The End of the World Is Still Not Nigh Says "Rational Optimist" Matt Ridley

Over at Wired, Matt Ridley, author most recently of the superb The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, takes look back at 50 years of predictions of imminent doom. For decades credulous news media have been peddling apocalyptic prophecies that humanity would soon be done in by pollution, population, pandemics, and/or depleted petroleum. And yet we are still here.

In his article, "Apocalypse Not: Here's Why You Shouldn't Worry About the End Times," reminds readers of the plethora of failed prophecies including...

...best-selling ecologist Paul Ehrlich in 1968: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s ["and 1980s" was added in a later edition] the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked on now … nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.” Or Jimmy Carter in a televised speech in 1977: “We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade.” ...

Over the five decades since the success of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and the four decades since the success of the Club of Rome’s The Limits to Growth in 1972, prophecies of doom on a colossal scale have become routine. Indeed, we seem to crave ever-more-frightening predictions—we are now, in writer Gary Alexander’s word, apocaholic. The past half century has brought us warnings of population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killer bees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics, and climate catastrophes.

So far all of these specters have turned out to be exaggerated. True, we have encountered obstacles, public-health emergencies, and even mass tragedies. But the promised Armageddons—the thresholds that cannot be uncrossed, the tipping points that cannot be untipped, the existential threats to Life as We Know It—have consistently failed to materialize.

Why has the end of the world failed to happen? In a word, innovation. People convert problems into opportunities.

The recent prophets of doom all fail to understand the power of strong property rights and free markets to mitigate looming scarcities and ameliorate environmental harms. As I noted in my recent column, "The Limits to The Limits to Growth:"

One of the odder features of the Limits computer model [and other such apocalyptic narratives] is that it basically ignores one of the most robust feedback mechanisms in the world—markets and price systems. The modelers warn against placing our faith in the technological solutions, pointing to the collapse of the whaling industry as an example. They argue that improvements in whaling technology ended up destroying that industry. They completely overlook the fact that whaling occurred in an open access commons in which everyone has incentive to kill as many whales as possible to make sure that their competitors didn’t benefit from them. Similarly, today wherever one identifies an environmental problem, one can be sure that it is occurring in the moral equivalent of an open access commons. In fact, the depletion of whales and rising price of whale oil encouraged entrepreneurs to seek new form of lighting; in this case, turning gooey crude oil into kerosene.

For example, rising oil and natural gas prices have similarly encouraged the development of new technologies like fracking. Ridley's Wired article is well worth your time.

See my interview reason.tv interview with Ridley about The Rational Optimist below:

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  • Caleb Turberville||

  • Ramjet||

    Following the links back to Rachel Maddow's remarks, the comments are amazing. And not in a good way.

  • Bee Tagger||

    I fear that anyone getting their information about Rand from Maddow will not be interested in this.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    What I love is the ongoing myth that libertarians' standard of value is material wealth. For me, libertarianism is a striving toward Camusian "authenticity" more than anything else.

  • NotSure||

    More importantly Ayn Rand was not in fact a libertarian, I remember reading something where was suppporting some very unlibertarian ideas.

  • Randian||

    Such as...?

  • tarran||

    A massive centralized government to issue patents of monopoly.

    "Patents are the heart and core of property rights."
  • Randian||

    A massive centralized government

    You just made that up.

  • Randian||

    I am not in the mood for another copyright/patent slap fight, but suffice it to say that it is begging the question to state that Rand supported unlibertarian ideas for supporting something that is controversial in libertarian circles.

  • Brandybuck||

    It is only controversial because Ayn Rand said intellectual property was genuine property. Without her and those heavily influenced by her, there would be no controversy.

  • ||

    Anarchists

  • NotSure||

    Such as supporting big government projects such as NASA, supporting war if its against communist regimes. Openly condemning people who hold religious beliefs, homosexuals, or people who enjoy horror movies.

