Letter Re: G.O.O.D. Vehicle Advice

Mr. Rawles:
In this article you state that “…large crash bars in the front, a removable cable cutter post that is as tall as your truck’s cab,” Do you mean BRUSH GUARDS, because I cannot find any large crash bars! Can you help?

JWR’s Reply:
To my way of thinking, a proper “crash bar” for a truck is just a very heavy duty bumper + brush guard with the addition of an extra piece of heavy steel stock welded on vertically (parallel with the radiator) in the center of the brush guard. It should extend from the bottom of the brush guard (or grille trim, whichever is lower) to a height where its top end is parallel with the top of your truck’s hood. (BTW, I don’t recommend extending anything below your front grille trim, because it would degrade the “approach angle” of you truck. That could cause a nasty hang up when crossing narrow gullies off road.) A piece of very heavy gauge (Schedule 80) 4″ diameter pipe works fine as the actual impact-dealing/bearing “crash bar”. (So does a section of railroad track, but IMHO that is a bit too obvious for pre-TEOTWAWKI times.) Your local welding shop should be able to handle the welding mod for you. OBTW, I believe that the cable cutter should be removable (bolted on rather than welded on), because, again, they look incongruous under pre-TEOTWAWKI circumstances.)

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

 "Necessity is the excuse for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of the tyrant and the creed of the slave." – William Pitt, 1763

Note from JWR:

I’m delighted that in just over two weeks this blog has had more than 15,000 unique accesses and a whopping 346,200 page hits. We also now have two advertisers, and a couple of more waiting in the wings. Please continue to spread the word. In particular, I’d appreciate it if you could make brief mention of SurvivalBlog.com on any forums, blogs, or bulletin boards that you frequent. Many Thanks!

Income Tax as a Criteria for Choosing Your Retreat Locale

Taxes are another important consideration when choosing the state where you plan to live/retreat. Take a close look at property, income, and sales taxes before you decide where you might like to relocate. Car registration fees are another factor worth considering, especially if you have several vehicles. (In some states registration fees are a piddling administrative fee, while in some of the more populous Nanny States they are a big revenue source.)

If you are retired or nearing retirement age and middle class, property taxes will likely be more important to you than income taxes. Conversely, if you are in an upper income tax bracket or are middle class but still in your prime earnings years then income tax will be a prime concern. I’ve assembled some figures, gleaned from my research. Sorry that some of the following figures are a bit dated…

States with NO personal income tax include:
Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
Note: New Hampshire and Tennessee do tax interest and dividend income. It is also notable that Washington has a business tax of 2-3% of gross business revenues, so business owners should beware.

States with low to moderate income taxes:
Arizona and Idaho.

States with high income taxes:
California, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon.

States with the lowest property taxes (per capita, annually):
Alabama: $210
New Mexico: $283
Kentucky: $286
Arkansas: $321
Louisiana: $324

States with highest property taxes (per capita, annually):
New Jersey: $1,591
New Hampshire: $1,555
Connecticut: $1,500
New York: $1,329
Rhode Island: $1,233
Source: The Tax Foundation, based on Commerce Department and Census statistics.

Note: While sales and income taxes can be reduced by effective planning and clever behavior (lawfully, of course), property taxes are different. As The Sopranos mobster said: “Them you gotta pay.”

The Total Tax Burden (Property taxes, income taxes, and sales taxes combined–expressed in terms of taxes as a percentage of income, as of 2002):

The Best:
Alaska: 6.3%
New Hampshire: 7.6%
Tennessee: 8.3%
Colorado: 8.4%
South Dakota: 8.9%

The Worst:
Maine: 13.6%
New York: 12.9%
Wisconsin: 11.9%
Vermont: 11.7%
Hawaii: 11.6%

Note: Includes state and local taxes including property and sales tax, excise tax and some business taxes. You may pay even more if your income is considerably higher than average, or if you live in a city or county within the state with high property taxes. Source: The Tax Foundation, based on 1997 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Why I Derisively Call .223 Rifles “Mouse Guns” (SA: Survival Guns)

A good friend sent the following e-mail excerpt from a young gent who is now a Lance Corporal, in the USMC. (When he sent the e-maile was a PFC on his first
deployment. It poignantly underscores the importance of the phrase Use Enough Gun!

