American Carnage: An interview with contributing author Rick Shingler

Welcome to Day 3 of interviews with the American Carnage crew! My review of the anthology is here. This is our last day of interviews. This final interview is with Rick Shingler, writer of the story “The Day the Earth Turned Day-Glo.” Again, please note: discussion is welcomed, but keep it respectful. I know that the anthology’s theme has the potential for controversy, so comments will be monitored.
Note: answers are unedited/uncensored/unwhathaveyou. All answers, thoughts, and opinions are from the authors.
Also note: this interview is on the long side.
First, tell us a bit about yourself. Any fun and interesting factoids?
I’ve always sort of wondered what story Alex Trebek would ask me to tell during the boring meet and greet part if I was ever on Jeopardy. Maybe I would tell one of my weird celebrity encounter stories, like clothes shopping at a flea market with stand-up comic Emo Phillips or helping Geraldo Rivera’s mom pick out a Christmas present for her son or the time I had a phone conversation with BB King and didn’t know it until after hanging up the phone. Or maybe I’d tell something about my family, like the story of how my wife and I accidentally birthed our daughter without medical assistance in the bathroom at her folks’ house. But when I really think about it, I’d probably just say something boring about growing up in Ohio or living in New Jersey. (Editor’s note: wait, what? Tell me more about this accidentally natural home birth. Is your wife secretly a super hero? Because I’ve been in labor, and yeah, there’s no way I’d do that without nerve-numbing assistance.)
Tell us a bit about your writing. Are you usually a fiction writer, or did you make an exception for this anthology?
I’ve always considered myself to be a fiction writer. I’ve written plays, comic scripts, short stories and even a novel adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Pericles”, reworked as a comic space opera. I always have a few works in progress, because I have gadfly-sized attention span stands in direct opposition to my high level of commitment to any project I undertake. The good folks at Psycho Drive-In have been gracious enough to let me ramble and grumble about TV shows and movies from time to time, but my heart is in storytelling, even if my voice has been slow to be heard. I’ve gotten so good at shrugging off form rejection letters and emails that I’m almost able to pretend that it doesn’t chip another huge hunk out of my soul every. Single. Damn. Time. When I write, my goal is to entertain myself, because I’m likely to be one of the very few who ever actually reads it. If it’s made for me and I get to read it, it’s never going to be an TOTAL waste of time, right?
Speaking of the anthology, what drew you to it? Why did you decide to submit a story?
I may be mistaken, but it seems that the idea of an anthology of stories inspired by the titles of punk songs had been discussed amongst some of the PDI contributors before the 2016 election even happened. Once we crossed that milestone, the concept felt like a mandate for all of us. Over the past couple of years, our Western society has edged closer and closer to a place that would make George Orwell say, “You can’t make this shit up”. I wanted to be one of the voices of rage calling out in the darkness and maybe even a tiny beacon of hope in this burgeoning dystopia.
And that might be corny and is almost certainly self-delusional, but what else am I gonna do?
Tell us about your story. What inspired you to write it?
Honestly, this wasn’t even the story I set out to write. I was working from a different song title and everything. My original story pitch was called “Suspect Device” after the Stiff Little Fingers’ tune. I started working on it but was really struggling to pull it together. When I get truly stuck like that, one of the techniques that sometimes works is to back away from the story, look at it on a macro scale, and try to figure out where the obstruction popped up. It’s kind of like running a mental plumber’s snake through the clogged toilet of my brain. This time that process revealed to me that one of the main characters (arguably the central character of the entire plot) was a boring, dimensionless scoop of vanilla ice cream. “Suspect Device”, it turned out, was the story that takes place only after his story happens. This would have been fine if I was writing a novel, but it was too much of a digression for a short story. With that in mind, I realized that his background story was a story of its own, and that story is the one that you find in this anthology. I hope to revisit “Suspect Device” again someday to see if I can shake it loose.
Incidentally, the technology that serves as the centerpiece of “The Day the Earth Turned Day-Glo” represents a bit of creative self-cannibalization. Once upon a time, I convinced myself that it would be a great idea to write the book for a spy thriller rock opera based entirely on Electric Light Orchestra music. It was to be a story of two estranged lovers, each a world-class spy, who discover respectively that they are working separate angles of the same case. A villainous, reclusive businessman known to the world at large as Mr. Blue Sky develops a technology which allows him to control the sun and they can only stop him by burying past differences and working together. Act one would have ended with the villain
blotting out the sun while an adoring crowd sings his praises. Act two would have opened with “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” as the world descends into chaos. There would even have even been a pas-de- deux between the two agents to “Last Train to London”. Now that this story has been published, I’ll have to figure out another hook to pitch if I ever get stuck in an elevator with Jeff Lynne.
The anthology is about a Dystopian world (with or without aliens). Do you think that we’re closer to an apocalypse or a Dystopian society now than we have been in the past? Or are we already on our way there, without even realizing it?
I am typing this answer on the day after the collective members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the famed Doomsday Clock to 11:58, the closest it’s been to midnight since the 50s. I don’t think anyone can conscionably deny the current instability of our world. We are teetering on a brink like a school bus hanging off of a bridge in a Superman cartoon. I sincerely hope we all have the sense to hold our breath and lean back in our seats before the bus goes over the side. Because, let’s face it, Superman isn’t coming and we have to figure this shit out for ourselves. The thing that keeps me up at night is how many people seem all too eager to make a run for the front of the bus just because tipping it over the edge would be different than what we’ve done in the past. I honestly don’t get it.
