Friday, September 16, 2005


Does anyone actually read this crap?

I figure nobody reads this stuff, so I'll go ahead and post something slightly controversial. It might be fun material for those who do RPG such as "car wars" or whatever...

The scenario: A big rock comes and smashes the planet to hell. Chaos ensues. Factions form and all that jazz. There's the ongoing thuggery (anarchists, militants, etc.), and then there's the authoritarians (bureaucrats, theocrats, dictators, etc.), and then there's everyone else (those who care less about power and just want to get by). Then of course in some situations it's hard to tell who's the thug and who's the gestapo, not that it matters if you're not in favor of either (or if they don't like you.) So then what?

Obviously there's going to be some hybrid relationship between what seems like medieval and modern technology. After a large cataclyzm, most resources are going to hell. (obviously) Sorta "Mad Max" style, but fuel will even be more scarce (well at least the petroleum kind). The human ability to adapt to such a crisis will probably yield something far more interesting than what could be thought of in fiction. In some parts of the world, the impact of a cataclsymic natural disaster on humanity might even be negligable. (If not directly hit, people in more "primitive" cultures are likely to go on as usual - provided food stays reliable.)

To survive in such a world there's going to be a need for technology regardless. The more you can scavenge and put to use the better.

Tools for hunting (or ranged weapons):
Firearms: Obviously the thugs and the "police" are going to go for these things early on after all hell breaks loose. If you happen to have them, conserve them. Use them only as needed and as survival would dictate. Don't go starting anything that will come back to get you.
The alternative to firearms: mechanical projectile weapons. Slings, bows and arrows, etc. Simple, crude, and more effective than not. Unlike firearms, ammo can be reused. Or in the form of material easily found lying around. There was a reason the natives still used arrows, even when they had guns. Stealth is an advantage to the old technology.
Skills to learn: bowery, fletching, and archery. Primitive, yet effective.
Recomended items to learn to use/craft: the simple sling - it's a freakin' piece of cloth.
Better item to craft: composite bow - made of three pieces held together by glue and wrappings, generally more powerful for given size and possibly less skill needed for manufacture than a single piece bow.

Transport: if you've got gas after everything falls apart, that's great. Use it, but don't waste it. It's a limited commodity. Alternative fuels will be a necessity rather than a novelty. Those who wish to be mobile will have to look towards alcohol and biofuels. For some larger scale vehicles, don't overlook the comeback of steam or wind power. It wouldn't be too suprising if horses make a comeback, and perhaps bicycles - not cars are king. Aircraft will be seen less often. Turbines should be easily adaptable to some bio fuels, but their overall rate of consumption will be the main factor when it comes to flying. Airships and gliders may see more usage than powered craft, but in a tecnically depreciated world it's questionable as to how practical they may be.

Useful skills: being a lawyer or an accountant won't count for much if people are on the verge of starving or otherwise not being able to get by. You could shyster somebody out of their money, but when it comes to food and whatnot, don't be suprised if such methods get you whacked. (Although if society stabilizes somewhat, arbitration might be a useful secondary skill. At least until what we know as modern civilization makes a comeback.) Useful skills in a post apocalyptic world will be those related to being able to produce food, produce tools, and produce shelter. Service related skills may still exist as well, but in a more limited fashion. Also don't underestimate artistry, as it also documents the ongoing culture and often outlasts the civilization that produces it. The medical practices will still be vital, but low-tech paramedic type skills will be more applicable than technology-heavy specializations. (So if you brake a leg you're likely to get through it, but if you have a heart attack you're probably screwed.)

Shelter: build whatever suits the environment. It could be a tent. A lean-to with mosquito netting. An underground bunker... Who knows what the situation will be if all known order and infrastructure is lost. The typical suburbian "victorian" house probably won't be the best adaptation if supporting infrastructure such as electricity and fuel are gone. (Think no A/C and no heat.) Designs using natural heat control and ventilation will work the best.

Food: hunting and fishing are good to know. Probably necessary if you're to survive on a mobile basis. Gardening and similar related agrarian skills are better if you're settled down. Being able to produce specialties will provide bartering benefits. (Although such items might not be considered much on a short term survival basis.)

Water: rain is potable in most instances, keeping it clean after collection is the trick. Being near a body of fresh water is also good. Learning how to distill and filter water will be a valued skill set. In a low energy environment with scarce fresh water, knowing how to build a crude yet relaible vacuum distiller might not be a bad idea. Think solar.

