Saturday, May 19, 2018

Some Thoughts on Self-Defense

It is a dangerous world out there, and likely to get more dangerous as society continues to break down. As someone said on GAB yesterday about the recent school shootings: "When a society becomes godless, you will get more godless acts." Add in the open borders maddness of the globalists, and you have a situation which will only get worse in the coming years. 

Self-Defense - Yes, this is the "guns and ammo" skill set for preppers and survivalists, but it is so much more than just that. Guns are just one tool in your personal security arsenal, and not the most important one. The first and most important tool for personal security is awareness. Awareness of your surroundings and the potential risks of your situation is essential. Situational awareness isn't just paying attention, as I explained in my article Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop. It also means knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings.

I do recommend that most folks own and learn how to use guns, and to carry on an everyday basis if possible (know and follow the laws in your area, of course). If you do have guns, don't just target shoot at the range. You need to take a good self-defense firearms training course. Consult with your local gun dealer - they will be able to guide you to appropriate courses, and make you aware of local gun laws.

In addition to all gun-owners taking firearms training courses, everyone in your family/group/church should take a regular self-defense course. A good self-defense course won't just cover the physical aspects of self-defense, but also give tips and advice on avoiding dangerous situations in the first place.

Learning a martial art such as karate can be a fun hobby, provide considerable health and fitness benefits. improve self-confidence, and give you a life-long self-defense skill set. I especially urge parents to get their kids involved in martial arts at a young age. 

We must be concerned for the physical safety of ourselves and our families, as well as the protection of our personal property. Today, this includes protecting against identity theft which can be as devastating to its victims as any mugging or home robbery. Identity theft has become a $16 billion dollar idustry in the US alone.

Be sure to guard your personal records - driver's license & Social Security numbers, banking & financial information, medical records, etc. - as carefully and diligently as you guard your gold & silver. Be especially vigilant with your computer. At a minimum, always use a firewall, maintain an up-to-date anti-virus program, and regularly scrub your computer with one or more anti-spyware programs. Only do business online with well-established companies you know and trust. 

Home Security - Both the situational awareness skills and personal security skills discussed above can and do fit into this category. However, here I am particularly talking about making your home safe - "hardening" it against criminals, looters, and other thugs, as well as protecting it against fire and other disasters. Items that fit under this skill set include anti-burglary measures such as alarm systems, cameras, steel security exterior doors, fences, burglar bars, etc. It also means performing home safety inspections on a regular basis, having fire & smoke detectors (with fresh batteries), fire extinguishers, first aid supplies (and knowledge), flashlights with fresh batteries, and other safety equipment and supplies on hand.  

Obviously, home secutrity and and self-defense is a huge topic with a wide scope of considerations.  Start thinking through these issues now.  The protection of yourself & your family will be - IS - your responsibility.

Other related articles:


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Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Problem with Customer Loyalty Cards

For those of us concerned with privacy (and we should all be), I recommend that we limit the use of affinity or customer loyalty cards. These cards are used by companies to "reward" loyal customers with special deals.

Why limit our use of these cards? Although affinity/loyalty cards can be great ways to get special deals, these deals do come at the cost of allowing the company to collect information on you, such as your shopping habits, purchase history, product preferences, days/times you prefer to shop, and which store locations you frequent. They tie this information to your name, address, phone numbers, and email accounts, along with any other information they can find out about you. If you use credit or debit cards to make your purchases with, those accounts are tied to your affinity card file, which in turn gives the company access to your credit history and all the information contained therein. You would be stunned how much personal and private information companies acquire from you through those affinity cards.  

All this information is used by the company to both build customer loyalty, and to market products to you (in other words, to manipulate you into buying more stuff from them). This data may also be shared with its vendors and affiliated businesses, sold to other companies, or potentially stolen by company employees or outside hackers. It could also be obtained by law enforcement and other government agencies, often without the need for a warrant (depends on the individual company - ALL companies will comply with a warrant-backed request, some will comply even with requests without a warrant). 

The personal data companies mine on you is worth far more money to them than any profit lost from the special deals they offer you. You must decide for yourself if the money you save with these deals is worth giving up a portion of your privacy. Its an individual decision, but one you should make with full knowledge of the potential consequences.

