THE WORLD is so scary, we really need to pick and choose what to be terrified of.

We face skyrocketing gas and food prices, home foreclosures, natural disasters, conventional war and famine. Polar bears are being chased all over the North Pole by photographers until, exhausted, they strand themselves on ice floes just to get away from the polarazzi.

Chinese seas are turning green while their rivers run red with pollution, which could actually be quite festive come Christmas if they weren't all godless commies with no sense of humor.

That's a little joke. I happen to know at least one godless commie who's pretty funny.

Back in fashion

Because we don't have enough to worry about, some scientists and federal officials got together in Washington recently to remind us that, yes, we can all still die in a fiery ball of sizzling radiation called NUCLEAR ATTACK!

Apparently, nuclear war is becoming fashionable again. It's the new black (again) in end-of-the-world scenarios. It's, like, totally retro. And I say it's about time we have something tangible to be terrified of, instead of all this namby-pamby environmental stuff that could take centuries and vague, only-on-paper financial meltdown scenarios none of us really understand.

Good old-fashioned nuclear war should have us shivering in our britches again. Teachers need to stop all this global warming crazy talk and again start showing black-and-white films of kids ducking under their desks to avoid the flash-burst. It's time to convince ourselves we have a chance of survival only if we get back in the yard and start digging giant holes in the ground.

Nuclear war was real. And, even better, we had some nuclear bombs of our own to threaten godless commies with no sense of humor. Now we can spend all kinds of time threatening them AND the crazed terrorists who hate our freedom.

It was about time someone held this conference, at which officials discussed how cities aren't prepared for crazed terrorists who hate our freedom smuggling a 10-kiloton bomb into the United States. Talking about it isn't such a bad idea, and doing something would be even better. Apparently, the Bay Area would be a juicy target, and we don't have enough hospital beds. We don't have the manpower to deal with power outages and water shortages. In short: We're in trouble.

A few helpful tips

At this time, I've concluded it may not be a good time to bring up the Hayward fault, though I've long advocated that we just nuke the thing and eliminate the problem.

As if you haven't guessed, there's not a lot of public money to deal with this general unpreparedness. But take heart — FEMA, which stands for Frequently Eventually Maybe Arriving, has rolled out some tips for the do-it-yourself nuclear explosion preparer, including: "If there is any warning, take cover," "cover your head," and don't look at the explosion — which is good advice, because while it may look pretty, it will make your eyes boil and fall out of your head, which could lead to, at the very least, partial blindness.

This, I can get my head around. Melting ice just isn't that sexy. Perhaps if this ice poses such a problem, we should just nuke it and kill two birds with one stone. That's the kind of real problem-solving skills I'll be looking for in my next president.

Reach Tony Hicks at thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read his blog, "Insert Foot," at www.ibabuzz.com/insertfoot.