Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What Not to Do In: The Nonspecific Apocalypse of your choosing.

Good day/evening/morning/unspecified time-without-time to you, Internet! This week there was a bit of a hiccup with ties and such which resulted in further tying, so I'm going to do my "I'm in charge" thing and make the best executive decision possible based on what, among the two chosen, I think will have the better write up. Normally I try to avoid ties in interest of getting the clearest possible image of what you guys want, but hey; A baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do and all that nonsense.

Now that we've completed our requisite weekly nostalgia trip, we can move on.
As for other things I heard about this week and would like to share, first of all the EU Court of Justice has overruled the no-resale clause in software EULAs. What does this mean for you? It means that, in the European Union, people have the right to resell any digital software they may have downloaded after purchasing, something we still can't do over here. It also weakens the digital retailer's ability to remove all access to anything you've purchased because of slight infractions or simple misunderstandings which yes, is totally a thing that happens. In the short term this doesn't really mean much if you live in the states, but it's a pretty exciting thing overall; finally another victory for consumer rights in the copyright battles. You can read the PCGamer article about it here

In less annoying and more adorable news, I'd like to share a Flog with all of you. Specifically, the Flog run by Felicia Day, a general nerd culture person who is known for appearances in various Joss Whedon things, as well as her own web series, The Guild. The Flog is basically a mishmash of cool stuff, retro games, miscellaneous skills, and the occasional piece of heavy equipment and all in all, it's really very entertaining, definitely worth checking out, regardless of your own personal nerd status.

That's really about all there is for news. Let's get this started proper now.

What Not To Do In:
The Nonspecific Apocalypse of your Choice

You know what's wrong with the world these days? Everyone is obsessed with death.

You tell them, brother.
Death and destruction have always been a popular topic for us. The end of the world is no different; we've hypothesized (some might say fantasized) about the world ending ever since we've had the wherewithal to understand that it even began in the first place. These days though, it's looking like it might really happen; all the signs point to it. There's unrest across the world, immorality and bears run rampant, the Top-40 is mostly trash these days, and I swear to God, my internet is actively screwing with me. Truly, the end of days is upon us.

But which end of days? Everyone and their grandmother's book of divination has a different idea of how the world ends and every time I try to research into the subject, any survival guide I can find is clearly fraught with bias. That simply will not do. What if it's a robot uprising and I only planned for zombies? What if it's a religiously-based apocalypse that doesn't fall in line with my beliefs? Should I politely ask to be excused or should I simply go along with it? These are important questions, Internet, and quite simply ones that the current literature is not prepared to answer. 

All of that in mind, what I will attempt to do here, not only for my benefit but all of the confused Apocalypse-nowers, is to give the first truly non-demominational, end of the world survival guide. 

Phase 1--Preparation

This one is tricky; if you don't know what's coming, you don't know how to prepare. Obviously the basics don't prove too difficult; food, water, ammunition, tools and survival equipment, Hitchhiker's Guide (surprisingly accurate), porn; but after that, thinks get a little more complicated.

I find the best strategy is to have a little bit of everything and stockpile accordingly as the situation merits. While you could find much more comprehensive lists from more specific guides, the things which you must definitely, absolutely have are:

--Samples of mundane human illness (Common Cold, Flu, Chicken Pox) [1 ea.]
--Holy Water [at least one quart]
--Improbable melee weapon (chainsaw, katana, etc) [1, or as your group specifies]
--List of Logical Paradoxes [1]
--EMP field generator [2, because the first one will always fail somehow]
--Collections of Religious/Mythological books and bestiaries for reference [1 ea.]
--Purell [Literally as much as you can get. This stuff is awesome, plague or no plague]

Beyond that, it's hard to get much more specific. Remember! Always be on the lookout for warning signs! The best tool in your arsenal is vigilance! Did Apple release a new, unstable version of Siri? Look up some more paradoxes and maybe how to scorch the sky to keep her from using solar energy. Israel and Palestine at each other's throats again? Bone up on your Abrahamic religions so you know how to fight off giant, flying spinning wheels with eyes in them that probably shoot lasers. Did the old lady next door cough? You should probably kill her. The cops might not like it, but don't let them fetter you; you're probably a hero!

Alternatively, you just killed someone's Grandma, so maybe lie low for a couple of days.
What should you not do in this phase? Get complacent. It's easy to listen to your friends when they tell you "It was just some dude high on bath salts, he wasn't a real zombie" But consider this; what if it isn't?

Being a doomsdayer means always being ready to accept that a seemingly minor event could turn into a world-wide, human-race-ending catastrophe in the space of weeks, days, or about two hours if Hollywood Documentaries are to be believed. Don't listen to your friends when they tell you to settle down, that it's no big deal, or to take your Prozac. It very well might be a big deal, but what if it isn't?

