Chicago Tribune Letter: ‘Chicago, And Its Surrounding Areas, Have Become Hell on Earth’

This morning I headed over to the Chicago Tribune website to see what’s cooking locally. On their homepage was a “story” link with the following headline:

“Letter: I’m leaving Chicago and I’m never coming back”

Figuring this should make some “entertaining” reading while I finished my coffee, I checked out the proclamation. The author sure didn’t pull any punches. Here’s a snippet:

I’ve come to understand that Chicago, and its surrounding areas, have become Hell on Earth for any thinking person with a modicum of self-respect.

The caustic combination of corrupt politicians with nothing but contempt for the public; a police force so broken down in spirit it visibly resents interaction with even law-abiding citizens; a criminal underclass empowered by the incessant drone of liberal rhetoric wandering the streets posing clear and present danger to everyone around them; and the enablers, who are everywhere, to say nothing of the ugly, decaying infrastructure, poor economy and joyless entertainment and leisure opportunities – it is for these reasons I have made the decision to disconnect forever…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know, I am one of those who left Chicago (Northwest Side) only three-and-a-half years ago due to concerns over increasing government mismanagement, crime, and costs of living- in no particular order. Besides, even though I really liked the neighborhood I had lived in for eight years, it was time for a new pad and home prices were just too damn high!

My girlfriend and I did what was right for us at the time and in advance of what we suspect lies ahead. But Chicago is still a great city with fantastic people (minus the criminal element), so much so not only do I understand why one might still choose to reside there, but even I won’t go so far as to proclaim “I’m never coming back.”

I remain optimistic about the long-term prospects for the “Windy City.” That being said, I do believe conditions in the city will erode before improving again. For those dead set on remaining in town, please do yourself a favor and take a good, hard look at your financial and personal safety capabilities for successfully navigating any “storm” that may lie ahead. For example, how do your finances look with the real prospect of future tax hits down the road?

More later. And to read that entire letter sent to the Chicago Tribune, head on over to their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)


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Signs Of The Time, Part 95

From a headline on the USA TODAY website last night:

“Oscar ratings drop 8% amid diversity push, awards fatigue”

Gee, big surprise there.

Forgot to mention Hollywood/celebrity fatigue though, with the seemingly non-stop talking down to “ordinary” Americans on how we should think and act.

And often against a backdrop of “do what I say, not what I do.”

Oh well. Duly noted here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


Levin, Gary. “Oscar ratings drop 8% amid diversity push, awards fatigue.” USA TODAY. 29 Feb. 2016. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2016/02/29/oscar-ratings-drop-8-amid-diversity-push-awards-declines/81108254/). 1 Mar. 2016.


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Tuesday, March 1st, 2016 Main Street, Signs Of The Time No Comments

Survivalism ‘Shouldn’t Come With A Bad Reputation’

“Survivalism: The stark ideology that may have led to killing of a Pennsylvania state trooper”

-Actual headline on the Washington Post website, September 17, 2014

“I love publishing material that readers can sink their teeth into and learn a lot from. I hope to do a lot more of it when things calm down on my end. At the same time, I will blog about some topics that might not be so informative- like prepping as a form of insurance, for example. Why’s that? It depends on the situation really. But in the case of “Prepping As Insurance,” I’m disappointed in how the mainstream media often portrays preppers/survivalists. Many times, the so-called Fourth Estate equates preparedness with anti-social behavior, paranoia (sound familiar?), and/or domestic terrorism. I like to point out that emergency preparedness (something Uncle Sam/other levels of government actively push- even while demonizing it in some instances) can be thought of as another form of insurance and one of our civic duties as American citizens (the emphasis on self-reliance/sufficiency frees up public safety resources in major emergencies) by its practitioners. Letting the idea fester in our society that prepping is BAD could ultimately result in way too many helpless Americans in a SHTF situation. My intention with this post- while not really one that is chock-full of knowledge- is to help torpedo that dangerous idea with hopes (dreams?) of a more resilient society once again.”

-One of my comments in a discussion about last Friday’s Survival And Prosperity post entitled “Prepping As Insurance”

I’ve always thought any negative associations with prepping/survivalism stemming from related “reality” TV shows like National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers were essentially harmless. As they were rolling out a couple of years ago, I trusted people would be able to figure out it’s only entertainment television– with some useful knowledge thrown in to keep more “demanding” viewers coming back for more. Entertainment TV with a good deal of shock and awe to ratchet up ratings and score as many advertising dollars as possible.

