Someone finally explains, so it can actually be understood, what next Friday, September 21, 2012, and the whole end of the world thing, is really about. An article guaranteed to cause an "Ah ha!" Go get some coffee, and settle-in for a good read.
Of course, I no more believe the world will end on Friday, December 21, 2012 than I do that pigs will fly on the 22nd... er... you know... without the benefit of alcohol or other mind-altering substances, I mean. Or 3D rendering software. Stuff like that.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is so convinced it won't happen that it created a video entitled "Why the World Didn't End Yesterday" that it was going to release on Saturday, December 22, 2012 as a sort of day-after "I told you so" moment. Instead, NASA decided to release it around 10 days early. Here it is:
NASA's big "I told ya' so!": The space agency is so sure the world won't come to an end on December 21, 2012, that it made a video intended for release on the day after.
Yeah, it's kinda' lame; but it's part of NASA's "ScienceCast" series, which is aimed at younger folks, so, considering the audience I guess it's fine. An earlier NASA video, though, actually ain't half bad because it addresses most of the better-known December 21, 2012 "doomsday" theories floating around out there. Actually, no scientist would ever call them "theories," just as neither creationism or "intelligent design" are theories. A theory actually has to have some proofs behind it. Until it does, it's a mere "hypothesis;" and if anything were hypothetical, it would be creationism and "intelligent design." But, alas, I digress. Sorry.
My digression to such silliness is foregivable, though, considering that creationism, "intelligent design" and that the world will come to an end on Friday, December 21st are all pretty much in the same league. But that, too, is a digression.
The earlier NASA video, entitled "The Science of Doomsday 2012" (which I show a little further down, herein) features Dr. David Morrison, a space scientist at the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field at the south end of the San Francisco Bay.
“I get a tremendous number of e-mails about it,” Morrison, who also hosts NASA's "Ask an Astrobioloogist" website, recently told Time Magazine. “A large fraction are from people asking if the world will end, saying they’re scared and don’t know what to do. A few even talk about suicide.”
To date, the only person known to have committed suicide over a belief that the world will end on December 21st was England's Isabel Taylor, a troubled teenager who hanged herself in her bedroom on September 24, 2011, at age 16. Taylor, a committed vegan, and a staunch supporter of animal rights and the environment, had turned to the Buddhist faith as she pursued a more compassionate world than she was beginning to realize might actually exist.
Her parents, Gary and Ingrid Taylor, told the This is Bath Northcliff Media regional UK newspaper website that their sensitive daughter could not bear the prospect of growing up in a world that was not “simple and perfect.” The impact of leaving school and beginning adult life, coupled with fears that the world would end in 2012, sent her to take her own life, friends and family testified at an inquest into teen's untimely death.
According to This is Bath, her father told the inquest that his daughter had talked to her parents about her fears the world will end. “We were aware of the 2012 issue,” he said. “As you would in conversation around the dinner table, she would mention it. We would take it on board and say we ‘didn’t think that was going to happen, Isabel,’ and try to make light of it and move the conversation onwards.” Her mother told the coroner: “She talked to us about her beliefs the world was going to end in 2012. We did not believe that.”
Taylor had left Corsham School in Wiltshire and began an animal science and management course at nearby Wiltshire College at Lackham. She was passionate about animals and ran a guinea pig sanctuary with a friend. However, within weeks of starting the course at Lackham, the teenager from Neston, in Wiltshire, was found by her mother, hanging in her room, after spending much of the night before on her computer. Searches of that computer revealed she had looked up queries about how many paracetamols (an over-the-counter NSAID pain and fever reducer) it would take to overdose, as well as the thousands of websites devoted to the conspiracy theories about 2012 and its December 21st end of the world.
“She would flippantly say ‘oh but it's all going to end next year anyway’ and we would try and laugh it off,” said her father to This is Bath. “She believed something was going to happen that would change the world; and she read articles on all different types of things which could make the world end... some 15 to 20 articles over the course of 2011, with her best friend.”