“I’ve never been more disgusted with a weapon than I am with the M16. The accuracy is great and I’m comfortable with the operation of it but beyond that it’s worthless.
A couple weeks ago we had reports of a different squad in our platoon taking contact from two gunmen. They returned fire and swore up and down that they hit multiple times but both guys got away. Within 30 minutes we received a call from the hospital that they received two gunshot wound patients: One had suffered 28 wounds and the other 10. Both were still alive. This doesn’t even seem like a bad joke to me. It’s pretty much tragic. There are so many stories, especially from the Force Recon guys, of the .223 costing Marines their lives. When is something going to be done about this? How many Marines and soldiers have to die before someone will decide that maybe it’d be a good idea to get a better system? Next time I come out here, I’m bringing at least a couple magazines of ballistic-tipped ammo or something…”

JWR’s Comment: Unless you live in Alaska, the majority of your defensive rifle battery should be chambered in .308 Winchester (7.62mm NATO). I only consider .223 (a.k.a. 5.56mm NATO) useful as a transitional training round for youngsters, or perhaps as a tertiary cartridge for arming elderly or disabled retreat residents. Period.

Three Letters Re: Diesel Engine Vehicles and EMP

1.) Jim:
GM diesel models 1994 or later have an electronic injection pump, and are vulnerable to EMP. Some models made before 1994 will have an electronic glow plug controller which can be easily bypassed. From what I can gather GM also went to “electronic” transmissions around 1994. Before then most diesels had th350 or th400 transmissions. Some pre-1994 GM trucks also had th700r4 transmissions that had minimal electronics, and can be rebuilt with the electronics bypassed. Of course anything with a manual transmission should be safe. I believe most light diesels follow the same timeline because of EPA smog regulations that were implemented at the time. – C.G

2.) I just had to replace the glow plug relay in my 1982 Mercedes 300SD, and took the old one apart and found some transistors in the turn-on timing circuit. These may get fried, but I can always put a pushbutton on the dash to simplify the circuit. – A Marine Corps Reader

3.) Hi,
I can only speak for Fords, of which I own a 1988 F250 Diesel. The early 80’s to 1994 ford In-Direct Injection (IDI) 6.9L and 7.3L diesels,
actually an International motor, have no computers. Everything, and I mean everything, is mechanical in these motors (even the fuel pump). In
1989, Ford went to a 4 speed automatic transmission that is computer operated, and that is the only computer in the truck. Of course, there
are electronic components in the truck: Glow Plugs, Alternator, Gauges, etc, but the truck would keep on running and driving even if it took an
EMP hit. If the glow plug controller goes out, it might be a little hard to start on cold days. Losing the electronic starter would cause
problems too. After 1994, the Ford diesels are called PowerStroke, and they have computers controlling the motor.
My ’88 F250 4×4 Diesel is my G.O.O.D. vehicle for good reason! – “Analog”

Letter from “Doug Carlton” Re: Beretta 9mm Model 92/Centurion Owners — .40 S&W Kits Now on the Market

Here’s some of my views on some of the questions you’ve had in your letters about the Beretta M92/96 series. My experience with the gun, after use in the Army and use and ownership in the civilian world is they work as well as any gun out there. People get entirely too territorial about handguns, similar to the way people used to put some mystical significance to their sword they would be carrying in feudal times. The fact is that you really aren’t any less or better armed with nearly any of the current crop of service pistols from any of the makers. FOR THE ARMY the M9 is fine, but notice I said FOR THE ARMY. Too many people put too much significance on what the Big Army uses instead of looking at what they themselves need. Just because the Army uses the M9 or M11 (SIG P228), or some police department uses Glocks, or some instructor uses a M1911A1 doesn’t make it THE BEST FOR YOU in your individual situation. What matters is buying a quality gun that fits your needs. Too many people go nuts over the latest gadget, kit, or weapon they see on an internet picture of troops in combat and instantly want that item because that must be what’s needed. But even in Iraq the situation is different than what we’d experience here in the USA, even if the same type of war was going on. People need to take a long hard look at what they need, and gear up for those needs, not someone else’s. That covers everything from guns, calibers, ammo, to uniforms and radios and even food. Survival is all about your personal needs.

