Is this a winter-is-coming thing, or an Obama-is-deploying-the-black-helicopters thing?
moe99 said on November 7, 2009 at 2:45 pm
Thought of Hank Steuver and Tinsel when I saw this photograph:
brian stouder said on November 7, 2009 at 2:52 pm
You know, over the past month or two I had two occasions for extended windshield time, out and back across Illinois (twice) and Iowa and into Nebraska – and while you rack mile after mile after mile out on the prairie, eventually one cannot help but notice that Right Wing Talk Radio is a dull constant across the dial. When you tire of Top 40, and the NPR signal gives out, and the occasional SportsTalk outlet fades, there’s always Glenn or Rush or Sean, right there to pick up the slack.*
At one such juncture, I heard the craziest one of them (Beck) doing a commercial for “food insurance”. This caught my ear; the product he was hawking was apparently a two week supply of MRE’s, complete with a little cooker.
The pitch was overtly about dealing with “weather emergencies” or what have you – but the dog-whistle part was something like ‘security in uncertain times’
The funniest thing, though, are the local rightwing cranks and Beck-wannabes; I heard a guy in Iowa angrily defending himself against the charge that he was anti-French! As his local callers kept at him, he averred that when he referred to President Obama as our first French president, he meant no disprespect to anyone who is, you know, French; but instead he only meant that Obama was a coward and a liar, like the (you know) damned French! – who, we should remember, we saved twice!!
And so on.
*Chris Matthews often (and astutely) points out that talk radio seems to exist for the territorial sales guys who pound up and down the interstates day after day; a sort of colorful soft core porno substitute for boring (and inconveniently grey) analysis. By comparison, the Sports Talk guys are much more analytical and even-handed; they’ll disect statistics and drill-down through comparisons of this player or that, and apply (and argue the validity) of historic comparisons…..while the political guys go straight to the money shots and racey poses (like “Death Panels” and “Communists” and “UnConstitutional usurpers”)
edit: this is worth a laugh –
beb said on November 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm
Does this come with the wind-up flashlight w/ built in Am/FM radio? And is the item displayed about the “Be” in Be Prepared a condom? Nothing says be prepared like having a 3 year old condom floating around in your survival pack.
Kirk said on November 7, 2009 at 5:41 pm
I wonder whether those kits might somehow come in handy after the White House reveals the existence of space aliens. I liked that story.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 7, 2009 at 6:32 pm
Oh, c’mon — NPR constantly pushes the hand-crank emergency radio as a “thank you gift” for your $120 pledge. It’s got more traction than just apocalypticism; it’s the American romance of self-reliance. An illusion, occasionally a dangerous one, but a fancy that even Emerson indulged in.
Plus, you can charge up your cell phone with the crank.
brian stouder said on November 7, 2009 at 7:03 pm
No doubt, Nance has already read this – but here’s a link to an interesting Wall Street Journal article on “How to Write a Great Novel”, and which climaxes with friend-of-NN.c Laura Lippman’s method, at
It DOES sort of fit the emergency survival kit theme.
Two conflicting excerpts:
She [Anne Rice] sets her font to 14 point Courier and double spaces the text on her 30-inch Mac computer monitor so that her field of vision is filled with words. “I find the bigger the monitor, the better the concentration,” says Ms. Rice, who is writing the third book in her trilogy about angels. She edits her work continuously, down to tiny copy-editing changes at the end. “Even after you’ve done all that, somebody out there will find a typo and think you’re a slob,” she says.
Other times, when he’s[Colum McCann] re-reading a bit of dialogue or trying to tweak a character’s voice, he’ll reduce the computer font to eight-point Times New Roman. “It forces me to peer at the words and examine why they’re there,” Mr. McCann wrote in an email message. Changing the way the words look physically gives him more critical distance, he says.
Danny said on November 7, 2009 at 7:38 pm
I remember that Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining paid attention to the way his words looked physically.
All work and no play makes Nance a dull girl!
Cathie from Canada said on November 7, 2009 at 7:44 pm
Actually, I think this is the new thing for disaster preparation — promoting the idea that people should be prepared to be on their own (ie, without any government help, no electricity, no running water, no furnace, no police) for three days, rather than anticipating that somebody will be coming by to help them out right away.
You can put together your own survival kit, or a number of companies now sell these — the Canadian Red Cross has several types for sale on their website here
Where I live, there’s not a great deal that goes wrong regularly — we seldom lose our power, no hurricanes, no earthquakes, etc — but its still worthwhile to think about what might happen here, like a blizzard, and we could do with our pets, where the water shutoff valves are for the house, etc.
paddyo' said on November 7, 2009 at 7:58 pm
With apologies to Jesus Christ, who said this about the poor, “The survivalist wingnuts will be with us always.”