Several years on, and plenty of critics- particularly in the mainstream media- of preparedness/survivalism base their view at least in part of what they’ve seen on TV.

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper

Doomsday Preppers Toilet Paper

They just don’t get it. And if you ask me, in many cases it’s because they’ve haven’t researched the subject thoroughly enough (either by choice or lack of time).

And the ones that do but who still try and push the goofy idea that most- if not all- preppers/survivalists are authority-hating, machine gun-toting, wannabe special forces types who are two sandwiches short of a picnic and long for the end of the world (note I’m not including “as we know it” here) to remake it in their own image- well, don’t forget they’ve got newspapers/other media products to sell.

So it was with some relief that I encountered the following article yesterday on the WFMZ-TV 69 News (Allentown, Pennsylvania) website. Talking about the ongoing manhunt for alleged cop killer Eric Frein, 69 News staff wrote:

This weekend, 69 News spoke with the chief of the Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue about survivalists.

Mark Hopkins believes Frein will be able to evade police for a period of time, but police will catch up with him.

He says to a degree, everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.

“I wouldn’t want to see that lumped together and think that all survivalists or all people that are doing this prepping stuff want to hurt people, because that’s not the case; this is clearly an outlawry,” Hopkins said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Everyone is a bit of a survivalist, and that description shouldn’t come with a bad reputation.”

Something the “haters” would do well to remember. But probably won’t, or choose not to out of self-interest or something else.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


“Survival expert believes police will catch up with Frein.” 69 News. 21 Sep. 2014. (http://www.wfmz.com/news/Regional-Poconos-Coal/survival-expert-believes-police-will-catch-up-with-frein/28175968). 22 Sep. 2014.


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What Effect Have (Post-) Apocalyptic-Themed TV Shows And Films Had On The Prepping Movement?

“i friggin LOVE “doomsday preppers”!”

-Milla Jovovich, American model and actress of Resident Evil-fame, Facebook post, November 24, 2012

Back in February 2012, the Daily Mail (UK) reported that “as many as three million Americans now fall into the category dubbed ‘preppers’- people who are making detailed plans for the end of the world as we know it.”

(Editor’s note: Most mainstream media outlets drop that “as we know it” bit out, which is a shame as there’s an important distinction to be made between preparing for the “end of the world as we know it” as opposed to the actual “end of the world” where such activity may be thought of as futile. Kudos to the the British publication for keeping this scenario “intact.”)

That the ranks of individuals taking up preparedness have grown significantly in the last couple of years while (post-) apocalyptic-themed television shows and big screen productions simultaneously exploded in popularity is probably not coincidence. As a matter of fact, it’s something the National Geographic Channel, as part of an upcoming “Blog Carnival,” is currently exploring. The American cable and satellite television channel wants to know what effect these TV shows and films have had on the prepping movement.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a strong correlation between the two. As more shows and movies of the (post-) apocalyptic genre were aired/released for public viewing, I can’t help but suspect increasing numbers of Americans bought into the idea of prepping.

I have a feeling the seed for prepping was already planted before watching such shows and films in many cases. Scientific and technological advancements in the Information Age have increased Americans’ knowledge of potential man-made and natural disasters beyond events fresh in the mind of many such as 9/11, 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the Panic of ’08, 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, and April’s Boston Marathon Bombings. Viewing such productions on a TV in the family room or at a local movie theater might have made such threats feel closer to home, thereby prompting action.

So the TV shows and films may have served as some sort of prepping recruitment vehicle. Yet at the same time, the preppers portrayed in such media have more often than not been of the extreme sort. These individuals probably aren’t a good representative of your typical prepper, if only because there are many different kinds of preppers out there.

Not surprisingly, I’ve noticed a number of production companies and cable/satellite television channels have come under fire because of the way preppers are portrayed. I can understand why this is, as some believe such depictions only serve to fuel ridicule and potential persecution of preppers by a number of parties including the mainstream media and the government. However, keep in mind that cable/satellite television channels and production companies are part of the entertainment industry, where these extreme prepper types can be quite entertaining to watch (cha-ching!). Those behind the ridiculing and potential persecution of American citizens for merely fulfilling the federal government’s recommendations as it concerns household emergency preparedness should keep this in mind as well.

