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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

whistles


WHISTLES

A lot of times, six months down the road after I’ve bought a non-fiction book for an egregious amount like $15, our local library then has it in stock and I rue the gods when it turns out I had wasted my money and could have been warned.  But other times I’ve been warned off from a book and then the library is carrying it and I get it and it turns out not half bad and I save money- so the whole thing is probably a wash.  “California” by Edan Lepucki is the latter.  Now, true, it isn’t a true post-apocalypse novel although it shares some aspects.  And it isn’t a total Dystopia genre either.  Perhaps it could be termed a Survival Lite Cozy.  It is very well written, something you certainly aren’t going to see a lot of in more traditional survivalist pulp fiction.  The one part that stuck with me in the book was the compounds residents use of whistles for nighttime communication.  While I’m sure this has been used before in PA fiction, an example doesn’t come to my mind immediately.  Most pseudo-survivalists are so busy gaying up their plastic carbines with laser dots and flashlight rails and having every digital device available to man to continue their wiz bang modern lifestyle long after they should be embracing a Thoreau simplistic one ( using the excuse of Force Multiplier in the same context I’d use “Boobs” to justify my poor life decisions ) that it never occurs to them to communicate with anything conceived of before their birth.

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And since EMP is a favored plot device, even used by myself, embarrassingly, they not only get to buy every electronic device known to man for communication, they also get to buy at least one other copy of each one to have as a back-up in a Faraday cage.  Yes, some things are hard to duplicate non-electronically.  You end up with the inverse of the 80/20 rule.  Lighting with the worse LED bulb is far better than the best candle.  Solar powered illumination is one of the few real advances available for the survivalist compared to his cave lurking ancestor of four decades ago.  But minimizing your dependence on higher tech should be your first consideration in all preps so as to minimize lifestyle disruption X amount of years after the collapse.  You want X to last as long as possible with as little upheaval at the end.  And foregoing digital communication and embracing sight and noise signals, if at all possible, is one way to do this.  I’m not suggesting throwing yourself on the grenade of low tech for its own sake, getting yourself killed by upholding Luddite principles regardless of tactical considerations, but simply saying you should ask yourself if high tech is always necessary.  I’ve Amazon Advertised a dozen whistles for this week at the top of the page.  I wouldn’t suggest plastic except as an expedient to procuring better longer lasting metal ones later, of course.

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13 comments:

  1. The Chinese used Whistles, Bugles and other instruments, including in one documented case bagpipes, during the Korean War to move troops. Whistles were common in the Great War as a signal to move out over the top and into the enemies MG's.

    Makes sense to use them as they always work, do not use batteries and aren't a burden on the individual carrying them. Could also be used for psychological warfare if you blow them at odd hours to force the enemy to react.

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  2. "The one part that stuck with me in the book was the compounds residents use of whistles for nighttime communication."

    Richard Simmons employed this same technique with great success, when he whistled the battle hymn of the " rainbow republic" from his well seasoned bum, in an attempt to lure in potential bathhouse suitors :D

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  3. Another reason for a plastic whistle is that it won't freeze to your lips during those damnable winters you have there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But remember, the fools in Michigan have it a lot worse. Good point.

      Delete
  4. Whistles are easily eaves dropped on- so encoding the info and changing the code is essential. Signal mirrors are far easier to keep from being overheard, but are also harder to be detected by your intended recipient. Radio is better than either for communication, preselected channel changing, simple code phrases, etc., allow for far more communication flexibility. Sure they are EMP vulnerable- but if you have them and no one else does, they are even more valuable. A couple pairs of cheap walkie-talkies, several dozen rechargeable batteries, and a solar charger, cost not too much, and you can keep a spare set of all of them in an EMP proof container. ONCE you have your whistles and signal mirrors, which of course come after all your other basics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The book did mention the signals were in code.

      Delete
    2. Codes, like passwords, are only as strong as frequently as they are changed.
      The more easily intercepted they are, the more often they have to change (and the harder they are for the users to remember). Which is why with whistles you are best keeping the code short and sweet. One long blast- come HELP! , 3 short blasts - Run away! 5 medium blasts- Issue here dealt with, check for follow on attacks elsewhere.
      And using them any time there hasn't been an attack or other emergency just gives the users position away.

      Delete
    3. I can see how whistles could be turned against a group. But the alternate yelling can be faked, and when the electronics fail...

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    4. I suppose you could always substitute the whistles with the more natural sounding bird calls, as did the Indians (Or at least the Indians on TV did this?).

      If you can't replicate these sounds using natural methods, there are calls that would work.

      Delete
  5. The novel features a slow apocalypse with a sudden turn for the worse, and tends toward a more homesteading-like solution. Both are popular with the more urban left-leaning folks that are prepper conscious but don't like to think of themselves as preppers. However, some of their assumptions (NOT the aversion to firearms) fit the current situation better than the unexpected one-day collapses that are popular in the nuclear war prep holdovers. If you do get a fast collapse from the left-urban types, it is almost always the politically correct pandemic route.

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    Replies
    1. I just thought the end was a bit too cozy. Ominous, you feel it won't last, but still a "save" for the characters.

      Delete

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