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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Survivalism
Posted: April 7, 2017 at 8:49 pm
The modern survivalist movement has been influenced by a number of people. But a select group of influential authors and speakers have virtually shaped or perhaps created the modern survivalist movement. This article is dedicated those special people, those founding fathers of survivalism.
*Note, this list is in no particular order
Mel Tappan began his career collaborating with other members of the survivalist movement. Co-authoring a book and writing a small column for Guns & Ammo magazine in the 70s. He is best known for his book Survival Guns which is still in print today, 32 years later. However, despite his popularity we couldnt manage to find a single image, video or audio clip of Mel. Mel encouraged his readers to relocate away from metropolitan areas as a part of their survival strategy. Mel was once quoted by the Associated Press as saying:
The concept most fundamental to long term disaster preparedness, in retreating, is having a safe place to go to avoid the concentrated violence destined to erupt in the cities. When you have a growing apprehensive awareness that the time grows short for you to relocate away from areas of greatest danger, then choose [where you will live] carefully.
Unfortunately Mel passed away in 1988 but his legacy will continue to live on with the admiration and weight his name currently carries. His wife, Nancy Mack was one of his biggest supporters and continued his work for a number of years.
Books written by Mel Tappan:
Howard Ruff is another one of the original Survivalists who entered the scene in the 1970s. Drawing on his experience in financial advising, he has written several books focusing on financial preparedness topics. He has been known to encourage investing in precious metals and food storage, rather than traditional stocks and bonds. Although he may not have a household name, Ruff has been fighting for sound economics for a lifetime. He recently appeared on MSNBC to speak about the fragility and possible threats to the current US economy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Through his books, speaking and other engagements, Howard has become one of the foremost pioneers of sound economic principles as related to self sufficiency.
It wasnt raining when Noah built the ark. Howard Ruff
Books written by Howard Ruff:
Don Stephens entered the Survivalist scene in the 1960s with concerns about a possible financial collapse (which seemed to be the trend at the time). H A strong proponent of relocation, Don used the knowledge gained studying architecture at University of Idaho Don has written many great books on eco friendly, self sustaining home designs and living as well as contributing to many others works (including working with Mel Tappan). An influcencer, a thought leader and an innovator are just a few ways to describe Don Stephens.
Books written by Don Stephens:
Joel Skousen is a political commentator, former Marine and survivalist author. His non-fiction books mainly focus around homes, land and security. Joel has been a huge preparedness advocate since his early adulthood and hes still fighting the good fight today, appearing on many major news stations.Joel tows the line between generations, helping spread wisdom from past generations to the newer generations.
Books Written By Joel Skousen:
Cresson was a popular survivalist author, writing most notably Nuclear War Survival Skills. Cresson server in military and government positions for his entire life, which gave him incredible expertise in military and technical aspects of survival. His works have been a staple of survivalist reading and have hugely impacted the education level of survivalists (especially with nuclear information). Sadly Cresson passed away in 2003. His daughter commented
Throughout his life he believed in being prepared for trouble.
Books written by Cresson Kearny:
Ragnar Benson is actually the pen name of an author who has written some of the most dangerous books available. Ragnar was considered dangerous because of his exposing works on munitions, explosives, mantrapping, creating new identities and more. Despite the controversies associated with his work, his writings had a powerful impact in the survivalism movement. Much of his work is focused around living an independent life and escaping the trapping of modern government/society. If you dont own at least one Ragnar book your survival library is incomplete!
To this day at age 72, Ragnar is still active in Survivalism, recently writing the book Long-Term Survival in the Coming Dark Age: Preparing to Live After Society Crumbles.
Books written by Ragnar Benson:
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D., a black belt in the sixth degree, is a scientist, writer, and teacher who gained popularity with his book Life After Doomsday in the 1980s. He is the author of over a dozen books on survival and self-defense, including the revolutionary Shotokans Secret from Black Belt Books. Shotokans Secret has been called a
manifesto for a modern revolution in the way martial arts are learned and taught.
Books written by Bruce Clayton:
Colonel Cooper was an actual Colonel who pioneered many shooting techniques, especially for small arms. In his life Cooper was a gun advocate, helping teach others how to use guns and even creating the American Pistol Institute located in Arizona. Additionally, Cooper invented The Combat Color Code (mentioned here), a code based upon situational awareness.
The will to survive is not as important as the will to prevail the answer to criminal aggression is retaliation. Jeff Cooper
As of 2006 Cooper is no longer with us RIP.
Books written by Jeff Cooper:
From His Books Source
Kurt Saxon is one of the first survivalists, so much so he claims to have invented the term survivalist. Gaining fame in the 1970s with his popular book The Poor Mans James Bond, Kurt has had an impact on the modern survivalist movement in ways most of us dont realize. Having grown up during the Great Depression, Kurt was somewhat of an expert on surviving on a budget. Many of his publications offer various tips and do-it-yourself guides on topics ranging from home medicines to home made self-defense weapons. If you are interested in survival and preparedness, chances are you have most likely read something reflecting the views and knowledge of Kurt Saxon. Kurt was in many ways a philosopher, speaking loudly his ideals of societal structure and its inevitable failure. To really get a feel for who Kurt Saxon is, read A Philosophy For Survivalists.
Kurt is still active and teaching survivalism in Alpena, Arkansas.
Books written by Kurt Saxon:
**Disclaimer, We know that Rawles isnt a founding father of survivalism and is instead a significant figure in the movement. However his impact cannot be ignored and deserves an honorable mention from us.
James Wesley Rawles is perhaps the most famous Survivalist of our time. He is the author and editor of http://www.survivablog.com, which has become a staple in the online survivalist community. His blog offers a plethora of information on survival topics from food storage and gardening to do-it-yourself survival shelters. He has set himself apart in the industry by offering a comprehensive guide on the best places to relocate to avoid disaster, and offering private retreat consulting by phone from his North Idaho home. His book Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse was one of my personal favorites and interestingly enough, some of the scenarios Rawles sets forward in his book are beginning to come to pass today. Many of us who currently know Rawles would say that he has become, in many ways, the modern archetype for survivalists. He has been one of the major players in the modern survivalist movement for the last several years, drawing fans and readers from varying backgrounds and demographics.
Books written by James Rawles:
Top 100 Items to Disappear in a National Emergency
9 Unique Alternative Housing Ideas
Top 10 Survival Movies
120 Useful Books for Your Survival Library
Cody Lundin Interview When All Hell Breaks Loose
11 Survival TV Shows Worth Watching
Collapse Documentary (2010)
10 Bad A** Sniper Rifles
Posted: at 8:49 pm
Pick almost any indicator, and Brazilian President Michel Temer comes up short. Job approval? 10 percent. Jobs creation? Brazil has 13.5 million out of work, a five-year high. Office ethics? All but one of Temer’s most trusted aides has fallen to corruption scandals, and conceivably Temer himself may go if the electoral court that convened briefly in Brasilia this week finds that dirty money financed the presidential ticket he was elected on in 2014. Put it all together and the conclusion is inescapable: Michel Temer is the worst Brazilian president since Dilma Rousseff.
OK, so there’s plenty to disdain in the former vice president, who assumed office last year when Rousseff was impeached for fiscal crimes. A furtive political operator who turned on his commander, he has a tin ear for public opinion, indulges scoundrels in high office and pens embarrassing poetry. And those are just a few of the sins fueling the popular refrain “Fora Temer” (“Be gone, Temer!”) trending on the street and the web. For all his shortcomings, however, crisis-addled Brazil is better off with Temer than without. It’s not just that he’s the constitutional leader, and that a working constitution is the firewall that safeguards Brazil from the convulsions roiling its dysfunctional neighbors in Venezuela and Paraguay. It’s also because Temer’s stand-in government may be the country’s last best opportunity to reverse colossal errors that have sabotaged Latin America’s biggest economy and disgraced its governing establishment.
Overhauling a country would be daunting even for a crowd-pleasing leader in the most prosperous times. Temer, for his part, has an economic emergency, a confidence-sapping corruption scandal, and half a mandate to work with. In his favor is Brazil’s dubious tradition of brinkmanship: Think Plan Real, which snatched the country from hyperinflation and economic calamity in 1994, or President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva circa 2002, the former union man who lost the lefty act and led the chronically underachieving nation on an eight-year growth jag. Improbable as it seems, Brazil faces a similar defining moment today.
Less than a year after taking over from Rousseff, Temer has mustered legislative majorities to open ultra-deepwater “pre-salt” oil fields to foreign drillers and drop the protectionist rule obliging Petrobras to lead the risky pre-salt operations. Last year, he marshaled congress to impose a 20-year cap on government spending, and now is pushing to overhaul the rigid labor laws, the chaotic political party system, taxes and — most critically — the loss-making pension system that is turning into a national fiscal millstone.
