Queen leads nation in honouring war dead

Queen Elizabeth II has led Britain in paying tribute to its war dead as the country fell silent on Remembrance Sunday.

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The 87-year-old monarch laid a wreath at the Cenotaph national war memorial, accompanied by senior members of the royal family and prime ministers past and present.

In bright autumn sunshine, thousands in central London observed a two-minute silence at 11am, started by chimes from the Houses of Parliament and round from a 13-pounder World War I gun.

Prince Philip and their grandsons princes William and Harry were among the royals in military uniform laying wreaths, in a service led by Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London.

It is the last such ceremony before next year’s centenary of the start of World War I.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour opposition leader Ed Miliband laid wreaths, followed by the high commissioners of Commonwealth countries and armed forces chiefs.

Former prime ministers Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major, this year without 1980s premier Margaret Thatcher who died in April, also paid their respects, as did leaders of 14 different religious denominations.

The ceremony was watched from the Foreign Office balcony by royal spouses including William’s wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

More than 10,000 veterans and civilians marched past the Cenotaph to pay their respects to departed comrades, to applause from members of the public.

Andrew Jackson, 76, who served with the army in Suez in 1956, said: “It amazes me to see the number of people here – and especially to see so many youngsters. I think Remembrance Sunday has become more and more popular, and that people are becoming more aware.”

British troops serving in Afghanistan were joined by Queen Elizabeth’s second son Prince Andrew – a Falklands War veteran – who laid a wreath at their Camp Bastion base in southern Helmand Province.

Some 446 British troops have died serving in Afghanistan since operations began in October 2001, most recently Warrant Officer Class 2 Ian Fisher who was killed in a vehicle-borne suicide attack on Tuesday.

In the run-up to Remembrance Sunday, many Britons wear a paper red poppy – symbolising the poppies which grew on French and Belgian battlefields during World War I – in their lapels.

The proceeds from poppy sales go to veterans’ organisation the Royal British Legion.

Olympic dream for Aussie snowboarder Magiros

Fearless 22-year-old Steph Magiros has always wanted to be an Olympian – she just wasn’t sure how.

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The most obvious choice seemed to be gymnastics. As a talented junior the Sydney native achieved enormous success at a national level. Twisting, flipping, spinning and landing on mats and beams was part of her childhood. 

Just five years ago Magiros tried snowboarding for the first time, and, as her dad Harry Magiros fondly recalls, it was a light-bulb moment.

“One day she came home and said ‘Dad I know how I want to go to the Olympics’. She showed me a video of Torah Bright going down the half pipe and I said – yes that looks like gymnastics, you can do that,” he says.

It was a realization that has unlocked her Olympic dream. For the last few years Magiros has searched the globe, hunting powder to refine her skills on the half pipe.

It’s been a steep learning curve for the 150 centimetre snowboarder. A dislocated shoulder, a few concussions- but “thankfully none recently,” Steph is always keen to point out. 

Spending nine months of the year overseas in Vale, Perisher, and Cardrona has been testing for both athlete and parents. Her family dread the late night phone calls.

“It’s heart-wrenching sometimes, being on the other side of the world,” Harry Magiros says.

And Steph occasionally feels the distance to be overwhelming.

“It is hard sometimes. When I get down I jump on Skype and talk to them. I try to just get it out of my system and finish that day and focus on the new one,” she says. 

Amongst all the challenges there have been plenty of highlights – carrying the flag at the World Championships in Quebec, placing in the top 10 in Park City at the 2013 World Cup and landing her first Switch Inverted 720 in competition are all fond memories.  

But the ultimate rush is when she’s in the half pipe.

“It is amazing, it feels just like flying.” 

In just her first tilt at an Olympics the diminutive snowboarder is hoping to soar all the way into the Australian team in Sochi. 

With the top four females set to go through and Magiros currently ranked third, she has a great chance of advancing. Her mother Helen Magiros, is doing everything she can to get her there.

“She is sitting pretty at the moment. We are just keeping up her training, keeping her healthy, strong and in one piece. The spot should be hers.”

Magiros will find out in January if she has achieved her dream of representing her country at an Olympics.

Athlete BIO

Name: Steph Magiros

Age: 22

Nickname: “Munchkin”

Years active: Five

Event: Half Pipe (Women) 

Lives: Vale, Cadrona, Perisher, Sans Souci

Twitter: @stephmagiros 

南宁桑拿网,www.stephmagiros.com/

Jane vows to fight for All Blacks berth

Cory Jane is rolling up his sleeves to fight for his All Blacks wing jersey.

