This article was inspired by a multi-pronged adventure I recently took. I flew out to Chicago, took a train ride to Seattle, and then flew back to Houston. I was shocked at the varying levels of security I had to go through for each leg of my journey, and I pondered the other journeys I’ve taken in the past. In essence, the security protocols and requirements are different for the various modes of transportation either by: plane, train, bus, ship… and car.
Air-travel requires the most extensive security out of all modes of travel. My first encounter with airport security was with a not-so-nice TSA agent who acted like I was a waste of his time for not knowing every single post-Covid security protocol.
Before Covid took over the planet, I considered myself a veteran traveler and was shocked when this agent chastised me for wearing my facemask in a crowded line.
Can you believe that?!
Actually, he needed to see my face to verify my identity and chastised me for not using a 3rd hand to take off my mask fast enough for him to keep his part of the line moving efficiently. Unfortunately, my first hand was giving him my ID and my second hand was placing my barcode on the reader. Naturally, I should have evolved that 3rd hand to pull my mask down to reveal my true identity.
After you get through the ID guy, you need to get your luggage scanned. Not only that, but you need to take your shoes off to be scanned… thanks to Richard Reid (aka the “Shoe Bomber”). But that’s not all you need to put into a tray to get scanned, you must also take every electronic device out of your bags. That means: phone, Bluetooth keyboard, tablet/Kindle, Switch or other mobile devices.
While your stuff is getting scanned, you need to get scanned too. You now need to step into a booth and place your feet onto yellow foot prints, while trying not to think about catching a foot fungus as you raise your hands above your head.
You somehow manage to get through the security checkpoint and are putting your shoes on, when you see an armored officer walk a drug/bomb-sniffing dog. That dog is the last part of ground-based airport security, but there’s a couple more layers of security to keep in mind while you’re up in the air. While you’re in the plane and flying over the country, the pilot is safely locked behind a bulletproof bulkhead, and there’s a possibility a Sky Marshal may be flying with you to thwart any pesky touristic-terrorist.
That’s 6 layers of security at our airports. Airports must truly be the safest and most secure locations on the planet.
Let’s see how other modes of transportation match up.
The last couple times I took the train, there was literally NO security at the train major stations I’ve boarded the train on. Your luggage does not get scanned at all. Amtrak reserves the right to randomly search your bags, but I’ve never seen it happen.
Most often there’s no security either. Some of the major stations will have a drug-sniffing dog run through randomly. Other than that, it’s up to the maintenance people to kick out homeless or violent people.
So basically, you may get a K-9 unit and a janitor as your security guard… and the janitor is definitely not getting paid enough to double-duty as security (so be thankful).
Do you truly need more security while traveling on a train? Meh… I guess not because you can’t fly a train into a building. But consider how anyone can easily sneak a weapon on a train. I mean, the worst that can happen is a mass gunman kills a bunch of people while the train moves 65 MPH on the track, out in the middle of nowhere.
Nice knowing you, Grandma.
Traveling by bus is no different than by train. If there’s security present at the station, it’s at the stations where crime is high and homeless are swarming the streets around it (like the walking dead).
Greyhound is the largest passenger bus service provider in the country. They do not inspect your luggage unless asked to do so by another passenger, and sometimes not even then.
You are more likely to get your luggage “inspected” if the employee thinks there’s something of value in there. If there are valuables in your luggage, and you don’t keep your eyes on your bags at all times, expect those valuables to be confiscated for security purposes… or maybe a homeless person managed to sneak in and steal your stuff.
Going on a cruise is the only other method of travel which requires passengers to go through pre-boarding security. While boarding, passengers must show an ID or passport, and walk through a metal detector while your bag gets x-rayed.
That’s surprisingly robust security for something which is limited to water and that barely travels 20 MPH, but there’s a reason for this, because security is responsible for managing the safety of about 2,000-3,000 passengers, … unarmed.
That’s the size of a village or small town!
It’s in the cruise line’s best interest to remove lethal weapons from the equation before all those people set sail and become drunken sailors.
Too bad security can’t keep passengers from getting each other sick.
Can you truly trust yourself… or your family? Perhaps you should pat down that baby carrier for something other than a stink-bomb.
When you drive, you are your own security and everyone else’s worst nightmare.
If you’re not careful, you can be the cause of one of the average 18,500 crashes each day. If you’re a terrible driver, or are criminal enough to drive drunk, or are so old you should have been medically barred from driving years ago… you may contribute to the 3,700 fatal crashes that happen each day.
Needless to say, this last part is mostly a joke.
In closing, there’s a dramatic difference between security at the airport and every other method of travel in the country. The country’s leaders are so worried about being held accountable by the next jet-powered civilian missile, they don’t care if your poor ol’ granny gets mugged or killed on a train or bus.
Electronics: And is the TSA going to replace any of this equipment if it’s damaged or stolen while in their custody (on the conveyor belt)?
Nope! Most claims are denied.
Train Stations: Most tourists get on stations at major cities, but I’m not mentioning the various rural stations trains service daily, which have absolutely no security beyond the ticket checker. Rural areas are where most of the domestic religious fanatics live, so we should be very concerned about this… but, we aren’t.
Security: Shipboard security not owned by the government. The staff is privately owned by either the cruise-line or a third-party contractor
Passenger Size: 2,000-3,000 passengers is the average guest population of cruise ships before Covid-19.
Vacations are fun, but it’s a job to plan a successful one. You need to set a budget, decide where you’re going, find lodging, figure out what you want to do, pack for your trip, and prepare your home. That’s a lot of things you must do before you depart on your vacation.
In this article, I’ll describe how to plan a vacation for 2 people who live in the United States. You will need to adjust your own planning based on how many people you’re taking. I’m going to assume a few more things:
You’re planning this vacation months in advance, because that’s going to play a major role in how much you save on the 2 largest expenses on your journey: travel and lodging.
You aren’t traveling in peak or holiday seasons, because travel and lodging will be expensive no matter how far in advance you book everything.
You’re leaving your pets at home.
You aren’t renting a car.
So, you want to go on a vacation. What’s your budget?
What! You don’t have one?!
A budget is the most important part of planning a vacation. It dictates your entire experience from: where you can go, to how long you can stay, to what you can do while you’re there.
Check your bank account now to see how much money you can throw at a travel experience. Okay, it looks like you have $2,000 to put toward a vacation. That’s awesome! We can work with that.