Things have gotten a little…heated in recent times, especially when it comes to politics. Have you gotten any pushback or criticism because of the anthology’s theme?
Not yet. Granted, it’s only been out a couple of weeks. I’ve posted links to it on my social media pages, but have (so far) only seen support from known members of the so-called resistance. It’s been crickets from those friends and family who somehow maintain their support of what passes for the GOP these days. I would welcome a little pushback, just so long as the person pushing can convince me that they have read the book. Any knee-jerk criticism without investing the time to read is just lazy and/or stupid, and I don’t have the time to bother responding to laziness and/or stupidity. There’s way too much of that, and it’s really at both ends of the political spectrum. Reducing complex policy and human rights issues to t-shirt
slogans and bumper stickers and protest signs (and Twitter posts) is dangerously reductive, but we’ve been doing it for most of my lifetime. All anyone seems to want is to “score points” on those who disagree with them using mean tweets, one-dimensional memes, and talking points. Sure, everyone wants to feel secure their beliefs, and that’s how the biased media outlets like Fox News and MSNBC thrive. It’s like being a cozy cocoon when everyone agrees with you, and we all need that sometimes. But we can all benefit from time outside of our comfort zones.
I keep thinking of how our current social media culture was presaged for me in an old comic book letters page. It was in an issue of one of Garth Ennis’ comics. I think it was Preacher, but I’m not going to go digging through back issues to find it. Some rando wrote to tell Ennis what a hack he was and how shitty his writing was and endless invective diatribe… Ennis responded to this guy in true Irishman fashion, inviting him to come to a con and say these things to his face. He pointed out how easy it is to sit in the safety of anonymity, stare at a blank sheet of paper or blank screen and pour out hatred, but when an opportunity to express these thoughts face to face came, he was confident that the letter writer would shuffle his feet and mutter unintelligibly. Sometimes I fear we have gone too far the rabbit hole of internet anonymity to ever be capable of meaningful discourse.
When you think about the future, is Future Earth a scary or an optimistic place? Or have we, perhaps, already wiped ourselves out and this is a moot point?
It’s always a little scary. The unknown always is. It would be a lie to say it hasn’t gotten a hell of a lot grimmer over the past twelve months. There’s always been a pendulum swinging back and forth. We go through a period of conservatism for a while, then it swings back to progressivism. When the progress reaches a critical point, our culture goes into a state of shock and swings back to the right until people begin to realize how utterly joyless and boring a conservative society is. The past couple of years, what with Brexit and now this nonsense here in the states, I fear that the pendulum has broken loose from its moorings and threatens to crush us all. All that said, I tend to be one that seeks the good in everyone and
every situation. I see more people finding their political and artistic voices. I see more people engaged in true political debate than ever before. I hope it can drive people to turn away from empty sloganeering and start seeking elusive philosophical truths again. There’s an old saw about the things that don’t kill us making us stronger. I think the jury is still out on whether this bullshit will kill our republic, but can you imagine how much stronger and united we will be if we can find some way to knit the fracture our childish, vainglorious, chaos-loving president is so hell-bent on widening?
Since ICoS is all about survival, do you think you’d be more likely to survive an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse?
I don’t think I’d do so great in a zombie apocalypse. I really don’t like canned food enough for survival to feel worthwhile. Probably the alien invasion. I’d try to hitch a ride off-planet. I love to travel. Explore new places, sip exotic cocktails… (Editor’s note: I like the way you think. Assuming the aliens don’t eat or enslave me or feed me to their pets, I’d probably hitch a ride, too.)
What’s your favorite apocalyptic scenario?
What if all of the Hemsworth brothers were really just the same Hemsworth from alternate timelines, and those timelines are folding over each other like a schoolgirl’s hair braid? We are all living on borrowed time, awaiting the Great Hair-Tie when all the Hemsworths merge into one giant Voltron-like Hemsworth Overlord. The survivors of this coalesced timeline will bend in service or die in existential obscurity, flaking away like spiritual dandruff to float forever across the cosmos. Whatever the case, if it all ends up with my wife, my kids, and me safely barricaded inside of an impressively well-stocked library/liquor store/cookie bakery, it should be cool. (Editor’s note: sweet baby Groot, somebody please turn this into a movie.)
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or your writing?
The real secret of my writing is that I have the great good fortune of sharing a bed (and a life) with an English major who is lovingly unkind in her criticism of my work. Mary keeps me tremendously honest, and has, on untold occasions, provided the filter that spared the world at large from the more idiotic bits of rattletrap bouncing inside my skull. She’s always the sounding board for my brainstorming sessions and the first person to lay eyes on anything I produce. It’s the finest support system any writer could ever hope to have.
As I look ahead, it looks like this year might be sort of a big one. I’ll be writing a new superhero comic called Empire City for up-and- coming indy publisher Empire Comics Lab with my artist buddy (and fellow Psycho Drive-In contributor) Dave Hearn. I’m putting together a pitch for my contribution to the upcoming sequel to last year’s horror crime anthology “Noirlanthotep” from PDI Press. I am redoubling my efforts to find an ending for a coming-of-age-in-the-era-of-Pac-Man novel that’s been boiling on the back plate for several months, and I hope to finish a draft of it by the end of the year. I’m hoping to find time to continue work on a period crime saga centering around a character named Nick Domino. One Domino novella is complete, and I hope to follow it with a short story before digging into the next novella so that I can package all three stories together as the first volume of three, totaling nine stories in all. But that’s a long-term plan. And as if all that’s not enough, there’s a politically-charged stage play and a screenplay adaptation of a Trevanian novel vying for my creative attention. Back here in reality, my current
column at Psycho Drive-In is called “Everybody Dies”, and is a monthly look at films based on Shakespeare’s Tragedies.