However, the history of "thousands" of sites on her computer regarding the 2012 end of the world evidences that she read many, many more articles than that. The Hoax 2012 website called Taylor's "the first well-documented case of suicide that we have seen over fears of the 2012 doomsday; we would really like to think that it will be the last."
Taylor's parents said they honored their daughter's memory by completing a challenge to raise money for her favourite cause: The Farm Animal Sanctuary. They walked a 70-mile stretch of the South West Coastal Path over a seven day period in June of 2012, raising £2,200 (around $3,500 USD). Additional online donations in Taylor's name may be made here.
Only a tiny handful of the thousands of worried-about-12-12-12 e-mails that Morrison said he has received even mention or hint at anyone taking their own lives, and those have all been from adults... none of whom, as nearly as anyone can tell, have followed Taylor's lead.
In response to its genuine concern about the mental health of those inordinately impacted by all the end-of-the-world fearmongering, NASA convened a Google+ hangout on Nov. 28 during which all comers asked six astronomers the toughest questions they could think of. For about an hour the scientists gave answers to questions about most of the silliness that's floating around out there regarding next Friday being the end of the world. Such silliness includes Precession (a type of galactic alignment), to "Timewave Zero," to the King Wen sequence of the I Ching, to believers in the god Vishnu and 2012 marking the end of the Kali Yuga (or the "degenerate age"), to our transitioning into a new consciousness as described in the book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, to a galactic alignment with a supermassive black hole in Sagittarius A*, to the increase the flux of Oort cloud comets as the earth passes through the galactic disc, to a planetary conjunction with Jupiter, to a geomagnetic reversal (aka, "pole shift"), to a collision with either or both of an asteroid or the mythical Planet X (aka, Nibiru), and on, and on, and on. Morrison's video covers most of the high points:
Debunker: NASA scientist, David Morrison, shows how the rumors of a doomsday on December 21, 2012 are just not supported by science... or logic... or anything else! Excellent video!
Of course, all the educating in the world regarding this sort of thing -- just as with religion -- tends not to help much. In his "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection," from his book, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," Carl Sagan wrote:
"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous. So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise."
Sagan also wrote:
"You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe."
Consequently, Morrison says, proponents of nonsense like that the world will end next Friday make-up their own facts, many of which are found online right alongside NASA's attempts at debunking. "There's something of an inherent contradiction," Morrison said, "when we scientists tell people not to trust things they read on the Internet, and then put information on the Internet.”
“I’m told that about 10% of the public believes this stuff,” said Seth Shostak, a scientist with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. “That’s about the same percentage that believes in Santa Claus and thinks we never went to the moon,” he told Time Magazine.
The sheer, raw numbers behind percentages like that can be unduly impressive to people who have no perspective, critical thinking skills and/or natural (or at least automatically-engaging whenever it's needed) skepticism. I remember watching the September 25, 1986 premier episode of a news program on ABC called "Our World: It's About Time" with Linda Ellerbee and Ray Gandolf. Each episode examined a specific short period in history; and that first episode's period was the summer of 1969, during which Apolo 11 landed on the moon. At the end of most on-camera things she did in those days, Ellerbee would look into the camera and recite a wry, philosophical little commentary which she would end with the words "and so it goes." She and Lloyd Dobyns developed the catch phrase during their days on NBC's Weekend program; and she used it thereafter, and even made it the title of her 1987 book. At the end of the first Our World episode, Ellerbee looked into the camera and talked, with incredulity, about how something like 3% of all Americans honestly believed that Apollo 11 had not actually landed on the moon; that it was all faked in a warehouse somewhere in the desert or something.
I remember thinking at the time that based on what was then the population of the US, 3% of it would be about the number of people that could fit into a large sports (probablly football) stadium. I imagined standing on the field with that many people all yelling that some such thing which couldn't possibly be true, were in fact true; and I wondered how long it would take for even a strong-willed person to be convinced by that many people all whistling the same relentless tune. It would be easy for someone with no perspective, and poorly-developed skepticism and critical thinking skills, to be impressed by a crowd like that; and to forget (or probably not even realize in the first place) that no matter how right its both din and numbers made it seem, it remained but a tiny, tiny fraction of all Americans...
