Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Like gold, U.S. dollars have value only to the extent that they are strictly limited in supply. But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost…A money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman’s famous “helicopter drop” of money.” – incoming Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, Deflation: Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn’t Happen Here (Remarks to the National Economists’ Club, Washington, DC, Nov 21, 2002)



Note From JWR:

We will be announcing the winner of Round 2 our non-fiction writing contest on February 1st. The prize is a four day course certificate at Front Sight.

I greatly appreciate your e-mails, folks.  Please keep them coming.  They are what make SurvivalBlog great.  Your collective knowledge is phenomenal.



More About Silver’s Imminent Price Explosion

Yesterday on SurvivalBlog (27 Jan.06) , I posted my take on the Iran situation and correlated it to the precious metals market–and silver in particular. Since then I’ve had two different readers e-mail to ask why I’m so sure about an imminent jump in the price of silver.  Here is some useful background:
World silver inventories have fallen to less than 600 million ounces–far below the 1.4 billion ounces that was on hand in 1991. The silver market is incredibly thin compared to the gold
market. That is one reason that silver prices trend to be more volatile that gold prices. For perspective,  consider that together, the two big gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) hold around six million ounces of gold. The current ratio of silver to gold prices is around 57 to one. Hence, if the new silver ETF (or multiple ETFs) were hold an equivalent value in silver, that would mean 342 million ounces. That well exceeds the entire world’s silver market inventory! As my maternal grandfather used to say in his fractured Spanish: “No ay ningun possibilidad.” (“There ain’t no way.”) This data leads me to the conclusion that even if the new silver ETF has perhaps only 1/4 the cash value of the Gold ETFs, then the silver market will still explode. Mark my words: Even in the absence of international tension with Iran and other contributing factors, there will probably be a huge short squeeze in the silver market in the near future. The upside potential is astronomical.



Paratus Farms Project Update

Here is an update on my retreat community land deal in the Inland Northwest: We could not come to agreement over terms of the sale. The seller has decided he wants a cash offer.  If the situation changes, I will post an update. At this point, all that I can hope for is that a "white knight" will step forward and take over the project, or lend me the cash needed. But for now, the land development project is on the back burner.



Letter Re: Questions on Petromax Lanterns (and Clones Thereof)

Jim:
This time I’m the one asking questions: Petromax lanterns. Okay, I know about the upgrades all the way thru BriteLyt, etc. One comment, based on what I read at the Walton Feed website: http://www.waltonfeed.com/petromax.html. They don’t recommend the cooking surface that fits on top of the lamp. Best to read their comments directly. Now there are some good, should I say copies?, but what I’m curious about is the Candle Power/Lumens of the various lamps. The 500 generally is considered to be equal to a 100 watt light bulb. There is a 350 candle power (CP) mantle and a new improvement replacing the ceramic jet with a stainless steel one. There is also a smaller one that doesn’t get much press: The 150 CP version. This is what I’m curious about. I know, being American, I’m supposed to buy the big lantern that is bright as heck. BUT I tend toward lower light levels. I never did like the Coleman gas lanterns. They always seemed like a bazillion watt stadium light to me. Anybody using the Petromax/Britelyt 150? I assume that the fuel lasts longer and it puts out less heat but still a fair bit of light. Any good stories or bits of advice? I’m probably picking up a couple of the small ones (yes, of course, along with spare globes, pump kits, and lots of mantels) next week along with the metal lampshade things and the tree hanger with the chain. Does anybody have opinions on the side reflectors? Thanks, – The Army Aviator

JWR Replies:  I’m an old-fashioned Alladin lamp diehard, so I don’t know much about the Petromax lanterns and their clones. However, I do recommend getting shade kits, because those lamps are incredibly bright–as in retinal-burning bright! Hopefully a SurvivalBlog reader will e-mail me with their collected wisdom about these lamps.



Odds ‘n Sods:

The U.S. Army plans to introduce new “Compressed Meal” (CM) freeze dried MRE alternatives. These will be about 2/3s the size and weight of the current MREs. See: http://www.dcmilitary.com/navy/seaservices/10_53/national_news/39293-1.html

  o o o

There was a recent report that the strain of Asian Avian flu that has made its was to Turkey is alarmingly similar to 1918 strain. See:http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=34224cff-120f-4d19-bd6c-526d264833f7&k=15148   My advice:  In case this bug mutates into s strain that is easily transmitted from person to person, be ready to self-quarantine for six months or longer, folks!  This will require a big pile-O-logistics!