Now, where can you go with that kind of budget?
Almost always, the largest expense is traveling to and from your destination. With our budget, you could theoretically travel to Europe, but the airfare alone will consume your funds and you won’t be able to do much when you get there. Realistically, you should be able to purchase round-trip flights to any major city in the continental United States for only $200-300 per person.
If you want to travel somewhere inside your state or in a neighboring one, then you should consider driving your own car. That could be a great cost-saving option for you, but we’re going to proceed with the assumption you’re going somewhere far away from home.
Pick a city, any city… Seattle, Houston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Tampa, New York, etc.
Use your phone to check airfare rates from your city and save that info for later. This will help you decide how long you can stay at your destination.
Tip: Do not use your phone to book airfare later. The travel websites save your personal data and use it to charge you more later, when you’re ready to make a purchase.
Now that you’ve picked a city and recorded possible flight dates and pricing (including the return trip), use this information as the basis for the rest of your vacation. The next step is to figure out where you’re going to store your stuff and sleep.
Using the flight information as a guide for your vacation, you need to find out where you want to sleep. You can find lodging for as low as $20-30 a night if you use a hostel. That’s not an option for most people. Especially, if you’re not very trusting when it comes to leaving possessions in a communal bunk room… even if there’s a locker. Another thing to consider, is you won’t know what your roommates are going to be like until you meet them… and try sleeping over their snores.
And then, you need to worry about their Covid-19 vaccination status.
Let’s assume you want a private room, in a reputable hotel. One can be had for about $100-150 per night in most downtown hotels. Hotel rooms get cheaper the further away you get from tourist attractions.
An alternative to hotels and hostels is Air BNB. Air BNB hosts can have pricing which is just as competitive as a hotel, and they can be located anywhere. Just like hotels, room prices increase the closer they are to attractions.
Deciding When to Travel
Chat with your traveling partner and decide when you want to travel and where you want to stay each night. You can expect to pay about $100-150 per night, for a private room in a nice hotel (or the Airbnb equivalent). I’d recommend staying no more than 5 days on a $2,000 budget.
Now that you know the cost of airfare and lodging, go ahead and book your flights and hotel (remember not to book using the same device you did your research on). The days you travel may be dictated by the cost of airfare, which means you’ll need to be flexible with your outbound and return flights. Thankfully, hotel prices won’t change much from day to day.
Tip: When booking your hotel, the facility will require your credit card information, but will not charge it until after you check out. That means you must save that money and account for it as a floating expense.
So don’t spend it.
Fun & Games
With airfare and lodging booked, you should have about $1,000 left over to play with. I like to do a Google search asking for “things to do at [CITY NAME]”. The results almost always take you to the city’s tourism page, which is a great starting point to building a list of things to do when you’re there.
While you’re looking at the city’s tourism page, be on the lookout for monuments and tourists attractions. These are either free, low/medium-cost, or expensive. Examples of each are:
Free: monuments, statues, parks
Low/medium-cost: Museums, tours, local experiences (like an observation deck)
Expensive: Shows, plays, popular or exotic activities, extra-city excursions such as: a wine tour, a helicopter flight, or going to the Hoover Dam (Las Vegas)
Tip: I recommend making a list of interesting things in a Word document or Notepad (Notepad removes all formatting and link info). Be sure to record the daily hours of operation and the price of each activity for 2 people.
If you’re making a list of things to do, share that list with your traveling partner to eliminate any activities they have no interest in. This also gives your partner an opportunity to add things they want to see or do.
Another source of activity ideas can be found in a travel guidebook. I mention guidebooks now, because I prefer to have a list of activities long before the trip starts and the book is used to supplement what I’ve already planned. I normally buy my city books a couple weeks before our departure date, to build more excitement prior to our journey. Any tips or new destination ideas found in the book can be worked into the existing schedule.
One of the brands I’ve used in the past is “Lonely Planet”.
Once you agree on a list of activities, you must plan the logistics of how you’re going to get to all of these locations. It doesn’t make sense to go to each destination based on how they appear on your list.
You MUST have a plan… or plan to miss out on fun activities!
The easiest tool you can use with logistics planning is Google Maps, on driving (car) mode. Don’t worry about how you’re going to get to these locations yet. This will work even if you intend to use public transportation.
Use your hotel as the starting location, and add each destination to the directions. You may need to use a few browser-tabs. Click and drag each destination on the map to create an orderly route from one point of interest to another. Here’s an example:
You may notice that some of your activities are located further away from others. Be sure to dedicate extra time to travel out to those destinations, and if there’s a time-crunch, you may need to reconsider how important those activities are to your vacation.
I like to use multiple tabs to plan out my days, with each Google Map representing 1 day of travel. I recommend organizing your days like this:
Day #1 Airport >> Hotel (check-in & drop your stuff) >> Attraction 1 >> Activity 2 >> Dinner with friends.
Day #2 Hotel >> Attraction 3 >> Activity 4 >> Attraction 5 >> Activity 6.
Day #3 Hotel >> Attraction 7 >> Activity 8 >> Attraction 9 >> Activity 10.
Day #4 Hotel >> Attraction 11 (near hotel) >> Hotel (check-out) >> Airport.
Some attractions require that you to book a time to visit, so be sure to organize your activities with that in mind (example in Figure 1).
Tip: While we’re on the subject of scheduling paid activities, you may need to be flexible with the order which you go to these destinations. I’ve found that most companies do not allow you to book your activity more than 2-3 weeks ahead of your trip.
Tip: You can “save” your activities by sharing the map via email or text. This is useful because you can resume or edit your plans simply by clicking on the link.
Calendar the Activities
Now that you know the proper order of each activity and destination, put everything onto a calendar. Be sure to allot an appropriate amount of time for each activity. For a statue or a small monument, 30 minutes should be enough time to look at it and snap a picture or selfie. However, plan to stay at least an hour in a museum or at a popular tourist attraction. I like to divide each activity with hour-long spaces to ensure I have plenty of time to travel between each location.
Be sure to add the destinations to each calendared activity. If you’re using Google Calendar, it will give you a notification reminding you to catch a bus to reach your next activity on-time.
Pack, Clean, and Pets
Now that the hard part is taken care of, it’s time to get everything ready for the trip.
First and foremost, make sure your pets are taken care of!