    Unlike Maddow, I have read this, and not just from wikipedia, but some of here essays I found in a second hand book store. I don't hate her, I like some of here stuff, but she is no libertarian.

  • Randian||

    Such as supporting big government projects such as NASA

    That's one that a lot of libertarians got wrong. That does not unmake them as libertarians.

    supporting war if its against communist regimes

    Saying that someone has the moral right to do a thing and supporting their exercising that right are not the same thing.

    Openly condemning people who hold religious beliefs, homosexuals, or people who enjoy horror movies.

    What relevance does any of that have to libertarianism?

  • NotSure||

    She supported war in Vietnam, and the tax payer extraction that went with it, one cannot have a more explicit anti-libertarian stance than this one.

    It has relevance because she had no problems with government action, if the government was in support of objectivism.

    I just found this site:
    http://www.aynrand.org/site/Pa.....bertarians
    It is clear she is not a supporter of libertarians.

  • Randian||

    She supported war in Vietnam

    Citation needed.

    It has relevance because she had no problems with government action, if the government was in support of objectivism.

    Citation needed.

    It is clear she is not a supporter of libertarians.

    Ironically, it was because she believed she was the true "libertarian" even though she eschewed the label.

  • NotSure||

    So she explictly declares she is not libertarian, yet here you want to argue that she is a libertarian.

  • Fluffy||

    So she explictly declares she is not libertarian, yet here you want to argue that she is a libertarian.

    My main concern is that you don't seem to understand what a libertarian is.

    "I have moral contempt for people who like horror movies, because this exposes that they subscribe to a morally flawed aesthetics," is not an anti-libertarian position.

    "I want the government to stop people from seeing horror movies," would be an anti-libertarian position.

    You don't appear to be able to tell the difference, and you repeat this type of error over and over in this sub-thread.

  • NotSure||

    Apparantly Ayn Rand does not understand libertarians either, when you say things like "They are not defenders of capitalism.", that would imply that people like Murray Rothbard or Mises were not really pro capitalism.

  • Randian||

    Apparantly Ayn Rand does not understand libertarians either, when you say things like "They are not defenders of capitalism.", that would imply that people like Murray Rothbard or Mises were not really pro capitalism.

    We are a far, far cry from your original thesis that Ayn Rand was some kind of Ueber Anti Libertarian. If you want to play the goal shifting game, I think I'm done here.

  • ||

    The way I understand it, Rand's problem with libertarians was their tolerance of Anarchists. (No I can't give a positive citation, I believe I read this on the Atlas Society web page or the Ayn Rand Institute)

    She believed there is a need for government, to protect the rights of the individual (paraphrasing). She wouldn't support libertarianism because the libertarian movement accepted anarchists into the fold and she wouldn't condone any movement that would do so.

    At least this was my understanding. Wish I could remember where I read this to give you a citation.

  • ||

  • Randian||

    Not many men would volunteer for such wars as Korea or Vietnam. Without the power to draft, the makers of our foreign policy would not be able to embark on adventures of that kind. This is one of the best practical reasons for the abolition of the draft.

    Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

  • NotSure||

    She was against people being drafted, but she was not against forcing people to pay tax for the same war. That still does not make her libertarian.

  • Fluffy||

    She was explicitly against the Viet Nam war because she saw it as altruistic.

    "Who the fuck cares about the people of Viet Nam? Not me." = Rand's position on the Viet Nam conflict.

  • Randian||

    She advocated ending the draft and said that the fact that it would Viet Nam and Korea would be "one of the best practical reasons for the abolition of the draft".

    You have officially deployed the "MUST BE AN ANARCHIST" line of argumentation. And that's a bunch of crap.

  • Fluffy||

    She didn't support NASA as government policy.

    She admired the Apollo program as a scientific achievement.

    Openly condemning people who hold religious beliefs, homosexuals, or people who enjoy horror movies.

    So, wait - you saw Rand call for government action against people who like horror movies?

