Funny how freedomista books can turn up out of the blue, disguised as something else. Two such landed in my hold box at the library this week.
I went online, searching for the parody The Dangerous Book for Dogs. In the mysterious ways of the library’s search engine, the words “dangerous” and “dogs” popped up a few other titles, as well. Children’s books. Hm, I thought.
Pretty soon both Dangerous and two other titles were waiting for me. While I expected to be just mildly entertained (because a good kid’s book is a good book, and usually easy on the brain), I was blown away by a pair of freedomista stories.
Grk is a small black-and-white mutt found in the streets of London by independent 12-year-old Timothy Malt. Tim’s fussy, workaholic parents won’t even let him bring the dog in their house, and when they learn that Grk’s owner, a 12-year-old girl named Natascha Raffifi, has left London and returned to her native Stanislavia (an obscure nation somewhere near Russia), they determine to take the dog to a kill shelter.
Tim, who has a finely developed sense of right and wrong, decides that’s quite wrong. What’s right is to return Grk to young Natascha, no matter where she may be. So off he goes with the dog to Stanislavia. He is undeterred in his efforts to restore the dog to her — even when he learns that the girl and her family have been arrested by the evil Colonel Zinfandel, who has overthrown Stanislavia’s government. Zinfandel now holds the girl and her brother in prison and unbeknownst to them has killed their parents.
Tim lets nothing stop him — not Authority, not border crossing procedures, not carefully staged governmental PR events, not even the fact that flying a real helicopter isn’t exactly like “flying” one via computer simulation.
Adults will recognize … well, a certain lack of regard for reality. Kids should have a blast. And there were a couple of scenes that, if they appeared in a more conventional, explicit freedom novel, would have you cheering the courage and integrity of the characters. What the heck; they’re worth a cheer here, also.
The second book is entirely different. Stormy is hyper-realistic. It’s also old enough to be called a classic. It was originally published in 1959, the 46th (and final) novel by outdoorsman and children’s author Jim Kjelgaard.
Kjelgaard (whose most famous work was Big Red, which became a Disney movie) believed you should never talk down to children, that in fact you had to live up to their expectations. And he does in this ultimate guy book.
Teenager Allan Marley is living alone in subartic wilderness. He and his father once earned their living guiding hunters who came to their lodge. But now his hot-tempered father is in prison for nearly beating a neighbor to death, and the neighbor’s vengeful family has cut off vehicle access to the lodge so hunters no longer come. Allan survives by hunting, fishing, and raising his own crops. He earns money by trapping and selling pelts, but his funds are rapidly diminishing.
Then, as winter sets in, early and harsh, Allan discovers a magnificent mixed-breed retriever, wounded (but dauntless) in the snow and ice. He learns that the dog is an “outlaw,” to be shot on sight for having attacked its last master. But Allan quickly realizes the dog, which he names Stormy, is not vicious at all, but an independent soul like himself, whose trust must be won and who will tolerate no mistreatment.
One of the things I enjoyed about Stormy is that, even though Allan interacts frequently with people in the nearby town, including authority figures like the local game warden, no one ever questions his right to be on his own or suggests that he needs any help or care. Everyone — including Allan himself — implicitly understands that he’s perfectly capable.
The novel is as much survival manual as story; you may get more information about wilderness living than you really want to know. But there are valuable lessons here, including think rationally and don’t panic even when a situation looks dire. Oh, and there’s a decent, if thin, plot in there, too.
The Dangerous Book for Dogs (a comic twist on the famous Dangerous Book for Boys) turned out to be entertaining — anything from howlingly funny to mildly lame and doggily gross. But A Dog Called Grk and Stormy were the real prizes of the week’s book haul.
Tsk, tsk. As usual I’m behind in noticing that one of my print articles has gone online. This time it’s “Preparedness Basics” from the current (June 2013) issue of S.W.A.T. magazine.
I’ve been doing a series of preparedness-related articles for them. And they’ve been doing some other excellent preparedness articles covering everything from canning meat to vehicle survival kits. Although cool! guns! cool! gear! smart! tactics! is still their focus, I love they way they’re returning to their survivalist roots.
My current article is a checklist of fundamental preparedness needs. Take the challenge and see how ready you are.
If I’d have known this one was going to go online, I’d have made it more interactive. But what the heck. Check marks. It’s the old-fashioned way.
Community Emergency Response Team training started tonight. Here’s what I got out of it:
Well, that a big, fat binder filled with such scintillating (and useful!) information as “At the end of this unit you should be able to identify the roles and responsibilities for community preparedness, to include government, community leaders from all sectors, and the public.”
I kept wondering why “the public” and “leaders” were always separate things in the CERT book when in every real-world disaster, “the public” becomes the leaders.
