Doomsday e-Church Tries Turning Apocalypse Off And On Again: Your Saturday Nerdout
Hello, IT. Have you tried forcing an unexpected reboot?
Happy Saturday, nerds! As you may have noticed, the world did not end Wednesday, even though it was very definitely supposed to, and it seems that the only people surprised by this development were the members of the eBible Fellowship who were quite certain they were going to meet their maker. They even bought a nice card and everything. And yet God Almighty stubbornly refused to burn the Earth to a cinder, as promised.
Chris McCann, head of the eBible fellowship, warned that the planet would be destroyed “with fire” on 7 October. This did not happen.
“Since it is now 8 October it is now obvious that we were incorrect regarding the world’s ending on the 7th,” McCann said.
We'll give him this much: he's a keen observer of the facts around him. Despite his inaccurate deciphering of biblical prophecy, McCann does remind us that he'd only said that there was a "strong likelihood" that we'd be toast on October 7:
“Well, a strong likelihood means that something was pretty well set to happen (in this case according to the biblical evidence),” he said. “Yet there is a possibility it may not happen.
“So it was surprising that it did not occur. But the comforting thing is that God’s will is always perfect.”
What now? McCann says that he's quite certain that The End is still on the way "soon," which means he and his flock need to hit the books -- or the Book -- to figure out where they forgot to carry a two or something.
“I also know that God knows exactly when that end will come,” he said. “So we’ll keep studying the Bible to see what we can learn.”
And the minute he's dumb enough to say anything publicly about our new Use Before date, Yr Wonkette will let you know.
NASA's Got Big Pluto News! Wait For It...
Taking a cue from all those presidential hopefuls who announced last spring that they'd have a major announcement to make about whether they'd announce their candidacy, NASA hinted midweek that it would be releasing huge, ginormous news about Pluto Thursday. Speaking at a conference at the University of Alberta, Dr Alan Stern, the Principal Investigator for the New Horizons mission, said, "NASA won't let me tell you what we're going to tell you on Thursday. It's amazing." And then we finally got the news, and it was indeed HUUUUGE, at least for a tiny no-longer-a-planet Kuiper Belt Object: Pluto has a blue sky and "numerous small, exposed regions of water ice," which has to be heartening to Pluto fans. NASA took forever to confirm liquid water on Mars, and now here's ice on Pluto, discovered by the very first probe to visit the ex-planet. Oh, yes, and there's sciencing:
“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.
The haze particles themselves are likely gray or red, but the way they scatter blue light has gotten the attention of the New Horizons science team. “That striking blue tint tells us about the size and composition of the haze particles,” said science team researcher Carly Howett, also of SwRI. “A blue sky often results from scattering of sunlight by very small particles. On Earth, those particles are very tiny nitrogen molecules. On Pluto they appear to be larger — but still relatively small — soot-like particles we call tholins.”
Here's a fun video -- definitely not from NASA -- whose chief attraction is the cheesy computer-synthesized voice with a British accent, reading bits from a NASA press release and pronouncing fly-by as "flybee":
Also, too, we have to say that we really liked this pure tabloid coverage by The Express, which seized on a clearly metaphoric comment by Dr. Stern -- "This world is alive" -- to write a story that was mostly bullshit:
THERE was huge disappointment within the scientific community today after rumours that NASA was set to make a huge announcement about life on Pluto were quashed by its top scientist.
Dr Alan Stern sparked frenzied speculation that the space agency was about to announce a groundbreaking discovery after saying scientists had found something "amazing" on the icy planet.
He also referred to the planet as "alive" during a speech to students at the University of Alberta, in Canada, leading people to believe that alien life may have been discovered at the farthest reaches of our solar system.
No actual scientists were disappointed or expecting little crawly Plutonians, since what Stern actually said after saying the planet was "alive" was "It has weather, it has hazes in the atmosphere, active geology... Every week I am floored." Still, excellent tabloiding, there!
Princess Leia's Bikini Sells For Many Credits!