    Link, please.

  • NotSure||

    It was in an essay where she was comparing the NASA mission to woodstock, and like I said I read it in an old book, do a quick search on the internet if you don't believe me.

    She was clearly anti woodstock and pro shuttle launch, I am not anti science, but woodstock was not an expensive government project, NASA was. Tell which of the two a consistent libertarian would pick using libertarian princippes.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Maybe she hated Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young. I know I would support an expensive shuttle launch before I'd buy Déjà Vu.

  • Randian||

    She was clearly anti woodstock and pro shuttle launch, I am not anti science, but woodstock was not an expensive government project, NASA was. Tell which of the two a consistent libertarian would pick using libertarian princippes.

    Do you read what's written?

    The essay you are looking for is called "Apollo and Dionysus", and it's in "The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution" where she explicitly states she does not support the government's involvement in the space program, but proceeds to outline why she admires one and despises the other.

  • NotSure||

    She admired NASA like she admired the Soviet Sputnik, oh wait she didn't. How about you post a link where she openly claims in that essay that the project needs to be defunded.

  • Randian||

    It's in there. I'll bet you $1,000 it is in there.

  • Thai Ming||

    "I'll bet you $1,000"

    Is that you, Mitt?

  • Fluffy||

    In the Apollo essay, she deploys the SLD about the program as government policy.

  • sarcasmic||

    Why do you lick the boots of the wealthy who are keeping you down?
    You're like a slave who worships his master!
    /Tony

  • Fluffy||

    It's actually hard to find a poor villain in AS.

    The Starnes heirs are poor, but they were once rich.

    Dr. Stadler isn't rich, but he has arranged his life so that he enjoys the benefits wealth would have provided him at the state's expense.

    If there are poor villains in AS I can't remember them.

  • sarcasmic||

    When has Maddow ever let the truth get in the way of a good narrative?

  • Caleb Turberville||

    She's a trained researcher. Don't you think she should, I don't know, be held to a very standard like (and this is just an example) ACTUALLY READING THE WORK SHE'S COMMENTING ON?!

  • Caleb Turberville||

    *"very high standard"

  • Brett L||

    Have you read AS? Because I'm inclined to read until there are 3 continuous long paragraphs by the same speaker and then skip to the end of the speech. I won't be the first to cast stones at others who may have done the same. That said, I did make it through the D'Anconia "money" speech the first time. John Galt's speech at the end... not so much.

  • sarcasmic||

    I read the whole thing. I'd reach a stopping point and stop. Then I'd pick it up, thumb ahead to see how far to the next stopping point, and more often than not I'd put it back down.
    Took me a full year to read it.

  • RBS||

    I read The Foutainhead and Atlas Shrugged back to back after my freshman year in college. I guess I didn't have a job that summer.

  • Fluffy||

    The speeches aren't actually necessary here.

    A superficial summary of the plot of either The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged would make it immediately apparent that Maddow's description of Rand's work is bunk.

    Howard Roark spends most of the story poor. He's kicked out of architect school. He works for an architect (his idol) who ends up penniless. He's sued into business failure. He works in a rock quarry at one point as a manual laborer.

    John Galt is a blue collar railroad worker who lives in a tenement.

  • Randian||

    Hugh Akston is a cook in a diner.

  • ||

    The poor are more victims than villains, however there were a good number of poor sub-characters demanding the government support them.

  • T o n y||

    "She leads her readers to see the the wealthiest people as heroes..."

    is not totally inaccurate. The Paul Ryans of the world are not digging through wealthy people's personal lives to make sure they are actually "producers" before giving them a tax break. Even as unnuanced as Rand is, it is easily and often distorted into the simple equations "wealth=virtue; poverty=vice."

    The wealth fetishism that informs Republican and libertarian fiscal dogma may not be what Rand intended, but it's what we got.

  • Randian||

    In other words, Maddow's misinterpretation and "distortion" (your words, Tony) is A-OK because other people make the same mistake.