I got rid of most of my affinity cards years ago. Today, I only have one, and it does not have my real name or address attached to it (and I only pay with cash so there is no credit/debit card attached to it either). This allows me to get the in-store specials. But since they don't have my mailing address, I don't get any of their flyers or coupons by mail, so I probably miss out on a few deals. 

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Trees for Long-Term Survival

I found this poster, promoting the usefulness of trees for long-term sustainability and survival, on a UK website/blog more than 10 years ago.  The website went dark soon after, and I have no further information on its origins.

I love this poster because it reflects the usefulness and neccessity of trees. It has been said that trees can provide everything that human civilization needs (except for minerals/metals that must be derived from the Earth) to survive indefinately. Watch Patrick Moore's five-minute Prager Univesity video Trees Are The Answer for more on the usefulness of trees. Even though I am far from a liberal "tree-hugger," I've long promoted within the survivalist community the usefullness of trees. 

My Forest Gardening series of articles published on my website have been quite well-received. If you don't know what Forest Gardening is, check out my Introduction to Forest Gardening. Its a concept for preppers, survivalists, and homesteaders to seriously consider.  Even if you don't want to get into Forest Gardening (it does take a lot of work and time to set-up), I hope you will at least plant a few fruit or nut trees on your property.  My receent article Tips For Planting Fruit Trres & Common Mistakes will help guide you through this process.  

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Why It Is Important for Christians To Be Survivalists

"I hear too many Christians say, “I’ll just trust God.”  Trust God? He’s telling us what’s coming. He’s telling us very clearly. He’s commanding us to be prepared. So doing nothing is the opposite of trusting God." -- Joseph Farah

In a previous article, I tackled the issue of whether or not preparedness is a Biblcal concept (a decisive YES!). In this article, I explain the five reasons why I think it is absoltely critical for traditional believers to embrace self-reliance and preparedness.

1- God tells us to prepare for the future. Yes, this means both spiritual AND physical preparedness. There are many, many verses from both the Old Testament and New Testament in which we are warned to prepare for future hard times and even persecutions. God makes it explicitly clear that we are to prepare both spiritually (get right in our relationship with Him) AND physically (food storage, self-defense, etc.). If we are to obey God, we must do both. I give many of these verses in my previous article, so check it it out if you doubt me. Preparedness is not only prudent, but in fact is commanded by God.

2- We have a Biblical responsibility to take care of our family, in both good times and bad times. It is not the government's responsibilty. It is not society's responsibility. It is ours. "But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5:8). This is especially true for those of us men who call ourselves Christians, so man-up and don't be worse than an unbeliever. 

3- God guarantees tough times and persecution ahead for those
Coptic Christians Beheaded in Libya.
of us who believe in Him. A pecular, and frankly unbibical, modern theology has arisen in recent decades that falsely proclaims that Christians will be spared harsh times and future persecution. Popular pastors and authors proclaim that w
e'll be raptured out before things get really bad, but that feel-good message isn't the message proclaimed in the Bible. Believers will face difficult and dangerous times, even persecutions. Just ask those Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya in 2015. Read Matthew 24, Luke 21, 2 Timothy 3, and the entire book of Revelation, among many other warnings given by God.

4 - Around the world and here in America, the tide of popular, worldly, opinion has turned against those of us who are traditional believers. We are incrreasinly being forced to choose between following God, or or following the world. Political correctness is largely meant to silence traditional Christian values and viewpoints. (Sadly, many modern "Christians" are trying to fit in with the world by rejecting large swaths of the Bible, but that is for another article.) This should come as no surprise to those of us who read the Bible, for Jesus Himself warns: "But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you... and put you in prison... You will be betrayed... they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me" (from Luke 21, please read the entire chapter yourself). It will only get worse. during the End Times.   

5- The more independent and self-reliant we are, the more we can escape the worldly system and live God's way instead.  The more we are able to survive on our own - as individuals, families, and communities - the less we will be tempted to compromise with the World.  The more we need the World in order to survive, the more likely we will be to compromise.  It is as simple as that...

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tips For Planting Fruit Trres & Common Mistakes

"The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago. The next best time is now." -- Japanese Proverb*

I spent part of yesterday planting pear trees on my property. I've planted other fruit trees in the past, with and without success. The following are my tips for planting fruit trees, along with what I consider the mst common mistakes people make.  

