Article – Digging into China’s nuclear tunnels

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

The Chinese have called it their “Underground Great Wall” — a vast network of tunnels designed to hide their country’s increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear arsenal.

For the past three years, a small band of obsessively dedicated students at Georgetown University has called it something else: homework.

Led by their hard-charging professor, a former top Pentagon official, they have translated hundreds of documents, combed through satellite imagery, obtained restricted Chinese military documents and waded through hundreds of gigabytes of online data.

The result of their effort? The largest body of public knowledge about thousands of miles of tunnels dug by the Second Artillery Corps, a secretive branch of the Chinese military in charge of protecting and deploying its ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads.

What’s interesting here isn’t that the Chinese are busy doing this sort of thing…you’d have to be insane to not think that they’ve been doing stuff like this for years. What’s interesting is the level of intelligence, assuming it’s accurate, gathered by what amounts to basically a buncha hobbyists.

China is building up their economy, becoming the purseholder for several nations, buying up swaths of Africa for farmland, and generally positioning itself to be the dominant world power. Eventually, at this rate, they’ll become the 800-pound gorilla that can sleep anywhere it wants to. Truly, it’s empire building. Sixty years ago it was a nation of feudal warlord-controlled states with virtually no influence outside of its immediate neighborhood….now it buys all of our debt, builds all of our merchandise, competes with all of our industries and influences our foreign relationships.

Anyway, an interesting article. I wonder if the professor that is mentioned in the article will suddenly experience a tragic accident that puts the kibosh on his little endeavour.


Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

In email, someone asked me what got me started in preparedness. Being a smartass, I replied “An overwhelming desire not to die.”

But, in all seriousness, I thought I had perhaps posted about it at some point but as I trolled through the posts trying to find it I discovered that I may not have made such a post.

So, how did I get involved in this?

I can’t recall the exact date, but I can get the year down: 1980. When I was 13 I was doing some book reports for extra credit. One of the books I read was ‘Alas, Babylon’. No idea how I came to read that book, but I do remember the book report. For some reason that book struck a chord in me and it was followed by a few handfuls of similar literature, including ‘A Canticle For Liebowitz’ which wasn’t exactly light reading for a 13-year-old. At about this time I stumbled onto a copy of Aherns first book in ‘The Survivalist’ series. Again, for some reason it just made an impression on me. Yeah, it was pulp fiction of the dorkiest kind but I devoured every book in the series. At that point in my life I was very much enamored with being outdoors and being alone. I suppose in some ways, to a young boy (read: idiot), being on your own in a post-apocalyptic world would be the ultimate adventure. This was, of course, before I had the maturity to think about the unpleasant consequences of such a lifestyle…little inconveniences like dysentary, DIY dentistry, compound fractures, hypothermia, food poisoning and the like.


So the idea of survivalism (which is what it was called back then, this being the 80’s and all) was put into my head. At that point, like many impressionable youth (read: morons), I glossed over the mundane things like food and energy and focused on, naturally, guns and big honkin’ Rambo knives. And thats pretty much where things stayed for a number of years. After all, when youre 13 years old you really arent in a position to do much about preparing for the seemingly inevitable Soviet-American nuclear exchange that we were always hearing about. Plus, guns and knives were cool!

Flash forward about six years. Nineteen years old and moved to Montana to go to college. Away from home, away from draconian gun laws, and still a ways from being a mature adult…….I started buying guns as fast as I could (and couldnt) afford. No rhyme or reason, just whatever struck my fancy. Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while and I wound up with a lovely HK93A3 that I paid the enormous sum of $600 for. Wish to hell I’d kept it. Those suckers are rare. At the time, I didnt consider myself a preparedness/survivalist type of person, although I did consider my self a world class ‘gun nut’. Around the age of 24 I went from living in crappy rentals to a nice house. Lotsa room, big basement….pretty nice. I was still more a gun crank than anything else. I was hanging out with more people and started developing what might be politely termed ‘conservative values’. It was also about this time that Ruby Ridge occurred and the crowd I was running with was full of talk about black helicopters and Executive Orders and that sort of thing. Hey, it was Clinton and Reno’s America…it looked like anything could happen. More and more, the talk was about just wanting to be left alone by .gov and pretty much everyone else.

