Tag: Mercury

Day 1000: How It Ends

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Inside this cubicle the air is thick as honey, with asphyxiating flecks of the mundane bracing against the irrefutable promise of a golden weekend. Outside these pin-cushion partitions – and indeed inside as well – every tiny molecule in the universe is saying its goodbyes to its neighbors and preparing to splash into the unknown permutations of a distant someday. My fingers hammer at these tiny plastic letters, fully ignorant of what’s to come.

Or are they? The hallowed fingers of esteemed science – no doubt similar in size and shape to my own, only tasked with a far more specific purpose – have combed back the hair of the observable now and picked at the scalp-nits of projection. The fields of astronomy, physics, mathematics, and a cabinet full of –ologies have given us a map of what’s to come. A timeline of time’s last hurrah.

And the best part? If any of these predictions are wrong, every record of them will likely be destroyed before anyone finds out. That’s my kind of science.

Genetics-1

Within 10,000 years, human genetic variation will no longer be regionalized. This won’t mean we’ll all look the same – the blonde gene will still speckle crowds and set up offensive jokes, but it will be distributed equally worldwide. This forecasted panmixia is far more optimistic than astrophysicist Brandon Carter’s Doomsday Argument, which places our present at roughly the halfway point of humankind’s civilized journey, and projects a 95% likelihood that we’ll be wholly extinct in 10,000 years.

If global warming hasn’t already soaked us into a Kevin Costner-esque hellscape by then, we may also be facing the melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which will raise the sea levels by 3 or 4 meters above wherever it will be once we lose the rest of the polar ice caps, which should happen long before then.

Long term forecast: buy a big-ass boat. Read more…

Day 898: A Descent Into The Maelstrom Of Poe’s Final Days

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So much has been written about Edgar Allen Poe that my contribution of words #898,001-899,000 of this project to the great writer will hardly land an impact crater upon his legacy. But there’s one chapter of Poe’s life – specifically that last one – that stupefies me. Most famous figures from the modern era of recorded history have the details of their demise fairly well documented. Some – like Kurt Cobain, Natalie Wood and JFK – might be vague on a few pertinent specific details, but we’re aware of the physiological nature of what scooted them off this planet.

Poe’s death swims so deep in a reservoir of murky suspicion and guess-work, it’s almost unfathomable, especially when one considers that he died at a well-known hospital in a populous American city less than two centuries ago. I’ve been picking on the state of medical science in the mid-1800’s a lot lately, but you’d think a celebrity’s cause of death should have been something they could have pinned down.

So much of Poe’s life is open to conjecture, in particular his final few days. All we know for certain is that he bid adieu to Richmond, Virginia on September 27, 1849, headed for his home in New York. Six days later he turned up in Baltimore, walking the streets in a delirious state, one which he was never able to adequately explain to anyone. Four days after that, he was nevermore.

Yep. That's a "Raven" pun. Every article about Poe gets one.

Yep. That’s a “Raven” pun. Every article about Poe gets one.

There were few witnesses to Poe’s weird final days. Among them were Dr. Joseph Snodgrass, an acquaintance, and Dr. John Joseph Moran, his attending physician. Snodgrass was the man called to Poe’s side at his request, and he describes the writer as having been found unkempt, dirty and wearing clothes that didn’t fit. This didn’t jive with Poe’s style – the man prided himself on looking snazzy when out in public. But when he turned up in Baltimore he was incoherent, and could not explain how he ended up in this condition. Read more…

Day 822: Pitying The Fools

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My wife hates April Fools’ Day.

She has a legitimate reason, stemming from the scar-worthy childhood trauma of watching one of her friends get April-Fooled into a lengthy scavenger hunt for a brand new puppy by his parents, only to discover the final prize was nothing but a prank. Were she not the empathetic soul I know her to be, I might assume this to be an elaborate act of transference on her memory’s part, that this may have happened to her; thankfully my in-laws aren’t quite so cruel.