Remember what Y2K did to the emergency-cache-of-food-and-water-and-fuel-and-cyanide-pills-and-ESPECIALLY-guns-and-ammo crowd? “Red Dawn,” baby, endlessly looping through their loopy brain cases.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 7, 2009 at 8:06 pm
The poor in imagination will be with us always.
coozledad said on November 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm
I don’t know if self reliance is so much an illusion as a luxury. If you had the good fortune to be situated on a well managed family farm during the depression, you ate while others starved. It’s partially a luxury of birth, having that food-producing soil dumped in your lap, partially an inclination to use your head, and resist the call of cash that wiped out the fragile soil of Oklahoma.
My folks were bitchers. They were able to grow greens and shoot deer and squirrels during the lean years. They sold timber they cut off their place and had cash out the ass, but the ten children were genetically programmed to squabble, and they made their little slice of the world a hell.
There’s a depression psychology that just gripes me. The reverence for a fucking car. The cult of acquisition of shitty manufactured goods that have a vaguely useful life of two or three years, tops. The incessant bitching about a deprived childhood. Fuck them. They were living at the cusp of the Eden of North American natural resources, and they selfishly and stupidly blew it. They remembered being cold, so they reformed vernacular architecture toward Stalinist blocks of hyperheated red brick shitholes. Education had been forced on them, so they rebelled and made suck TV the linchpin of the culture. They began putting their artists and authors in jail. Fuck them again. They won WWII, and that’s a good thing, but apparently they did. not. know. why. And the ones who figured it out were shut out of home loans by HUAC.
paddyo' said on November 7, 2009 at 9:46 pm
Indeed, Cooze, I was just reading a very good piece in Harper’s about the Depression . . . the effect on people was huge: 20 percent of the population had no work, etc., etc. But a LOT of people did very, very well — or, at least, lived comfortably through that awful time.
I’m not denigrating those times, just noting that survival then had none of the trappings of survival-IST now. The level of suspicion among people who have had it so good for so long (even now, especially now) is just, well, crazy.
brian stouder said on November 7, 2009 at 10:41 pm
The level of suspicion among people who have had it so good for so long (even now, especially now) is just, well, crazy.
Have you been watching C-SPAN tonight? As the vote on the House healthcare reform bill approaches, things have become somewhat crazy there, too. They spent an hour and a half arguing over an ammendment specifically intended to define and proscribe one particular (and legal) procedure doctors and their patients can implement (abortion); the Republicans and some conservative Democrats – who rant on and on about “government intrusions” and “healthcare takeover” and “death-boards” and “bureaucracy” – these very people were lining up to argue for and VOTE for specific governmental intrusion and loss of liberty, and FOR bureacratic control and indeed a flatly sexist assault upon a legal procedure, according to the dictates of what they perceive to be a right-understanding of morality and righteousness (talk about a “czar” attitude)….and of course, the bozo from Indiana (Mike Pence) rose to speak in FAVOR of the ammendment even as he flatly stated that he’ll vote AGAINST the bill, whether or not his ammendment succeeds!!
LAMary said on November 8, 2009 at 1:15 am
Here in the land of seismic activity, having stuff like that kit is not at all unusual. Ask Danny or Michael.
Dexter said on November 8, 2009 at 4:22 am
Survival here involves surviving pumpkin attacks. A 50 yr. old man is in an Ypsilanti hospital , struck by 3 orange attack fruits, one of which pierced his windshield.
These attacks happen all the time around S.E. Michigan. Cretins toss or shove chunks of concrete , pumpkins,once an old bowling ball, through cars’s windows below overpasses.
coozledad said on November 8, 2009 at 9:45 am
A kid threw a cinderblock off an overpass down here a few years ago and killed a young woman. While he was in detention, he electrocuted himself with a power drill in a freak accident.
I inherited a kind of terror of being in a car from my mother. Every time my dad would pass a semi on the freeway she’d visibly tense up. He’d just laugh and tell her to pull the seatcovers out of her ass.
Once you’ve been in a wreck, you figure out it makes perfect sense to be terrified to drive.
paddyo' said on November 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm
And don’t forget to batten down that gas-fueled water heater, too, LA Mary . . . and have that wrench somewhere handy to turn off the gas main outside.
Although I grew up in the LA ‘burbs, we moved away (1967) before the 20th century’s biggest quakes there and, thus, never were indoctrinated. But I went back 20-some years later as a newspaper reporter to write about that very thing — preparedness against the next earthquake. As I recall, the biggest issue for the emergency preparedness folks (and this applies in hurricane country, tornado country, wildfire country, name-your-own-post-9/11-disaster-scenario country) was and is getting people to KEEP their guard up.
