But competence porn is grander than even this. Imagine that global civilisation has collapsed - from a lethally virulent pandemic, say.

You’ve woken up with the mother of all hangovers and fallen in with a community of other post-apocalyptic survivors.

What could you do to help yourself survive and thrive in the aftermath, and begin the long process of rebuilding from the ashes? Would your practical know-how stand up to the test?

— Competence porn. I like it. “What to do after the apocalypse" (Times Live)
Disasters happen. It is a fact as certain as income taxes. And when a solar flare erupts or a flu pandemic hits, there is only one question that will matter: Are you, or are you not, prepared?
“The Capitalism of Catastrophe" (New York Times, 4 April 2014)

Disasters happen. It is a fact as certain as income taxes. And when a solar flare erupts or a flu pandemic hits, there is only one question that will matter: Are you, or are you not, prepared?

The Capitalism of Catastrophe" (New York Times, 4 April 2014)

Trailer for HBO’s “The Leftovers,” based on Tom Perrotta’s novel.

Alternatively, we could express the odds as probabilities over the expected lifetime of a child born today. The killer pandemic would have better than 50-50 odds of occurring in that time frame, bubble nucleation would have very slim odds (roughly one chance in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000) and nuclear war would be in between with a 25% chance of occurring.

Doing the math to calculate the probability of apocalypse, the Scientific American way. “Scientific American Lays Odds" (2010, Defusing the Nuclear Threat).

Hat tip to Trish Roberts-Miller for the link.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Age, and especially since 1945, we have played chicken with Armageddon like reckless teenagers, daring ourselves to go past the point of no return. It’s a cliché to say that the Cuban missile crisis brought us within days of a devastating nuclear war, but that doesn’t make it untrue. If either Kennedy or Khrushchev had been a little bit more of a hothead, we’d have an unimaginably different world today (quite likely without you or me living in it). I grew up during the persistent and almost erotic apocalypse-angst of the Cold War: I kissed some girl in a basement after the broadcast of “The Day After,” vowing to seize the day; I sat in a lovely Manhattan apartment listening to some poli-sci professor go on about Soviet expansionism. (I may have believed that I preferred the Soviet Union at the time, but whatever; it was all quite thrilling.) We managed not to blow up the world despite spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about it, but other versions of the apocalypse were waiting for us. Now it turns out we were poisoning the planet and slow-cooking it with toxic gases the whole time. — “'Noah,' Rumsfeld and Fox News: Why We Long for the End of the World" (Salon)