Find a friend you trust enough to feed them, and give them a copy of your house key. If you don’t have anyone you trust, and you’re only going to be gone for a few days, you should evaluate weather your pet’s food and water will last the entirety of your trip. Consider boarding your pet if you aren’t confident in how long the food will last.
Pack your bags and clean your house a few days before leaving. Having a clean house will prevent any embarrassment when your friend visits to care for your pets. When packing your bags consider a few things:
The climate and weather of your destination – Be prepared to dress in warmer clothing if traveling to a northern state in the fall or winter.
The number of days you’ll be there – Pack individual outfits for each day. I like to fold my shirts and pair them with a pair of pants/shorts, and then add socks and underwear. I’ll fold them all together to make it easier to grab an entire outfit and dress each day.
What you’re allowed to carry onto the plane – Normally, airlines limit you to one small briefcase and one smaller carry-on item. I can fit my 5 outfits into half of a small briefcase, with enough room for my traveling companion to do the same. Don’t pack like you’re moving there, pack what you need (Clothes, toiletries, and entertainment).
All that’s left is to travel and enjoy your vacation!
I’ve used this planning method for most of my vacations and it’s served me well over the years. So much so, I’ve been able to plan a complex, multi-city vacation without a hitch. It started from Houston, travelling to Chicago, then we boarded a train and traveled to Seattle, and then travelled back to Houston again… all with full itineraries of activities at each city.
That’s how good planning works!
Budget: A travel budget can be as low as a few hundred dollars, and you can still have a good time. If your budget is on the lower end, you will need to be creative and find free or low-cost things to do.
Europe: I’m also assuming that you have a passport. If you don’t have one, then you may not be able to book passage or leave the airport.
Intra-state Driving: If you don’t own a car, consider renting one and factor that added cost into your budget.
Activities: Some cities are harder than others to plan for. The hours of their attractions may seem to be random. Some places aren’t open on days you’d think they should be open.
Friends: It’s easier to schedule diner with friends who may live in the city you’re visiting on the first day you’re there. You get that social nicety out of the way, and can focus on doing everything else on your activity list. If you like to maximize your time on vacation, you probably will plan to do a couple things after you check into your hotel and shouldn’t be tired when you see them on the first day.
If you don’t have friends in the city you’re visiting… Great! No distraction.
Toiletries: Toothbrush, hairbrush, small cologne bottles, toothpaste, shaving supplies.
Who do you think would be a great ally in a future war against China?
France? Ha! They’ve been more of a burden than a true ally in almost every modern war.
Germany? They’ve been a great ally for decades, but they need to focus on Europe right now.
Japan? With their Self-Defense Force? Maybe if they’re hiding the SDF-1 under the ocean.
Aust- Wait what?
India?! Really? How can a 3rd world country famous for spices, tea, outsourcing, and telemarketers help us in a modern war?!
Here me out.
The population of China is about 1.4 billion, and the US has about 330 million people. That means the Chinese horde outnumbers us by at least 4 times in population alone. They can easily overwhelm us by attacking in swarms. We need a human swarm of our own… India.
India has a population which almost matches China, and we can use that uncontrolled population growth to our advantage. There already are several points of contention between the two nations, some are cultural and ancient. But more importantly, is the fact their militaries have had deadly border clashes in recent years.
Yes, the US and India have very different cultures. Yes, most Americans despise Indians because we can’t understand them over the phone, and all our administrative service jobs are being outsourced there.
But, despite those minor annoyances, both nations are democracies with elected officials. Neither of our nations has had conflict in the past. The United States was quick to recognize India when they broke from the United Kingdom (aka Britain). And we both have concerns about an increasingly aggressive totalitarian nation.
This is the perfect recipe for a military alliance.
While we’re fighting a sea battle to defend the Pacific nations, the Indians can take advantage of the situation by invading from the west. The Chinese will be fighting a war on 2 fronts and when the tide turns, the allied nations will be in a better situation to bottle up the dragon of the orient.
Unless the Chinese cheat and go nuclear…
SDF-1: Super Dimensional Fortress, from the 1985 Robotech anime series.
You walk into the restroom and smell that first waft of stale piss, but that doesn’t stop you. No. You are on a mission to sit and expel solid waste. You rush to the toilet not knowing who or what has sat on it before you. You don’t even know if the toilet has been cleaned recently.
It doesn’t matter. There’s a golfer trying to bore its way out and you absolutely must use this toilet.
You enter the restroom to the pleasant scent of Pine Sol and walk to the nearest stall. A heavenly sight awaits you as you open the stall. The water is still dyed a deep blue from the cleaning detergent used by the janitorial staff. You’re the first person to use this toilet today, and it’s as clean as it’s ever going to be.
This is a virgin toilet!
Regardless of how clean the toilet may be, you still have a cleansing ritual to perform before your cheeks will touch that seat. The ritual is:
Grab some toilet paper and wipe the seat. Some people use sanitizer to clean the seat.
Use even more toilet paper to cover the seat.
Only when the seat is covered to the point it looks like a flat bird’s nest, do you sit to lay your rotten “eggs”.
Don’t lie, you’ve done this ritual.
We all have our reasons for doing it. It may have been a learned habit from walking into public restrooms and having to clean the seat so many times. Maybe you remember missing the bowl yourself and are pretty sure everyone else pees on the seat too. Or maybe you’re a germaphobe and feel an extra compulsion to clean the seat. My father drilled it into my head that public toilets were disgusting sources of disease.
Some restrooms have those thinner than paper seat covers mounted on the wall. Those seat covers are psychological constructs designed to keep people from wasting valuable toilet paper. They’re so flimsy you run the risk of destroying the cover while trying to get it out of the holder. You end up wasting not just the liner, but the precious few seconds remaining before that gofer runs out of your hole.
Lifting the Seat
If there’s no urinal and you only need to pee (and if you’re male), it’s polite to lift the seat so you don’t dirty it when the next person uses it. This type of situation is becoming more common now that unisex public toilets are appearing in restaurants and coffee shops.
But I don’t want to touch that thing, and then touch my junk!
If we bother to lift the seat, we use our feet which are protected by “germ-proof” shoes. We balance on one foot and use the other to lift the seat. It sort of looks like a martial art’s fighting stance.
