NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t



FRESH AIR: Widespread fears about the future — including concerns about politics, the economy, the environment and all-out nuclear war — have led some people to prepare for ways to defend themselves. The “survivalists” include some Silicon Valley executives, who worry about the tech future they have helped to create. Journalist Evan Osnos, who recently wrote about doomsday prep for the super rich for The New Yorker, tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that tech survivalists are stockpiling weapons and food, and, in some cases, preparing luxury underground bunkers. “They feel a sense of fragility in our politics,” Osnos says. “Our politics have become disorderly … and [the tech survivalists] look at it and think, ‘Well, we’re not entirely sure that our institutions are as sound as we’ve always assumed they are.’ ” While researching his article, Osnos spent the night in the Survival Condo Project, a 20-unit, luxury underground apartment complex north of Wichita, Kan., The complex is designed to be self-sustaining, with hydroponic vegetables, its own fish farm and renewable energy sources. “[The project] was developed by somebody named Larry Hall … and what he realized was that there was a certain kind of buyer out there … who would be willing to spend, in this case, about $3 million for an apartment underground, or $1.5 million for half an apartment,” Osnos says. “Larry Hall has sold every unit in it except one for himself.” MORE

THE NEW YORKER:  Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort. Last spring, as the Presidential campaign exposed increasingly toxic divisions in America, Antonio García Martínez, a forty-year-old former Facebook product manager living in San Francisco, bought five wooded acres on an island in the Pacific Northwest and brought in generators, solar panels, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. “When society loses a healthy founding myth, it descends into chaos,” he told me. The author of “Chaos Monkeys,” an acerbic Silicon Valley memoir, García Martínez wanted a refuge that would be far from cities but not entirely isolated. “All these dudes think that one guy alone could somehow withstand the roving mob,” he said. “No, you’re going to need to form a local militia. You just need so many things to actually ride out the apocalypse.” Once he started telling peers in the Bay Area about his “little island project,” they came “out of the woodwork” to describe their own preparations, he said. “I think people who are particularly attuned to the levers by which society actually works understand that we are skating on really thin cultural ice right now.” MORE