What’s propelling the Temer agenda is not some spasm of civic enlightenment, but rank survivalism, as the fallout from the ever-widening, three-year Carwash probe into political payola and graft continues to spread. “The center-right coalition backing reforms is heavily implicated in the Carwash case,” political scientist Octavio Amorim Neto, of the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, told me. “They know their best bet for reelection is for the economy to start growing again, and that leaves them little choice but to fall in line behind the Temer agenda.”
Of course, such a fragile compact could come undone. If the economy languishes and protesters return en bloc to the streets, or if the taint from Carwash seeps even higher into Brazil’s ruling circle, the legislative ardor for reform will be tested. The suspense will build as the electoral court deliberates whether Temer should stay or go. It’s a measure of the tension in Brasilia that the court’s decision on Tuesday to postpone the trial until later this year, in order to hear more witnesses, was seen as a political win for the embattled Temer government. Whether it’s also a win for Brazil will be clear in the months to come.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story: Mac Margolis at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: at 8:49 pm
While I was out there all those days, wandering alone, I became like an animal, a desert creature that lives by the rules of the sun and behaves entirely on instinct. I crawled as a reptile crawls over the ground, hunting for beetles to stab with my knife, searching for the shade of a tamarisk tree, foraging for roots to suck. I fell into a hyperalert state. I became attuned to every shift of the wind, the promising wisp of a cloud building in the east, the sound of mice running over the sand at night. Every thought, every movement of my body, was devoted to surviving. I repeated to myself, Do not surrender. I would climb one ridge and find a beautiful city of stone spread before me. Temples and citadels, white minarets, the remnants of a great civilization. But the people were all dead and gone. Time became the sun and the moon, the crunch of my feet on a cracked riverbed. Dune. Wadi. Another dune. A camel carcass. A Berber ruin. Salt flats stretching out for eternities in the shimmering heat. A scorpion clawing over dried animal dung. Fields of blue boulders under starry skies, satellites blinking across the night. I imagined that there had been a nuclear war and that I was walking over the charred remains of the world. The last one left.
After his dreadful adventure five years ago, the Italian newspapers called Mauro Prosperi the Robinson Crusoe of the Sahara. He was pale and stick-figured when he got back home, shambling off the plane from Algiers in a loose-fitting robe.
Now, it was a bright morning in September 1998 in his hometown, the Sicilian fishing village of Aci Trezza, and Prosperi was the picture of good health. He turned heads outside a local cafe as he dismounted from his BMW motorcycle and removed his wraparound shades. A tautly constructed man whose black hair is flecked with gray, Prosperi was wearing spandex running shorts, a loud cycling shirt, and a Sector watch that chirped on the half-hour. He was still sweating from a run on Mount Etna, the active volcano that soars 11,000 feet above the town.
I brought something for you, he told me as he sat down. After ordering a cappuccino, he unfolded a topographical map of North Africa. This is the route, he said, pointing to the line of fluorescent ink zigzagging across the blond immensity of the Sahara. Five thousand five hundred kilometers. From the Atlantic to the Nile.
Prosperi, 44, has been planning this expedition for threeyears: a non-stop and mostly unsupported walk across the entire width of the Sahara Desert, more than 3,000 miles, with his running companion, an endurance athlete and former special-forces commando from Naples named Modestino Preziosi. He intends to finally execute it this year, be-ginning in early September. Pulling custom-designed carbon-fiberand-titanium wagons filled with freeze-dried food and other supplies, they will trudge eastward in temperatures as high as 130 degrees. Theyll cross the desolate precincts of Algeria and Libya places with ghostly names like Amguid, Ghat, and Waw an Namus and pass through the seemingly endless miles of the great hamada, the hard, stony desert, following a slightly jagged route to maximize their access to known wells. By mid- to late October, with nothing connecting them to the world but a satellite phone and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon, they will be inching across the dreaded Murzuq 350 uninter-rupted miles of rippled dunes. Their plan is to reach the Nile just in time to usher in the next millennium and to celebrate their accomplishment in a suitably Italian spirit of grandeur at a rumored Pink Floyd concert to be held among the Pyramids of Giza on New Years Eve.
Over the centuries, any number of deranged existentialists have crisscrossed the Sahara in any number of ways. But no one has yet had the audacity to attempt the obvious a full west-east traverse, tracking the whole mother on foot. In terms of mileage, its the equivalent of walking from San Diego to Nova Scotia. But distance, of course, is not the only obstacle. In a world in which true endurance firsts have become increasingly esoteric, Prosperis concept, compelling in its simplicity, is also utterly quixotic, given all the things that can go wrong, which include possible encounters with bandits, border guards, genocidal Algerian guerrillas, scorpions, snakes, and zero-visibility sandstorms not to mention the threat of running out of water. If Prosperi and Preziosi can bring it off, their accomplishment will arguably be on a par with the Norwegian Brge Ouslands 1997 solo crossing of Antarctica.
Poring over the map at the cafe in Aci Trezza, Prosperi offered an elaborate rationale for his trip, saying it would advance the science of des-ert survival and that it would also help foster goodwill among Saharan nations. Suddenly, he waved his hand dismissively and said, But screw all of that. The real reason is selfishness. Its something I want to do.
Five days a week, Prosperi is a crowd-control cop in the nearby city of Catania. He sits astride a police horse, cutting a proud figure for the tourists in the civic square. But the truth is that police work bores him. He joined the force in 1973, when he was living in Rome his native city because Italys police federation generously subsidizes the training of national-caliber athletes. Day after day, he stares dully at the crowds and the pigeons and yearns for an encore in the desert.
But why, I pressed him, would you go back to a place that almost killed you? For the past few days, he had been telling and retelling the story of what had happened to him when he disappeared for nine days in the Sahara, the story that had made him famous across Italy.
I feel a connection there, he said. I love the clarity. And you see, the Sahara spared my life. Those days in the desert were my happiest.
As much as I wanted to believe Prosperis story, I didnt at least, not entirely. Lots of people didnt. As with so many tales of survival in the wilderness that lack the benefit of witnesses, there was something fundamentally incredible about his account. The possibility that Prosperi might be a fraud seemed to hover over everything he said and did.
He was one of two things: either the most dementedly obdurate bullshitter the world of endurance sports had to offer or a physiological anomaly whose feats deserved to be written up in medical journals. If his claims were true, he had confounded the laws of dehydration science. There was nothing like him in the literature of the Sahara or in the literature of any desert. But whatever had happened out there five years ago, he had never been able to turn loose of it. One way or another, the desert had taken him.
Competing in the Marathon des Sables, a seven-day self-sufficiency endurance race held every spring in the Moroccan Sahara, is the equivalent of running six marathons back-to-back in a convection oven. With a severe romanticism on loan from the French Foreign Legion, the event requires participants to carry their provisions on their backs everything, in fact, but their water, which is furnished at each checkpoint.
In April 1994, Prosperi was one of 134 entrants in the event. A gifted runner, fencer, and horseman, he had won or placed in international modern-pentathlon contests from Hong Kong to San Antonio. Although the Marathon des Sables was his first competition in the desert, Prosperi was running an exceptional race.
On the morning of the marathons fourth and longest stage a diabolical slog totaling some 50 miles Prosperi was in seventh place and maintaining an impressive clip despite temperatures that were climbing to 115 degrees. It was Thursday, April 14, and the runners were approaching the finish line at Zagora, a Berber village in the palm-studded Draa Valley. Shortly after one oclock that afternoon, Prosperi briefly stopped at the third checkpoint, 20 miles into the days route. Giovanni Manzo, a friend from Sicily who was running with him, helped him tape up a festering blister on his foot. Shortly afterward, Prosperi signed for his two-liter allotment of water and then took off.
Some 15 minutes later, the winds started to kick up, in gusts at first, then in a steady howl that escalated into a blinding sandstorm. Visibility dropped to near zero. Marathoners up and down the course were forced to wrap themselves in sleeping bags to ride out the choking swirls of sand, which stung the skin and caused bloody noses and respiratory-tract abrasions. The organizers formally halted the race for the day.
The winds lashed for six hours. That night, as the storm subsided, officials grew concerned: Manzo had straggled in at the fourth checkpoint, but there was no sign of Prosperi. Manzo didnt understand what could have happened Prosperi had been running ahead, and even with the storm slowing his progress, he should have come in hours earlier. But the race officials trusted that Prosperi would not have strayed far. The rules stipulated that should a sandstorm occur, runners were to halt in their tracks and await further instruction. The race officials decided they would commence a full-scale search in the morning.
