Remus hates crowds and cities, and I have trouble understanding how anyone might not agree. People are characteristically valuable as individuals, but contemptible when making up part of a crowd. Even rats grow neurotic and turn cannibal when too closely confined with other rats.
Cities are crowds with bedrooms. As bad as they are, they’re perpetually on the verge of getting worse, one dissing away from a homicidal detonation, one power outage from Mogadishu, nine meals from Sarajevo. But relax, cities are ridiculously easy to avoid. They stay in one place, they can be seen at great distances, there are warning signs on the approaches—including a countdown in miles. The escape routes are clearly marked. No one not bound and gagged is in a city accidentally. Unavoidably perhaps, but not accidentally.
All cities have absolute, no kidding no-go zones where the life expectancy of an ingenue is measured in parts of a city block. No surprise, the top three are in Detroit. These places exist because, incredibly, the “victim class” has insisted it be disarmed through force of law, to protect the “thugga class” from unconscionable risk, apparently. It’s politically incorrect to say this, but in matters of life or death, too bad: demographics are an obvious and reliable tip-off. It’s what the phrase “being in the wrong place” means. And there is no “right time” to be in the wrong place.
Trains and planes are crowds in a can, but other than subways, they’ve been somewhat sorted and vetted. Stations and airports are the real problem. They’re the knot in the bow tie, the small end of the funnel. Even here there are opportunities to stay away from crowds. Choose a lightly patronized departure time, the train or plane may be crowded but the station or airport won’t be. Some are on the schedule mainly to get equipment positioned for the next surge or the next day. It’s here you may see crews’n stews waiting with the paying customers.
Those in commuter or regional airline territory should avoid the last flight of the day though, it’s likely to be overbooked. Which means you may be bumped and double your exposure. Travel on the least patronized days of the week in the least patronized week of the month. Holidays are good too. For instance, on Thanksgiving Day staff can outnumber passengers in the terminals.
The worst of the shopping crowds are easy to avoid, they come in predictable waves, twelve to a year. The high point is typically at or near the first of the month, dropping steadily toward the last week of the month, with an uptick at mid-month perhaps. Daily peaks center on the supper hour except on weekends. Holidays and sales are the exception. Outliers include periodic traffic-drivers, some per cent off for seniors on Tuesdays, or double credit for cents-off gasoline on Thursdays, that sort of thing. Others are influenced by traffic patterns of nearby attractions. Simple observation settles these out.
Americans of merely adequate means have a “fake it ‘til you make it” attitude. Unlike their counterparts in Europe and South America, they make a far better public appearance than their situation warrants. This is a mistake generally, but especially when anywhere near a crowd. Nor is it wise to be dressed as if a tourist on the beach, or as one step above homelessness, or as an escapee from a halfway house. The identity of choice is one of neither affluence nor poverty. Project nothing remarkable or memorable. Avoid “legible” clothing of any kind, including sports logos. The desired effect is one of teflon anonymity, head-to-toe.
Crime and law enforcement victims are chosen from cues the victim presents, so attention to detail is important. No specialty hiking boots reequipped with 550 cord laces for instance, no Montblanc Meisterstuk and TimeWalker ensemble, no anything a standard-issue citizen wouldn’t routinely display. The usual cautions apply: keep a Condition Orange but not obviously, identify “what if” escape routes whether inside or outside, watch for preparatory moves by potential perps, be wary of anything that looks normal but oddly so, et cetera. Above all, stay away from crowds.
Crowds are a self-assembling cancellation of personal freedom and the natural prey of a police state. Example: when football fans are marched through metal detectors and facial recognition devices, disallowed ordinary containers and transparent women’s handbags are mandatory, we’re seeing a police-state environment. Where crowds don’t exist they’re created. Notice how police states channel people into controlled crowds so they can be ordered about efficiently. That’s what barriers and checkpoints and even “walk-don’t-walk” signals are all about.
So-called “holding centers” are crowds. Depression-era resettlement co-ops were crowds. Labor and extermination camps in occupied Europe and the Soviet Union were crowds. Also notice a police state believes it’s entitled to disperse or even attack a peaceful crowd that resists “crowd control”. The constitutional guarantee of ‘freedom of assembly’ is now freedom of closely watched and supervised assembly.
The fate of a crowd is the fate of all. A self-directed person stays away from crowds, or if unavoidable, stays on the fringes and escapes unnoticed at the first clear opportunity.
