quasi-normalcy:

You go onto Tumblr

You see a post from @posts-from-a-darker-timeline

You’re momentarily confused because it sounds like a thing that you just read on a news site

You go onto their blog; every single thing that you read, as far back as you can scroll, is just things that have actually happened. There’s posts about vaccine protesters; posts about NFTs; posts about January 6th; posts about the pandemic; about Trump; about Brexit; about fucking Harambe for God’s sake

You look at the notes on each post; a few of them are people panicking like this is news to them; most of them are variants on “Oh shit, I need to look at the blog name!”

You select a random reblogger, and look at their Tumblr; it’s full of happy, well-adjusted people, but you just can’t seem to reblog any of their posts; every time you try, you get a message that you’ve never seen before:

“You are not authorized to share in this content”

You hit the back button, but it takes you back to the top of posts-from-a-darker-timeline

In mounting trepidation, you check to see if there are any new posts

There’s one: a fake(?) tweet from the leader of your country, lamenting the massive loss of life in the freak storm that just hit your city

You put your phone down

You look out the window

In the distance, you hear the wind starting to blow


Tags:

#storytime #death tw #unreality cw #apocalypse cw #…so what you’re saying is that I get minutes-to-hours-scale advance notice of disasters #(mixed in with some noise about changes to Tumblr’s formatting and other such minor issues‚ but still) #that’s often not enough‚ and it #might turn out not to be enough *this* time in which case I will have no further opportunities to make use of it‚ but… #…like‚ I stand a much better chance of surviving the freak storm now than I would have if I hadn’t read the tweet‚ right? #I don’t have time to evacuate but I’ll get a head start on bunkering down #in the future (if I survive that long)‚ I’ll set up my phone to react to a new posts-from-a-darker-timeline post in a manner #approximating the way it would react to an emergency broadcast #get as many other people as possible to do the same #(the exact details depend on what circumstances allow one to view primeverse Tumblr) #(if we can only get my phone to do it‚ that requires different implementation than if anyone can just point any device at a particular URL) #in fact‚ I should at least dash off a quick post about this immediately‚ in case I *don’t* survive the storm #leave some breadcrumbs for others to investigate #(”you can view primeverse posts but not reblog them” sounds like a job for the fundamental theorem of software engineering) #(can I screenshot them? point a camera at the screen and take a photograph?) #((…honestly‚ ”a friend posts a screenshot of a tweet that hasn’t been written yet and then #immediately dies in the disaster the tweet describes” sounds like a thriller-novel plot hook in itself)) #((maybe I’m just the prologue to *that* story)) #tag rambles #fun with loopholes #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #story ideas I will never write

collapsedsquid:

Cheynobyl news is slowly trickling out of various news sources such that i’m never sure if something new is happening, just lemme know when they put the call out for stalkers news sites

 

argumate:

fuckin’ weird to be googling “chernobyl news” in 2021 but score one for the hippies who said nuclear disposal is a long-term problem I guess.

 

argumate:

  • Any potential explosion, however, would likely be less catastrophic than the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

good to know! good to know.

 

collapsedsquid:

Problem seems to be that the nuclear material isn’t wet enough, gotta send someone who knows how to get nuclear material wet.

 

argumate:

I assume this is an arch reference to some fandom ship and applaud politely

 

garmbreak1:

nuclear disposal is a long term problem! this isn’t obscure or arcane knowledge! but nobody wants to deal with it except the Finns!


Tags:

#*long sigh* #apocalypse cw

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rustingbridges:

controversial personal finance opinion: if you have enough wealth you should own some physical gold

financialized gold has most of the downside of real gold and also none of its special upside, so not that

gold does not, as a rule, gain in value, and it’s vulnerable to theft, but it also does not, as a rule, lose in value, and also the rest of your assets are vulnerable to theft too. gold might have a higher risk but diversification is still valuable

in the event you lose access to your financials and have to leave – maybe not likely, but not impossible, apparently something like 1% of humans in 2021 are or have been refugees – gold jewelry particularly is both portable enough you can take it and universally recognized as valuable enough you can trade it. just don’t get it in your teeth

 

brin-bellway:

*Is* this controversial, even in the broad form stated here?

I kind of figured that there was broad agreement that there exists *some* level of wealth at which diversification into gold is worth pursuing (for the reasons you give), but that different people’s estimates of what that wealth level is vary by orders of magnitude, and some people would put enough forms of philanthropy above gold on the to-do list that in practice no one would ever reach the gold stage given our world’s current amount of philanthropic fruit to be picked.

(I’m not sure where I would place the threshold: I think it’s probably somewhere feasible to reach, but far enough beyond where I am now that it’s not urgent for me to figure out the specifics.)

 

rustingbridges:

a lot of people would argue that you should at some point diversify into financial instruments which abstractly reflect the value of gold, but I think many of those people would say you should not buy actual physical gold.

to pin myself down a bit while still leaving a lot of wiggle room, here’s some points on my Gold Advice Spectrum:

  • if you need your money to be liquid in a normal economy any time soon, don’t buy gold
  • if you have enough money to retire indefinitely on, I think it’s worth having something like a month’s money or so in precious metals
  • if you’re bill gates you should actually should have buried a chest of treasure somewhere

 

brin-bellway:

What…what reasons do *they* give for wanting to diversify into gold? You can’t hedge against the collapse of your financial system by buying things that *depend on said financial system*.

I mean, okay, I guess you can hedge against *certain, partial* collapses that way, but it’s far more limited.

I should mention here that I literally wrote a post once titled “Diversification is an important part of building an investment portfolio” [link], in which I frame prepping as being essentially a way of shorting your civilisation: since almost everyone is very long civilisation pretty much by necessity, being also somewhat short civilisation is a good hedge (though I think you should still be net long). I also wrote a comment on a different post in which I called [maintaining stockpiles of soap and canned food and air filters] “pandemic insurance” [link].

That Gold Advice Spectrum seems pretty reasonable.

@cthulhubert​ replied: @brin-bellway there’s a certain degree of over-correction against physical gold buying because Alex Jones and some other right wing conspiracy nuts flogged buying real gold for ‘when the degenerate modern economy collapses’.

I mean, that’s traditionally how it works, right? If you think something is going to collapse, you short it and then write a report laying out your evidence and reasoning to try to convince others to do the same. Yeah, I disagree that one should be net short civilisation and think people who do that are setting themselves up for failure and pain, but short sellers are very often wrong and their existence is nevertheless a useful corrective.

(…yes, I think I *did* just draw a connection between the hate that Crazy Prepper People™ get and the hate that short sellers get.)

 

alarajrogers:

I think if you were genuinely going to short-sell civilization, gold’s a ridiculous thing to have. Like money itself, the value of gold is a social construct.

What you should be investing in is booze and pharmaceuticals. Set up a greenhouse that does not run on any electricity, or that gets all of its energy from solar panels, and grow food there year-round; you’ll have something to eat, something to trade, and if you are legally able to, maintain, like, one marijuana plant, so if civilization collapses you can go whole hog into growing marijuana. Once the pharmaceutical industry collapses, alcohol and marijuana will be incredibly valuable as painkillers again. And because drugs expire much more slowly than they claim on the label, keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now. Birth control, if you live in a place where it can be obtained OTC.

Hard liquor and wine are probably your best investment – they are commonly considered to improve as they age, and in a post apocalyptic world, everyone will want to get drunk. (I mean, not literally everyone. I wouldn’t drink alcohol after the apocalypse because it tastes disgusting and has no benefits I want. But most people.)

Me, I’d also get, like, a million solar chargers for phones and Raspberry Pis, and a whole lot of USB stick drives with adapters. Then I’d download Wikipedia every several months, and any medical database that allows me to download the whole thing, and as much info as I can get about maintaining phones and Raspberry Pis. Probably ebooks and databases on carpentry, plumbing, electricity, electrical generation, making wine and beer, etc, etc… I’d have a few hundred of the Pis in boxes, in a climate controlled room, probably with the boxes sealed in a plastic bin with a lid, and I’d have USB sticks with image files to put on the Pis. I’d use phones and tablets as monitors, or tiny monitors with low power requirements, so that I’d have a place to read my stored downloads. Then when the internet crashes I’d have huge amounts of information I could share with my neighbors so we could restore the amenities of civilization as quickly as possible, as many of them as possible. There won’t be making any new computers for a very long time- clean room tech is very complex – but keeping existing machines that use very little power in good repair, unused and protected from the elements, will help a lot.