 

  o o o

Some good news for FN/FAL builders. You’ve probably heard that the BATFE created a shortage of barrels with their arbitrary decision to restrict import licenses on military surplus semi-auto parts kits. To remedy this situation, Gun Parts Guy has started producing U.S.-made FN-FAL and L1A1 barrels. See: http://www.gunpartsguy.com/

  o o o

 

Mainland China will be introducing its “Geely” economy car into the U.S. market in 2008. How charming. I suspect that the low sticker price will be based on fact that most of the parts will be produced in China’s laogai prison factories. Those commies!

 

  o o o

The folks at The Pre-1899 Specialist report that just as they were about to run out of Turkish contract pre-1899 (no FFL) Model 1893 Oberndorf Mausers, their persistence paid off and they found another small batch. The bad news is that these ones cost them a lot more than the previous lot (since the supply in the U.S. has virtually dried up). But the good news news is that these latest ones are in fantastic condition!  (The importer had apparently been “saving the best for last.”) This is your chance to get a high pressure 8 x57 Mauser  (suitable for re-barreling for many modern chamberings) delivered right to your doorstep without filling out a Form 4473. There is no stinkin’ paperwork required because these rifles are Federally classified as “antiques” and hence entirely outside of  Federal jurisdiction. (Consult your state and local laws before you place an order, naturlich.)

  o o o

On Jan. 31st: America will say Goodbye to “Mr. Magoo” Greenspan, and get introduced to “Helicopter Ben” Bernanke. See Adam Hamilton’s insightful commentary on “The Greenspan Legacy” at: http://www.gold-eagle.com/gold_digest_05/hamilton012706.html





More On Precious Metals, The Iranian Nuclear Situation, The Iranian Oil Bourse, and the New Silver ETF

I’ve had more than a dozen e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers in recent weeks regarding Iran’s plans open a new oil bourse in March that will be denominated in Euros. Meanwhile there is lots of saber rattling going on, regarding Iran’s nuclear program–leading to the prospect of an Iranian oil embargo, which could of course mean very bad things for the U.S. economy. I have no idea how these two semi-related situations will play out. I’d be a fool to say that I knew. Aside for a few Ayatollahs, nobody knows. All that I can tell you is that these situations spell instability and uncertainty. The speculative side of the precious metals market is driven by fear, and I think that there will be plenty of fear in the coming months. Therefore, I can foresee a spike in the price of precious metals. The biggest gain will surely be in silver, which has been undervalued for years. In fact, silver could jump to over $90 an ounce. How? Here is one scenario: What if the recently-announced silver exchange traded fund (ETF) goes “live” at roughly the same time as either a.) a dollar crisis (precipitated by the new oil bourse), or b.) an Iranian oil embargo, or c.) military action in Iran–most likely an attack on their nuclear reactors.  It could even be a combination of all of the above. Consider that silver ran up to $50 per ounce during the Hunt Brothers short squeeze/buying panic in the late 1970s. Adjusted for inflation that would be the equivalent of around $80 per ounce these days.
I can’t overstate the significance of the Iran situation. For some more background, see: http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_05/willie012506.html
I’m just glad that I bought nearly all my Engelhard 100 ounce bars back when spot silver was around $4.40 an ounce!

Back in February of 2001, I stuck my neck out and “called the bottom” publicly when spot silver dipped to $4.55 per ounce. In that same post I predicted a possible further price sag to “as low as $4.25.” In fact it actually bottomed a few months later, at around $4.16. Okay, so I missed calling the exact the bottom, but on a macro scale I fairly accurately called the end of a 15+ year bear market and the beginning of the current bull market. BTW, if you think I’m making this up, see the Usenet newsgroup archives: http://groups.google.com/groups?q=Rawles+Calls+Bottom+Silver&hl=en 
The long term charts at Kitco.com are a real eye-opener.

Buckle your seat belts, folks. We are in for quite a roller coaster ride.



Product Review: Safecastle’s New Compact “ScramKit”

A SurvivalBlog reader in Montana recommended that I take a look at the new compact “ScramKits” being offered by Safecastle. I must say that I’m impressed. They pack a lot of survival gear into a very small space. Their “Responder Personal” kit is in effect a miniature “Get Out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.) kit or “bug out bag” (BOB) that you should keep in your car’s glove box or center console box at all times. This kit fits in its own heavy duty belt pouch (available in three different colors) with ALICE/MOLLE attachments  I think that the ScramKit makes the ideal “core” of a more comprehensive G.O.O.D. kit.  Add a tube tent and/or a couple of heavy duty space blankets and you have shelter for longer duration. Add a canteen and a day pack full of MREs, retort packaged, and/or freeze dried food to that, and you’ve got sustenance for a week. Add a whompin’ big sheath knife, and…