We all share the same cleansing ritual to help put our minds at ease about using a public toilet of dubious cleanliness. We clean the seat, cover it, and sit on it. And once we’re comfortable, or are sitting and there’s no turning back, most of us will whip out our phones to brows our news feeds.
Who knows, you may be reading this story while on the pot!
About 10-12 years ago, a coworker of mine once told me that I should never say “I’m sorry”. Instead, I should say, “I apologize”.
She explained that saying “I’m sorry” implies that you are a “sorry” person. It casts you in a negative light, and continued usage could contribute to unhappiness or general depression.
Think about how often we say that simple phrase.
We say it if we violate someone’s personal space.
We say it when we need something repeated.
We say it to interrupt someone in a conversation.
We say it to express loss.
If you enter someone’s personal space by reaching for something, or if you accidentally bumped into them, that person is probably looking at you with a startled or annoyed expression. “Excuse me” is the best response to give that person. Especially if you bumped into them, because “sorry” could be perceived as an admission of guilt.
If you can’t hear someone, it’s common to say, “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” However, it sounds much nicer if you say this instead: “I apologize, but could you repeat that.” Or, if you want to be retro about it, you could try: “I beg your pardon…”.
If you need to interrupt someone while they’re speaking, you can try breaking into the conversation during a pause between subjects. Unfortunately, this can be hard if you’re talking to someone who steamrolls a conversation (like a motor-mouth). If it doesn’t seem like a pause will ever come, you could use a hand gesture to signal that you’d like to say something.
I sometimes use a low, half-wave, half-patting gesture, as a signal that I want to speak.
When acquaintances lose loved ones, we tend to say: “I’m sorry for your loss”. I personally prefer this phrase because it makes you sound humble and conveys genuine sympathy. However, if there’s an organization-wide email announcing a coworker’s loss, I’ll send a personal message with: “My condolences…”. It’s a good way to convey the same message, but in a professional manner.
We say “I’m sorry” for many reasons. If it’s said excessively throughout life, it can be easy to start using the phrase for even the most innocuous reasons. Maybe even when we’ve been wronged.
I’ve long since left that job, and the coworker faded out of my memory, but I took her advice to heart by trying not to live by “I’m sorry”. The next time you find yourself in a situation that requires an apology, don’t be a sorry person. Instead, express positive politeness with: “I apologize”.
If an apocalyptic event happened that causes our civilization to fall, religious communities will almost certainly try to take over. If they don’t succeed outright, they’ll still be the dominant socio-political force in the land.
Under normal conditions, people of faith are just like ordinary Americans. They hold very strong beliefs and political views on a few major subjects, but hold many of the same values as modern liberals when it comes to the majority of our laws and common social etiquette. Individually, they aren’t too dissimilar to Agnostics and Atheists either. It’s the greatness of our nation’s justice system and the availability of information, which maintains this harmony.
However, that respect for thy neighbor will disappear once the centralized government is gone. Things will start getting bad once rural communities are forced to come together as a group. There won’t be reliable sources of media to provide news and information to the shocked and stunned survivors. You’ll be amazed at how quickly people will ignore rational thought and start believing any story or rumor. It only takes one person of authority and influence to turn a good Christian community bad.
Let’s consider the ingredients that can make such a terrifying dystopian nightmare happen.
The location where most conservative Christians live.
Lack of centralized oversight and control, coupled with a newfound ability to abuse power.
Location, location, location!
The United States has a “Bible Belt” across the southern and rural states, where conservative Christians tend to live. This “belt” stretches as far north-east as Virginia, then goes down to Florida’s panhandle. You can feel the spirit in the vast middle-of-nowhere regions of Texas, and the belt snakes up to Salt Lake City. There are other pockets of isolated religious communities everywhere in the country, but the “belt” is where they seem to be concentrated in the United States.
Aside from a few scattered minuteman missile facilities and silos, there’s virtually nothing of strategic importance in these rural areas. Nobody’s going to waste a nuke on a small town or village out in the middle of nowhere, like Lufkin, Texas. Heck, I doubt anyone would try targeting our missile facilities since they’ll be empty by the time the attack hits them.
It stands to reason that small towns and rural communities will be safe from the attack, but accidents and mistakes in targeting can happen… Barring any bad luck, these communities will rise from the ashes of our civilization.
They were once meek, but will seek to inherit the earth if left unopposed.
A Shocked & Stunned Population
The apocalypse just happened! People are going to be assaulted by a cocktail of extreme and stressful emotions. They will be shocked that the world as they know it has ended. They grew up in a society with computers everywhere, even in their pockets. They grew up knowing that information and entertainment can be had at any time of the day. Now they can’t even turn on a TV, and the only radio they own is in the car that probably doesn’t work anymore. Emergency services were available at the touch of 3-buttons on a phone, but now the phones don’t work.
Yes, the occasional natural disaster caused all of us to suffer some time without our technological tools and toys, but everything returned to normal within a few days. Nothing is going to be “normal” again, and people are going to be brought to a mental breaking point once that realization sets in.
Ordinary people will recoil in horror at the knowledge of their, and their loved ones mortality. People will start dying of treatable chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. People will start dying from easily curable diseases and infections too.
And what do you do with the body of your most cherished loved one? In the past, you’d call 911 and the paramedics would declare the death and take the body away to be processed by professionals. All you needed to do was arrange for memorial services, and then pay for it.
Now, it’s all up to you. You have to accept the responsibility and summon the energy to: dig a hole, drag or carry your loved one to it, and bury the body of the person you loved. You’ll be so focused on surviving, that a proper memorial service may be impossible. You may even wake up the next day to the horrific realization that you didn’t properly dispose of the body, and animals dug up and desecrated your beloved family member.
It will take people a couple weeks to fully realize and accept that things will never be normal again. That sort of paradigm shift can shatter a person’s psyche, and make them more susceptible to radical influences and manipulation. This can happen to the best and most rational of us.
And, this is happening to people all across the country.
The Rise of Religious Communities
The secular government won’t be around to keep these communities in-check anymore, and ambitious religious leaders will use this disaster as a perfect opportunity to seize control and spread their dogmatic ideals. It’ll be easy, and will probably happen several hundred times across the country.
The majority of these survivors are already inclined to believe in immaterial forces based on faith alone. The apocalypse may be the only proof necessary to make them loyal followers of a religious leader. Then you have the remaining population of shocked and stunned survivors who, ordinarily, wouldn’t believe in superstitions and things of a spiritual nature. But some will latch onto any idea, or person of authority which claims to provide salvation, answers, and hope.
