Sunday, March 18, 2012
Building a Better Apocalypse
From The New York Times - Original Article
These days, there are those on the left — Occupiers, say — and also on the right — ammo-hoarding, gold-burying believers in peak oil — who harbor the suspicion that America is more or less an interlocking network of overburdened, unsustainable systems, from energy to transportation, finance to food production. The question is: once they reach that conclusion, then what?
Mr. Hackett has a what. He recently looked over a 1918 arc welding patent filed by a Wisconsin inventor, and determined that all an amateur, stranded by calamity, needs to make his own welding rods are coat hangers, some silica gel, some lye and a newspaper. “If civilization and supply chains collapse,” he wrote in Make magazine about this process, “the anti-zombie fences will still get built.”
“When I read ‘The Road,’ ” he said, referring to Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel, “it got me thinking: ‘O.K., so there’s all this stuff lying around. How do you recreate civilization?’ I did some research and figured out the two most important things you’d need are car batteries and Drano.”
Mr. Hackett likes to joke about anti-zombie fences, but the truth is he has thought about how to reassemble modernity in a serious way. Electric power? “Any motor cranked in reverse is a generator.” Tanned hides? “Drano works great.” Weapons? “Primer is the hard part. I’m working on it.”
This makes sense at a moment when most Americans don’t know how to change their spark plugs, let alone tan their own hides. When Mr. Hackett talks earnestly about growing hydroponic crops or mischievously about making explosives with oxygen, acetylene and bong water, he is really speaking of a fabricator’s self-reliant pride.