The article to which I’ve linked is from a site that revels in conspiracy theory and predicts the end of the world in at least 3-4 ways every day. While it is entertaining reading simply for the sheer absurdity of much of what is posted I suspect few people take it seriously.

This particular article is not much different from the run of the mill ones they publish but after reading it while drinking coffee this morning and trying to wake up sufficiently to go to work a few thoughts did occur to me.

First the scenario he describes is extremely unlikely. Were North Korea to actually attack the United States with nuclear weapons even as an EMP weapon rather than one using a nuclear device to cause physical damage it would mean the end of North Korea. It has always been the policy of the United States that an attack on us with nuclear weapons would most likely trigger a nuclear response. Even as primitive as North Korea is as an industrial society it would only take a few nuclear strike to transform it into something akin to a hunter-gatherer society for the foreseeable future. As insane as the leadership of North Korea appears to be I suspect that even they would prefer to avoid that fate.

Second if there were any suggestion through the intelligence sources that such were planned the Chinese or Japanese would most likely shoot the missile down during it’s boost stage. I say China or Japan because the U.S. government (as well as the intelligence community) and thus the command of our military, as powerful as it may still be, is pretty close to completely dysfunctional at this point. Neither China nor Japan would be happy losing the U.S. as a market for it’s good.

Third, lets face it, North Korea has not demonstrated particularly spectacular technological expertise. Yes they built nuclear weapons but then the United states did so in the 1940s using slide rules and chalk boards. The North Koreans do seem to be technologically at least comparable to 1940s U.S. engineering levels. 1940’s level technology is not really impressive when it comes to ballistic missiles. The V2s might have been pretty but they were horribly unreliable and as likely to blow up on launch as to actually travel somewhere in the general vicinity of their target. A friend pointed out that they are using technology they got from the Chinese who got it from the Russians. True but the Russians got it from the guys who designed the V2s and early Russian missile technology was not actually much better than V2s (nor was ours).

All that being said what is disturbing is that the scenario described in the article is actually quite realistically possible. While unlikely it is entirely within the technological capacity of a North Korea, a Pakistan and possibly an Iran to do exactly what is described in the article. It would require even more insanity than they have so far demonstrated and it would require a lot of luck considering the reliability of their technology. Even the Western world occasionally loses rockets on launch and they are a far sight better than their North Korean counterparts.

Yet it remains well within the technical capability of several nation states. Something to keep in mind.

The Librarian




Here’s a nice example of how intricate, complex and interconnected the industrial infrastructure is upon which we depend. The article is simply about one of the simplest and most ubiquitous items in our world… the Pencil.

The narrative relates the sources of all the materials, the processes required and the ignorance of almost everyone using a Pencil as to their source.

The author speaks of the invention process and makes some interesting points but it illustrates an interesting point for Readers of the library.

If something as simple and basic and fundamental as a Pencil requires that much industrial complexity, that extensive of a transportation industry and such complex procedures to produce… a Pencil… what is behind all of the other items we use and consume on a daily, hourly and minute by minute basis?

If that infrastructure is shut down by a solar flare, an attack on the power grid, a cyber attack against our industry or a terrorist attack… how will we rebuild it? Who even has the knowledge anymore?

If the pencil factories stop do you know how to make a quill pen? How to make ink?

The Librarian



A couple of minor stories from the DC area should send a few little shivers up your spine. Not from the cold but from the behavior of people under even minor stress.

D.C. is getting, so far, an inch of snow. Considering that many parts of the country measure snow in feet not inches and that snow in D.C. is actually not that uncommon the responses of people show how completely NON self sufficient modern man has become.

In one story they show the condition of the local grocery stores when people swarm to stock up for an emergency. It’s actually a bit laughable since the truck are already rolling and the stores with empty shelves have probably already sticking back up. (I’m not a big fan of Alex Jones and his over the top conspiracy theories but the empty shelf phenomenon in grocery stores is common pretty much everywhere before expected bad weather.)

In the other story drivers are deserting their cars on the highways and walking home because of the gridlock and accidents.

All of this from an inch or so of snow.

Now imagine an EMP event. When the stores are stripped they will not BE restocked because the trucks won’t run any more.

When the cars stop on the highway they will still be there a year from now and EVERYONE will be walking home except the few individuals with very old, completely mechanical vehicles.

If this is the behavior of people in response to a fairly common winter storm it’s hard to even imagine the behavior resulting from an EMP event as people begin to realize that the situation will NOT get any better for a long, long, long time. It’s enough to send a small shiver up your spine.

The Librarian

p.s. I’ve found what appears to be some reasonably priced and reliable flash drives and have added them as an option for distributing the Library. Click here for the page.




There are lots of sites on the internet that provide information on what to do to prepare for a disaster, a collapse or a zombie apocalypse.

