Saturday, May 19, 2007

Are You Competent for What May Come?

Because, personally, I seriously doubt that you are--if you are a typical psychologically neotenised, academically lobotomised, child of the western world.

You might try the "Jericho Test." If you have not seen the episodes of the doomed television show Jericho, go here and watch at least the first few episodes. Imagine yourself in such a circumstance. Would you be useful. How?

I recall sitting in an insurance office in a new town, transferring my policy to my new location. My young, attractive female agent was processing my paperwork and chatting with two co-workers who had gathered around the desk out of boredom. Somehow they were discussing a collapse of civilisation and what they could do to survive. My agent made the offhand comment, "at least I could work as a whore."

But there is only so much need for whores, and some of the male survivors of a holocaust would not treat their whores very kindly. So the rest of you might start thinking about other possibilities, while you have a little time. Particularly the college professors among you, who--if you pardon me for saying so--are almost certainly particularly useless in an emergency (unless your training is in applied engineering, technology, or biomedical sciences).

Your politics, religion, and ideology will probably be irrelevant, as long as you are not a psychopath. It is your useful skills that will count.

People always assume that things will continue as they are, in a straight line extrapolation of current trends. People are always wrong about that. Most people need shock therapy to acknowledge things that might go wrong, and to be motivated to prepare.

No matter how busy you are, you still have time to take steps to make you and your family more survivable.

Everyone needs a stockpile of clean water, food, and basic hygienic and first aid supplies. If you depend on a medicine such as insulin, you should have extra medication on hand, and rotate it to maintain the expiration date. If your vital medicines require refrigeration, you should have a way to power a small refrigerator off the electrical grid. (generator with fuel, solar panels with batteries, etc.)

There are many important things to think about, in connection with surviving a massive natural or man-made disaster. The Al Fin blog sidebar has an entire section of links dealing with these issues, about three fourths of the way down. As an added one-time-only bonus, here is an online book on surviving a nuclear war.

Watch the first few episodes of Jericho. Think about it.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Colour of Crime: Murder in Black and White

Perhaps you have heard of a horrifying crime that occurred in Wichita, Kansas, in December of 2000. The crime has been labeled "The Wichita Massacre," but the horrific details of the crime must be read to be believed.

Most of you will have never heard of this crime. The level of hatred toward the victims revealed by the methods of the perpetrators, is reminiscent of primitive tribal genocide of Palestinians against Israelis, or actions of other violent third world tribes and clans.

But these crimes were committed by the Carr brothers, seen below, against total strangers, in a small city located in a US state that is known for its strong abolitionist views prior to the US civil war. What was the motive???
I have given this Kansas atrocity some thought, and felt that it was an aberration within developed countries such as the US. So it came as a great shock to me to hear about a fairly recent similar crime committed in the small US city of Knoxville, Tennessee.
The rather average looking couple pictured above were described by family members as a “clean-cut and faithful couple—good kids.” What happened to them was not at all average, and not the least bit expected.

The group of five defendants pictured below reveals nothing in their snapshots to suggest the viciousness that was unleashed upon the above couple, out of the blue.

What was their motive? Again, such violence may be commonplace in third world vendettas, and organised crime vendettas. But these crimes had nothing at all to do with such "rational" mindless violence. No, these were total strangers who were chosen for this debased and inhuman violence.
Actually, the most outrageous thing about these crimes is the conspiracy of silence by the US national press, not to report what had happened.

The entire world knows what happened to James Byrd and Matthew Shepherd. News coverage of these vicious crimes was exhaustive and unrelenting for years, and are still frequently referred to by civil rights and gay rights activists.

One may be excused for believing that a high level of black on white violent crime does not exist in the US, or that blacks are more frequently the victims of interracial crime than whites. Such is hardly the case--although the US media appears to be united in avoiding an exposure of the true magnitude and asymmetry of interracial crime.

But it is not the magnitude of black on white violent crime that worries me the most. It is not even the silence of the media when it should be confronting this urgent and divisive problem that causes me the most unease. No, the thing that worries me the most is something quite obvious, but never stated. I will let you think about it for a while.