You used to ask, out of politeness, for permission to light your cigarette, and the conventional reply was “It’s a free country.” When’s the last time you heard someone say that?
Fred explains how what used to be small towns and the country got changed into extensions of the city, and everything went to hell. And that’s where gun control comes from.
Things… changed. The country increasingly urbanized. So much for rugged.
It became ever more a nation of employees. As Walmart and shopping centers and factories moved in, the farmers sold their land to real-estate developers at what they thought mind-boggling prices, and went to work as security guards and truck drivers. Employees are not free. They fear the boss, fear dismissal, and become prisoners of the retirement system. So much for Marlboro Man.
Self-reliance went. Few any longer can fix a car or the plumbing, grow food, hunt, bait a hook or install a new roof. Or defend themselves. To overstate barely, everyone depends on someone else, often the government, for everything. Thus we became the Hive.
Government came like a dust storm of fine choking powder, making its way into everything. You could no longer build a shed without a half-dozen permits and inspections. You couldn’t swim without a lifeguard, couldn’t use your canoe without Coast-Guard approved flotation devices and a card saying that you had taken an approved course in how to canoe. Cops proliferated with speed traps. The government began spying on email, requiring licenses and permits for everything, and deciding what could and could not be taught to one’s children, who one had to associate with, and what one could think about what or, more usually, whom.
With this came feminization. The schools began to value feelings over learning anything. Dodge ball and freeze tag became violence and heartless competition, giving way to cooperative group activities led by a caring adult. The female preference for security over freedom set in like a hard frost. We became afraid of second-hand smoke and swimming pools with a deep end. As women got in touch with their inner totalitarian, we began to outlaw large soft drinks and any word or expression that might offend anyone.
Thus much of the country morphed into helpless flowers, narcissistic, easily frightened, profoundly ignorant video-game twiddlers and Facebook Argonauts. ...
Serving as little more than cubicle fodder, they could not survive a serious crisis like the first Depression. And they look to the collective, the hive, for protection. The notion of individual self-defense, whether with a fist or a Sig 9, is, you know, like scary, or, well, just wrong or macho or something. I mean, if you find an intruder in your house at night, shouldn’t you, like, call a caring adult?
The echoes of the former America linger in commercials in commercials for pickup trucks with throaty bass voices and footage of Toyotas powering through rough unsettled country that almost no one ever even sees these days. Mostly it’s just marketing to suburban blossoms. The number of vehicles with four-wheel drive that have actually been off a paved road is not high.
Many who grew up in the former America, and a good many today in the South and west, substantially adhere to the old values. They won’t last. We live in the day of the Hive, and in the long run there is no point fighting it.
One of the banes of country life in recent decades has been the arrival in Paradise of the urbanite seeking the rural life style, but who brings his urban attitudes and outlook with him, including the fortress mentality. As soon as the ink dries on the deed to his five acres, up goes the No Trespassing / No Hunting signs.
The aboriginal Yankees in Vermont have found a solution to thwart the inclination of flatlanders to wall off passage to their neighbors. As the Wall Street Journal reports, they are resurrecting town claims to forgotten (“sleeping”) roads.
Vermont has scores of old public roads that haven’t been used as such for decades and haven’t been kept up. Some resemble paths through the woods or private driveways, while others, at least to the casual observer, are indistinguishable from their surroundings. Now, with more retirees and second-home buyers acquiring Vermont real estate, some towns are rushing to stake claims to these “sleeping roads.”
Disputes center on differing perceptions of public and private property here. Known for its woodlands and rolling hills, Vermont has vast networks of trails, some of which run through people’s land. And Vermonters have a long tradition of letting people pass through their property for snowmobiling, hunting, hiking, and other forms of recreation. Locals worry that some of the outsiders now moving to the state are less open to that idea and are too fond of no-trespassing signs.
Some Vermonters are helping to guard this trail network by combing through old records to show that some of these roads are, in fact, still public. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, which represents about 38,000 snowmobilers, has been giving PowerPoint presentations to members on how to compare road atlases from the 1850s with today’s highway maps to find roads that might have gotten lost over the years.
That alarms some property owners and has spooked the state’s biggest title insurer, which threatened to stop writing policies in three towns where a number of old-road cases have cropped up.
Some folks think those land-posting flatlanders have a certain amount of highbindery of this kind coming to them.