They go through all the expected tips on storing food, caching weapons and ammunition, ensuring a water supply, etc. There’s no need to repeat them there because every “prepper” knows them all by heart. The normal discussions on the subject usually center on which gun is best, which freeze dried butter powder tastes better and other nuances of preparedness.

But none of them address the long run i.e. what to do after the emergency is over, the raiders and bandits are dealt with and you’re looking at a long, difficult future ahead of you and a hard world which to leave to your kids.

So perhaps a to-do list of things to do to prepare for THAT part of what the Chinese call “interesting times” is in order.

With that in mind here’s a few things that might be worth considering…

  • Don’t just save seeds. Actually start gardening every year
    • Assuming you have a place to garden and even in a city there are often community gardens available. Growing food is a LOT more work than you think it is and there are a lot of hard lessons to learn. Better to learn them when the tuition cost isn’t starvation.
  • Learn to ride a horse.
    • It’s not as easy as it looks and it’s a LONG way down to the ground. It’s also not as easy to put a saddle on a not so bright, bad tempered horse as the Westerns make it look
  • Get and watch The Woodwright’s Shop DVDs
    • A TV woodworking series by Roy Underhill where everything is made using manual tools.
  • If there are any organic farms in the area take the time to visit them and get at least a small taste of what non industrial farming is like.
    • Even better is if you live near Amish or Mennonite communities and can gain some exposure to their way of life.
  • Spend some family time driving around the farming areas near where you live and find out what crops grows well in your area.
    • Note the livestock that is most common in your area since after a collapse or catastrophic disaster that livestock will start reverting to the wild and can be collected and redomesticated
  • Visit and tour an orchard in your area. Find out what fruit grows well in your area.
    • People will loot all available food but orchards, if not cut down, will continue to produce fruit year after year.
  • Take a beekeeping class.
    • Even if you don’t follow up and keep bees you will have the basic knowledge to do so if necessary. After a catastrophic event and large loss of population the bees will still be in their hives making honey and can be domesticated by those who survive. Most U.S. counties have a beekeeping group that offers inexpensive classes.
  • Buy a canner and and some cases of jars and learn to can.
    • Even if you just can veggies and fruit you buy at a roadside stand or a farmers market they make cool gifts and will impress your friends and family with how cool you are.
  • Learn what your area was best known for producing in the 1800s.
    • There are probably local museums which highlight that information. For instance my area was a center of pine tar and turpentine production at one time. In a post collapse world those old industries may return for a generation or two.
  • If you live in a urban area take some road trips on the weekends with your family and find out what small towns are in your area.
    • If you have the time it’s worth finding out if there are clubs, groups, teams, perhaps churches you might frequent to get to know at least a few people in some of these rural areas, especially farming communities.

Those are simply a few ideas. I’m sure you have more and if so please send them to me to post here.

Think LONG term. Think about AFTER all of the chaos of an emergency when things have settled down and you and your family are facing the long haul. What can you do to prepare for that part?

The Librarian





For years I and many others have been aware of the danger of a solar EMP event on the scale of the Carrington Event of 1859. The danger has increased as we’ve become more and more dependent on computer technology for even the most basic of essential services like electrical power, water, communications and transportation.

Our cars, our trains, truck and airplanes, except for a small percentage of vintage examples, are totally dependent on their built in computers and if the computer fails the vehicle becomes nothing more than a small steel junkpile.

Water, power, all of the essential services have the same vulnerability. If the computers fail they cease to operate.

Yet if the danger of a solar flare that could render all of that dead were not enough we now have to face the increasingly threat of human beings doing it to themselves. With the accelerating spread of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology we have a growing number of non-rational, rogue nations building the equipment to allow them to create man-made EMP events affecting large portions of the Earth’s surface.

People often make fun of those Christian denominations who believe we are approaching or already in the End Times when mankind will undergo trials and suffering. But even the most ardent of these folks can’t hold a candle to the complete nutcases in Iran who not only believe such times are coming but that it is their God Given duty to do everything in their power to bring it about.

We have North Korea led by a short, clearly insane teenager who kills anyone who irritates him but has nuclear weapons at his disposal and building larger and more powerful rockets each year.

And let’s not overlook Pakistan, the second largest Muslim country in the world, a completely failed state which no longer controls much of it’s own territory, whose intelligence services are allies of the Taliban and who share their nuclear technology with Iran and North Korea.

Several of these countries openly and overtly label us as their enemies and vow to destroy us.

Meanwhile the countries and governments of the Western World who have everything to lose and nothing whatsoever to gain continue to treat these nations as equals, pretend to make efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear and missile technology while doing nothing whatever to prepare for what increasingly seems an inevitable EMP attack.

You really have to wonder about the capability of the Human Race and Western Civilization to survive over the long term. We not only are building the technology to destroy large portions of the Human Race and our civilizations but those individuals and governments you would think would recognize the danger and act to mitigate it do nothing.