Tips for Planting Fruit Trees
  • Dig a hole large enough to hold the entire root ball without the  roots touching the sides of the hole.  Common Mistake: If the roots touch the sides of the hole and bend or wrap around the edge of the hole, then the hole is not big enough. Digging in red clay or rocky soil is difficult and exhausting, and the temptation is to say "good enough" and plant the tree with some of the roots bending at the sides. This is probably the most common mistake many people make when planting trees. 
  • Plant the fruit tree to the proper depth. Plant the tree so that all the roots are covered with dirt without having to mound up the dirt around the tree, but do not cover the spot of the graft union with dirt or mulch. The graft union should be about two inches above the dirt and mulch. Common Mistake: Burying the graft union for dwarf and semi-dwarf trees is another mistake people often make. If the graft union is below soil/mulch level, the scion (the tree grafted onto the root stock) will put out roots and the tree will become a standard size tree. 
  • Loosen the soil for a couple of inches at the bottom of the hole. Compacted soil at the bottom of the hole will be difficult for the roots to grow into.
  • Place the fruit tree in the hole, making sure the roots are not bending or wrapping around. Fill in the hole with good quality top soil, packing it gently with your hands or feet.
  • Staking fruit trees is not absolutely necessary, but is a good idea in most cases to ensure that the tree grows straight. This is especially true in windy areas. 
  • Establish a "weed-free zone" at least three feet in diameter around the young fruit tree. Weeds compete with the fruit trees for water and soil nutrients. Mulching can help control grass and other weeds, but be sure not to cover the graft union with soil or mulch.
  • Most fruit trees  tolerate shade well, but will grow quicker in full sunlight. 
  • Most fruit trees need another tree of the same species, but different variety, to cross-pollinate with in order to produce effectively. Even self-pollinating trees will be more productive with a partner tree.  Common Mistake: Planting only a single tree, or multiple trees of the same variety, will likely result in smaller, or no, yields. (For the record, I planted three pear trees, one each of three varieties - Moonglow, Bartlett, and Ayers.)
  • Most fruit trees should be planted in spring, after the danger of freeze/frost has ended.
  • Give the fruit trees plenty of space to grow by not planting them too close together or to already established trees - 12 to 15 feet apart in most cases.  
  • Thoroughly water newly planted fruit trees, and keep them well-watered for the first few months until they get established. Common Mistake: Letting the soil dry out around a young fruit tree before it gets well-established (takes at least a few months) is a major cause of death of young trees. It is easy to remember watering the first time or two, but it is also easy to forget to keep watering them weeks later.
*The exact origins of this  quote are unknown. It has been attributed as a Chinese proverb, a saying of Confucius, a Japanese proverb, and a Native American proverb, among others. The best time is also given as 20 years, or even 30 years, ago in many quotes. I have a Japanese friend who assures me it is a Japanese proverb, the English translation is I have given above. Regardless, I like the quote and believe it is a timeless truth.  

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Why You Should Include a Cotton Pillowcase In Your Bug-Out Bag

Here's a piece of gear for your bug-out bag that I rarely hear recommended: a cotton pillowcase. Why a cotton pillowcase? Lightweight and not taking up much space, a cotton pillowcase has a myriad of potential uses in a survival situation.

1- Makes an instant bag for collecting wild edibles, kindling for your fire, or anything else you for which you need a good size bag.

2- Can be used to pre-filter water to remove bugs, leaves, stems, algae, and other rubbish before boiling or otherwise treating it.

3- Can be cut into large (or small) bandages, or fashioned into a sling, for first aid.

4- Can be cut into patches to repair clothing (a small sewing kit is a good idea for a bug-out bag).

5- Can be cut into pieces to use as reusable toilet paper (just boil to clean/disinfect before reusing). 

6- Can be fashioned into a reusable diaper (just boil to clean/disinfect before reusing). 

7- Cotton burns, so it can be used in fire making (it also makes for excellent char cloth).   

8- Can be pressed into use as a dust- or smoke-mask.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Unboxing my new Japanese Hori Hori Garden Knife

Just got my Hori Hori knife from Amazon. Here are my initial impressions:

Japanese Hori Hori Garden Knife:

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Operational Security (OPSEC) - Part 3: Countermeasures

This is part 3 of my Operational Security (OPSEC) article. Part one defined operational security and described the five-step process used in OPSEC. Part two gave a practical example of how millions are unintentionally revealing critical information. This final part gives practical tips and countermeasures folks can take to protect their information. 