At first light on Friday, race employees were dispatched in Land Rovers to comb the trail, while a pilot undertook a reconnaissance flyover in an ultralight craft. The searchers methodically covered the terrain in a grid pattern. They realized they would have to move fast during the morning, because Prosperi had at most only two liters of water and by noon temperatures would be in the triple digits.
But the searchers found no trace of him. He had simply vanished.
Later that morning, the Moroccan military began assisting with the search. Bedouin trackers were dispersed. A helicopter was sent up. Moving farther afield from the course, the growing search party worked all day and through the night.
The race officials could not believe they had simply lost a contestant to the open desert. Although its promoters liked to bill the Marathon des Sables as the toughest footrace on Earth, only one person had actually died in it thus far, a young French runner who had suffered a massive heart attack in 1988. The Marathon des Sables literature spoke of pitting man against the elements, but that was just a clich of faux survivalism. For Prosperi, however, the ordeal had ceased to be a controlled simulation of extremity and had become dreadfully authentic. He was an incongruous, Lycra-clad creature loping across the wastelands of eastern Morocco, his marathon bib number meaningless now, a runner struggling to win an entirely different kind of race.
I first heard about Mauro Prosperi in April 1998, while in Morocco for the thirteenth Marathon des Sables. He was back in the Sahara again, running the race for the second time since his disappearance in 1994. He was considered one of the curious sideshows of the marathon, the mad Italian flagellant whod returned for more desert punishment.
One cool evening early on in the contest, the French founder and director of the race, a ruddy-cheeked former concert promoter named Patrick Bauer, held a meeting with journalists outside the press tent. Bauer had hatched the idea of the Marathon des Sables after he went on a solo expedition of some 200 miles across the Algerian Sahara in 1984. People thought I must be mad, Bauer said. It was just a personal quest, something I had to do. He spoke mystically of the prolonged solitude he had experienced, of the shooting stars he had seen, of what the desert had done to him once he was dropped into its vastness. Bauer did not mention, until prompted by a French journalist who knew the real story, that he had been accompanied on his so-called solo trek by his brother and girlfriend, who had followed him in a support vehicle.
Yes, but they did not help me in any way, Bauer insisted. They were there to document this historic experience.
Later, I asked Bauer about Prosperi. It seemed to me that these two men were kindred spirits, for they had both experienced a transcendental communion with the desert that had changed their lives.
Dont listen to Mr. Prosperi, Bauer replied. He pursed his lips and exhaled contemptuously. His story is a fabrication. He will have you believe he is Superman. It is physiologically impossible for a man to travel more than 200 kilometers in the desert without water. This is a supernatural act.
Was he saying that Prosperi had never really been missing?
Well, its possible that he got genuinely lost for a few days. But all the rest rings false. We believe that early on he was picked up by someone. And then he decided to hide out for a while.
Why would he do that?
He thought he could make a killing out of this if he prolonged his ordeal. He thought he could sell his story to the tabloids. He aspired to be the star of his own movie.
The next afternoon, I went over to the Italian tent to meet Prosperi. Hed come in from a 20-mile run and was boiling a packet of freeze-dried stroganoff. He was shirtless, and a medallion of blood from a burst blister was seeping through one of his socks. I told him what Bauer had said, and, for a moment, he turned deep red with anger.
Yes, I know what Patrick Bauer says about me, he replied, tentatively, in a soft, high voice. Weve had our differences. I almost took him to court. But he says those things because he knows that my des-ert story is better than his. And because he fears that he is the copy and I am the real thing. I didnt have a truck following me every step of the way.
He said youd have to be Superman.
Me, Superman? he said, looking around at some of the other Italians in the tent. Well, yes. Precisely. He smiled broadly, and everyone erupted in laughter.
I liked Prosperi instantly. But after what Bauer had said, I was wary of him. I approached him as if he were some kind of human-endurance hustler. You want to hear the story? he asked, once he had finished his dinner. Removing his socks, he made little ditches in the sand with his bare feet and stared eastward, toward the Algerian border.
When the sandstorm started to blow, I lost sight of everybody else. I kept running, though, because I thought I could see the trail. I was in seventh place and didnt want to lose my standing. But the storm was raging with such fury that I had to stop and seek cover. I found a bush and crouched inside it. The sand felt like needles piercing my skin. I wrapped a towel around my face and waited. The dunes were shifting all about me, and several times I had to move to avoid being buried.
It was nearly dark before the winds relented. I started running again, but after a few minutes it occurred to me that I had lost the trail. For an hour or so, I kept backtracking, searching for the flags the French had put out to mark the piste. Finally, it became pitch dark, and I decided that there was no longer any point in wasting my energy. My only thought was that through my stupidity I had forfeited any chance of winning the race. But I knew that I couldnt be more than a few miles from the trail and that the rescuers would come searching for me at dawn. So I prepared a camp and lit a small fire to create light. I slipped into my sleeping bag and fell asleep under the stars.
At dawn, I scrambled to the top of the highest dune. My heart dropped like a stone. I couldnt see anything no truck trails, no signs of a camp, no Land Rovers. Nothing looked familiar. I realized that the situation was grave. I had drunk almost all my water: There was only one finger of it left in the second bottle.
The race manual had instructed us not to move should we become lost, so I just sat on the hilltop, watching the horizon for any movement. Just before sundown, I heard something that was music to my ears: a helicopter, flying low and angling toward me. I fired my distress flare to make sure the pilot could spot me. He flew directly overhead, so close that I could see his white helmet in the cockpit. I knew I was finally saved. But the helicopter didnt land. It kept on flying past me and vanished. I didnt understand. I was desperate now, crazy with fear. I yelled, Giovanni! Where are you!
That night I urinated into my water bottle and saved it. I said to myself, I will drink this if I need to. I ate a PowerBar and fell asleep on the high dune.
The next morning, my eyes blinked open with a start, and I saw two large birds circling overhead. I pulled together my things and started walking. The sun was bearing down on me like a weight. I glimpsed the outline of a building about a mile away. I hurried over to it and found that it was a small Muslim temple with a stone turret; I later learned that it was a marabout shrine, a religious structure thats common throughout the Sahara. It was a mausoleum, really. An Islamic holy man was buried in one of the walls. Inside, it was cool and dark. Up in the tower, I spied three birds eggs in a nest and ate them. I found a wooden pole and went outside to hang an Italian flag on it in case someone were to fly over. Then I sat out the day in the shade of the shrine.
By that night, my hunger had grown so terrible that I did something I never thought I could do. There was a small colony of bats living under the eaves of the building. Just before dark, I snuck up there and snatched two of them. I decided I would eat them raw, because cooking them on my portable stove would only dry them out, and I knew that moisture was what I needed most of all. So I wrung their necks off and sucked. It was a repellent thing to do, but I was crazed with hunger. All I tasted was something warm and salty in my mouth. That night I fell asleep on the floor of the shrine.
Just before dawn on the fourth day, I woke to the sound of an airplane. I didnt know if it was a search plane or not, but when I stumbled outside, I could see it was flying in my direction. This is my last chance for rescue, I thought, and so I decided to risk it all. I took out everything from my backpack that was combustible and set it aflame. As the airplane drew nearer, I wrote SOS in large letters in the sand. But when the plane headed away from me, I said to myself, There goes my life.
All I could think about was that I was going to die a horrible death. I had once heard that dying of thirst was the worst possible fate. From the embers of my bonfire, I removed a piece of charcoal and wrote a final letter to my wife. I asked her to forgive me for not being a better husband and father. I was out of my head, not thinking clearly. I cut my wrist with my knife, but the blood was so thick from my advanced dehydration that it wouldnt flow. I sat there on the floor of the shrine and cried.
After a time, I came to my senses. I realized that the marathon was moving on, that I couldnt rely on the race officials to save me. I decided I must confront the desert myself. They had told us that at the end of the race, in Zagora, we would see a mountain range. As I looked at the horizon, I could see mountains in the distance, some 20 miles away. I decided I would try to reach them. As the sun dropped low, I pulled together the few belongings I hadnt torched, and I started walking.
On the morning of Saturday, April 16, 1994, Patrick Bauer announced that the race would resume, a decision that dismayed many of the runners, who were resting in a dusty tent-city encampment some 15 miles from the area where Prosperi had gone missing. We hated to leave, because all we could think about was Mauro out there alone, dying, says Ren Nevola, a British runner who had befriended Prosperi earlier in the race. Everyones morale was incredibly low.
The Italian camp was especially devastated, no one more so than Giovanni Manzo. I felt horribly guilty because I was the one whod convinced Mauro to sign up for the race in the first place, he said. Now, all I wanted to do was drop out. I didnt think I could carry on.
