Monday, December 30, 2013

Episode 136, Liberty Ridge in Winter

Winter came early this year to Liberty Ridge, in the form of a major early December storm.

Pre-storm hype had this event rivaling the infamous ice storm of 2008, which knocked out power to outlying areas in Oklahoma, Arkansas and points beyond for up to a month. Would that happen to us? And if it did, how would our preps hold up?

Also on tap was the first truly cold weather (single digits on the Fahrenheit scale) since the home and the well and plumbing were put into operation, so there was a significant concern that a lapse in design or construction had left these things subject to freezing.

On this show I talk about a host of pre-storm concerns we had, how we fared, and what lessons we learned.

If you find this show interesting, you might also give episode 73 a listen (Handling a Winter Power Outage).

Friday, December 6, 2013

Episode 135, Setting Up the Vegetable Garden

Winter is here, so now is the time to get the vegetable garden beds set up in time for the first spring planting.

We're building our grow beds using concrete blocks, stacked three high and interlocked, but without mortar.

We're going to try Hugelkulture techniques in a couple of the beds for better moisture control, superior soil structure, and promotion of beneficial insects and microorganisms.

We're working our way towards an ambitious but achievable goal of growing half of the food we eat, other than meat, within a couple of years.

We'll also be raising chickens and possibly goats, but that is a topic for a future show.

Gardening is a lot of work, but the payoff is that you are converting your labor directly into something of value which is not taxed as income. It's like printing your own money. It's a great way to be productive while withholding your consent from a rogue government in love with the Dependency Culture it has spawned.

Also in this show: a little "tractor talk" and an analysis of the most flexible of towed work trailers, the dump trailer.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Episode 134, Federal Employee All-Hands Conference Call

In a first for the Shrugging Out Podcast, we have obtained a recording of a recent "all hands" conference call for employees of the federal government.

The call was hosted by Joseph Slebog, the Senior Director of Internal Communications for the federal government.

On the call, Director Slebog reassures FedGov employees that all is well. Everything is going according to plan.

During the Q&A, Slebog answers a number of questions, including:
  • Will the faulty Obamacare rollout end up killing the whole program for federal control of healthcare?
  • How is the government planning to deal with the threat posed by millions of gun owners?
  • Why has the government made no progress on climate change?
  • How well-funded is the federal pension program compared to state pension programs?
  • Is the federal debt really a bad thing, and if so, what is being done about it?
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Episode 133, Obamacare as a Technology Disaster

I call it OTIS--Obamacare Technology Information System. As an IT project, OTIS is a failure.

Large software projects often fail. They commonly wind up way over budget, way behind schedule, and well short of functionality goals. Many end up abandoned entirely.

That's the history of computer programming, going back to the earliest days. Surprisingly, things haven't improved that much over time. Even today you will find failed efforts that in hindsight should never have been attempted, at least under the circumstances.

Obamacare as a technology effort will write another chapter in the history of failed software projects. With interfaces to large, complex, and poorly understood government systems, OTIS is much more than a website. OTIS is a major system layered atop multiple other systems. The goals for OTIS were overly ambitious, the timeline ridiculously tight, and the leadership lousy at all levels. We know this, because that's always the case when something as big and messy as OTIS crashes.

If you've ever been a programmer on a large project, you can imagine what it was like for the OTIS project team. They were on a death march. Everyone working heads down, writing code, testing code, logging errors--watching the list of problems grow as the go-live deadline loomed. And on the fateful day, holding their collective breaths, watching it all collapse.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Episode 132, From ObamaCare to Death Camps

Ok, an extreme theme for this podcast.

Obamacare is here. It's still somewhat theoretical given the startup failures of the insurance exchanges. So far there's not a lot to like if you are one of the 40+ million without healthcare insurance. Go ahead and sign up, we dare you.  (It doesn't work, I tried it!)

But as we are constantly reminded, Obamacare is "the law of the land." Illegitimately rendered law, perhaps, but oh, it's the law. Except when the Chief Executive issues thousands of waivers and delays the employer mandate with the stroke of a pen.

