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Getting Out of Dodge
Assessing the Lethality of Your Habitat—You Wimpy Little Ape
© 2012 James LaFond
I recently watched both installments of Cocaine Cowboys, a stunning documentary about the 1980s drug trade. As I watched the interviews and vintage news clips, and then considered the title, I was stricken by how the Old West, the ‘Wild West’ was constantly invoked to explain the modern psychopathic drug economy. Then all of the needling reminders that we were descending back into the barbarity of those who had ‘won the west’ at gunpoint came back. Foremost among them was my father-in-law’s sage advice to ‘get out of Dodge’; when the wife was mad.
Curious as to how modern urban violence equates, if at all, to 19th Century rural frontier violence, I called Dominick up in Gothom wondering if he had read about this in any local newspapers. Sure enough he recommended Robert R. Dykstra’s: Field Notes, Overdosing on Dodge. Satisfied that my opinions were in line with this diligent academic’s research, I now felt free to vent my survivalist spleen.
The Ivory Tower, The Dark Tower & The Old West
As could be expected the debate over whether we are more civilized than our hallowed ancestors has been confined to the gun control debate. Excuse me liberal gun-haters and conservative NRA gun-lovers, but gun control does not even belong in the self defense debate. Guns are for the enforcement of social will, the holding of outposts and homesteads from insurgents and raiders, and the protection of property—and for dueling I suppose. If JFK had a python strapped to his hip it would not have saved him. Likewise, the gun used to rob you will be a black market product not subject to gun control legislation.
For example: I recently served as an unarmed escort for three hundred people carrying valuables. Two particular men I walked to the parking lot as I looked for the pack attack goons that normally preyed upon the pencil-necked patrons of these collectable card venues. The men hunting them knew me to be unarmed, as I had ejected them from the venue earlier. After I got these men to the parking area and returned to escort some other event goers, the gunmen emerged from the bushes—literally—and robbed one of the men [the one with the $500 package], failing to get the guy with the $30,000 package, who came and got me.
If I had stayed they would not have approached, as they had had better opportunities.
Likewise if I were armed, and then left, the same thing would have happened.
If I had been armed and stayed, they would have hit someone else on the other side of the venue.
This is, after all, predation we are talking about, not dating a hillbilly chick and trying to suck up to her dad. If the $500 geek had a tech nine in his book bag, he may well have been shot as he rooted around for it amongst his dice and trading cards. In Old West terms, ‘they had the drop on him’. The entire thing boiled down to environmental and behavioral factors. Having a gun is simply one of many possible behavioral factors, not the godlike intervention of Mister Colt that Old West gun geeks so love to evoke. [Jospeph Campbell, in his interview with Bill Moyers in The Power of Myth, did suggest that the modern reverence for firearms is a form of polytheistic death-god worship.]
Mister Dykstra does a good job of pointing out that the Old West was not the blood bath cinema writers and left-wingers would have us believe, and was also not the cooperative paradise free of gun laws that NRA nuts promote. The most telling point is the power of social mythology. Apparently the term ‘get out of Dodge’ is a euphemism adopted by Vietnam War vets to describe a perilous place best vacated. That place, in the circa 1970 public consciousness, was Dodge City, only because that was the locale chosen for the longest running and most influential TV show in history, Gunsmoke.
Life as a Crunched Number
Some commentators have attempted to quantify and compare the two, the Old West, and whatever our current standout urban hellhole is. It is inevitably apples and oranges. The best example was of a comparison between a year in Miami when it was the per capita murder capital and a year in Dodge City when a single man died in a drunken brawl which escalated into a shooting. According to the use of the FBI’s formula of murders per 100,000 one drunk getting shot was indicative of a more violent place in space-time than Miami, which was enjoying such events as strip-mall machine gun battles and mass suburban executions.
The flaw in the method is obvious, even to a statistical moron like me. If one less drug-dealer got killed in Miami it would have theoretically meant nothing, but perhaps a change in the last digit of a broken down statistic. But if the gun-armed drunk had missed back in 19th Century Dodge City, the scene of his behavior would have suddenly become, rather than a gritty Spaghetti western, more like a perfume commercial, or a hallmark movie episode, daisies waiving in the breeze, as grisly bears hug elk, confederate veterans French-kiss union veterans, and rail barons made sure their accountants are paying all of the taxes they owe, even as a Native American paints a billboard with ‘welcome to my ancestral homeland and enjoy my wife white man’ punctuated by a smiley face…
In 2011 Baltimore finished 9th in the nation for most deadly locale per 100,000. Detroit and Flint Michigan were #2 and #1 respectively. There is your reality hint, in those numbers. All of the top ten were small to mid-sized cities, and the two worst are really a part of the same urban wasteland, literally next door neighbors. Detroit, by the way, has the highest known feral dog population, highest abandoned house count, and the world’s only deserted skyscraper! It is where the History Channel filmed Life After People. Now I know where to go for my next vacation!