On the 92/96 conversions–The 92/96 conversions were originally sold by Beretta as a set on a common frame. The factory would actually fit both top halves to the one frame, and insure that they worked. The CDNN offering is worth buying IMO, but there is a very small chance it might not be reliable on a standard 9mm frame. There’s no drama in getting it to work right either, but no one should buy one and store it “just in case they need a .40” and not first test it out extensively to wring out any problems before it is needed. The low cost, and the flexibility it adds is worth the price, and 99% of the time these will work fine out of the box. Just make sure that the people with the 1% get them running before they need them.

On ball versus JHP ammo–ANY handgun is marginal at best for stopping power compared to a rifle. The only virtue of a sidearm is it’s portability. So when it’s possible, JHPs should be used regardless of caliber. The “one box method” is a good one for weeding out early ammo purchases, but in general no gun should be relied upon unless the user has shot at least 500 rounds out of it without failure of any kind. 500 rounds is not much of anything in real terms, just ten boxes of ammo. Most of today’s quality pistols will easily shoot several thousands without any problem, and most will digest tens of thousands easily. While I understand that you meant that one box just to weed out incompatible ammo, someone might think one box is all you need to shoot to test for serious use. Once you find one box that does run through the gun, they need to run another 9 boxes at least through it to make sure it works before really having confidence in that gun/ammo combination. FMJ is attractive from a price standpoint, and that IS and important consideration. We’ve all been in a position where we had more needs than money, and just can’t run down to the store and buy 2500 rounds of JHPs or a new P220 for them to go in. So again you have to use your own judgment. If your only handgun will only feed FMJ and you can’t afford one that will, or mods to yours to make it feed different bull;et shapes, then buying FMJ as an interim plan isn’t a bad way to go. It’s far less effective than JHP, but a jammed gun is far less effective than one that’s spitting out ball every time. Ammo is never a waste, since you can use it for barter later, or practice now. It will buy you time to find out what JHP works and time to buy it. It’s NOT the optimum solution by any stretch. Any time you take the “cheap way” over the “best way”, then you’re losing something and cutting corners, but the reality of life in the real world is you sometimes have to do that. Just view it like driving your car on an emergency “doughnut” spare. You can still move, but it’s not the best solution to needing the right tire.

Speaking of tires, on bullets bouncing off of tires–This is a well known phenomena. So well known that many PD’s won’t shoot at truck tires. The U.S. Army first used stacks of tires in the early MOUT training days (i.e. “tire houses”) and found out that bullets and grenade fragments bouncing off of them were a serious danger. Serious enough that the Army does not use them any longer , and neither does anyone else that has any sense for that matter. They were used for only a couple years, and quickly dropped because too many people actually got shot by rounds that were bouncing around. Shooting at tires of any kind is a dangerous thing to do!

On U.S.G.I. Beretta magazines not working–The problem with them is the government went cheap and bought essentially aftermarket mags. Gee, any lesson there? All the bad mags are marked Checkmate Industries, or CMI. Since they’ve been recalled, they may start popping up on the surplus market. Again, just because it’s “U.S.G.I.” doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go. Sometimes it is surplus for a reason. OBTW, the later Checkmate mags actually have different tolerances and supposedly work. Also BTW, “MDS” marked mags are actually a Beretta factory product. Beretta owns MDS and that’s the factory that they use to make all their mags. Buy what you want, but this is a good case of where “U.S.G.I.” might not always be the best route to take. – Doug Carlton

[JWR’s note: Some of the readers of my novel Patriots will remember the Doug Carlton character. It is the pseudonym of a real life individual that I have known since college. He is a former U.S. Army aviator.]

