What’s Happening at the Library: The end is near! Time to prepare!

Published 8:02 am Monday, January 30, 2017

By John Maruskin

Clark County Public Library

Last week I read an incredible, absolutely flabbergasting article in the Jan. 30 New Yorker entitled “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich: Some of the wealthiest people in America — in Silicon Valley, New York and beyond — are getting ready for the crackup of civilization.” And by “crack-up,” they don’t mean laughter.

In it, the author, Evan Osnos, described how rollin’-in-it hedge fund managers and Silicon Valley execs are spending millions, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars buying land in New Zealand or luxury condos in up-cycled nuclear blast-proof missile silos in North Dakota to survive the collapse of civilization, whether by bomb, mob or electromagnetic pulse. Turns out survivalist techniques are a growth industry. But to what end? And I do mean end.

I’ve often claimed the Clark County Public Library has materials for every interest, so I went to the stacks to see what’s available for aficionados of apocalypse and I found a shelf-load. Here are just a few.

For an overview of the subject there’s “The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse” by Sam Sheridan (call # 613.6 Sher). Seems fatherhood sent Mr. Sheridan into despair because he was unprepared for the spectrum of apocali he envisioned, from atom bombs to zombies. Every scenario, he finds, needs a different skill set and gear cache. The lesson here is to pick your apocalypse carefully.

My friend, Bet Ison, tells me cable channels feature sales of “Doomsday Prepper Kits.” (Ah, for the good old days when a Doomsday Prepper was just a frat boy in appalling plaid pants). If you’re a fan of canned food, take a look at the “The Complete Survival Manual: Special Doomsday Preppers Edition: Expert Tips for Surviving Calamity, Catastrophe, and the End of the World,” by Michael S. Sweeney (call # 613.69). Although, seems to me “end of the world,” by definition, makes survival moot.

For more prosaic forms of disaste, there’s Lisa Bedford’s “Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios,” (call #613.69 Bedf). Ms. Bedford reveals ways to prepare for worst-case scenarios from a few days without electricity to “total chaos.” This book contains inspiring marginalia like: “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my children may have peace.” — Thomas Paine. Although Paine’s sentiment is also moot if “trouble” is the end of the world.

Last, but not least, at least not while civilization merely trembles instead of ends, there’s “Spy Secrets that can Save Your Life” by Jason Hanson (call # 613.69 Hans). This book can teach you how to, among other things, “disappear without a trace” and “create an escape and evasion kit and the critical items to include in it” although the latter seems unnecessary once you can accomplish the former.

While you’re contemplating TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It) remember, for movers and shakers, the end is just an opportunity. Steve Huffman, the 36 year old founder and CEO of Reddit, the billionaire prepper at the center of Osnos’ article has this post-apocalyptic vision.

“Being around other people is a good thing. I also have this somewhat egotistical view that I’m a pretty good leader. I will probably be in charge, or at least not a slave, when push comes to shove.”

Slave?

As Kentucky Poet Laureate James Baker Hall used to say,  “Wrap your mind around that.”

Stewart Brand, the founder of The Whole Earth Catalog, was also interviewed for Osnos’ article. He finds the end of the world a “strange” idea. Brand said, “The easy question is, ‘How do I protect me and mine?’ The more interesting question is, ‘What if civilization actually manages continuity as well as it has managed it for the past few centuries? What do we do if it just keeps on chugging?’”

Good question. Come to the library where you can find your own answers.