As an epilogue, I’ll add that none of this sensible preparedness ever included hoarding firearms ammo, a story that periodically sprays us in predictably semi-automatic bursts. I think the Wash Post was the most recent to pull that trigger, a week or so ago . . . no doubt many of those pinheads consider Obama the biggest disaster, natural or otherwise, in human history.
nancy said on November 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm
Whenever there’s a hurricane approaching, which leads to the usual run on Home Depot’s plywood supplies, I wonder why people in hurricane-prone areas don’t keep a set of window protection on hand, cut to measure for each window, labeled and with eye hooks installed. Hurricane coming? Get the ladder out, and it’s a few hours work.
The Floridians I’ve asked about this all say the same things: Most people don’t have garages to store them; carpenter ants and dry rot, etc.
Of course, native Floridians of a much older generation built their houses with storm shutters in place. Newer ones live in houses identical to ones built in Indiana.
Overpass missiles are enough of a problem here that almost all pedestrian bridges have high fences that curve inward at the top. I thought they were suicide barriers, but no. (Or, “yes, but also.”)
ROgirl said on November 8, 2009 at 1:20 pm
I used to travel to Florida for work, and I was there once when a huge hurricane was forming in the Atlantic and threatening to hit the state. Panic mode kicked in, and schools closed, which caused the plant that I was visiting to close. I was in Ocala, and people were worried that it would hit them, but when I asked someone the last time a hurricane had hit Ocala (which is about as inland as you can get in Florida), he said it was in the 1920’s. The airport (Orlando) was going to close because the airlines were moving all their planes out, and I managed to get a seat on one of the last flights out, a 7 am flight that I had to drive 3 hours for. The toll booths on the Florida Turnpike were wide open because the coast was being evacuated. The hurricane ended up moving north and mostly missing Florida, but it did a lot of flood damage in North Carolina.
Deborah said on November 8, 2009 at 1:38 pm
Having grown up in Miami, I lived through a number of hurricanes. We and all of our neighbors had shutters or masonite window coverings that we stored and were mounted in place when the warnings were issued. Our houses were built of plastered cement block, super sturdy. Back then Dade county had the strictest building codes. By the time I was in high school people were building more and more frame and brick houses which was nuts. There were always people living in trailer parks and they were forever getting totally demolished. I guess some people had no other options.
beb said on November 8, 2009 at 1:56 pm
Jeff(TMMO) You can see how often I listen to NPR that I didn’t know they used those hand-crank flashlight/radios as a subscription premium. While I have no idea what’s in one of those survival kits each winter I hear enough stories about people, elsewhere, being stuck in a snow drift in their cars for days on end so a kit with blankets, food, light and fire aid supplies seems like a reasonable think. Especially here in Detroit where they don’t plow the streets….
It’s good tp know that you can charge your cell phone with one of those hand-crank flash lights but what I want it to be able to recharge my laptop since if I’m going to be stuck in my car for several days I’ll need something to do. Although I suppose the internet connect is pretty spotty down in a ditch.
beb said on November 8, 2009 at 2:02 pm
Deborah, Carl Hiassan wrote about that in one of his books (Stormy Weather) basically the builders were scam artists gulling snowbirds who didn’t understand about the local weather. I never understood who governments in hurricane or flood regions allowed people to build houses that weren’t hurricane or flood proof. Sure it would be “bad for business” as if the flooding/hurricanes aren’t as well.
brian stouder said on November 8, 2009 at 2:13 pm
Well, let’s see.
If I lived in Southern California or some other earthquake zone, where infrastructure could become partially or totally inoperable, what would I keep around?
Freeze-dried MREs and the like don’t make a lot of sense to me, since our cubboards are already full of canned items that could be made to last for a week or so. And if our home was destroyed in the quake, I’d lose my Glen Beck-approved stash of survivalist stuff anyway.
As for wild fires and hurricanes – huge rolling disasters that give you hours (or days) to run for your life, I’d run for my life. Certainly, battening down the homestead before abandoning it would be a good idea – especially in the case of having 72 hours or more of notice, when a hurricane approaches.
As for tornadoes and the like – the sort of disaster that most often hits around here – you get very little notice, and the destruction tends to be fairly narrow – so that infrastructure-failure is not a real concern.
In my lifetime, we’ve had one almighty blizzard and few lesser ones, plus an intense ice-storm or two; events that disrupted infrastructure. Cupboards full of the usual stuff, canned fruit and veggies and dry items – is really all anyone needs. Generators have a certain cachet, but those things can kill you several different ways (noxious fumes and electrical ground faults, chiefly; not to mention the need to keep lots of gasoline around, and the attendant problems there)
By way of saying, these “how do we specifically profit from fear” marketing deals are mostly bullshit – when they aren’t complete bullshit, in my opinion. (I recall the Proprietress telling us about her husband rolling his eyes in disgust at some USA-Today-type sidebar about being prepared for winter [or some such], with insightful tips such as “buy a shovel and an ice scraper”, etc)
PS – and having said that, the New Madrid fault will shift, and Fort Wayne will become a smoldering ruin, and my lights will go out and my cell phone will die and as my last Rice Krispy is swallowed by the young folks, some might say “SEE!! SEE!! He coulda’ had freeze-dried food and water purifiers, and made it another week at least! And, a few firearms and some ammo woulda’ made him militia captain of the block…” etc etc
coozledad said on November 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm
My wife has fond memories of developers who built entire subdivisions on dry lakebeds in Florida. The lakes eventually returned.