WND Reports: Al Qaeda Nuke Strike in U.S. “Pretty Close to Being Inevitable”

Our friends at World Net Daily just posted excerpts from an interview with Michael Scheuer, the man who headed the CIA’s Osama bin Laden desk. Scheuer discussed Bin Laden’s relentless quest to obtain nukes and the prospects of a nuclear terrorist strike on the U.S. by Al Qaeda. He said: “I don’t believe in inevitability. But I think it’s pretty close to being inevitable. …Yes, I think it’s probably a near thing.” Read the entire article. This is some serious FFTAGFFR, folks!

From David in Israel: On Zippered Boots

It seems obvious to anyone who has worked in a fire department or EMS but even now that I am not directly in this field I still keep my clothing ready to go instantly. We are almost useless without at least shoes. I keep my zip off boots (tongue zipper kits are sold by Red Wing shoes), pants and shirt from the previous day next to the bed. That means I don’t have to think about having a cell phone, flashlight, or pistol when it is needed. In just 10 seconds I am ready to go.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”
– Frederic Bastiat, The Law

Jim’s Product Review: 4,000+ Nights In a Wiggy’s Sleeping Bag

I don’t write many product reviews, but I am uniquely qualified to write this one: In November of 1994 I rolled my 1968 Bronco on black ice on a winding stretch of Highway 12 paralleling the Clearwater River in Idaho. In that accident I suffered a severe back injury–so severe that the chiropractor that took the x-rays commented that he was surprised that I hadn’t severed my spinal cord. Because of the injury, despite the best efforts of the doctors and chiropractors I’ve been unable to sleep in a bed for the past 11 years. (Any bed is too soft and causes muscle spasms.) Since December of 1994, I’ve spent virtually every night sleeping on the floor in a Wiggy’s Hunter Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS) sleeping bag. It is a two bag sleep system with two different weight bags that can be used together or separately. I spend roughly 8 months out of each year in the light weight bag, and 4 months in the heavy weight bag.) I’ve slept for more than 4,000 nights in that FTRSS–that is the equivalent of two lifetimes of heavy recreational use for a sleeping bag. (Here is the math: An intensive recreational user probably camps out about 35 nights per year, multiplied by 50 years of camping equals 1,750 nights. Hence, two lifetimes for a bag would be roughly 3,500 nights.) Since 1994, I have spent approximately 4,000 nights–including about 250 nights in the field–in my FTRSS. Again, that is something in excess of two lifetimes worth of use.

The FTRSS has been very comfortable and exceptionally durable. The bag has had ZERO zipper failures, and NO rips or tears. Most importantly, is has never lost its loft or had its filling get clumped or re-arranged, despite countless machine washings. (I should have kept track of the number of times that I’ve washed it!) I highly recommend Wiggy’s brand sleeping bags. The FTRSS models in particular are ideally suited for anyone that expects to give a sleeping bag demanding use. OBTW, I should mention that I have not been compensated in any way for making this endorsement. I’m just a very satisfied customer. If you want the best, buy yourself a Wiggy’s bag!

Book Review: Physician Desk Reference (PDR) for Herbal Medicine

(Third Edition, 987 pages.) This is a huge book. The price is huge too, at $59.95. This book has information on over 700 botanicals as well as a new section on nutritional supplements. Each botanical entry gives common names and scientific names. A plant description is given. (Though not good enough to help you recognize the plant in the wild.) It tells the chemical compounds found in the herb and the effects of the compounds. A very strong plus! There is usage (both proven and unproven) for each entry. Mode of administration and sometimes dosage amounts are given. The reason I really like this book is for the section on precautions and adverse reactions. Remember the Hippocratic oath—Do thy patient no harm! (There are many books on herbs out there which say nothing about overdoses and adverse reactions.) There is a section of color photos of 300 or so of the botanicals. Which leads me to what I think is the real lack of this book, which is plant identification. There are photographs for less than half of the plants. And the photos are each hardly larger than an inch square. Not to mention the pictures are generally bad. So you are going to need to find at least one other herb book–specifically for plant identification. I have mixed feelings about this book. It probably has way more information in it than most people need. And it is more expensive than most can afford. Further, if the balloon goes up we aren’t going to have access to all 700 botanicals detailed in this book. But on the other hand if it is TEOTWAWKI, I’m going to want some really good books on herbs. And this will be one of them. – The Memsahib

