>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson

August 27, 2006

Essential New Word of the Week: liquor rectangle (definition hint: you shouldn’t have!)

Not long ago, Justin wrote an article outlining the many signs that the end of the world was near. Soon after, E. Mike put in his two cents, giving a detailed account of what the revolution will be like culturally. As good as both pieces were, neither provided the kind of information that’s going to help you or me to get through it unscathed.

Words like “Judgment Day” and “Apocalypse” don’t have to be scary. Armed with a little knowledge and preparation, we’ll be able to ride out the end of the world in style, giving me the privilege of repopulating the earth with the least mutated strippers I can find, and giving you ample time to peruse the Bang For Your Buck archives. If you wear glasses, make sure they don’t break.

Now that my fellow writers have convinced me that all the signs are in place, I’ve decided to analyze the most likely doomsday scenarios and come up with ways I can not only survive, but emerge as humanity’s undisputed leader. I’m sharing this information with you so that you’ll support me in this. I don’t care how many times I have to fight Tina Turner in the Thunderdome, Earth is rightfully mine.

The Environment: Nature’s Temper Tantrums

Isn’t it funny that nature/Earth is always personified as a mother? Let me tell you something, Earth isn’t like June Cleaver. She’s more like a bipolar basketcase who’ll buy you a totally rad racing car one day, and leave you with your abusive, crack-smoking uncle the next. Don’t trust her.


“Scientists swear it will be billions of years before this, but they also swore that the earth was flat, and women would catch fire if they tried to vote.”

Like many, I was first alerted to this dire threat when Thailand was hit with a gigantic tidal wave. Thankfully, you can still go and see stripper-launched ping-pong ball displays if you want to. But the threat of an even larger tsunami looms. According to my research, large volcanic islands on the other side of the Atlantic are in constant danger of falling into the ocean. When they do, they’ll kick up a tsunami that will wash away, at the very least, the East coast of the United States. Sorry, Red Sox fans.

Chance of Survival: 94.0%

Even moving at 700 kph, this killer wave will need about 8 hours to cross the Atlantic. That may be enough time for you to follow the suggestion of the Pet Shop Boys and go west (note: you won’t necessarily need to become gay.) However, the roads will be crowded, so you may want to try an alternative approach. Consider yourself officially retired and go buy that boat you’ve always wanted. Food might be scarce, but I guarantee, you’ll never be more attractive to the ladies.


Trust me, you don’t want to be taken out by a volcano. Thousands of years after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, tourists are now buying tacky snow-globes next to the huddled, crispy remains of Romans who lived in Pompeii. No dignity in that. If the eruption of Vesuvius can be compared to popping a pimple, then a supervolcano would be like popping a weather balloon filled with pus. We’d have to contend with all the molten rock, sure, but also a layer of ash 20 meters thick, leading to acid rain, permanent winter, and the constant impression of dandruff. Again, no dignity.

Chance of Survival: 21.4%

The only way to survive a supervolcano eruption is to avert it in the first place. And unless movies have lied to me, volcano gods can only be appeased through the sacrifice of beautiful virgins. In this day and age, it might be hard to find a bona fide virgin in time. If a supervolcano starts to rumble underground, let’s hope it’s next to a Catholic school. Even then, our chances won’t be that great.

Global Warming

I’ll be the first to admit it: I use aerosol deodorant, aerosol bug spray, and whenever possible, aerosol cheese. If you had to pin the depletion of the ozone layer on one person, I’d be a good candidate, although James Brown’s spectacular jheri curl would run a close second. Soon, we may see the effects of this. Temperatures will rise, ice caps will melt, and Earth will become the new Venus as the environment goes haywire.

Chance of Survival: 1.1%

Al Gore will probably be around saying “I told you so,” but unless he can be harvested for food, you should ignore him. Once climate warming passes a critical threshold, the atmosphere will be so saturated with carbon dioxide that breathing will be impossible. My advice is to convert to Buddhism as soon as possible and hope to be reincarnated as a tree.

Space: Death from Above

The stars might look pretty on a clear night, but don’t be fooled. Space is positively filled with all kinds of crap that will kill you. Our planet is pretty much at the mercy of every plot device that’s ever appeared in Star Trek, and I don’t have to tell you that William Shatner won’t be around to protect us forever.

Extra-Terrestrial Invasion

When the aliens come, you can bet they won’t be cute little bipeds who just want to learn about our culture and eat our Reese’s Pieces. It’s far more likely you and your entire family will be shipped off to Human Liquification Camps inside of a week.

Chance of Survival: 22.5%

Modern science fiction suggests that hostile aliens can be overcome through a desperate resistance effort. If you decide to fight, there’s always a chance you won’t be vaporized by a laser cannon. However, to guarantee your survival, your only hope is treasonous collaboration. Try to make contact with the alien leaders and suggest ways in which you might be useful. For example, fill them in on what landmarks will explode most spectacularly, and which human body parts are tastiest.

Sun Burnout

Scientists swear it will be billions of years before we have to worry about this, but there was a time when scientists also swore that Earth was flat, and women would catch fire if they tried to vote. In other words, scientists are not to be trusted, and we need to be ready in case the sun fizzles out tomorrow.