Physical books are also very good but are heavy, not very portable, and easily destroyed by any kind of extreme weather – weather applies to computers too, but you can store vastly more information on 1 small computer than you can on 20 books, and then you put 20 replacements for your small computer in there. Still, if you’ve got space for a library and you don’t live somewhere it is likely to flood or burn, stockpile books. Nonfiction that give you information about how to survive, of course, but also, languages, books on cultures, history, and include a lot of fiction. People will trade a lot for escapism, and DVDs have a much shorter shelf life than books do.

All of these are more valuable trading goods than gold. You can’t eat gold, you can’t use it for anything but making things pretty (and making high-tech things you can’t make if civilization collapses.) I might buy silver and copper for antimicrobial purposes (and then I’d have to figure out how to keep them from tarnishing), but gold is overpriced and is only of use to a civilization – I mean it can be one with much lower tech levels, but you still have to have, like, blacksmiths.

You know what else would be valuable? Blade sharpeners and the knowledge of how to use them. Also, blades. Guns will be very useful for a while but modern guns require far too much technology to remain supplied with ammo, and all you can use them for is hunting and killing. But blades can be used for hunting and killing, and preparing food, and gardening, and so on and so forth. Knives, axes, scythes, machetes, and yeah, swords. Mostly because people think swords are sexy. They’d make good trade goods.

The only circumstance where gold is useful is where your specific country’s financial system has collapsed, but everyone else is okay. If you’re American, that’s not gonna happen. We’re too intertwined with the world’s financial systems. If we go down, so does most of the world. (This is not a good thing.)

 

brin-bellway:

…yes? Both/and, and gold is certainly one of the lowest-priority items for the reasons you give.

However, it’s important to note that people think gold jewellery is sexy and trade-good-y too, and also I am not American (well, okay, I pay the Americans tribute in exchange for right of return, but that just makes it easier to become a refugee there: it doesn’t mean never becoming a refugee in the first place).

You either got the idea of solar-powered phones and downloading Wikipedia *from me*, or else it is *very* strange that people in your apocalypse stories aren’t doing this: I once commented on one of said stories remarking on its absence and doing a special-interest infodump about it.

>>keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now.

Naproxen doesn’t just suppress the pain of menstrual cramps: at higher doses, it actually *makes periods lighter*. I would go with naproxen over ibuprofen, though acetominophen still has its place.

 

alarajrogers:

Didn’t know that about naproxen… very interesting!

I actually have had the ideas about solar-powered phones, Wikipedia, and the like for a very long time, but I just haven’t done that many stories about apocalypses, and one of them, everyone who survived is a child, so they’re not really going to have thought of most of that. The only other one I can think of is the zombie apocalypse one, and there, I have been mentally working out details like that… among other things, in that world there’s still an Internet, because there’s enough people who managed to keep power plants and data centers running that Wikipedia is still up. (Netflix, sadly, is not.) The only people we’ve spent a lot of time around in that story are specialized for being medical professionals and scientists, but I’m pretty sure there are techy types around. (It might possibly have been that one you commented on? Not sure.)

I’m working on another one I call “Mad Max The Librarian”, which has pigeons carrying USB sticks, and a guy going on a road trip with weapons and fighting off all kinds of bandits and cultists to find surviving books and bring them back to a protected, well-defended library.

 

brin-bellway:

>>Didn’t know that about naproxen… very interesting!

Yeah, I found out when I went to my doctor for dysmenorrhea. She told me to get a bottle of OTC naproxen and take double the dose given on the label, starting two days before my period’s due (or when it starts if it catches me off-guard) and ending when I’m far enough along that the problems would have stopped by now anyway. It’s working great.

(Doubled-up OTC naproxen is a bit cheaper than buying prescription naproxen out of pocket, but if I ever get drug coverage she’ll write me an official prescription.)

((Don’t take prescription-strength naproxen without medical supervision if you can help it: you can fuck up your liver. Peri-menstrual naproxen is relatively safe because you’re only taking it a few days a month, but it’s still best to be sure.))

>>(It might possibly have been that one you commented on? Not sure.)

It was the zombie one, yeah. I originally messaged you with it privately (possibly you don’t get messages properly on the sideblog?), but I’ve been wavering for ages on whether to post a slightly edited version publicly, so here it is:

(Please treat what I am about to tell you as more of a “you have accidentally stumbled into a special interest” than as criticism per se.)

The tech level in “Norris and the Plague Doctors” feels off to me. It’s too low: there’s stuff missing that should still be working.

It first struck me when they’re talking about electricity, and they *never mention solar power*. Not once. The hospital compound doesn’t have it, the homesteaders don’t have it, the rich people’s houses are never explicitly ruled out as not having it but if even the homesteaders don’t…

(*By default* the kind of solar setup a rich household would get would immediately stop working when the grid goes down, but if you pay extra (batteries are getting cheaper over time, but for now: for the most popular brand (Tesla), it’s USD$4,500 fixed cost + USD$6,500/13.5kWH of storage) you can install power-outage-insurance batteries. Most household roofs can’t fit enough solar panels to go fully self-sufficient, but from what I’ve been able to tell so far in my research, if done right a roof setup can let you switch to merely rationed electricity during a long-term outage.)

[edit: I found out later that the keyword to search for regarding rich-people’s-houses-resorting-to-off-grid-electricity-in-a-crisis is “hybrid solar systems” (a hybrid of on-grid and off-grid).]

Once that got me thinking I started noticing other stuff.

Norris assumes that rich people’s cars all run on gasoline and gasoline alone, and while that could be an in-universe oversight on his part, I would expect a modern-day rich neighbourhood to have some electric and/or plug-in-hybrid vehicles. If such a vehicle is in either the same household as a solar+storage setup or they’re in two cooperating households, you’ve potentially got long-term car access. You’d have to use it very sparingly: we’re probably talking an entire day’s electricity ration for a 40mi round trip (a decent rule of thumb as things stand is 4 mi/kwH, though it depends on car and driving style). (Plug-in hybrids don’t currently have a 40mi full-electric range from what I’ve seen, so you’d need a full-electric car or restrict to even shorter trips: 30mi would be pushing it.)

One of the main reasons Norris is glad to have Internet access is because it means he can read Wikipedia, and while again that could well be an in-universe oversight by the characters, the fact is that anyone reliant on *continuous* Internet access *during an apocalypse* to read Wikipedia is doing it wrong. Somebody please get this child a Kiwix server.

And speaking of devices that can run Kiwix, there are no smartphones. The only computer is a rigged-together desktop that probably doesn’t even have an emergency uninterruptible-power-supply battery, let alone the ability to actually *function* for extended periods on intermittent power while on the run from zombies. You can get quite a bit done, info/comms-infrastructure-wise, with just a bunch of Android smartphones (iOS is much more dependent on access to Apple servers and therefore much less useful in a grid-down), ~USD$25 – $50 of portable solar chargers per person (characters who didn’t already have these may well be able to salvage them at a camping-supplies store), and at least one (1) group member who didn’t have mobile data and oriented their smartphone setup around not having reliable Internet access (who can then bootstrap the rest). Apps to turn smartphones into off-grid walkie-talkies (or more likely walkie-writies) are still in their early days overall–I wrote an entire post about this recently: https://brin-bellway.dreamwidth.org/67770.html–but file-sharing alone should have a fair number of uses, especially if at least one of you packed the right files (or can obtain access to the broader Internet long enough to fetch them).

I look forward to Mad Max the Librarian.

 

maryellencarter:

“gold is overpriced and is only of use to a civilization – I mean it can be one with much lower tech levels, but you still have to have, like, blacksmiths”

I’ve been pondering this thought ever since it drifted by on my dash last week, and maybe it’s just that I have a very particular background, but I try to imagine how my civilization (US) would collapse below the level of having blacksmiths and I draw a blank. There are just (in my experience) too many people around who do historical reenactment type skills for fun. I am not personally a blacksmith, and I don’t personally know any blacksmiths, but I am very sure that if the nearest big city (I think about 2 million people) had a catastrophic civilization meltdown to the point where Wikipedia on a solar Android phone would be needed, that there would be *somebody* in the local SCA or fiber arts guild or equivalent who knew how to blacksmith and what the necessary components of a forge are.

