5 tips for surviving an economic disaster

OK, so this guy’s five tips really boil down to “have important stuff and keep it safe.” Having plenty of important stuff is important for dealing with serious stuff. Gotcha.

But as a survivor of an economic crisis and witness to others of late he makes one strong point: have cash money. Make it rain.

Hyperinflation is one possible result of economic meltdown, but it’s not necessarily the result, and even after it starts, having a supply of cash on-hand is a good idea. Cash, even in an economic disaster, has value for a time.

If you don’t have twenty minutes to listen to the guy ramble, the types important stuff to have in case of serious stuff are pretty straight-forward and can be classified as a couple of things:

  • Have safe stuff: high ground, shelter, layered security, and safes for your important stuff,
  • Have important stuff: money, money alternatives, water, food, ammo, etc.

That’s pretty much it. His suggested money alternatives are get an offshore bank account and get some precious metal currency. There are still limits to gold and silver, but if you have that, cash, and stuff to barter with, well, you won’t die.

Also, be wary of any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After the collapse, they go evil.

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‘IT for Oppression’

Unit 61398 Chinese Army Hacking Jobs With Great Benefits 450x337 IT for Oppression

Bruce Schneier’s a security specialist with his own Internet meme. And while most people believe that technology elevates, improves things, Schneier holds that technology magnifies, makes things bigger, good and bad:

Whether it’s Syria using Facebook to help identify and arrest dissidents or China using its “Great Firewall” to limit access to international news throughout the country, repressive regimes all over the world are using the Internet to more efficiently implement surveillance, censorship, propaganda, and control. They’re getting really good at it, and the IT industry is helping. We’re helping by creating business applications — categories of applications, really — that are being repurposed by oppressive governments for their own use:

  • What is called censorship when practiced by a government is content filtering when practiced by an organization. Many companies want to keep their employees from viewing porn or updating their Facebook pages while at work. In the other direction, data loss prevention software keeps employees from sending proprietary corporate information outside the network and also serves as a censorship tool. Governments can use these products for their own ends.
  • Propaganda is really just another name for marketing. All sorts of companies offer social media-based marketing services designed to fool consumers into believing there is “buzz” around a product or brand. The only thing different in a government propaganda campaign is the content of the messages.
  • Surveillance is necessary for personalized marketing, the primary profit stream of the Internet. Companies have built massive Internet surveillance systems designed to track users’ behavior all over the Internet and closely monitor their habits. These systems track not only individuals but also relationships between individuals, to deduce their interests so as to advertise to them more effectively. It’s a totalitarian’s dream.
  • Control is how companies protect their business models by limiting what people can do with their computers. These same technologies can easily be co-opted by governments that want to ensure that only certain computer programs are run inside their countries or that their citizens never see particular news programs.

What goes unsaid in his essay is that the leader of the tech industry, and the most heavily-equipped to use IT — and therefor IT for oppression — is a lot closer to home. (more…)

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The Karambit Knife

The Karambit Knife 450x628 The Karambit Knife

I generally don’t like knives that you have to think about using, have to think about holding in a certain way, or have to train with in general.

That’s either because trying to reinvent the knife is on the same shortbus as trying to reinvent the club or throwing rock, or because I’m lazy and I don’t like to expand my horizons.

But I don’t like it when people say holding a knife backwards or upside-down gives you tactical leverage, because there’s no such a thing as a knife fight and there’s no such thing as a knife-fighting expert.

That being said, the Karambit’s different. You have to hold it differently because that’s the way it draws. And boy does it draw, check this out:

The Karambit’s not cheap but when it comes to tactical operator EDC emergency wire ops backup blade kit blades at $240 including a trainer, but it’s not astronomical for a solid TOEEWOBBKB option either.

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Meteor detonates over Russia, or This is why we need NASA

“After the flash, nothing happened for about three minutes. Then we rushed outdoors The door was made of glass, a shock wave made it hit us,” said Yekaterina Melikhova.

Later Friday, an asteroid known as the 2012 DA14 as due to come within 17,100 miles of Earth at 2:24 p.m. ET, a record close-approach for an asteroid this size.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the incident showed the need for leading world powers to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space.

“At the moment, neither we nor the Americans have such technologies” to shoot down meteors or asteroids, he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

We don’t have a way to stop planet-killers (although 2012 DB14 isn’t). Not that people don’t have good ideas, but most—if not all, still the most viable solutions—we can’t put into motion. We don’t have a heavy-lift space platform, because we retired the Shuttle.