I have the new Coffee and Tea Category added.

It’s a subject that one of you suggested which simply never occurred to me. (Ironic considering how much coffee and tea I drink) I make my coffee strong enough that one old friend always referred to it as chunky coffee.

Coffee and Tea are a couple of those things we really don’t think about and take for granted since it’s such a ubiquitous part of our lives. It seldom occurs to us that in the event that the grid went down or something stopped the transportation networks we’d rapidly be out of both.

Coffee comes from Central America, South America, Africa, some from the Caribbean but ALL of it comes from outside the continental U.S. unless you know something I don’t know. Tea is pretty much the same thing with a few minor exceptions.

It turns out that there is tea grown on a small scale in South Carolina and possibly a few other Southern states. (Everyone else probably already knew that but I didn’t.) I am informed by someone who spent many years in the Coffee and Tea trade that it is pretty awful stuff since those states lack the tropical weather, the soils and the altitudes to turn out good tea.

In a post collapse/EMP/GridDown situation though even bad tea from South Carolina would be preferable to no coffee or tea at all, at least to the large percentage of Americans who consider caffeine one of the major food groups. I even knew of someone who was without transportation, off the grid and so desperate for coffee that they roasted and ground up the beans from an ornamental coffee plant. I tried some of it later and I have to confess that it was the absolute, hands down, God awful, worst coffee I’ve ever tasted… but if it was all that was available? Jury is still out on that question.

But this is the material that I could find on the subject. Whether growing tea or coffee is even remotely practical some day until trade routes could be reestablished with places like Puerto Rico, Costa Rica or Jamaica is a question I hope I never have to find out. But should that situation ever occur we at least have some information with which to work.

Most of the books are specifically on coffee or tea production but
there are naturally a couple included just for fun.

Whats the point of having tea leaves if no one knows how to tell your fortune from the tea leaves? So I’ve included a book entitled Telling Fortunes by Tea leaves to cover that subject.

What is the point of coffee with out gossip and coffee house conversation so there’s one entitled Coffee and Repartee

The Librarian

p.s. There were 3-4 of the 73 Magazine issues that were only partial uploads and couldn’t be opened. They been replaced with good copies.



With traditional and natural products being all the rage these days here’s a golden marketing opportunity for some enterprising individual…

Victorian Era Exercise Machines!!

When you look at some of the really hokey things sold today as “exercise” equipment… a board on a roller… a piece of rubber tubing with a handle on each end and so on.. these are sure to spark interest for their novelty.

Given their size and all of the reverberating springs, spinning gears, doodling cogs and and vibrating belts these are certain to entertain and delight even the most discerning devotee.

The Librarian

p.s. and no we don’t have the book on these in the Library though I’ll grab it if i run across it.


If you’ve been through the early medical texts in the Library then some of this will be familiar.

If you haven’t then a new book out of England gives is a glimpse into what surgery prior to anesthetics and disinfectants was like.

Which is why there’s a good number of books in the Library on the manufacture of various early anesthetics as well as disinfectants.

The Librarian


Some time next week I expect to have a new Coffee-Tea Category posted.

It is primarily books on growing, harvesting and blending them. While most of them describe the techniques as used in places like Puerto Rico and various parts of Asia I would imagine that the basic techniques apply anywhere they are grown.

I know there is no Coffee grown commercially in the U.S. except for Hawaii and Puerto Rico but I was actually surprised to find out that Tea is grown commercially in the U.S. albeit on a small scale.

One of the books is about growing tea in South Carolina and after some ancillary investigation it turns out there is a Tea Plantation just outside of Charleston. (link below) There is apparently tea production going on in several Southern states as well as projects under way to establish new ones.

The real obstacle appears to be the issue of mechanization vs manual labor in harvesting. Since labor costs are substantially lower in most tea producing regions in the world it is hard to compete when growing it in the U.S.. It seems like the two ways around that are mechanizing the process and resorting to illegal immigrants, both of which have their downsides.

While tea is possibly a viable crop in the U.S. coffee is pretty much a no go in the Continental U.S. We just do not have the consistent long days of sunlight required and while you could probably do it in a greenhouse it would be pretty energy intensive and not viable as a commercial crop. In a post-disaster world I suspect the available energy priorities would not be directed towards greenhouse grown coffee.

So in the aftermath of a catastrophic event that shut down the global transportation system there would be a pretty complete caffeine withdrawal for most for the survivors after salvageable supplies ran out. It might be viable to get commercial tea planting going but that’s questionable… again it is a matter of priorities.

The one bright side to it is for the folks in Puerto Rico, Honduras, Jamaica and other Caribbean Islands. Get the coffee production restarted and the Continental U.S. would beat a path to your door with trade.

The Librarian