(I am personally a very skilled spinner and knitter. I don’t currently own a spinning wheel, but spindle whorls are easy to make even if drop spinning is a royal pain in the shoulders and takes forever. You find me some spinnable fibers, I can eventually produce clothes. Find me an abandoned Lowe’s for PVC pipe and a few fiddly metal bits, I can *build* a spinning wheel and produce a bunch of clothes, as long as you want them knitted. We’ll need somebody else for weaving, I don’t carry any looms in my head.)

Sorry, I’m rambling, but what I’m trying to say is, my default post-apocalyptic scenario involves still having access to a lot of the sort of Iron Age technology levels, because many of those live rent-free in my own head and I’m familiar with the existence of people who can recreate the rest.

 

alarajrogers:

I feel like, if you’ve got blacksmiths, bronze and copper and tin are gonna be a lot more useful than gold, though? Historically gold just makes pretty things. People like pretty things but will they really value them over stuff that helps them survive?

As for Norris, I’d like to point out a few things:

– Norris is a child who was living on the streets until he was taken in by the plague doctors. He is not an expert on his world.

– The plague doctors are doctors, not computer engineers. They may have a few computer engineers among them – in fact they must, because they have pilotable drones – but it’s likely that smartphones, being in limited supply because no more are being manufactured and shipped to the US, are reserved for the actual doctors to do things like pilot drones. They’re not left for a kid to get on Wikipedia with.

– I’d imagine that a major use of electric cars by people who were well-off enough to own them is to get the fuck out of the city, where there is a higher concentration of zombies. People who could flee the city did. (No one voluntarily goes into the city on the ground but the plague doctors; the government drops shipments of food from helicopters.)

What I was imagining was that a lot of stuff is going on in the countryside and the suburbs, where zombies are rarer. Farmers continue to grow crops, but nowadays it’s all food for local consumption, or grain for biodiesel. People make limited, local trips all the time, but they don’t go through the city when they do. The electric cars are probably doing that, along with the ones that run on biodiesel and the ones where someone who owned a gas station stockpiled the gasoline for their own use. They’ve probably also got some horses pulling carts going on. Data centers are well protected and way out in the middle of nowhere, as are power stations; the power stations are defended by what’s left of the military and National Guard, and probably the data centers too. So a good bit of the Internet is still up; it was designed to work around national disasters. But the bandwidth’s been drastically reduced because the workforce that can keep the lines up is now hiding from zombies or is dead.

The plague doctors probably do have a server with Wikipedia on it, that they can access locally, and they probably have a lot else as well. Maybe media servers for their families to locally connect to across the campus WAN and watch movies. Probably as many scientific articles as they were able to download before a given server went down. Large portions of Google Books, since Google opened up their Books collection so you could get the whole thing, because copyright was no longer a thing that made sense. But they didn’t offer those things to a kid who most of them saw as a burden (even Sarah is thinking of Norris as someone she cares about but can’t really take care of). Maybe at some point Jessie the armorer will show Norris something, or maybe now that the doctors respect him a bit more they may help him more directly to access their resources, but right now, he’s limited to what he knows about. (He’s also not asking them things like “how do I get access to the local servers” because, as a child of the Internet age, it hasn’t occurred to him that that’s a thing. He’s 10.)

I have plans to expand it into a book someday, so I should have the opportunity to show some of what’s not immediately obvious to Norris from his perspective as a kid who’s getting the resources he knows about, not the ones people could teach him about if anyone was actually focused on teaching him.

But you’re right in general. Part of the point of the story was that I get frustrated with zombie apocalypses where the only modern technology anyone uses or has access to is guns. (Or any apocalypse, really. Unless it was nuclear, then the EMP could have toasted anything that wasn’t in a Faraday cage.)

I think it’s like in those A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry clothing posts that have been going around lately. People care a surprising amount about pretty things, and even if you *don’t* directly value them, decking yourself out is a way of demonstrating that you are so powerful and so wealthy that you can afford to spend resources on mere decoration (so other people had better not fuck with you). [link]

Sure, no more smartphones are entering national supply, but the *initial* supply was several hundred million widely distributed throughout the population.

(I know I’m a nerd with very nerdy social circles, I know a whole lot of people wouldn’t end up having a nerd in the group of people they’d banded together with especially if it was only two or three family members, but my perspective here is definitely shaped by knowing plenty of people who keep copies of Wikipedia lying around just because they can.)

>>Norris is a child who was living on the streets until he was taken in by the plague doctors. He is not an expert on his world.

Oh, absolutely. I figured there was a lot of that going on.


Tags:

#reply via reblog #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #apocalypse cw #discourse cw? #zombies #reactionblogging

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rustingbridges:

controversial personal finance opinion: if you have enough wealth you should own some physical gold

financialized gold has most of the downside of real gold and also none of its special upside, so not that

gold does not, as a rule, gain in value, and it’s vulnerable to theft, but it also does not, as a rule, lose in value, and also the rest of your assets are vulnerable to theft too. gold might have a higher risk but diversification is still valuable

in the event you lose access to your financials and have to leave – maybe not likely, but not impossible, apparently something like 1% of humans in 2021 are or have been refugees – gold jewelry particularly is both portable enough you can take it and universally recognized as valuable enough you can trade it. just don’t get it in your teeth

 

brin-bellway:

*Is* this controversial, even in the broad form stated here?

I kind of figured that there was broad agreement that there exists *some* level of wealth at which diversification into gold is worth pursuing (for the reasons you give), but that different people’s estimates of what that wealth level is vary by orders of magnitude, and some people would put enough forms of philanthropy above gold on the to-do list that in practice no one would ever reach the gold stage given our world’s current amount of philanthropic fruit to be picked.

(I’m not sure where I would place the threshold: I think it’s probably somewhere feasible to reach, but far enough beyond where I am now that it’s not urgent for me to figure out the specifics.)

 

rustingbridges:

a lot of people would argue that you should at some point diversify into financial instruments which abstractly reflect the value of gold, but I think many of those people would say you should not buy actual physical gold.

to pin myself down a bit while still leaving a lot of wiggle room, here’s some points on my Gold Advice Spectrum:

  • if you need your money to be liquid in a normal economy any time soon, don’t buy gold
  • if you have enough money to retire indefinitely on, I think it’s worth having something like a month’s money or so in precious metals
  • if you’re bill gates you should actually should have buried a chest of treasure somewhere

 

brin-bellway:

What…what reasons do *they* give for wanting to diversify into gold? You can’t hedge against the collapse of your financial system by buying things that *depend on said financial system*.

I mean, okay, I guess you can hedge against *certain, partial* collapses that way, but it’s far more limited.

I should mention here that I literally wrote a post once titled “Diversification is an important part of building an investment portfolio” [link], in which I frame prepping as being essentially a way of shorting your civilisation: since almost everyone is very long civilisation pretty much by necessity, being also somewhat short civilisation is a good hedge (though I think you should still be net long). I also wrote a comment on a different post in which I called [maintaining stockpiles of soap and canned food and air filters] “pandemic insurance” [link].

That Gold Advice Spectrum seems pretty reasonable.

@cthulhubert​ replied: @brin-bellway there’s a certain degree of over-correction against physical gold buying because Alex Jones and some other right wing conspiracy nuts flogged buying real gold for ‘when the degenerate modern economy collapses’.

I mean, that’s traditionally how it works, right? If you think something is going to collapse, you short it and then write a report laying out your evidence and reasoning to try to convince others to do the same. Yeah, I disagree that one should be net short civilisation and think people who do that are setting themselves up for failure and pain, but short sellers are very often wrong and their existence is nevertheless a useful corrective.

(…yes, I think I *did* just draw a connection between the hate that Crazy Prepper People™ get and the hate that short sellers get.)

 

alarajrogers:

I think if you were genuinely going to short-sell civilization, gold’s a ridiculous thing to have. Like money itself, the value of gold is a social construct.

