffed pouch after additions
I liked the Bear Grylls pouch. The size is perfect for what I had in mind, and being bright orange will make it asier to find in an emergency. I added a 3-mode (high, low, strobe) cord lock light to the zipper pull (not to use as a regular flashlight, though it could be in in pinch, but rather to specifically help me see the contents of the bag at night - that's why I attached it to the bag itself.)



Final contents of survival kit

Contents of water-proof inner pouch
The water-proof inner pouch is very usable, but small. I could only fit some of the gear inside (see pic on left). Naturally, I included the fire starting gear - storm-proof matches, Mini-Match magnesium firestarter (an upgraded firestarter over the one originally in the kit), and fire tinder - in the water-proof bag, as well as the Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife, whistle, and cordage.




First aid supplies
I added a second small zip-lock bag with first aid supplies, including 4 band-aids (3 sizes), a 2x2 gauze pad, small pack of Celox, an alcohol disinfecting wipe, 2 iodine pads, 2 packs of triple antibiotic ointment, a pack of medi-lyte, and a couple of Advil. Also in the outer pouch, but not one of the inner bags, is a pair of Uncle Bill's Silver Gripper Tweezers (good for removing splinters, stingers, and ticks) and a pill case with two aspirin and two Benadryl.

A mini roll (50") of duct tape (mine happens to be yellow) and a TOPS Folding Pocket Survival Saw (4-inch blade) rounds out the list of gear, and fits nicley in the outer pouch.

Remember, this kit is supposed to be a compact, short-term, supplement to my EDC and other gear. It is not meant for long-term survival. I think it does very well, covering first aid, cutting (knife & saw), fire making (matches, fire starter, tinder), signalling (whistle, strobe light, fire), cordage, and duct-tape.

Comments or suggestions? Please leave them in the comments section below!