Keep in mind that the real goal here is total government control of the health care apparatus in America. This is the prize, folks. Extinguishing the last beacon of liberty (faded as it is) and revving up the best and final socialist experiment on Earth is the goal. With total control of health care, you get total control of nutrition--the food supply--and mental health--the definition of what is sane (supporting your government) and insane (opposing it).

Resist if you like, but under penalty of fines, and threat of physical incarceration. If you resist the state, you must go to a re-education camp. And if you continue to resist while in camp, you may be shot "while attempting to escape".

There are two sustainable political systems in this world—one based on liberty and self-reliance, the other based on totalitarianism. Every system in between is transitional. You are either moving towards more liberty or more totalitarianism. I know where I’d rather be. How about you?

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Also, as briefly discussed in the podcast, Matt Bracken speculates here and here that Obama may use the debt ceiling-induced government "shutdown" as an excuse to turn off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) EBT cards, provoking riots across the country, so that he can invoke national emergency powers. We will soon see. (Links courtesy of Western Rifle Shooters Association.)
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Episode 131, Personal Protection and Security

Let's talk about what's important when it comes to personal protection and security.

You're out and about, either alone or with family and friends, and you want to get home safe and sound.

When you get home, you want to find your home, your homestead, your possessions and property in place and intact, as you left them.

In this show I talk about assessing the threats posed by other people to you, your loved ones, and your stuff, and the logical approach to avoiding, managing, and overcoming those threats.

Because I'm no longer in the suburbs but live in the country now, I spend extra time talking about securing one's home and property in a rural environment from common threats. Both now, while the Rule of Law is still in force, and someday, if and when it happens, when your area is without ROL.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Episode 130, Prepping Past, Present, and Future

I was recently visited here on Liberty Ridge by long-time listener and confidant of the Shrugging Out Podcast, Don, who first joined me in a show way back in July 2010 (episode 28).

That's Don's barn, in the picture, which has a fascinating story of its own. You can and should visit Don's website, where he blogs about fine woodworking and cabinetry and muses on a wide variety of topics.A brilliant and creative craftsman and observer of today's culture and politics--that's my good friend Don.

During Don's visit, we talked about the evolution of prepping for disaster, what the government is doing in the run-up to war and The Collapse, and related topics. I meant to record our conversation, but unexpected circumstances prevented that, so I recount our discussion as a monolog instead.

Also discussed in this show are the situation with Syria, the cowardice we have in America today about race (not what Eric Holder says it is), and an interesting, practical discussion of why wages are not rising along with inflation.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Episode 129. Speech to College Freshmen

Something a little different for Shrugging Out Podcast listeners.

A lot of famous people give commencement addresses. You know, graduation, when the students are finished with school.

But if I am ever asked to address a group of college students (yeah right) I would rather talk to an incoming class of college freshmen than outgoing graduates.

You see, I'd want to get a crack at them BEFORE they endured four, five, or more years of university indoctrination, instead of trying to clean up the damage afterwards.

So--This is my special introduction to college for all those wide-eyed freshmen. Give it a listen!

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Episode 128, All Moved In to Liberty Ridge

Wow, that was easy. All it took was three trucks, four days, and five guys to move from the DFW area to our shrug-out place in Arkansas.

We've started the endless series of projects planned to convert the raw property and structures into a functioning homestead. The first major project is building an array of storage shelves in the garage (pictured right). Note to DHS--the scary pressure cooker visible in the picture will be used to can food.

Soon we will need to begin harvesting some hardwood on the property for heating the home. After all, winter is right around the corner!

I started The Shrugging Out podcast on March 10, 2010, over three years ago. We're not done shrugging out by any means, but we have reached an important milestone with our move to the country. Hard to believe after all the thinking and planning that it's actually happened.

In this show, I discuss topics familiar to frequent listeners: Why are there collectivists among us? Do free markets work? Is it ok to profit from the illness of others? Is it better to fight the growing tyranny, or escape it? Is "The Collapse" inevitable? How bad will it get? Topics I think about whilst working through chores and projects underway here on Liberty Ridge.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Episode 127, The Logistics of a Cross-Country Move

Our moving day to Liberty Ridge is rapidly approaching.