What you should be investing in is booze and pharmaceuticals. Set up a greenhouse that does not run on any electricity, or that gets all of its energy from solar panels, and grow food there year-round; you’ll have something to eat, something to trade, and if you are legally able to, maintain, like, one marijuana plant, so if civilization collapses you can go whole hog into growing marijuana. Once the pharmaceutical industry collapses, alcohol and marijuana will be incredibly valuable as painkillers again. And because drugs expire much more slowly than they claim on the label, keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now. Birth control, if you live in a place where it can be obtained OTC.

Hard liquor and wine are probably your best investment – they are commonly considered to improve as they age, and in a post apocalyptic world, everyone will want to get drunk. (I mean, not literally everyone. I wouldn’t drink alcohol after the apocalypse because it tastes disgusting and has no benefits I want. But most people.)

Me, I’d also get, like, a million solar chargers for phones and Raspberry Pis, and a whole lot of USB stick drives with adapters. Then I’d download Wikipedia every several months, and any medical database that allows me to download the whole thing, and as much info as I can get about maintaining phones and Raspberry Pis. Probably ebooks and databases on carpentry, plumbing, electricity, electrical generation, making wine and beer, etc, etc… I’d have a few hundred of the Pis in boxes, in a climate controlled room, probably with the boxes sealed in a plastic bin with a lid, and I’d have USB sticks with image files to put on the Pis. I’d use phones and tablets as monitors, or tiny monitors with low power requirements, so that I’d have a place to read my stored downloads. Then when the internet crashes I’d have huge amounts of information I could share with my neighbors so we could restore the amenities of civilization as quickly as possible, as many of them as possible. There won’t be making any new computers for a very long time- clean room tech is very complex – but keeping existing machines that use very little power in good repair, unused and protected from the elements, will help a lot.

Physical books are also very good but are heavy, not very portable, and easily destroyed by any kind of extreme weather – weather applies to computers too, but you can store vastly more information on 1 small computer than you can on 20 books, and then you put 20 replacements for your small computer in there. Still, if you’ve got space for a library and you don’t live somewhere it is likely to flood or burn, stockpile books. Nonfiction that give you information about how to survive, of course, but also, languages, books on cultures, history, and include a lot of fiction. People will trade a lot for escapism, and DVDs have a much shorter shelf life than books do.

All of these are more valuable trading goods than gold. You can’t eat gold, you can’t use it for anything but making things pretty (and making high-tech things you can’t make if civilization collapses.) I might buy silver and copper for antimicrobial purposes (and then I’d have to figure out how to keep them from tarnishing), but gold is overpriced and is only of use to a civilization – I mean it can be one with much lower tech levels, but you still have to have, like, blacksmiths.

You know what else would be valuable? Blade sharpeners and the knowledge of how to use them. Also, blades. Guns will be very useful for a while but modern guns require far too much technology to remain supplied with ammo, and all you can use them for is hunting and killing. But blades can be used for hunting and killing, and preparing food, and gardening, and so on and so forth. Knives, axes, scythes, machetes, and yeah, swords. Mostly because people think swords are sexy. They’d make good trade goods.

The only circumstance where gold is useful is where your specific country’s financial system has collapsed, but everyone else is okay. If you’re American, that’s not gonna happen. We’re too intertwined with the world’s financial systems. If we go down, so does most of the world. (This is not a good thing.)

 

brin-bellway:

…yes? Both/and, and gold is certainly one of the lowest-priority items for the reasons you give.

However, it’s important to note that people think gold jewellery is sexy and trade-good-y too, and also I am not American (well, okay, I pay the Americans tribute in exchange for right of return, but that just makes it easier to become a refugee there: it doesn’t mean never becoming a refugee in the first place).

You either got the idea of solar-powered phones and downloading Wikipedia *from me*, or else it is *very* strange that people in your apocalypse stories aren’t doing this: I once commented on one of said stories remarking on its absence and doing a special-interest infodump about it.

>>keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now.

Naproxen doesn’t just suppress the pain of menstrual cramps: at higher doses, it actually *makes periods lighter*. I would go with naproxen over ibuprofen, though acetominophen still has its place.

 

alarajrogers:

Didn’t know that about naproxen… very interesting!

I actually have had the ideas about solar-powered phones, Wikipedia, and the like for a very long time, but I just haven’t done that many stories about apocalypses, and one of them, everyone who survived is a child, so they’re not really going to have thought of most of that. The only other one I can think of is the zombie apocalypse one, and there, I have been mentally working out details like that… among other things, in that world there’s still an Internet, because there’s enough people who managed to keep power plants and data centers running that Wikipedia is still up. (Netflix, sadly, is not.) The only people we’ve spent a lot of time around in that story are specialized for being medical professionals and scientists, but I’m pretty sure there are techy types around. (It might possibly have been that one you commented on? Not sure.)

I’m working on another one I call “Mad Max The Librarian”, which has pigeons carrying USB sticks, and a guy going on a road trip with weapons and fighting off all kinds of bandits and cultists to find surviving books and bring them back to a protected, well-defended library.

 

brin-bellway:

>>Didn’t know that about naproxen… very interesting!

Yeah, I found out when I went to my doctor for dysmenorrhea. She told me to get a bottle of OTC naproxen and take double the dose given on the label, starting two days before my period’s due (or when it starts if it catches me off-guard) and ending when I’m far enough along that the problems would have stopped by now anyway. It’s working great.

(Doubled-up OTC naproxen is a bit cheaper than buying prescription naproxen out of pocket, but if I ever get drug coverage she’ll write me an official prescription.)

((Don’t take prescription-strength naproxen without medical supervision if you can help it: you can fuck up your liver. Peri-menstrual naproxen is relatively safe because you’re only taking it a few days a month, but it’s still best to be sure.))

>>(It might possibly have been that one you commented on? Not sure.)

It was the zombie one, yeah. I originally messaged you with it privately (possibly you don’t get messages properly on the sideblog?), but I’ve been wavering for ages on whether to post a slightly edited version publicly, so here it is:

(Please treat what I am about to tell you as more of a “you have accidentally stumbled into a special interest” than as criticism per se.)

The tech level in “Norris and the Plague Doctors” feels off to me. It’s too low: there’s stuff missing that should still be working.

It first struck me when they’re talking about electricity, and they *never mention solar power*. Not once. The hospital compound doesn’t have it, the homesteaders don’t have it, the rich people’s houses are never explicitly ruled out as not having it but if even the homesteaders don’t…

(*By default* the kind of solar setup a rich household would get would immediately stop working when the grid goes down, but if you pay extra (batteries are getting cheaper over time, but for now: for the most popular brand (Tesla), it’s USD$4,500 fixed cost + USD$6,500/13.5kWH of storage) you can install power-outage-insurance batteries. Most household roofs can’t fit enough solar panels to go fully self-sufficient, but from what I’ve been able to tell so far in my research, if done right a roof setup can let you switch to merely rationed electricity during a long-term outage.)

[edit: I found out later that the keyword to search for regarding rich-people’s-houses-resorting-to-off-grid-electricity-in-a-crisis is “hybrid solar systems” (a hybrid of on-grid and off-grid).]

Once that got me thinking I started noticing other stuff.

Norris assumes that rich people’s cars all run on gasoline and gasoline alone, and while that could be an in-universe oversight on his part, I would expect a modern-day rich neighbourhood to have some electric and/or plug-in-hybrid vehicles. If such a vehicle is in either the same household as a solar+storage setup or they’re in two cooperating households, you’ve potentially got long-term car access. You’d have to use it very sparingly: we’re probably talking an entire day’s electricity ration for a 40mi round trip (a decent rule of thumb as things stand is 4 mi/kwH, though it depends on car and driving style). (Plug-in hybrids don’t currently have a 40mi full-electric range from what I’ve seen, so you’d need a full-electric car or restrict to even shorter trips: 30mi would be pushing it.)

One of the main reasons Norris is glad to have Internet access is because it means he can read Wikipedia, and while again that could well be an in-universe oversight by the characters, the fact is that anyone reliant on *continuous* Internet access *during an apocalypse* to read Wikipedia is doing it wrong. Somebody please get this child a Kiwix server.

