Apparently while I was on vacation this summer America officially entered the FUBAR zone. The first half of 2012 has some pretty apocalypt~ish weather trends, with the U.S. breaking thousands of temperature records, half of America declared a disaster area, and massive crop failures across the grain belt guarantee food prices will spike in September. Let’s not forget the hail storms, massive power outages, haboobs, derechos, and other End of Days occurrences of 2012. So when do the aphids and frogs arrive?
Yet Global Warming, Climate Change, or The Sky is Falling, depending on your perspective, has garnered nary a mention in the Presidential election. David Roberts wrote an excellent piece on the current state of affairs regarding climate change, saying “It’s as though the very term is an endangered bird — every time it flitters across a screen somewhere, it’s met with great excitement.” But if we drop the discussion on limiting carbon emissions, we’re all going extinct.
Scientific studies continue to demonstrate a correlation between carbon emissions and a spike in global temperatures and extreme weather events. See the shifting temperature distribution graph and the average temperature chart if you don’t believe me. Yet the cultural conversation in America is so scientifically illiterate and willfully ignorant that it overpowers peer-reviewed research, an international consensus, and the very future of stable human civilizations. Continue reading
Discussing the Voyager spacecraft today, and all the ways that Carl Sagan and company were able to represent that humans have intelligent (more or less) understanding of the universe, I started to wonder.
What are the chances that Voyager will end up on another M-Class Planet (ST:TNG) that can support humanoid life? And what are the chances that sentient life is evolving on these planets that has the same pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the universe that we do? Dolphins and gorillas are plenty smart, but probably wouldn’t know that perfect triangles don’t occur in nature. Or maybe they do know that, and I’m an anthropocentric ass.
But you know what I mean – we think that our sense of the universe and the meaning of knowledge is in some way the ‘true’ truth, but who’s to say what all the different options are for perceiving reality? All human knowledge stems from our sensory abilities and the spectrum we’re working within. What if other planets see in a different part of the light spectrum, or hear with their feet, or something totally unimaginable? Continue reading
Or, The Rebound Effect of False Hope?
The belief that the Mayan Calendar says the world will end in 2012 was gutted by the recent discovery of their “astronomical faculty lounge” in Guatemala. As TIME magazine writes, “Here’s what’s not going to happen this year: the earth won’t end on Dec. 12; it won’t be swallowed by a black hole, consumed by the sun or get taken out by a collision with the imaginary planet Nibiru.”
I never thought the world was literally going to end in 2012. It just feels like a truism with all the crazy things happening in the world, and an easy meme to hang my hat on when discussing Armageddon scenarios. I feel like a lot of the zeitgeist around End of the World scenarios stems from concern about the global ecological and economic threats of our current hyper-stressed and over-stretched culture.
Meeting with my career counselor today, I was energized with a fresh perspective. She told me she has great hope for the future, with all the intelligent driven empathetic people educating themselves to try to build a better world. She said the next generation is going to do great things, and that humanity is evolving to something better.
I don’t know whether or not she’s right, but why not believe it? It makes getting up in the morning easier anyway. So in the depths of finals week I choose to find hope that somehow all our efforts aren’t for nothing. A moment of optimism, it feels nice to give in for once. After all, things could be worse, and may be in the (near) future. But for now, no one’s getting arrested under the National Defense Authorization Act, the weather’s still relatively normal and my fiat currency can still buy food, so I’ll call it a win. And, we’re alive. So enjoy it!
I realize I’m not the only person half-joking about December 21, 2012. But I didn’t realize I’m so far behind the apoca-times that National Geographic has a show about Doomsday Preppers.
Since I consume my sitcoms exclusively via hulu, I miss a lot of popular culture, so this gem would have slipped by without Stephen Colbert’s valiant intern slaves. I imagine Stephen has a team of college students trapped in a purgatory-esque basement à la Ben Hur, damned to watch every asinine commentator on Fox News, gathering the choicest clips (or rather, scraping the bottom of the barrel?).
Stephen was nonplussed by these survivalist citizens and their bug-out plans, as evidenced by his segment titled Stephen Colbert’s End of the World of the Week. “They’re all ready for the unthinkable. And they each unthink it will be something different.” Then he rolled the tape of all the different crazy things these bunker-loving wackos were prepping for: a second worldwide great depression, the possibility of a devastating earthquake city of LA, an electromagnetic pulse disabling America’s transportation system, and Yellowstone’s super-volcano to explode.
Today I got blood work done at CHOMP, the local hospital (isn’t 21st medicine amazing?). Before I could get any tests run, I had to be entered into the system. After disclosing my name, address, social security number, insurance information, relationship status, religion, and receiving a full cavity search (jk), I was allowed to go get stabbed and pee in a cup.
I felt like I’d been the victim of identity theft by the time we were through – all they needed was one of my eyeballs and they could have cleared all seven levels of security to my super secret vault. It definitely drove home how much personal data gets jacked every time an employee gets an unencrypted laptop stolen. Hopefully my total lack of assets will deter would-be impostors.
But when she handed me the final printout to confirm all my details, under Religion she had listed Other when I had clearly stated Atheist. Apparently that gets and Other categorization in our healthcare database! Fine, maybe atheism itself isn’t a religion unto itself in the Judeo-Christian sense, but Secular Humanism contains all the moral codes of traditional belief structures, just fewer Crusades and Jihads. I can’t think of a war that was started by people who don’t believe in a God.