A small minority of strong-willed or intellectual people will be left who won’t “see the light” and “come into the fold”. This minority can grow as more people realize what is happening and shake the religious influence, but I doubt this will happen. Humans like things to be easy, so the minority will probably shrink as ever-growing desperation or blatant threats of violence forces them to conform.
There are several things a leader will do to rise to power and solidify their authority. He will start with speeches, then perform “good” deeds, and scapegoat others to maintain his hold on power.
Speech and Preach
The religious leader will first claim their connection to divinity by reminding community members that they have been warning us this was coming for years. Expect speeches like the following:
The leader will start the speech in a modest and self-deprecating manner.
“In his divine wisdom, God chose to share his vision with me. Me, a poor wretched soul…”
Pause for dramatic effect before continuing with a scolding tone.
“He instructed me to spread his warning that a day of judgement will come. That our society will be punished for its sins of pride, lust, and greed. You didn’t heed those warnings then, but now you remember…”
The leader may dust off a few of the “Armageddon” chapters and verses to claim it was further ordained in Revelations.
The leader will close the speech in a way that solidifies his power and influence by instilling the belief that their community was spared from the apocalypse because they are the chosen, righteous, people. The speech will change to have a powerful and inspirational tone.
“God chose me to be here to help guide you through this time of great turmoil. You, his most devout followers are his chosen people. God’s wrath struck down the heathens and sinners, but he chose to spare you from his divine judgement. Us chosen few were spared to carry out his will, and we must work to rebuild this nation in His image!”
The speech might be slightly different, but it should carry the same meaning. You’ll be amazed and disappointed at how many people will be influenced by such a speech.
I hope I didn’t just write a future theocratic dictator’s speech.
Speeches alone won’t be enough to persuade some people to follow and remain loyal to a leader. The leader will have to perform deeds to entice more to join as followers. They will establish the church as a bountiful provider by pooling the resources of the community and distributing supplies to those in need.
If the church hasn’t wrested control from a secular community, it will passively proselytize in the sidelines by providing “care packages” to the poor and needy. This simple deed makes their church look good and gives them a chance to speak and engage with potential converts. Alternatively, if the church already has a firm grasp on power and control over resources, the leader will distribute rations during church services. They’ll organize communal housing and dining for the homeless. They will preach during meals and before bedtime in an effort to indoctrinate those benefitting from the services being provided.
All of these tactics ensure the followers become and remain dependent on the church for their survival. Their continued safety and well being is linked to obedience to the community’s dogma, and violators will be punished by withholding supplies or being exiled from the community.
Being self-sufficient may not protect you either. Depending on how insecure (or evil) the leader is, he may see your independence from his church as a challenge to his authority. You’ve proven that you can support yourself, and can be a highly valuable member of society. He can’t have you showing his flock that it’s possible to live outside of his influence. He needs to get rid of this challenge by either converting you into a productive follower, or eliminating the threat to his authority.
He’ll send his followers out to convince you of the error of your ways. They will use words and incentives to entice you to convert, and if that doesn’t work… threats. They will force you into the fold by terrorizing you and your family. And if all else fails, they will eliminate your family to serve as an example to others.
Things won’t be sunshine and rainbows all the time. The actions of the leader may cause misfortune to fall upon the community, but you’ll never hear that. No. The infallible leader will do everything in his power to distract the followers attention away from his ineptitude, and onto scapegoats. You’ll hear things like:
“Yes, the Smith family is suffering from hard times, but they brought this upon themselves when they chose to ignore the abomination living in their home! God is punishing them for not casting out that sinful harlot of a lesbian daughter!”
“God wants us to love thy neighbor and to give alms to the poor, but he is angry at us for aiding heretics.”
The leader may use this as an opportunity to get rid of competition or those who have spoken against him. In this type of situation, the guards may drag out a few of sinners or Satan-worshipers, who conveniently have had their tongues cut out so they can’t sway the community with their evil words (or defend themselves).
“I have sad news to report. We’ve discovered that Satan has been filling our ears with vile lies, and has seduced some of our most respected community members to do his bidding. These sinners have poisoned our well water with disease and they must be punished.”
Or the leader will rally his followers against an external threat. The threat could be another community that will not follow his dogmatic belief system. This tactic serves to blame the external threat for all of the community’s problems, and he gets rid of the challenge to his authority.
“Our crops are being sabotaged by those who hate our devotion to God. These nonbelievers revile in our misfortune and will do anything to make us turn our backs to God’s loving arms. We must root out this evil! We must fight the infidels!”
If there’s a rival crack-pot religious upstart who wrongfully thinks he’s the Second Coming of Christ, substitute the last sentence with:
“We must slay the false prophet!”
Scapegoating doesn’t have to be limited to times of hardship, it can be done during the good times too.
Birth defects are going to happen, especially after radiation or chemical exposure mutates our genes. Unfortunately, most of the survivors aren’t going to have much scientific knowledge and will probably believe the defects are of supernatural origin. Meaning, birth defects are going to become marks of Satan or signs that God is punishing a family for some misdeed.
What can we do if faced with such a nightmare?
In short, hope and pray I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. Barring a cynical thoughts & prayers approach, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of survival when a totalitarian religion, or religious figure takes over. You can either speak out, blend in, or hide; but you should always be prepared to defend yourself.
Let’s say you live in a community of people with moderate values, and only a few devoted Christians. People start holding town meetings after the dusts settles, but the church leader and his followers start proposing some radical changes to the town’s laws. You should speak out early on to nip the religious movement in the bud before the vile takes root. There are others who share your reasonable point of view, and fear your community will repeat history by persecuting anyone who is different. They only need someone to voice that first objection.
The bad thing is, if you push too hard against bigotry, you run the risk of becoming a target yourself. These religious types always have henchmen who do their master’s bidding and respond to his suggestions. The henchmen will attack or kill those who threaten their rise to power. You’ll need to make sure your closest neighbors are on your side, or generally like you for being a good person. They’ll be there to warn you when the attack comes, and may even jump to your defense.
Maybe you stayed in your basement a little too long and found out the religious fanatics took over while you were sheltering. You climbed out of your basement and emerged into a nightmare. That first time you traveled to City Hall, you saw people hanging from trees with signs showing their sins. You know you can’t fight the establishment, so you need to hide what you are and blend in.