Welcome to the North, where we will outlive you because… Winter.

Winter in The North, in case you come from a place where all the seasons aren’t properly represented, is about five months of cold and dark. Temperatures below freezing are not uncommon. Snow covering all surfaces for weeks at a time is likely.
Because winter mostly sucks and the most common coping mechanism is to hide from it. As soon as the first weather report of the winter season comes in, everyone rushes to the supermarket to buy canned and other non-perishable goods. Stocking up on other supplies makes sense too. It’s going to be cold and crappy out for a while after the first storm so no one wants to have to leave the house for toilet paper or dog food. Continue reading “Welcome to the North, where we will outlive you because… Winter.”

Tick tock goes the Armageddon clock: the Doomsday Clock moves forward

ICYMI: Yesterday, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock ahead by thirty seconds, and now it’s two minutes to midnight. Granted, it was 2.5 minutes to midnight before they moved the clock, so while it wasn’t a huge jump forward, it also indicates that globally, there are all sorts of situations that continue to deteriorate. (The decision to move the clock to 2.5 minutes to midnight, which happened in 2017, was in itself an unprecedented move since the clock typically only moves in full minute increments. Basically, things…aren’t great, and they keep getting worse.) (This is not the kind of time traveling I wanted to do.)
This is only the second time that the clock has gotten this close to midnight — the first time was in 1953, after the U.S. and the (then) U.S.S.R both conducted nuclear bomb testing. Comforting, right?
This time, the possibility of nuclear war is again a huge factor in the clock’s jump forward. While there hasn’t been bomb testing lately — at least, not of the kind that are dropped from planes, there has been missile testing. And missiles are basically just self-flying bombs, so there’s that. And aside from the actual weapons themselves, there’s also the fact that “hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions…have increased the possibility of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation.”
People have not been playing well in the sandbox lately. Unfortunately, a lot of those people have nuclear weapons. So…yeah.
But the nuclear threat isn’t the only reason the clock is moving forward. The Bulletin also includes the long-term effects of climate change — while increasing temperatures and the accompanying wacky weather and weather-related disasters don’t seem to affect us now, they will in the future. (Though there have been more disasters lately.)
Rapid technological change and emerging technologies is another concern. No, the Bulletin isn’t threatened by technology itself, but in how that technology is used. (So, you know, trying to influence election outcomes and that sort of thing is super not cool.)
And then, of course, there’s the “breakdown in the international order” — there’s concern about the US stepping back from its role as a global leader…and there’s concern about all the finger-pointing and name-calling that’s been going on lately. (See: people in the sandbox.)
The TL;DR version of this is: the Doomsday Clock has jumped forward to 11:58 pm, the closest it’s been to midnight since 1953. We’re inching closer to the apocalypse, and contributing factors are: the global nuclear threat; the continued effects of climate change; technology and the not-cool-use of said technology; and the current WTF nature of international diplomacy.
 

References:

“2018 Doomsday Clock Statement.” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. January 25, 2018. Accessed January 26, 2018. https://thebulletin.org/2018-doomsday-clock-statement.
 