Prosperi had been missing for more than two days before his wife, Cinzia Pagliara, heard the news. No one from the race committee had thought to notify her. Like everyone else in Italy, she said, I read about it in a newspaper. The story was now in papers all over the world. The following day, Prosperis brother Riccardo, two Interpol investigators from Rome, and Pagliaras brother Fabio boarded a plane for Casablanca, determined to organize a search party of their own. Because Prosperi was a policeman as well as an athlete of national stature, officials both in Rome and at Italys embassy in Morocco mobilized with unusual swiftness to provide funds and vehicles. Now that Bauers staff, the Moroccan military, and the Italian authorities were involved, the search for Prosperi had become the most ambitious rescue operation the Sahara had seen since 1982, when Englishman Mark Thatcher, the son of thenprime minister Margaret Thatcher, was lost for six days after his car broke down during the Paris-Dakar rally.
On Sunday, April 17, the exhausted racers crossed the Marathon des Sables finish line in Zagora, and the following day, a ceremonial banquet was held. But what was supposed to be a party took on the hollow cast of a memorial service. Four days after Prosperis disappearance, the other runners increasingly spoke of him in the past tense. The spirit of the race was ruined, said Bauer. There was nothing to celebrate. On Tuesday, April 19, the racers boarded charter buses bound for Marrakech and said their bittersweet goodbyes to the desert.
By now, the Italian volunteers, led by Prosperis brother and brother-in-law, were the only ones still engaged in a search the authorities were saying was futile. The Moroccan military had never heard of a man surviving for more than four days in the Sahara without water.
The Italians ignored these calls to reason, and on April 20, six and a half days into Prosperis ordeal, they made a stirring discovery. In a no mans land near the Morocco-Algeria border an area designated as an archaeological zone they found Prosperis water bottle and his aluminum-coated emergency blanket. In their minds, it was the first compelling suggestion that Prosperi could still be alive. These are only signs, Cinzia Pagliara told a reporter for the daily La Sicilia, but they feed our hope after all these days have passed without any news from Mauro. A few days later, the searchers found one of Prosperis shoelaces. But by now, eight days after his disappearance, everyone was beginning to concede that the situation appeared hopeless.
The mountains I was aiming for were not a mirage, but they were the wrong mountains. Instead of bearing northeast toward Zagora, I was heading due east. Of course, I did not know this. My sense of the days, and of precisely how I spent them, was becoming vague. I kept alive by sucking wet-wipes. In the mornings, I licked the dew off the concave surfaces of rocks. I sipped my own urine and boiled it with freeze-dried food. I ate what the desert offered. I improvised a slingshot with a forked stick and a bungee cord and stunned a mouse with a rock. I killed a snake and ate it, too. Mostly, I ate scarab beetles and plants. In a dried-up riverbed I found grasses that had roots dripping with moisture.
I was strict in my regimen. I walked only in the early mornings and in the early evenings. In the harsh glare of the day, I rested in the shade of cliffs or caves or trees. At night, I buried my body in the sand to keep warm. Along the way, I planted clues to my whereabouts. I would leave miscellaneous articles a T-shirt, toothpaste, socks, a shoelace. On the crests of dunes, I would leave tinfoil and metallic food containers.
On the eighth day, I came upon an oasis. Really it was only a large puddle, a mirror of water in a wadi. I threw myself upon it and gulped with abandon, but I could hardly swallow. I managed to force a mouthful of it down, and almost immediately I vomited. I couldnt hold anything. I found I had to take tiny sips, one every 10 minutes. I lay by the puddle like some leopard at its watering hole. I took larger swallows. By morning, my thirst was slaked.
I looked for signs of life and found nothing. I filled my water bottle and started walking again. I continued on all day and night. The next morning, I spotted the fresh excrement of goats. My spirits grew brighter. Then I saw something that made my heartbeat quicken: human footprints. I crested a hill and beheld an incredible sight. There was a nomad girl, maybe 8 years old, tending a flock in the sparse greenery of a wash.
I ran toward her and begged for help. She looked at me aghast, screaming in terror. I beseeched her to stop, but she disappeared over a dune.
I must be a hideous sight, I thought. I took out my signal mirror and turned it toward my face. I was appalled. I was a skeleton. My eyes had sunk so far back into my skull, I couldnt see them. The girl returned with her grandmother, and I stumbled after them, conscious of what a pitiful castaway Id become. There was an encampment set among the trees. They were Tuaregs, the famous blue people of the Sahara, traveling in a caravan. The old woman instructed me to lie down in the shade of a lean-to. She prepared me mint tea and a cup of goats milk. Then the men came into camp. They loaded me on a camel and took me to the nearest village, a journey of a few hours. There, they turned me over to a patrol of military police, who immediately blindfolded me. As I later learned, they suspected that I might be a Moroccan spy, and they wanted to prevent me from glimpsing the layout of any military installations.
I was driven to a military base, where an officer started interrogating me. I told him I was a policeman in Italy, and for some reason this seemed to help. Then another officer burst into the room. He took one look at me and said, Are you Mauro Prosperi?
Yes, I said, astonished to hear the sound of my name.
Welcome to Algeria, sir. We have received a report about you from the Moroccan authorities. We must get you to the infirmary straightaway.
On the evening of April 24, Cinzia Pagliara had just put her three children to bed when the phone rang. The signal was clear, the voice buoyant and vital. Cinzia, its me. Did you have a funeral for me yet? Pagliara dropped to the floor Mauro. He was lying in a military hospital in a place called Tindouf, in southwestern Algeria. He had traversed a mountain range, the Jebel Bani, and then stumbled across the tense border between Morocco and Algeria, which was frequently patrolled by guards and rumored to be laced with land mines. The Tuareg nomads had found him some 25 miles into Algeria and about 130 miles from the area where hed disappeared. He had lost an astounding 33 pounds, about 20 percent of his body weight. Nurses had plied Prosperi with 16 liters of intravenous fluids. The doctors said his liver had almost failed, but after a day and a half of convalescence, they thought he was going to be okay. Only now were they permitting him to call home.
My skin is like that of a tortoise, he told Pagliara. Dont worry, Cinzia. Im still beautiful.
After recovering for seven days in Algerian hospitals, Prosperi, still gaunt and feeble, was flown to Rome, where he received a heros welcome. He was photographed with dignitaries, interviewed endlessly, celebrated in newspaper stories from Milan to Palermo. He was a walking miracle, it seemed, the man who had come back from the dead. His very name seemed to sum it up Prosperi, the fortunate one.
A few weeks later, however, journalists started to report the doubts expressed by several sports physiologists concerning the medical feasibility of Prosperis account. It was suggested that Prosperi had faked his own disappearance, that he was the rankest sort of glory hound. One Italian magazine even surmised that Prosperi and Pagliara had staged the ordeal together, from beginning to end. They said we planned the whole thing so we could make a pile of money, Pagliara told me. If that was the case, then youve never met two people who are more stupid than we are. We never got any money for this.
Asked what she would do if she found out that her husband actually had invented his story, Pagliara replied firmly: If his story is not true, dont tell me about it. Because he had me suffering for nine days. I could never forgive him.
Soon after Prosperis return, the organizers of the Marathon des Sables, perhaps worried about bad publicity, also accused him of fraud. Meanwhile, Prosperi was considering a lawsuit against Patrick Bauer, charging, among other things, that the trail had been poorly marked. But what really rankled Prosperi was that Bauers race crew had never told Pagliara he was missing. In the end, Prosperi dropped the idea of the suit My problems with Bauer werent legal, they were personal but his resentment banked.
Prosperi enjoyed a temporary reversal of fortune when a Roman film crew retraced his steps for a 1995 documentary reenactment of his ordeal. Among other things, the crew located the marabout shrine and found, next to some of Prosperis belongings, the skeletons of several bats. Nevertheless, public doubt continued to hang over Prosperi like a toxic cloud. The suspicions made him restless and morose; all he could think about was the Sahara.
After speaking with his family and friends and with dozens of other athletes who ran in the 1994 Marathon des Sables, I gradually came to believe Prosperis story. Although there were still questions about the chronology of events was it possible that the Tuaregs had found him earlier than he thought? his was the only explanation that worked. And hed stuck by his narrative, in every detail, since the day he was found. Prosperi had no prior history of spinning melodramatic fictions. In many ways, he was your basic nuts-and-bolts guy: a cop, a gifted athlete past his prime, a doting father of three. Yes, his passion for the desert was grandiose and arguably demented, but he seemed otherwise pleasantly even-keeled, widely liked, and respected on his home ground.