Enter the community with the knowledge that every single person is watching you, so be careful with what you say, how you say it, and how you act. They will watch you for any weakness or sign that you aren’t a true believer. Do not volunteer much information about yourself.
With that said, you mustn’t isolate yourself from the community either. Being seen in the community has its benefits. The more people that see you, the less they’ll suspect that you’re hiding a secret. You’ll need to attend community meetings and remain in contact with your neighbors to make sure you know what’s happening. Being aware of what’s happening will help you get ready to defend yourself should you find that you’re part of a group being targeted for persecution.
Another good way to blend in is to display historic symbols of conservatism and hate. If you can find a Confederate flag, hang it outside where the locals can see it as they pass your home. This will help to convince the hillbilly survivors you’re one of them, and definitely don’t hold any liberal values.
Having a cross on your property can help ward off fanatics too.
If you own a large wooded property that’s hard to access, you could try hiding. This depends entirely on how self-sufficient you can make yourself. You need to be able to grow your food, purify or distill your water, and scavenge from nature. You also need to scare trespassers away to make sure nobody knows what you have hidden away. Firing a warning shot at a trespasser should do the trick, but if it doesn’t, you may have to resort to more drastic measures.
Just know that if too many people go missing in or around your property, the community will unite and converge upon your home in a mob.
What if there’s an emergency and you need to travel into town to trade for supplies? This is very risky. It’s a religious leader’s job to know everyone in their flock. It’s how they empathize and gain the trust and devotion of their followers. If you come out of hiding for any reason, you run the risk of being seen as an outsider. The leader may have you followed back home. If it’s found out you live within walking distance to the town, they’ll never leave you alone.
Always be Prepared to Fight
Fanatics are irrational and will turn on you in a heartbeat if they think it will make them look more devoted to a religion or leader.
Always be prepared to defend yourself in town.
Always be prepared to defend your home.
Always have an escape plan when the mob turns against you, because you can’t fight them all.
Is there no hope for the future after they take over?
You should always hold tight to a small kernel of hope. Even in a community full of devout fanatical followers, there will always be moderates or generally good people who don’t approve of the crimes being committed by the leader and his followers. They’ll be hard to find because they’re hiding their true beliefs, just like you are. You might not know who they are until they discretely approach you. The identities of these people may surprise you, because they may be better pretending to be a fanatic than you are (or they’re spies).
Just know that you are not alone. One day the leader will screw up so badly the closet-liberals will rise up against him. You need to stay alert to these opportunities and be ready to speak out. It only takes one voice to encourage others to speak up. And don’t forget that accidents can happen too. The leader is merely mortal and will probably die from disease. The organization is most vulnerable during the transition between one ruler to his heir.
Just know there are risks involved with opposing the leader and his followers. If you are caught helping persecuted people escape, you’ll probably suffer the same fate as them. If you stage a revolt, you must be prepared for the probability that you may die in the act. And if the revolt fails, leaders of this type tend to make examples of entire families. Things truly must be horrible enough for you to risk it all, for the chance your family can have a better life afterward.
Another thing to remember is that this nightmare won’t last forever, and you may be able to wait it out.
What’s left of the country’s military and political leadership is still battling for its survival against an external enemy. Once that enemy has been neutralized, they will focus on reestablishing control over the country.
There’s also the possibility that we’ll lose the external war and be conquered. In either case, the religious nut-job will lose his totalitarian power. I’ll finish under the assumption our country will successfully fight off the external threat and will work to reestablish control over our country.
The problem with religions is that they tend to divide more than they unite. Even religions that follow the same core belief system, further divide themselves based on how they worship or which texts they decide to prioritize. Some even create their own lore or origin story, setting themselves further apart from the other religions. And the largest dividing factor of all is the belief that each of them is the true and correct religion, and the others are wrong or blasphemous.
This divisiveness will be further compounded by the lack of communication. The various religious leaders will be so entrenched and drunk with their own power, they’ll react violently when a slightly different religion or sect is encountered. Unless they give up their belief system and conform, the opposing religious community is an immediate threat to the leader’s authority and connection to divinity. Both leaders are going to have this mindset, and if the threat isn’t removed, it will undermine the leader’s authority in perpetuity.
If any semblance of a federal government is ever reestablished, the conflict between religious communities or the inherent lack of cooperation will help ensure that no single religion has the upper hand in a nation-wide political system.
 “He” – The majority of religious leaders will almost certainly be male. Most radical religions are patriarchal by nature, and fanatics are more willing to follow a strong man.
Armageddon – I think the majority of the end-of-days verses are in the “Book of Revelations”, but I haven’t read a Bible since I was in elementary school.
Indoctrination Services – We already see this type of passive recruiting with the homeless who rely on church-based charities for shelter and daily meals.
Lesbian Daughter – I do not condone hate speech. This statement is used to describe the possible method by which an evil person may victimize others to achieve their agenda.
Fanatical Speech – Don’t fool yourself into thinking this can’t happen here in the US-of-A. We have fringe groups that are arguably the Christian version of Al Qaeda, who think every single Muslim is trying to eradicate people of Christian faith. The same people think it’s okay to punish Jewish people for the treachery of Jesus Christ.
Birth Defects – This has been happening to people with albinism in Africa for centuries. Even today, albinos are hunted down for their body parts because, according to witchcraft rituals, they can promote wealth, power, and sexual vigor.
Symbols of Conservatism and Hate – I do not condone hate-speech or the proliferation of paraphernalia intended to intimidate or make any group of people feel uncomfortable or in danger. The survival strategies are designed to maximize the chances of surviving in this hypothetical nightmare-scenario.
Opportunities – Religious leaders can get overconfident in their selection of people to victimize. They will focus on easy targets like: homosexuals, other religions, and probably other races. You’ll be surprised at how many people will accept this. But their faith in the leader will be shaken if he targets someone who’s obviously innocent like a child, or possibly a mentally disabled person. You should speak out when they target people like these.
We’ve all seen them as they drive around the city. They’re the vultures of the road who prey on traffic accidents. They roam the streets looking for targets of opportunity and victimize unsuspecting drivers who may have parked in a parking spot after hours or too close to a no parking zone, and for fraudulent reasons.