Here is what the kit contains:
* Maxpedition M5 waistbag in your choice of black, green, or khaki (as available)
* Personal-size first aid kit (in separately-removable bag)
* Pocket Survival Pack (in waterproof bag), from Adventure Medical Kits, which contains a treasure trove of goodies:
o Rescue Howler whistle
o Emergency signal mirror
o Fluid-filled magnetic compass
o Fire starter kit
o Duct tape (2″ x 26″)
o Scalpel blade
o Stainless steel utility wire (6 feet long)
o Nylon thread
o Nylon braided “paracord”
o Fishing gear: hooks, sinkers, swivel, nylon line
o Heavy-duty aluminum foil (1 sq. yard)
o Large sewing needle & safety pins
o Waterproof paper and pencil
* Tool Logic SL3 folding knife with integral whistle and fire starter rod
* Tool Logic Ice Card II credit-card multi tool system
* Tool Logic T1 Tech Light LED clip-on flashlight
* Emergency mylar “space” blanket
* 2 earloop face masks (surgical grade) in separate ziplock bags
* 2 pairs of nitrile exam gloves (non-sterile) paired up into separate ziplock bags
* GP4L digital shortwave radio with built-in regulated LED flashlight (includes earbuds) in a crush-resistant plastic case
* 16-foot windup antenna for the GP4L radio.

The Responder Personal kit provides the following capabilities:
* Basic first aid
* Basic respiratory protection (biological)
* Moderate emergency response
* Basic lighting (redundant)
* Basic fire starting (redundant)
* Basic tooling & gear repair
* Moderate communications (reception only)

The bottom line: I highly recommend this kit. Yes, you could assemble your own comparable kit, but that would take a lot of research and placing six or seven separate mail orders. And because of economies of scale (since Safecastle no doubt buys all of the components in quantity and hence commands lower prices from their suppliers) you wouldn’t save much money by doing the piecemeal purchasing yourself. One important proviso: Don’ t take one of these kits on a commercial airplane flight unless the kit is inside of your checked luggage.  (The pocket knife, snare wire, fire starters, and stainless surgical blades would be enough to give the TSA screeners fits of apoplexy!)





Precious Metals Update

You may have noticed that yesterday gold briefly touched $565 per ounce and silver hit $9.44 per ounce and stayed there. Methinks this bull market is just getting started! Aside for some doldrums this summer (since summers are typically quiet for the metals markets), you can expect a choppy but generally upward (stair-stepping) path for the precious metal prices through the rest of the year. The 90 and 120 day moving averages (DMAs) point to the bull market trend to continue WELL in excess of the rate of inflation. There is even the chance of on “upright spike” in the event of a dollar crisis. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: On a macro scale, the second half of this “Aughts” decade will probably resemble the second half of the 1970s. I just hope that the Federal Reserve’s new chief (“Helicopter Ben” Bernanke) can crank up his bubble machine fast enough to avert simultaneous stock market and real estate market collapses. This could get very interesting, folks. I expect that the U.S. real estate bubble will burst, sometime around May of ’06. There are already signs that the bubble is starting to lose some of its hot air. For example, see: http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/19/real_estate/home_money_0602/



David in Israel on Fire Suppression and Fire Fighting

For those with a real retreat in the forest or high desert a more pressing need than complete firearms battery is fire suppression. If you miss my point here, I believe that many survivalists confuse their gun hobby with serious survival preparations.

If the massive combined fire suppression ever stops for even a year massive fires will rip across the United States. Fuel loading from over 70 years of fire suppression and no natural burn-off has made conditions ripe for fires never seen before in North America.  Even if your only survival concerns are foreign invasion or occupation expect fire to be used (as was
attempted but failed during the Vietnam Agent Orange defoliation ops) to clear insurgents out of unsettled areas and deny them cover and natural resources.
This is a massive topic and this post can only give you areas to begin study.

1-Thin the vegetation as far as you are practical able to in the area of your home/retreat ideally this would be a county or community effort and the USFS or State Forestry Agency may be able to assist. Ideally, undergrowth would be burned off and trees closer than 5-10M to another would be removed to slow spread through a forest crown fire.
2-Create a perimeter around your home grass must be mowed to a stubble and raked off, no trees can be within 10M of the house any building or fuel tank.
Try to eliminate flammable trees in the nearby areas to your home and plant less flammable types.
3-Switch to a non flammable roof now, shake roofs are tinder and are almost a guarantee of a burned home in a fire
4-Make active suppression preparations:
– Install a irrigation system, include the roofs and under the eaves of your buildings in this sprinkler installation
– Install a swimming pool or cistern to provide a large supply of water
– Have a portable or installed gas powered water pump 250gpm is a good rate more will support more hand lines but any is better than none have a store of 1.5″ supply line as well as 1″ fire and 3/4″ fire (with garden hose fittings) types, nozzles, adapters, splitters etc will round out the hardware.  Standardize [fittings] with local fire or fed/state agencies who would respond.  BTW, it is best to mark [with a distinctive bright paint color] all of your hardware to prevent theft after a fire by the crews.
A excellent preparation to keep you whole home with pressurized water in the event of a prolonged outage is making a water tower and relying on head pressure to feed both your home and fire suppression systems.
This is as simple as hanging plastic barrels on a tree trunk or as complex as complex as having contractors install a proper water tower. For the improvised tower remember the filled weight of your water (1 gal = 8.33 lbs. and 55 gal = 458 lbs.) and fence around the tower in case of collapse so that nobody is injured.