And speaking of devices that can run Kiwix, there are no smartphones. The only computer is a rigged-together desktop that probably doesn’t even have an emergency uninterruptible-power-supply battery, let alone the ability to actually *function* for extended periods on intermittent power while on the run from zombies. You can get quite a bit done, info/comms-infrastructure-wise, with just a bunch of Android smartphones (iOS is much more dependent on access to Apple servers and therefore much less useful in a grid-down), ~USD$25 – $50 of portable solar chargers per person (characters who didn’t already have these may well be able to salvage them at a camping-supplies store), and at least one (1) group member who didn’t have mobile data and oriented their smartphone setup around not having reliable Internet access (who can then bootstrap the rest). Apps to turn smartphones into off-grid walkie-talkies (or more likely walkie-writies) are still in their early days overall–I wrote an entire post about this recently: https://brin-bellway.dreamwidth.org/67770.html–but file-sharing alone should have a fair number of uses, especially if at least one of you packed the right files (or can obtain access to the broader Internet long enough to fetch them).

I look forward to Mad Max the Librarian.

 

maryellencarter:

“gold is overpriced and is only of use to a civilization – I mean it can be one with much lower tech levels, but you still have to have, like, blacksmiths”

I’ve been pondering this thought ever since it drifted by on my dash last week, and maybe it’s just that I have a very particular background, but I try to imagine how my civilization (US) would collapse below the level of having blacksmiths and I draw a blank. There are just (in my experience) too many people around who do historical reenactment type skills for fun. I am not personally a blacksmith, and I don’t personally know any blacksmiths, but I am very sure that if the nearest big city (I think about 2 million people) had a catastrophic civilization meltdown to the point where Wikipedia on a solar Android phone would be needed, that there would be *somebody* in the local SCA or fiber arts guild or equivalent who knew how to blacksmith and what the necessary components of a forge are.

(I am personally a very skilled spinner and knitter. I don’t currently own a spinning wheel, but spindle whorls are easy to make even if drop spinning is a royal pain in the shoulders and takes forever. You find me some spinnable fibers, I can eventually produce clothes. Find me an abandoned Lowe’s for PVC pipe and a few fiddly metal bits, I can *build* a spinning wheel and produce a bunch of clothes, as long as you want them knitted. We’ll need somebody else for weaving, I don’t carry any looms in my head.)

Sorry, I’m rambling, but what I’m trying to say is, my default post-apocalyptic scenario involves still having access to a lot of the sort of Iron Age technology levels, because many of those live rent-free in my own head and I’m familiar with the existence of people who can recreate the rest.


Tags:

#(solar-powered portable Wikipedia is useful in a surprisingly broad variety of situations but I take your point) #conversational aglets #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #apocalypse cw #discourse cw?


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necarion:

Dystopian Agricultural Breadbasket World [Worldbuilding]

In most science fiction, the Breadbasket worlds are sprawling farmlands with sparse population, the better to not eat the food. However, with fusion and automated building technology, you can build incredibly dense urban farms and arcologies, support a population of tens of billions, and still produce tons of food.

Thus I introduce to you Agricola, a polluted factory world, where the high tech factory is plant production:

  • The world has 15 billion people, many of whom are poorly fed. The primary and driving focus of the entire planet is toward agricultural, and specifically flora, production.
  • Industry involves growing plants, yes. But also maintaining the farming arcologies, and the machines that do the work, and some of the basic production of chemicals needed for the hydroponics. And the scientific R&D people. And then there are the people who exist to support those workers, all the way down the chain.
  • This world is an unpleasant hellhole to live on due to all of the pollution in the environment, and due to the nearly complete wipeout of non-foodstuff native ecology.
  • But this world, with 15 billion people, produces enough food to sustain 200 billion people across the Confederation, of 14 different sapient species, as well as nearly a trillion pets and livestock.
  • The vast majority of food production occurs inside the arcologies. However, there is a form of “luxury natural” foodstuffs that are grown outside in natural light. There is essentially no difference here (the hydroponics stuff is often of better quality), but is more “natural” to these consumers. Thus a great deal of area that could be used for more ecologies has instead been devoted to the more lucrative luxury markets, to the detriment of people who might like to spread out.
  • This pollution is not entirely what you’d expect. First and foremost, the atmosphere has far too much oxygen, meaning there are frequent fires on the vast planes of fields. Scrubbers take as much of this out of the atmosphere near the fields as possible, but they don’t really care about ash in the city.
    But the high O2 content also means that people (a) have more energy and focus to do their work, but (b) age faster due to oxidation of their tissues. They effectively are “burning” at the molecular level.
    The high oxygen also supercharges the pests, allowing the rapid evolution of mega-bugs, as existed on prehistoric Earth (recently, plagues of decimeter-long locusts have become a problem).
  • There is low CO2, meaning that there is too little greenhouse effect, naturally. So the engineers decided to start producing CFCs, which are highly efficient greenhouse gases. As a bonus, they’ve wiped out the entirety of the polar ozone layer, to the benefit of plants that photosynthesize on UV light.
    So this world is cold, with energy devoted to melting away encroaching glaciers, and people have just adapted to near constant sunburn

Keep reading


Tags:

#story ideas I will never write #food #apocalypse cw

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rustingbridges:

controversial personal finance opinion: if you have enough wealth you should own some physical gold

financialized gold has most of the downside of real gold and also none of its special upside, so not that

gold does not, as a rule, gain in value, and it’s vulnerable to theft, but it also does not, as a rule, lose in value, and also the rest of your assets are vulnerable to theft too. gold might have a higher risk but diversification is still valuable

in the event you lose access to your financials and have to leave – maybe not likely, but not impossible, apparently something like 1% of humans in 2021 are or have been refugees – gold jewelry particularly is both portable enough you can take it and universally recognized as valuable enough you can trade it. just don’t get it in your teeth

 

brin-bellway:

*Is* this controversial, even in the broad form stated here?

I kind of figured that there was broad agreement that there exists *some* level of wealth at which diversification into gold is worth pursuing (for the reasons you give), but that different people’s estimates of what that wealth level is vary by orders of magnitude, and some people would put enough forms of philanthropy above gold on the to-do list that in practice no one would ever reach the gold stage given our world’s current amount of philanthropic fruit to be picked.

(I’m not sure where I would place the threshold: I think it’s probably somewhere feasible to reach, but far enough beyond where I am now that it’s not urgent for me to figure out the specifics.)

 

rustingbridges:

a lot of people would argue that you should at some point diversify into financial instruments which abstractly reflect the value of gold, but I think many of those people would say you should not buy actual physical gold.

to pin myself down a bit while still leaving a lot of wiggle room, here’s some points on my Gold Advice Spectrum:

  • if you need your money to be liquid in a normal economy any time soon, don’t buy gold
  • if you have enough money to retire indefinitely on, I think it’s worth having something like a month’s money or so in precious metals
  • if you’re bill gates you should actually should have buried a chest of treasure somewhere

 

brin-bellway:

What…what reasons do *they* give for wanting to diversify into gold? You can’t hedge against the collapse of your financial system by buying things that *depend on said financial system*.

I mean, okay, I guess you can hedge against *certain, partial* collapses that way, but it’s far more limited.

I should mention here that I literally wrote a post once titled “Diversification is an important part of building an investment portfolio” [link], in which I frame prepping as being essentially a way of shorting your civilisation: since almost everyone is very long civilisation pretty much by necessity, being also somewhat short civilisation is a good hedge (though I think you should still be net long). I also wrote a comment on a different post in which I called [maintaining stockpiles of soap and canned food and air filters] “pandemic insurance” [link].

That Gold Advice Spectrum seems pretty reasonable.

@cthulhubert​ replied: @brin-bellway there’s a certain degree of over-correction against physical gold buying because Alex Jones and some other right wing conspiracy nuts flogged buying real gold for ‘when the degenerate modern economy collapses’.

I mean, that’s traditionally how it works, right? If you think something is going to collapse, you short it and then write a report laying out your evidence and reasoning to try to convince others to do the same. Yeah, I disagree that one should be net short civilisation and think people who do that are setting themselves up for failure and pain, but short sellers are very often wrong and their existence is nevertheless a useful corrective.

(…yes, I think I *did* just draw a connection between the hate that Crazy Prepper People™ get and the hate that short sellers get.)

 

alarajrogers:

I think if you were genuinely going to short-sell civilization, gold’s a ridiculous thing to have. Like money itself, the value of gold is a social construct.