Phase 2--The Event

So it finally happened. Whatever it is, End of days, Alien Invasion, Viral Plague, or Undead Menace, has finally happened and the world is scrambling to fix it. But not you, you know better. Now's the time to get out of dodge before everyone you know is a pile of ash/hungering for your flesh. Tell the kids it's a "Camping Trip" if that makes anyone feel any better. It probably won't, but it's the thought that counts. If you own a cabin or some sort of similarly secluded structure in the woods somewhere, now might be a time to consider heading there, but be careful! Cabins are often notoriously sedentary and so could expose you to an attack way out there in the middle of the woods. People see cabins during an emergency and think "What a nice, probably abandoned structure for me to squat in. Surely no one will mind if I stay here and eat all the food stored here." End-of-The-World-Agents see cabins and thing "What a nice, probably-being-squatted-in structure. Surely there are some poor survivors I can psychologically torment for a few days before finally killing them." All in all, Cabins make a good temporary base, but don't get too comfortable, as their log-based structure make them beacons of despair.

And occasionally, a hipster. 
A brief note about the actual process of evacuation or "Bugging out" as it's known in the doomsdayer community; don't let anything slow you down. This is very easy to do when the thing in question is, perhaps, a television or an ethnic minority, but the rule remains just as true for anything. Has little Jimmy broken his leg, keeping the whole group from moving forward? Leave him behind. Don't leave him to die though, as indirectly killing a child pretty much ensures your death, Karmicly. If you can, try to leave any children in the care of a man with a shaved head and a tragic past, preferably with an English accent (Even the fake ones are better than none at all!) or possibly black, though in that case, be sure he's with some attractive white people, as he'll surely die heroically somehow, at a later point. Failing all of that; do your best to make sure they at least have a dog to keep them company. It'll probably still result in your death somehow, but the universe will be so busy paying attention to the touching story of a boy and his dog traversing the vast wasteland of past metropoli, it'll at least ignore you for a little while. 

Should you arrive at your cabin to discover it has been strewn with body parts, blood, and lacy undergarments, don't worry; some teenagers simply tried to have sex in it and roused a nearby serial killer. He's probably moved on, though it's not a bad idea to keep your food and adult toys in serial killer bags, suspended above the ground in a tree, as they are notorious scavengers. 

Really though, this is all very textbook.
Once you've had a day or two to relax, reload, and stock up on whatever stores you may have had squirreled away there, it's time to head on, away from any epicenters of the event. Tempting as it may be, do not, I repeat; do not stay in the cabin. Aside from their previously discussed dangers, prolonged exposure to cabins can result in Cabin Fever, the advanced stages of which can result in spontaneous Zombification or irreversible mental illness. Also, risqué teen dry-humping, which might sound like a plus, but it runs the risk of attracting serial killers and/or vengeful spirits, as before discussed, and is really something that should be generally avoided throughout the apocalypse, as each successive trip to coochie town lowers your chances of survival by a solid 20%. 

Phase 3--Assimilation

At this point, it's pretty much over. The world has tried its level best to resist whatever fate has beset it and lost horribly. Also by this point, you're probably running low on supplies and will need something to fill up your stores quickly before your party self-destructs via cannibalism. You can try putting this off with hunting but let's face it; you probably came from suburbia. Even if you can shoot, all that noise from your assault rifles will probably scare most of the game away and attract unwanted attention from the local zombie population or Robot Overlords, so really, unless you're proficient with ninjutsu, it's best avoided. 

One way or another, you really are going to have to go back to the cities, which means that you're going have to figure out how to assimilate with the new landlords or face their wrath. This reaches differing levels of difficulty depending on what apocalypse you're facing. Obviously, if it's just a viral plague, then you're aces; everyone's dead so all you'll have to worry about are bandits and sick people. Robots and Zombies are easy, each being thwarted with some tinfoil and a cardboard box or some putrescence and shuffling, respectively. Divine hosts are a bit harder, as they can see directly into your soul, so the best course there is to simply dispose of yours somehow. That makes anyone who's worked at a law firm, held public office, or had any job title with the word "Executive" in the title a great person to send in, as they also won't be missed, should they never come back. Alien invaders might be the most difficult, due to their many protrusions, strange limbs, and faces inside of their faces, but if they are roughly humanoid, you'd be surprised how far a head-to-toe getup and basic command of their language will get you.

Some clever individuals have had the foresight to get a jump start on this.
If the invaders in question are prone to take slaves, you could always pose as one and take this opportunity to ingratiate yourself with a young, impressionable member of your new overlords and cause a change of heart to assist you and your group because you really aren't that different after all. If you do this well enough, the universe may even forgive you for any errant child abandoning you may have done, assuming the whole event is heartwarming enough. 

Above all else, your goal should be to blend in. If that means you have to chop off six fingers and speak like you had two tongues, then so be it; for the good of the group. Speaking of the group...

Phase 4--Group Dynamics

I've done a lot of talking about the group or party you might be a part of without giving them any real attention so far, so now might be a good time to give them some special attention. If you've been faithfully following this guide, then by now things are probably a little tense; food is on an as-you-get-it basis, you've had time to dig into each other and learn everyone's buttons, and there's probably some minor fight going on about the orientation of toilet paper or something like that. This in mind, it's probably a good idea to take a look at how you should compose your group of survivors/freedom fighters, and what warning signs you should look for among them.