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The most scrutinised selection tussle ahead of Saturday’s Test against England at Twickenham is out wide, where 30-year-old Jane made a sound return from injury on the right wing in their 26-19 win over France in Paris.

However, he was overshadowed by Test standout Charles Piutau, 22, on the opposite side of Stade de France, leaving Jane locked in a probable duel with Julian Savea this week.

Savea, 23, missed the tense French Test due to illness suffered earlier in the week but is fully fit and keen to add to his 16 Test tries in London.

Jane admits he wasn’t at his sharpest during his 44th Test appearance but wasn’t far off – an encouraging result considering his only other rugby this year was two domestic games for Wellington.

He feels the nine months of rehabilitation from ruptured knee ligaments has made him stronger mentally and he is ready to reclaim the jersey he made his own over the previous three seasons.

“I want to play every Test. When I made it the goal to go on the end of year tour, I just didn’t want to go around and hold pads,” he said.

“Competition’s good. You can get complacent if you don’t have that competition and I’ve done that in the past.

“I’ve got to work my way to get up there but, in saying that, they (Piutau and Savea) have got to work hard because I want to get up there.”

Jane nearly made a spectacular return on Saturday when he dived acrobatically for the corner with his first touch.

He was denied a try when replays showed the ball dropped from his grasp at the last instant.

He says his most poignant memory of the Test came minutes earlier when he heard the national anthem.

“That was a special moment because it has been one hell of a year,” he said.

Hughes to miss England’s final tour match

Usman Khawaja and Phil Hughes have been withdrawn from the Cricket Australia Invitational XI to play England in the tourists’ final Ashes warm up match at the SCG.

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The pair will now play for their states in Sheffield Shield instead, with Callum Ferguson called in as a batting replacement for the four-day match starting on Wednesday.

Cricket Australia team performance general manager Pat Howard said Khawaja had been released to play for Queensland in their home match against NSW because of several injuries in the Bulls squad.

Howard also said the selectors decided to replace Hughes with South Australia teammate Ferguson in the Invitational XI to give Ferguson another chance against international opposition, because he only had limited time at the crease for Australia A in the rain-affected match against England in Hobart last week.

“In light of Callum’s selection, Phil Hughes, who has played a lot of international cricket in recent months will remain with South Australia for its next Shield match,” said Howard.

The Invitational XI contains a strong batting line-up alongside a second-string NSW bowling line-up, with NSW’s frontline bowlers all away at the Shield game in Brisbane starting on Wednesday.

Last month CA yielded partially to England’s request for stronger opposition in the tour match after it was originally slated to be played by a NSW XI.

“In selecting the final XI, we have tried to be flexible given the needs of particular states and individual players following the latest round of first-class matches across the country,” said Howard.

NSW bowling coach Geoff Lawson will coach the Invitational XI.

Cricket Australia Invitational XI: Ed Cowan (Tas), Aaron Finch (Vic), Callum Ferguson (SA), Adam Voges (WA), Ben Rohrer (NSW), Ryan Carters (NSW), Peter Nevill (capt, NSW), Stephen O’Keefe (NSW), Josh Lalor (NSW), Chris Tremain (NSW), Nic Bills (NSW).

Coming soon: Virtual reality shopping?

More than half of all Australians now shop online for at least some of their retail needs, but when it comes to clothing and personal items, it can be hard to know if what you think you’re paying for is what you’ll get.

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 Fashion retailer Miriam Koenig understands the problem better than most. “I always had the problem that customers couldn’t try on the dresses, didn’t know what it would look like on them, didn’t know if it would suit them or not,” she said.

“I had a lot of returns.”  She imagined a way to put buyers in the picture, by using simple technology and the camera now present in most computers and personal devices. She calls it the “virtual mirror”,  just one interpretation of what online shopping could look like.

CSIRO research scientist Simon Lucey imagines an even more high-tech future. The Brisbane-based computer vision expert has drawn on advances in artificial intelligence to develop facial mapping technology. The technology is already being used in a commercial setting by a US-based sunglasses website, and Mr Lucey believes the research could have far-reaching applications. “If we can teach these devices to see like we see, we can start doing all sorts of things by augmenting how we see the world,” he says. “For instance, if I’m at home, and I want to go ‘I wonder how that couch looks in the lounge room’, could I actually do that virtually, and not have to go to the furniture store?” Using virtual reality to shop is not necessarily a new idea. Sydney-based online retailer Kath Purkis said she first thought about implementing a similar product, through a US-based company, four years ago, but changed her mind when she saw the product.