See also:

Doomsday Clock Statement Press Release: https://thebulletin.org/press-release/it-now-2-minutes-midnight11464
Behind the Design of the Doomsday Clock (The Atlantic): https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/11/doomsday-clock-michael-bierut-design/412936/
What is the Doomsday Clock and why does it matter? (Wired UK): http://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-the-doomsday-clock

GIANT BABY ZOMBIES: Language Game

Learning a language is a hard but important undertaking. I’m constantly starting and then forgetting to finish courses on DuoLingo. Hopefully, Giant Baby Zombies is the answer.
Giant Baby Zombies is a game that forces you to learn a language to beat it and save the world. Appealing to our sense of vanity might be the answer to forcing growth and development.
Maybe if the future of the world depends remembering the difference between camisa and comida people might be able to commit.
Zombies, Run was able to convince me to stay active because of an interesting apocalyptic story (and making me feel important). Maybe Wise Punch Games’ Giant Baby Zombies can get me to exercise my mind. Just the title is getting my imagination going… that’s part of the mind.
While language is important now, it will be will become especially relevant when navigating the post-apocalyptic world.

Giant Baby Zombies will launch around New Year’s Resolution season in 2018.

A batch of contaminated vaccines shipped to major cities around the world has led to an outbreak of Giant Baby Zombies. But not all is lost, their humanity can be restored. Your biggest challenge, as a military programmer, is operating an 1960’s supercomputer in a language you do not know how to speak yet. Launch state-of-the-art audio rockets that contain de-zombifying chemicals, and most importantly an 8-track cassette tape of a local language, recognized by the Giant Baby Zombies. What will you choose to learn? Japanese, Chinese, Irish, Spanish, Filipino, or English?
Name: Giant Baby Zombies
Price: $14.99
Release date: Early 2018
Platform: PC and Apple Mac on Steam
WebsiteGiantBabyZombies.com

Likely Apocalypses: Asteroid Apocalypse

It’s time to look at another possible apocalypse! (This is actually the last in our series of likely apocalypses, so if you have any ideas for other things that could wipe us off the face the planet, let us know!) This month’s apocalypse is an asteroid or meteor strike. (Probably an asteroid.) Unlike some of the possibilities we’ve looked at, this one doesn’t give us much control. There aren’t a whole lot of things we can do at the moment to nudge an asteroid if it’s on a collision course with the planet. (And, you know, sending Ben Affleck to nuke an asteroid isn’t really the world’s best solution to inevitable doom and destruction.) One day we might be able to use the USS Enterprise to pull an asteroid away with its tractor beam, but at the moment, we have…uh, we have Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and some nukes.
Let’s face it: in the grand scheme of things, Earth is a sitting duck. I mean, it’s not exactly going anywhere. (Relative to some astronomical objects, that is. You know, like asteroids.) Compared to the much more mobile asteroids, meteors, and comets, Earth is…well, it’s stationary. Which means that it’s a pretty easy target. And we know that we’re not immune to space bombardment — there are impact craters all over the world; currently, the Earth Impact Database has 190 confirmed “impact structures.” Okay, so 190 doesn’t seem like a lot, considering how big the planet really is, but have you looked at the moon lately? Impact craters, ahoy!
Anyway, my point is, asteroids, meteorites, and other assorted hurtling space objects have the ability to wipe us all out. The possibility is there, and it pops up every now and again.

What would an apocalypse by an asteroid look like?

Well, it wouldn’t be pretty. Big boom, lots of destruction, ash and debris covering the sun, doom, despair, yada yada. I mean, the dinosaurs aren’t here to talk about what they went through, but I can’t imagine it was anything fun.
The immediate impact zone would be obliterated instantly, but the rest of the world would probably die a slow and painful death. Lack of sunlight would mean less plant growth, which would mean less food, which would mean starvation. The water supply would probably be cut off or contaminated to some extent. The Internet would be cut off. People would lament the loss of funny cat videos and Instagram photos of people’s lunches. People would riot (because people always riot; also, see: no Internet). People would die. People would eat each other when the food ran out (well, hopefully not, but who knows). People would turn into zombies (kidding).
Of course, that’s assuming it’s a large asteroid, one capable of triggering an extinction event similar to the K-T event (the one that killed off the dinosaurs). If were smaller, then it would look a bit different. So, in that case, maybe things on Earth would change just enough to make it difficult or impossible for humanity to survive. For example, maybe the soil changes just enough so that crops won’t grow. Or it would “just” wipe out a major city or two. Or, like the Tunguska event, there would be damage, but not mass destruction.
I suppose, in some ways, that anything is possible, depending on the size of the asteroid and where on the planet it actually hits.

How likely is an asteroid apocalypse?

Impacts from space objects/debris are actually fairly common, but most of those are pretty small and land in places where no one notices. However, large meteorites (objects that actually hit the planet are called meteorites), especially extinction-triggering ones like Apophis, are rare. So while I don’t think a full-on extinction event is likely, a smaller but still devastating impact could be.

