my “go bag” is full of sugar smacks


The last few days have provided a harrowing reminder of just how many things can go wrong in civilized society – not like we needed any more impetus after 9/11, Katrina, Haiti, BP, swine flu, the 2004 tsunami and the like. A few of us were discussing the fact that none of these things seemed to be happening when we were kids. Sure, it was the era of “disaster movies”, but that was the only place you were going to hear about a “tidal wave”.

It begs the overall question: is the world straining under the yaw of its population, or is the 24-hour news cycle just making everything so much more visceral? As I said before, being a parent means staying positive, and that means steering far clear of apocalyptic bullshit, but it also means you’d better have a modicum of emergency preparation.


umm, why is there a whisk in this first aid kit?

So for today’s code word question, I’d like to ask: what crappy environmental or society crisis do you fear most where you live? And after the weekend, we’ll list the three things you can do to help you through each one.

(except zombies)

13 thoughts on “my “go bag” is full of sugar smacks

  1. Matt

    The onset of cable television and 24-hour news has made things only seem worse and more frequent, ala shark attacks. In 1991, a cyclone wiped out the coastline of Bangladesh, killing 130,000. I was there in the aftermath with the USS Tarawa and the 5th MUE distributing food, medical supplies and desalination equipment. Horrible sight. When I got home I was surprised to find that so few had even heard about it. When I relate the story nowadays people think I must be mistaken about the death toll because, they reason, if it were that high surely they would’ve heard about it. Actually, I don’t think the Bangladesh cyclone makes even the top ten worst disasters (in terms of loss of human life) of the 19th and/or 20th century.
    Most feared: nuclear bomb, dirty or conventional (not nuclear reactor accidents, though it is a concern).

  2. wottop

    Matt – A dirty bomb would only have a fatal concentration of radiation for a very small area. It makes it only about as dealy as a conventional bomb. Not really a serious threat from terrorists as they would die from radiation poisoning before they could even deploy it.
    I worry more about my government bickering itself into oblivion.

  3. Bud

    Great story, Matt. I remember reading about the Bangladesh tsunami in Annie Dillard’s book For The Time Being and marveling that such a tragedy could be so easily forgotten.
    Nuclear terrorism is my #1 acute paranoid fear, especially because I’m in the NYC area and would have minutes (at best) to grab who and what I could and flee (probably futilely) for my life. Fortunately, it’s an unlikely scenario.
    Now here’s my not-so-unlikely fear… The availability of cheap fossil fuels has allowed an unprecedented spike in the human population. We don’t have a plan B for abundant, cheap energy. The era of cheap fossil fuels appears to be ending. If so, current population levels will become increasingly unsustainable, potentially leading to mass starvation on an unimaginable scale (Think the Irish potato famine on a global level). This will play out over decades. The first signs, sharply rising energy prices, quickly leading to sharply rising prices for everything else (especially food) are already here. We need a technological miracle at this point, something like nuclear fusion or a major solar breakthrough… otherwise I fear we’re in for possibly the worst long nightmare humanity has ever seen.

  4. Bud

    (um, I meant the Bangladesh *cyclone*, although I understand the storm surge did inflict damage similarly to a tsunami)

  5. CM

    Wait, you really don’t remember all the crap that happened as kids? Skylab, Three Mile Island, radioactive watches & glow-in-the dark toys my mom made me throw away? The energy crisis? These were man-made disasters, maybe not the same kind, but similar. There was probably other stuff I can’t remember right offhand, ‘cuz I was too busy listening to “Le Chic” and “Hot Child in the City” on the AM to pay attention to all the news that filtered in between, but there was definitely stuff going on. It seems like one generation did get a break – the late 80s/early 90s Gen Y kids who grew up during the Clinton era of good feelings before 9/11. They got a good economy and not really too many disasters. But that’s when the terrorist attack brought all of us back to reality.
    As for today…nuclear plants still worry me. And dirty bombs.

  6. CM

    If you’re wanting for non-man-made disasters of our youth, Hurricane Belle smacked into us in the Northeast, a rare direct hit for Long Island – but they probably got worse stuff elsewhere. And wasn’t there a swine flu scare during the Ford administration? And what about that Acquired Immune Deficiency thing people started talking about?

  7. GFWD

    Craighill, a loss in the semi-final would suck. A loss for the championship would end the rivalry. If we lost, I would have to give up collegiate basketball.
    If we won, I would get the score tattooed. And from that day forward, if I ever entered into a debate with a dookie, I’d humor them for a while then I’d break out that tattoo. It would be like the H-bomb that quelled all that noise in WWII. Hell, in my case, I’d even call the tattoo my “Fat Man”, in honor of the first bomb dropped, cause that would end all debate.
    And then I’d go find another dookie to engage and let the scenario repeat. I would probably do that once or twice a day. Forever.
    I honestly think that would make me happy for the rest of my life.