Actually, it's more like a moving week, as we are moving hundreds of miles away. One day for loading up our belongings. Two days for the trek to our new location. One day (if we're lucky) for unloading. A day to recover.

Ok, I'm not complaining, just reporting. In this episode I discuss the logistics of moving everything you own, at least everything you want to continue to own, over a long distance to your safer place in the country.

You have many options, and many decisions to make. You face multiple constraints. Your move may differ significantly from ours, but as preppers, we faced a few out-of-the-ordinary curve balls, and you may too.

This episode was recorded on Independence Day, 2013, from the all-new mobile Shrugger studio, the Ford F-350 long bed diesel, rattling its sonorous melody on the way to Liberty Ridge.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Episode 126, Buying a Used Pickup for When the SHTF

While getting ready to move to Liberty Ridge over the course of the next month, I recently converted some BCM (Bernanke's Casino Money) into the tangible value represented by a used pickup truck in very good condition (not the one pictured!).

In this show, I go through the pros and cons of having a pickup truck versus other vehicle types in SHTF situations. I also cover, in traditional Shrugging Out (i.e., analytical) fashion, the features and characteristics of pickup trucks, and how to navigate your way through all the options and variations available, based on what you really need, versus what someone else says you need.

Single-seat cab, extended cab or crew cab? Long bed or short bed? Two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive? Manual or automatic? Light duty or heavy duty? Gasoline or diesel? Single rear wheel or dually? Ford, Chevy or Dodge?

How do you learn about your local used market for pickups? What's commonly available, and what is relatively rare? How do you assess the overall condition of a truck? How do you determine the true condition of the most important and expensive components? How do you know what a given truck is worth on the market, today?

I go through the steps I went through in finding the perfect truck for the work we have to do at Liberty Ridge. They were right for me, but may not be right for you, so as always, your mileage may vary.

I toss out a few opinions along the way in this podcast. Your comments welcome, as always.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Episode 125, Update on Liberty Ridge

Liberty Ridge is my personal "shrugging out" location and strategy. We're about a month away from moving there, lock, stock and barrel.

In this show I talk about what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how we're going to do it.

What do you need to do to establish a new homestead? What assets do you bring to the table in terms of your knowledge and skills? What shortcomings will you have to overcome? What tools will you need? What should you focus on doing first, and what can wait until later?

My choices and the reasoning behind them in this show. Could help you make your own decisions. Time is growing short. Keep prepping.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Episode 124. Will the Scandals Wake the People?

An avalanche of scandals has rocked the Obama administration, involving the State Department, Justice Department, and the IRS.

History, along with the now-familiar style of the current regime suggest we have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Most everyone is reacting in the predictable ways, based on their positions in and around the Federal government. But the big and lasting question for us is this: Will the scandals wake the people? Will the people take notice of what is happening, not just the current scandals, but the broader issues involving the economy and society?

Is this the moment of truth for the American people--the time to realize the truth of growing Federal tyranny, and the looming disasters ahead? Will the people finally wake up to what is going on, and demand meaningful action to reverse course?

Without giving away the answer too obviously, the advice here is to shrug out and keep prepping.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Episode 123. Don't Be Discouraged by Good News

Yeah, that's right. Don't be discouraged by GOOD news!

If you've been prepping for the big Collapse that many of us believe is coming, it can be surprising, and even disappointing, when the occasional bit of good news surfaces.

An unexpectedly favorable jobs report. The stock market hitting another high. How can that be? The world is going to hell in a handbasket! How can there be good news?

First of all, you need to understand what you're feeling. You're not really upset that the collapse hasn't arrived. Few people truly want bad times to come, and it's not likely you're one of them.

You're probably concerned that all your preps will go for naught. That you've wasted precious time and money. That the hours of worrying, and planning, and prepping, could have gone into something more productive.

Well, before you go too much farther down that path, keep a few points in mind:

1) Prepping for "The Collapse" has the side benefit of keeping you prepared for a range of disasters, large and small. Remember that the next time you have a power outage in your neighborhood, or nearby.