  • T o n y||

    It seems like a fact that Rand "leads her readers to see the wealthiest people as heroes."

  • Randian||

    it is easily and often distorted into the simple equations "wealth=virtue; poverty=vice."
    may not be what Rand intended, but it's what we got.

    So, in other words, it isn't about her "leading" you there; it's about you seeing what you want to see.

  • T o n y||

    It's about national fiscal policy proposals that are the result of the bastardization of who is at any rate a fourth-rate philosopher.

    When you guys obsess over whether people are adequately productive or are parasites on society, how many of you take the accurate position that the wealthy are by far the bigger parasites?

  • Randian||

    Complete non-sequitur.

    Maddow wrote this:

    In Ayn Rand’s novel, she leads her readers to see the wealthiest people as heroes, heroes that must be protected. . . . The rich are heroes and everybody else is a taker.

    when that turns out to be categorically untrue, you defended her with a "well, it FEELS like that, so therefore Maddow is not at fault"

    That's bullshit and you know it.

  • Fluffy||

    how many of you take the accurate position that the wealthy are by far the bigger parasites

    I would submit that the likelihood of taking that position increases proportionally with the poster's affection for Rand.

  • Randian||

    No way, Fluffy...Tony does not feel like that is true, so it cannot be true.

  • NotSure||

    So the wealthy are by far the bigger parasites, strange that governments seem to be able to extract more wealth from these unproductive parasites, than say a loser like you.

  • Fluffy||

    So the wealthy are by far the bigger parasites, strange that governments seem to be able to extract more wealth from these unproductive parasites

    If you awarded me possession of, say, the Mexican government's oil properties, and I ran them as a government concession, I would pay a lot of taxes.

    But I would still be a parasite.

  • Randian||

    Wait, wouldn't the taxes realized jump from 0% to like 40% though?

  • NotSure||

    Yes there are wealthy people that live off government corruption, but then there are also wealthy people who do not, those people are in Tonys mind more of a parasite than a poor person that does nothing but live off their tax money. As for the wealthy that live off government corruption, stop the government corruption, its never going to stop when you have ever growing government.

  • T o n y||

    All wealthy people live off government largess since they all benefit from wealthy-coddling fiscal policy. Taxing investment income at half the rate of labor income is essentially a special handout to the rich.

    Furthermore it is almost logically impossible for the poor to reap more benefits from government than the rich, as they have disproportionately less of a voice in public policy.

    Do you deny that the vast majority of concern of "looters" that goes on in libertarian circles is directed not at the rich but at the poor? All because you think there is some sort of moral distinction between social welfare payments and tax breaks that reward merely being wealthy.

  • ||

    $

  • T o n y||

    Very good point Francisco. That Rand's icon of choice was the US dollar sign is indeed a good indication that she was a wealth fetishist.

    Nothing more ruggedly individualistic than a currency printed and given value by the federal government.

  • ||

    No Tony, you are being disingenuous. You and I agreed long ago that "$" was shorthand for:

    "Fuck you Tony you fucking immoral pig", so I wouldn't have to write it out every time you built a straw man or debated in bad faith.

    So:

    $

  • sarcasmic||

    Damn those wealthy parasites with all those taxes that they pay!
    They certainly don't contribute their fair share, because if they did then they would no longer be wealthy!
    And all that money they invest, potentially creating jobs and goods and services?
    Damn them for that parasitic behavior, because it just isn't fair that there can be rich people and poor people!
    Not fair!
    Not fair!
    Not fair!
    Not fair!
    Not fair!
    Not fair!
    Not fair!

  • Zeb||

    I don't know who is the bigger parasite class, but you certainly hear libertarians criticizing wealthy parasites at least as much as poor parasites (I'd guess more).

  • Fluffy||

    Is it a fact or isn't it?