We’ve all heard of a friend victimized by one of these things, or have had personal experience. After having a great time out with friends, the unsuspecting victim returns to the location where they parked their car… only to have that joyous evening ruined because their car was stolen by a tow truck driver.
It’s a common situation.
But, have you actually looked at the trucks themselves? Have you looked beyond their utilitarian use, and any preconceived biases you may have against the operators?
The next time you see a tow truck driving down a road, look at the back. You’ll notice the bed of the truck has a device that looks just like a Christian cross (✝️). The operator must bear the cross as a symbol of the bourdon of working as one of the most despised professions in the civilized world… the street’s carrion-eaters.
The cross a tow truck carries on its back serves to remind other cars of their own mortality. That they will end up being hauled away by the vehicular version of the “Grim Reaper”.
Similar to how a superstitious person knocks on wood to keep their good fortune, surely all cars must whisper a silent prayer to stave off their own demise. And when their time comes, dying cars may appear to bow and pray before the cross one last time before it conveys them to the afterlife, in a junkyard.
Not only do cars fear the tow truck, but so should humans. For both can become victims at the operator’s sadistic whim. Nowadays, the operator can steal the car for dubious legal reasons, but what will happen in the future?
If the worst-case scenario happens to our civilization, we won’t have much use for tow trucks. There’s no profit in cleaning the streets when nobody can drive any more. No. If they’re used at all, tow trucks won’t be used that way.
People can be creative with their cruelty, and the future may see victims strapped onto the backs of these trucks. If there’s a steady supply of gas, a highway warlord may mount a live (or dead) victim on the “cross” to serve as an example to others. The terrorized victim will scream as the driver speeds through the world.
Perhaps the director of a future “Mad Max” movie can use this idea.
The next time you see a tow truck driving around, take a moment to look at it. You’ll notice that it doesn’t have the “hook” you may have seen in cartoons or videogames like Grand Theft Auto V.
It has a cross.
Given that tow trucks often serve as the Grim Reaper to cars, the cross is a suitable symbol for it.
Some times on a digital clock are cool if you happen to notice them at the right time. I always take a moment to appreciate a coincidental sighting of a cool time, but won’t waste the whole minute. There are different things which can make certain times special. Sometimes the coolness is because of a cultural reference, other times it’s the repetition of numbers, or if you use a 24-hour clock, the coolness happens because an important year is being shown on the display.
Digital clocks may display times which represent something of cultural importance. Here are a few that I’ve noticed:
3:14 Represents Pi (π), which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.
4:04 “404 Not Found” error is seen when a webpage or file couldn’t be found online.
4:20 Is the “high” time because it’s the numeric representation of marijuana.
7:11 Represents 7-Eleven convenience stores (the business spells out “Eleven” in its name).
9:11 Is a reminder of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It also represents the number you call if you need emergency assistance.
10:10 Is cool to me, because it reminds me of The Adventures of Tintin (1990s cartoon).
Six of the hours on a standard 12-hour clock will show the same digits across the display: 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55, and 11:11. That’s pretty cool, but if you use a 24-hour clock, 00:00 and 22:22 are even better because those times can’t be replicated by a conventional clock.
Years in 24-Hours
24-hour clocks can display times representing certain years, and that’s pretty awesome if there’s a year of personal or cultural significance to you. Just remember that clocks can only represent centuries up to the 59th year. Here are some examples of important years that can be displayed on a digital clock.
13:46 Commonly known as the year the Black Death started. It “ended” 7 minutes later on 13:53. Did you know that an average of 7 bubonic cases are reported each year in the USA?
14:31 The year Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, because the English couldn’t handle the fact they were defeated by a woman on the battlefield. A woman couldn’t have done that. She must be a witch!
15:17 Martin Luther nailed his 95 criticisms against the Catholic church, sparking the protestant movement. This could also be the first negative review to be posted on a business.
18:12 The US declares war on Britain, and gets their asses whipped when the British burn Washington in… 18:14.
19:12 The year the Titanic sunk, and “Rose Dawson” told Jack she’d never let go.
19:18 The end of World War I. The Romanovs are assassinated in a basement by the Soviets.
19:45 The end of World War II.
19:57 Sputnik 1 is launched into orbit.
20:00 The start of a new millennium!
20:01 2001: A Space Odyssey! And, on a somber note, the year 9/11 happened.
20:20 Is probably the worst year in modern history. It’s also cool because there’s a TV show called 20/20. And the common phrase: “Hindsight is 20/20”.
22:54 Events from the Star Trek episode “The Cage” happen this year.
22:56 The Earth Alliance station, Babylon 5, comes online. It’ll be “… our last, best hope for peace.”
These are the cool times I’ve noticed over the years, but it’s important to notice that we are living in cool times as well. Any year in this century has the potential to be a historic year that may be reflected on a clock, at least up to 20:59.
Maybe in the year 23:59 we’ll have colonies on distant planets with 25 or even 30-hour days. Their digital clocks will be able to represent even more of our historic years. And maybe a fellow observer of time will take a moment to appreciate the occasional cool time.
 Yes, the church has always been run like a business. Around the 1500s, it generated it’s funds via indulgences and tithes. Nowadays, the church’s income comes from many different sources, but the most important source is donations.
You know that feeling you get after shaving your nose hairs? The feeling that a single hair survived and it’s scratching the inside of your nose. That’s what I call phantom hair syndrome.
You shaved the hairs growing in your nose, wipe the inside of each nostril with a tissue or toilet paper, and are pretty sure you got everything. But with each breath, you feel a hair fluttering in the breeze like a lone flag on a battlefield. You better check it out before leaving for work.
You walk back to the bathroom and examine your nose, yet see nothing where the itching sensation is located. You grab the clippers and run it over the location just to be sure. Maybe you even hear a satisfying “clip” sound and think: There, I got it.
You’re getting into the swing of things at work, when you notice a tickling feeling as you breathe! You try to satisfy the tickle-itching sensation, but end up looking like you’re picking your nose. You can’t feel the hair, nor can you alleviate the itchiness, so you go to the nearest bathroom.
If there’s someone in the restroom, you pretend to pee before examining your nose.
You go to the mirror and poke your nose up as though you’re making a pig’s snout. You use your phone’s flashlight to shine light into that deep dark cavern as you lean closer, and closer to the mirror. You’re so close, your humid breaths are fogging the mirror. It kind of reminds you of the velociraptor peeking through the kitchen door on Jurassic Park.
