Why Did The Donner Party Fail? How Quickly Will Our Civilized Veneer Disappear?

“I wish I could cry, but I cannot. If I could forget the tragedy, perhaps I would know how to cry again.” Mary Graves. Survivor, the ‘Donner Party’

When people hear the ‘Donner Party’, the first thing they think of is cannibalism. That was part of the final event, a result of a number of preventable cascades. By the time this group resorted to that extreme, they had made enough mistakes that we’re not going to spend much time on that peculiar eating aspect. To me, the most important aspect of the Donner Party catastrophe were the homicides and the way the group fell apart before they resorted to cannibalism because it is an ominous portend of what happens during catastrophes that needs to be taken into account.

The Donner Party is key because it’s a study of group dynamics or rather, how group dynamics don’t work. Few of us understand how quickly the veneer of civilization can be torn away from people. Soldiers who’ve served in certain places around the world can attest to this phenomenon, especially among civilians who aren’t trained like the military. In zones such as Bosnia, the Middle East, and other places, the barbarity into which apparently ‘ordinary’ people can quickly descend is frightening, and that is the lesson to understanding the catastrophe that was the Donner Party, because something similar can happen rather easily in future disasters. Turn the power off for a week in a large locale with no relief in sight and the results will be terrifying.

The Facts

 In Spring 1846, a group of emigrants departed west for California. Rather than take the usual route, they decided to take a ‘shorter’ new route, the Hastings Cutoff. The delays from taking that route caused them to reach the last obstacle, the Sierra Nevada Mountains so late in the season that they became trapped by heavy snowfall, and were forced to spend the winter. Starving and freezing, some of the group resorted to cannibalism. Eventually, about half the party was rescued in the Spring of 1847.

For more detail on this, and other disasters, and how they can be prevented: Shit Doesn’t Just Happen: The Gift of Failure.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Have a Great Thanksgiving!

Sending best wishes for everyone to enjoy the holidays.

Given all that’s going on, the only thing I want to say is let’s stop letting fear rule our lives and our country. Yes, there are dangers out there in the world. But there are too many politicians, ‘news’ outlets, and most importantly, those who make money off of fear.

Let’s do some fact-checking before we believe every wild claim we hear designed to inflame fear. Remember, very rarely are those who are doing it interested in our welfare. Their interests and the general public’s do not align. We are being manipulated for the welfare of a handful of people.

I don’t believe in “no fear”. Fear is real. It serves a purpose. But the cause of it needs to be real or else very bad decisions are made. So I’ll leave it with this, from one of the most read books of the 20th Century:

Dune fear




52 Years Ago Today: The Assassination of J.F. Kennedy- A Theory

jfk-hickey-with-rifleAccidental Discharge by a Secret Service Agent in the follow car, perhaps. Yes, Oswald was up there. And who knows why he was up there? Numerous volumes have been written about the various conspiracies, lone gunman, Carlos Marcello, the hobos, Woody Harrelson’s father, you name it. But let’s ignore all that and look at the crime scene. The third shot, the head one, always looked strange in the Zagruber film. It looked like a shot coming from behind. Note the guy in the follow car with the AR-15. When you get his backstory, it’s intriguing that he wasn’t even supposed to be there and he wasn’t well trained on the weapon. Remember the guys pulling the mini-Uzis when Reagan was shot? Anyone with time around firearms will tell you and accidental discharge, especially during a moment of crisis, is a likely possibility.

My wife has read many tomes about the assassination and the various conspiracy theories. And the thing is, any of them could be right since Oswald was up in the Book Depository and did fire rounds. But the ballistics for the last shot simply don’t add up. I’m not going to get into all the details as they are so numerous they can fill a book; and there is a book. If you want more, JFK: The Smoking Gun is the book and film about it. Worth reading watching. Yes, we can poke holes in it too. But it’s something to consider. When you start factoring in what happened and all that happened afterward, it actually has made more sense to me than any other, particularly the cover-up. No one wants to say– oops, we accidentally shot the President. And it doesn’t negate the other theories. In a strange way, it actually makes the other theories harder to prove too. But if we combine the third shot as an accidental discharge as the guy brought the AR-15 up from the floor with Oswald up there, things start to come together.

Just an idea to ponder.

And here are some more strange facts about Kennedy and the murder of his mistress less than a year later, including a meeting 2 days after the assassination in the Rotunda between Mrs. Kennedy and Khrushchev’s top adviser. It happened; as well as many other facts that I’ve woven into this novel.

“Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear Sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.” John F. Kennedy

Kennedy_FinalThe Kennedy Endeavor:  For 13 days in October 1962 the world came the closest to nuclear Armageddon. On 22 November 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. On the 25th of November, as Kennedy’s body lay in state at the Rotunda in Washington, Anastas Mikyoan, Khrushchev’s top adviser, presented the Premier’s condolences to Jacqueline Kennedy. She took Mikoyan’s hand in both hers and told him: “I am sure that Chairman Khrushchev and my husband could have been successful in the search for peace, and they were really striving for that. Now the Chairman must continue the agreed upon endeavor and bring it to completion.”

On 12 October 1964, a Washington socialite named Mary Meyer was shot in the back of the head and through the heart at point-blank range. She had been married to a high-ranking CIA agent. More importantly, she had been carrying on an affair with President John F. Kennedy and was one of his most trusted friends, at his side through the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On 13 October 1964, the day after Mary Meyer’s murder, the Soviet Politburo forced Nikita Khrushchev to resign from power and put him under house arrest.

Today, Paul Ducharme and Evie Tolliver unveil a Fail Safe type scenario brokered by President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev and race against time before the archaic Sword of Damocles initiates World War III.

Kindle Daily Deal: Time Patrol Black Tuesday

Black Tuesday finalOnly $1.99 today. This is the first in a new format of books for me: Where six members of the Time Patrol have to travel back to the same day in the past– in DIFFERENT years– to keep our timeline from being destroyed.

Time Patrol: Black Tuesday.

In this book the years range from 999 AD to to 1980, featuring events you are aware of, such as the title event in 1929; to ones you might not be, such as the last test flight of a modified C-130 transport plane in preparation for the second Iranian hostage rescue attempt. They are all briefly shown in this video, and below it is the actual event for Operation Credible Sport. I plan on following up with Time Patrol: Ides of March; Time Patrol: D-Day; Time Patrol: Independence Day; Time Patrol: 9-11; Time Patrol: Day of Infamy. And that’s just in 2016! Nothing but good times ahead!


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