What could we do to survive an asteroid apocalypse?

Avoiding a collision with an asteroid would be ideal, really. I mean, if nothing hits us, then it would be super easy to survive, right? (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
So, how do we avoid an asteroid impact? Send Bruce Willis and his scrappy team of drillers to nuke it out of orbit, obviously. (But in case our intrepid team is unavailable, I’m sure Elon Musk will come up with something.)
In all seriousness, I’m not exactly sure how we would truly be able to avoid an asteroid impact if one was on a collision course with Earth. NASA is currently working on technology that will deflect an asteroid, which would be pretty cool if it actually gets up and running, but as of now it’s still in development.
At the moment, all we can really do is keep an eye on the skies and track near-Earth objects as best as we can. Luckily, NASA has a project that does just that (you saw that one coming, didn’t you?) NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies has several teams who search for and track all the fun things that are zipping around out there in space. Hopefully they can give us enough notice of anything big enough that could kill us (and hopefully the DART program is fully operational when they do).
But if an asteroid hits us before we have the ability to redirect it, well, things could be bad. Our ability to survive would likely depend on the size of the asteroid that hits — if it’s a smaller asteroid, survival could depend solely on where it lands. If it hits a city, it would be super crappy to be living in that city, now wouldn’t it?

Likely apocalypses: the hyper-intelligent animal

It’s time to look at another likely apocalypse! We’re nearing the end of our list of possibilities, so if you have a possible apocalypse you’d like us to take a look at, just let us know. This month’s possibility is a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse. I know, I know — it sounds totally out there, but hey, dolphins are super smart, and at some point they might get tired of jumping through hoops on command, so an animal revolt could be a thing one day. (Are you prepared for your dolphin overlords?)
Of course, I’m not saying that animals aren’t smart. I mean, okay, so they may not be Einstein, but animals are intelligent — some more than others (looking at you, dolphins). That said, they haven’t figured out how to make nukes (yet, anyway), so there’s that.
Anyway. If, one day, there are suddenly a bunch of animals who can communicate in Human and use opposable thumbs, what would happen if they wanted to take over the world? Just in case you’ve been pondering this burning question (who hasn’t, right?), then you’re in luck, because that’s what we’re looking at!

What would a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse look like?

(First, I’m going to say here that “hyper-intelligent,” for the purposes of this article, is to have a level of communication, intelligence, reasoning, deduction, and analysis that is comparable to that of humans. That may be closer to reality for some animals than others, of course.)
Personally, I’m thinking a reverse zoo. At first, anyway. Honestly, I think a pissed off and vengeful Shamu would want to lock us up in similar conditions, even if it’s only for a little while. And while we’re all locked up in cages, they can a) point, laugh, and ask us how we like them apples, and b) go take over the world.
Then, of course, we’ll have to bow down to our new animal overlords.
Or maybe we’ll just spend the rest of our lives trying to escape from angry badgers bent on revenge. Who the hell knows.
Okay, in all seriousness, I’m not convinced that animals on their own could cause an apocalypse that would wipe out the human race. But, in the right circumstances, they could take advantage of an extinction event (whatever that may be). So, to speculate a little: let’s say that there’s a nuclear war (I’m not going to speculate on what causes that war, though). Let’s just say that the world goes boom. There’s nuclear winter, radiation everywhere, humans do not survive. But, like in the aftermath of the dinosaur extinction, something survives. Maybe it’s lizards. Maybe it’s snakes. Maybe it’s the peregrine falcon. Maybe it’s the Canada goose. Maybe several animal species survives. In any case, let’s say that these survivors, helped along by radiation, evolve much faster than they normally would. Now they’re “hyper-intelligent.” They may not have opposable thumbs, but they’ve found a way to compensate.
And then…they take over the world. And Earth becomes the planet of the geese. Or something.

How likely is a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse?

Well, it depends on what apocalyptic scenario we’re looking at. The scenario in which one or two animal species rise up and take over the human race? Probably not all that likely. But the scenario in which a surviving species (or multiple surviving species) pick up the pieces of a decimated world in which humans have already been wiped out? Likely.
After all, it’s already happened. (Poor dinosaurs.)

How do you survive a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse?

Scenario one: make friends with your new animal overlords, pronto. Maybe they’ll consider you useful. Or it’ll be a reverse pet thing. Either way, you’ll (hopefully) be alive, and you’ll (hopefully) be treated well.
Scenario two: you can’t.

Likely Apocalypses: Government Collapse

It’s time to look at another likely apocalypse! This month, we’re looking at government collapse.
Let’s be honest — if there’s a likely apocalypse that’s more likely than others, it might be this one. The world is sort of terrifying and terrible right now. And is it just me, or does it seem like the world is a hair trigger away from world nuclear war? (And if it comes to that, I’m pretty sure my country is doomed. We have no nukes, and we live next door to a country that does, but has also said they won’t come to our aid.)