Rana said on November 8, 2009 at 4:34 pm
I suspect that the survival kit is actually a partial response to H1N1 fears. I was listening to something the other day (can’t recall whether it was tv or NPR) and there was a PSA about getting vaccinated, washing your hands, and making sure that your survival kit was up to date.
It struck me as a bit of fear-mongering – yes, if there’s a major epidemic one should anticipate having to stay home and not go out and mingle among the panicked at the Kroger – but the idea that this is (a) likely and (b) is going to turn into one of those hide-in-the-basement-with-the-shotgun situations is silly.
That said, I do think having some sort of survival set up isn’t a bad idea. I think though that one should look to the Mormons’ example instead of the freeze-dried MRE survivalist approach: store food and supplies, but store food and supplies that are things you’d be eating normally, and rotate them through. That way when the disaster comes, you’re not staring at a batch of identical MREs, soy flour and 15-year-old canned Treet.
LAMary said on November 8, 2009 at 5:08 pm
Brian, I have my stash of canned food and other foods that don’t need refrigeration or need water to prepare. Figure no water, no electricity, no roads. Whenever there’s a quake somewhere else, you notice a lot of people in line at the store have flashlights and batteries in their carts. The stores run out of the big jugs of water as well.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 8, 2009 at 6:28 pm
And in the Midwest, think 1811 and New Madrid. We’ve got our own Big One due to recur. A few cans of beans (and an opener) will come in handy.
Deborah said on November 8, 2009 at 7:12 pm
One thing I remember about my childhood in Miami, FL is that when there were hurricane threats the community bonded. Kind of pathetic that it takes a catastrophe for that to happen, but happen it did. Being in line at the grocery story buying staples that would get you through the lack of power for a couple of days was thrilling compared to the monotonous way it usually plodded along. Neighbors talked to neighbors who never usually did that. And because we had the added benefit of missing school it was particularly exhilarating. That could be part of the reason that we actually like a crisis. It makes life so much more interesting in a sick and twisted way.
Deborah said on November 8, 2009 at 7:14 pm
why is the word catastrophe split into cat strophe when I posted my comment?
brian stouder said on November 8, 2009 at 7:49 pm
Well, now it’s catastro and phe; sort of a Cuban twang in there.
Pam pointed the following story out to me, and it made me think of someone here (Dexter?) – who sometimes writes about his trusty old VW microbus. Plus – it made me say “Huh!”
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – A Volkswagen van stolen 35 years ago in Washington state has been found in a shipping container at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport.
Customs agents found the 1965 van on Oct. 19 when they opened a shipping container bound for The Netherlands, The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported. They ran the vehicle identification number and discovered it was listed as stolen. Law officers said the van, which is in great shape, was stolen from an upholstery shop in Spokane on July 12, 1974 — while Spokane was hosting the 1974 World’s Fair
brian stouder said on November 8, 2009 at 8:29 pm
pssssst! A favorite polling source for other wingnuts with a profit motive is Strategic Vision. Ol’ Nate Silver over at fivethirtyeight.com has the goods on them; turns out that when Strategic Vision doesn’t ‘have their thumb on the scale, they flat-out make stuff up.
Maybe Sean Hannity/Glen Beck/other Fox idealogues will rush to apologize for all the crap they’ve trafficked in from Strategic Vision, over the past months and years…or not
Jean S said on November 8, 2009 at 11:42 pm
grew up in Miami, went through the 1989 SF and 1994 LA earthquakes…even so, I can’t stand the “dangerdangerWillRobinson!!!” vibe of that Costco pack. Way too Y2K. For once, the Mormons make some sense.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 9, 2009 at 12:08 am
Hello — if you missed the first run-thru of “Mad Men”, this is well worth the next 40 minutes (it’s a short ep, and season finale, and what a finale).
TV insert claims it will also run again at 10:15 tomorrow night, EDT. Much grist for the mill.
Dorothy said on November 9, 2009 at 11:34 am
beb if you double click on the picture of the survival package, you’ll see that’s not a condom, but an icon explaining that it contains drinking water.
If you had a condom in there it would take some of the fun out of whiling away the time while you’re trying to survive, wouldn’t it?!
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