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Sunday, January 10, 2010

How Many Shoes?

Here's another thought-provoking essay from former Marine/software entrepreneur/professional irritant Tom Baugh, author of Starving The Monkeys, which begins:

Imagine the following. Assume that the world has collapsed into chaos, and among the many survivors are two individuals in particular: Survivor A and Survivor B. Survivor A has ten pairs of shoes stored for the collapse, while Survivor B has a thousand pairs of shoes socked away. Survivor A takes loving care of each pair, while Survivor B runs his shoes hard, wearing them out and then grabbing another off the shelf.

Question: After fifty years, how many shoes does each survivor have to pass on to his
grandchildren?

Think hard. Hint: this is a trick question.

Answer: No shoes remain fifty years hence. It doesn't matter how many shoes you store away, or how much care you put into them, after five decades the materials in them are shot. They may still look like shoes, but wear them for a week or so and the truth will be told. Neither survivors' grandchildren will have any shoes. Assuming that each survivor and his children and grandchildren lived long enough to notice, of course.

No shoes. Or tires. Or grease. Or tractors. Or root canals. Or just about anything you care to name. Except maybe chickens or goats or unfired rounds of ammunition buried somewhere, the owner long dead. And even those would be suspect if unearthed one day.

At some point, Roman nobles, seeing their aqueduct and road contracting businesses starting a downturn, decided to raise a few chickens. Two or three generations later these families were chicken farmers. There isn't anything wrong with being a chicken farmer, of course, but it helps to have roads upon which to transport those chickens to market and water to give them along the way. But, no one knew how to build or maintain these things any more. Besides, most of the stones in those roads and aqueducts which remained had been pried loose for building huts. Such is the end-state of a slow collapse. Life gets hard fast, and stays that way, if you are just one of millions of chicken farmers with no other professions to be found...


Read the rest.

Remember the overarching organizational premises for this shop?

- We're screwed

- There's gonna be a fight

- Let's win


"Winning" is a concept that extends over time, and which morphs as that timeline expands.

In the first instance, it means surviving the collapse, as I noted here:

1) Survive the first die-off.

2) Keep your kids alive.

3) Kill the enemy.

4) Keep fighting.

5) Stay alive.


But let's assume that you and enough of your tribe have done that.

Now what?

Food for thought and further research, wouldn't you say?

6 Comments:

Blogger theotherryan said...

I visited a town not too long ago where they are still using an old Roman bridge. A whole bunch of cars drive on it every day.

January 10, 2010 at 5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baugh is sharp, has thought through what's coming and why, and has reasonable answers that may not please everyone. He has been there and done it. I'm afraid he's right, I have no connections but I recommend the book. Articles too.

January 10, 2010 at 11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a simple question to get to the bottom of, and the test works at any time; before, during, or after a collapse. Simply start to mine coal or drill for oil offshore of North America, build a nuclear reactor of modern design, regenerate from injuries using stem cells, or import and hire foreigners. The Luddites who will show up to stop you by force, because they are certain you are offending Gaia or God, are a big part of the problem. You have more enemies than you realized. We already know how to feed, clothe, and house ourselves; we don't need to do anything "different" in the short term. Importing oil from the Middle East and goods from China works adequately for the moment. Anyone who would forcibly prevent you is part of the problem.

January 11, 2010 at 12:31 AM  
Blogger Pat H said...

The vast majority of the old Roman aquaducts, buildings, and other stone constructs were indeed torn apart to build other things, including dirt floored houses.

This is happening already in places like Detroit. Appliances, copper wiring, and copper water lines are stripped out of home which people don't know how to maintain. See this vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hhJ_49leBw

There stories like the above from many Tranzi paradises; New York City, Boston, even D. C. has them.

January 11, 2010 at 12:40 AM  
Blogger Loren said...

Books will last a while though, especially when made right.

Make sure you teach your kids to read, as well as raise chickens. As society recovers, the knowledge in those books and the ability to use it will be worth a lot of money.

A few years ago I was working with screw machines made for and before WWII. Plenty of stuff properly packed will be able to wait until we're back at the point were we'll need it.

January 11, 2010 at 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now there you go again being a spoiler and linking to stuff I know I have to read even though it's in the book that I have ordered and is allegedly on its way to the house.

Speaking of the Romans, I watched one of those Modern Marvels shows and the marvel was concrete. (Concrete?) The Romans figured this out in their day, yet somehow, the secret has been forever lost. Even our beloved portland cement of the modern era isn't the same as their concrete.

Eric
III

January 12, 2010 at 1:12 AM  

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