You didn't really think this Merry-Go-Round would keep spinning forever, did you?
Sooner or later -- we hope later -- the time will come to fold this carnival tent and stand witness to the end of life as we know it.
When is anybody's guess but a lot of people have some very strong opinions about how.
We lay out here seven major theories -- in ascending order of our concern -- of the impending and inevitable apocalypse. Some of the theories presented here, you may think are too frivolous. Some, you may think we're too frivolous about in our treatment of them. But one thing is sure.
When the hammer finally comes down, whether by divine intervention, cosmic chaos or our own stupidity, the debates and disagreements won't matter much.
Let us begin to look at The End...
7. The Rapture
Holy Bible 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
If you're Harold Camping you believe that Earth's ticket has already been punched and all Hell will break loose May 21, 2011. Other prophets are a lot less specific about when but many do feel that we're all on borrowed time.
Given the root meaning of the word rapture there's good reason to believe that, even if it did happen, it might not be such a pleasant experience.
Safety in Numbers?
The Rapture is a -- relatively recent -- biblical supposition, embraced primarily by some -- but by no means most -- Christian Protestants. The vast majority of Earth's Jewish, Islamic, Catholic, Christian, Gnostic, agnostic and atheist residents just haven't bought into it.
Apocalyptic Sweat Index (ASI): Don't sweat it.
6. Gamma Ray Burst
This bad-boy is a no-win scenario.
When a spinning heavy star collapses into the singularity of a black hole, there is a tremendous explosion. The blast might last only a few seconds but the energy released could be more than our sun has put out in its 10 billion year existence.
All observed Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) have been outside of the Milky Way galaxy but should there be one close to home, it would be lights out.
The problem is that upon reaching earth, the GRB radiation would dissociate nitrogen in the atmosphere producing nitric oxide at levels high enough to burn off the planet's ozone layer, leaving us exposed to the ravages of space. Not a pretty way to go.
ASI: GRB's are to some extent directional, limiting the danger. We just have to stay out of the crosshairs. The Sweat Level is low.
5. Meteor Strike
This is what almost got us the last time. And it was brutal.
Somewhere off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and near the town of Chicxulub is what scientists believe was ground zero for the meteor that changed everything.
On the bright side, Darwinians believe that getting rid of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago cleared the way for the rise of mammals like us who would have otherwise been known as T-Rex Chow.
Prognosis: Inevitable but who knows when.
That's actually the problem. Being vaporized might be our first hint that something wasn't quite right. Big brother Jupiter may have taken a bullet for us just a few months ago and our own Moon has caught a lot of the flak that otherwise would have been headed for us. But our luck can't hold out forever.
ASI: Commence mopping your brow. At the very least, we may be in for some close calls.
4. Global Warming
Hot enough for you?
We're prepared to catch major flak on this one. Fully 57% of Americans disagree with us about Weathers of Mass Destruction, down, however, from 77% just a few years ago.
Politicians say the science is in but scientists disagree about the politics of this prediction. Because we're hard pressed to think of any case where politicians were right about anything and weren't acting only in their own selfish interests, we remain skeptical.
Debate or Done-Deal?
We're not here to debate the science, or the politics or that matter, but we acknowledge that there is -- and we believe there should be -- vigorous debate about matters of such grave consequence, in which all points of view can participate. We're disappointed when ad hominem attacks are made on people like John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel, for expressing an inconvenient opinion.
ASI: Keith Olbermann will hate us for saying it but don't sweat it. In fact, if the next item happens (and it eventually will) , pray for Global Warming.
3. Ice Age
Cold enough for you?
What scientists do seem to agree on is that we will at some point experience the next cyclical ice age. Maybe a little global warming wouldn't hurt.
In a ridiculously and dubiously over-simplified nutshell, the Earth wobbles on its axis as it rotates and revolves and every several thousand years or so, the acrtic glaciers shake loose and slide southward. Distance from the sun, sunspot activity and a bunch of other factors come into play but that's the gist of it.
"It could happen in 10 years," says Terrence Joyce, who chairs the Woods Hole Physical Oceanography Department. "Once it does, it can take hundreds of years to reverse."
ASI: Bundle up... Glacier migration is cyclical and as predictable as the four seasons albeit on an epic time scale.
2. Nuclear Holocaust
The Fire Next Time
W.R. Johnston reported in 2005 that there have been 2,389 nuclear detonations since the beginning of the nuclear age. Fortunately, all but the two dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were tests.
Life was in some ways simpler during the Cold War.