  8. edwardo

    My greatest fear is some type of global pandemic. I see it as much more likely than any of the man-made scenarios. With our global inter-connectedness there will be basically nothing we can do to stop it and we elect Stephen King (if he’s still alive0 as president of Neo-America since he is the only one with practical experience in that type of environment.
    Aside: the 24 hour news-hype cycle makes all of this so much worse. It would be nice if FOX News and MSNBC acted like a set of noise cancelling headphones, but instead the combination is so much worse.

  9. jp

    Here in Oregon I’m pretty much terrified by the possibility of the “Big One,” which is apparently due any day now. I find this particularly worrisome given my background on the East Coast, where hurricanes give us plenty of warning. I’m also vexed that I worked on the other side of the river from where my kids spend the day and where we live.
    Best not to think about it.

  10. jje

    I don’t want to imagine what leads up to it, but my biggest fear is ending up in some kind of post-apocalyptic situation a la Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
    I really, really should not have read that book. Twice.
    If The Road ever becomes The Reality, I’m checking out in the first round (and hope my family will agree to go along with me). I’d want no part of me or mine living such a desperate, horrifying, and utterly meaningless existence like the one depicted in the book.

  11. Summer

    chemical warfare, because it’s already happening on American Gulf shores and has been for over 9 months and either they’re doing a smashing job of covering it up and/or nobody gives a shit. over 200 aborted baby dolphins washed up on shore in the Gulf since this year started (and the average number for this time of year is 2), not to mention all the massive fish kills they don’t mention in the news. 32 confirmed human miscarriages in just one county in Louisiana, so that means hundreds in Dixie. Several chemically-poisoned folks have already dropped dead, and c-130s full of Corexit rattle houses all along Gulf Shores, at night when nobody can photograph them.
    the first thing i thought when i evacuated from the Gulf over to this farm in NorCal and saw the greenhouse: “Oh good, there’s a roof, so when the planes come, not all the food will be poisoned.” so that’s where my head is at. Flinchy at low-flying planes the way Vietnam vets hate helicopter noises. score one for corporate America!
    (other than that, life is actually super good, long time no talk, miss you Liam and Tessa, still never met Lucy and that needs to change!) xoxo summer
    p.s. on the “life is good” tip, the worst thing that can happen to this country already happened long ago, and don’t make the mistake of thinking it was an accident: Demoralization. People who have been demoralized can know the facts and get outraged and still not manage to do anything about it, not until they’re one meal away from revolution, anyway…

  12. Anne

    Hurricane with massive tidal surge or tsunami.
    We live at sea level in a flood plain at the top of a long bay that acts as a funnel during tidal surges. The Hurricane of ’38 wiped out three streets’ worth of houses on what is now vacant land across the street from us.
    While we moved here 4 years ago knowing the risk of property damage, the video footage from the Japan tsunami makes me worry about our ability to actually get out of water range if an earthquake spawned a tsunami without much notice.
    Hurricanes, we can prepare for and evacuate. Freakish speeding waves that would overwhelm our little peninsula, not so much.

  13. Bob

    I worry about someone setting off a dirty bomb somewhere in the US, not because it could do much damage in and of itself, but because it would set off a societal chain reaction that would effectively destroy our democracy.
    Remember the old discussions among war strategists about how many nuclear weapons it would take to destroy civilization? Would it take 10, 100, 500? By looking at mortality rates and destruction of infrastructure, the experts were asking the wrong question. The correct question, I think, is this: how many nukes (or their weaker cousins, dirty bombs) would it take for us to shred the Constitution out of fear for our safety? If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that taking down 4 airplanes, two buildings, and a wing of a third was enough to put us well down that path; a dirty bomb would probably finish the job.
    Short of an asteroid headed straight at us, I can’t think of anything that could destroy the US without our help. FDR was right on that score.

  14. Mark

    Floods and tornadoes. We’ve been through both already. Tornadoes, we expect. The flood, we did not. The flood last year wiped us out in fact, and were it not for my habit of waking up early on weekends to play NCAA football on the playstation I may not have been able to get my family out in time.
    As for preparedness, I have an ace, my wife, who comes from Japan. She’s made an emergency pack. We have way more first aid ready than you, lad, just no whisk.
    The truly important item I don’t take care of is the portable radio b/c it’s something that doesn’t get used often. It is important though to have that line of communication even if it is one way because seems to me cell phone communication is not reliable enough.

  15. Mark

    THE ROAD depressed me somewhat for a few hours after I finished but it was not as depressing as the movie, depressing to have lost that two hours of my life.


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