There was a time when the word 'prep' applied to those who had reac-hed a certain level of educational 'indoctrination' and were preparing for an assault on the next level up the ladder but, as with so many other things, times have changed and today's paranoid 'preppers', in America at least, are preparing for their own version of Armageddon. Whether this Armageddon be branded 'Taliban', an outbreak of 'escaped plague', the second coming of 'The War of the Worlds', that incredibly realistic radio broadcast back in 1938 when Orson Wells brought utter chaos with his 'newsc-asters' version of the 1898 H. G. Wells classic, convincing people the Martians had landed, or something of a more natural order such as catastrophic weather changes hatched by American fuelled global warm-ing...the preppers are ready and waiting. Meanwhile...here in Pakistan, the country from which all ills purportedly spring, being mentally, if not physically, prepared for whichever tsunami sweeps in our direction is an integral part of existence. When disaster hits the fan we staunchly buckle down to the grind and get on with life as best we can, the scenario being nothing new to us of course, and we determinedly soldier on towards easier times which, eternal optimism being our blood group, we know will materialise...eventually. Americans, however, like to pretend that they are prepared for just about any event possible and this latest batch out to save their own skins began making their presence known towards the end of 2008, rapidly gaining momentum, building up networks of like-minded people across their country, plus, logging into specially prepared state machinery to download advice specifically aimed at helping people cope in emergency situations which is fine as preparedness goes, yet, and this is what makes nonsense out of the entire affair, whatever garb Armageddon wears, everything is supposed to miraculously revert to 'normal' within a time span of two to three months Being prepared for the 'inevitable' means hoarding enough tinned goods, bottled water, medical supplies and the like to carry them through these few short weeks of mayhem along with back up battery packs to supply an extremely limited amount of power...imagine trying to make 12 hours of power stretch for as long as 12 weeks....and, when this power runs out, switching over to solid fuels which may be extremely difficult to find in congested urban conditions. These preppers, most of whom hold down middleclass jobs in middleclass neighbourhoods, are quick to point out that they are completely different from actual 'survivalists' who view the possibility of societal breakdown as a long-term reality: one for which they have more sensibly prepared for by relocating to rural areas where they have enough land to produce their own food, set up their own alternative energy sources and protect themselves, with guns, grenades and rocket launchers if necessary, from urban preppers brandishing expired tins of beans and flat batteries. The American populace, or so it seems, is adrift on an ocean of paranoia fuelled, as is always the case in such instances, by vultures, perhaps even their very own 'Bald Eagle' (never has a national bird been more appropriately designated), who are more than ready to reap a profit out of any opportunity that happens along or, in the absence of something conveniently spooky cropping up, then inventing a boogie all of their own and, usually, stamping it "Made in Pakistan" for impact. Preppers, American style, have been birthed by a system decaying from within, nurtured by a government struggling to justify the global hatred it has spawned and are gullible victims of money-making machinations on all fronts. Sure, these insecure hoarders, for what are ridiculous American preppers but hoarders' stockpiling whatever happens to be on special offer that week, are educated people, products of an educational system such as the very one their government is repeatedly trying to force down our throats in order to transform our youngsters into mindless American lemmings. Lessons in negativity are something that are not required here, particularly at this crucial junction where independent positivism is the road towards a future free of colonial intentions. Gaining an understanding of how the Bald Eagle preys on the mindless beings it has hatched, exploiting their fears and uncertainties for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver, swooping in on them from every conceivable angle, should be an educational priority for the world at large and, most particularly, for the nationals of the countries it dreams of colonising....Pakistan for instance. Do we really want to be 'prepped' and served up as a vultures dinner? The writer is a Murree-based freelance columnist.