The balance of nuclear weaponry was once a see-saw with the US on one side and the USSR on the other. The concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) kept everything in check. Dropping a nuclear bomb on your Cold War enemy would result in a devastating and deadly counter-attack.
Limited Nuclear Exchanges
But with the fall of the Soviet Union and entrance of new nuclear-tipped nations to the party, everything is up for grabs. Further, there is the disturbing belief that warfare might be waged with so-called tactical nukes without escalation to the launching of their strategic big brothers.
And, the cost of entry may have dropped dramatically if such things as miniature, suitcase-sized nukes actually exist. Suddenly you don't need a multi-billion dollar network of nerve centers and missile silos to be a player.
Perhaps a little better now that the cowboys have left Washington DC but with North Korea having just joined the nuclear party, Iran about to, and India and Pakistan at odds over Kashmir, things are very unpredictable.
ASI: Sweat it. This one could really get out of hand.
The Black Death in the mid-1300s wiped out a quarter of the world's population
That would be the equivalent of 2 billion dead today.
The Hong Kong Flu in 1968-69 killed possibly as many as 1 million people worldwide. And as of this writing, the western hemisphere is under attack from the resurgence of the H1N1 Swine Flu.
Weapons of War
And then, of course, there's the threat of biological warfare (anti-personnel and anti-agricultural) waged by terrorist groups or nation-states.
But viral or bacterial warfare or mutation aren't the only bio-hazards. We damned well might just do it to ourselves by accident. Something much akin to a bio-catastrophe happened 50 years ago and we're still dealing with it. We're talking killer bees.
The history of Killer Bees reads like the plot of a bad B-Movie.
In the mid-1950s, Warwick E. Kerr, a Brazilian biologist, was experimenting with the hybridization of bees to develop a strain better suited for tropical conditions. Let's call Kerr Dr. Frankenstein in this scenario. The experiment didn't go well and produced bees that were highly defensive, to say the least.
One day in 1957, one of the bee-wranglers -- a temporary sub for the regular guy -- put the wrong barrier grate on one of the hives. Let's call this guy Igor. Twenty-six bees escaped, multiplied by the millions and swarmed across South America and into the southern ranges of North America, killing many and injuring thousands of people in the process.
ASI: Sweat this one, big time and there's a lot of different ways it could go down. Of all seven deadly roads to the End of Days, a bio-outbreak may be the most likely
What are your thoughts about the possible roads to oblivion?
Feel free to let us know.
One of our all time favorites...
Milton Supman, born in 1926, had two older brothers nicknamed Ham Bone and Chicken Bone. Milton, in time, became known as Soup Bone, which was later shortened to Soupy. When he became a disk jockey, years later, he took on the last name Sales and Soupy Sales, the entertainer, came to be.
Soupy Sales made getting a pie in the face a high art form.
His afternoon children's TV show was as enjoyable for Moms and Dads as it was for their kids. And it's hard to say just who was having more fun, the viewers who watched his show or Soupy himself.
Remembering the Great Soupy Sales...
Frankie (Original Jersey Boy) Valli
Pookie Sings the Blues
Fess (Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone) Parker
Soupy's sons may have had a hand in getting Alice Cooper on the show. They're musicians who have played with David Bowie, Todd Rundgren and Iggy Pop.
Soupy and the Stripper
Kids never saw the R-rated version of this prank the crew played on Soupy (and YouTube has pulled the raw edit after we originally filed this post). But here's Soupy telling Bob Costas about the time the crew punked him on live TV, along with the censored video.
Dr. Stan was the Man!
He did it all. And what would you expect from a pioneer in penicillin and sex hormones.
This ad is from a 1953 Chicago Street Guide. It promotes the services of Dr. Stanley Veselsky. This particular page was the center spread, so we're guessing that Dr. Stan paid dearly for that placement.
Better Than X-Ray Specs
This may have been the early 50s but Dr. Stan had a bangin' X-Ray machine, no doubt. He could sit in a wooden chair in his office and look at your gizzard real time.
Somewhat confusing, Dr. Stan was a surgeon who "used no knife." Maybe that's where the electro-therapy came in. But hey, this is Dr Stan and he's the Man.
Who was Dr. Stan Anyway?
Ancestry.com lists a Stanley Veselsky in Chicago, who would have been about 73 years old when this ad ran. Census data from 1930 lists him as a physician by occupation.
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1880, he was brought to the US when he was 5 years old. It appears that 23 years before this ad ran, Dr. Stan was a single guy, who owned his own home, valued at about $15,000. And, as the census data reveals, he owned a radio set.