I kept wondering how I ever — ever! — got through high school. Or heck, not just high school, but 12 years of government schooling. Because it was just like this. Day after endless day. Year after endless year. Even though it’s been decades, tonight brought it all back as though I were in horrible Miss Williamson’s horrible eighth grade class again: the excruciating boredom, the incredulous indignation at being talked down to, the emphasis on being able to categorize and regurgitate pointless databits rather than do things, the acute discomfort of sitting in a rigid chair in rigid formation while someone drones on and on (and on!), repeating things I either already know or don’t want or need to know.
While the big, fat CERT book was saying, “The Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) … assigns responsibility to organizations and individuals for carrying out specific actions …” the earnest little AmeriCorps volunteer leading tonight’s session was repeating the exact same earthquake-and-tsunami PowerPoint presentation she gave last month for the general public.
Arrgh! I kept wondering how the other attendees could stand it, because each and every one of them had more experience than I. They were nurses, EMTs, sheriff’s deputies, ham radio operators. If I was bored, surely they must have felt like their brains were being vacuumed out of their skulls.
I take nothing away from you who’ve taken CERT or other types of emergency training. In fact, extra credit to you for being able to sit through nearly 30 hours of this sh*te to get your certification. I’m also sure that, buried deep in this course there’s bound to be some useful stuff like proper use of fire extinguishers and how to lift an injured person onto a stretcher. I would like to know that stuff. I would like to practice that stuff.
And I wouldn’t mind at all having a cool green hard hat like the ones in the world’s most boring video (“CERT in Action,” which had a lot in common with the film strips they showed in the fifth grade, the ones where the film kept breaking and that was the most interesting part).
But I will never earn my hard hat. Because after two hours I snuck out to take a break (feeling as though I should ask for a hall pass, lest I end up in detention), then came back into the classroom only long enough to gather my big, fat CERT book and my cup of tea (drinking in class — five demerits!) and creep off to the parking lot feeling as if I’d made a Major Escape.
If there’s a Hell, you can forget the flames and vats of boiling oil. It’ll be an eternity spent being talked at like this.
I’ll go through the big, fat book looking for usefulness and will try to learn or buff up on any of that. But no, I won’t be back for the next session.
Anyhow, among the only two or three tidbits of Actual Information I picked up tonight was the (unsurprising) fact that, in our area, there will be no actual CERT teams. Because our neighborhoods are so spread out that the handful of trained individuals will be expected to act on their own.
And so it will be.
But oh my goodness, if two hours of this bureaucratic, repetitious, down-talking nonsense was so unendurable, how did my young, hormonal self ever make it through high school without going postal?
Longenecker says (in short) that the fact that millions are buying guns shows we’re more than willing to take responsibility and prepare for danger. We’re just not buying the elitist, top-down, “do it to us” (as opposed to “do it with us”) approach to disaster management (DM). Or so he perceives.
The particular way he envisions this creeps me out just a little:
To ‘act’ means to aid law enforcement in keeping the peace, as another example. Many Sheriffs, for instance, are announcing that they are examining deputizing gun owners, people who pass background checks, people known to the Sheriff, people who know how to use a handgun or rifle and people who can take orders and follow leadership. This is an example of planning disaster management which would include utilization of a disaster’s most understated assets: volunteers.
Turning approved friends-O’-the-Sheriff into a centrally controlled “volunteer” corps working for the gummint to order their fellow citizens around? Uh … no thanks!
You and I know that we are our own first line of defense in any tough times. We can hope and suppose that neighbors will help neighbors and strangers help strangers. What we really can’t know until something bad happens is whether officials — local or otherwise — will interfere with us or stay out of our way.
Work with us? In an ideal world, sure. But in this world? I don’t know.
Longenecker mentions CPR training as one of the great successes calling on volunteers to handle emergencies. And it is, of course. But then, CPR is one-on-one and doesn’t involve “controversial” skills, actions, or possessions (e.g. firearms, food storage). Nor does it usually get called on at times of mass chaos. Nor does it warp a volunteer into an agent of government — something that, in my mind, destroys the very concept of volunteering.
I admit that if I become a helpless victim of a disaster (and it could happen to the best prepared), I’ll be overwhelmingly grateful for help and I won’t care if it comes “freelance” or from government. I also admit that I’m no expert at handling disasters or even routine emergencies. But when I think of myself as a potential helper, I just can’t see working with anybody’s command-and-control structure. Nor do I think the greatest benefit will ever come from putting the most capable, competent, available volunteers into such a structure.
I don’t know how decent my local DM/EM people are likely to be (guess I’ll know more about that if I take their CERT training this spring). The more I think about state DM/EM officials, the more convinced I am that “incompetent” is perhaps the kindest thing one can say about them. “Dangerous” comes to mind; I’m glad they’re not likely to be in charge of anything if disaster strikes. Let them sit in the state capital an churn out brochures and programs.
It is a problem that so many people don’t even attempt to prepare for disasters, or even hard times.
It is a problem that DM/EM efforts fail to reach so many people.
