Re-watching Jericho

The wife wound up signing back up for Netflix after a long hiatus. (We find Amazon pretty much had everything we wanted so we wound up with them for most of our video entertainment needs.) One thing Netflix had that ‘Zon didnt was ‘Jericho’ available for free.

It’s been almost ten years since the program came out. I rewatched the first few episodes last night and it holds up really quite well. Lennie James, most recently of “The Walking Dead” fame plays, wait for it, a post-apocalyptic hardcore survivor-type. Poor guy..he just can’t catch a break.

A lot of people took issue with the character driven nature of the show. Too much relationship stuff and not enough gun battles with looters. That’s unfirtunate because the real end-of-the-world is going to be all about relationships…people you trust, people you distrust, people you care or, people you fear, etc, etc. Next time you’re in line at the grocery store, imagine having to make it through the zombie apocalypse with the three people in line in front of you….suddenly relationships will  be pretty important.

Anyway, the show holds up quite well although there are a few anachronistic touches. (When was the last time you saw an answering machine that used tape cassettes?) As we all know, the second season was abbreviated and very different than the first…not necessarily better or worse, just different.

Watching it still makes you wargame events in your head, play “what if…”, and still makes me wanna head to the basement and admire all my stuff. In that regard, it’s still a timely show.

I cannot help but think how different it would have been had it been done on cable, like The Walking Dead, rather than network television. Certainly more profanity, graphic violence, and those such would be present and probably add a greater dimension of realism.

As of late, the post-apocalyptic genre has drifted solidly into the zombie themes and I can sort of see why. With post 9/11 ‘sensitivities’, a zombie apocalypse lets you explore the post-apoc world but in a manner that clearly keeps it in the realm of ‘it cant happen here’. The majority of the violence is directed against fantasy creatures that don’t exist, in a world that can’t exist, suffering through a crisis that cant exist. By keeping it obviously a ‘fantasy/fictional’ scenario, no one gets their psyche bent out of shape.

Personally, I’d rather see a few more ‘realistic’ apocalyptic movies or shows. Supposedly the EMP-fest “One Second After” is being made into a movie. While the book borrowed heavily from “Lucifers Hammer”, I’d still go see it. Also, before I forget, “Lights Out” is apparently getting the same treatment. Here’s a ‘concept’ trailer featuring some of the folks who played extras in The Walking Dead. In the meantime, it’s fun to sit back and re-watch ‘Jericho’ and try to imagine that Lennie James’ character is basically the same unfortunate guy who  later shows up in The Walking Dead.

 

Article – Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True

Half a century after Kubrick’s mad general, Jack D. Ripper, launched a nuclear strike on the Soviets to defend the purity of “our precious bodily fluids” from Communist subversion, we now know that American officers did indeed have the ability to start a Third World War on their own. And despite the introduction of rigorous safeguards in the years since then, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn’t been completely eliminated.

If you havent read it, Stephen Hunter (of “Point Of Impact” fame) wrote a terrific book, The Day Before Midnight, about some guys busting into a launch facility to do a little DIY WW3. It was a really great book and would make an awesome movie. It’s my favorite book of his, narrowly edging out POI. And, yeah, it’s a little derivative of “Twilight’s Last Gleaming.

Anyway, the gist of the article is that despite the protestations of the military and the government, there have been times when the ability to launch nukes on one’s own has been possible. I suppose in Cold War planning that made sense – if command-n-control is knocked out there has to be a way for weapons to be used without authorization from the smoldering radioactive ruins of DC.

I mention this because it’s a fascinating little bit of history that sort of segues into preparedness. For those of us who grew up in the world of first strike, second strike, MADD, and Minuteman missiles its rather interesting.

The article is also  interesting because it details how the .gov tried to balance a very complicated equation – nukes had to be tightly controlled so no one could go off-kilter and start WW3 on their own, BUT there had to be mechanisms in place to allow an individual command to launch independently if higher authorities were disabled/destroyed. The solution (if you want to call it that) was two-man rules, no-lone-zones, layers of verification, split codes, and a few other ‘team’ requirements. Basically, it was a lot like having two names on a checking account…without both people signing off, nothing happens. (At least, thats the plan anyway.)

And, to segue to a slightly less on-topic matter, it’s interesting to note that while it supposedly takes more than one person to launch a nuclear attack, it has historically taken only one to prevent it.

Although there is the premise of the rogue individual starting WW3,  most folks are unaware of the rogue individual who prevented WW3. There are at least two Soviet officers (here and here) who, when given the opportunity to allow a some fissionable matter to do its thing, said nyet and prevented what might have been the start of WW3.