What you should be investing in is booze and pharmaceuticals. Set up a greenhouse that does not run on any electricity, or that gets all of its energy from solar panels, and grow food there year-round; you’ll have something to eat, something to trade, and if you are legally able to, maintain, like, one marijuana plant, so if civilization collapses you can go whole hog into growing marijuana. Once the pharmaceutical industry collapses, alcohol and marijuana will be incredibly valuable as painkillers again. And because drugs expire much more slowly than they claim on the label, keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now. Birth control, if you live in a place where it can be obtained OTC.

Hard liquor and wine are probably your best investment – they are commonly considered to improve as they age, and in a post apocalyptic world, everyone will want to get drunk. (I mean, not literally everyone. I wouldn’t drink alcohol after the apocalypse because it tastes disgusting and has no benefits I want. But most people.)

Me, I’d also get, like, a million solar chargers for phones and Raspberry Pis, and a whole lot of USB stick drives with adapters. Then I’d download Wikipedia every several months, and any medical database that allows me to download the whole thing, and as much info as I can get about maintaining phones and Raspberry Pis. Probably ebooks and databases on carpentry, plumbing, electricity, electrical generation, making wine and beer, etc, etc… I’d have a few hundred of the Pis in boxes, in a climate controlled room, probably with the boxes sealed in a plastic bin with a lid, and I’d have USB sticks with image files to put on the Pis. I’d use phones and tablets as monitors, or tiny monitors with low power requirements, so that I’d have a place to read my stored downloads. Then when the internet crashes I’d have huge amounts of information I could share with my neighbors so we could restore the amenities of civilization as quickly as possible, as many of them as possible. There won’t be making any new computers for a very long time- clean room tech is very complex – but keeping existing machines that use very little power in good repair, unused and protected from the elements, will help a lot.

Physical books are also very good but are heavy, not very portable, and easily destroyed by any kind of extreme weather – weather applies to computers too, but you can store vastly more information on 1 small computer than you can on 20 books, and then you put 20 replacements for your small computer in there. Still, if you’ve got space for a library and you don’t live somewhere it is likely to flood or burn, stockpile books. Nonfiction that give you information about how to survive, of course, but also, languages, books on cultures, history, and include a lot of fiction. People will trade a lot for escapism, and DVDs have a much shorter shelf life than books do.

All of these are more valuable trading goods than gold. You can’t eat gold, you can’t use it for anything but making things pretty (and making high-tech things you can’t make if civilization collapses.) I might buy silver and copper for antimicrobial purposes (and then I’d have to figure out how to keep them from tarnishing), but gold is overpriced and is only of use to a civilization – I mean it can be one with much lower tech levels, but you still have to have, like, blacksmiths.

You know what else would be valuable? Blade sharpeners and the knowledge of how to use them. Also, blades. Guns will be very useful for a while but modern guns require far too much technology to remain supplied with ammo, and all you can use them for is hunting and killing. But blades can be used for hunting and killing, and preparing food, and gardening, and so on and so forth. Knives, axes, scythes, machetes, and yeah, swords. Mostly because people think swords are sexy. They’d make good trade goods.

The only circumstance where gold is useful is where your specific country’s financial system has collapsed, but everyone else is okay. If you’re American, that’s not gonna happen. We’re too intertwined with the world’s financial systems. If we go down, so does most of the world. (This is not a good thing.)

 

brin-bellway:

…yes? Both/and, and gold is certainly one of the lowest-priority items for the reasons you give.

However, it’s important to note that people think gold jewellery is sexy and trade-good-y too, and also I am not American (well, okay, I pay the Americans tribute in exchange for right of return, but that just makes it easier to become a refugee there: it doesn’t mean never becoming a refugee in the first place).

You either got the idea of solar-powered phones and downloading Wikipedia *from me*, or else it is *very* strange that people in your apocalypse stories aren’t doing this: I once commented on one of said stories remarking on its absence and doing a special-interest infodump about it.

>>keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now.

Naproxen doesn’t just suppress the pain of menstrual cramps: at higher doses, it actually *makes periods lighter*. I would go with naproxen over ibuprofen, though acetominophen still has its place.

 

alarajrogers:

Didn’t know that about naproxen… very interesting!

I actually have had the ideas about solar-powered phones, Wikipedia, and the like for a very long time, but I just haven’t done that many stories about apocalypses, and one of them, everyone who survived is a child, so they’re not really going to have thought of most of that. The only other one I can think of is the zombie apocalypse one, and there, I have been mentally working out details like that… among other things, in that world there’s still an Internet, because there’s enough people who managed to keep power plants and data centers running that Wikipedia is still up. (Netflix, sadly, is not.) The only people we’ve spent a lot of time around in that story are specialized for being medical professionals and scientists, but I’m pretty sure there are techy types around. (It might possibly have been that one you commented on? Not sure.)

I’m working on another one I call “Mad Max The Librarian”, which has pigeons carrying USB sticks, and a guy going on a road trip with weapons and fighting off all kinds of bandits and cultists to find surviving books and bring them back to a protected, well-defended library.

>>Didn’t know that about naproxen… very interesting!

Yeah, I found out when I went to my doctor for dysmenorrhea. She told me to get a bottle of OTC naproxen and take double the dose given on the label, starting two days before my period’s due (or when it starts if it catches me off-guard) and ending when I’m far enough along that the problems would have stopped by now anyway. It’s working great.

(Doubled-up OTC naproxen is a bit cheaper than buying prescription naproxen out of pocket, but if I ever get drug coverage she’ll write me an official prescription.)

((Don’t take prescription-strength naproxen without medical supervision if you can help it: you can fuck up your liver. Peri-menstrual naproxen is relatively safe because you’re only taking it a few days a month, but it’s still best to be sure.))

>>(It might possibly have been that one you commented on? Not sure.)

It was the zombie one, yeah. I originally messaged you with it privately (possibly you don’t get messages properly on the sideblog?), but I’ve been wavering for ages on whether to post a slightly edited version publicly, so here it is:

(Please treat what I am about to tell you as more of a “you have accidentally stumbled into a special interest” than as criticism per se.)

The tech level in “Norris and the Plague Doctors” feels off to me. It’s too low: there’s stuff missing that should still be working.

It first struck me when they’re talking about electricity, and they *never mention solar power*. Not once. The hospital compound doesn’t have it, the homesteaders don’t have it, the rich people’s houses are never explicitly ruled out as not having it but if even the homesteaders don’t…

(*By default* the kind of solar setup a rich household would get would immediately stop working when the grid goes down, but if you pay extra (batteries are getting cheaper over time, but for now: for the most popular brand (Tesla), it’s USD$4,500 fixed cost + USD$6,500/13.5kWH of storage) you can install power-outage-insurance batteries. Most household roofs can’t fit enough solar panels to go fully self-sufficient, but from what I’ve been able to tell so far in my research, if done right a roof setup can let you switch to merely rationed electricity during a long-term outage.)

[edit: I found out later that the keyword to search for regarding rich-people’s-houses-resorting-to-off-grid-electricity-in-a-crisis is “hybrid solar systems” (a hybrid of on-grid and off-grid).]

Once that got me thinking I started noticing other stuff.

Norris assumes that rich people’s cars all run on gasoline and gasoline alone, and while that could be an in-universe oversight on his part, I would expect a modern-day rich neighbourhood to have some electric and/or plug-in-hybrid vehicles. If such a vehicle is in either the same household as a solar+storage setup or they’re in two cooperating households, you’ve potentially got long-term car access. You’d have to use it very sparingly: we’re probably talking an entire day’s electricity ration for a 40mi round trip (a decent rule of thumb as things stand is 4 mi/kwH, though it depends on car and driving style). (Plug-in hybrids don’t currently have a 40mi full-electric range from what I’ve seen, so you’d need a full-electric car or restrict to even shorter trips: 30mi would be pushing it.)

One of the main reasons Norris is glad to have Internet access is because it means he can read Wikipedia, and while again that could well be an in-universe oversight by the characters, the fact is that anyone reliant on *continuous* Internet access *during an apocalypse* to read Wikipedia is doing it wrong. Somebody please get this child a Kiwix server.