At the disaster-prep meetings I’ve gone to, I notice that attendees are virtually always already knowledgeable and prepared. They’re just looking for greater depth of information. For plans. And for connections. What we’re given instead are basics designed for those people who aren’t showing up at the presentation.
One part of me thinks the DM/EM managers are wasting a valuable resource by not understanding that the people going to these meetings are all potential volunteers, potentially great resources for drawing in and working with friends, family, and the broader community. That we should be recruited and utilized. Another part of me looks at the way they’re thinking and doesn’t want anything to do with them, anyhow.
Went to another disaster preparedness presentation yesterday. This one specifically on tsunamis. Presenters (3) outnumbered attendees (2), but gamely soldiered on.
In the first half, the earnest young AmeriCorps worker who has become the public face for emergency management in the county gave an excellent backgrounder on tsunamis.
In the second, reps from the state did their PowerPoint bit. Their presentation began with an exhortation for us all (2) to become “Preparedness Superheroes” and ended with an order to “don your capes!” But in between they offered no actual preparedness information (unless you count the offer for free NOAA weather radios to low-income folks). They talked about the publications they’d distributed to the media and to motel owners. They showed a screenshot of their “fabulous” website (whose URL they did not know). And they informed us that our town had earned “TsunamiReady” status and would soon be putting up signs at the city limits.
As far as individual action, neither presentation went beyond “duck and cover” during an earthquake and “run for the hills” immediately afterward.
All questions about the aftermath of a disaster went unanswered. Worse than unanswered; it was clear none of the presenters had even considered things like what local buildings could serve as shelters, how food supplies would be handled, and what would happen to the vast majority (>2) who weren’t bothering to prepare.
I asked the state presenters how this community could be “TsunamiReady” when, in fact, the majority of the town (including the town hall, police department, fire department, hardware store, and every single building that could conceivably serve as a public shelter) would likely be not only inundated by a tsunami, but permanently sunk in muddy water due to subsidence and liquifaction post-Big One.
“Well, ‘TsunamiReady’ is just the name of a program,” they admitted.
I learned two things of value: One is that free CERT training will start late next month. I plan to sign up.
The second is that since “officials” in charge of disaster planning haven’t even considered the most fundamental questions about a disaster’s aftermath, I’m more on my own even than I thought.
I have three local friends who do understand the dangers and have worked on preps. One of those friends is dying of cancer. The second will be out of my reach after a Big One. The third — the best prepared and most resourceful of the three — lives in a more dangerous spot than I do and practices a profession that will keep her up to her arse in alligators for weeks after any major disaster.
If I plan to stick around here, I clearly have to drag my own hermitty arse out and do some serious prep-networking.
The abuse of language surrounding it would also be amusing if it weren’t so Orwellian. The original plan was for even the smallest bank depositors to pay a “tax,” a “levy,” or a “fee,” or “take a haircut” on their deposits. Nobody in the MSM ever used the proper term: confiscation.
Now that Ma and Pa Cypriot have been “allowed” to keep their allegedly insured deposits and the EU is free to take all they want from the richthe moderately well-offRussian investors anyone with more than 100,000 euros in the bank, a few are beginning to call it what it is.
Oh, but it’s okay. Because those whose money is stolen will be given … um, bank shares. Yeah, really valuable bank shares in exchange.
Now nobody trusts the banks in Cyprus and currency controls are sure to follow, if they haven’t started already.
And all this, of course, we’ve been warned about for years. It’s just that nobody told us the trial run would be made in some obscure place most people couldn’t even find on a map.
Excellent article at that link (thank you, G). I know from experience. I am no longer unbanked, but was “minimally banked” (with a checking account I got back in the days when, with some effort and knowhow, you could still get one without an SSN) for a long time. Even that was not easy; merely walking past a bank and knowing that the likes of me was not welcome there was constantly depressing.
Being an Outlaw is hard. Being unbanked is hard, getting harder all the time, and isn’t for everyone. If we don’t live in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, etc. our own bank runs may be a few years off. Perhaps we can afford to be complacent — for a while. Still, we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that what happened to Cyprus has nothing to do with us.
The world has just been given a cheap (for the rest of us) lesson in how our future is likely to unfold. It’s an ongoing lesson — still a lot to learn from what happens next to Cyprus, the PIIGS, the Eurozone, the euro, life, the universe, and everything.
It’s quite a show — as long as we have the comfort of watching from the sidelines. But are you willing to bet your hard-earned money that you and I will never become the show?
With even “safe” states contemplating monstrous anti-gun crap like this, it’s heartening to see firearms and equipment makers (who in the past, with rare exceptions like Barrett, have tended to be compromising weenies), responding like this. (H/T JB)
And here’s a book you don’t have to wait for. And that’s free. And online. Security Engineering. Endorsed by Bruce Schneier, who knows whereof he speaks. For both uber-geeks and we more simple-minded folk who just want to protect ourselves and our technology. (Another tip o’ the hat to JB)
Finally, take THAT, DiFi! And all your state-level statist ilk.