Here’s something you probably don’t think about. All dna that lives today is the product of uncounted generations of survival in a hostile environment that is rigged in favor of the fittest. So whatever dna you are walking around with – with such mutations as occurred in the process – survived competition with its peers, famine and fire, heat and cold, war and oppression, disease and discord, and somehow finagled a way to reproduce itself as well. Congratulations. You are special and more highly designed than you know to survive an upcoming crisis. (Also true of today’s cockroaches of course but let’s not go there.)
The actual point I’d like to make is that the survival mechanism requires being attuned to danger. We are hard-wired to fear heights, to spit out food that is bad, to dislike odors that connote danger. Sudden movement, sudden noise, an animal or a person who is not “acting right” shows up on our radar. That alarm system works for us, and for many other animals, even as we sleep. It can, of course, become dysfunctional – PTSD doesn’t allow one to turn the warnings off – but the fact is that you have those alarms for a purpose. You and your dna would not be here if your ancestors ignored them.
So, I wake in the middle of the night feeling uneasy. I flip on the computer and read on twitter of other people talking about insomnia and their need for Pepto Bismol. At its core their complaint is an unknown; what insanity Trump might tweet or what stunt he might pull. Tomahawks fired after dinner over cake as a “diversion?” Good god! When our bodies react like this, we are listening to millions of years of dna screaming “this is wrong – this guy is dangerous – you must, you must react.”
React how? Some of this is obvious. We must demand accountability from Trump, from our Congress, from our media, from each and everyone who has enabled this travesty. Investigation, impeachment, removal from office of Trump and others. I know you will do your part.
But in the meantime there is a survivalist problem looming: the danger that Trump will lead us into a nuclear exchange or other catastrophic breakdown in society – riots in the cities, the civil war he likes to invoke, police oppression, roundup of dissidents – all that stuff that really happened to civil societies in Europe and Asia in the Twentieth Century. My dna says “a storm is coming”. I find myself checking basements for bomb shelters – my in-laws have a nice “concrete bunker” under the porch – and filling water jugs, and firing up my ham radio (N1GRJ for the record) because – well who knows but that fear in the gut is persistent. You should probably think about it too.
Consider first the vulnerability of our electrical grid. Nowadays, it may fail at the first big snowstorm. Any significant attack by a modern nation will include a cyber attack on the power grid and internet structure. An attack could also include a nuclear EMP bomb setting off an electromagnetic pulse to fry sensitive electronics. So – for an extended period, no power, possibly no water, no conventional communications, no gasoline, and quite possibly cars with fried electrical ignition systems that won’t run. (They got this right in the modern Tom Cruise version of War of the Worlds where the only guy with an operating car has one with a vintage pre-electronic ignition.)
My thought – stockpile some canned goods and water, get yourself a bike, and, if you are feeling motivated – get yourself a radio with a transmitter so you can communicate and will know what is going on. Citizen band will work, but the hams have much greater flexibility and can communicate over distances of hundreds of miles. The radios can be run off batteries for significant periods – but having an electrical generator and gasoline on hand is not a bad idea either. (The first Independence Day movie got this right where the various armies are reduced to communicating by old fashion radios using Morse code.) The National Association for Amateur Radio – ARRL or W1AW – provides the necessary licensing information. Getting a license these days is easy – they eliminated the old Morse code requirements and require only a cursory familiarity with basic electronics for an introductory license. Inexpensive radios are also available.
Another issue is guns. In ordinary times, in the usual suburban society, guns in the house are a much greater statistical threat to the inhabitants than they are a useful protection. (Betsy Devos and bears notwithstanding.) I’d like to see serious gun laws, particularly restrictions on automatic weapons. But in extraordinary times, in times of civil unrest, lacking a weapon has not worked out well. They are little use against an assassin or paramilitary squad, but a reasonable choice if you otherwise need to protect yourself. Your call.
Of course, it is easier for the moment to assume all will be well, Trump’s a clown, and this too will pass. If so, and I hope that is the case, I get to be the nervous Nelly. Then again, what is that crazy asshole up to today? – where’s the Vinson? My dna wants to know.
ps – if you have information to share – good, but not crazy, survival/ civil defense links – pass them along and I will post them. I should research that myself but haven’t got to it yet.