...a little like the number of Americans said they wanted to secede from the United States last month after President Obama was re-elected. I wrote, here, about how the headlines in the popular press were gushing with that all 50 states had a petition on the White House website, ignoring that even if you added-up all the states which had the minimum signatures needed to force the White House staff to review and consider the petition -- and even if you added all those numbers to the numbers in all other states -- it wasn't even enough to fill one medium-sized US city. A rudimentary scientific understanding of percentages and ratios, guided by some good, old fashioned critical thinking and skepticism, is everything!
Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at Foothill College in Los Altos, California, agreed during the NASA webcast: “The real problem is that our schools have not taught skeptical thinking," he said. "[They] have not taught children to distinguish between fantasy and reality. The real threat in 2012 is the public’s low level of science understanding.”
If Fraknoi is right, then it might help to explain why, whether or not suicidal, many young people are nevertheless scared by what they fear might happen next Friday; and they have been for several years while all the end-of-the-world stuff has bombarded them. “Two years ago, I met with a group of middle-school science teachers,” Morrison said, “and I asked them how many of them were seeing kids who were worried about 2012. Nearly every hand shot up.”
No wonder. Even State Farm Insurance understands how the Internet works:
A pretty blonde with poorly-developed skipticism and critical thinking skills insists that you can't put anything on the Internet that isn't true. And just look what it gets her. Bonjour, vous!
The chief reason -- the catalyst, if you will -- for all the world's-gonna'-end concern, these days, is that next Friday is December 21, 2012: the day that the ignorant believe the Mayan Calendar predicts will be the end of the world... in fact, of time, itself. The Mayan Calendar, of course, predicts no such thing. For starters, there's no such thing as a "Mayan Calendar," at least not as most people commonly understand that term. That to which people are actually referring whenever they write or speak of the so-called "Mayan Calendar" is actually a system of calendars from the pre-Columbian period (that is, before the Spanish arrived in the 15th and 16th centuries) in what is, today, highland Guatemala, Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico... also known as "Mesoamerica."
And the specific Mayan calendar that's got everyone's knickers in a twist regarding next Friday is what's called the the "Mesoamerican Long Count" calendar... which, trust me, doesn't predict the end of the world, or time, on that date. Or on any other date, either, for that matter! The mere concept of things coming to an end was simply not part of Mayan thinking and enculturation, according to Mayanist scholars Linda Schele and David Freidel. It's an entirely modern Western eschatological notion of which Mayan civilization would simply never have conceived. The Maya were, in fact, ever-searching for confirming evidence that nothing would ever end; that everything would just go on, forever. It was their mindset.
But that doesn't mean at least something doesn't come to an end next week. Next Friday does mark the end of a whopping 5,125-year-long Mesoamerican Long Count calendar cyclical period that began way back on August 11, 3114 BC; and which period is known as the "13th b'ak'tun," or what Mayan Popol Vuh called the fourth world into which humans were placed by the gods after the first three worlds were kind of a bust...
...ostensibly because apparently Mayan gods can sometimes screw-up, too. Of course, Noah would attest that so can the God of Abraham... but now I'm digressing again.
That December 21, 2012 would mark the end of the end of the 13th b'ak'tun has long been known. No surprise, there. However, it took a couple of scientists in the 1950s and 1960s -- a Mayanist and astronomer named Maud Worcester Makemson in 1967; and an archaeologist, anthropologist, epigrapher and author named Michael D. Coe in 1966 -- to hypothesize (there, see why I defined that word earlier? And you thought it was just to take swipes at creationism and "intelligent design") that the Mayans believed that since the only period or world in which humans were successful was coming to an end on December 12, 2012, then so might humans come to an end on that date, too. And so, with that, next Friday's end-of-world sillness was off to the races.
