Doomsday Preppers

Posted on 05/04/2020 in misc

Like everybody else, the pandemic is "top of mind" 24 x 7 for me. I'm writing to help myself not internalize all of it. You can find other posts in the series at https://odonnellweb.com/pelican/tag/coronavirus.html

May the 4th be with you.

And also with you.

I started a new audiobook on my walk today, Notes From An Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back, by Mark O’Connell. Mark is an Irish journalist who got obsessed with the idea of the coming apocalypse, which led him down the rabbit hole of Doomsday Preppers. Like any good writer, he turned his obsession into a book pitch and spent a year flying around the world interviewing preppers to write this book.

He said something in the intro chapter which really made a lot of sense. These guys (it’s pretty much 100% white guys) are not prepping for their worst nightmare, the end of the world. They are prepping for their fantasy world, the return of a world where the ability to field dress a deer or construct a toilet from spare parts or protect their women from the raving hordes of “urban” terrorists (it’s always urban terrorists, which you should absolutely read as “not white”) will put them back on top of society where they think they belong. These manly men spend every last penny “prepping” because they can’t actually deal with living in society. Prepping is not a statement about the future, it’s a statement about the present. They reject the basic idea of civilization, that we have a shared destiny, and a shared responsibility.

You might have also noticed these same white guys are absolutely losing their shit after sheltering in-place with Netflix and air-conditioning for 6 weeks. So we can probably assume they won’t last 7 days in an actual apocalypse.

Something else one of them said was revealing too. More revealing than he intended I’m sure. This guy claims to have been Army intelligence in the Middle East, and he stated that the most important thing he learned from being in a country falling apart is that refugees suffer the most in a disaster. He is not wrong. However, he fails to square his self-professed deep and committed Christianity with his absolute lack of interest of doing anything to help the plight of refugees and maybe help the position of all of us in the process. Nope - his attitude is to make sure he never becomes the refugee, and he’s not worried about hurting a few people in the process.

Just like Jesus would expect of him, right?

He also failed to note that his presence there was the reason the country was falling apart in the first place. But that is a different blog post, and one I probably already wrote if you dig far enough back in the archives.

All that said, their paranoia about the fragility of a complex, global supply chain is proving to have some basis in reality.

In other news, Governor Northam announced today that Virginia can enter into Phase 1 opening on May 15 if current trends continue.

Phase I looks like this:

• Safer at home - especially if you are vulnerable

• No social gatherings of more than 10 individuals

• Continued social distancing

• Continued teleworking

• Face coverings recommended in public

• Easing limits on business and faith communities

Phase I: Guidelines for all businesses

• Physical distancing

• Enhanced cleaning and disinfection

• Enhanced workplace safety

So he is basically gambling that we can keep R=1 with loosened restrictions. Virginia was still increasing as of the end of last week. Maybe we peaked over the weekend, maybe we didn’t. I’d want to see a few more days of data before deciding anything, but I’m not a politician. The thing about R=1 is we are dealing with exponential growth, so R=1.05 isn’t just a tiny bit worse, it’ll be thousands of additional deaths on a national level.

BTW, Trump’s internal projections have nationwide deaths increasing to 3000 per day by the end of the month. If you do the math you also see that his new 100,000 death estimate is horseshit. We’ll be there before end of May, before the death rate even starts to scale back. It’s looking more like 150,000 dead in 3-4 months. This also means that the odds of somebody close to me dying from Covid-19 are very real. I’ll probably be more angry than sad when that happens, because it’s likely to be a self-inflicted wound.