Also about this time I hit a very rough patch in my life where I was no longer in school, had no job, no money, and was staring down the barrel of being darn near homeless. Food was a little hard to come by and there were some days where it was easier to just not eat than deal with trying to figure out how to get ahold of something to eat. I wouldn’t call it ‘going hungry’ but it was about as insecure an existence as a person could get without hitting bottom and landing in a cardboard box. That little episode didn’t change anything for me at that moment, but years later it would.

By now we’re rolling up into the mid-1990’s. The Clinton Assault Weapons Ban has occurred, Brady background checks are a new inconvenience, Black Talon ammo is in the news, and someone just blew up a building in Oklahoma. At this time all my friends are gun nuts and ‘patriot’-types. Some folks talk about how armed uprisings seem inevitable, others talk about things like UN interference in American government. I may or may not agree with what my friends say and think, but they’re my friends, we get along, and I enjoy being with them.

Move ahead a few years. It’s 1998. People are starting to make noise about Y2K. On some levels it seems as absurd as can be, and on some levels it seems to be a genuine threat. Gradually, I start moving in the direction of increasing my level of preparedness as best I can on my budget. At this time all of my friends, except for one, are people who are to some degree or another into preparedness. 1999 is the year I started making bigger steps into preparedness. Bythe time Christmas of 1999 rolls around I’m more prepared than I ever have been and my way of thinking has changed. I’m taking a more ‘well rounded’ approach to preparedness….meaning I’ve stopped thinking that being prepared starts and ends with something that has a caliber marking stamped on it.

Y2K comes and goes without so much as a hiccup in my world. Doesn’t matter. I like the feeling of security that comes from being prepared, and smaller, local, events like blackouts and blizzards have convinced me that I’m on the right track. 2001 changes the threat likelihood to terrorism-related events and suddenly ’security moms’ are the norm and airport travel takes a turn for the worse. I continue to lay back food, ammo, gear, etc, etc. I read more, research more, think more, play ‘what if’ more, and start to think that perhaps the biggest threat isnt terrorism as much as the economic consequences of terrorism. In short, I start moving towards the notion that the biggest threat is economic…high unemployment, prolonged recession, a new depression, that sort of thing.

2003 I start the blog. From there you can read about what happens or doesn’t happen. And that’ll bring you to….now.

Gift ideas

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

It’s the run-up to the gift giving season…Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Flying Spaghetti Monster Day, etc, etc….The day after Thanksgiving is usually the semi-official kickoff for the shopping frenzy. What is on the Zero’s wish list for Christmas? Well…a lot of stuff, actually. And while I am focussed mostly on the gimme, I’ve been introduced to some cool products I’ll share with you for those still in need of gift-giving ideas to fellow like-minded individuals:

Nanostriker XL – I’m loving the clever design on this ferro rod firestarter. The scraper and rod are integrated into the handle to create a compact, slender package that can fit anywhere. Matches are my first choice for firestarting but I usually carry around a striker of some kind ‘just in case’. This looks to be slimmer and perhaps more rugged than the Gerber product I’ve been carrying for quite a while now.

Buck Hoodlum – Buck gets back in the ‘big knife’ market with this headchopper. Made in USA, which is not always a guarantee with many manufacturers these days, this thing is marketed as a survival knife. Personally, I like my BK&T knives for their affordable sheer brutality, but I wouldn’t mind having one of these…it’d go great with my first-gen BuckMaster as a collectible.

SAR Eclipse Signal System – A buddy of mine showed me this little gizmo and it was love at first sight. It’s the size and shape of a dogtag but contains a signal mirror, sighting device, and a clip to keep it on your gear. Simple and cheap, this would make an awesome stocking stuffer.

So many wonderful toys out there….trick is weeding through the ‘wants’ to trim the list down to the ‘needs’. Money is a limited resource, y’know.


Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Man, that was good.
My tastes are really simple: turkey, potatoes,stuffing, pie & ice cream. Thats it. I don’t need the fancy green bean surprise, or feta-cheese crusted rolls, or any other interesting, but pointless, enhancements to what is normally a great meal.