At the end of the day, it must be pointed out that preppers actually perform a major public service in the event of a community/regional/national emergency. That’s right. Think about it. Preppers strive to be able to take care of themselves, family, friends, and even neighbors in many cases in the event of a real crisis. That’s one less person or group of people public safety agencies need to attend to in a significant emergency, where resources are typically stretched thin already. Because preppers can assume this “sheepdog” role, police, fire, and other groups can focus their limited amount of resources on others (more often than not, those who didn’t prepare).

One might even argue here it should be the civic duty of Americans to prep if they can.

Imagine if every American household had a couple of weeks of emergency food, water, and other supplies socked away in case of emergency. The next time a man-made or natural disaster reared its ugly head, think how much smoother the emergency response might be, especially when compared to those recent events I listed earlier.

Returning to the National Geographic Channel’s question as to what effect (post-) apocalyptic-themed TV shows and films have had on prepping, despite often portraying more extreme prepper types (it’s just show business!), it’s my belief such productions have increased the ranks of preppers in the United States, thereby assisting public safety agencies across the United States in the event of a real disaster as preppers should be able to take care of themselves and a number of other individuals in many cases, freeing up limited resources to be applied elsewhere in the emergency response.

Thank you for doing this preppers!

And production companies and cable/satellite TV channels like the National Geographic Channel- go ahead and give yourselves a nice pat on the back as well.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)


Brady, Tara. “Fill the pool with fish and stockpile the guns: Up to THREE MILLION ‘Preppers’ in the U.S. are prepared for for the end of the world.” Daily Mail. 11 Feb. 2012. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099714/Meet-preppers-Up-3-MILLION-people-preparing-end-world-know-it.html). 20 Oct. 2013.


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Upcoming TEOTWAWKI And End Times-Related TV Shows

So, did anyone see the premiere Monday of the new NBC television series Revolution (discussed here)? Last month I came across a Los Angeles Times article that talked about upcoming TEOTWAWKI and End Times-related television shows. T.L. Stanley wrote in “Show Tracker: What You’re Watching” on the Times website on July 28:

Armageddon is about to get unprecedented amounts of TV airtime. In the coming months, network and cable channels will use doomsday as a hook to draw viewers to end-times-themed reality competitions, action thrillers, comic-book adaptations and docu-dramas…

If you want to know more about what’s already out there (Doomsday Bunkers, Doomsday Preppers, Tom Hanks’ Electric City, Falling Skies, Revolution, The Walking Dead) and what’s in store for TV viewers (Last Family on Earth, Last Resort, The Last Ship, among others), check out Stanley’s piece on the Times site here.

“Last Resort Trailer- ABC Network”
YouTube Video


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Quote For The Week

Society has changed. The public is to blame as well. I think the people have gotten dumber. I don’t know that I would’ve said that out loud pre-my announcement that I was going to be leaving. [Laughter] But I think that’s true. I mean everything has changed. The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment. People who project themselves as journalists on television don’t know the first thing about journalism. They are just there stirring up a hockey game.

-Retiring U.S. Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY), in a recent interview for a June 21, 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek article


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Storm Recap

Yesterday, I talked about the severe weather that struck the Chicagoland area Tuesday evening. Here’s the latest on that event from WGN-TV’s Andrew Zuick this afternoon:

Commonwealth Edison Co. reported significant progress this morning in restoring power after Tuesday night’s violent storms but said it will be at least into Friday before everyone is back on line.

As of 12:30 p.m., 90,000 homes and businesses still were without electricity, and spokesman Bennie Currie said the utility hoped to have power back to 90 percent of its customers by midnight Friday.

“Seven hundred crews are working around the clock,” he said.

Luckily, we’ve had our power back on since 11 AM yesterday. Funny story though. Around 10:30 AM, I happened to spot a neighbor from the next building over popping the trunk of her car and removing bags of ice. Smart thinking. I decided that I, too, should get some ice at the gas station down the block in an attempt to save the perishables in our refrigerator (freezer was still okay at this point)- and before it became a scare commodity. After showering and throwing on some clothes, I started to head to the door. Just then, the electricity came back on. Perfect timing.

As I indicated yesterday, at this point I want to talk about some things I took care of beforehand that worked out well during and after this event, along with some items that needs to be addressed before another summer storm roars through.