Tips and Countermeasures

1- The first and most important part of protecting your critical information is to make sure that everyone in your family/group understands what information to protect. You cannot do OPSEC without clearly defining to everyone involved what critical information needs to be protected. See Part one for
the five-step process to accomplish this goal.

2- Next, make a thorough and honest assessment of all the possible ways you are leaking critical information, especially to the bad guys who are actively looking for it and start taking countermeasures. 

3- Public, and even private, conversations, can be overheard. Be aware of your surroundings and topics of conversations. Even off-hand remarks can reveal critical information. Make sure your conversations are really private before discussing critical information. 

4- Be aware how certain information may reveal other information. For example, that "First Baptist Church" bumper sticker reveals not only your church membership, but also tells the bad guys you're probably not at home on Sunday mornings.Think through what the bad guys may able able to deduce from seemingly innocent information you do give out. 

5- Shred/burn (instead of throwing away) all unneeded paper that may reveal critical information, including bills, shopping receipts, insurance papers, bank statements, tax records, pay stubs, ATM receipts  & other financial documents, pre-approved credit card & loan applications, prescription labels & info, expired passports and driver's licenses, among many others. A good article on what to keep and how long is How Long to Keep Documents & What to Shred by Elizabeth Larkin.  

"The general rule is anything with the following information should be shred: account numbers, birth dates, maiden names, passwords and pins, signatures, and social security numbers." -- Elizabeth Larkin

6- Children, especially young children, tell EVERYTHING to their friends, schoolmates, teachers, neighbors, and other parents (even if you've told them not to). Be especially aware of what you reveal to them, and remember that they do have ears and overhear a lot more than you might think. Remind them often that privacy is important and that they shouldn't share certain information with others. There have been many news stories in recent years of schools quizzing students about their home life, including asking about topics such as the parent's political views and if there are guns in the home. Tell your kids to answer "I don't know, you'll have to ask mommy and daddy about that" and to tell you who was asking those type questions. Review this with them often (they quickly forget).

7- Be careful of what trash & recyclables you leave at the curb. Even empty boxes may reveal to those nosy neighbors what, and how much, you are buying. Options to roadside recycling include taking the boxes to the recycling center yourself, or even burning them or using them in composting or sheet mulching. Remember to shred/burn critical papers.

8- Be cautious in your use of social media, email, text messaging, and the Internet. Realize that if you are emitting electronically, your use is being monitored, logged and stored. NEVER use electronics to commit illegal acts, make threats, stalk or harass others (you shouldn't be doing these things anyway). When surfing the Internet, avoid the "Red Light Districts" (adult sites, illicit drug sites, or other sites used for illegal/unethical activities), as visiting those sites greatly increases your chances for computer viruses, phishing attacks, ransomware, and attracting the attention of both the bad guys and law enforcement. 

9- Never give away a password to  any account to anyone EVER!!! 

10- Keep all software up-to-date. This is especially true for your anti-virus and firewall software (they stop automatically updating after the free trial period is up), but is also true for your operating system, drivers, etc. Out-of-date software likely have multiple security issues.

11- Rethink your use of social media. Keep only those accounts you really use often or need professionally (I recently deleted my Facebook, Instagram, and Google+ accounts). Avoid oversharing or giving away critical information. Especially avoid giving away your schedule or travel plans (lets the bad guys know when you are not home). Don’t post personal information (real friends already know your workplace, school, home address, phone number, etc.- don’t  broadcast it to strangers).

12- How to Delete a Google+ Account 

13- How to Download and Delete Your Entire Google Search History

14- How to delete everything Google knows about you

16- How to Permanently Delete a Facebook Account

17- How to Delete an Instagram Account

18- Want an privacy-sensitive alternative search engine to Google, Yahoo, or Bing? I suggest StartPage or Duck-Duck-Go

19- Concerned about Microsoft's recent announcement that they will ban "offense language" and begin monitoring private accounts (Office, Skype, and other Microsoft products)? Looking for an alternative to Microsoft Office? I use Apache Open Office Its free and works great!

20- Want a good alternative web browser to Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Google Chrome?  Try Mozilla Firefox It can be enhanced with a number of privacy-protecting add-ons, including HTTPS Everywhere and Ghostery, among others (go to the add-ons page after installing Firefox).

21- Delete cookies regularly or disable the use of cookies through your browser. You can “whitelist” cookies from sites you need/trust while still blocking all others. There are also several Firefox add-ons, such as Self-Destructing Cookies, that will do this for you. 