“The technology hadn’t evolved enough, the price-point was far too high,” she says. However, she too, believes that with the right technology, the right interpretation of the concept could be a big success. “I think at the end of the day, consumers want something that delivers them what is advertised to them,” she says.  “It really helps with the boundary between shopping online behind your laptop and being in a physical store.” Comment: Virtual change rooms could be coming soon

Nadal to go for broke in Djokovic showdown

Rafael Nadal has warned defending champion Novak Djokovic to expect a ferocious battle as the Spaniard bids to win the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time on Monday.

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World No.1 Nadal swept aside Roger Federer 7-5 6-3 in the semi-finals on Sunday to book just his second appearance in the final of the prestigious season-ending event at London’s O2 Arena.

The 13-time grand slam champion lost his only previous Tour Finals championship decider to Federer in 2010.

After spending seven months battling to recover from knee tendinitis, Nadal made a blistering return this year which has so far brought him 10 titles, including the French and US Opens, as well as top spot in the year-end world rankings.

With just one more match left before he can head home for a well-earned rest in Manacor, Nadal is determined to play at his most aggressive in his latest showdown with Djokovic, who will be looking for a third Tour Finals crown after beating Swiss seventh seed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-3 on Sunday.

“For me every match means a lot and every tournament means a lot, but it’s true that this tournament is special and I never had the chance to win here,” Nadal said.

“So it will be great if I have the chance to finish the year with a victory. But I know a lot of work remains.

“I think if I don’t play my best tomorrow, I don’t have a chance. I need to play more aggressive.”

Nadal took just 79 minutes on Sunday to extend his dominance over Federer to 22 wins from their 32 meetings.

With Djokovic not playing his semi-final until Sunday evening, Nadal was asked whether he may have an advantage with his extra recovery time.

“The final is tomorrow evening so it’s not going to affect anything,” Nadal said.

“The winner will have a chance to sleep well in the morning.”

Fittingly, after a season dominated by Nadal and Djokovic, the top two in the world rankings get the chance to face off the final tour prize this year.

Between them they have won three of the four grand slams in 2013, as well as 13 other titles.

Djokovic won their most recent clash, in the Beijing final last month, but Nadal holds a 22-16 edge over their 38 meetings, including a victory in the US Open final in September.

Djokovic had little trouble setting up the dream finale as he brushed aside Wawrinka in one hour and 24 minutes to extend his winning run to 21 matches since the US Open.

“It’s going to be a great final,” he said.

“It’s always a thrilling competition between me and Rafa. Let’s say we know each other quite well. There’ll be no secret between us on the court. The better will win.”

India PM to miss Commonwealth summit

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will skip this week’s Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, as pressure grows for a boycott of the event over alleged war crimes by Colombo.

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Singh sent a letter to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on Sunday telling him of his decision not to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which has become mired in controversy over demands for Colombo to address the allegations.

The prime minister was “unable to attend personally” the 53-nation summit which Sri Lanka is hosting from November 15-17, foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said on Sunday.

Singh’s move is seen as bowing to pressure from India’s own large population of ethnic Tamils to stay away in protest at the alleged massacre of Tamil civilians by Sri Lankan forces in the final months of the Tamil separatist war in 2009.

Several ministers from within Singh’s government had urged him to stay away from the event, amid concerns about upsetting Tamil voters – an important constituency – months before India holds national elections.

Singh is sending his top foreign official, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, to head the Indian delegation.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris says Singh’s decision is not a setback for the hosts.

“If he came, we would have been very happy. But he has taken this decision considering domestic political compulsions,” Peiris told reporters in the southern town of Hambantota.

“But it is not going to diminish the success of the CHOGM in any way.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already announced he would boycott the summit, to protest at Sri Lanka’s failure to investigate its troops over allegations they killed up to 40,000 civilians in 2009.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, his New Zealand counterpart John Key and most other Commonwealth nation leaders will be attending CHOGM.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also says he will go, but has pledged to push for an international investigation into the allegations of war crimes.

Cameron said earlier on Sunday that he would put “serious questions” to Rajapakse, after watching a “chilling documentary” about the events of 2009 that shows footage of alleged war crimes.