Here in Israel I have seen the same “pumpkin” tanks that we used in the Forest Service, but built to larger dimensions and more aesthetic colors and sold as swimming pools. Above
ground or in ground is a matter of your pocketbook but be sure that you are able to properly draft to supply your fire operations.

Clothing
Nomex is best, USFS surplus or military flight suits are good as long as no metal zippers contact skin, the next best is cotton, Never wear synthetics or synthetic blends for use around fire.

Boots/Gloves
Never wear steel toe boots for fire fighting, because the steel will hold heat. Kevlar laces do not melt or burn. Keep boots and gloves dry to prevent steam burns. White’s brand were
the best in my day this may have changed. Good leather gloves light enough to work in, do not oil them keep them dry buy as large a supply as possible, kevlar stitching and double palm is a plus.

Gear
Buy a fire shelter for every family member plus extras, have several fire shovels (different than cheap garden/work shovels) and Pulaskies (hoe/axe tool), a helmet should always be worn during heavy work, and possibly blagger bags will help mop up after a fire has gone through. Also, a chainsaw adequate for cutting the local timber and the skills to use and maintain it are a must.

JWR Adds:  David speaks from experience. Heed his advice. Most of you may not be aware, but before he emigrated to Israel, David worked in the U.S. for many years as a full time fireman, and later as a paramedic.  

My $.02 worth on fire suppression/fire fighting:  If you are building a retreat from scratch or if you are replacing an existing water system, I recommend that you spend a little bit more an put in a large cistern, preferably with gravity feed with a substantial head, and put in a 2″ diameter Schedule 40 service line to the house.  Just outside of the house put in a “T” on the two inch line with a 2″ gate valve.  (Downstream of that “T” is where you can reduced to 1″ or smaller lines for your house.) Those 2″ gate valves are outrageously expensive–around $50 each), so shop around–perhaps buy them used.  At the big gate valve you can attach a proper high volume fire fighting hose rig. Effective firefighting is all about dispensing a large VOLUME of water, fast. Anything smaller than a 2″ diameter line will not suffice!  (Okay, perhaps 1.5 inch line if you are on a tight budget.)



Letter Re: Stocking Up on Shoes and Boots for Survival

Jim: 
Two words say it all: SHOE GOO.  I snipped the following description from a retailer online: “Shoe Goo is a clear adhesive and sealant that easily and permanently repairs all types of footwear. Apply it directly from the tube to worn out areas, allowing it to harden overnight. Shoo Goo adheres to all kinds of materials, so use it to mend rubber soles, tears in canvas or leather tops or to stop shoelaces from fraying. It dries to a waterproof, flexible rubber, so it will repair waders and boots without breaking or cracking under stress. Commonly used to cover pitching toes on baseball or softball cleats, mend worn outsole areas especially on running & skateboarding shoes, and repairing loosening outsoles.”  See: http://www.weplay.com/Shoe/Goo/  Expect to pay around $6 per tube.  Wal-Mart sells it, as well.
Shoe Goo is not as durable as the original sole on running shoes, but you can easily double the life of your footwear. And it is easier to pack a tube of Shoo Goo than extra boots. – OSOM



Odds ‘n Sods:

“Eric”, a former charter airline pilot and computer programmer publishes an interesting albeit sporadically updated self sufficiency blog: http://www.selfsufficientfamily.com/

  o  o  o

If you fall into the Club of Rome school of thought on the potential for a major whammy multi-generational societal collapse (See Roberto Vacca’s  book “The Coming Dark Age), then you might find this site interesting: http://anthropik.com

o  o  o

Two interesting web sites with some useful MicroHydro power info were recently mentioned in a discussion over at the Survival and Preparedness forum at The FAL Files.  See:   http://microhydropower.net/index.php and http://www.utilityfree.com/hydro/ (Scroll down to see their Pelton Wheel offerings)