Never mind that nothing in any Mayan writings ever suggested any such thing; or that even prominent scientists from such as Colectivo de Organizaciones Indígenas de Guatemala, or Guatemala's Procurador de los Derechos Humanos roundly reject any such notions, insisting that December 21, 2012 does not represent an end of humanity but, rather, simply the beginning of a new cycle; something to celebrate: the beginning of the 5,125-year 14th b'ak'tun...
...little different from when the 12-month-long calendar for the 2,012th year AD that's hanging in your kitchen reaches December 31st and you have to go to the bank, the grocery store, or your insurance agent and get a new free one... cheapskate. Heaven forbid you could toss a coupla' bucks at your local mom-and-pop office supply or drug store (assuming Wal-Mart or Staples hasn't caused the one that used to be near you to close) and buy one. But, alas, yet again, I digress.
In point of fact, the Mayans only even refer to the 13th b'ak'tun in two places that archeologists have been able to unearth: One at the seventh century AD Tortuguero archaeological site in southernmost Tabasco, Mexico; and the other on "Hieroglyphic Stairway 12"at the first century AD La Corona archaeological site in Guatemala... neither of which so much as hints at what would happen at the 13th b'ak'tun's auspicious December 21, 2012 end. One would think that if it's all supposed to come crashing down by then, then at least somebody among their numbers would have bothered to carve and/or paint a little something about it into some rock or wall, or onto some papyrus somewhere. Of course, the Mayans didn't see their cultures 8th and 9th century actual decline, and subsequent 10th through 16th centuries' actual collapse coming...
...so maybe I'm asking too much.
One thing's for sure, though: The Mayans definitely imagined and anticipated time far beyond the end of the 13th b'ak'tun... some 7,000 years or longer beyond, in fact. If they believed everything was coming to an end next Friday, would they have so planned? Heck, even David Letterman knows better than that! During his December 14, 2012 "Late Show" monologue, he joked, "On the bright side, the end of the world next week kinda' takes the edge off next month's fiscal cliff, doesn't it?" And, a couple nights before that he wondered, if everything was going to come to an end next Friday, then why's he doing any Christmas shopping? Humans are self-interested. When they know the end is nigh, they do self-interested stuff... like running-up their VISA cards, and not planning for the future. The Mayans may not have had VISA cards, but they understood the planning part; and they were planning for the 14th b'ak'tun and beyond!
In the "Mesoamerican Long Count" calendar, there's a thing called a "Long Count" date, which is, explained in an oversimplified way, a date actually in a current or previous b'ak'tun, with a special number added in a special way to create a new date, long into the future. At the archaeological site at Palenque, on the west panel at the Temple of Inscriptions, there's some text which covers the reign of the ruler K'inich Janaab' Pakal whose assession occurred around July 27th of 615 AD. When the Mayans of that period did, and documented in the inscriptions, the Long Count date voodoo that they do so well on Pakal's birthdate of March 24, 603 AD, they came-up with the date of October 21, 4772 AD, which would be in the 14th b'ak'tun... far beyond, even, any date anticipated by Star Trek. What would be the point of figuring that out, and anticipating it, if the Mayans believed it was all gonna' be overwith by the end of the 13th b'ak'tun, next Friday? Hmm?
Here's another... and this one's a whopper: At the Stela 1 archaeological site at Coba, the Mayans marked the date of creation in such a manner that it anticipates the current universe lasting a time span equal to 2... er... um... you might want to sit down for this... 2 quintillion times the age of the universe as determined by modern scientists! In other words, we've been around for 13 billion years so far. We've got 2 quintillion times that long to go. Talk about optimism...
...optimism that would be pointless, you'd have to agree, if it's all supposed to come to an end next Friday, no?
Hm. Two quintillion. How many zeros is that? I've got a way-cool, pretty much best-of-breed scientific calculator app for my Android phone that I'm pretty sure would be challenged by 2 quintillion. Pretty sure.
