And thick darkness shall cover the land…The widespread blackouts in Manitoba and California – regions which otherwise share almost nothing else in common – signify our tenuous hold on what we call ‘civilization’. Contrary to Rousseau’s idealized version of the ‘noble savage’, life in its primitive state without creature comforts is more as his contemporary and foe Hobbes described it, ‘nasty, brutish and short’. How long would people in Manitoba live, in frigid cold, without outside civilization offering some sort of help?  One may fare better and longer in California, but even here, nature ‘red in tooth and claw’ would