What About Dr. Stan's Office?
Dr. Stan's office was on the fourth floor of the eight-story Dexter Buildiing, that stood from 1883 to 1961.
Looking down Adams Street, it was half-way down the block, on the right, about where that tall building is now.
By the way, what is Lack of Nature?
"You Know When It's Real"
Wendy's recently launched a new marketing campaign, reportedly the first offering from their ad agency, the Kaplan Thaler Group.
The new TV commercials, in our opinion, are funny and clever -- something about the room full of Abe Lincolns is hilarious -- but there's something else that makes these spots stand out...
Wendy's has gone back to the basics of making a case for why their hamburgers deserve your consideration.
I'm Lovin' It?
As much as McDonald's would want you to believe it, telling us that Justin Timberlake is LOVIN' his Big Mac is not a compelling case for buying one. And seeing a guy in a Halloween mask with a cape is clever way to distinguish Burger King from McDonalds but, again, doesn't offer a clear rationale for a Whopper.
In these current Wendy's commercials, the image of hockey players using the frozen patties of their competitors for pucks makes a statement, as does the sight of presumably Big Mac or Whopper patties being dumped in a warming tray.
Burgers: The Selling Proposition
Before the personality-driven campaigns that featured the late Dave Thomas, Wendy's worked hard to not only distinguish themselves from the burger competition, but to also drive home what marketers call the selling proposition.
Where's the Beef?!
You had to be there to know just how popular this commercial was in 1984. It was big. Wendy's was on the leading edge of viral marketing with this spot and Clara Peller, with her trademark line "where's the beef?," was an overnight sensation, discussed at so-called office water coolers all over the country.
Politicians get into the act
The "Where's the Beef?" phrase was so big that during the 1984 Presidential primaries, soon-to-be Democratic nominee VP Walter Mondale used it to shoot down soon-to-be-scandal-bedeviled Gary Hart. You can see here by his smug look that Mondale had been rehearsing this line all week and was just waiting for the right moment to spring it at this debate.
Parts is Parts...
Wendy's also took on KFC back in the day with their Parts is Parts classic.
Apocalypzia's Take on Other Marketing Wars:
Cola Wars Round 1: Pepsi Pours it On
Cola Wars Round 2: Coke...The Real Thing
Stand-Up Comics: Laughter from Beyond the Veil
These funny gentlemen in their short years on Earth made us laugh and forget -- in a seven minute set -- the trouble and strife in our own lives.
We remember them here today, amazed that, even though they are gone, these brilliant comedians continue to amuse, engage and entertain.
Life is short. Enjoy...
Mitch Hedberg 1968-2005
Sam Kinison 1953-1992
Bill Hicks 1961-1994
Richard Jeni 1957-2007
Also see Angels in the Wind; Gone Not Forgotten
Drawing by Rev. Irving W. Wamble
Where Dragons Tread...
Somewhere on the far side of hope and the near side of fear there is a distant outpost of the mind where dragons tread.
Gede patrols there, clawed, winged, hideous and fire breathing -- the macabre manifestation of cataclysmic apocalypse.
Just outside the fence and beyond the gate...
... Gede dares you to step across the boundary of your terror, all the while mocking your false bravado and ready to test your unsteady resolve.
Not merely smelling fear but salivating at the hinted scent of it, Gede's sole purpose is to bite into the jugular of your desire and shred the entrails of your soul.
Between you and your destiny stands Gede.
Everything you've ever dreamed of is beyond that wall and beyond the terrifying yet never seen Gede that patrols and guards the perimeter.
Do you dare?
Oh, I Believe in Yesterday...
Last year, Paleo-Future published a fascinating post concerning an Associated Press article from 1950 titled, "How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000AD."
We thought we'd take a shot at grading these historical hotshots with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. We're being very generous here, even spotting them almost 10 years to 2009.
The text from the original article is showcased in the grey boxes below.
Let's see how well the futurists from the 50's did...
10. 3D Television with Smell-O-Vision Grade: B-
"Third dimensional color television will be so commonplace and so simplified at the dawn of the 21st century that a small device will project pictures on the living room wall so realistic they will seem to be alive. The room will automatically be filled with the aroma of the flower garden being shown on the screen."
TV manufacturers, like Sony, claim they're on the verge of a 3DTV breakthrough.
Meanwhile Johnny Lee Chung is doing some unbelievable things with holographic-like video.