What would an apocalypse by government collapse look like?

Probably nothing good. (I mean, really.) But let’s break it down a bit. For a government collapse to cause a worldwide apocalypse, it would have to be the government of a large, powerful country. It would have to be powerful enough to wreak havoc on the global economy, and would have to be big enough that its collapse would trigger a worldwide threat. So, this would probably mean the collapse of the U.S., the U.K. (maybe?), Germany, Russia, or China. Maybe France. And I think it would have to be more than one government collapsing at the same time. It might be possible for the world to overcome one major power falling apart, but two or even three or more? That’s harder.
Aside: if France or Germany collapse, would that also trigger the collapse of the EU itself? Because that would domino this apocalypse into fast-forward.
Also! I think that, for a government collapse to bring about the apocalypse, it would have to be the total breakdown in the government itself. Like, maybe a Designated Survivor season 1 type of collapse, only without Kiefer Sutherland there to save the day. Not “oh the government is collapsing based on the results of the last election.” Though…I suppose that might be true, in a slow-and-painful-death sort of way. And, of course, I suppose that the population could rise up and there could be a revolution or a coup or something, and a government could collapse because of the people. (If there was a revolution, what would happen after? Anarchy? A puppet government? A military dictatorship? The next Napoleon? The possibilities are seemingly endless!)
In any case, regardless of how it happens, a country’s government would have to fall apart, completely, with chaos and confusion and all that fun stuff. The local currency is devalued (probably), people lose money, there are riots, borders close, people (probably) die. (It doesn’t sound fun.)
And what happens after? Once all the chaos dies down, are we then left with the Hunger Games? Or maybe Incorporated? (That show was cancelled far too soon, by the way.) Or Blade Runner? Or Planet of the Apes if we all end up mutated from radiation?

Is an apocalypse by government collapse likely?

Well. I think it could be. I mean, I think it’s certainly possible. More possible than any of the other likely apocalypses I’ve talked about, with the exception of maybe nuclear war (which, in all likelihood, would be related to a government breakdown).
Let’s face it — the world is a touch unpleasant and scary right now. I think, honestly, that the world going down the road toward anarchy or dystopia is quite possible. Would that be caused by a government collapse (or many governments collapsing)? I don’t know. It could. Or it could be caused by governments hitting red buttons and the world going poof. At this point, anything’s possible, really. But I think that the world is on a very precarious ledge at the moment, and at it could crumble and collapse at any moment.

How can we survive an apocalypse by government collapse?

Um. I don’t know. Go off the grid, maybe? Build an underground bunker? Pray and hope for the best?
Honestly, I don’t know. I think that, whether we like it or not, the government plays such a big role in people’s lives (either directly or indirectly), that there’s just no surefire way to survive a collapse.

Understand Sunscreen…or die.

Sunscreen is inconvenient to a point where it’s hard to be certain if the benefits are completely worth the frustration. Technically, by using measures of vanity and longevity, the benefit of using sunscreen regularly does far outweigh the hassle.
Depending on the type of sun protection used the pros can range from reducing the risk of skin cancer to increasing the time spent as a desirable and attractive person. The sun can destroy not only the quality of you looks but also the quality of your life.
Before or after the end of the world skin cancer will be the most commonly occurring and easily addressed of the cancers. But sunscreen isn’t only about skin cancer: it’s also about staying pretty and looking young for as long as possible.

The sun provides UV rays in a number of forms.

A few of these forms are plotting to kill you.

UVA will get under you skin and age you prematurely. UVB will give you sunburns and skin cancer. UVC will wait patiently for the silly mortals to destroy the ozone so it can pop in and turn the earth into a scorching wasteland where everyone lives underground and fights for water.

Name

Abbreviation

Notes / alternative names

How it will kill you

Ultraviolet A

UVA

Long-wave, black light, not absorbed by the ozone layer

Ew; your face…

You’ll lose your looks and thus weaken your negotiation ability and lower your social status, you ugly old hag.

Ultraviolet B

UVB

Medium-wave, mostly absorbed by the ozone layer

Slowly rotting like a statue in a slow motion fire!

Cancer causing agent and Sunburns slowing you down and crippling you making others more inclined to leave you for dead.

Ultraviolet C

UVC

Short-wave, germicidal, completely absorbed by the ozone layer and atmosphere

Goodbye, cruel world!

These rays get absorbed by the ozone and atmosphere so as this barrier rots away UVC rays make their way to earth and start destroying any living cells they glance at without even getting close enough to throw things.

Modified from chart found here.

The two types of Sunscreen can protect you from the two antagonists against mortals: UVA and UVB

UVC is just another fun way to die slowly but surely (or cure your seasonal depression and disinfect objects).