And even still, the Shuttle wasn’t the most powerful, that title is still held by the Saturn rocket. The preeminent vehicle mankind has ever endeavored was the Saturn, which was designed with slide rulers.

A while back I read “Space Chronicles” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an interesting albeit somewhat repetitive collection of essays. Tyson makes four very strong arguments for why people should be willing to give a latte’s worth of money a year to NASA and why NASA needs to build a new heavy-lift platform.

  • We need to go to Mars. With people. If we ever expect to understand life, answer the question, “How did we get here?” it’ll be on Mars,
  • You can thank NASA for pretty much everything. All your Walkmans and airplanes and microwave ovens can trace a near-direct lineage to the space program, and if we want new science, we need to spend money on it
  • If an asteroid is out to get us, we can’t do jack about it. Russia is keenly aware of this today,
  • A fourth point I can’t ever remember. It was a while back, I read the book right when it came out.

Anyway, shit got real today, this is a stark reminder of how fragile things are. Hug a loved one today, we all got lucky for the trillionth time.

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In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?

teddy roosevelt machine gun 450x330 In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?

Not seen: Teddy’s stabbing that flag through Satan’s pee-hole.

  • Every president is in the best physical and mental condition they were ever in throughout the course of their presidency. Fatal maladies have been cured, but any lifelong conditions or chronic illnesses (e.g. FDR’s polio) remain.
  • The presidents are fighting in an ovular arena 287 feet long and 180 feet wide (the dimensions of the [1] Roman Colosseum). The floor is concrete. Assume that weather is not a factor.
  • Each president has been given one standard-issue [2] Gerber LHR Combat Knife , the knife [3] presented to each graduate of the United States Army Special Forces Qualification Course. Assume the presidents have no training outside any combat experiences they may have had in their own lives.
  • There is no penalty for avoiding combat for an extended period of time. Hiding and/or playing dead could be valid strategies, but there can be only one winner. The melee will go on as long as it needs to.
  • FDR has been outfitted with a [4] Bound Plus H-Frame Power Wheelchair, and can travel at a maximum speed of around 11.5 MPH. The wheelchair has been customized so that he is holding his knife with his dominant hand. This is to compensate for his almost certain and immediate defeat in the face of an overwhelming disadvantage.
  • Each president will be deposited in the arena regardless of their own will to fight, however, personal ethics, leadership ability, tactical expertise etc., should all be taken into account. Alliances are allowed.

With that scenario set, here’s Face in the Blue’s take on it.

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Blindspots

IMGP7189 450x298 Blindspots

img by Max Slowik

IMGP7196 450x298 Blindspots

img by Max Slowik

While leaving Die Less World HQ the other night I had a Die Less experience. As I walked around the front of my truck there was a pile of broken glass where my window should have been. I was pretty surprised because I don’t leave valuables in my car, ever –years of living near Detroit will teach you that lesson. With no valuables visible from the outside, I’m not sure what attracted the thieves to break in. And it was only my truck, none of the other vehicles on the block were molested. I have some ideas now about why, but they’re pretty thin.

In their best effort to find something valuable, they did rifle through the center console, the glove box and some papers. There were a few things of minor value there: my insurance paper work, my vehicle registration (including a registration sticker I’d not yet applied) and some miscellaneous crap. None of those items were taken.

All of this got me thinking; If the person(s) who broke into my car were so inclined, they could have a pretty good start to an identity theft profile. They would have had my name, my address, my insurance policy number, and access to my driving record. Not enough to immediately turn into a false identity, but probably 80% of the necessary information.

Since then I’ve sterilized the inside of my car. There is no identifying paperwork in the truck. All of that is in my wallet. Now on the one hand I’ve just made it so that if the wallet is lost or stolen the door to identity theft is wide open. On the other hand, it’s a wallet, that’s where an identity is kept, so I’d be screwed regardless. Sterilizing the vehicle at least reduces my exposure. When you consider that cars are often left unattended for hours at a time, I can’t see a good argument for not sterilizing a vehicle.

Finally, as I started examining the idea of limiting my exposure I realized I had been making a terrible mistake. For years I’ve kept a spare key to my house and car in my wallet. Think about that. I carried around keys to everything I owned in my wallet; with my license, which has my address printed right on the front. If it were stolen that would be an invitation for the wrong kind of person to come help themselves. Sometimes I marvel at the blind spots that develop around convenience.

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