    You know what else Rand wrote? That people who use sentences like "It seems like a fact that..." are douchebags. (Paraphrasing.)

  • Randian||

    Tony feels that Rand lionized only the wealthy, therefore it's the God's Honest Truth.

  • T o n y||

    I don't feel that. I've read the books, actually, and get that she was not merely fetishizing wealth.

    It's libertarians who do that.

  • Randian||

    I don't feel that. I've read the books, actually, and get that she was not merely fetishizing wealth.

    Oh wait, its Maddow who feels that Rand is doing this, and even though you know its not true, its "fake but accurate" or full of "truthiness" or something.

  • T o n y||

    I know it is true. She didn't say Rand worships the wealthy, she said Rand makes people worship the wealthy. She could have an inaccurate view of what Atlas is all about, but that is not evidenced one way or the other.

    Rand makes adolescent nerds the world over think all sorts of stupid crap that isn't technically justified by her own bullshit.

  • sarcasmic||

    She didn't say Rand worships the wealthy, she said Rand makes people worship the wealthy.

    You claim to have read the books, yet you do not worship the wealthy?
    How is this so?
    If her books coerce people into worshiping wealth, how were you able to resist their force?
    Obviously you did not read the books, or their powers would have transformed you into a book licking wealth fetishist.

  • T o n y||

    The Fountainhead appealed to me as I read it in 9th grade. I didn't get around to reading Atlas until a couple years ago, by which time I was a grown-up who had an education in the history of thought too rigorous to be won over by her nonsense.

  • Randian||

    Tony is so rigorous that he insists on defending lies even when they are show to be bald-faced, black letter lies.

  • sarcasmic||

    I didn't get around to reading Atlas until a couple years ago

    Lie. Obviously a lie.

    You said that Atlas has magical powers that transforms people into unthinking libertarian.

    There is no choice. No resistance. No inoculation.

    It's magic.

  • Randian||

    Tony, is this accurate?:

    “The rich are heroes and everybody else is a taker. The more the rich have, the better. The better for everyone"

    That's what Maddow said right after her first statement.

    Her second, more particularized statement informs her first, more general statement.

    They are both lies. You persist in claiming they are true. They aren't.

  • T o n y||

    They are not what Rand claimed, but they are what every Republican claims, even the ones who worship Rand like Paul Ryan.

  • Randian||

    They are not what Rand claimed

    Except Maddow said that she did:

    “In Ayn Rand’s novel, she leads her readers to see the wealthiest people as heroes, heroes that must be protected,” she explained, claiming Ryan’s controversial budget plan was consistent with Rand’s philosophy. “The rich are heroes and everybody else is a taker. The more the rich have, the better. The better for everyone. That is not fiscal conservatism either. It is something else.”

  • T o n y||

    Maybe Maddow thinks Rand is a wealth apologist and advocate of special protections for the wealthy, or maybe not. That would be an incorrect interpretation of Rand. But it's one that happens to be the practical result of public policy by everyone in public office who uses "producer vs. looter" rhetoric, nowadays usually expressed as "job creators" and "welfare recipients."

    Could we end this stupid debate by my acknowledging that Maddow is wrong? Then can we move on to why libertarians almost universally do equate wealth with virtue?

  • Randian||

    Could we end this stupid debate by my acknowledging that Maddow is wrong?

    And that you lied, sure.

    Then can we move on to why libertarians almost universally do equate wealth with virtue?

    Why would we debate yet another obvious lie?

  • Sevo||

    Let's see.
    Shithead tries misdirection to duck a lie, then tries to poison the well.
    'Bout par for him.

  • sarcasmic||

    Then can we move on to why libertarians almost universally do equate wealth with virtue?

    Straw men are made of straw.