Slap a mound of moist turkey on the plate, dollop a mountain of mashed potatoes (butter & salt please) next to it, a couple heapings of stuffing next to that, and thats pretty much all I need to be a happy camper. Gimme a fork and get outta my way. Wash it down with icy Coke. Make some after-dinner small talk and then go. to. sleep.

ETA: Yes, I didnt mention gravy. I’m just not a usually a fan of the stuff.

Thats the way nature and the pilgrims intended it, man.

For those of you in far and distant lands, I hope you get a little respite today and that somehow a little bit of the flavor of home finds its way to you.

Finding stuff in the dark

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Hmm…power has been going up and down this evening. I was sitting at the computer, playing Warcraft, when suddenly the lights went out. The computer, being plugged into a UPS, stayed up (although the router went down) and I thought that perhaps a fuse had blown. Then the little urgent beeping of the UPS told me it was an outage. I peered out the blinds and saw absolute pitch black out there. Hmmmm. Grabbed a lightstick offa the door frame (theres one sitting on the top of the doorways to each room…out of sight, out of mind, and always there when I need it) and popped it. Nothing reinforces a sense of something being wrong than having your immediate surroundings illuminated by a green glowstick. Retrieved a flashlight, retired the lightstick, pulled the cop radio outta the charger and turned it on. It was, apparently, a rather wide outage for this town. I listened for a few moments as I retrieved some matches for the Aladdin lamps but, unsurprisingly, the power came back on at that point. Total downtime? Maybe five minutes. This has been fairly typical of the outages we get. I cannot recall the last time we had a nighttime outage that lasted more than fifteen minutes. The longest outage in the twentyfive years Ive been here has been about eight or nine hours.

So, a nice little exercise in preparedness. I already replaced the used lightstick with a newer one from the stash in the bunker. About the only thing to do differently is to stage a small LED flashlight next to the computer since I spend so much time there.

One interesting note, finding a flashlight in the dark can be an exercise in irony. Many flashlights have glow-in-the-dark features but they require a recent exposure to light in order to stay ‘charged’. Fortunately, there are alternatives. A couple posts from the past about tritium safety markers and tritium ‘keyring’ trasers. Basically, its the same stuff in your night sights, but in a tube and attached to a lanyard ring…attach it to your gear and you can then find your gear in the dark. Buddy of mine sent me this link to an article about it and a source for them. Looks like I’m going to have to pick up a few.

Article – Survival Shop Reports Jump In Sales To People Preparing For “Possible Collapse”

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Dorsey says some customers talk of stocking up on freeze-dried meals for the home, while others confide they are stashing supplies at a remote location away from the city where they would go in an emergency.

Speaking from the point of view of someone who has , from time to time, dabbled in the sale of this sort of stuff I can tell you that the market has always been there, it’s just getting many, many more followers now than it used to.

Much like Y2K, at some point many of the new converts will succumb to the ‘why is this crap taking up space in my basement’ moment that happens down the line and wind up dumping their stuff on craigslist, ebay or at a garage sale. I’ve found some deals that way in the past. I recall that around March of 2000 you could buy brand new generators at pretty decent prices.

