In Case of Emergency

Last month in the Wall Street Journal (content restricted), author Sam Sheridan shared a few tips on how to survive the apocalypse. Which apocalypse? It doesn’t matter—could be a natural disaster, war, terrorism, zombies. The point is, as the Boy Scouts say, Semper Paratus. Sheridan advises us to learn CPR at the very least. Learn to control your breathing: “In very stressful situations, take four deep breaths, on a four-count (breathe in for four beats, hold, breathe out for four beats), and this can bring you back from a state of super-arousal.” Also, “Repeat an action a thousand times so that when the stress hormones are ripping through your system, you do it on autopilot.” He explains how to steal a car (the older the model the better, and be sure to have a screwdriver handy). Try eating as many parts of an animal as possible (offal lovers rejoice!) and not just the meat. He also provides tips on surviving a deep freeze by building an igloo or at least an ice trench (no mention of stuffing yourself inside a Tauntaun).

What bothered me about this piece was Sheridan’s observation that “survival is a group endeavor…. Sociologists find that the vast majority of people behave well in a crunch. So get to know your neighbors. The ideal components for a survival kit are a doctor, a mechanic, a farmer.” Sheridan, whose recent book is entitled The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse, makes no mention of an editor. But surely an editor had something to do with his book. It’s all well and good that one of my brothers-in-law is a civil engineer who tinkers with cars on the side (he’s got a hydraulic lift in his garage) and the other is a fireman and paramedic for a S.W.A.T. team. But who, I ask you, will find those dangling modifiers and missing serial commas? Yes, I do realize I’m f—d.

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