Your careful spelunking adventure yields no pesky stalactite.
You can still feel the hair as you breathe, and wonder if there’s a loose clipping irritating your nose. You grab some toilet paper and thoroughly clean the inside of each nostril. But, to your surprise, the toilet paper comes out clean. There isn’t even a booger!
The feeling must be in your head… literally.
You go back to your desk and work some more. The itching sensation seems to have worn off and you forget about the hair altogether. But when you’re halfway through an extra-long email, a tickling sensation returns…
That goddamn hair is still there!
You resign yourself to living with this hair for the rest of your life and try to ignore it. Your hand keeps subconsciously rubbing your nose throughout the day. You notice people shooting concerned glances your way as though you’re sick and should have stayed home.
You try to distract yourself with more work.
You try to forget it.
Nothing works, and the sensation is driving you CrAzY!
You somehow manage to make it through the day and just got home. You rush into the bathroom with a flashlight in one hand and the clippers in the other. You’re determined to find that accursed hair.
You find a hair… inside the wrong nostril.
You clip that newly discovered hair.
You run the clippers through both nostrils several more times.
You lean closer and closer to the mirror and peer into each cavern. You’re so close to the mirror, you keep knocking your forehead against the mirror-version of yourself, and he’s starting to look pissed.
You make a pig’s snout out of your nose to get a better look into each nostril.
You make a ghoulish O-face with your mouth to help you see the bottom of the nostrils too.
You spend half an hour with this examination and are finally satisfied, without a shadow of doubt. There isn’t a single hair inside your nose.
You notice that your forehead left an oily smear on the mirror, and clean it before leaving the bathroom.
You have a great evening. You eat leftovers for dinner and sip wine while binge-watching your new favorite show. You don’t even check the mirror when using the restroom one final time before going to bed.
Now, you’re lying in bed and are relaxed in your favorite position. Your brain is just about to switch to sleep-mode, when a single hair starts tickling the inside of your nose.
The rest of your night is fucking ruined.
 This is comedic story. This story is not intended to “make fun of” or “pick on” those who suffered the tragic loss of a limb. Nor, people who have prolonged suffering because their nervous system is trying to reestablish a connection with a lost limb.
 Spielberg, S. (Director). (1993). Jurassic Park [Motion Picture].
Author’s Note: This article is meant to be a unique description of the AUKUS pact by addressing the reaction, and by describing the reasons why the USA is a better partner than France. I’m a US citizen, and this article may be a bit biased for the pact, and against France’s reaction to it. Because of this, I claim “author’s prerogative.”
Someone is throwing a fit over the new AUKUS security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The name, AUKUS, is an acronym of the spliced abbreviations for each signatory to the treaty. It involves the sale of nuclear submarines to Australia, increased collaboration with cybertechnology, and possibly includes stationing US subs to the country as part of the strategic defense of the area.
Australia warned France about concerns they had with the contract and the quality of the submarines months in advance to AUKUS. Instead of proactively negotiating to ensure they can provide a better deal, France did nothing. They claim the loss was a complete surprise to them and AUKUS is a stab in the back. In a fit of rage, the country recalled their ambassadors to Australia and the United States. They threw such a tantrum, the US President had to have a phone call with his French counterpart. Late last week, we were shocked to hear the breaking news that we “normalized” our relations with France.
How could our relationship have deteriorated so badly over a simple agreement? It’s not like one of our warships attacked France, so why do our relations need normalizing?
I wasn’t aware that France had a “Nouvelle Révolution”, reinstating their monarchy and placing a queen on the throne… a Drama Queen.
Let’s evaluate the merits of the pact.
Sale of Nuclear Submarines
Australia cancelled their 90-billion-dollar contract with France to build 12 French subs. That’s about 7.5 billion dollars per sub. Compare that to the average cost of 3.4 billion dollars to build a Virginia-class nuclear submarine.
That’s less than half the price!
It makes perfect sense to buy a state-of-the-art submarine at half the cost. I don’t know what the final price for each unit will be, but it’s still a great deal even if we apply a 50% retail markup! So, who in their right mind willingly buys over-priced products?!
US Deployment to Australia
I don’t know about you, but if I wanted to have a strategic defense alliance with a nation, France would be the last “major” country I’d consider. France has historically performed poorly in most of its wars during the 20th century. Germany conquered a lot of French territory in World War I, but lost it to the coalition. During World War II, France got conquered outright and had to be liberated by the Allies.
After the Second World War, most of the wars France emerged as the victor include: coalition efforts, and/or conflicts against non-national opponents (uprisings, insurgents, terrorists). Since World War II, France has participated in about 30 conflicts, and individually was the victor of 3 conflicts. Of the 2 conflicts the country fought 1-on-1 with another nation (excluding revolts) France barely has a 50% win-rate.
That’s not a good track-record.
The pact allows for closer collaboration with technological development. France doesn’t have a related agreement in place, and likely won’t have one since they lack the necessary infrastructure necessary to provide meaningful contributions to cyber-related technological developments. The AUKUS agreement is a good decision to enter into with the US, because we have the infrastructure and know-how. Another inherent benefit is the common language the three nations share which will make the relationship run a lot smoother.
Plus, when most people think of France, we tend to think of: wine, tourism, the language of love, beautiful sprawling cities, art, overpaid and underutilized labor, and riots over pretty much anything including: labor, immigration, violence or killings, labor again, news from the middle-east, wealth disparity, labor (yet again)…
Information technology and Cybernetics are the last things I’d associate with that country.
Why is France so upset over the AUKUS pact? Is it truly because they lost out on selling overpriced submarines to Australia? Yes. Losing 90 billion USD means they’re missing out on almost a fifth (20%) of their annual trade,,. I’d be pretty pissed if I was their leader.
I too would have thrown a tantrum if:
It means that businesses in my country are going to miss out on that large amount of money.
It means my people are going to suffer job cuts.
It means my country will be on international news because of the next inevitable labor riot.
It means my chances of getting re-elected are going to plummet since I couldn’t prevent this terrible loss.
Yes, they have reason to be upset. However, the pact includes services they cannot reliably provide. Nor did they do their due-diligence to ensure they were competitive enough to keep the submarine contract, especially when warned their customer was dissatisfied with the price and quality of the product.