2) Your disaster preps are insurance, not an investment. You're not prepping to get rich, you're prepping so that you can get through hard times. If you're preparing for the worst but hoping for the best, and the best is what happens, then you got exactly what you were hoping for. That's good!

3) The occasional piece of good news is inevitable in a world as complex as ours, even when the long-term trends are negative.

Finally, do not let your surprise over good news in the short term influence your objective evaluation of what is happening long-term. The global economy isn't improving, it's getting worse. The stock market bubble will not last forever, it will end. Nobody can predict when that will happen, but history suggests that bull markets end with a surprise. Be ready.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Episode 122. Blessed Are the Poor, So Become Poor

Motivation to "shrug out" of the mess we're in can come from many sources, including Christ Himself, from the first Beatitude:

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.
And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Whether yours is a religious or secular life, the message of this podcast is to re-direct your labors to your true needs and those of your family. Seek liberty and self-reliance. You may become poor in the eyes of Caesar, but wealthy in much more important ways.

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Episode 121, What Should You Do With Your Money?

Is the failure of the Cyprus banks and the rumored 40% haircut taken by depositors with assets over 100,000 Euro a harbinger of things to come?

If you have managed to accumulate a nest egg, or if you are in the process of doing so, just what should you do with it to keep it safe?

Is time-honored investment advice from "financial planners" still valid? Or is the "diversification" they advocate just a small and surprisingly risky slice of the investment opportunities available?

And what are you really doing when you make an investment? You're placing a bet on what you think will be valuable at some point in the future, right? What will be the value of emergency cash, municipal bonds, and company stocks, the spectrum of conventional financial diversification, in the event of a general collapse of the economy and society?

In this podcast I explore alternate forms of accumulating and preserving value.

Also, this is the first show recorded on Liberty Ridge, the soon-to-be location of Shrugger Studio. You might hear a light gust of wind in the microphone now and then, or a bird calling as he flies by. I recorded this show on the porch whilst enjoying a perfectly beautiful day (as pictured, left).

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Episode 120, We're Not Out of the Woods, Keep Prepping

Well here we all are, in the middle of the new normal for the US, with 8% unemployment, government debt ballooning past GDP, rising taxes, increasing regulations, and rapidly growing medical costs.

For a lot of people, the new normal is starting to feel, well, normal. It's something a lot of us are learning to live with.

Tempering that sense of new normalcy is, for many people, a persistent and growing sense of anxiety. If you feel it, that's your "spidey sense" at work. Spidey sense for bad times coming.

Past downturns have conditioned us to expect that things will get better soon. Some day they will, eventually, but in my view we are on a long, slow, downhill slide that could suddenly get steeper, or hit the wall, without much warning.

The unsustainable debt and demographic bomb are not going away. The "Sequester" and how it unfolded should convince you that avoiding a financial and societal collapse is well beyond our politics. Politics in America has become a reason-free zone.

Now is NOT the time to assume that a turnaround is near. Now is not the time to become complacent. Do not put off your preparations for what is coming. Our dependency culture is getting worse, not better. The rift between the makers and the takers is getting bigger, not smaller.

We're not coming out of the woods, we're going deeper into them. Keep prepping.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Episode 119, Will Robots Save Us, or Kill Us?

A bit of a thinking podcast for this episode.

Automation has been a huge factor in the world's economy over the years. As fast and disruptive as advancing technology has been, we ain't seen nothing yet. Robotic technology is storming the gates, and as a society, we are not ready.

What will happen to the economy, unemployment, and government debt when easily-programmed general purpose robots, like Baxter here, are able to flip hamburgers and perform thousands or even millions of routine jobs all over the country?

How will politicians react when hundreds of thousands of voters--eventually millions--lose their jobs to cheap robots that don't need an HR department, don't require Social Security payments, and don't receive government-mandated employer-funded healthcare insurance?

Will Baxter and his ilk usher in a new age of prosperity? Or will they bring the evaporation of the middle class and a new age of poverty and despair?

And what will the advent of sentient robots bring? Will a dominion of robots much smarter than us view us as worthy masters to serve, interesting equals to tolerate, or parasites to eradicate?