The main problem with the suggestion that Prosperi invented his ordeal, of course, is that the man suffered profoundly. One would have to go on a hunger strike for weeks to look as he had and to lose the kind of weight doctors in Algeria said that he had lost. Prosperis health problems continued long after he returned. For a month, he could eat only extremely bland food ground up in a blender. He experienced severe leg cramps for a year, and his liver was permanently damaged.
There are other telltales of his experience. One night, for example, I asked Prosperi if his suicide attempt had left a scar. He seemed pained by the question, but then, reluctantly, he rolled up his sleeve and revealed a one-inch white line running along his right wrist.
He was never the same after he came back, Pagliara told me on a hike up Etna. If you want to know the truth, I think all the publicity went to his head a little bit. When he returned, he was just a father, just a husband, just a policeman. Everything seemed so banal to him. Ever since, hes been searching for ways to get back to the desert.
And so his notion of a trans-Saharan trek was born. Although he wouldnt admit it himself, his friends see the adventure as an attempt to restore his good name: Tired of defending himself, Prosperi came up with an epic retort to his critics. By undertaking an odyssey of definitive and unassailable proportions, he hoped to silence his doubters forever. It is a logic that makes sense to many who know him but not to his wife. I am absolutely opposed, she said. I am sure that his three children would rather have a living father than a famous dead one.
To help prepare for the trek, Prosperi has returned to the desert many times. Last year, he ran a two-day 75-mile race in the Libyan desert, and he has run in the past three Marathons des Sables. When he cant train in the Sahara, he works out on the blackened crusts of Etna, a desolate landscape that at least looks and feels like the desert.
As can be imagined, the project has been an all-consuming one for Prosperi and Preziosi. Beyond the usual dance for sponsorship manna, they have had to arrange for emergency food and water drops at strategic locations in the remotest desert, and conduct a considerable amount of diplomacy work in order to persuade the mutually hostile governments of Morocco and Algeria to let them pass unmolested across the border.
As they make their way across the blazing desert for four months, the expeditioners will rely on each other for their survival and for their sanity. The 37-year-old Preziosi, who helped in the 94 search, has never wavered in his belief that Prosperis story is true. He says he has complete trust in Prosperi and great confidence in his skills and judgment.
There is one job Preziosi is not prepared to surrender to Prosperi, however. I will be in charge of the navigation, he said. For all his strengths, Mauro never was very good with a compass.
If the two men dont get lost, if they dont expire from heat exhaustion or thirst, if desert thugs dont set upon them, they probably have the disciplined strength and sheer stubbornness to cross an ocean of sand but who really knows? For Prosperi, though, there is an added personal dimension goading his every step: the sense that the farther he goes, the more he redeems himself, with all the doubts and suspicions of the past five years disappearing in the desert bleach. And when its over, and hes standing at the reedy waters of the Nile, hell finally have another story to tell a better one.
I felt as though all I had done as an athlete, all my years of training, had prepared me for this ultimate competition. What had begun as a contest against other people had become a contest with myself. I was in the midst of the greatest athletic performance of my life and I knew it. As athletes, we put on uniforms and cross over to an artificial world we call sport. But as I moved over the dunes, I felt as though that barrier had been washed away and that the two worlds were now one.
I was desperate and scared. But I had never felt so alive. I decided that I loved the Sahara more than any other land, and that if God should see me through this, I would return to this magnificent place.
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Posted: March 27, 2017 at 4:42 am
It would seem that many of the super-rich in this world are planning for life after the end of the world. They are not digging bunkers in their back yards like some of us who count ourselves among the 99 percent. No, these folks are doing it right, with luxurious underground living quarters that make the old bunker at The Greenbrier look like Motel 6.
In a recent article by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, survivalists are not just the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans. In recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City.
(Just as an aside, Evan Osnos worked for The Exponent Telegram years ago and now hes with The New Yorker. I, too, could have worked for The New Yorker, but they never asked).
Anyway, CNN followed up on the story last week with a look at some of the bunkers in which the wealthy hope to ride out doomsday. There are many firms around the world building luxury shelters that have all the comforts of home. Or the comforts of what used to be your home which is now a smoldering ruin.
Some of the bunkers are old missile silos that were long ago built to stand up to a nuclear blast. All you need to do is furnish it and stock the pantry. (For Gods sake, dont forget the can opener.)
According to CNN, one such shelter in South Dakota will be equipped with all the comforts of a small town, including a community theater, classrooms, hydroponic gardens, a medical clinic, a spa and a gym. There was no mention of Starbucks, but Im sure it is an oversight. After all, how can you ride out a cataclysm without your morning latte?
A Survival Condo is being developed in Kansas at a site where the U.S. used to store nuclear warheads. You can have a penthouse for only $4.5 million. Im not sure how you can have a penthouse in an underground bunker. Is it at the top of the silo or the bottom? Survivalism is so complicated.
Its no surprise that they would build a bunker in Kansas because Ive been there and it already looks like the end of the world.
One of the creepier aspects of these underground lodgings is that many of the rooms have windows with photographs of the outdoors. Knowing my luck, any bunker I could afford would have a window with a photograph of a brick wall.
Of course, there are probably some unforeseen problems associated with going underground. If your water heater goes on the fritz, youre in a jam because we all know how difficult it is to find a plumber in an apocalypse.
There would be no internet and your cell phone would be useless. But you would still have all those VHS tapes of Whos the Boss?
And what happens when the food runs out? You cant just hop in the car and go to Whole Foods. And if you think their produce was expensive before Armageddon, well
Its interesting that the ultra-rich are spending so much money for a place to live when the bombs drop. The only problem I can see is that when the bombs actually drop, these people will likely be stuck in traffic in their limos. The only living things near their bunkers will be prairie dogs.
For me, when the end comes, Ill just go. No luxury bunker for me. I couldnt live in a world without baseball, the smell of freshly cut grass or the joy of looking up at the stars.
Besides, Ive got claustrophobia something awful.
Posted: March 23, 2017 at 1:46 pm
JEWS CELEBRATING the Partition Plan in 1947 in Jerusalem. The UN General Assemblys 1947 Partition Plan, which triggered the war, similarly injected pathological perspectives into our national identity, writes the author. (photo credit:REUTERS)
Theres a taste of what do you want to be when you grow up? when kids dress up for Purim. We smile and we laugh, both because the kids are ridiculously cute and because weve been there, done that. Somewhere along the way weve lost our innocence.
Our children look into our eyes; they sense that, perhaps, someone doesnt truly believe in their dreams as much as they do.
Maybe its time we stop laughing.
The Jewish People celebrated Purim last week. Good times. Good fun. But with Purim behind us and the Israeli holiday season on the horizon, lets make sure that Purims place and proportions are carefully framed.
Purim has become so much a part of the Jewish journey that its difficult to put our finger on it.
The story of our people, virtually annihilated, concludes with an awkward climax of survival. Its reminiscent of the old joke that typifies the underlying narrative of many of our holidays: they tried to destroy us, we survived, lets eat.
Sadly, the joke simply isnt funny.
Is that it? Is that what were here for? To survive? To exist? To experience the ingathering of the exiles, arrive in Israel and eat of the fruit of the land? There are at least two serious flaws with our national ethos, both of which predate the establishment of the modern-day State of Israel.
The first is viewing survival as an ultimate goal. The Zionists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were looking for a safe haven.
They werent trying to lead or deliver any sort of meaningful value to the family of nations they merely wanted to survive. And who could blame them? Two thousand years of exile certainly made the bare-minimum survival story of Esther and Mordechai seem like an ideal. But what about now? Today were in Israel, living and breathing the ups and downs of a country with the opportunity and responsibility to provide its citizens with security.
Now what? The second flaw is rooted not in our goals but in our character. Since conception, Israel has suffered from an early onset of adulthood.
As opposed to our children who dress up for Purim, our country never truly enjoyed the luxury of juvenile innocence. We were forced to grow up quickly with the outbreak of our War of Independence.
The UN General Assemblys 1947 Partition Plan, which triggered the war, similarly injected pathological perspectives into our national identity.
It suggested that we needed the world to approve our legitimacy, and that, in the case of Israel, triumph and compromise are necessarily two sides to the same coin.
Indeed, the notion that we would be birthed alongside a twin who rejects our very right to exist is a psycho-thriller plot that continues to haunt the way we think to this very day.
But as we begin to consider where weve been, we need to ask ourselves if were ready to move on.
Weve figured out how to survive in a dangerous region; check. New, pragmatic diplomatic approaches are finally being explored, in place of destructive Partition Plan/twostate solution theories that have fallen by the wayside; check. Now, as the State of Israel nears the seasoned age of 70, are we finally ready to dream? A peace-activist associate once told me a about his litmus test question.
