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Phrost
5/24/2011 11:00am,
12590
I tried for two minutes to come up with a joke about PC file systems before I gave up and just wrote this caption, mentioning that I saved this image under the title "FAT16".


Part of what I do professionally involves spending a lot of time on various social media sites. Consequently, I stumble into things I wouldn't otherwise seek out. This article started off as a post for Reddit.com's “Collapse (http://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/)” section where people discuss emergency preparedness along side some concerns about how eventually everything's going to go to ****; either slowly over time, or catastrophically overnight. There are some pretty good discussions being had there, but there are also some flat-out fucking stupid ones.

The bad ones, from what I've seen, tend to largely center around a certain sub-subculture of people who follow that section because they're desperately hoping a collapse will somehow make their currently crappy lives better. When I get the free time to respond to posts over there, I'll occasionally rebut some of the dumber ones, pointing out that if you're a failure in this modern, convenient, snuggly-soft civilization, you're going to be a colossal failure in one where people want to shank you for a pair of clean underwear and a few hours with your female family members.

But it's that section which inspired me to write this, especially given the amount of overlap between the Martial Arts and “survivalist” culture. For example, we've got guys like Phil Elmore. Now I haven't checked in on him for a while, so it's entirely possible by now that he's not exactly a good example of this. The last time I genuinely paid attention to the guy, he'd been posing in the woods with a katana. So as far as I'm concerned, that'll do, piggy.


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61Zti4cB4OL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
Phil Elmore's "Street Sword", still apparently on sale at Amazon.com.

A significant portion of the survivalist community is fat. And I'm not talking about carrying a few extra pounds, I'm talking about 40+ pounds over the weight ideal for their frames. While it's a good idea to have some extra body fat, that's only an asset if your fitness level is such that it doesn't slow you down, make you more easily fatigued, or compromise your ability to react in a SHTF situation.

I imagine the reasons for certain members of this subculture being overweight are very similar to the reasons why the fattest martial artists tend to flock to the least realistic Martial Arts. Because for certain people, fantasy is much more gratifying than reality, and confronting reality means you have to put in genuine effort in order to prepare for and accomplish certain goals (whether they are becoming effective at fighting, or being legitimately prepared for a disaster).


12591
That's not ballistic gel

If you consider yourself a Survivalist, think for a second about the term itself: "survival". Who is more likely to survive a bad situation: the guy with a stockpile of MREs and ammunition who is one baconator away from collapsing with a heart attack, or the tri-athlete who has the conditioning to keep moving away from danger at a fast pace?

Hank Williams Jr. said that "a country boy can survive", and many survivalists are themselves "country boys". But Hank wasn't talking about Larry the Tactical Guy in the surplus store ACUs, huffing and puffing through the woods after a deer he shot from the comfort of a tree stand. Bocephus was talking about an outdoorsman with a body toughened by hard work, as the foundation for all his other, practical, survival skills.


12592
This country boy can't survive missing lunch, let alone a natural disaster

Failing to be in functional shape is for a survivalist, like building a bank on top of a marsh. It doesn't matter how many shiny things you have in the vault, how much money and time you've spent, how many skills you've learned if your foundation is weak. As unrealistically Hollywood as the movie Red Dawn was, it'd have been exponentially more unrealistic if instead of high school athletes fighting a guerrilla insurgency against the Soviets, it'd been middle-aged fat guys who spent more time on the Internet discussing the contents of their “Bug Out Bags” than actually strapping on a pack and going for hikes with it.

People who are genuinely concerned with their own chances of survival in a bad situation don't keep their heads stored in the warm space between their ass cheeks. They know that there's no point to accumulating skills, equipment, supplies, etc, if you're just as doughy-soft as a LAN party in an abandoned bakery. They care more about practical issues, practical threats, and implementing practical control measures to reduce the level of risk.


12593
This dirty hippie is more likely to survive a zombie invasion than you are.

And as a practical matter, if you can't jog a mile in under 10 minutes without wanting to collapse, you need to STFU about SHTF. This goes without saying for people who aren't into the survivalist subculture as a perverse form of escapism. But I suspect that the number of escapists is far greater than the number of clear-headed individuals who realize that it wouldn't take much at all for the proverbial **** to hit the aphoristic fan, and consequently, take reasonable steps to ensure themselves and their loved ones will be cared for in such situations.


12594
The author himself, saying "ruck, you".

Matt Phillips
5/24/2011 11:16am,
I'll occasionally rebut some of the dumber ones, pointing out that if you're a failure in this modern, convenient, snuggly-soft civilization, you're going to be a colossal failure in one where people want to shank you for a pair of clean underwear and a few hours with your female family members.
You can't really believe this. Can you see Wez from Road Warrior with a nice suburban home and an accounting practice?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zxGZYqmo4M

Phrost
5/24/2011 11:23am,
I do believe this, because the reason those escapist wannabes are praying for the collapse of society is because they lack the social skills needed to make a half-decent way through said society.

But it's those very same social skills that are paramount when the structures of law and social norms break down or disappear; if you can't build a rapport with another person at the register when you're picking up ten bags of Cheetos, you're certainly not going to build a rapport with someone who is trying to decide whether or not to kill you for your shoes.

Cullion
5/24/2011 11:31am,
How much time have you spent learning how to grow food and perform basic electrical and mechanical repairs to vehicles, diesel generators and the like?

Because if the ATMs ever stop working, that will matter more than how convincingly you can enact your favourite action movie fantasy about beating dudes up with totally realistic martial arts or outrunning the monsters.