“It (the documentary) brings home the brutal end to the civil war and the immense suffering of thousands of innocent civilians who kept hoping that they would reach safety, but tragically many did not,” Cameron said.

“I will raise my concerns when I see President Rajapakse next week in Colombo.

“And I will tell him that if Sri Lanka doesn’t deliver an independent investigation, the world will need to ensure an international investigation is carried out instead.”

UN rights chief Navi Pillay last month warned Sri Lanka to show clear progress towards reining in rights abuses and investigating the suspected war crimes by next March, or face an international probe.

Sri Lankan immigration authorities briefly detained Australian Senator Lee Rhiannon and New Zealand MP Jan Logie at their hotel on Sunday shortly before they were to hold a press conference about their mission, an opposition lawmaker said.

They were on a fact-finding mission into alleged rights abuses, and were questioned about alleged visa violations before being allowed to fly home.

The move comes less than two weeks after Sri Lanka kicked out two Australian media rights activists who were meeting local rights activists.

CHOGM is held every two years. Britain’s Prince Charles will represent his mother Queen Elizabeth II, who is head of the bloc of mainly former British colonies.

Belcher, Larsen vie for World Sailor award

On an unbroken two-year winning streak, Mathew Belcher hopes it will be a case of third time lucky as he vies to be named male World Sailor of the Year.

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Belcher, the 470 class Olympic champion and world No.1, is an overwhelming favourite to lift the prestigious International Sailing Federation title in Oman on Tuesday (Wednesday am AEDT) after receiving his third nomination in four years, following another trophy-laden season.

If successful, he’ll become only the second Australian – male of female – to be named a World Sailor of the Year following Tom Slingsby in 2010.

Fellow Australian Paul Larsen has also been nominated after smashing the world speed sailing record in 2012.

“To be nominated for the third time in four years – from a consistent performance point of view – it’s very special,” Belcher told AAP.

“I’m the most nominated person in the last 15 years, so it’s pretty cool.”

Belcher, named male Australian sailor of the year in October, has won all 17 regattas he’s contested since November 2011, including last year’s 470 class Olympic gold medal with former crewmate, Malcolm Page.

He’s won four world championships in a row, including this year’s world title with current crewmate Will Ryan.

Larsen’s nomination is rich reward for a lifetime spent designing, building and sailing very fast boats – though he admits he’s “healthily sceptical” about his chances of winning the award.

The 42-year old from country Victoria set a new record average speed of 65.45 knots (121.2km/h) over a 500 metre course off Namibia in November last year.

“We’ve been such fringe-dwellers in the sport of sailing – to be off and do speed sailing you basically have to drop out of all conventional sailing and literally go and live in a world of theory on these remote courses,” Larsen told AAP.

“We move down to the coast of Namibia and we live in a shipping container – there’s no crowds or cameras, no big events – and you work like that for 11 years.

“So to be nominated is kind of a funny thing because let’s face it, these awards we’re going to are set up by a body that’s funded by Olympic sailing.

“I’d borderline say they’re incapable of selecting us in the final, but simply because we did something so astounding they can’t ignore it.”

Larsen was also chief navigator in a British-Australian expedition that in February successfully recreated Ernest Shackleton’s epic voyage across the Antarctic Southern Ocean.

He’s previously crewed boats that set new records for sailing across the Pacific Ocean and the English Channel, around Britain and Ireland and the furthest distance sailed in 24 hours.

Australia has a great recent history of nominations at the ISAF World Sailor of the Year awards – gaining eight nominations between 2010 and 2013.

But just one Australian – Laser class Olympic champion Slingsby – has lifted the title in its 19-year history.

No female Australian has ever won it.

The other Australia Day: November 11 throughout history

By Clare Wright, La Trobe University

It was the morning of November 11, 2011 and I was working away at my computer, blissfully unaware of the powers of the universe about to bear down upon me.

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For no particular reason, I glanced over at my desk phone’s digital display of the date and time. The LED read 11:11 11/11/11.

11:11 11/11/11 (Clare Wright)

If science has an answer for why I happened to dart a look at a phone that was not ringing at exactly 11 minutes past 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of the millennium, I don’t know what it is.

Instead, I blame history. Australian history, to be precise, and its curious habit of scheduling noteworthy historical events for November 11.

The event that springs most readily to mind – partly because we stop to remember it each year – is Armistice Day. At 11am on November 11, 1918 the German army surrendered to the allied forces and four years of warfare finally ground to a weary halt.

