My Irish Up: The end was near

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

When the Mayan calendar completed its 13th cycle, some people (FOX News) predicted that the world would end. This, even though the world had already effectively ended right on FOX six and a half weeks earlier, when Karl Rove went ballistic on set, protesting that people with net worths of under a billion dollars had been allowed to influence the elections in Ohio by voting for Barack Obama.

What went wrong? Why aren’t we all dead — or why isn’t at least Karl Rove dead, after that fit of apoplexy? The Mayan calendar features a pie chart of calculations with pictures of planets and snakes and animals and caiman sky gods and what looks to be at least one Jeep Cherokee fording a stream. This graphic left far too much room for interpretation. It was time for a new calendar, that’s all. Consider that even modern human civilization, such as it is, survived Y2K. No planes crashed to the ground at the millennium, though the smoking wreckage of Quetzalcoatl was found near Oaxaca.

The trouble with the end of the world is that it's so long overdue. Remember back in the 1840s, when the Millerites sold all their land and farms and old calendars and gathered on a hillside in Pennsylvania to await the End of the World? (It was in all the papers.) Those saps sat around on their hilltop until the 1850s and when nothing had happened by then, the brighter ones began to suspect that their calculations may have been a little off. “Oops, forgot to carry the two,” Miller himself said, giggling nervously. He was later hanged by a disappointed mob.

When Halley’s Comet swooped past in 1912, the newspapers were full of stories about how the world would come to an end when gas from the comet's tail swept over Earth. Trade your cash in for gold, stock up on Spam, get plenty of ammo... Wait — that didn’t happen? Never mind then.

Chronic stupidity plagues most End of the World announcements. A few years back, a sect in San Diego thought they could see a spaceship riding sunward on yet another comet's tail and so naturally they killed themselves, hoping the space aliens would happen along to identify their bodies and transport them to Planet Ya-Ya. Whether the aliens finally showed up remains unclear, but since everyone was dead anyway, the Zorg left empty-handed.

Not having gone through such regular false alarms all their lives — though some radio preacher assured his followers that, yes, just last April... no? then last October... the World Was Coming to an End  — some young people had worked themselves into a lather about the advent of Dec. 21, 2012. Maybe the ancient Mayans were onto something. (Hello? Mayan civilization itself ended 900 years ago!) In anticipation of the Big Day some kids reportedly fell into a depression, others just into a recession. But lo, when they got up on Dec. 22 the sun was totally shining and so were they, especially the ones still in those phosphorescent pajama bottoms they wear everywhere now, in lieu of pre-ravaged jeans. Some of the fatally disillusioned kids set off to join the Millerites. (If at first you don’t succumb, try, try again.)

The Apolcalypse, it turns out, is just another fool’s errand. Distracted by such nonsense, we blunder along under the very real Damoclean Swords of climate change and nuclear proliferation and the thousand other ways we happily endanger the ecosphere. These are things that, unlike alien spaceships hitching rides on comets, we actually have the capacity to perceive and to do something about. But do we? Not on your life! It might cost money!

Hey, did you hear Nostradamus predicted something big and bad for 2016? Get ready, folks, this could be the Big One!

Nostradamus predicted that Mike Corrigan would be 5’11” and live in Lewiston someday with a cinnamon cat. Either that (interpretations vary), or a large asteroid made of cinnamon would strike Earth in 2016. Whatever.

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