He liked to ask Israeli Jews if they would prefer to wake up in the morning and discover that there either were or werent Arabs between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Is the Arab population an incidental factor that Israel needs to cope with, manage or take into consideration for practical reasons, or are Arabs an essential part of a moral and demographic puzzle, inherent to the Israel condition? In his peace-making efforts, he was challenging people to think out of the box. The key, as he saw it, was not to engineer our circumstances, but rather to cast a vision.
Policy would grow from principles, ideals and dreams, instead of the other way around.
What about borders? What if there were no clearly set borders? How big, or how small, would your dream-Israel be? What if there was no United Nations? No international media? If no one was watching your every move, what would your dream-Israels voice sound like? Looking beyond the pathologies of our recent history, lets remember that refreshing ideas are not merely alternatives. Its time to conduct an internal conversation, within and among the people of Israel, about who we are and what we hope to be. Lets not squander our historic opportunity to transform survivalism into purpose, and early-onset-adulthood into a coming of age.
As we move forward, its critical that we use the lessons of our rich history from the Purim era through the age of Zionism to inform our future. While proceeding cautiously, realpolitik must also be taken into consideration every step along the way. But all things considered, its not the policies per se but our capacity to dream that will breathe life into this exciting process.
And when our wide-eyed children escape from the limitations of their day to day lives and dare to dream, lets make sure not to laugh.
Instead, lets encourage them to dream even bigger.
The author is executive director of American Friends of Ariel and the founder of TALK17.
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Posted: March 17, 2017 at 7:05 am
You really cant accuse Weatherill of impatience, or going off half-cocked. Tuesdays landing point has been more than 10 years in the making. Photograph: David Mariuz/AAP
If you happen to be looking on at events in South Australia on Tuesday with confusion, lets keep it simple.
Think of South Australia as an energy survivalist, battening down the hatches and hoarding the canned goods, and perhaps it will start to make more sense.
On Tuesday, the SA premier, Jay Weatherill, committed to sourcing $550m worth of canned goods. A new gas-fired power plant. A massive new battery farm. A fix to boost gas supply. New ministerial powers to direct generators and the energy market operator.
A whole lot of canned goods, right there.
Before we conclude something has gone horribly awry in challenging times, lets be very clear. The SA government has been left with little choice.
Over the past six months or so, the state grid has been exposed as unreliable.
Reading the likely trends, the SA government has made the decision the state cant be in the position of relying on Victoria for power in emergencies, because Victoria is going to encounter its own reliability problems once the Hazelwood coal-fired plant shuts down.
A state election looms in 12 months, and anyone who spends more than five minutes in SA knows power prices and network insecurity are red-hot political issues.
So on Tuesday, Jay Weatherill made a big decision.
He said were going it alone because we cant rely on anyone else in the Australian political system to deliver what we know needs to happen, in the time we need it to happen.
Its a big call. But you really cant accuse SA of impatience, or going off half-cocked. Tuesdays landing point has been more than 10 years in the making.
For more than a decade, two premiers Mike Rann and Jay Weatherill have been begging Canberra to impose a price signal to drive orderly investment decisions in energy assets, and orderly rationalisations of elderly and polluting power stations.
Those efforts, unfortunately for South Australia, and the rest of us, have proven a colossal waste of time.
The stupidity and hyperpartisan recklessness continues apace.
So what of SAs particular model of survivalism?
As a suite of measures, the Weatherill plan is rational enough.
It addresses the specific problems that have been exposed in state infrastructure over the past few months: not enough generation-ready baseload power in the state, and not enough gas to supply the generation assets that currently exist.
It also makes sense to invest in more technical back-up for renewables, given low-emissions technologies account for a large percentage of generation assets in SA, and will only increase their share if Australia ever adopts a halfway serious climate policy.
But the fixes are not without consequences.
SA has galloped ahead of the Finkel review, which is supposed to be the mechanism to resolve the problems in the national electricity market, assuming politicians are still capable of acting in the national interest.
Given we dont know whether emissions reduction will be driven in the future by a market mechanism or by regulation, or by something else entirely, SA has cooked up its own policy model, an energy security target, which will compel retailers to source a percentage of their energy from local supply rather than from Victorian coal through the interconnector.
Weatherill says the plan will put downward pressure on power prices; the federal energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, says it will drive up power prices.
After decades of privatisation of government assets it might be hard to wrap your mind around the idea of a government building its very own gas-fired electricity generator but here we are folks, back to the future.
A big construction project is risky, particularly when the rules of the game are not settled and where the trend in the industry is towards decentralisation. And its not a quick fix. Its hard to see it being in place for next summer. It might be ambitious to think it will be in place the summer after.
Then theres the regulatory override.
SA is reserving for itself the power to direct the energy market operator in the case of an electricity supply shortfall.
Its being billed as a last-resort measure, but its a big break from the rules that have governed the national electricity market, and it doesnt take too much imagination to see it could be a recipe for confusion if its not implemented very carefully and clearly.
And the federal government isnt taking the survivalism lying down.
SA has been cast by the Turnbull government as the enemy of the pantomime, and its not intending to divert from the political strategy it has been pursuing for months.
After hectoring SA for months about not having enough baseload power, and bringing on too large a share of renewables without an engineering fix to deal with the intermittency problems Frydenberg shifted the goalposts again on Tuesday.
He says the government in Canberra is taking advice about whether Weatherills plan is in breach of the national electricity market rules.
This burst of survivalism was reckless, the federal energy minister thought, and would undermine the national electricity market.
Of course survivalism undermines the national electricity market, of course a state solution is less optimal than an elegant national solution.
But seriously, in the real world, what choice was SA left with?
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Posted: March 10, 2017 at 3:01 am
Ahead of their single launch show at MOTH Club on March 13th with Dead Pretties, South London’s Phobophobes have shared a mesmerising new video, led by interpretive dance, for their forthcoming 7″ ‘The Never Never’, due for release this March 24th via Ra-Ra Rok Records.
Featuring “threatening interpretive dance, petrifying purple smoke and a solid dose of primordial goo” according to Notion Magazine, ‘The Never Never’ director Tuixn Benet explains:
“Jamie [Taylor, guitar/vocals] asked me to do a video for ‘The Never Never’. He said he imagined choreography in it, even though no-one else did, and I guess that’s why he chose me. I agreed with him instantly, it’s the kind of beat I like to dance to, not too fast, not too slow, and it allows the kind of weird, punky moves I love. We shot everything in a day and a half in Imagina-Mediapro studios in Barcelona with a wonderful team that did a great job.”
Watch ‘The Never Never’ on YouTube – https://youtu.be/qQnwpiwjMM8
Following previous single ‘Human Baby’, an elegy to Phobophobes’ late guitarist George Russell that was played every day for a week on BBC 6Music, ‘The Never Never’ arrives an ode to the precarious survivalism of society’s most disenfranchised. Swirling through repetitive slogans, rubbishing the adverts that promise a life we can’t really afford as pastiche, and asking earnestly, “what separates those treading water to survive from the religious idols who struggled so similarly?”
In the wake of a tumultuous 2016, Phobophobes continue to forge their own path, taking whatever’s thrown at them and squeezing every ounce of inspiration from it. It’s the only way they know. Frontman Jamie Taylor has built studio space wherever he’s roamed, from Paris to Peckham to Primrose Hill. Even Pittsburgh, Iowa, Palm Beach and New York whilst working on a touring art exhibition across America, setting up a studio in each hotel room to work on new tracks. Even when invited to Abbey Road Studios to record with Ken Scott (Bowie, Lennon, the list goes on), bass player at the time, Elliot, took swabs of their oldest microphone and grew bacteria in petri dishes, the results of which are immortalised in Phobophobes’ artwork and in the centre of their 7″s.
This boundless DIY mentality echoes through Phobophobes’ every move. Having now found home in the basement of The Brixton Windmill, the nucleus of South London’s gig circuit where Phobophobes record, rehearse and also put on their own shows, playing alongside Shame, Goat Girl, Meatraffle, The Fat White Family, Childhood and countless others, they remain progenitors of the scene.
Following a single launch show at London’s MOTH Club, Phobophobes will tour the UK with LIFE through April on the dates below. The band are currently readying their debut full-length album and will release ‘The Never Never’ on 7″ vinyl this March 24th via Ra-Ra Rok Records.
Posted: at 3:01 am
Yesterday, ProPublica published a massive list of Trump administration officials, including over 400 names. Among the individuals it highlighted is a man named Jon Perdue, a special assistant at the Treasury Department. Perdue is the author of a book on the nexus of Latin American radicalism and Middle Eastern terrorism and a member of a relatively obscure think tank. Hes also a self-described expert in guerrilla warfare who invented a survivalist gadget bow to use after the apocalypse.