Chance of Survival: 89.7%

It’s going to be dark and cold so you’re going to want to acquire as many candles, blankets, generators, and cans of Spaghetti-O’s as you can. Eventually, Earth will become like ice planet Hoth, and there won’t even be a gang of intergalactic rebels to keep you company. Still, that’s no reason you can’t live out the rest of your life in relative comfort, as long as you have enough stuff. Stockpiling and hording is the key, so I suggest you begin now.

Asteroid Impact

There are billions of giant rocks floating around in space, occasionally smashing into one another like dodgeballs into fat kids. There’s every reason to believe that one of these giant rocks might someday collide with Earth, and if that happens, your only hope might be Bruce Willis and his ragtag gang of roughnecks. That makes me nervous. If he can’t even keep his kids from calling Ashton Kutcher “daddy,” what the hell is he going to do with an asteroid? Asteroids are way tougher than Ashton Kutcher.

Chance of Survival: 3.26%

Depending on how big the asteroid is and where it lands, you just might have a shot. Find the nearest marshmallow factory and build yourself a delicious bunker. That way, you’ll have both sustenance and protection from rogue asteroid fragments.

Technology: Our Own Worst Enemy

Technological advancement has allowed humanity to do all sorts of things, like slice deli meat evenly, and enjoy dancing figurines of Santa Claus. But there’s a downside we’re not seeing. Technology has moved too fast, too soon. The tables are turning. I bet the Amish don’t seem so stupid now, huh?


Not satisfied with the gigantic, room-filling computers of the 1960’s, scientists have endeavored to make them ever smaller, culminating in the field of nanotechnology, or the development of machines so small, we won’t even see death coming. Here’s the specific problem: There will someday be “nanofactories,” atom-sized robots that will grab other atoms and change them into more nanofactories, which will do the same, until every atom on Earth has been converted. Scientists call this “the Gray Goo” problem, which—though it may sound like a reason to visit your urologist—is in fact a profound threat to earth.

Chance of Survival: 5.4%

Taking on an exponentially-growing army of invisibly small nano devices is not going to be easy. It’s not like you can step on them, or win them over with an inspirational speech. No, this is the type of dilemma that’s going to require superhero assistance. Try to get Superman to fly backwards around the earth, reversing its rotation, and causing time to rewind. Don’t scoff, that’s the finest deus ex machina 1978 writers had to offer.

Nuclear War

A full scale nuclear war is something every child of the 80’s learned to fear, thanks mostly to the movie WarGames. That was before communist Russia collapsed like a wet taco. In today’s political climate, teaching a computer how to play tic-tac-toe isn’t going to accomplish much. Hell, I’m pretty sure my waffle maker can play tic-tac-toe. But when World War 3 erupts and the bombs start flying, we’ll have to contend with radioactive fallout, nuclear
winter, acid rain, and more.

Chance of Survival: 47.3%

You’ll stand a much better chance if you live in a country no one has ever heard of. So, if aggressions in the Middle East get much worse, I‘m packing up and moving to some place like Vanuatu. No one’s gonna bomb Vanuatu, even if they can find it. Also, in a best case scenario, a full-fledged nuclear war will throw humanity back into the stone age. And if those famewhores on Survivor can last 39 days in Vanuatu with just sticks and rocks, I can make it at least twice that long.


Robots are getting sassier and more deadly by the day. The threat posed by robots has already been dealt with at great length by writers far braver and more prolific than I am. Consider the words of one of these brilliant visionaries:

“Robots are automated boxes of betrayal and face-melting rays. Despite this being a totally obvious scientific fact, misguided robotic engineers continue to add intelligence and weaponry to their monstrosities under the alias of ‘scientific advancement.’ … Say goodbye to your fairy tale world of not being fed into a flesh powered laser reactor, because today’s technology is fully capable of killing you, and fully capable of enjoying it.”

Chance of Survival: 88.6%

As sophisticated as they are, robots still lack the capacity to understand our feeble human emotions, and this can be used against them. If a robot has you cornered, try giving it a hug. This will induce some kind of feedback loop that will ultimately cause its head to explode.


I’ve only touched on a handful of scenarios here, but the Apocalypse might well come in a form I couldn’t anticipate. In such a case, your survival will surely depend on what equipment you can acquire. If it’s bird flu, you’ll need a mask. If it’s zombies, you better find a chainsaw. Let common sense prevail.

One of your best assets in the here and now is the world of motion pictures. Watch a lot of movies, and you’ll find a plethora of doomsday scenarios and ideas for overcoming them. However, we are talking about crap like The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact, and War of the Worlds. If you’d rather just embrace death, I‘ll understand.

If you do survive the end of the world, don’t forget that you owe me your life. If I make it, I’ll want you to join either my army or my harem. And if I don’t make it, remember me as hero and please don’t let the cockroaches eat my remains.

Note: Much of the science content for this article came from Exit Mundi, a site I recommend you not visit if you get depressed easily.

Essential New Word of the Week:
liquor rectangle [‘lIker ‘rEktæ? gl] n: Booze is one of the best gifts you can get someone. Whether you’re buying a pal a few shots on his birthday or bringing a bottle of wine to a housewarming, you can’t go wrong with liquor. But there’s another class of gift that must be reserved for very special occasions only. Basically, if your gift of booze comes in a wrapped rectangular box, there’s no guessing what it might be, but it’s bound to be special, like a fine scotch, or an assortment of flavored vodkas. This elite sort of present is known as a liquor rectangle, and it probably necessitates a thank-you card.