Energy: There's always batteries. It's probably unlikely that this technology will be lost at this point. (unless science really goes to crap.) Internal combustion will take a less predominant role in the long term. Solar-electric will probably go to the wayside, because of the intensive nature of its production. Solar will be used for heating, and probably heat driven energy systems. The real winner in this case are sites with available wind and hydro energy. It wins because of its crudeness. All you need is some coated wire, some magnets, and a means to get something to spin. If you have that, electricity is yours.

Fighting... Provided you don't get along with someone, or worse yet they try to kill you - knowing ways to fight will be good. Especially when it comes to ultimate survival.
First of all: know when to choose your fight. Getting killed for some stupid cause is pointless when day to day survival is an issue. Then there's the asymetric fighting that military planners talk about these days. Haves vs. havenots... Remember, those who rush to the guns first when all hell breaks loose are probably not always the nicest bunch. Knowing how to keep your ground without such weapons is the trick to dealing with those who have them. So what are some things to know?
Chemistry: yep, the science derived from the ancient art of alchemy has explosive potential. Catalyst/oxygenator + fuel usually goes boom. Odds are good that plenty of pre-cataclsymatic leftovers will be around for those who know their stuff. Such chemicals found in kitchens, laundry rooms, and garages everywhere.
Metallurgy: if you can weld, forge, or hammer something useful - that's always good in a Mad-max type scenario.
Even without full metallurgy knowhow - some common sense is useful... On quick notice, most people will go to kitchen knives. Good for food, but as weapons go - they're likely to fail when it gets down and dirty. Garden tool are better. Best will probably be the blade scavenged from a lawn mower. If cut right - it could produce two crude short-swords or machetes. Think about it - the damn thing can hit a rock and not break while spinning around 2500 RPM... Try that kind of force with your kitchen knife - you should get the idea. Other oddball things for skirmishing against potentially better equipped opponents: the buried scorpion. Now you're thinking what friggin' good is that, or what the hell is it? Well, the Romans had some ol' ballista-type siege weapon called the scorpion. Now if you're hassled or being raided with somebody with heavy vehicles - this might be handy provided you're able to build it. Weight triggers it, a metal bolt shoots upward. If you have heavy lumber or metal structures to scavenge from it might not be a bad idea if chemistry isn't your forte. Clock-rockets: a nasty twist on a relatively simple weapon. Simple unguided explosive projectiles fired by a timer device. If your enemy is fairly predictable, this could work. Not only that, but you could use this to effectively direct return fire. (Preferably after you're long gone from the area.) If you have two adversaries that also don't like each other - clock rockets could start them doing your dirty work for you. Rope with claws: simply a really heavy piece of rope with metal claws on each end. Used against vehicles, probably against those which you'd want to capture mostly intact. Even opponents with run-flat technology can be caught with this crude device. The claws get stuck in the wheels/tires and then the rope starts winding up. Eventually the middle of the rope draws tight on some driveline component - stopping or breaking the vehicle.
Martial arts are always good for defense in a world bent on survival. Knowing some form is always good, and many good technices have been developed all over the world. However techniques from past asia probably rank higher due to being able to improvise use of common implements rather than more specialized weapons.

Heh... But fighting is generally more of a pain in the ass than it's worth in most cases. Hopefully survivors should figure that getting along is better. Don't use that as an excuse for being pushed around haplessly, but do consider the advantages. Communication technology should be scavanged from whatever possible. (A typical geek will probably be capable of making some form of wind generator if it'll keep the computer going when other power starts running thin.) Trade is always good when possible and will lead to a faster resumption of technical development and stable civilization. Then there's also some opportunity to start from scratch in such cases and develop beyond the current archetype to a free-energy civilization (less fighting over resources, thus less of the typical related stupidity.)

Remember this is just an overview, and it doesn't tell everything or what exactly to expect if somehow people survive a giant space rock or similar catastrophe. (Hell, who knows? Maybe little space men could show up or something stupid like that.) But in case the "big one" ever does show up, you can get a general idea of what to do... Other than that, try not to be too paranoid or whatever. Keep things in mind, do your own research, don't be afraid to consider "What if?" 'Tis better to be prepared than be caught with your pants down.

Yeah, I guess I'm bored again.

Now if this gets a comment or something, I'll be suprised.

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Yey... My posting got commented on by a bot. Niiice... Why can't blogger use a graphic key (you know, a .jpg of distorted text that bots can't read which must be typed in manually) for comments, just like when people sign in for an account?

Heheh... Either I'm blind or they must have added this to blogger recently. :) [Word Verification]

Anyhow I'm glad it's there, and I've now enabled this feature so jokers like Mike above don't spam with their bots. :)
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