I have always maintained an appreciation for a meticulously blueprinted ruse, provided the only perpetrated harm is the gloppy egg of embarrassment upon the face of one’s target. Every few years some news outlet or public pulpit successfully melds a crafty sense of humor with their automatic public earpiece and delivers a delicious morsel of weirdness to justify April Fools’ Day’s presence on our calendars.

A quality media prank is a rickety bridge above the chasm of banality and/or outright stupidity. One needs to find the threshold of credulity and glide one’s words upon it without causing a rupture in believability. We see this every so often when an article from The Onion or The Daily Currant makes its way as gospel into people’s Facebook feeds. When executed poorly, it’s a bad joke. When done right, it’s art.

SpaghettiTrees

That Swiss lady plucking fresh pasta from her spaghetti tree was the talk of the British water coolers on the morning of April 2, 1957, after the BBC had run a story about the popular agricultural phenomenon the night before. The show was Panorama, a current-affairs, 60 Minutes-style show that’s still on the air today, and the gag was delivered without punchline. The segment focussed on a family in Ticino, northern Switzerland, as they reaped the bounty of a hearty winter spaghetti harvest, having defeated the nasty spaghetti weevil. Read more…

Day 563: Why The Little Guy Keeps Picking On Monsanto

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If you’re like me, you probably have at least two or three friends on your Facebook feed who periodically vomit a string of ‘awareness’ or ‘activist’ posts. You’ll read the first couple, then your scrolling will gradually increase speed until you thankfully land on a photo of some friend’s friend’s funny-looking baby. A lot of those posts you skipped will be about the evils of Monsanto, a company so aptly named to sound like a Bond villain it’s almost too perfect.

Monsanto is evil – that’s the gist of pretty much all of those posts. And Wikipedia – known for being edited by the same public that dispatches a number of its minions to make those Facebook posts – says pretty much the same thing.

For the benefit of those who don’t feel like waving the flag of online activism in your friends’ faces, but who still want to be informed, I’ll give you a quick rundown on the guy Bond won’t kill until the third act.

MonsantoAsVillain

First I’ll set the stage – Monsanto started off as a tiny dream in St. Louis by founder John Francis Queeny. I’m not sure what that dream specifically was, but I think it had something to do with using chemicals to make food more chemical-laden, preferably in exchange for truckfuls of money. Read more…

Day 459: Remembering Your Astrological Symbols

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So you want to learn more about astrology. Maybe you’re seeking answers and guidance from the stars, or perhaps you’re just looking to fleece a few bucks off the gullible suckers who think they can find answers and guidance in the stars. No matter – you’re going to need to learn the skill of identifying astronomical symbols.

These little pictographs were used to represent various thingies in the sky, beginning back in the days of the Greek papyri from the late classical era. The standard symbols have been used ever since, from the Byzantine era up through modern times, as a means for astronomers and astrologers to keep track of all those chunks of rock and gases that flicker and fly through the cosmos.

Here’s a handy guide to remembering which symbols are which. Because astrology appears far more mystical and cool when you’re reading unintelligible symbols instead of actual words. Read more…

Day 374: Your Curiously Specific Daily Horoscope – January 8

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Good morning, children of the star-spooged cosmos. How are you? It’s okay, it’s okay. Madame Chakra-Lubowitz knows how you are. It’s her job to know how you are. It’s also her job to tell you how you shall be. And you shall be well. Most of you, anyway. Some of you are screwed. But let’s not dwell on that. Let’s unlock the stars, plug into the planets and Facetime the future through the mystic sneeze-guard of Zodiac truth.

 

Aries

Make sure you check the expiry date of that yogurt before you callously shove it into your face. Also, that person you loaned money to last week spent most of it on microwavable food at Costco, and knew before they’d freed the first alfredo noodle from its flash-frozen prison that they would never pay you back. Take care, for every third quarter in your pocket is going to tumble through a vending machine or parking meter like pit-stink through cotton. Better bring more than you’ll need; it’ll be one of those damn days.

You'll need this if you even want a hope at that sweet, sweet Mr. Pibb nectar today.

You’ll need this if you even want a hope at that sweet, sweet Mr. Pibb nectar today.

Read more…