22- Never use the “remember me” function on websites, even from your own laptop or device. 

23- Be mindful of you use of affinity cards, credit/debit/checking cards, and even modern library cards, as they all collect and log data about you and your habits. This information may then be used by the company, shared with its vendors, sold to other companies, or stolen by company employees or outside hackers. It could also be obtained by the government (even without a warrant in many cases). 

Obviously, this list barely scratches the surface of the many countermeasures you can take to keep critical information out of the hands of bad guys and others (corporations, government) who don't need it. My hope is that it will give you plenty of "food for thought" and even many practical ideas for protecting your critical information.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Operational Security (OPSEC) - Part 2: Practical Considerations

This is part 2 of my Operational Security (OPSEC) article. If you missed part 1, click here to read it

How do the bad guys get our critical information?  The answer is we give it to them, most often without realizing it. For one example oif how we might give away our information, take a look at the back-end of the cars in the next parking lot you visit. Chances are that most are covered with bumper stickers, window decals, family stick figures, parking passes, and car magnets that reveal a lot of information to nosy neighbors and potential bad guys.

Take those family stick figures that are so popular today. Folks, justifiably proud of their families, put them on their back windows as representations of their family. But think about what it potentially reveals to bad guys:  number of family members, their sex and approximate ages, even what pets you have. Many of these stick figures often also show the interests of the family: Dad holding a fishing rod, Mom swinging a tennis racket, a young boy holding a baseball bat, an older girl wearing a cheerleader outfit.  And look, the family has two cats, but no dog. The bad guys now have a real good idea of the make up of that family, including many of their interests. 

But it doesn't stop there. That parking sticker reveals where you work. This bumper sticker reveals where you attend church (which, in turn, reveals something about your religious beliefs). Another bumper sticker reveals where your honor student attends school (which, in turn, reveals the general location of where you live). That Bass Masters window decal (along with the stick figure of Dad holding the fishing rod) shows that Dad is really into fishing. And look, there are two car magnets - one a yellow ribbon saying "Support Our Troops" and the other a red, white and blue ribbon saying "God Bless America." Hmmm... This family is patriotic and probably conservative. Bumper stickers and window decals can also reveal political affiliation and ideology, even who we voted for in the last election. Favorite sports teams, causes we support, what groups we belong to, and other interests can also be revealed. Quite a database of private information to put on public display without a second thought.

I'm as guilty of this as anyone. A quick glance at the back of my vehicle reveals a NRA sticker and a GOA sticker, broadcasting to the world that I support the Second Amendment, and am most likely a gun owner and a conservative. The "Freedom From Government" bumper sticker pretty much confirms me as very conservative politically, as does the "Jim DeMint for Senate" sticker. (Wow, that's old. I'm surprised its still readable.) I even have a "Survival Resources" sticker, revealing the fact that I am a survivalist. And the Alumni Association decal reveals my education level, and from what college I graduated. Quite a profile can be built on me by glancing at my vehicle's back end. What do your vehicles say about you?  

Tim, are you really saying we shouldn't have any stickers or decals on our cars? Nope. I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is that we need to be mindful of what information we are giving away without realizing it. It doesn't matter if the information is being given away on the back of our vehicles, on social media, in our trash, through public conversations, or however. 

I said in part one of this article "The first and most important part of protecting your critical information is to make sure that everyone in your family/group understands what information to protect." If you don't understand what to protect, you're not going to be able to do OPSEC. If you haven't already done this, I highly suggest you sit down with your spouse and/or group members and make a conscious decision about what critical information you want to keep protected. What exactly you consider critical information will depend on your own personal circumstances and concerns, but part one of this article will help you think through this step.

Once you decide what information is critical to protect, then you can examine the back of your vehicle, your use of social media, what paperwork you just toss away without shredding, and other ways you may be giving that information away without realizing it.  Follow this up by taking countermeasures to protect this critical information (part three of this article). 

In closing, I will say that, like most things in life, OPSEC will be about balance. Unless you want to become a hermit on a remote deserted island, it is unrealistic and impossible to perfectly protect every possible scrap of information. The OPSEC process described in part one is designed to help you come up with a realistic plan to protect truly critical information. You have to decide for yourself what information to protect and what steps are reasonable to take given your circumstances. 