Interestingly, once you start looking into these sorts of matters you discover there have been quite a few times that we’ve been just a phone call and a button press away from having a nuclear exchange. Nowdays I suspect the incidence of nuclear war is fairly low but the risk of nuclear attack is unchanged or perhaps a bit higher. Somewhere there is a cargo container with a couple nuclear artillery shells in it just waiting to go through the Port of Seattle or somewhere similar. I mean, you look at the numbers and you realize there is a huge amount of smaller, less dramatic nuclear devices out there…man-portable stuff that some zealot can stuff in the back of a Cessna 182 and detonate over pretty much anywhere. There’s a lot of those little nukes out there..artillery shells, torpedoes, ‘special weapons’, demolition packages, etc, etc….stuff that fits into a 55-gallon drum or smaller.

Anyway, an interesting article for those of us who have an interest in control (or lack thereof) of these sorts of things.

 

 

Uzi vs. Evo

I rather like my Uzi. It’s a proven, battle-tested design with a decent supply of spare parts and magazines on the market. The drawbacks are that finding another one is usually a $1100-1500 project, and its a bit heavy at almost 8# unloaded. Additionally, while I’ve been wanting an Uzi for the wife, I figured she’d be better served with the Mini-Uzi which is a bit smaller and lighter but still would give us magazine commonality. Problem there is that they are even more expensive at around $1400-1900 each.

Although there is some debate about the merits of the pistol caliber carbine, I believe they have a utility that segues into my anticipated needs. As of late, there are two newcomers on the market that may prove to be more economical – the SIG MPX and the CZ Evo. The Evo’s are 3# lighter than the Uzi, already have rails, better sights, and CZ is saying theyre going to bring in folding stocks for folks that want to SBR them. Best part is that dealer price on them is $700~…which means for the price of one Mini-Uzi I could get two of these things. However….it is a somewhat new platform without the long track record of the Uzi, magazines are pretty proprietary, spare parts aren’t as readily available, etc, etc.

CZ14_Scorpion_EVO3_S1-L-e1416840329704-500x269

CZ Evo….time to sell the Uzi and get a pair of these?

But….for the price of one Mini-Uzi I could get the Evo, SBR it, have several hundred dollars worth of mags, and still be below the price of a newish Mini-Uzi. Decisions, decisions.

cz-usa-cz-scorpion-evo3-a1-500x333

Other than that lovely full-auto selector, SBR’ing the Evo would gimme this little jewel.

I’ve got enough stuff in the gun safe that I could probably sell off a few things and get a couple of these, but I’d like to wait and see some feedback from real-world users. On the other hand, my big concerns are a) a change to importabliity putting this thing into the same sort of no-more-allowed-in category as my Uzi and b) logistics (mag/parts availability).

Sure looks sweet  though and the pricing seems reasonable.

The dream is always the same….

Had one of those end-of-the-world dreams last night. Something, not sure what, was going on in California and the news media were saying how people should be prepared to evacuate and not go near..whatever it was. I was in some supermarket pushing a cart as I watched people blindly knock stuff over in a mad dash to fill their carts. I finally gave up and left when I suddenly realized “Hey, I’ve got a years worth of food already. I dont have to be here.” I returned to the house and the wife was telling me how the lines at the bank were out the door and around the block. We started loading stuff up to leave, stacking up guns and ammo, when suddenly two people (looters, I think) burst in with drum-fed full-auto AK’s and started hosing the place down.

Thats when my phone rang and I woke up.

First dream like that I have had in a while. Scary stuff until you wake up. Nice to see that in the dream I was vindicated about some things, though.

My experience has been that these sorts of dreams usually come in three flavors: the end of the world and Im way undergunned, end of the world and no one seems to react when Ii shoot them, and this most recent one – end of the world and Im hurriedly trying to last-minute shop for stuff.

I’m blaming the Mexican food for this dream.

Fixing first aid kit foibles

As you may (or may not) remember, a few posts back I described how the first aid kit I left in my bicycle pannier turned into something less-than-optimal as a result of being left out over the winter.

The problem was that it’s a tough balancing act to have a first aid kit in a watertight/airtight container of some fashion but still be quickly accessible with one hand when youre trying to keep all the red stuff inside you. Turned out that the bicycle pannier may not have been nearly as weather resistant as I thought and as a result my first aid kit suffered a great deal of moisture damage. (Although, to be fair, the items that were wrapped in plastic or sealed in foil fared just fine.)