From David in Israel: Charity and Tithing (Tzedaka) Law in Israel

Since it is a major focus of your blog, I thought you would like to see a few of the Jewish laws regarding Tzedaka. All things in this world are created by Hashem, the only thing we can claim is our ability to choose good or evil. To remind us that he is the owner (among other reasons) he requires we contribute 10% of all our produce from the field (plus another 10% to the Levim and another 2-3% to the Cohenim (aka, the Priests and their assistants) We extend the 10% of Tzedaka to all income almost like a tax. Even if a person is so desperately poor they cant give 10% they must give some level of tzedaka. If a person is middle income they may give up to 1/5 of their income although this next 10% above the minimum is much more free as to to what it may fund. Finally a wealthy person may give any amount they want above the 20% to whatever cause they choose.
Restrictions on giving: You may not impoverish your family through tzedaka, it is a sin to over give and put your family behind others. There is a bulls eye of giving, starting in the middle with yourself, you must ensure your survival first, next your wife, then your children.
Next comes your Torah instructor then your parents.
Next comes close neighbors, further out neighbors are their next door neighbors first responsibility not yours. Finally, if everyone in your community is taken care of may you give outside to other communities. I am sick when I hear of Tzedaka given to "save the animals" causes. This is effectively giving to a sweet and emotional cause but it must come from recreational or optional monies not from money designated for the mitzvah [blessing] of Tzedaka.

You may not use Tzedaka for your own or family education unless you are desperately poor, if possible this loan if taken must be documented and repaid. Holy books may be purchased but must be marked as purchased with Tzedaka so they are not included in any inheritance and must be freely loaned. Measure for measure Hashem promises a return on this investment even stating we are to test him in this matter. When we act as agents of the creator in bringing the flow of his blessing into the world we increase the flow directed through us.

Letter from Nurse Livengood Re: Asian Avian Flu (H5N1)

Thanks for the great blog. I have been looking for this information for a long time. Thanks.

In regards to the flu: here is some information from two good sources. The first is from the August 13th issue of the Lancet (major medical journal from the UK):
The Lancet 2005; 366:533-534
H5N1 Influenza Pandemic: Contingency Plans
Kenneth WT Tsang email address a, Philip Eng b, CK Liam c, Young-soo Shim d and Wah K Lam d

The current epidemic of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza, with a mortality of 58%, appears relentless in Asia, particularly in Vietnam and Thailand.1 Although inefficient, there is some evidence of human-to-human transmission for the H5N1 virus.2 A possible catastrophic pandemic could, therefore, emerge should re-assortment of viral antigens occur resulting in a highly infectious strain of H5N1. Influenza pandemics in 1917–18, 1957–58, and 1968–69 have already caused approximately 15, 4, and 0·75 million deaths worldwide, respectively.

A vaccine for H5N1 will not be available in the foreseeable months. Even if pharmaceutical manufacturing begins soon after an outbreak, there would not be a sufficient supply for the countries most in need—ie, the Asian nations. Antiviral drugs are consequently the only specific treatment, pending availability of effective vaccines. These include M2 inhibitors (amantadine and rimantadine), which are ineffective against H5N1 in vitro, and the neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir and zanamivir).3 The neuraminidase inhibitors reduce the severity and duration of symptoms, and prevent
clinical influenza as post-exposure and seasonal prophylaxis.4 Influenza contingency plans by the WHO and most governments generally advocate detection, isolation, staff protection, and the start of antiviral treatment for patients, and their contacts.5 Many governments, including those of Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Korea, have already stockpiled, at a very substantial expense, vast quantities of oseltamivir to prepare for an outbreak.5