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Episode 118, White Rose

What happens in a hard tyranny when a small group of people resist?

White Rose was a tiny resistance movement in Nazi Germany that began in June 1942. A small group of medical students at the University of Munich conspired to issue six anti-government leaflets over a brief period of nine months, urging readers to wake up and resist the regime.

Many other students and citizens silently cheered them on, but when they were caught in February 1943 and put to death (by guillotine!) days later, their movement was crushed as swiftly as it began. And as we know now, it had no lasting effect on the German populace, or on the Nazi regime, which continued until the country was overrun by the Russians from the East and the Americans and British from the West over two years later.

White Rose is a story about the rarity of dissent in Nazi Germany, and how ineffective it was against a well-established hard tyranny. The German people never escaped the regime until it was destroyed from the outside.

What's the lesson for us? It can only be this: Do not allow tyranny to gain a foothold in the first place. Rise up before it is too late.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Episode 117, They're Not Coming for the Guns--Yet

Will the fallout from the Sandy Hook massacre be enough to trigger gun confiscation?

For now, no. In spite of Sandy Hook, the average citizen still supports the 2nd Amendment. So do a majority of Congress-critters. The latter fear what would happen at the ballot box if they supported bans and confiscations. As long as the Constitutionally-mandated process for enacting federal legislative remains in place, it's unlikely there will be national gun confiscations stemming from Sandy Hook.

But what if Sandy Hook is repeated? What if another nut job shoots up another kindergarten classroom? Or worse--what if several well-coordinated gunmen assault a restaurant or some other public place, killing dozens, and escaping the scene. What if "the media" discover they belong to some "militia group", striking out in support of the 2nd Amendment? What if the media report that other militia groups all over the country have come out in solidarity?

Now what about gun confiscations? Whether the militia attack is real or faked, public sentiment could change overnight. We might have put guards in public schools, people would say, but we can't guard EVERY public place! With "dangerous militia groups" posing a threat to American citizens, wouldn't disarmament be a viable course of action?

And yet, it's likely an attempt at national gun confiscation would be met in some quarters with armed resistance. The bloodshed might stay localized, but what if it didn't? What if confiscation triggered a nationwide anti-Fed insurrection? Would the government risk its own existence by launching a gun confiscation program?

Maybe not. But here's one final "what if" for you to consider: What if the leaders in the federal government come to realize that a collapse of the economy and society are inevitable?

Put yourself in their shoes. You know a collapse is coming. You don't know when. You know a collapse with millions of armed citizens would mean nationwide chaos and bloodshed. And probably the end of your government. You want to prevent that.

Here is your choice: Let the collapse happen whenever it does, and take your chances against all those guns. Or try to grab as many of the guns as you can, at a time of your own choosing, provoking an insurrection that might be less lethal? Of course the confiscation itself might trigger the collapse, but that was going to happen anyway.

That sounds like the plot of a Hollywood movie, doesn't it? It couldn't be a strategy, could it?

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Episode 116, 2013--Expect Chaos and Crisis

What should we expect in 2013?

Will 2013 be the year of the big collapse we're expecting? Maybe so, but that's impossible to predict, in terms of timing.

What I think we can be confident in predicting is an ongoing and worsening sense of chaos and crisis. Until the bubble finally pops.

President Obama loves chaos and crisis--they are the main tools of the community organizer, the community agitator.

Chaos and crisis will surround us, affecting the economy, foreign affairs, health care, public violence, gun control, and so on.

The public conflicts between individualism and collectivism will become more stark, more blatant, and more in-your-face than ever before. Every propaganda tool available will be deployed to demonize individualism and the impulses towards liberty and self-reliance. This is the "socialist mind game" as described by Oleg Atbashian, who was a propaganda artist for the old USSR. (Check out the hilarious adaptations of old Soviet propaganda on his web site.)

Finally, although the timing of the collapse of the economy and society cannot be predicted, its inevitability suggests that the federal government is busy with serious preparations to use and manage the chaos that will ensue.

If the government is prepping for a chaotic crash of the economy and society, what should you be doing?

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