Supply Chain Breakdowns In The News & Last Minute Christmas

Posted on December 16, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by David Morris on December 15, 2011

Welcome to this week’s Urban Survival Newsletter.

With the threat of yet another Government shut down over spending playing out like a Kabuki dance in Washington, I thought you’d find this ‘serious spoof’ informative… As you watch it, know that it’s not real, but it could be all too soon:

This week’s issue is going to be a quick but important one. The last week has given us a few major examples of why it’s so vital for every family in America to take practical steps to prepare themselves for breakdowns in supply chains.

-On Monday, Verizon sent emergency text messages to customers, telling them to “take shelter now” in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey. The message said it was from the US Government. (Actually, U.S. Govern) It was an accident. It was supposed to be a test, but evidently somebody forgot to include that minor detail.  Call me cyincal, but it seems like this system could easily be hacked and manipulated…kind of like the nationwide coordinated Emergency Broadcast System.

-Also on Monday, Occupy protestors shut down operations at ports in Oakland, California, Portland, Oregon, and Longview, Washington. I’m sure this hurt some big evil corporation in some way, but the biggest things that it did was take money out of dock workers paychecks at Christmas time and highlighted this weakness in our infrastructure. I hope they’re proud of themselves.

Similar to what Todd Gitlin, a sociologist at Columbia University has said, it appears as if we’re on a course where Occupy protests will become more targeted, more militant, and more disruptive.

-On Tuesday, a rumor was spread that Iran had closed the Strait of Hormuz, causing oil to spike as much as 3.6% before the rumor was dispelled. Roughly 1/3 of the world’s oil supply goes through the Strait of Hormuz and alternate routes are considerably more expensive.

One of the interesting things about this is that the rumor started because Parviz Sarvari, a member of Iran’s Parliament who is on Iran’s National Security Committee said, “Soon we will hold a military maneuver on how to close the Strait of Hormuz. If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure.”

So, the good news is that the Strait wasn’t actually closed, but the bad news is that Iran wants to practice how to close it and isn’t opposed to instability in the region.

-And, a couple of weeks ago, one of the big news stories in Texas was that new government regulations are causing so much power generation capacity to be taken offline that Texans should EXPECT rolling blackouts starting in 2012 and going through at least 2017.  With the current mass business/manufacturing/job migration to Texas, it’s looking like there’s no cheap and easy way out of this mess.

-Add to that the National Defense Authorization Act that allows for the indefinite detention of US Citizens (even in the US) based on whatever set of criteria the current administration hands down, and we really are living in bizarre times.  On one hand, we’re telling other countries that they need to immediately cease indefinite detentions without evidence or trial and we’re passing legislation that allows it here.

What’s all this mean?

One of the big lessons in these seemingly disparate stories is how vulnerable our way of life is from almost every direction.

Bureaucratic inefficiency, socialists bent on overthrow, extremists half way around the globe, and power hungry politicians are all factors that could completely disrupt our (relatively) cheap supply of food, water, fuel, & ability to heat our homes overnight.

These aren’t crazy conspiracies cooked up by people with too much time on their hands—they’re events that are unfolding in real time as we speak that are being covered by the entire political spectrum in every form of media.

Oftentimes, it seems like we’ve got so many threats that are so huge in nature that there’s nothing that we can do. Truth be told, there’s not much that an individual person can do about what Iran does, what businesses Occupy disrupts, what regulations create energy shortages, or about most major threats.

What you can do is continually make forward process at protecting you and your family from disruptions in the systems that you depend on on a daily basis.

This takes several forms…from psychological and spiritual preparedness to physical preparedness and learning new skills.  In some cases, it means stocking up, in other cases it means finding alternative ways of doing things—maybe ways that aren’t as dependent on technology.

John Giduck shares an anecdote in his book, “Terror At Beslan” that is very applicable to people concerned about preparedness.  This isn’t the exact story that he shares, but the theme is the same and I think enough of John and his book to mention him along with it.

During the space race between the USSR and the United States, people involved in the space program realized that writing pens don’t work in zero gravity. The US, being a technologically minded country, spent millions of dollars on research and development creating the “space pen” that would write in zero gravity, upside down, and I believe, under water. It became a model of US ingenuity and resourcefulness and it IS a really neat pen.

The Soviets decided to use a pencil. It also wrote in zero gravity and upside down. And the R&D and production costs were much less expensive.

The exact story, unfortunately, is an urban legend.  Both US and USSR space programs initially used pencils and both eventually used the Fischer space pen,but the core message is accurate.  The Soviet Union has had a history of finding simple solutions to problems out of necessity and the US has a history of developing mind numbingly complicated solutions to simple problems.

Since the end of WWII, we as a society have become increasingly dependent on Fischer space pen solutions and have forgotten about having pencils as an option.

As we’re approaching Christmas and the new year, I want to encourage you to thoroughly enjoy all of the Fischer space pens in your life—fully automatic furnaces, cars that always (or at least usually) start, faucets and switches that always work, gas pumps that always pump gas, store shelves that are never empty, high quality coffee shops on every corner, wide varieties of semi-fresh food in grocery stores, and more. Enjoy these things. Take advantage of them. These things have never been available the way they are right now in all of recorded time, are only available to a relatively limited number of people in the world, and may not always be available the way they are now.

At the same time, don’t forget to practice using pencils. Know how to build a fire, regardless of whether you’ve got a blowtorch, flares, a lighter, matches, wiz-bang fire making tools, or 2 sticks. Know multiple methods of purifying water. Know how to defend yourself, whether you’re fully armed and ready or in the shower with shampoo in your hair. Know how to identify threats and spot danger. Know the fundamentals of first aid, CPR, and trauma care. Practice bartering, dickering, and negotiating. Almost everyone else in the world thinks these are acceptable practices, and these skills have only fallen widely out of favor in the US since WWII.

The combination of enjoying “Fischer Space Pens” and knowing how to use “pencils” will, in a sense, give you the best of both worlds while times are good. For some, it will lead to a complete change in lifestyle, but for most it will simply lead to more stability…both now and in a survival situation.

Last minute Christmas thoughts

The other day, after making a purchase, the lady who was helping me said, “Happy Holidays!” I was in a particularly obnoxious mood and replied, “Thank you! I don’t celebrate ‘Holidays,’ but I wish you a Merry Christmas!” The lady who was helping me and the lady next to her broke out into two of the biggest grins that I’ve seen in quite awhile and said “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

If you’re still looking for last minute Christmas gifts, one that you should consider is a deck of Urban Survival Playing Cards from (scroll down for bulk pricing) They were featured on Glenn Beck’s 2010 My Favorite Things Christmas special as a must-have gift to buy for the people you love.  While we can’t guarantee the performance of the US Postal Service, it looks like orders placed by the end of the business day on the 16th should get to CONUS addresses before Christmas.

In addition to being a deck of playing cards that you can use for entertainment, they also include 52 survival tips, tricks, and tactics that people are likely to forget in high stress survival situations. I released these 2 Christmases ago and they’ve been a hit since then.

Until next week, God bless and stay safe! If you’re traveling next Friday, have a Merry Christmas as well.  If you don’t celebrate Christmas, have a happy Hanukkah, a fabulous Festivus, spectacular solstice, or whatever you celebrate this time of year.


David Morris


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