Re: The Great Extropian Fire Drill

From: Alex F. Bokov (
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 16:38:59 MDT


Brian and James, thanks for your input. Mike, sounds like you're pretty
well set!

I didn't mean to imply that the Extropian Fire Drill would have zero
disruption to people's lives and finances. Just that one of its
guiding principles should be minimizing this disruption. Nor did I
mean to imply that the entry costs would be negligible. Just that the
entry costs should be incremental rather than all-or-none, thus
reducing the entry barrier.

There would be multiple levels of preparedness, BUT even the lowest
level should still be a substantial advantage over not preparing at
all. Divide the cost estimates by the number of people participating.

Level 1: at least half a dozen people have agreed upon a suitable
small town to rent motel rooms (or a barn, or a campground) in; posess
maps to the location and contact info for each other; bring with them
whatever equipment, skills, and supplies they already have.
Cost: $0, a few person-hours research

Level 2: A representative from the Firedrill Club has visited the town
and negotiated an agreement with local landowners whereby an unused
building will be rentable to the group on a few day's
notice. Representative also cultivates the goodwill of local political
and economic leaders (city council, library, Rotary Club, chamber of
commerce). Diplomay is crucial at this point! Do not send somebody who
will rant about black helicopters, nor about
nanotech/AI/uploading. This is basically just a private, decentralized
initiative to preserve high-tech expertise and Democratic/Free-market
values in order to minimize the duration of any societal collapse that
may occur. If presented right, few people would disagree with
it. Maybe distribute copies of an entry-level sci-fi novel on the
subject, if an appropriate one can be found.
Cost: $0 - $700, a few person-days of schmoozing and travel-time

Level 3: Acquire plans and materials for building
wind-turbines. Acquire deep-cycle batteries and the circuitry
necessary to interface the generators with the batteries and the power
grid of a building. Stockpile items either at the homes of the
club-members or on-site if the owner doesn't mind. Build and test a
prototype wind-turbine on site, and insure that multiple club members
know how to do it. Preferrably all of them. Meanwhile, the
participants round out their individual packing lists-- several day's
supply of nonperishable food, first aid kits, hand tools, several
pairs of sturdy shoes, essential books, firearms, ammunition,
replacement parts for cars and crucial appliances.
Cost: $6000 - $10,000, a person-year of preparation, including the
first 'Fire Drill'
Note: I'm not sure if it's feasible to build solar panels from
low-tech materials, but if so, substitute in "solar panels and

Level 4: Acquire the high-end materials and skills. Some members get
certified as EMTs. Some members take vocational classes in
auto-repair, appliance-repair, carpentry, welding, etc. Circumstances
permitting, members serve as part-time/deputy cops, EMTs, or
firefighters in their own communities to get hands-on experience
handling critical situations. Several *desktop* computers, printers,
CD-RW drives, a scanner, a projector, and hubs to wire them all to
each other are set aside for the effort, along with three sets of
replacements for each replaceable part. The 'technology tree' needed
to make these items new will take many years to restore, and they have
to last until then. If there are members in professions that require
specialized equpiment (musicians, scientists, visual artists) they
should likewise stock up on parts and materials that would require a
large technological infrastructure to produce. This is also where the
members burn every piece of text, data, graphics, sound, and software
they can get their hands on onto CDs, preferrably multiple
copies. Hold several more 'Fire Drills'
Cost: $10,000 - $100,000, several person-years

Level 5: Given that more than two years have passed by now, and many
thousands have been invested, one can be assured that the participants
are thoroughly committed to the project, and more have probably joined
once it is clear that this Firedrill Club is here to stay. This may be
a good time to consider purchasing land and building a permanent
structure on it. Some cross between a warehouse, a fortress, and a
very small university. Firedrills are by now a yearly celebration. The
group incorporates as a charity or a for-profit corporation, and
commences formal PR, fundraising, and recruitment efforts. The group
is a member of a loose consortium of similar groups around the world,
with which it will attempt to reestablish communication and coordinate
efforts should disaster strike. Exclaves can specialize in
technologically more ambitious ventures-- chip fabs, molecular biology
labs, launch platforms, factories.
Cost: $100,000+

The above is just a crude sketch of a plan. Obviously different groups
would find themselves with different opportunities and liabilities. A
more thorough plan would be something like the research trees familiar
to strategy gamers- a hierarchy of needed items interconnected by

- --
* I believe that the majority of the world's Muslims are good, *
* honorable people. If you are a Muslim and want to reassure me and *
* others that you are part of this good, honorable majority, all *
* you need to say are nine simple words: "I OPPOSE the Wahhabi cult *
* and its Jihad." *

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