Baltimore also has a huge number of abandoned houses [over 25,000] and large expanses of urban wastelands. Ask any Thompson’s Gazelle, a watering hole is always dangerous, but one that is ‘easy to hunt’ is more so, because predators are lazy slackers. Heck, lions lay around for 20 hours a day. Imagine how the ungulates feel—perhaps they feel like the janitor paying for his meal at Register #3 with hard-earned cash, while the gangsta at Register #4 with the knot roll of bills and gold teeth is buying his Mountain Dew with his girlfriend’s baby’s mama’s EBT card.
Today our law enforcement geeks and talking heads would have us believe that the lethality of our habitat is based solely on a lottery-like concept or our risk of being killed out of a hundred thousand residents who share some form of randomized risk. This is not realistic. Not even an ungulate on the African savanna, about to be featured in a National Geographic snuff flick, would agree with this reasoning, and he has more common sense than most of us!
Busing Tables at the Feast Surreal
The fact is, a zebra’s chance of being eaten by lions is not based on how many ungulates are eaten by African predators out of a hundred thousand. His chances are largely subjective, and has as much to do with his characteristics—health, size, isolation, intelligence, speed, stamina—as with the characteristics of those who hunt him.
How dangerous is your habitat?
The first question to ask is, ‘How big is my habitat; how much of it do I use; how much should I use?’
The answer, even amongst motorists, is that the typical human living in an urban center does not actually travel any farther while going about their daily business than a primitive villager. Of course you burn a lot of fossil fuel going this way and that, and backtracking, and going through the drive thru at Taco Bell. However, none of this typically takes you, the modern city-dweller, farther away from your home than the 8 miles that can be comfortably strolled two and from the conceptual watering hole by a fit man on a daily basis.
You suburbanites travel a lot farther but not through populated areas, but generally along paved corridors, which in terms of crime might as well be Star Trek transporters. The danger on the highway is other motorists. If you work in the city, begin assessing your risk when you get into town [the philosopher-gazelle’s watering hole we might say], and when you get into your bedroom community, where you are a soft high yield prey item.
Rural people have the an entirely different situation that is made both safer in terms of probability of attack, but worse in terms of lethality of attack, then the city-dweller. People don’t drive twenty miles to your farm or trailer just to snatch your purse. Country people, I believe, should have guns, because once they have been selected as crime targets it is for keeps. Maybe that is why there is such a dearth of bleeding heart antigun liberal types in rural America.
So, instead of asking, ‘What are my chances in a hundred thousand of being murdered this year’, take another approach. Ask yourself, ‘How many strong-armed robberies, stick-ups, car-jackings, rapes, abductions, home invasions, and smash-and-grabs happen in my neighborhood and my work area?’
‘Should I take any additional precautions?’
Most of those murders are casualties in turf battles over illicit drug distribution. Most of those guys getting shot asked for it, and have probably done it to others. The drug-dealer-death-rate does set your environmental stage. However, if you aren’t a crack-dealer what you are left with is dealing with the crack-dealer’s customer base, who need to rip you off or knock the shit out of you to get their next hit.
Think of your risk in terms of the lethality of your habitat, imagining yourself being the only prey item on the menu. In your mind’s eye erase all of the good working people that you encounter in your daily life, which will be the vast majority of them. Then imagine yourself alone, in some scenario where it is only you on the street; and the 3 panhandlers, the creepy guy feeling himself up, the junky looking for a purse to snatch, the crack-dealer, his muscle, his runner, the two drunks, the fat violent screaming maniac in his pickup truck, the kid who borrowed a stolen gun to collect money for the new video game that is coming out next week, the two jerks looking for a girl to rape while they cruise in their mother’s SUV, and the three punks looking for an old dude to beat up so that they can relive the experience as they drink their older brother’s malt liquor while he is still in prison…
Who of the above is coming for you?
That is all you need to know.
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Sam J.     Jun 26, 2017

In the book "The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse" by Fernando Ferfal Aguirre he says that living in the country when everything breaks down is as you say. Much more dangerous as when the evil gets there it stays to milk everything they can from you. I think that may be changing because of security cameras. If you can hide these all over and use advanced software that catches motion and alerts you you can get the jump on these people. Same for suburban areas but being farther away you would be less likely to have the evil there in the first place.
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