This next one comes from an ACIP ( Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) publication: Influenza Vaccine Composition
Both the inactivated and live, attenuated vaccines prepared for the 2005–06 season will include A/California/7/2004 (H3N2)-like, A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like, and B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigens. For the A/California/7/2004 (H3N2)-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent A/New York/55/2004 (H3N2) virus, and for the B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent B/Jilin/20/2003 virus or B/Jiangsu/10/2003 virus. These viruses will be used because of their growth properties and because they are representative of influenza viruses likely to circulate in the United States during the 2005–06 influenza season. Because circulating influenza A (H1N2) viruses are a reassortant of influenza A (H1N1) and (H3N2) viruses, antibody directed against influenza A (H1N1) and influenza (H3N2) vaccine strains provides protection against circulating influenza A (H1N2) viruses. Influenza viruses for both the inactivated and live attenuated influenza vaccines are initially grown in embryonated hens eggs. Thus, both vaccines might contain limited amounts of residual egg protein. For the inactivated vaccine, the vaccine viruses are made noninfectious (i.e., inactivated or killed) (63). Subvirion and purified surface antigen preparations of the inactivated vaccine are available. Manufacturing processes differ by manufacturer. Manufacturers might use different compounds to inactivate influenza viruses and add antibiotics to prevent bacterial contamination. Package inserts should be consulted for additional information.

Hope these are helpful (or at least interesting)! – Nurse Alma Frances Livengood

Letter Re: Subarus and Heirloom Seeds

I’d like to compliment you on having one of the most informative new blogs I’ve seen. I’ve enjoyed reading it, so far.
I have a couple of things to contribute, one on the subject of gardening, and one on the subject of good cars to have around.

On the car, first, as it’s short: Subaru stations wagons, 4WD drive ones, if older–all new ones are all wheel drive, are fantastic vehicles for rough driving conditions. Their only drawback is that they are not diesel. My Outback has actually done the stuff you always see in Subaru’s commercials–and then gotten on the freeway and done 80 mph–all in a day’s work, no problem. I have even seen it handle rough roads and mud better than a 1-ton dually 4WD diesel truck–no exaggeration! I’ve had more than one Subaru. If you need a car, rather than a truck, for some reason, they take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. The one I had before my current one was an early ’80’s model 4WD that had 250,000 miles on it, when I sold it to my neighbor, who then used it to place in the local demo derby 3 times that I know of, winning once. Parts are reasonably cheap & fixing is reasonably easy. Japanese brand, but made in Indiana. (Our other vehicle is a big diesel Dodge, so we have our bases covered.)

On to the gardening. When you are buying seeds for gardening, you want to be sure to buy open-pollinated seeds. These are non-hybrid and often heirloom varieties. You can’t save seeds from the fruit of plants grown from hybrid seed, because you those seeds will not breed true. Open-pollinated seeds will breed true from saved seed, and are, therefore, a far better choice for a preparedness-oriented gardener. There are techniques to be learned for saving seeds, and plenty of how-to info around. Squash, for example, requires hand-pollination if you want your seed to breed true, as all squash breeds cross-pollinate with each other. I have some interesting crosses that “volunteered” in my garden this year! Most sorts of seed will keep a few years, if kept in a cool dry place. My favorite source for open-pollinated seeds is Fedco Seeds, in Maine. They are a co-op, so only do ordering once a year, but their prices and available variety are top-notch!

A little-known vegetable that makes an excellent substitute for potatoes and, if you can’t find it growing wild, is extremely easy to grow, is known as a Sunchoke, or Jerusalem Artichoke. This is actually a species of sunflower with edible roots. You plant them like potatoes, and, after frost, dig the tubers up only as you use them–they don’t keep well out of the ground. I’m thinking they might keep well in a box of dirt in a root cellar, but I haven’t tried this yet. They’re very undemanding as far as watering or garden care is concerned, and extremely tasty fried up with onions! – Mrs. H.J.