Phrost
5/24/2011 11:34am,
How much time have you spent learning how to grow food and perform basic electrical and mechanical repairs ? Because if the ATMs ever stop working, that will matter more than how convincingly you can enact your favourite action movie fantasy about beating dudes up with totally realistic martial arts or outrunning the monsters.

Are you asking me personally, or just posing a general question to the "audience"?

Obviously those skills are important, but they're also way beyond the scope of this piece. I'm only attacking the ridiculous nature of people who are concerned with survival being in generally poor health.

For the record, I grew up in the country. I've planted crops, chopped the heads of chickens and plucked their feathers, hunted, fished, etc. We had horses; I learned to ride, and how to care for them.

I'm pretty good on those, dude.

Ice Hole
5/24/2011 11:36am,
Can you imagine the Humongous as a branch manager in his former life? I can.

All you need to turn that fat into muscle is some radioactive mutation and steroids to realize your destiny of being a nomadic warlord.

That, and a biker army.

Matt Phillips
5/24/2011 11:38am,
I agree with Neal that some personalities are losers in most possible worlds . I'm just hoping you realize many of the most fit individuals for RWAS (Road-Warrior-Anarchy-Scenario) are considered sociopaths in our world. True, a few of them are successful... we know them as "cult leaders", or famous (serial killers)

P.S. I used Wez instead of the Lord Humongous because I didn't want to bring sociocide into this.

Phrost
5/24/2011 11:49am,
There's a difference between being a sociopath and lacking social skills. Some of history's greatest sociopaths had loads of social skills. You don't become a leader of any group, be it a tribe of post-apocalyptic raiders or the local skeptics meet-up group, without possessing superior social skills relative to those around you.

This is one of the threads I was referencing: http://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/comments/dq6i9/i_want_to_share_a_quote_from_one_of_the_greatest/

Cullion
5/24/2011 12:03pm,
Are you asking me personally, or just posing a general question to the "audience"?

Obviously those skills are important, but they're also way beyond the scope of this piece. I'm only attacking the ridiculous nature of people who are concerned with survival being in generally poor health.

They're mostly just fat. A few months without ready access to processed food and refined sugars would fix that. I'm still putting my money on the (initially) fat redneck who knows how to grow food and shoot over the office worker who goes jogging.

A year after MOMENT ZERO, being fat would be a status symbol.

Ignorami
5/24/2011 12:09pm,
They're mostly just fat. A few months without ready access to processed food and refined sugars would fix that.

Yes, they'd commit suicide. The fat fucks.

MikeRC
5/24/2011 12:09pm,
I'm involved with this topic deeply, both as a hobby and through my job with the Red Cross Emergency Services, and have actively taken part in many large scale, real life SHTF situations.
Let me say that without a doubt, you can look at the level of fitness, and specifically the amount of body fat, and make a very accurate assessment of someone's ability to deal with an extreme situation in an effective and composed manner.
Being disciplined physically pays off massive dividends in the ability to deal with harsh situations that leave the indulgent, marshmallow eaters frozen and waiting for rescue.

gregaquaman
5/24/2011 12:12pm,
my understanding is the whole thing is pretty much based on conjecture. Apart from the hurricane Katrinas and that sort of mischeif. People are preparing for what might happen.

That has got to encourage some serious fantasy

Phrost
5/24/2011 12:14pm,
I'm involved with this topic deeply, both as a hobby and through my job with the Red Cross Emergency Services, and have actively taken part in many large scale, real life SHTF situations.
Let me say that without a doubt, you can look at the level of fitness, and specifically the amount of body fat, and make a very accurate assessment of someone's ability to deal with an extreme situation in an effective and composed manner.
Being disciplined physically pays off massive dividends in the ability to deal with harsh situations that leave the indulgent, marshmallow eaters frozen and waiting for rescue.

Fantastic post, thanks for the insight.

Cullion's right, fat stores will burn away in a total collapse. But the fat, and more importantly, lack of fitness, is just an indicator of the person's lack of discipline and inability to make good choices. And the ability to make good decisions is of supreme importance when bad things happen.

Ignorami
5/24/2011 12:15pm,
Very few individuals are going to have the skills to survive a SHTF situation in any kind of long term sense.

Any real chance of survival is going to come from groups of people exchanging skills for mutual benefit. (Much like now, but in smaller groups.)

If you want to be in one of these groups, social skills are going to be vital. The only alternative is to offer the group something so awesome that people are willing to overlook the fact you are an arse.

That means either you are getting short-changed to stay in the group, or they are going to flat-out rape you for it.

Common sense, basic fitness, and social skills FTW

Cullion
5/24/2011 12:19pm,
Phrost, if we were talking about martial arts and Mike's post didn't fit your preconceived opinion, you'd dismiss it as anecdotal.


But the fat, and more importantly, lack of fitness, is just an indicator of the person's lack of discipline and inability to make good choices. And the ability to make good decisions is of supreme importance when bad things happen.

It's a good job we had Nevillle Chamberlin in charge and not Winston Churchill during.. oh wait.

Phrost, this is a bit like your Heinlein thing. You just watch too many action films.

Matt Phillips
5/24/2011 12:19pm,
There's a difference between being a sociopath and lacking social skills. Some of history's greatest sociopaths had loads of social skills. You don't become a leader of any group, be it a tribe of post-apocalyptic raiders or the local skeptics meet-up group, without possessing superior social skills relative to those around you.

True, but the leaders are a tiny, tiny proportion of the "fit" population. Also, if you think Steve Jobs, Orpah or Moot would last a day without police and frozen food you're kidding yourself, social skills or no.
This is one of the threads I was referencing:


http://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/comments/dq6i9/i_want_to_share_a_quote_from_one_of_the_greatest/
LOL