sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Doomsday (series review)

The end is coming ...eventually.

National Geographic Explorer has two new series on television: Doomsday Preppers and Doomsday Castle. This is a series review of both of them. Doomsday Preppers begins its third season. Doomsday Castle begins its first.
(NatGeo) Doomsday Preppers explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Unique in their beliefs, motivations, and strategies, preppers will go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life’s uncertainties. And with our expert’s assessment, they will find out their chances of survival if their worst fears become a reality.
National Geographic's experts evaluate water, food, shelter, security and "x-factor" evaluate each prepper's situation to determine how long they are likely to last. 

The series popularity took Nat Geo to film Doomsday Castle, a reality show like Doomsday Preppers that follows one family's adventure, building a survival castle.  A man known only as "Brent Sr.," gathers his family and moves into a fortified castle to ride out any impending scenario. Eight episodes will document their efforts in planning, building, fortifying and training for anything up to and including a zombie apocalypse. 

The family intends its castle to act as a refuge where the family will be safe from marauding neighbors and others — who will all be shot on approach— once the power grid goes down and it's every man for himself.

Since all of the locals know where the castle is, the family will have to mow them down along with the hoards from the city who want to horn in on the stored food and to hide behind the defensive measures.

Personal Thoughts - Doomsday Preppers

The Doomsday Preppers all seem like generally nice people who are concerned with the world around them coming down around their ears. There are some weird people who built a gallows to deal with members of their compound who got out of line. A guillotine might have been a better choice but both the noose and the blade have historical precedents.

A small minority of the preppers are religious people preparing for the end of the world who have decided to live disarmed and have their faith defend them. The producers should have a duty to broadcast their locations because I'd go there first (armed) to move the faithful along, capture and then sack their compound. Think of all of the English monasteries that were sacked by Vikings... you get the picture. Stupid people die first and a lot of Christians were eaten by lions in the Colosseum.

It's better to have and not need than need and not have.

Personal Thoughts - Doomsday Castle

I would have called it a cabin in the mountains and would not have made it look like a castle. I would have likely fortified it, but would have made it appear less imposing. In a doomsday scenario, a real castle provides a challenge to assault where a "cabin" with no advertising around might be by-passed by the zombies. This castle has a drawbridge, moat and parapets. A castle provides a challenge and despite preparations, one anti-tank rocket from the local National Guard Armory will take the place down. Two or three will take it down faster.

They needed to site it on top of a hill (which it is) and clear ALL of the trees and brush for at least 500 meters to provide effective fields of fire. The mountain needs to be cleared "smooth" so that there is nothing for an attacker to hide behind. Land mines and area denial devices should be a part of preparations if you are serious about defense. Actually copying old castle designs and defensive measures works today (remarkably) unless they have anti-tank rockets or learn to build mortars (indirect fire weapons that drop explosive shells on your roof and eventually burn you out or blow you up. The family builds a trebuchet later in the series, which is a much better offensive weapon than it is a defensive weapon. When you consider that a mortar can be constructed easily from materials available in any hardware store, the castle wouldn't last long (sorry Brent Sr.)
"Fixed fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man." - General George S. Patton
If that sounds harsh, I tip my hat to Brent Sr. for working with his children to teach them woodcraft and survival skills. Even if the world doesn't end as anticipated with a massive electromagnetic pulse or EMP-generating nukes, the time that the kids spend with each other and their father will make them richer for the experience.

Children benefit from camping time with their parents even if there is no castle in the scenario.

Hint to Brent Sr. In the event of zombie apocalypse, consider taking over and defending a Costco that is sited next door to a Cabella's build a high wall/corridor between Costco and Cabellas and you'll hold out longer than anyone in the reality shows. Additionally, preparations are less expensive than buying land and building a castle on it -- but maybe not as fun?

Margarita's Husband

I have a friend who fought with the freedom fighters in Hungary in 1956 when they tried to dislodge the Soviet Union and failed. I haven't spoken to him in over twenty years and he reached out completely out of the blue. It was very nice to chat and reconnect.

During that war, he crewed a World War 2 vintage Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E (German Tiger Tank). They were operating in Budapest against Russian T-34/85 Tanks and he said that they'd knocked out three or four when the world turned to pinwheels and he woke up in Great Britain in hospital (having been evacuated).

He ended up joining the British Army, Royal Corps of Signals, and I met him when he was assigned to 18 Signal Regiment. He's long since retired from the Army as a Warrant Officer (WO1). People have interesting stories and histories. He referred to me as "Pup". Which is what he said when he called me on the telephone after all of these years. The man, like the famous German tank, is a tiger. I always called him, "Margarita's husband" because he married an English lady named, Margarita. Margarita was a tall, well proportioned blonde lady with a ready laugh and a generous smile who succumbed to cancer about a decade ago. RIP.

Hand Cranking a Tiger Tank
The inertia starter "Schwungmasse" works by rotating a heavy mass at speed, once it reaches 60rpm a lever is pulled below the hand cranking arm, this pushes the drive pinion onto the fly wheel, making the engine rotate and start.