First of all, it's really probably best to avoid anyone with strong religious affiliations. A small to moderate amount of religion is fine and, indeed, may prove beneficial, but anyone who keeps a crucifix with them wherever they go, ends arguments by praying for you, or openly disapproves of a commonly accepted lifestyle or ethnicity will probably end up seeing a bunny get eaten by a hawk or something and take it as a sign from God to kill everyone. The exception to this rule is a kindly, wise old [Religious leader] who will probably end up being the glue that holds your band of misfits together, despite their differences. On top of that, they're probably ironically handy with a shotgun, so will later heroically cover your escape by sacrificing their lives. 

Also, priests love converse.
Nerds are always a good asset to have in a group, due to their ability to crack databases from any home desktop (they know unix), enhance images and sound bytes beyond what should technically be possible, and just generally manipulate technology they've never ever touched before. Special care should be taken with your nerd though, as they tend to wilt in the sun and do much better in the shade. Your nerd may also have a history of being bullied, damaging his fragile psyche and take his frustrations out on the group in the form of a very well planned rampage. Alternatively, your nerd may just be some kid who likes anime, and therefore pretty much useless to you. If you must keep them around, do it only so you can use them as a decoy later, as these kinds of nerds are historically very loud and not very good at running.

The tough guy is a member every survivalist group should have, if only during the early stages of the escape and set up phases. They can lift heavy stuff, fight mean stuff, and, if they're tough enough, scare scary stuff. As a labour force alone, they're worth having so long as you've got a mobile settlement. That being said, they do come with significant drawbacks. If your tough guy is male, they'll likely be bullies which means keep him away from your nerd, as they don't play well together. There is a chance your tough guy is a loose cannon, in which case they will take stupid risks with amazing results, though more than likely they will only think they are a loose cannon, and just end up hurting someone. If your tough guy is female, then you have nothing to worry about because it's Michelle Rodriguez and everything's okay. 

Though you should be made aware that the expiration date on Michelle Rodriguez's is notoriously short, so bring extras!
Then finally, there's the Sexy White People or SWP. SWPs are the foundation of every group and really, the only thing any group needs, when all is said and done. SWPs can comfortably occupy any of the above clichés with great success, but are most commonly found in a leadership position. If you are not a SWP, then   do your best to befriend one as quickly as possible as this will prolong your life and may, indeed, even save it if you make it to best friend status. Really though, the best thing you can do is to be a sexy white person, which pretty much ups your life expectancy by 400%. It should be noted that if a group contains more than two SWP, then it's likely the rest of them will die off somehow, though exceptions to this are known to occur.

Phase 5--The End...?

So this is it; it's all over. Maybe one of your errands to the city went wrong, maybe the robots found your encampment while torching the nearby woods, or maybe the that kid you left behind grew up and decided to take revenge, but no matter how you cut it, this is the end. How do you take the end, then? That's a good question and one with many, many right answers. 

If death seems certain but the rest of your group is still alive an in the process of fleeing said demise, one of the popular methods is to take as many of the offending monsters out as possible, known popularly as the "Sean Bean approach"

As demonstrated here

Alternatively, you could make do with what you have and use whatever resources at your disposal to deal a crushing blow to your evil/mindless adversaries, sacrificing your own life in the process, also known as the "Crazy Old Man with A Bomb" technique. 

Finally, another popular option is to prepare your body as a booby trap for your enemies to find and ultimately kill themselves with, referred to in professional circles as the "$#%k you, I have a grenade" counter-manoeuvre.

If you're seeing a theme here, then you're not crazy; it's efficiency. Your eventual, untimely end must yield the best kill-to-death ratio possible, for the good of the human race and also for XP. While it doesn't strictly help you, having something quick and pithy to say right before you go is a great way to demoralize whatever horrible monstrosities the apocalypse might have to throw at you, should they indeed be capable of such human emotions as fear and dread. 

Keep it simple; don't overthink it. Far too many people have died in really lame ways because they got tripped up over their last words and that's a tragedy that should be avoided at all costs. If your death was the result of your own actions, try to include that you could always see it coming. As well as being a satisfying conclusion to your life, it may also infer to the aliens that the Human Race can see into the future and that is very scary. If at all possible, try to leave your death as open ended as possible, leaving remains hard to come by with anything of questionable integrity as to certitude. That way, there's a small chance you might come back, and surely your former friends and allies will be surprised and filled with joy/horror as you come back with a new, dark past, some interesting scars or mutations, and possibly an entirely new face, voice, and personality!

Really, above all, it's important to keep a positive, can-do attitude throughout the whole ordeal, from beginning to end. Nobody likes whiners, least of all Karma, who will kill you off almost as fast as ethnic stereotypes if you so much as bitch about how tired your feet are. I hope this general guide was any help at all in preparation for the horribly apocalypse of your choosing and remember; commas save lives, but if you forget them occasionally, they might fill your belly when the going gets tough.

Thank you, Goodnight.

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