The choice between Chemical and Physical is personal and the market even offers hybrid products that combine the two. Chemical Sunscreen absorbs UV radiation and Physical Sunscreen reflects UV radiation.

Think Screen = Chemical and Block=Physical

Chemical sunscreens are more likely to be irritating to the skin and contain ingredients that may be absorbed into the skin. Some of these ingredients, retinol for example, can actually increase potential sun damage over time. Benzophenones have been linked to internal, systemic damage.
While Chemical sunscreen has its drawbacks, it is also the best option for anyone who plans to sweat or get wet as it’s more water resistant than a Physical sunscreen.
As the name implies, Physical sunscreen creates an actual protective block that rejects the UV rays away from the skin.
Physical sunscreen is usually made of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide and will often leave a ghastly white/grey cast on skin with any hint of melanin. This pallor is a pro if the wearer is trying to blend in with the dead on a hot day, but a con if they wish to look like a healthy human.
Application, irritation, look, reapplication, and more will factor into which type someone prefers.

Physical Sunscreen

Chemical Sunscreen

Application

Before exposure

15+ minutes before exposure

Reapplication

Every 2 Hours

Every 2 Hours – more often if sweating or getting wet

Irritation

Less likely to cause irritation

More likely to cause irritation

Concerns

If it looks terrible you’re less likely to wear it or reapply it throughout the day.

· Chemicals that can be absorbed into the body

· May contain ingredients that increase sun damage overtime.

Try not to use spray-on sunscreens because they’re bad for the environment and no type of sunscreen should be inhaled.

But What about Vitamin D?!

Who better to ask than The Vitamin D Council?

Other factors
There are other factors which can affect the amount of vitamin D your body makes from exposure to the sun. These are:
· The amount of skin you expose. The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D you can produce.
· How old you are. As you get older, your skin has a harder time producing vitamin D.
· Whether you’re wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks a lot of vitamin D production.
· The altitude you’re at. The sun is more intense on top of a mountain than at the beach. This means you make more vitamin D the higher up you are (at higher altitudes).
· Whether it is cloudy. Less UVB reaches your skin on a cloudy day and your skin makes less vitamin D.
· Air pollution. Polluted air soaks up UVB or reflects it back into space. This means that if you live somewhere where there is lots of pollution, your skin makes less vitamin D.
· Being behind glass. Glass blocks all UVB, so you can’t make vitamin D if you’re in sunlight, but behind glass.

Your skin type

Melanin is a substance that affects how light or dark your skin color is. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin color. The amount of melanin you have in your skin affects the amount of vitamin D you can produce.
Melanin protects against skin damage from too much UVB exposure, so darker skins with more melanin allow less UVB to enter the skin. With less UVB getting through the skin, less vitamin D is produced each minute. This is why if you’re dark skinned, you need more sun exposure to make vitamin D than if you’re fair skinned.

The table below shows the different skin types:
Skin Type Skin color Skin characteristics
I
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Very fair; red or blond hair; blue eyes; freckles Always burns, never tans
II
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Fair; sandy or red hair; blue, hazel or green eyes Usually burns, tans with difficulty
III
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Fair; with any eye or hair color; very common Sometimes mild burn, gradually tans
IV
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Dark brown hair, green, hazel or brown eyes. Rarely burns, tans with ease
V
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Dark brown and black hair; brown and dark brown eyes. Very rarely burns, tans very easily
VI
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Black hair, dark brown eyes. May never burn, tans very easily

The paler your skin type the more easily your skin can produce vitamin D. So, if you have skin type I to III, you produce vitamin D more quickly than if you have skin type IV to VI. For example, if you have skin type I, it might take around 15 minutes of sun exposure to get the vitamin D you need, while if you have skin type V or VI, it might take up to six times longer (up to 2 hours).
Because of all these factors – your skin type, where you live and the time of day or season – it can be difficult to work out how much time you need to spend exposing your skin to the sun in order to get the vitamin D you need. A good rule of thumb is to get half the sun exposure it takes for your skin to begin to burn to get your vitamin D and expose as much skin as possible.