As for me, this exercise has made me decide to remove several stickers and decals from my vehicle. I'll keep the NRA and GOA stickers because it is important to me to show my support of the Second Amendment, but the others will be removed today.

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Operational Security (OPSEC) - Part 1: Theory and Overview

World War II Operational Security poster
The following article is intended as an overview of Operational Security (OPSEC) as it relates to preppers and survivalists. It is a simplified version of the OPSEC training that is provided to the military, national security agencies, government officials, and government contractors. I say simplified for two reasons:
  • I've tried to remove most of the jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords of the military/government training
  • My aim is to protect against  nosy neighbors, local bureaucrats, and everyday criminals, rather than enemy-nations and terrorist organizations.
If you want the flavor of military OPSEC training, I suggest starting with the Operational Security (OPSEC) page of the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity website.

What is Operational Security?  In two words: Information protection. In more words: Keeping critical information away from those who do not need to know it, or who may seek to use it against you in some way. OPSEC seeks to protect both your privacy and your security. 

The definition begs some questions. What is critical information? Who does, and doesn't. need to know that information? Who may seek to use that information against you, and how? How can you protect that information from those people who shouldn't have it?

OPSEC attempts to answer these questions through a five step process.

1- Identify Critical Information - Answers the questions: What information do we need to protect? What do we want to keep private?What information could be used against us in some way? 

Examples of potentially critical information for preppers and survivalists include financial information, social security numbers, passwords and PINs, medical information, political & religious affiliation, membership in certain organizations (NRA, GOA, OathKeepers, prepper/survivalist groups, tea party groups, etc.), gun ownership, presence of valuable items in the home (guns, gold, silver, cash, tools, electronics, etc.), and purchases of large amounts of food and other supplies. It also may include certain plans (when & where to "bug out", home security measures, personal security measures, etc.). What exactly you consider critical information will depend on your own personal circumstances and concerns.

2- Identify Potential Threats - Answers the question: Who really needs to know this information? Everyone else doesn't need to know this information, and represent a potential threat to abuse or misuse the information, or unwittingly reveal the information to those who might.   

Every neighborhood has at least one Gladys Kravitz.
Examples of potential threats: Identity thieves, criminals, local bureaucrats, school officials, nosy neighbors, and untrustworthy family, friends, co-workers, etc. Even politicians and the government at all levels are potential threats (look at the recent misuse of the IRS and DOJ to go after tea party groups and other political enemies of Obama; doctors being encouraged to ask patients about guns in the home; schools questioning students about their parent's political views, gun ownership, and other private information).

3- Identify Vulnerabilities - Answers the question: How do potential threats get our critical information?  The answer is we give it to them, most often without realizing it. 

Examples of how we give away our critical information:
  • Public conversations can be overheard by anyone nearby.
  • Private conversations can be revealed, accidentally or on-purpose, by anyone involved.
  • Our trash/recyclables can reveal our purchases, financial and medical information, even the supplies we are stockpiling.
  • Nearby neighbors can physically see much of our activities and preparations. 
  • Children, especially young children, tell EVERYTHING to their friends, schoolmates, teachers, neighbors, and other parents (even if you've told them not to).
  • Social media and over-sharing online, even if you are "hiding" behind a screen name or other fake identity (sorry, you are never really hidden online).
  • Smart phones & cell phones  - all calls and texts are logged, and its crazy easy for folks with the technology & know-how to hack or track your phones even when they are in airplane mode or turned off completely.
  • Gmail, hotmail/outlook, yahoo mail, and all other free (and many paid) email services log and archive all email and will cooperate with authorities when asked to provide your information to them. It is also fairly easy to hack into most email accounts.
  • Other technology - affinity cards, credit/debit cards, even modern library cards - log all activity, which is then available to the company (for their use or even resell), government officials with warrants (and sometimes without), and even hackers.
4- Assess the Risks -Answers the questions: What critical information is most important to protect? What threats are the most active? What vulnerabilities are the most likely to reveal critical information?

Not all information is equal. Some critical information is more critical than other critical information - meaning it can more easily or effectively be used against you. Not all threats and vulnerabilities are equal - some are greater than others. Risk assessment involves a subjective analysis of importance of critical information and the likelihood that it can become compromised. Most of the time and effort of OPSEC should be aimed at protecting the most important information against the most realistic threats.