The preparations that worked out well included:

Communications- Thank God for all-hazard public alert radios. While the local television stations warned of the incoming storm- my girlfriend happened to be watching TV right before the event while I was plugging away at the computer- the TV isn’t always on in our pad. The Midland weather radio starting chirping away some time before the storm, and alerts intensified as the nasty stuff beared down on us. Acting on information provided by the radio, I phoned my parents (who were also in the storm’s path- they were unharmed) and took care of some last-minute business on my end (secured balcony items, powered down this computer, went to the bathroom- very important, etcetera) before things got real bad. On the topic of phones, once the power went out, so did our cordless phone system. Thankfully, my girlfriend and I have a corded phone in our kitchen, which we had installed for exactly this type of situation. With it, we were able to use the phone in the hours after the storm and contact the electric company concerning our loss of service/status of repairs. While both of us have mobile phones, there’s always the chance that the batteries in one or in both phones might be low/dead and/or reception unavailable due to damaged cell towers or other causes. I’m a big believer in redundancy.

Once the power died, I busted out a Sharper Image all-in-one flashlight clock radio my girlfriend bought for me some time ago. Instead of using the light, we relied on the integrated AM/FM radio for the latest news on the severe weather.

Lighting- I’ve accumulated a number of emergency preparedness items over the last couple of years, including a variety of light sources. As I mentioned yesterday, due to the strength of the wind gusts (70-80 mph was not uncommon) and the amount and speed of the flying debris, I figured it was only a matter of time before we lost power. And when the lights went out, my Princeton Tec headlamp came on. My girlfriend donned her L.L. Bean headlamp, which I picked up for her some time back. Throughout the night, a number of tactical flashlights also came into play, including an el cheapo 9-LED light I picked up from an auto supply store, a 130-lumen Ruger tactical light, and an 80-lumen Surefire tac light. You can never have enough flashlights, I always say (while growing up, there were always plenty of flashlights around- but none ever seemed to work!). Per my girlfriend’s suggestion, I shined these tactical lights at our white ceilings to illuminate the room better.

Which brings me to those things I need to address before another storm like this decides to pay us a visit:

Alternative Power- Back when I was working in the fire service I helped a member of our fire prevention bureau research portable power systems which might be used by fire investigators inside a structure (gas-powered generators not really a good idea here). Problem is, the ones out on the market at that time seemed to have reliability issues. As a generator won’t really work for me considering my present living arrangements, I’ll be taking another look at portable power systems while hoping they’re more dependable these days.

Batteries- A long time ago I learned that storing alkaline batteries in a refrigerator may extend their shelf life. So I’ve been doing this ever since. However, when the power went out Tuesday night, I wasn’t able to access the refrigerator to bust out some batteries for a few useful items out of fear that I’d be endangering the perishable food (I had an idea the electric company probably wouldn’t have us back online anytime soon). I plan on setting aside some commonly-used alkaline batteries outside the fridge from now on.

Entertainment- Later in the evening, I decided to watch a DVD, first on my laptop computer, and then on my girlfriend’s portable DVD player. The reason for this? My laptop’s battery died. If the DVD player’s battery had gone kaput as well, I could have turned to that Princeton Tec headlamp and used it for reading. However, now that the old analog portable TV’s have been replaced by the digital ones, I’d like to acquire one to expand my entertainment choices (the local news radio got old real quick once it started repeating segments).

Environment- Prior to the violent storm, it was hot and sticky outside. After the storm, it was much cooler- but still sticky. Due to this, I found it extremely hard to fall asleep that night. Good-sized battery-powered fans are now on my wish list.

Lighting- Ironically, this Monday I happened to be reviewing records of my emergency preparedness supplies and put together my latest “want list.” One item that was near the top of the list was a campsite lantern. While the light sources my girlfriend and I had at our disposal proved to be adequate, a couple-hundred lumen lantern or two would have been real nice to have.

One last thing. Next time I hear one of these violent late spring/early summer storms is headed this way, I’ll be sure to plug in my laptop, DVD player, and other items that might be useful in a power outage in an attempt to charge them as much as possible before the weather deteriorates. Let’s just hope I remember to unplug them should lightning start to fly.


Zuick, Andrew. “Power outlook: At least Friday for full restoration.” Chicago Tribune. 23 June 2011. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-power-outlook-at-least-saturday-for-full-restoration-20110623,0,4773954.story). 23 June 2011.


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Survival And Prosperity
Est. 2010, Chicagoland, USA
Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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