Until the real thing comes along, HDTV, especially via the new LED monitors, is impressive and about as close to 3D as you can get on a 2D screen.
9. Amazon Women Grade: D-
"The woman of the year 2000 will be an outsize Diana, anthropologists and beauty experts predict. She will be more than six feet tall, wear a size 11 shoe, have shoulders like a wrestler and muscles like a truck driver. She will go in for all kinds of sports and probably will compete with men athletes in football, baseball, prizefighting and wrestling."
Does this futurist make my butt look big?
These futurists went a little overboard here, getting curiously specific about the muscles like a truck driver thing. We should give this prediction a failing grade altogether but we do think we should acknowledge the great strides women have made in amateur and professional athletics over the past 60 years. Because of the WNBA and the Williams sisters, to name two examples will give them a passing grade, though barely.
8. World War III Grade: F (Thank Goodness)
"The Third World War - barring such a miracle as has never yet occurred in relations between countries so greatly at odds - will grow out of Russia's exactly opposite attempts to unify the world by force."
Dodging a Bullet
Futurists didn't give us much credit for statecraft and saw no way around a major war with Russia. So far, so good.
7. Cell Phones Grade: A+
"The telephone will be transformed from wire to radio and will be equipped with the visuality of television. Who is on the other end of the line will seldom be a mystery. Every pedestrian will have his own walking telephone."
Apple's iPhone was a true breakthrough and now the Motorola Droid -- shown above -- is near release. Not sure how the 1950s futurists could have been so right about this one and so wrong about the muscles like truck drivers thing, but so be it.
6. H1N1, anyone? Grade: F -
"Public health will improve, especially the knowledge of how air carries infections, like the common cold, from person to person. Before 2000, the air probably will be made as safe from disease-spreading as water and food were during the first half of this century."
5. Rocket Cars Grade: F -
"Combination automobile-planes will have been perfected."
We're all still waiting for our rocket cars and Segways don't count.
The Icon A5 doesn't count either. A DUI in this contraption could be very, very serious.
4. House of the Future Grade: A+ if you're Bill Gates; C+ for the rest of us.
"People will live in houses so automatic that push-buttons will be replaced by fingertip and even voice controls. Some people today can push a button to close a window, another to start coffee in the kitchen. Tomorrow such chores will be done by the warmth of your fingertip, as elevators are summoned now in some of the newest office buildings or by a mere whisper in the intercom phone."
The Push-Button World
We leaned toward grading this one lower at first but it's easy to forget that -- with remotes for our TV and our car, our garage door openers, our microwave ovens and our iPods -- push-button control is far more integrated into our lives than we might imagine. We're still not talking Jetsons here, though
3. Video killed the Radio Star Grade: A+
"Radio broadcasting will have disappeared, for no one will tune in a program that cannot be seen. Radio will long since have reverted to a strictly communications medium, using devices now unheard of and unthought of."
This was a pretty good call 60 years ago.
Television and today's multi-format video has usurped radio as an entertainment medium relegating radio primarily to news and extreme-wing talk programming. We'll even give them bonus points here for hinting at the unheard of and unthought of internet.
2. Can you say Homeland Security? Grade: A++
"Some see us drifting toward the all-powerful state, lulled by the sweet sound of security. Some see a need to curb our freedom lest it be used to shield those who plot against us. And some fear our freedom will be hard to save if a general war should come."
This reads like the futurists got ahold of the Cheney/Rumsfeld playbook half a century ago. This is a home run.
1. Is it Quitting Time Yet? Grade: B-
"So tell your children not to be surprised if the year 2000 finds a 35 or even a 20-hour work week fixed by law.
They kind of stumbled onto this one.
Many Americans are working shorter hours today because -- as a consequence of the struggling economy -- their full-time hours have been cut back. We don't think that's what the futurists were hinting at here.
2009's Fall TV season is only a few weeks old but already has two casualties.
Proving that sometimes four million Twitter followers just aren't enough, Ashton Kutcher's The Beautiful Life on CW was the first to go, followed by NBC's Southland which hadn't even had its official fall premiere yet.
But Hollywood is a tough town and always has been.
1969 ABC Turn On gets Turned Off During the Premiere
Hoping to leverage off the wild success of Laugh In, George Schlatter and ABC launched similar-but-different Turn On in 1969, guest hosted by Tim Conway. To say the show was not well received is an understatement.
The cast threw a party in LA the night of the show's first and only airing. Accounting for time zones, Turn On was seen first by audiences on the East Coast. But by the time it was showtime in California, the show had already been cancelled. The premiere party suddenly became a wrap party. Ouch.