Okay, spring is (somewhat) here and I’m back to riding my bicycle more. Time to replace that first aid kit. On my bike, my needs are simple – I need some stuff to patch up scrapes/cuts/tears from me being suddenly introduced to the road surface by that great facilitator of ouchies – gravity.

An assortment of gauze, pads, bandaids, some tape, and some antibiotic ointment should do it. Lets see what we have:

20150405_120652It’s just for a bicycle accident, not a splenectomy….the skin stapler, betadine and other over-the-top stuff is in the other kit. For the most common boo-boos related to me flying over the handlebars, this’ll handle most of it. Now, to package it up so it stays clean and dry. In this case, we’ll go with a heavy mylar foil resealable bag. With a reasonable amount of care, and a modicum of force, everything fit into the pouch and left enough room to have a bit of extra material to form a seal:

20150405_121911Make sure the jaws of the sealer are hot enough, slide the open end of the pouch between ‘em, squeeze jaws shut for a ten-count, and…voila:

20150405_122632I have a rather…exhaustive….supply of first-aid supplies from an episode of eBay purchasing that may have been a bit over-the-top. I’m dead serious…I’ve got something on the order of 9,600 band aids. Since I had to buy the mylar bags in quantity to get a discount, I should probably but together a dozen similar packages, label ‘em appropriately, and pass ‘em out as Paratus gifts this fall.

Anyway, I’ll toss this in the bag on the bike and be good to go. Should be watertight, airtight, and pretty much impervious to just about any environmental concern.

Link – SC man missing 66 days found in boat off NC coast

Interestingly, I as just re-reading In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex when this was brought to my attention.

HATTERAS, NC (AP) –

A South Carolina man missing for more than two months was found alive Thursday off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

According to the Coast Guard, a German ship spotted Louis Jordan and his sailboat about 200 miles off the coast around 1:30 p.m. They took him aboard and notified the Coast Guard.

The 37-year-old was reported missing by his family on January 29. He was last seen in Conway, South Carolina on January 23.

As I was reading, an interesting subject came up…what was the longest that someone has been adrift at sea and survived? According to the book, a Chinese crew on boat transporting rice was adrift for over a year. During that time they lived off the cargo of rice until they were rescued.

In preparedness forums there are always folks who advocate for a ‘retreat at sea’, living on boats and roaming the world, going ashore at rare intervals, and living off what you catch in the oceans. Interesting thought but even if you discount the food and fresh water issues, maintaining a boat is a lot of work. Unless, of course, the boat is question is the Baychimo. Short version: the Baychimo was abandoned in 1931 when it became trapped in ice up near the Arctic Circle. After it was seen, boarded, and lost, reappeared, and generally wandered the ocean for the next 40 years. Built ‘em tough, back then.

Back to this guy in North Carolina, I look foward to hearing his story. Especailly how in modern times a guy can remain lost off the coast of one of the most technologically advanced countries on the planet, and in one of the most heavily trafficked parts of the sea.

Link – Bunker for sale

A superbly preserved piece of WWII history, an untouched Normandy German Gun Battery has been put for sale.

The huge gun battery and complex at Querqueville / Amfreville (Stp 277) is up for sale – as of this week.

It is well documented and its history is well known as it defended the port of Cherbourg from the hills above the city. Battery York as it was locally known, fought an artillery duel with USS Texas before being over-run after a land battle with the US army.

I would imagine the problem with buying any ‘survival bunker’ that you find on the internet is that, by virtue of being on the internet, everyone knows about it.

While the feasibility of converting such a structure into something more practical and useful may be questionable, these sorts of structures are fascinating to me. I have a book here, Fortress Europe: European Fortifications Of World War II, which is basically a guidebook to some of the more elaborate and complex bunkers scattered across Europe’s battlefields. There’s a lot of concrete under those green hills.

I don’t think I’d necessarily want to live in something like that, but I do see more and more concrete houses that are very attractive, cozy, and still offer the degree of invulnerability that makes them attractive to me.

The fact that many of these flaktowers, bunkers, submarine pens, and whatnot are still in, essentially, undamaged condition after almost 80 years is pretty good testimony to what poured concrete, rebar, and an immense budget can accomplish.

Speaking of concrete, did you know that one of Thomas Edisons less-successful ventures was selling kits and forms to build concrete houses? They even had concrete fixtures in the houses such as bathtubs. The technology has improved since then and there’s actually a local business here that does concrete-log homes….pretty neat. A log home that would be impervious to pretty much everything.

Anyway, while an old WW2 bunker would be nice to play in, I suspect it’s real merit comes from examining it and learning more about how such structures should be built and designed.