  • Zeb||

    I can't speak for libertarians generally, but I certainly don't equate wealth with virtue. I simply think that if people have honestly acquired wealth that it is theirs and it should not be confiscated simply because it is convenient for the government at the time.
    I would add that libertarians (or this one at least) don't hold anything up as the ultimate virtue. Each person should be able to decide what is worth pursuing in life, whether that is wealth, getting laid as often as possible, religion or spending as little time working as possible.
    Tony is confusing the valid observation that many poor people are poor because of their own bad decisions or lack of motivation and that many rich people are rich because of honest, hard work with calling wealth a virtue.

  • sarcasmic||

    Tony is confusing...

    You give him too much credit. He does not confuse things. He deliberately conflates them.
    Remember that Tony is never honest.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Ryan's Catholicism kinda gets in the way of his supposed "worship" of Ayn Rand.

  • T o n y||

    His policy positions are more Randian than Catholic.

  • Randian||

    His policy positions are more Randian than Catholic.

    Didn't you just admit upthread that they are not Randian, but in fact, a distortion of Rand...one which you continue to defend, no less?

  • sarcasmic||

    Straw men have been burned. Goal posts have been moved.

    Tony's job is now complete.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    Randian, you beat me to it.

  • ||

    It seems like a fact...

    For fuck sake, you could actually BE a villain from the book.

    Facts do not "seem". They are or they aren't. God you are a pig.

  • Randian||

    Last week, the question was asked "Who is the Left's Ayn Rand?"

    I told you all it was Tony. This is just reaffirms that statement.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Credit where credit is due - you did call that one.

  • Bee Tagger||

    In this case, isn't it more likely that the name-checking of Ayn Rand that is done by Republican opinion-makers is just a hollow attempt to latch on to a current buzz word rather than an honest misunderstanding of what Rand was saying?

  • Randian||

    There are very few honest misunderstandings in the world of politics and Yelling Television.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Maddow is more "smirking television" than yelling, isn't she? For yelling I think of the old "Crossfire".

  • Fluffy||

    It's either what she wrote, or it isn't.

    That means it's either accurate, or inaccurate.

    There is no "not totally inaccurate".

    That's a bullshit formulation designed to make excuses for someone being wrong. "Poor, poor Rachel Maddow," Tony thinks to himself. "I must defend her from accusations that she is wrong, and I won't be dissuaded from doing so by the actual facts."

  • T o n y||

    The claim was, to paraphrase, that Rand makes people into stupid wealth fetishists, and I see no problem with that claim.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    What about the part where she says that "the wealth are heroes that must be protected."

    Rand never advocated such a position. In fact, Ayn Rand hated crony capitalists more than just about any Liberal today.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    *"wealthy"

  • Randian||

    No, that was not the claim.

    “In Ayn Rand’s novel, she leads

    That is an explicit claim on what Ayn Rand was doing with her novel.

    That claim was false.

    You persist in claiming its true.

  • sarcasmic||

    Liars regularly persist in claiming things that are not true.

    It's what they do.

  • Fluffy||

    That was not the claim.

    In Ayn Rand’s novel, she leads her readers to see the wealthiest people as heroes, heroes that must be protected. . . . The rich are heroes and everybody else is a taker. The more the rich have, the better. The better for everyone.

    This is a claim about what is in the novel. Not a claim about what type of fetishists people become.

  • ||

    The doomsayers have always been with us, and always will. It sells. There's a reason we love shit like The Walking Dead or Romero's work.

  • ||

    Not all of us are as big of fans of Diary of the Dead as you, you tasteless goon.

  • ||

    I don't think that's at all relevant. Armageddon entertainment is primarily about the triumph / tragedy of humanity under the most dire of circumstances.

    Doomsayers seek policy actions through fear. Armageddon entertainment is in no way a call to action.