1979 CBS Co-Ed Fever Flunks Out the First Day of Class
National Lampoon's Animal House was hot and every TV network wanted a piece of the action.
CBS offered Co-Ed Fever in 1979, a half hour sitcom about a previously all-female college that changed its admission policy to admit males.
The pilot was given a special pre-season airing but the show was cancelled before its official scheduled premiere. In retrospect, this was probably good news for David Keith, one of the shows stars. The cancellation freed him up to launch a respectable movie career, including such films as The Great Santini and Officer and A Gentleman. Heather Thomas, also in the cast, went on to do several seasons on Lee Major's The Fall Guy.
1993 CBS South of Sunset Goes South
Remember Cody McMahon ... that cool detective on that early 90's show?
No, you don't. Nobody remembers Cody McMahon or South of the Sunset, the show that was to be the career changer for Eagles front man Glenn Frey.
Maybe it was a surprise that the show was yanked after only one airing. Glenn was not only a rock star but had been associated with the cult-hit Miami Vice, appearing in one of the episodes and performing two hit songs for the shows iconic soundtrack.
But the premiere was pre-empted in some areas for news coverage of fires raging in Malibu. Also, Miami Vice had been off the air for several years by the time South of Sunset hit the airwaves and perhaps many viewers had already forgotten about Smuggler's Blues and You Belong to the City.
Fortunately for Glenn, Hell froze over shortly after and he was free to rejoin his Eagle buddies. Ariel Spears, also in the cast, went on to a long successful run on Fox's MadTV.
1966 ABC Tammy Grimes Show Should Have Been Bewitched...But Wasn't
This show made TV history in 1966 as one of the first sitcoms booted after only four airings. That. of course, doesn't sound like very many now, but back then networks held off much longer before dropping the axe on a scripted drama or comedy.
Ironically, the stars of this cancelled show were kinda sorta almost the cast for one of TV's most successful shows.
The program, scheduled as a lead-in for Bewitched, was a showcase for then-popular Tammy Grimes who starred as a rich heiress squandering her money while her banker tries to rein in her wasteful spending. Her character's brother was portrayed by Dick Sargent, who sometime after the shows demise, went on to be the second Darren on Bewitched.
For further Bewitched irony, it's reported that Tammy Grimes, with the right of first refusal, had turned down the role of Samantha in the soon-to-be-hit series.
But a show somewhat similar to the Tammy Grimes Show also premiered that season.
ABC's The Pruitts of Southampton, starring Phyllis Diller, certainly wasn't a monster hit, but it stayed afloat longer than the Tammy Grimes Show. Maybe the show's relative success had something to do with Diller's fun, campy, over-the-top show intro. Marvy-poo!
Don't Just Duck and Cover
Surviving thermonuclear bombardment is simple and can provide hours of fun for the whole family!
This insert from a 1953 Chicago Street Guide shows how!
1. Know where your First Aid Station is located
If you're already seeing a blast brighter than the sun coming from the direction of Chicago's Sears Tower, it may be too late for this one, so go to Rule 2.
2. Don't create panic
Try to visualize the positive and nourishing aspects of a radioactive mushroom cloud.
3. Shut windows and doors
Close the drapes and blinds too, if you like, for all the good it will do you.
4. Seek shelter
Preferably a fallout one. And by the way, don't just seek it. You'd better bloody well find it in a hurry.
5. Follow instructions
Hmmm... Aren't these the instructions?
6. Drop flat on your stomach and put your face right in your folded arms
We would probably move this one a little higher on the list or we would replace it with "Drop to your knees and put your hands together steepled toward the heavens above."
7. Don't look up
Hard to do while flat on your stomach with your face in your folded arms. And anyway, you don't want to see this. It ain't gonna be pretty when that bad boy goes off.
8. Don't rush outside after a bombing
You don't want to lose the critical protection of drywall and aluminum siding between you and the vaporizing fireball.
9. Don't take chances with food or water
The radioactive half-life for Uranium-235 is 704 million years. Try to hold out till then.
10. Don't start rumors
This isn't the time to point fingers and speculate about who's at fault. There'll be plenty of time for that during the 8 nanoseconds before the nuclear blast wave destroys everything in its path.
Apocalypzia's Bonus Rule
11. Prepare for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse when thousands of radiated reanimated corpses will roam the desolate landscape seeking human flesh upon which to feast.
And remember to have fun!