And yet another article about the horrid vulnerabilities of the U.S. power grid. This one not even dealing specifically with EMPs or Cyber Attacks but simply with the fact that the grid is too large, too vulnerable and the consequences of a failure are almost unimaginable.

I imagine that if it does ever happen the survivors will sit around scratching their heads trying to figure out why, if they knew of the danger, if they knew of the consequences of not acting, if they knew what had to be done to fix the problem…. why didn’t they act especially when in the context of other government spending the cost to fix it is almost chump change?

At some point in the future if such an event ever occurs the people writing the history books will have to come up with a new term that transcends the term Crimes Against Humanity to apply to those government members who knew and did nothing and were ultimately responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of their own countrymen.

It would make Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot seem like wannabe amateurs.

The Librarian


Most of us in the Western World or the Industrialized World think of achieving a “safe” society as a “project”… a task that is undertaken and accomplished through some set of procedures or undertakings.

We often use the term “defeat” to refer to a military or physical threat carried out by inimical actors. We used the term “conquered” to refer to diseases such as cholera or polio. Polio is thought of in the U.S. as an old antiquated disease that affected people back in the last century before WWII but was long ago “eradicated”.

What many people don’t really understand is that threats to civilization whether they be military, ideological or biological are never conquered, eradicated, defeated or dealt with in any kind of final and definitive manner.

They are always just one victory away from toppling the civilized world, eradicating large segments of the world’s population or eliminating what we consider to be freedom from the Earth. The walls that we built around our civilizations and man with dedicated warriors and guards are just as vital today as they were 50 years ago, 100 years ago or 1000 years ago.

A good example is the story from Africa about the reemergence of Polio and the first sentence of the article highlights that erroneous thinking…

“Nigeria thought it finally won against polio…”

The idea that we could ever “finally win” against diseases or hostile ideologies or rogue nations ruled by insane dictators is the problem.

The barbarians are at the gate just as surely today as they were in the days of the Romans and the Greeks and the Sumerians. Don’t ever think that the day has come when we can tear down the walls and haul away the gate. Mother Nature as well as Human Nature is always standing there to remind us otherwise.

The Librarian


Seems the Commandant of the Marines has finally caught on to what most of us have already figured out.

Too much reliance on and complacency about modern technology is not a good thing.

I’ve been a little concerned about that myself watching so many stories about all of the new technological toys that the military is deploying and fewer and fewer references to the most basic war fighting skills that ultimately are what matters.

Since according to legend every Marine is Rifleman first and then whatever other skill they possess after training. But ultimately he is a warrior trained to engage the enemy with the most basic and fundamental of war fighting skills. Lose those and you are no longer a warrior but simply a machine operator. In the battle between machine operators and warriors ultimately the warrior is going to win.

Glad the Commandant figured it out.

The Librarian

Repair and DIY

New Smithsonian Article about the increasing number of Unrepairable items that fill our lives.

Once upon a time when people needed an item they made it themselves or traded something they had made or produced to someone else locally who could make the item. Everyone knew a local blacksmith who made metal item or a carpenter who made items out of wood or a seamstress who made thread and cloth and clothes.

With the advent of industrialization it became easier and eventually even more cost effective to buy a mass produced item. Industrialization and mass production has undoubtedly improved the quality of life for almost everyone in the world by making items easily available to almost anyone which were once unobtainable except by the very rich.

Cars were once a luxury item that only the rich enjoyed. Now virtually everyone has a car.

And over the decades people learned to repair and maintain what they had. Even now those able to repair their own cars are envied by those who can’t. But those days are rapidly coming to and end. Cars are becoming increasingly difficult to repair without expensive specialized equipment, computers systems and special knowledge that can’t be built by “tinkering.”

The increasing difficulty of repairing items is not simply due to their increasing complexity but also to manufacturers intentional design efforts to make them unrepairable by the consumer.

How does that relate to preparedness and survival in the long term?

Look carefully at the equipment you stockpile and store away for emergencies. If it breaks can you repair it? Would a more expensive version be repairable or would it be better to buy multiple cheaper versions just in case?

Case in point I have a couple emergency wind up type radios in my emergency supplies. But each one of them internally is a circuit board with chips on it. It is breaks there’s nothing I can do to fix it.

I also happen to have an old Zenith Transoceanic tucked away which works perfectly. Any electronic hobbyist who looks inside would recognize all of the discrete components in it; resistors, capacitors, rheostats, diodes, etc. It can be repaired with some wires, some discrete components and a soldering iron. While it is heavy and would make a commendable “blunt object” weapon it is is also in many ways much more valuable than all of the fancy emergency radios that are available since it can be repaired and repaired and kept running long after the less expensive and more capable radios have died and been discarded.

The article is well worth reading and the website is a good source of repair manuals to add to your collection.

The Librarian.


Ran across this early today and found it interesting.

I’ve commented often on how much knowledge has been lost as we have become more and more insulated from nature by our technology and our history. We’ve lost many of the skills that would allow us to survive and prosper without that advanced technology.

Yet knowledge of the skills themselves is not the only thing lost. We’ve also lost words and vocabulary which was used in relation to those skills. This is a good example…

Tath – dung of cattle and sheep allowed to remain on the field on which they have been pastured, so as to improve the fertility of the land.

The concept is something most of us who garden or grow food know about in general terms but I suspect most did not know there was a specific word for it. Most of us don’t keep sheep or cattle and if we do we don’t specifically use them to improve the fertility of fields except perhaps for some folks using organic techniques.

I wonder how many other other words like that have been lost as our knowledge of skills and older technology has faded?

The Librarian




Seems, as with many things, there is a good reason our grandparents and their parents did thing a particular way.

The fact that we didn’t know why doesn’t change anything. A lot of modern folks have this smug attitude that they are so much smarter than their parents, grandparents and certainly their earlier antecedents.

Guess what? You aren’t. In fact you probably know less about the real world than they did.

I asked about half the people in my office why barns are painted red and only one came close. She said it was because long ago red paint was cheap. She didn’t know WHY it was cheap but figured that must be the reason.

So there’s little article below that I ran across this morning on what barns are painted red. Enjoy.

The Librarian


People today forget that diseases like Cholera once devastated communities in entire areas of the world in the 1700-1800s.

It’s passed primarily by drinking untreated water. Since it could infect local water supplies it hit most often in areas with significant populations which shared a common water source.

By the late 1800s and into the 1900s sanitary, treated water supplies became the norm in most of the Western world and by the mid 1900s when antibiotics became widely available it was virtually eradicated in most parts of the world.

It’s something keep in mind and of which to be aware when you consider the requirements of rebuilding a community and reach a point of growing population all sharing a common water supply. That is when it is most likely to strike and have the most devastating effect on a community.

In a world rebuilding and with limited medical facilities a disease like Cholera could virtually wipe out a new community which overlooks or neglects water supply treatment.

The Librarian

Only for the Little People

In light of yesterday’s announcement that “Laws are only for the Little People” I felt I needed to post this article which sums up the state of the relationship between the United States Government and the People. It’s a sad, sad day for the country and our Republic.

The Librarian–not-respect-not-loyalty-not-obedience-n2186865


An interesting article on the Vintage News site. Apparently the Germans, towards the end of WWII, were working on a coal fueled ramjet for use as a fighter. The coal fuel system was an attempt to get around the increasing fuel shortages they were facing at that time.

Was most intriguing is that the basic engine system was actually built and tested before the end of the war.

So there you have it. Steampunk truly does exist. There is, in fact, such a thing as a coal powered rocket (ramjet anyway).

The Librarian