And speaking of devices that can run Kiwix, there are no smartphones. The only computer is a rigged-together desktop that probably doesn’t even have an emergency uninterruptible-power-supply battery, let alone the ability to actually *function* for extended periods on intermittent power while on the run from zombies. You can get quite a bit done, info/comms-infrastructure-wise, with just a bunch of Android smartphones (iOS is much more dependent on access to Apple servers and therefore much less useful in a grid-down), ~USD$25 – $50 of portable solar chargers per person (characters who didn’t already have these may well be able to salvage them at a camping-supplies store), and at least one (1) group member who didn’t have mobile data and oriented their smartphone setup around not having reliable Internet access (who can then bootstrap the rest). Apps to turn smartphones into off-grid walkie-talkies (or more likely walkie-writies) are still in their early days overall–I wrote an entire post about this recently: https://brin-bellway.dreamwidth.org/67770.html–but file-sharing alone should have a fair number of uses, especially if at least one of you packed the right files (or can obtain access to the broader Internet long enough to fetch them).

I look forward to Mad Max the Librarian.


Tags:

#reply via reblog #reactionblogging #apocalypse cw #discourse cw? #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #drugs cw #zombies


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rustingbridges:

controversial personal finance opinion: if you have enough wealth you should own some physical gold

financialized gold has most of the downside of real gold and also none of its special upside, so not that

gold does not, as a rule, gain in value, and it’s vulnerable to theft, but it also does not, as a rule, lose in value, and also the rest of your assets are vulnerable to theft too. gold might have a higher risk but diversification is still valuable

in the event you lose access to your financials and have to leave – maybe not likely, but not impossible, apparently something like 1% of humans in 2021 are or have been refugees – gold jewelry particularly is both portable enough you can take it and universally recognized as valuable enough you can trade it. just don’t get it in your teeth

 

brin-bellway:

*Is* this controversial, even in the broad form stated here?

I kind of figured that there was broad agreement that there exists *some* level of wealth at which diversification into gold is worth pursuing (for the reasons you give), but that different people’s estimates of what that wealth level is vary by orders of magnitude, and some people would put enough forms of philanthropy above gold on the to-do list that in practice no one would ever reach the gold stage given our world’s current amount of philanthropic fruit to be picked.

(I’m not sure where I would place the threshold: I think it’s probably somewhere feasible to reach, but far enough beyond where I am now that it’s not urgent for me to figure out the specifics.)

 

rustingbridges:

a lot of people would argue that you should at some point diversify into financial instruments which abstractly reflect the value of gold, but I think many of those people would say you should not buy actual physical gold.

to pin myself down a bit while still leaving a lot of wiggle room, here’s some points on my Gold Advice Spectrum:

  • if you need your money to be liquid in a normal economy any time soon, don’t buy gold
  • if you have enough money to retire indefinitely on, I think it’s worth having something like a month’s money or so in precious metals
  • if you’re bill gates you should actually should have buried a chest of treasure somewhere

 

brin-bellway:

What…what reasons do *they* give for wanting to diversify into gold? You can’t hedge against the collapse of your financial system by buying things that *depend on said financial system*.

I mean, okay, I guess you can hedge against *certain, partial* collapses that way, but it’s far more limited.

I should mention here that I literally wrote a post once titled “Diversification is an important part of building an investment portfolio” [link], in which I frame prepping as being essentially a way of shorting your civilisation: since almost everyone is very long civilisation pretty much by necessity, being also somewhat short civilisation is a good hedge (though I think you should still be net long). I also wrote a comment on a different post in which I called [maintaining stockpiles of soap and canned food and air filters] “pandemic insurance” [link].

That Gold Advice Spectrum seems pretty reasonable.

@cthulhubert​ replied: @brin-bellway there’s a certain degree of over-correction against physical gold buying because Alex Jones and some other right wing conspiracy nuts flogged buying real gold for ‘when the degenerate modern economy collapses’.

I mean, that’s traditionally how it works, right? If you think something is going to collapse, you short it and then write a report laying out your evidence and reasoning to try to convince others to do the same. Yeah, I disagree that one should be net short civilisation and think people who do that are setting themselves up for failure and pain, but short sellers are very often wrong and their existence is nevertheless a useful corrective.

(…yes, I think I *did* just draw a connection between the hate that Crazy Prepper People™ get and the hate that short sellers get.)

 

alarajrogers:

I think if you were genuinely going to short-sell civilization, gold’s a ridiculous thing to have. Like money itself, the value of gold is a social construct.

What you should be investing in is booze and pharmaceuticals. Set up a greenhouse that does not run on any electricity, or that gets all of its energy from solar panels, and grow food there year-round; you’ll have something to eat, something to trade, and if you are legally able to, maintain, like, one marijuana plant, so if civilization collapses you can go whole hog into growing marijuana. Once the pharmaceutical industry collapses, alcohol and marijuana will be incredibly valuable as painkillers again. And because drugs expire much more slowly than they claim on the label, keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now. Birth control, if you live in a place where it can be obtained OTC.

Hard liquor and wine are probably your best investment – they are commonly considered to improve as they age, and in a post apocalyptic world, everyone will want to get drunk. (I mean, not literally everyone. I wouldn’t drink alcohol after the apocalypse because it tastes disgusting and has no benefits I want. But most people.)

Me, I’d also get, like, a million solar chargers for phones and Raspberry Pis, and a whole lot of USB stick drives with adapters. Then I’d download Wikipedia every several months, and any medical database that allows me to download the whole thing, and as much info as I can get about maintaining phones and Raspberry Pis. Probably ebooks and databases on carpentry, plumbing, electricity, electrical generation, making wine and beer, etc, etc… I’d have a few hundred of the Pis in boxes, in a climate controlled room, probably with the boxes sealed in a plastic bin with a lid, and I’d have USB sticks with image files to put on the Pis. I’d use phones and tablets as monitors, or tiny monitors with low power requirements, so that I’d have a place to read my stored downloads. Then when the internet crashes I’d have huge amounts of information I could share with my neighbors so we could restore the amenities of civilization as quickly as possible, as many of them as possible. There won’t be making any new computers for a very long time- clean room tech is very complex – but keeping existing machines that use very little power in good repair, unused and protected from the elements, will help a lot.

Physical books are also very good but are heavy, not very portable, and easily destroyed by any kind of extreme weather – weather applies to computers too, but you can store vastly more information on 1 small computer than you can on 20 books, and then you put 20 replacements for your small computer in there. Still, if you’ve got space for a library and you don’t live somewhere it is likely to flood or burn, stockpile books. Nonfiction that give you information about how to survive, of course, but also, languages, books on cultures, history, and include a lot of fiction. People will trade a lot for escapism, and DVDs have a much shorter shelf life than books do.

All of these are more valuable trading goods than gold. You can’t eat gold, you can’t use it for anything but making things pretty (and making high-tech things you can’t make if civilization collapses.) I might buy silver and copper for antimicrobial purposes (and then I’d have to figure out how to keep them from tarnishing), but gold is overpriced and is only of use to a civilization – I mean it can be one with much lower tech levels, but you still have to have, like, blacksmiths.

You know what else would be valuable? Blade sharpeners and the knowledge of how to use them. Also, blades. Guns will be very useful for a while but modern guns require far too much technology to remain supplied with ammo, and all you can use them for is hunting and killing. But blades can be used for hunting and killing, and preparing food, and gardening, and so on and so forth. Knives, axes, scythes, machetes, and yeah, swords. Mostly because people think swords are sexy. They’d make good trade goods.

The only circumstance where gold is useful is where your specific country’s financial system has collapsed, but everyone else is okay. If you’re American, that’s not gonna happen. We’re too intertwined with the world’s financial systems. If we go down, so does most of the world. (This is not a good thing.)

…yes? Both/and, and gold is certainly one of the lowest-priority items for the reasons you give.

However, it’s important to note that people think gold jewellery is sexy and trade-good-y too, and also I am not American (well, okay, I pay the Americans tribute in exchange for right of return, but that just makes it easier to become a refugee there: it doesn’t mean never becoming a refugee in the first place).

You either got the idea of solar-powered phones and downloading Wikipedia *from me*, or else it is *very* strange that people in your apocalypse stories aren’t doing this: I once commented on one of said stories remarking on its absence and doing a special-interest infodump about it.