  • SugarFree||

    Kim Newman on Apocalypse as Entertainment:

    "I think the appeal is getting rid of all the boring people in the world. One of the few films that plays with the actual wish-fulfillment fantasy of the end of the world as we know it is the much-misunderstood RED DAWN, which expresses precisely that strange survivalist mix of preparedness and eager anticipation that characterizes popular images of the apocalypse. Except for a few gloomy nuke dramas, not many end of the world stories involve imagining oneself among the many, many dead. In a sense, end of the world dramas are the ultimate Reggie Perrin fantasy (UK pop culture reference -- in a TV serial/book, Reggie is the middle-class man who fakes his death and starts anew), doing away with the old life and starting over again. Also, there's an aesthetic pleasure in ruins (at its most extreme, see the bucolic apocalypse of After London) and a Peter Pan-like joy to playing pirates. There's the selfish fact that we all envy posterity. When we die, we miss the end of the story and that can be infuriating. There's a sense that if we have to go, we'd rather the board were swept clean with us."
  • Fluffy||

    Stolen from Sontag.

    I smell a plagiarism scandal.

  • ||

    I don't even remotely agree with that sentiment. If there were post-apocalypse movies that showed life improved, then maybe.

    And FFS, Red Dawn was so full of stupid that to even reference it undercuts the argument. I can't imagine the remake will be any less stupid.

  • SugarFree||

    The World, The Flesh and The Devil and The Quiet Earth both solve racism by the end credits--the characters walk off arm-in-arm. You get to play with guns and sports cars with cute cheerleaders in The Night of The Comet. Eisenberg gets Emma Stone as a girlfriend in Zombieland.

    On an individual level, "all the boring people going away" is a plus for the depicted individuals. Science fiction literature has so much of this idea, there's even a handy term "Cozy Catastrophe."

  • ||

    There are undertones that aren't always emphasized. Zombieland is a good example. Remember that Eisenberg's original mission was to try and re-connect with surviving family. And he started out with a potential GF who was way hotter (and probably saner) than Emma Stone. The humor of the movie undercut the somberness. You could turn that film into a horrific tragedy with only the slightest of tweaks.

    So I think it's a terrible example of post-apocalyptic utopia.

    Haven't seen Night of the Comet in ages.

  • SugarFree||

    Without the zompocaplyse, Eisenberg would have never even spoken to Amber Heard's character. He didn't even know her name, just her apartment number.

    And it's not about utopia, it's about the death of everyone else turning out to be a pretty good thing for the characters. You get into written science fiction and the examples go through the roof.

  • Virginian||

    Actually, Red Dawn had a fleshed out backstory and was very plausible. A Communist Latin America backed by the Soviet Union certainly could have attempted an invasion of the United States. Especially considering the dissolving of NATO...all of which was mentioned in the opening crawl.

    Oh, and Red Dawn deals with the morality of guerrilla war in a nuanced fashion. The first occupation troops they kill are sightseeing, not raping or killing babies or burning homes. They murder an informant and a prisoner and wrestle with how that can be justified if they're the good guys. Far from being mindless hordes, the Russians and Cubans run the gamut from disciplined professionals, fanatic KGB agents, and men torn between duty and their ideals.

    For all it's reputation as a jingoistic propaganda film, actually watching the movie reveals its hidden depths.

  • Leebig||

    Very correct. The success of Twilight doesn't mean we take the threat of vampire-werewolf wars seriously.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Fine for you - go ahead, remain unprepared then !1!1!!eleventy!

  • ||

    Speaking of the end of the world...

  • ||

    Fail on the picture - should have used this as the true, terrifying image of death on horseback

  • Brett L||

    Needs moar brony!

  • Brett L||

    This may be my favorite alt-text pic combo this week. (I was going to say ever, but there have been some really epic ones that I'm sure the commentariat would beat me with.) I assume, since this is author unidentified, that credit goes to Ron.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    If there is any justice, Rachel Caron will spend eternity suffering from the same malaria she made sure many millions of Africans and Asians perished from.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Why, Pittsburgh, why?