A minute of silence for Remembrance Day. (AAP Image/Warren Clarke)

Remembrance Day (as it became known after the second world war) is honoured in all parts of the Commonwealth, but it was an Australian, with the delectable name of Edward Honey, who devised the particular tradition of observing a minute’s silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Australia’s role in international militarism has always been contentious, but few begrudge the quiet moment to pay respects to those who have lost their lives in battle.

Rebels and resistance

On the other side of the imperialist coin is Ned Kelly, who never had much truck with fighting for King and country. For his many sins, Ned was hanged on November 11, 1880.

November 11, the date of Ned Kelly’s hanging. (EPA/CHARLES NETTLETON/HO)

His mother, Ellen Kelly, who was also incarcerated at the Old Melbourne Gaol, reportedly said to her son on the night before his execution, “Mind you die like a Kelly son.” She had in mind a tradition of Irish resistance to copping it sweet.

In 1975, another man of legendary status is lead to the gallows on November 11. This time, the executioner is a dapper fellow who looks more like a jockey than then Governor-general John Kerr’s private secretary.

But the minion, David Smith, reads the verdict and it is Australia’s then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam who has been hung out to dry by the Australian Constitution.

“God Save the Queen”, concluded Smith. Whitlam used his last moments as a popularly elected PM to predict the demise of the monarch’s henchman, uttering those famous words: “Well may we say God save the Queen, because nothing will save the Governor-general.”

From the steps of Old Parliament House to another stage for civic turmoil, Bakery Hill. November 11, 1854. The mining community of Ballarat gathers to vent its grievances against taxation without representation.

Loyal to the Queen, they would not “respect her men servants, her man servants, her oxen or her asses”.

On blue parchment, The Ballarat Reform League writes its demands: a manifesto of democratic rights and freedoms. It was the last lawful stage in a mass protest movement that would eventually turn into the Eureka Stockade, the historic rebellion of miners against British authority.

A Eugene Von Guerard painting of a peaceful Ballarat before the Eureka Stockade, triggered by an event on Bakery Hill on November 11, 1854. (Von Guerard Ballarat)

Some historians consider the Ballarat Reform League Charter to be Australia’s own Declaration of Independence.

It may not hold the same pride of place in Australians’ hearts as that illustrious document, but the four pages of urgent scrawl are of global significance.

The Charter is inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

A shameful anniversary

Another founding document in Australia’s democratic heritage was also produced on November 11, but this one didn’t proclaim the entitlement to liberty.

The Aboriginal Protection Act of November 11, 1869 allowed authorities incredible control over Aboriginal lives. (AAP Image/Tourism Queensland)

The Aboriginal Protection Act, enacted on November 11, 1869, deprived indigenous Australians of self-determination. The newly empowered Board for the Protection of Aborigines controlled where indigenous people could live and work and with whom they could associate and marry.

Activist Richard Frankland has written: “Our ready forgetting of this anniversary is symptomatic of our failure as a nation to come to terms with our shared history”.

No-one today remembers Elizabeth Scott. But it was on November 11, 1863, that the 23-year old publican became the first woman in Victoria – and only the second in Australia – to go to the gallows.

She was hanged for the murder of her violent drunkard of a husband, whom she had been forced to marry when she was thirteen. Five pregnancies (and three dead babies) later, Scott showed her own version of resistance to her miserable oppression.

A pencil sketch, entitled Koorliatto, by artist William Hodgkinson, depicting life during the 1860-61 Burke and Wills expedition into Australia’s interior. The decision was made to retrieve the dead explorers’ remains on 11 November 1861. (AAP Image/Bonhams & Goodman)

But wait, there’s more. On November 11, 1845, explorer Charles Sturt abandoned his search for the inland sea, leaving his boat on the edge of an infinite desert.

And on November 11, 1861, the Royal Society of Victoria made the decision to send natural scientist Alfred Howitt to Cooper Creek in South Australia to recover the remains of explorers Burke and Wills.

The search for meaning

According to the website www.1111angels.net (which I accessed on November 11, 2011 at 12.37pm), noticing events on November 11 or that the time is 11:11am is the work of “fun-loving” angels getting our attention. The playful celestial beings want to alert us to a “new age of spiritual uplift”.

Mathematicians, on the other hand, remind us that 11 x 11 = 121 and that 111111 x 111111 = 12345654321.