>>keep a huge supply of ibuprofen, acetominophen, allergy meds, and so on… they’ll still be good ten years from now.

Naproxen doesn’t just suppress the pain of menstrual cramps: at higher doses, it actually *makes periods lighter*. I would go with naproxen over ibuprofen, though acetominophen still has its place.


Tags:

#reply via reblog #drugs cw #discourse cw #apocalypse cw #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #(it’s literally right in the tag)


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How We Decided

togglesbloggle:

The day after tomorrow- that is, February 18, 2021- the Perseverance rover will attempt to land on the surface of Mars.  It will enter the planetary atmosphere at an acute angle, giving it as much time as possible to experience drag and slow down from orbital velocities.  Because Mars’ air is so thin, and the rover is so heavy, this will fail- in the best case, Perseverance would still be going almost a thousand miles an hour when it impacts the surface.  To help save itself, the craft will deploy a parachute of advanced design, seventy feet across and able to withstand supersonic velocities.  This, too, will fail.  Even with a parachute, there is simply not enough air between Perseverance and the Martian surface to slow it down all the way.  So this is where the rockets kick in.  Once air resistance slows the rover to a bit less than two hundred miles per hour, the heavy heat shield will be jettisoned, and a system of secondary rockets will fire against the direction of motion until it slows to near-hovering.  In a final flourish, the rover will descend from the rocket-boosted frame on coiled springs, until it touches down in the western part of Jezero crater in the northern hemisphere of Mars.

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As it happens, Perseverance’s destination was one of the very last things we decided about it- not until the craft itself was fairly thoroughly engineered and designed.  Formally, the decision was made by the mission directorate.  In practice, they follow the consensus of the scientific community, which in turn hashes things out at a series of open-invitation workshops.  Things began with a call for white papers- an open suggestion box, basically.  In 2015, the first workshop narrowed things down from thirty serious proposals to eight candidates.  In 2017, the second workshop further winnowed the list down to three.  And in October of 2018, after three days of presentation, debate, and discussion, the final workshop selected Jezero Crater from these final three candidates using a simple vote of all attendees, and passed on the recommendation to the mission leads.

I haven’t been in the business for very long, so the final workshop was the only one of these where I actually participated.  It wasn’t a close vote as such, and I didn’t break any ties, and technically we were just making a strongly worded suggestion.  Nonetheless, my vote is one of the reasons why the Rover will be going to Jezero Crater instead of Syrtis Major or Gusev, and I think I’m entitled to feel ownership of this mission choice, just a little bit.

(This is, of course, terrifying.)

Having gone through the experience, there were a few surprises worth noting.  The first was how small some of the numbers are here.  The conference was not very large: only thirty proposals, debated by just a few hundred attendees.  I’ve seen book review contests with more entries, and that are read by a wider audience.  Which is to say, this is a situation that was, and is, extremely responsive to individual effort.  In that small a room, populated by people that are philosophically committed to changing their minds when they see good evidence or a good argument, one person can stand up and change the future in a very real way.

The second surprise was the attendance requirements.  Or rather, the lack thereof.  The project is public, paid for by American taxpayers, to whom I am profoundly grateful.  And one way the process reflected that public-spiritedness is that this is not a walled garden.  A small attendance fee (iirc, $40?), and you’re in.  You get a vote, if you want to use it.  A few non-scientists even took us up on this; there’s one retiree (a former schoolteacher, I think) that’s attended every major conference I’ve been to in the last few years, and sets up a small table in the back with his home mineral collection just for fun.  In practice this open-door policy is limited by the obscurity of the event itself; if you don’t move in research circles, you have to be something of a space exploration superfan to hear about it.  Still, as symbols go, you could do worse.

And now that we’re coming up on the day itself, the same kind of public-facing mindset is making me think about why I was persuaded to vote for Jezero Crater, what it means to explore there, and how I’d justify that choice to those of you that made the ongoing discovery of Mars possible in the first place.

Keep reading


Tags:

#space #Mars #Perseverance #the power of science #the more you know #apocalypse cw

poipoipoi-2016:

A reminder that if you’re not abandoning SF/NYC for Miami, you’re behind the curve and are about to be looted by blue state politicians.   

Also that if you’re afraid of hurricanes and those videos with third-story storm surge in a major American city, you’re just a coward.

 

poipoipoi-2016:

@rustingbridges: of all the cities in the world why would I move to *miami*

Because all the tech and finance jobs are leaving NYC/SF and moving to Miami.  

In large part because of the amazing money laundering laws re: real estate.

 

yarnold:

isnt miamis whole water table teetering on complete failure

 

poipoipoi-2016:

Yes!  

They’re only 16 feet above sea level, they already have issues with salt water incursion into the freshwater supply, and there’s a Superfund site 750 feet away from the water supply for all of Miami.  

And I wasn’t joking about the storm surge either.  Tampa is 80 feet above sea level, Miami averages 16.  

The only advantage of Miami is that the mayor of Miami has explicitly said “Fuck those Commies who ruined SF”.  

/There’s some personal reasons for this as well, but I really don’t want to have to move to Miami.

 

poipoipoi-2016:

@manyblinkinglights​:

I respect you and your weird outlooks and choices but “Let’s all the rich people go move somewhere teetering on the brink of absolute infrastructure catastrophe where the mayor PROMISES not to tax anybody” has possibly the highest entertainment value yet

I know right!  

This was 1992, when FL’s population was 2/3rds what it is now.  

The South is a couple of strategic ports, a series of *inland* cities because hurricanes… and Florida, 20 Million people sitting out on a stick.  It’s already a 2-day drive to evacuate from Tampa to the state border when a hurricane hits.  Everyone who moves there is crazy, but all the people who want to employ me are *moving there*.  

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iteratedextras:

So what’s really being paid for is a supply of Anti-Communist Hispanic voters.

 

earnest-peer:

Aren’t a bunch of tech companies moving to Austin? I’ve certainly heard more mumbling about Austin than Miami on twitter, but maybe that’s just my bubble.

 

zexreborn:

Y’all need to move to the heartland!

St. Louis: provincial rents, world class amenities!

 

eightyonekilograms:

I know everybody thinks us tech workers are rootless, atomized yuppies who are only in San Francisco etc. because that’s where the jobs are, but I actually like Seattle, and I know plenty of people who feel the same way about the Bay Area (housing costs aside).

(That said, everyone else should take OP’s advice and move to Miami so I can get a cheaper condo here)

 

poipoipoi-2016:

I mean, I liked NYC before my knee blew out and I was no longer capable of standing on moving trains right as the local Armenians started having nightly gunfights and my entire industry evacced the dying, collapsing, suddenly crime-ridden city.  

/NYC used to have a crime rate less than the national average.  

In the year of our Lord 2021, a material-enough-to-have-to-upend-your-life-for percentage of tech/finance companies are *still* planning to make you live in the same state as them if you want to work for them? That’s fucked up.

(My dad worked tech in San Francisco for a while, but that didn’t mean he *lived* there, *god* no. He lived in *Canada* like a *sensible* person.)

((no offense to my friends in San Francisco, I assume you’re making the best of a bad situation))

I mean, I guess if you’re used to California even Miami might seem like an improvement danger-wise? Like, on a scale of 1 to California, Miami is what, a 9?

“Arranging for rich people to live in incredibly disaster-prone environments” doesn’t sound like an anti-communist position at all. That’s just using hurricanes/earthquakes/wildfires instead of guillotines.


Tags:

#getting an IFRS-based accounting designation is increasingly seeming #like a kind of precommitment against the San Francisco Gravitational Field and its descendants #”nope‚ my credentials don’t transfer to the States‚ you’ll just have to go on without me‚ so sorry‚ byeeee” #(renouncing my U.S. citizenship would be an even stronger oath to never move there but I’m still not sure if I’m willing to go *that* far) #((a few years back my dad refused a job offer from Google that was conditional on moving to SF)) #((better to work at Uber Eats here than to work at Google there)) #(((well at the time it was ”better to be unemployed” etc: Uber Eats came later))) #on a scale of 1 to California my area is maybe a 2 #there’s occasional ice storms you have to watch out for and that’s basically it #(*knocks on wood*) #home of the brave #our home and cherished land #adventures in human capitalism #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #reply via reblog #apocalypse cw #death tw? #murder cw?