The product in question is called the Pack Bow, and it was apparently featured on CNBCs Make Me a Millionaire Inventor in 2015. Its site is currently accepting preorders in the form of mailing list signups, and yes, thats the only shot we could find of the Pack Bow in action above. The sites ad copy is like the start of a D&D session set in Cormac McCarthys The Road.
The worst has occurred. You always knew it was possible, but never dreamed it would happen so soon. The power grid is down, and you are surrounded by chaos. Theres not much time you can only grab a handful of things, so as you head out the door, you grab the Pack Bow.
Not only is it a bow (with a self-containing quiver), its a compass, adjustable hanging rod, tent pole, walking stick, fishing pole, spearfishing rig and is wrapped in paracord. It also holds emergency supplies like bandages, matches, and water purification tablets so that when you need them, and you likely will, youll be prepared.
You never know whats ahead. With the Pack Bow you have a better chance of surviving it.
Theres also a helpful diagram.
Few of us at The Verge would describe ourselves as experts on survivalism, guerrilla warfare, and archery. But we do love gadgets, and we have questions.
While were pondering these, you can enjoy some of the incredible feats of archer Lars Anderson, a man who unlike this bow we would 100 percent pick for our apocalyptic RPG party.
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Posted: March 8, 2017 at 1:09 pm
To me, flying is the hurdle you jump to get somewhere fun. Ive never had an attraction to planes. Airplanes are inconvenient sky buses accessed only through soul-crushing security lines we have to share with tacky people and business dicks. Airplanes are the journey; Im more of a destination gal.
That may have changed a few weeks ago when I walked up the dusty wing of a retired 727, through the emergency door, and into a 1,000 square foot home. With a cockpit.
Owner Bruce Campbell has been living in this bird (he calls planes birds) in the suburbs of Portland for the better part of 18 years, and hopes his passion project can turn into a movement to salvage what are still functional, weatherproof structures, while providing some cool housing options to boot.
And if youre thinking this sounds like just the gimmicky style of housing that Portland drools over, youre right.
I began corresponding with Campbell over a year ago, after Id heard about his airplane home project and approached him for a story. Hes always happy to meet with press, or just about any other snoopy looky-loo, and not only did he agree, he regularly replied with 1000-word emails. Bruce was overseas, and had a return ticket booked, but hey, maybe I could pick him up from the airport and drive him to Hillsboro?
Of course I could pick up this stranger from the airport and drive him to Hillsboro. After all, I did need a story. Besides, Id never done plane-to-plane transport before. When else could I pretend I was a big airport monorail?
It was a long drive to Hillsboro, and the big highways turned into suburban boulevards and smaller and smaller country roads until eventually Bruce pointed to a steep dirt driveway, telling me wed need to get some speed to make it up. It would be getting dark soon. There had been damage to the trees during our winter storms, and nothing had been cleared yet. I backed up my Honda and let her fly (not literally) up a muddy hill, dodging branches, at dusk. It was a tense couple of minutes that paid off when the road flattened out and the trees cleared enough to reveal the giant nose of an airplane peeking out of the forest, like a sneaky, huge, aerodynamic wolf. With the setting sun, the drizzle, and the trees, youd think it was a movie. It was so beautiful.
And weird. Airplanes go in the sky and in hangars, not on some private acreage in the suburbs.
But they can.
According to Bruce, an average of three jetliners are retired on a daily basis. When an old plane gets the boot, the engines are removed, because those stay valuable, but the rest of the plane isnt so precious. Bruce describes the process as shredding, where this giant metal flying tube made by millions of dollars of brain and labor power is reduced to piles of metal and loose wires.
Bruceand a couple of other ambitious nerds like himbelieve that empty planes have much more potential. They are weatherproof, soundproof buildings on wheels that only get junked because thats what happens. Bruce envisions a future where the planes are driven off a runway or out of a hangar and into a housing park for a quiet second life.
Because get this: Airlines dont have to sell the planes to scrappers. Anyone can buy one, you just have to put up one more dollar than the scrappers would pay, which can be less than $100,000. A decked-out tiny house can run upwards of $50,000, and those dont have more than a thousand square feet of living space, multiple bathrooms, a ton of free chairs, and a freakin cockpit. Then, all you need is some land thats zoned residentialwhich I guess is easy enough. THEN you need to know how to attach plumbing for a septic tank and fresh well water, and run electricity. There have got to be people in this dweeby city who can do that, right? Arent we always complaining about all the techies whove moved here?
The Boeing 727 is a commercial jetliner thats been around since the 1960s. It was designed for regional flights and smaller airports, so Boeing gave it its own set of stairs. The stairs fold out of the plane in the back, below the tail, accessed by a door between the two back bathrooms with an exit sign over it. It didnt initially occur to Boeing that people might want to use the exit mid-flight, so they didnt put in a locking mechanism, which was a design flaw (or feature!) that enabled one D.B. Cooper to parachute out of a 727 with a bag of money in 1971. Boeing later added a locking mechanism called the Cooper vane, so dont get any ideas.
Besides, not a lot of 727s are still in use. They have three engines, which makes it sound like a noisy birdsay a crow, or a mean goose. Also, the 727 needed a flight engineer, which called for a third person in the cockpit (and another paycheck to write). The engineer sat at his or her own desk in the cockpit (behind where Chewbacca sits), with lots of dials and buttons. Quieter, more self-sufficient jets came onto the scene, and I dont understand how you could go from needing three engines and three people in the cockpit to only needing two, but it happened, making the 727 less desirable. Bye-bye, airstairs. Bye-bye, flight engineer.
This specific 727 is a castaway from Olympic Air, a Greek airline. A cool claim to fame: Its the last plane Aristotle Onassis ever rode in! Bruce pointed to the floor, where we could see through some plexiglass and into the cargo hold. He was down there. Poor old Ari didnt appreciate the flight because he was dead and in a casket. However, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and some rich Greeks sat in these very seats, which are now softened and greyed by years of use in the days when people still smoked in planes. (Bruce said the ashtrays were still loaded with butts when he got her. Remember smoking?)
It was retired at some point in the mid-90s, and the airline was willing to unload it for cheap right around the time that Bruce got this twinkle in his eye. He bought it for $100,000 in cash in 1999. It was flown to the Hillsboro airport intact, then driven to the fairgrounds across the street to be stripped.
This is the part of the story where Bruce gets sad. Hed hired scrappers to unload what he didnt want in his plane, but he very much wanted all the visuals to remain. Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication and rookie mistakes, the plane got torn up pretty good. The cockpit now drips with ends of orphaned wires and is missing more knobs than its got. Bruce has had to improvise wiring because what could have been usable was irreparably damaged. The salvage crew is the villain in this story. Stupid salvage jerks.
Bruce got the plane to his property by removing the wings and tail and having it hauled in pieces. (Apparently you cant just drive a jet through downtown Hillsborowhich is the second villain in this story.) He put it back together on his land, then settled in.
I liked visiting Campbells airplane home because I could envision how Id lay out my furniture if I had the money and time and patience and diligence and technical savvy to buy one of my own. Other peoplesmarter peoplewould love to visit the home to see all those knobs and wires. I asked about cable TV (none) and pooping (septic tank).
The carpet inside the cabin has been taken out and the flooring is now clear plexiglass so you can see down into the cargo areas. This also reveals a lot of technology. As a person with only a rudimentary understanding of how planes fly in the first place, I was not surprised to see so many cranks and knobs and wires. This does ________, Bruce would say. Ahhh, I nodded, as if it made sense.
He has the interior divided into two rooms by a Styrofoam wall. The front area is open, with the planes seats lining one wall, and the cockpit in front. Since it was stripped of a lot of the cool stuff by the scrappers, its got a post-apocalyptic vibe. Bruce was patient to let me conduct most of my interview up there, beneath the buttons and gears and wires, in front of big windows staring out at the forest.
The backexcuse me, the aftarea is his living space. There he has two working bathrooms in their original orientation. Off to the side, hes made a small shower enclosure, with a drain on the floor. Its not super private, but he lives alone, and doesnt have neighbors peeking through one of his 100 tiny windows. Theres a washing machine, a refrigerator, a tiny sink, and a microwave. He doesnt have a stove but I couldnt figure out if that was because he couldnt have one (ventilation?) or doesnt want one. Apart from being a metal tube, it was your basic single guys studio apartment.
Theres no wood in the plane, and without gasoline and moving parts, its pretty much fireproof. However, this also means that humidity is an issue. Boogers must be an issue, too.
Bruce pointed out that in addition to being perfectly insulated, planes are pretty much 100 percent earthquake proof. No earthquake would ever be as powerful as a hard landing, which the planes landing gear is made to withstand. Bruces plane also has other jostle-proof safety features, as well as hundreds of cans of food. This project didnt start as survivalism, but it sure could survive a lot.
