This week’s Urban Survival Newsletter is going to be a quick one. It’s been a great/busy week leading up to Christmas and I’m guessing you are as short on time for reading as I am for writing.
There are a few quick things that I want to go over this week, starting with some BIG steps that the US government took this week to centralize power.
One was the FCC’s decision to enact “net neutrality.” Basically, since there is too much opposition to net neutrality in Congress, the FCC voted 3-2 to grant itself power to regulate the internet. Really.
On the surface, net neutrality isn’t a bad thing…it will keep companies like Comcast from throttling it’s customers’ speed when they’re watching a Netflix movie. And, yes, this actually happened. Comcast WAS using a network tool from Sandvine to break up (mostly) illegal peer-to-peer internet traffic and it also throttled connections to Netflix, Lotus Notes and other legal applications. Comcast self-regulated to take care of the problem and switched over to capped data plans before the government got involved. But it’s likely to happen with any web application that ISPs have an interest in, like VOIP, movies on demand, paid search results, etc.
I actually LIKE that part of net neutrality, but I don’t like centralized bureaucracies getting any more power than necessary. They just NEVER make things go smoother than the free market does. They stifle creativity, and give people what they think people want rather than what people decide they want. Most importantly, government controls rarely, if ever, shrink. They just keep expanding their power and growing like a cancer until they kill their host (us.) The big concern with net neutrality is that the FCC will decide to use it as a tool to regulate free speech.
Speaking of killing us, the Senate and the House passed the Food Safety Modernization Act. It’s just another centralized bureaucratic power grab wearing the disguise of a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
If Obama signs it and if it gets funding from the new Congress, it will mean that small to medium sized farmers will have to invest LARGE amounts of money into machinery to make the food they produce “safe.” Family farmers have small profit margins to start with, and the end result of this bill will most likely be much higher food prices, fewer local farms, less local food, more imported food in our stores, more centralization of our food supply, and even less food stability in the event of a disaster.
This is particularly ironic in light of how many people are waking up to the benefits of “Buy Local” programs, farmers’ markets, and knowing where your food comes from.
I know most of my readers consider themselves economically/politically conservative/libertarian/constitutional and/or even anarcho-capitalists, (who look more like our founding fathers, and not at all like modern day anarchists) but there are also some liberal and socialist readers who see the wisdom in self-reliance and preparedness. You’re all welcome here—and in fact, it’s important to accept the fact that a desire to prepare to survive crosses all political lines.
But I want to point out that I feel particularly sorry for my liberal-leaning readers who have led the charge and helped create demand for organic and local foods. (I share this passion with you and I thank you for the ground that you’ve broken.) In many cases, the very people that they elected used this bill to stab them in the back.
Both the FCC’s assumption of power and the passage of the food safety act are “triggers” that you can take advantage of to keep moving the ball forward with your preparations and I encourage you to do so. And, if you have time, let your representatives know how you feel. Net neutrality may not be funded and the Food Safety Modernization Act will probably go into law, but it can still be rescinded or simply not funded by the new Congress…if our representatives know how opposed we are to the government taking more of our money to tell us how we should live our lives.
And, on the food front, remember that the best emergency food supply to have is a food supply that you will eat. So when you’re buying non-perishable items or foods with a long shelf life, try to buy a few extra every time you go to the store.
If you’re traveling over the Christmas holiday, I want to encourage you to carry at least a few days worth of meal replacement bars, shakes, or other dense food. There is chatter that Al Qaeda is planning widespread poisoning of hotel and restaurant salad bars and buffets. I’m not going to let it change our plans, but I am going to be extra observant when eating out.
Of course, for a step-by-step guide to get you and your family prepared for surviving breakdowns in civil order after a disaster, I suggest signing up for the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course. You can read more about it by going to www.SurviveInPlace.com.
Mary and Joseph’s 90 mile “bug-out”
This next part is definitely on the lighter side…just some fun trivia that I think you’ll enjoy.
Like politics, the desire to prepare to survive crosses religious lines. I’m a Christian, and Christmas is my 2nd favorite holiday of the year (after Easter.) In the spirit of the season and preparedness, I was in a conversation about how far Joseph and Mary walked when they made their trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census and Jesus’ birth and what supplies they might have had with them.
I’m not trying to be exact with the numbers and assumptions below. If you have researched any of this, or have first hand knowledge, please share by commenting below.
As the crow flies, it’s about 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Walking, it’s between 80 and 90 miles, depending on which route you take. Mary could have been one tough cookie and walked 39 weeks into her pregnancy, but I think it’s safe to assume that she rode on a donkey.
A good rule of thumb for a sustained walking/hiking rate of travel with a light load is 3-4 miles per hour. If Joseph and the donkey kept up 3 mile per hour pace for the whole trip and walked 7 hours a day, it would have taken 3 ½ days. People had to be more hearty in those times and I have no doubt that Joseph could have made better time, but I’m assuming that he stopped frequently to tend to Mary.
Again, this isn’t a technical account…just trivia…so let’s assume that a donkey uses roughly the same number of calories and water as a person. If you know a lot about donkeys, please chime in with the facts by commenting below.
On the water side, we can estimate that all 3 consumed a liter of water per hour while they were walking and at least another 4 liters for evening drinking, meals, and hygiene for a total of 33 liters or just over 8 gallons per day and 25 gallons for the trip…minimum. If they would have carried all of their water and not gathered any, it would have weighed about 210 pounds. More than likely, they would have had a few water containers and tanked up themselves and their containers repeatedly during the journey.
For food, let’s assume that all 3 of them burned up 1500 calories per day while resting. In addition, Joseph and the donkey would burn up about 100 calories per mile, or another 9000 calories apiece for a total of 9000×2+1500×3 (2 people+1 donkey)x3 ½ days=18,000+15,750=33,750 calories for the trip.
Flat bread contains about 100 calories per ounce and whole wheat is approximately the same, so if they ate nothing but bread, they would have needed 337 ounces or just over 20 pounds of bread/wheat for the trip there and another 20 pounds for the trip back home. It’s likely that they could have taken only 20 pounds of bread and enough coinage or oils to buy another 20 pounds in Bethlehem.
They probably didn’t JUST have bread. Figs have about 80 calories per ounce and fish have 30-50 calories per ounce. Figs and fish may not have as many calories per ounce, but they do pack more calories into a smaller package.
They didn’t have electronics, so they didn’t need to carry batteries. They didn’t have guns, so they didn’t need to carry ammo. They probably had some reed mats, blankets, some extra clothes, a knife or two, a staff or walking stick, cups, cooking materials, something to make fire, cordage, and some leather tools to fix their shoes if necessary.
I have a theory that due to their anti-viral/bacterial/fungal properties that frankincense oil and myrrh could have been worth more than gold at the time, so they could have had a couple vials of them as well. They probably had a few extra supplies along in case Mary went into labor, but probably nothing too heavy.
And, with that, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas. Thank you to each and every one of you for joining me on my mission to make the country more resilient by helping as many individuals as possible become more self-reliant.
So, if you can, take a breather for a few days. Soak in time with your friends and family. Enjoy the moment and try to completely ignore as many problems as you can. And, as you’re enjoying time together, remember to stop and take mental snapshots to lock in as many happy memories as you can. I like to visualize putting these snapshots in a safe in my mind that I can go back to in the future when I need a pick-me-up.
After the first of the year, I’ve got a BIG announcement for you. We’re putting the finishing touches on something that many of you have been demanding for several months.
God bless, stay safe, and have a very Merry Christmas!