    Rachel Carson Bridge, also known as the Ninth Street Bridge, spans the Allegheny River in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    The bridge was renamed on Earth Day, April 22, 2006, after years of lobbying by Esther Barazzone, president of Chatham University, the alma mater of the renowned environmentalist.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    it basically ignores one of the most robust feedback mechanisms in the world—markets and price systems.

    Nonsense; everybody knows how evil speculators are. They PROFIT at our expense.

  • RBS||

    OT: I just received this petition via email. Who can spot the retardedness?

  • R C Dean||

    Its a petition? It goes without saying its retarded?

  • Randian||

    Why are they delivering it to the United States Senate?

  • RBS||

    Even though RC is technically right... Randian wins. I guess only the United States Senate has the ability to crush local property owners? I'm just glad so many of my neighbors are willing to let the federal government dictate what can and can't be built around here. They have a facebook page that I spent a few hours trolling last weekend. Well, not even trolling since I sincerely wanted to know why a bunch of middle/upper class residents/vacationers were so hell bent on denying their poorer neighbors cheap goods.

  • Brett L||

    I'm sure that Graham and DeMint are pissing themselves to get right on this.

  • sarcasmic||

    Damn Walmart for bringing jobs an inexpensive goods to people!
    It would be so much better if the people that Walmart employs were receiving unemployment and if the people who walk out of the store with money left in their pockets were instead broke because they had to shop at someplace more expensive.
    Damn you Walmart!
    Damn you to hell!

  • Randian||

    In fairness, I would get a little tired if there were three Wal*Marts around me too. Add some variety.

  • RBS||

    They are not nearly as close as the petitioners would have you believe.

  • Randian||

    20 minutes is a bit of a hike, and if it's an island, I bet the bridge traffic is just murder.

  • Leebig||

    The WM on the island would reduce bridge traffic if anything, since people on the island currently have to cross bridges to get to the other WMs.

  • Randian||

    That's what I meant.

  • Leebig||

    Oh. I thought you were playing asshole's advocate for the petitioners. No bad blood.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "playing asshole's advocate"

    Stolen. Shamlessly so.

  • RBS||

    Apparently those jobs at Walmart don't count as real jobs.

  • BakedPenguin||

    There was a big frou-frou when a Wal*mart was built in North West Orlando a couple years ago. The poor residents to the West in Pine Hills were almost unanimous in their support for Walmart - they saw jobs and access to cheap stuff. A community group in (wealthy) College Park a mile east fought it, because they said it would bring too much traffic.

  • RBS||

    That is pretty much what is going on here. Except half of the people opposed are not actually residents, they just don't want Walmart to "ruin" their vacation destination. This is something that has annoyed me most of my life. Some people don't realize that some of us actually live and work here year round.

  • NotSure||

    One of my favourite sayings: "Things are not as good and not as bad as they seem".

  • Sevo||

    OT:
    Local transit system, BART, promised "thousands of jobs" from the stimulus.
    Well, didn't quite work out, so they strong-armed their suppliers to lie about it:
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/.....799946.php

  • Brett L||

    What? That's unpossible! A government entity operated by unionized employees being wrong and then gooning it up rather than admit being wrong? This never happens.

  • Leebig||

    We have to be careful, though, not to let the falsity of previous warnings of impending doom lead us to believe that doom will never happen.

    Every time doom has occurred in history, it has been preceded by false predictions of doom. Apocalyptic prophecies are only always wrong until they're right.

  • Randian||

    Yeah, and my keys are always in the last place I thought to look, too.

  • Leebig||

    You too?

  • Ken Shultz||

    The reason not to be worried about the future is becasue Mitt Romney is the fulfillment of the White Horse Prophecy.

    The prophecy further predicts that the United States Constitution will one day "hang like a thread" and will be saved "by the efforts of the White Horse".[1]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Horse_Prophecy

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Ah, well he is white, and does have horses.... hmmm.

  • Brandybuck||

    If you don't think the end of the world is nigh, you must hate the children!

  • ||

    All the "Off Topics" ruined this thread.

    I hate you all.

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