Likely Apocalypses: Plague Apocalypse

It’s time to examine some more likely apocalypses! (Yay!) This time, let’s look at the possibility of a deadly plague.
One of the most famous plagues in history is the Plague. That is, the Black Death (or the Black Plague). It killed over one-third of Europe’s population in the mid-1300s. As the Black Death made its way across Europe, towns and villages were full of mass graves, quarantines, plague masks, and dead people. It was not a pleasant time.
I imagine that at the end of it all, people were relieved to, you know, not be dying anymore. It was gone, and life could go back to normal, without the threat of another epidemic.
Except…it’s not gone.
No, really. It isn’t. It’s still around in some parts of the world, lurking, waiting for some unsuspecting rat or flea to pick it up and carry it around. (It was recently found in Arizona.) (Have you stocked up on plague masks yet?)
The intervening centuries have been relatively kind to our plague friend, and it’s just as deadly as it was in the fourteenth century. Sure, there are treatments available nowadays, but it can still kill you.
The “black plague” is actually a bacterial infection that goes by the lovely name of Yersinia pestis (sounds friendly, doesn’t it?). There are three forms: bubonic (found in the lymph nodes); septicemic (found in the bloodstream); and pneumonic (an advanced stage when the bacteria is passed directly from person to person). It is, quite frankly, terrifying and terrible (sort of like Ebola, but from rats and fleas). It’s super virulent, and if it isn’t caught and treated in time, it will probably kill you in a horribly gruesome way. (God help you if you reach the pneumonic stage, because you’ll probably die.)

Can the plague cause an apocalypse?

YOU BETCHA. If not the plague, then a plague. It might be Ebola. Or Marburg. Or SARS. Or some flu variant that hasn’t been discovered yet. But a deadly epidemic (of whatever) has always been a possible apocalypse – there are a lot more bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics these days, and there are some crazy deadly viruses floating around out there.
We have learned, through some awesome epidemics like the Black Death, the Spanish Flu, and even more recent epidemics like H1N1 and SARS, that bacteria and viruses are very effective at killing people. If there’s something out there that’s untreatable, deadly, and spreads quickly, well…bye y’all. It’s been nice knowing you.
I mean, apocalypse by illness is so possible that “biological warfare” is an actual thing.

How can you survive a plague apocalypse?

Get thee to an isolated compound, preferably underground, with no contact with the outside world. But make sure the people in the compound aren’t already infected, or you’re screwed anyway.
Honestly, if a fun new disease is going to kill the human race, there isn’t going to be much that we can do. If our immune systems can’t handle it, then no amount of herbs are going to save us, and no vaccines will, either (especially if it moves too quickly or mutates too fast).

Likely Apocalypses: Religious Apocalypse

So far in our list of possible apocalypses, we’ve looked at worldwide nuclear war, environmental disaster, the zombie apocalypse, and a robot apocalypse in more detail. Now, let’s take a look at the possibility of a religious apocalypse.
Okay, to be honest, a religious apocalypse seems pretty unlikely. (But if I’m wrong and god rains hellfire on us, then it’s probably also not survivable. Sorry about that.) Sure, there always seem to be a few people telling everyone and their dog that the Rapture is on its way and we’re in the End Times (and don’t forget the “Mayan Apocalypse” of 2012!), but apocalypse by deity is, at this time, not the most likely.
That said, nearly every religion speaks about the end of the world – eschatology is included in most holy writings in some way. (And, admittedly, it’s my favorite part of theology…maybe this was why my theology professors were always bemused? Hmm.) Christianity, with its Book of Revelation, probably has the best known religious apocalyptic example. And really, it sounds long, involved, and possibly complicated, what with the Seven Seals and the four horsemen and all that. But most, if not all, religions include something about the End Times in their books/texts/teachings. Even “ancient” religions (I use quotation marks because reconstructionists are bringing some of those religions back to life), speak about the end of the world. See: Ragnarok.
Regardless of what the religious texts claim will happen afterwards (a new and better world where there’s actual, honest to god world peace, for example), the end result is always the same: the world as we know it will end. Maybe God/the gods and goddesses/the Goddess/Source/the Universe/what have you just gets tired of watching us doom ourselves and steps in with the reset button. Who knows?

What could it look like?

Who knows! (I’m being serious.) Religions do talk about the end times, but they don’t always agree on what will bring about the end of the world. Now, I’m not well-versed in a lot of other religions, so what I know of their eschatology is based on Internet research. But, a quick Google search gives me a worldwide flood, a river of molten metal, demons, the Antichrist, a Judgement Day (no, not that Judgment Day), the degeneration of society (hmm…), and the appearance of seven suns in the sky. And those aren’t even all of the possibilities.
So really, when talking about specifics, no one actually knows what a religious apocalypse could look like. What we do know is that there will be doom and despair and destruction.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Could a religious apocalypse actually happen?

Well, if there are deities out there watching us (and the end times haven’t started yet), I suppose there’s a possibility that they’ll throw up their hands in defeat and hit the reset button on human civilization because have you looked at us lately? We haven’t exactly been the models of modern major generals paragons of peace and love and kindness and friendship and all of those other general good things.
Okay, I suppose anything is possible. But I think it’s more likely that the gods will just abandon this sinking ship and pretend it never happened, so a religious apocalypse will probably not be a thing.
But if I’m wrong, I’m sorry. And if you find yourself sitting in a lovely handbasket during the end of the world, save a spot for me, will you?

What can we do to survive a religious apocalypse?

Repent, ye sinners. Or pray. Actually, I don’t know.