Rather than searching for impish angels or sexy equations, it’s the thematic commonalities of those events themselves that have something to say about Australia’s homegrown narrative.

Those themes include power, proclaimed and forsaken. Freedom, hard-won and tragically lost. Dreams, heroically large and stupidly ambitious. Rebels, glorified or forgotten. Death, sometimes through duty but often by folly.

And yes, random chance. For many Australians, November 11 was simply the day their number was up.

Clare Wright does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Comment: A TV Viewer’s Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse

By Michelle Smith, Deakin University

 

A bunker featured on Doomsday Preppers National Geographic Channel

 

If doomsday should arrive, then apparently I would have little more than a week or two before I starved to death or was killed by desperate neighbours scavenging for baked beans.

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I took the Doomsday Preppers online test and, with a lowly score of 14, I’m clearly not taking the threat of the end of the world as we know it seriously enough.

Emergency experts in Australia have recently pointed out that most city dwellers exhibit a degree of “learned helplessness”. We expect emergency services to promptly come to our aid in disaster situations. Few of us have the resources to survive for a mere three days without power and water.

In the face of our increasing disconnect from the natural world and wholesale loss of essential skills that kept our ancestors alive, a number of television programs allow us to watch humans tested in apocalyptic situations from the comfort of our couches.

Doomsday Preppers is an American reality show, now in its third season, that airs on the National Geographic channel. It depicts “ordinary” Americans making elaborate preparations for the demise of civilisation, which they fear will come from terrorism, nuclear incidents, war, disease, rising sea levels and even more improbable causes, such as geomagnetic reversal, polar shifts, or Chinese financial takeover.

The preppers do not trust that the United States government will help them in dire circumstances. After the highly criticised government response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there is admittedly an element of sense in wanting to be self-sufficient in the event of a widespread catastrophe.

 

A stockpile of food, ready for the apocalypse. National Geographic Channel

 

Preppers profiles people who plan to survive independently for closer to three years than three days. They build food production systems in their yards, stockpile canned goods and preserves, construct underground bunkers, devise ways to recycle their bodily waste, and equip “bug-out” vehicles in case of the need to evacuate. Weapons training and an arsenal of guns and ammunition are also essentials for protection against all of the now-homeless people who mocked the eccentrics who were building bunkers before the disaster.

In 2009, the Discovery Channel attempted to simulate life after the apocalypse with The Colony, a filmed “experiment” in which ten colonists, including a nurse, doctor and engineers, were charged with “surviving” and rebuilding the systems we depend on in a Los Angeles warehouse. Extras were even cast as gangs of looters to add a sense of scripted authenticity.

Fictional representations of the apocalypse, such as the zombie series The Walking Dead (based on a comic book series), also prompt those of us whose biggest survival challenge arises when the supermarket is closed for a public holiday to consider how capable we would be in a world without order. The beheading, shooting, stabbing and impaling of zombies is often reduced to a perfunctory formality. However, sourcing a pregnancy test or baby formula in an America where manufacturing has ceased and shops have been cleared of supplies is a particular challenge.

In The Walking Dead, cities are rendered nearly uninhabitable as the services required to maintain them, and support the lives of people within them, have disappeared. Survival largely requires a return to small towns and country areas where crops can be grown and animals can be farmed. The prison that has proven to be a place of comparative sanctuary for the protagonists in the past two seasons also has a limited supply of provisions, and hunting and gathering in the woods, is essential to supplement their diet and eke out supplies.

Walking Dead meme weknowmemes.com

 

The expert hunter and tracker in the series is Daryl, a Southern character who could be categorised as a “redneck”. His skills, which would be devalued as indicators of his class in contemporary culture, are crucial to the group’s survival. This is reflected in a meme that jokes “Everybody makes fun of the redneck until the zombie apocalypse”.

These television series imagine various dystopias in which being capable in everything from self-defence, to food production, mechanical repair, and first aid is necessary for survival. In a time in which meat arrives in the home in plastic packs, broken items are discarded rather than repaired, and power blackouts are lit by the glow of iPads, our collective ability to function in a world devoid of technology has perhaps never been more limited.

Though Doomsday Preppers invites the viewer to see its subjects who imagine impending doom as somewhat paranoid, The Walking Dead valorises skills that are largely long-forgotten by most who lives in cities. While the comforts of modern civilisation mean we do have to think about fending for ourselves, picturing what would happen if it did collapse is a reminder of how helpless most of us would become.

Michelle Smith does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.