It was here all along

Aside from a tornado, a volcanic eruption, the cataclysmic failure of both Johns Hopkins and Cornell to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA lacrosse championships and the 7-0 defeat my tennis team suffered to a team from Nyon, Saturday was an average day. Slightly better than average, for me; not only was I spared the humiliation of being trounced by a ponytail-swinging teenage tennis phenom (I sat this match out), but the headache I had been carrying around with me since about 3 am Tuesday also rapturously lifted. I’d actually started to wonder if I was being punished somehow for my skeptical attitude in Monday’s “Time’s Up” post. (Tip: don’t do a Google search using both “hypertension” and “headache”. Trust me, it won’t help.) For about five minutes on Sunday morning I felt sorry for Harold Camping, whose wife reported that he was “bewildered.” That is, until I read this: 

In 2009, [his] nonprofit reported in tax filings that it received USD 18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than USD 104 million, including USD 34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities.

Then I started feeling sorry for all the poor suckers believers who emptied their pockets to put up billboards in an attempt to warn the rest of us. 


In typical US fashion, journalists made the non-event into a “Media Moment” by digging out “experts” to lend weight and importance to this epic Fail. Did you know that End Time Studies is an academic discipline? It’s called escatology. Imagine introducing yourself at a cocktail party:


“What do you do? I’m an escatologist. … What? No, I don’t collect animal poop, I’m looking into Armageddon.” 


Well, back to the trenches. For Camping’s faithful, it will no doubt be tough to carry on bereft of all possessions, cash and credibility. But wasn’t that what Jesus demanded of his followers in the first place? Chuck it all and join me on a road trip? Maybe this is that opportunity. Maybe this is, in fact, their Rapture! Wake up folks! Stop scanning the heavens! It’s just an atmosphere, and a rather thin one, at that.


The rest of us (myself included) should bring our supercilious told-you-so’ing to a stop and go back the business of thinking about and doing more worthy things. I promise after this post I will never mention the Rapture again.


In fact, I’ve always felt that worrying about what happens after you die is a monumental waste of time. When the time comes, it comes. We’ll find out then. What I DO know is that I’m sharing the planet with many other fascinating forms of life and intelligence. Opportunity is everywhere. Why waste that time worrying? Why obsess about earning eternal life via the application of magical behavioral formulas? If I don’t even want to embrace all I’ve got here and now, why on earth would I want to extend it to infinity? It’s a logical fallacy. Even supposing that God existed, don’t you think she’d be disappointed that so many of us (and particularly the most rigid among us…) exhibit such a stunning lack of curiosity? She’d be thinking, “Oh, why did I go to all that bother with the outsized brains?”


Here we are. Right now. Welcome to the Rapture!

Time’s Up

I’ve wrapped up the English translation of another issue of Reflex, finished editing a scientific paper for a professor here, translated various bits and pieces for various websites there, and (drum roll, please) written the Deepwater Horizon article! Yes, I finally did it. I admitted to the author that I’d lost my notes and asked him for a copy of the journal article, and now the thing is done. I’d share its very interesting conclusions with you now, but I can’t because the article hasn’t been published yet. I promise I’ll tell you the latest bad news on the oil spill once the embargo has lifted.

For the first time in two months, a Monday morning stretches before me without a single deadline in sight. Freedom!

Imagine my shock when my Research Assistant (yes, I’ve given Dave a promotion!) unleashed this on me:

The world is due to end on Thursday. I should do my post then. Continue reading