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Reports from the sleepy Pyrenées village of Bugarach, which, according to various mystics, was to be either the only place that survived the Mayan Apocalypse or the centre of the dawning of a new age of cosmic enlightenment. The village itself attracted the mélange of kooks, attention seekers and free-floating oddballs that one might expect:
As the village bells struck noon, the moment at which the Mayans had supposedly predicted the world would end, Sylvain Durif was calmly playing the panpipes for a vast crowd of jostling camera crews. "I am Oriana, I embody the energy of cosmic Christ," he said. "When I was five I was abducted by a flying saucer belonging to the Virgin Mary. I'm here to get my message to the world, that there will be a regeneration."
When two men dressed entirely in tin foil with silver bobbles on their heads walked into the village swigging beer, TV reporters immediately surrounded them. Aged 25 and 40, the men said they had driven down from Lille as a bet with friends that they could get on to the top of the world news bulletins. It worked.Meanwhile, some who weren't particularly concerned with matters cosmic or apocalyptic took this as an opportunity for self-promotion:
An American musician, Jeff, based in Belgium, had driven from Luxembourg and was planning to set up outside in the village and perform his act as a one-man piano and trumpet band. "I came because it's the only place in Europe anyone's talking about," he said, talking of an "astronomical event that should bring light to the world, open people up". He added: "I might get some gigs out of it."And now that the world hasn't ended, the ancient Mayans (who turned out to not be so cosmically enlightened after all) will once again be forgotten. Perhaps 21 December 2012's Mayan Long Count association will end up in the occasional pub quiz, or eventually as a marker of retro-ness in fiction set in the 2010s (Remember the 2010s? Wasn't that a wacky time, with brostep and iPads and stuff, and everyone thinking the world would end?), but otherwise it's unlikely that the peculiarities of the Mayan calendar will feature in public discourse again.
Advice on how to prepare for the coming H5N1 flu pandemic. In short: get out of any major city, stockpile at least 3 months' worth of supplies (food, masks, fuel), and assume that civilisation as we know it will collapse. Also good in the event of a zombie holocaust.
The Straight Dope answers the essential questions of our time, such as how long would the electricity stay on after the zombies take over:
Now, let's address a scenario where the zombification process is gradual. If the operators and utilities had sufficient advance warning they could take measures to keep the power going for a while. The first thing would be to isolate key portions of the grid, reducing the interties and connections, and then cease power delivery altogether to areas of highest zombie density. After all, it's not like the zombies need light to read or electricity to play Everquest. Whole blocks and zones would be purposely cut off to reduce the potential drains (and to cope with downed lines from zombies climbing poles or driving trucks into transformers). Operators would work to create islands of power plants wherever possible, so if a plant were overrun by zombies and went down it wouldn't drag others down with it. In cooperation with regional reliability coordinators, the plant operators would improve plant reliability by disabling or eliminating non-critical alarm systems that might otherwise shut down a power plant, and ignoring many safety and emissions issues.
This may be true or may be apocryphal, but it's scary: apparently, the U.S. conventional arsenal has, as a last resort, a supply of cobalt jackets to be placed around missiles in the event of defeat. The jackets will effectively turn the missiles into dirty bombs, contaminating wide areas; they are kept at arsenals worldwide.
"They're for a situation where the U.S. government is crumbling during a time of war, and foreign takeover is imminent. We won't capitulate. We basically have a scorched earth policy. If we are going to lose, we arm everything with cobalt--and I mean everything; we have jackets at nearly every missile magazine in the world, on land or at sea--and contaminate the world. If we cant have it, nobody can."
If the United States (in whatever form it takes) goes out of existence, that could mean the extinction of all life on Earth. This means that this civilisation, whose culture is intellectual property manufactured in Los Angeles and beamed around the world by satellite and whose dominant species is the corporation, in whose guts we are all but microorganisms, has the means and a strategy to be the last one.
Alternatively, this could be disinformation to discourage people from agitating against the system too much (if its collapse could mean the extinction of all life, then any evils and iniquities in the system are, by comparison, endurable). (via Gimbo)
A Salon article looking into the bizarre parallel universe of Christian apocalypse movies, with B-list actors and plots lifted from Hollywood blockbusters, only infused with an odd mix of fundamentalist separatism, end-times paranoia and smug digs at liberals, atheists, evolutionists, new-agers and others.
it's set in a deserted observatory (erroneously referred to in the movie as a "space station") where everyone's worst sin emerges. Then a weary-looking Judd Nelson realizes what's going on: SETI@Home, the distributed-computing project for analyzing signals from space, is functioning as no less than Satan's own peer-to-peer AudioGalaxy network.
When a signal arrives with a suspicious duration of 6.66 seconds, the usual archetypal characters from rapture movies have their own plans for it. Louis Gossett Jr., as a power-mad general, wants to control it. A crackpot New Age radio host -- the kind of comic-relief character only found in Christian entertainment -- begins raving about how the signal will "evolve" humans to a "higher consciousness" (evolution frequently appears in these movies in conjunction with madness.) The eyebrow-cocking "dot-com billionaire" wants to sell it, exclaiming: "It'll be the biggest webcast in history!" And the lusty TV reporter, naturally, wants to corrupt Judd.
Sounds like it could make for quality bulldada. (via Plastic)
A look at the parallel universe of Christian apocalyptic fiction, comparing and contrasting it with science fiction and techno-thrillers. (via bOING bOING)
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