Down with the sickness, MH promo, 10/22 takedown

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

I suppose you could chalk it up to food poisoning or some short-half-life bug, but me and the missus spen the last two days being a good bit under the weather. :::shrug::: It happens. Not much you can do except stay put, sleep as much as you can, don’t stray far from the bathroom, and CSI your dietary habits of the lsat 48 hours to try and narrow down culprits. In our case, we’re leaning towards a take-out pizza. Either way, I’m back to running on all eight cylinders and she’s getting pretty close.
Ah, Mountain House….the Heckler and Koch of survival-food. (HK – Because you suck. And we hate you.) . They spent the better part of a year freezing out their small-time dealers and are now playing coy trying to bring them back into the fold. Now I get this little ditty in my email. Military packaging, you say? That’s something I hadn’t seen before. Lets do some math…Mountain House essentially diverts the majority of their output, for a year, somewhere else….and they spend millions of dollars to increase capacity….and now there are products with military packaging. But they’ve steadfastly maintained that there wasn’t anything like, oh, say, a huge .gov contract that was eating up most of their production and making them freeze out their dealers. Yeah. Whatever. I can understand choosing the bottomless pockets of a .gov contract over the uncertain orders from civilian dealers….and maybe the terms of their agreement even prohibited them from mentioning that they were doing it….but, good grief, it’s kinda obvious now, innit?
The N3B military parka? Yeah, might have to get another couple of those. Walking the dog late at night in the blowing snow this thing is the shizznits. It’s heavy, but very nicely warm. Only drawback is that it looks dorky enough that convincing the missus that she should wear one might be a tough sell. Although the N3B is nice and toasty, I’m still holding out for the Filson coat that I want. Someday, man………
Technically, all 10/22 are takedown if you have the right size allen wrench. However, I’m kinda liking this package. Since I have a stack of Rugers sitting aroundhere, I’ll wind up with the conversion kit and save myself a couple bucks. The Marlin Papoose is , youre correct, an excellent choice for a takedown .22……certainly better than most of the AR-7 knockoffs….but it introduces new logistical headaches. If I get the takedown kit and use it on one of my Rugers I dont need to stock yet another type of magazine, spare parts, etc…I just windup using my cache of Ruger mags and accessories.


Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time.” – Barbara Tuchman, Pulitzer Prize winner (“The Guns of August”)

I’ve often said that the hallmark of maturity in preparedness is when you start focusing on food storage with the same fervor, intensity and enjoyment that was evidenced in firearms planning. Possibly another indicator would be to look at the person’s bookshelf. When you’re just as jazzed about your reference library as you are about whats in your gun safe, you’ve arrived.

I really need to stop loaning out books. I invariably wind up with something like a 50% loss rate. I loaned someone my hardcover copy of One Second After a few months back and that was the last I’ve seen of it. Can’t even remember who I loaned it to. :::shrug::: I had been wanting to re-read it lately. Even though it is very derivative of Lucifers Hammer it was still entertaining.

Anyway, someone was nice enough to stop by and give me their paperback version that they were done with. I think this copy will stay put and not get loaned out.

Even though just about every book I’d be interested in is available in electronic format, I still like the tactile experience of a paper book…plus the fairly rugged portability.

I know someone who, after having similar experiences, has a “three-book policy”. When they find a book that they want and feel is worth keeping they buy three copies – one to use, one to loan, and one for resale. (The books are usually obscure, small-run, reference books.) An expensive, but reasonable, way to do things.

Whenever I think about preparedness books I cant help but think about Dan Forrester from ‘Lucifers Hammer’. Diabetic, overweight, and with no apparently useful skill, he realizes his utility and bargaining power in a post-apocalyptic world is virtually nil. But, as the world is convulsing in the aftermath of the comet strike, he carefully wraps and preserves all of the hundreds of useful books in his library and hides them…knowing that in the aftermath the survivors will need the information on how to rebuild society. And in this way, he buys entry to a fortified community.

Unfortunately, I agree with the quote at the top of this post and that is why, even with the negative experiences, I’ll continue to (carefully) loan books to people. If handing someone a paperback book can be a catalyst for a person’s change, education, development, personal growth, or self-awareness then it’s worth the money to me if I don’t get the book back. And even on a simpler level, if they just get as much enjoyment out of the book as I did, then I’m glad to be of help.

But, sometimes….I just want my damn book back.

CTD HK-91 mag price change

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Well, this is interesting.

After being priced at $0.97 each for quite a while, the aluminum surplus G3 mags have doubled in price. Indicative of the supply drying up? Temporary price spike? Who can say? I certainly have no idea. What I do know is that although the price has just doubled they are still the cheapest magazine around…and if you haven’t stocked up on all you need you may be better off buying now, even at the higher price, rather than just hoping the price goes back to a buck each. (A dollar extra per mag isnt much but let me put it in perspective for you so you can understand the urgency and significance of this change: A month ago, $100 would have gotten you 103 magazines…now that same money gets you 50. See my point?)

If you’re packin’ a G3 clone you need to get the mags while you can. The price may go back down..I hope it does…but if it doesn’t go back down youre going to feel pretty silly if you waited for the price to go back down and the prices go up. Even at two bucks its still a bargain. But no price lasts forever.