As it started to get dark, Bruce and I made our way around the outside of the plane while he turned on water and performed other tasks one does when one owns a plane house and returns from overseas. When we got back inside, water was pouring out of the ceiling, back by where the flight attendants used to make coffee. Bruce was completely stress-free as water poured all over the floor and he started pulling things apart. An easy fix! he exclaimed. I dumbly offered to help, and when he smartly refused, I let him know it was time for me to go.
Planes have manuals, and houses have Home Depot, but theres no guide for how to combine the two. There are a couple of other people with airplane home projects in the United States, and they can bounce ideas off one another, but everybody is pretty much winging it. (HA HA, WING.) I asked Bruce how often yahoos with wild dreams ask for advice on how to get their own planes. He said it happens fairly regularly, but people give up when they realize they cant get housing basics like conventional mortgages or insurance.
On the long drive home, I wondered if I could do it. IF I had the money, IF I had the patience, IF I had the technical savvy, and IF I had the time, could I live in an airplane home? Probably, once there were systems in place for them to be comfortable and not drafty and if we could retrofit the bathroom sinks so I could get my hands all the way under the faucet. Also Id probably get nervous about falling off the wing while walking in with groceries during a rain.
But this silly city is a smart one, and I wouldnt be surprised if some nerds exhausted by the tiny home movement didnt try starting an airplane home movement instead. Bruce would certainly love that. Hed even talk you through some DIY plumbing. And maybe it could become a home where even a flying hater like me could get warm and comfy.
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Posted: March 7, 2017 at 10:07 pm
Rally for #BlackLivesMatter in New York City on February 13, 2017. Credit: Erik McGregor/PA Images
When some white women celebrate the non-violence of womens marches against Trump and then pose for photographs with police officers while police violence specifically targets people of colour, when Nazi-punchers are accused of being no different from fascists, when feminists in relative safety accuse militant women in the Middle East facing sex slavery under ISIS of militarism, we must problematize the liberal notion of non-violence which disregards intersecting power systems and mechanisms of structural violence. By dogmatically clinging onto a pacifism (or passive-ism?) that has a classed and racial character, and demonising violent anti-system rage, feminists exclude themselves from a much needed debate on alternative forms of self-defence whose objective and aesthetic serve liberationist politics. In a global era of femicide, sexual violence and rape culture, who can afford not to think about womens self-defence?
Feminism has played an important role in anti-war movements and achieved political victories in peace-building. The feminist critique of militarism as a patriarchal instrument renders understandable the rejection of womens participation in state-armies as being empowering. But liberal feminists blanket rejection of womens violence, no matter the objective, fails to qualitatively distinguish between statist, colonialist, imperialist, interventionist militarism and necessary, legitimate self-defence.
Police fire riot control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters on July 9, 2016 in Saint Paul to protest the police murder of Philando Castile. Credit: Annabelle Marcovici/PA Images
The monopoly on violence as a fundamental characteristic of the state protects the latter from accusations of injustice, while criminalising peoples basic attempts at self-preservation. Depending on strategies and politics, non-state actors are labelled as disruptive to public order at best, or terrorists at worst. The tendency to uphold examples like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King to make the case for non-violent resistance often blurs historical facts to the point of sanitising the radical and sometimes violent elements of legitimate anti-colonial or anti-racist resistance.
Simultaneously, the traditional association of violence with masculinity and the systematic exclusion of women from politics, economy, war, and peace, reproduce patriarchy through a sexual division of roles in the realm of power. The feminist critique of violence is based in well-intentioned, yet deeply essentialist, reasoning of a gender-based morality, which can also reproduce portrayals of women as passive, inherently apolitical, and in need of protection. Such gender-reductionism fails to understand that inclination to violence is not inherently gender-specific but determined by interconnected systems of hierarchy and power as the case of white American women torturing Iraqi men in Abu Ghraib prison demonstrates.
Kurdish women have a tradition of resistance; their philosophy of self-defence ranges from autonomous guerrilla womens armies to the development of self-managed womens cooperatives. In recent years, the victories of the Womens Defence Units (YPJ) in Rojava-Northern Syria and the YJA Star Guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) against ISIS have been inspiring. Kurdish women, along with their Arab and Syriac Christian sisters, liberated thousands of square miles from ISIS, creating scenes of beauty of women liberating women. At the same time, they were also building the foundations of a womans revolution inside society. However, some western feminists questioned its legitimacy and dismissed it as militarism or co-optation by political groups. Western media narratives have portrayed this struggle in a de-politicised, exotic way, or by making generalised assumptions about womens natural disinclination to violence. If the media reporting was dominated by a male gaze, it was partly due to feminists refusal to engage with this relevant topic. One cannot help but think that militant women taking matters into their own hands impairs western feminists ability to speak on behalf of women in the Middle East, projected as helpless victims, may be one of the reasons for this hostility. Credit: YPJ Media Team
The Kurdish womens struggle developed a woman-centred philosophy of self-defence and is situated in an intersectional analysis of colonialism, racism, nation-statism, capitalism, and patriarchy. The Rose Theory is a part of the unapologetically women-liberationist political thought of PKK leader Abdullah calan. He suggests that in order to come up with non-statist forms of self-defence, we need to look no further than nature itself. Every living organism, a rose, a bee, has its mechanisms of self-defence in order to protect and express its existence with thorns, stings, teeth, claws, etc. not to dominate, exploit or unnecessarily destroy another creature but to preserve itself and meet its vital needs. Among humans, entire systems of exploitation and domination perpetuate violence beyond necessary physical survival. Against this abuse of power, legitimate self-defence must be based on social justice and communal ethics with particular respect to womens autonomy. If we let go of social Darwinist notions of survivalism and competition which under capitalist modernity have reached deadly dimensions and focus on the interplay of life within ecological systems, we can learn from natures ways of resistance and formulate a self-defence philosophy. In order to fight the system, self-defence must embrace direct action, participatory radical democracy, and self-managed social, political and economic structures.
Alongside Democratic Confederalism led by the Kurdish freedom movement, an autonomous Womens Democratic Confederalist system has been built up through thousands of communes, councils, cooperatives, academies and defence units in Kurdistan and beyond. Through the creation of an autonomous womens commune in a rural village, the identity, existence, and will of its members find their expression in practice and challenge the authority of the patriarchal, capitalist state. Furthermore, economic autonomy and communal economy based on solidarity through the establishment of cooperatives are crucial to societys self-defence as they guarantee self-sustenance through mutualism and shared responsibility, rejecting dependence on states and men. Care for water, lands, forests, historic and natural heritage are vital parts of self-defence against the nation-state and profit-oriented environmental destruction.
Defending oneself also means to be and know oneself. This implies the overcoming of sexist, racist knowledge production that capitalist modernity advocates and which excludes the oppressed from history. Political consciousness constitutes a fight against assimilation, alienation from nature, and genocidal state policies. The answer to positivist, male-centred, colonialist history-writing and social science is thus the establishment of grassroots womens academies promoting liberationist epistemologies.
A fight without ethics cannot protect society. In the eyes of Kurdish women fighters, ISIS cannot be defeated by weapons only but by a social revolution. This is why Yazidi women, after experiencing a traumatic genocide under ISIS, formed an autonomous womens council for the first time in their history with the slogan The organization of Yazidi women will be the answer to all massacres, alongside womens military organisations. In Rojava, alongside the YPJ, even grandmothers learn how to handle AK47s and rotate among themselves the responsibility to protect their communities within the Self-Defence Forces (HPC), while thousands of womens centres, cooperatives, communes, and academies aim to dismantle male domination. Against the Turkish states hyper-masculine war, Kurdish women constitute one of the main challenges to Erdogans one-man rule through their autonomous mobilisation. Crucially, women from different communities have joined them in constructing womens alternatives to male domination in all spheres of life. An alternative self-defence concept which does not reproduce statist militarism must of course be anti-nationalist.
YJ is an all-women militia formed in Iraq in 2015 to protect the Yazidi community in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Credit: Wikicommons
Unlike violence which aims to subjugate the other, self-defence is a complete dedication and responsibility to life. To exist means to resist. And in order to exist meaningfully and freely, one must be politically autonomous. Put bluntly, in an international system of sexual and racial violence, legitimised by capitalist nation-states, the cry for non-violence is a luxury for those in privileged positions of relative safety, believing that they will never end up in a situation where violence will become necessary to survive. While theoretically sound, pacifism does not speak to the reality of masses of women and thus assumes a rather elitist first world character.
If our claims to social justice are genuine, in a world system of intersecting forms of violence, we have to fight back.