The genuine original Return of the Jedi costume that launched millions of adolescent boys into unchaste thoughts sold at auction last week for $96,000. For what it's worth, Carrie Fisher hated the thing, since it was uncomfortable and so inflexible that when she reclined on the set next to the Jabba the Hutt puppet, "Boba Fett could see all the way to Florida.” Also, too, the shooting model of the first spaceship seen in the original Star Wars, the plucky little Blockade Runner, went for $450,000, which seems rather a lot of money. Now the new anonymous owner is going to have to find a screen-used model of the Imperial Star Destroyer so he can swoop the two around the room going "Pew-pew-pew!" and humming the John Williams theme music.
Star Wars Does Politics Really Bad
Vox ran a fun column by Seth Masket discussing, for the hell of it (plus there's a new movie coming in December, did you know that?) the inadequacy of the political arrangements in the Galactic Senate scenes in the Star Wars prequels. Needless to say, he attributes these shortcomings to the indisputable fact that George Lucas was a hack, but he does at least have some fun thoughts about how the Galactic Senate could have worked better. For instance, there should have been political parties, which might have been able to provide a counterweight to Chancellor Palpatine's excesses -- why not at least some hearings on all those credits disappearing into a secret slush fund to build a clone army, huh? Somebody had to have noticed the budget was hinky.
It would be very difficult to run a chamber of this size without some way of organizing it, such as breaking members into parties. It would be prohibitively difficult to assemble winning coalitions on any divisive issue without the aid of parties. The chamber also clearly had strong ideological divides over war policies and the strength of the executive, and given the amount of money the government must have been shelling out to finance its war against the Separatists while ignoring things like slavery, the disbursement of funds must surely have been an issue of some importance. It's surprising that stances on these issues wouldn't coalesce into some kind of party structure.
Masket also wrote an earlier dissection of the politics in Star Wars; we can't disagree with his observation that "Lucas doesn't understand how legislatures function, what bureaucrats are, why legislative parties form, the function of the media, etc." And this is part of what makes fandom fun -- trying to figure out how the hell the institutions of a fictional world would "really" work.
See also, for scholarly purposes, Henry Jenkins' Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. Arguments about the economic system of the Federation or the military technology of Battlestar Galactica are serious business.
Is That A Mammoth In Your Soybean Field Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?
Michigan farmer James Bristle was digging a hole for some drainage pipes and thought he'd thumped into a fence post. Instead of a hunk of wood (or a-bubblin' crude), he pulled up what looked like bones, so he called the University of Michigan, which sent out some paleontologists who dug up a very well-preserved wooly mammoth skeleton, with tusks still intact -- there's a bit of an "Oh shit" moment at the 18-second point in the video, when a chunk of tusk falls off as they're hoisting the skull onto a truck bed, but a bit of crazy glue should fix that right up. What's especially cool about this find is that there's evidence that
ancient humans most likely preserved the mammoth parts in a pond to eat later. The team found clues such as stone tool fragments and three large boulders, which they think were used as anchors, near the bones to support their hypothesis. According to the researchers, the findings might provide insight into when humans first settled and hunted in present-day Michigan.
It is not yet known whether the ancient hunters considered themselves members of a militia.
It's Been 40 Years Of Doing The Time Warp
As part of our ongoing mission to make all of us feel old, we are compelled to point out that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the movie that made midnight movies a thing, and which doomed every woman named Janet to dread the inevitable moment when some co-worker or classmate would exclaim, "Dammit, Janet!" as if it were the most original thing in the world. And so Entertainment Weekly has that photo up there of Patricia Quinn, Meat Loaf, Barry Bostwick, Tim Curry, and Susan Sarandon, and the Today Show did a little nostalgia piece:
We should add that at Kid Zoom's very last high school choir performance last spring, one of the nine million choirs he was in performed this song; there were a few boys in fishnets, but in an apparent concession to Boise parental sensibilities, the dancing included not a single centimeter's worth of "pelvic thrust." At least they didn't change the lyrics. High school is stupid.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.