[This is Fred. A lot of folks are depressed right now, and staff asked me to say something positive to the ones who don’t like Donald Trump. I do, by the way; like him that is; but I understand why some don’t. There wasn’t much in either campaign to make anyone – except perhaps, for the occasional sadist or masochist – feel good. Campaign events looked as though they had been scripted by a gamer, who tried to simulate mud wrestling, judo with Molotov cocktails, and nuclear war, all at the same time.  It’s a wonder that either candidate survived to the end! But my job isn’t to relive all that. Instead I’m supposed to look for the positive things that happened this year. The things that should make us all feel better.]

So let’s start with the obvious positive. The campaigns are over! Nobody died, and now we should have blessed silence, perhaps even until the inauguration. Of course there’s some rioting on the left, plus a lot of gloating on the right, but the tone is softening; I hope; and hopefully it will stay that way for a while. Perhaps even the pundits may be quiet. Of course they have to fill up space and time in order to make a living, so I don’t expect them to simply go away. But perhaps they’ll take some time out to develop new ideas. After all, the old ones didn’t work very well.

So are there any other positives?  Sure. No asteroids have struck the Earth so far this year, and none are scheduled to do so between now and December 26th. How do I know that? Well, it’s obvious nothing big has hit so far. Otherwise we would have read about it. Not even our government could hide something like that. But how do I know none are scheduled for the rest of 2016?

The good news is that our government monitors such things and makes an effort to predict what might collide with our planet and when. It does that through our very own National Aeronautics and Space Administration (aka, NASA).[1] The bad news is that, as of now, we know of over 15 thousand objects that might threaten us some day.[2] [Actually as of yesterday the number is closer to 17 thousand.[3]] But the other good news is that none of them are scheduled to arrive in November or December.[4]After that, keep checking the official sites. I know I will.

And, of course, there’s other bad news about these things. If one of them were to threaten us, say next year, we really don’t have a plan for deflecting it from our planet. But the good news is that we and the Europeans are planning space missions for the near term to test some ideas. The bad news is that the missions have yet to be finalized or fully funded. [5]

Getting back to the good news, nothing else currently on the horizon seems to threaten civilization as we know it. Things could be a lot worse. If you read much fiction, you probably have run across a popular genre in modern literature that deals exclusively with the end of civilization, and how people might cope. These books are relatively straightforward. They start with a catastrophic event that basically shuts down modern society. It might be a nuclear war; an economic collapse that leads to riot and/or a general breakdown of the social order; an interruption of the oil supply [unlikely today in view of the current oil glut] that does the same thing; a massive volcanic eruption somewhere in the area of the Yellowstone National Park[6]; a coronal mass ejection from our sun, or a high-altitude nuclear explosion, either of which might fry modern electronics and the systems that depend on them[7]; an unbelievably devastating hacker attack that does the same; and so forth.

None of these dangers loom on the horizon today, although I suppose one or more could appear on short notice. But to me the books are important because they’re windows to our collective unconscious. The plot lines are all the same. First: Something happens, then the electricity goes out, and transportation breaks down; Second: When the transportation goes, people in the U.S. begin to realize that they live mostly in cities, and the cities won’t be supplied with essentials, like food; and Third, hungry people get nasty. Generally in these books there’s a great blood-letting in the cities, the population migrates or succumbs to predation, and only the ones who prepared in advance for disaster survive. Have I mentioned that these are also known as “prepper” books?

If you look around the internet, you’ll see lots of reasons to worry about the food supply, and what might happen to it. Modern society is only “nine meals from anarchy,” or so the saying goes.[8] On the other hand, it’s also true that people can fast for long periods. In the Irish Hunger Strike of 1981, for example, some fasting prisoners survived without food for 46 to 73 days, before they died.[9]  For more modern [and less extreme] examples, I suppose it would be useful to look at what the people of Venezuela are going through since their economy broke down.[10] But we don’t hear much about that, do we?

I agree with the preppers. It would be a very bad thing if our cities don’t get food. If you really worry about that kind of thing, then perhaps you should stockpile some, and probably some ammunition as well. Or perhaps you should just move to the country. Or, if you’re a rich prepper, you might want to buy a prepper condo.

What am I talking about? Well, you see there’s this developer in Texas[11]who is building places for the well-to-do that should survive anything except, perhaps, a direct nuclear attack. If you want to know more, watch the video. It’s at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBhWBXF726g  But remember, these facilities are for the well-to-do, not the truly wealthy. Those folks have Switzerland, after all, and probably don’t need anything else.

And what do you and I have if the balloon goes up? The next life, perhaps? But anyway, none of the really bad stuff has happened; yet; and probably won’t in the near future. And there’s certainly no reason to worry about the really fictional dangers, like zombie attacks. Those live and exist on TV, not in real life, and belong in the trash can along with the polls and prognostications from the last year. And, by the way, so far as I know, nobody has blamed Donald Trump for zombies.

Sure Donald Trump won the election, and you might think that’s bad; but things could be a lot worse. I think we’ve proved that. But why assume the worst? Why not wait to see? It’s Thanksgiving, after all. Relax and enjoy yourselves for the rest of the year. And you Clinton people, plan a comeback if you want to. Mid-terms are in two years.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

[1] See NASA at https://www.nasa.gov/

[2] See NASA/JPL, Catalog of Known Near-Earth Asteroids Tops 15,000 (October 27, 2016), available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6664

[3] See The Washington Post, Kaplan, Scientists hope the seize an opportunity to knock a nearby asteroid off course (November 22, 2016) at p. A2.

[4] See NASA/JPL, Near Earth Object Program, Close Approach Tables (updated daily), available at http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/

[5] See n. 3.

[6] See the Wikipedia entry on the Yellowstone Caldera, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowstone_Caldera

[7] See the Wikipedia entry on Electromagnetic Pulse, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_pulse

[8] According to my sources, it was coined by the English, more specifically by an official who was active in Tony Blair’s Government. “But that was the expression coined by Lord Cameron of Dillington, a farmer who was the first head of the Countryside Agency  –  the quango set up by Tony Blair in the days when he pretended to care about the countryside  –  to describe just how perilous Britain’s food supply actually is.” See Mail Online, Boycott, Nine meals from anarchy – how Britain is facing a very real food crisis (6 June 2008), available at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1024833/Nine-meals-anarchy–Britain-facing-real-food-crisis.html

[9] See the Wikipedia entry on Fasting at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasting

[10] See PBS, Venezuelans face collapsing economy, starvation and crime (June 21, 2016), available at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/venezuelans-face-collapsing-economy-starvation-and-crime/

[11] See CBS/DFW, Texas Community Goes Underground for Doomsday Prep (Nov. 11, 2016), available at http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2016/11/11/texas-community-goes-underground-for-doomsday-prep/  “An investor group is planning for a doomsday scenario by building a $300 million luxury community replete with underground homes. There will also be air-lock blast doors designed for people worried about a dirty bomb or other disaster and off-grid energy and water production.”

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