Thursday, June 15, 2006

APOCALYPSE INEVITABLE: Just hope you live long enough to be there

"With a team of scientific experts behind them, the producers of [Sci-Fi Channel's "Countdown to Doomsday"] look closely (and graphically) at such possible horrors as volcanoes, asteroid impacts, gamma ray bursts, solar flames [sic, it was solar flares in the show], pandemics and the like," wrote a simpleton for the Hollywood Reporter yesterday.

As bemoaned at Dick Destiny blog a few days ago, the Sci-Fi channel insulted its viewers once again with a shockumentary aimed at allowing the feeble-minded to to pick their apocalypse. With Matt Lauer as celebrity whore and a raft of scientists, many of them either crazy or selectively edited so that only the gloomiest declarations were aired, a number of doomsdays were judged inevitable. And when inevitable is in the room, it was always accompanied by, "not a matter of if, but when." Since most of the "experts" who are into doing the doomsday beat for the news and entertainment medias never see all the shows, articles and reports they're involved in, they never seem to be aware of how much they repeat themselves.

Inevitably, they can be counted on to lay on the same adjectives and cliches. One could only wish they be made to watch a "blooper" reel of their common usages strung together back-to-back for fifteen minutes.

Inevitable disasters were flu worse than the flu of 1918 -- probably from the bird strain which kills 50 percent of its victims, a supervolcano exploding under Yosemite National Park -- laying waste to the United States and causing global winter and famine, a cometary hit causing a worldwide disaster, an asteroid hit possibly causing a planetary extinction, a dirty bomb -- which wouldn't cause a Doomsday but which would mess up New York City, and a bioterror attack -- probably with smallpox. But other microbes were allowed, too.

Not inevitable -- "a gamma ray burst" -- which comes out of a black hole and explodes the atmosphere, sterilizing the planet in minutes; a solar flare -- which knocks American civilization back to the Stone Age and fries some people but not all of us at the same time, global warming, an invasion by superior aliens who kick civilization over like an ant hill, a one megaton blast over an American city, instigated by terrorists (who did they get the hydrogen bomb?), and a war between robots and man in which the machines win. Another not quite inevitable US-centric takedown of Biblical proportion was a supervolcanic explosion in the Canary Islands that caused a giant rock to fall into the Atlantic Ocean, causing a tsunami that would obliterate the east coast.

Almost all of these scenarios have been worked over ad nauseum by the mainstream press and Hollywood so Sci-Fi channel had no difficulty finding appropriate stock footage of the planet being pulverized.

Dick Destiny blog might have preferred it at half as long and with fifteen minutes devoted to instruction on how to build a time machine or lengthen lifespans to a couple thousand years so he might have a good chance of witnessing one or two of the apocalypses. But only one futurist described how to do that. Put our DNA in an arc and either send it to another planet, or put in a deep hole in the ground, a mineshaft ala Strangelove, so as to ensure survival after a "gamma ray burst."

As usual, all the apocalypses are aimed at the United States. The giant rock falling into the ocean off Africa causing a tidal wave that washes Miami into the sea, the gamma ray burst exploding the atmosphere over North America, the dirty bomb in New York, the flu in every city -- like New York -- causing mayhem ala Katrina in New Orleans, a hydrogen bomb going off over New York, smallpox in New York, an asteroid explosion ala Tunguska that would destroy New York, a solar flare that would destroy your precious iPods and MySpace vanity pages. (Ok, I made the part about the iPods up.)

We're always not doing enough even when doing a lot wouldn't change a thing. Not enough money looking for asteroids, not enough money for the "gamma ray burst satellite" upkeep, not enough money for hospitals in case of flu but enough smallpox shots, even though we'd still take it hard. Of course, not enough money for how to slow down and stop global warming, but that just seemed petty because the gaphics aren't so good up against the showy stuff like gamma ray bursts, solar flares, alien invasions, robot uprisings, supervolcanic blasts and near earth body collisions. The latter could be caused by a space rock called Apophis in 2036. I might be around for that.


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