5- Apply Countermeasures - Answers the question: How can the bad guys be stopped from getting our information? This is probably why you came to this article, but you do need to understand all the prior information before you can figure out what countermeasures to take. This is because:

The first and most important part of protecting your critical information is to make sure that everyone in your family/group understands what information to protect. Share this critical information on a "need to know basis" only. Even within your family/group, not everyone needs to know everything. This doesn't mean that you don't trust your family or group members. Rather, the less people that know something, the less chance of it accidentally being revealed. 

If you have children in your family, you need to talk to them about not sharing certain information with non-family members. Teach them to respond to questions, even from teachers and other authority figures, about the family's finances, religion, or politics by responding "I don't know," and "You'll have to ask Mommy or Daddy about that." Young children will need to be reminded of this often. Be careful about what information you share with and around your children (they do have ears).

Additional countermeasures may include:
  • Avoid public conversations or comments about critical information. This includes phone conversations in public. 
  • Shredding/burning of receipts, bills, and documents after they are no longer needed.
  • Be careful of what trash & recyclables you leave at the curb. Even empty boxes may reveal to those nosy neighbors what, and how much. 
  • Cautious use of social media, email, and text messaging. Realize that if you are emitting electronically, your use is being monitored, logged and stored.
  • Wise computer use (no illegal activities; keep your operating system and other programs up-to-date; use firewalls, antivirus, and anti-malware programs; use privacy search engines such as Duck-Duck-Go and StartPage instead of Google, Bing, or Yahoo...). 
  • Always take basic home, office, travel, and personal security precautions.
  • Limit affinity cards. These can be great ways to get special deals, but it comes at the cost of allowing the company to collect information on you. This information may be used by the company, shared with its vendors, sold to other companies, or stolen by company employees or outside hackers. It could also be obtained by the government. 
This list only scratches the surface of the OPSEC countermeasures you can take.  I will expand on this list in several future articles. 

Please follow me on GAB at and on Twitter at

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I'm Deleting Facebook

For reasons I will outline below, I have decided to close and delete my Facebook account at the end of this month. My website,, will continue as normal, with new articles at least once or twice a week.  Please stay in touch with me in the following ways:

Bookmark and visit my website,, often. You can also sign up for email updates (box is in the middle of the left-side column of the website).

Follow me on GAB at GAB is The Free Speech social media site, and respects the privacy of its users.

Follow me on Twitter at (Main account  - now mostly prepper and survival related tweets, and updates from my website). I will be "playing it safe" with this account so as to not get it banned.

Follow me on Twitter at (My "Activist" account - lots of politics and news, in addition to prepping posts). I will be unchained on this account, and it Twitter deletes it, so be it.  

Most social media companies, including Facebook, have become openly hostile towards conservatives, traditional Christians, Trump supporters, and anyone else who doesn't kowtow to liberal ideology and political correctness. Facebook, perhaps the worst offender, is also severely violating the privacy rights of  of its users. And, in all candor, I have found Facebook to be the most difficult social media site to use effectively - definitely not a user-friendly interface.

Recent news stories, as well as my own negative experiences, have forced me to rethink how I am using social media. Deleting Facebook is part of the changes I am making. Thank you to all my Facebook friends, and I hope you will continue to follow me via some of the ways listed above.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Self-Defense and the Use of Force

This statement reflects my views on Self-Defense and the Use of Force, prayerfully developed over many years of consideration. I do not seek to prove these views to the reader, but rather hope the reader will investigate the many sources given in the footnotes, should they have questions about why I hold these views. 

For the purposes of the following statement, I define self-defense as "the use of force, including potentially deadly force, as a last resort to protect oneself or others from the threat of imminent harm." This definition therefore excludes the use of force solely for personal gain, or out of a desire for revenge or vengeance. Also notice some key words of that definition - "last resort", "protect", and "imminent harm" - that suggest there are limitations upon the use of force in self-defense. Self-defense is not an excuse for the unlimited use of violence.  

Statement on Self-Defense and the Use of Force

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, 8, 9)

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, 8)   

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 under any circumstances, even in self-defense or defense of others). 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, because it suggests that life isn't worth defending.


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 the page Revenge and Retaliation on the Knowing Jesus website for 37 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.

8) See the article Self-Defense by Fr. John Whiteford on the Orthodox Christianity website. 

9) Watch the five minute video, Do Not Murder, by Dennis Prager.

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 is a war of civilizations going on 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.