Anyway, here's another, more recent one that's easier to get one's head wrapped around: The Xultún archaeological site is about 40 km northeast of Tikal in Guatemala. It was first described by archaeologists in 1915, and has been excavated and plundered many times since. It's a very cool site, though... one which really sheds a lot of light on Mayan civilization because it has a pyramid, and plazas, and ballcourts, and water reservoirs, and all kinds of other cool stuff; including stele with writings on them that date back to the year 899 AD.
In 2011, a whole new (to archaeologists) room was discovered at Xultún... one that neither previous archaeologists, or the plunderers, had found. Everyone was (and remains) really excited. Inside were beautiful paintings -- murals... commemorative and historical ones -- on all the walls and the ceiling which helped to date the building of the room to the 9th century AD. Some of the text associated with the murals put the year of occurrance of that which is depicted therein at 814 AD. So far, so good.
But it gets more interesting: Led by archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University, the team began to realize that the walls had been repurposed from simple commemorative muraling to a sort of 9th century Mayan blackboard, if you will; with each erasure evidenced by a plastering-over of whatever was written there. By peeling the layers like an onion, astronomical and calendrical calculations could be seen etched into the layers in multiple columns of numbers (though not as we know them... they were more like dots and bars, but the archaeologists got their meaning) and glyphs.
The evidence was clear: Layer by layer the Mayans worked and re-worked their numbers, eventually yielding a precise and detailed system of marking time and reading the skies. On the east wall, the tracking of lunar cycles. On the north wall, planetary observations which eventually helped establish the very notion of the aforementioned "Long Count" date system... the first evidence that what they were seeing was likely older than any Mayan calendar discovered so far.
The work on the walls of this... this... well... what was first thought to be the workroom of a single scribe, but has since been thought of more as an astronomical faculty lounge of sorts is, archaeologists now believe, evidence of the working out of -- the precursor to -- the more sophisticated series of Mayan formulas recorded on bark-paper books in the 15th century known as the Dresden Codex. That makes what they found in the room at Xultún the oldest Mayan calendar discovered to date.
And here's why Xultún is relevant to the point which asks, here, why the Mayans would have bothered anticipating the future if they knew it was all gonna' end next Friday: In May of 2012 -- ironic in its timing to the very year in which the doomsday believers say it's all gonna' end; talk about procrastination -- National Geographic reported that Saturno's team had discovered a series of astronomical tables on the walls of the the little room which plot the movements of the moon and other heavenly bodies over the course of 17 -- count 'em -- 17 b'ak'tuns. That's over 7,000 years from now. Here we are, worried that it's all gonna' come crashing down when the 13th b'ak'tun ends next Friday, and the Mayans, some 1,198 years ago, were calculating and anticipating and dreaming out to the 17th b'ak'tun... some 7,000 years into the future.
So, again, why bother to anticipate such future time if the Mayans knew it would all become moot next Friday? Humans, I repeat, are a self-interested lot. If they think it's all overwith on a certain date, they stop planning beyond it, just as young Isabel Taylor did.
And here's the thing, and this is important: The little room at Xultún is only the first of its type ever discovered. Now that archaeologists understand how it was used, they theorize that rooms just like it are probably present at every Late Classic period (probably even earlier) Mayan site. Other sites -- especially ones a little newer than Xultún, so that more sophisticated calculations would likely be present -- could contain astronomical calculations out beyond the 17th b'ak'tun. Remember that we only know about what we've discovered; and that much is still buried. So far, we know we're good for another seven millennia; and if what's at Coba is to be believed, then maybe even a couple of quintillion years beyond that. The discovery of more little rooms could take us out to who knows how many b'ak'tun!
Of course, since the end of any given b'ak'tun doesn't really mean the end of time, but, rather, is the Mayan (actually the Mesoamerican) Long Calendar equivalent of your reaching December 31st on the calendar in your kitchen, then who cares? It all just keeps going, and going, and going, anyway...
...far, far, far beyond next Friday, December 21, 2012. That's what the Mayan experts have been trying to tell everyone all along, so that no one would really believe that it's all over next Friday.
So, then, we have nothing to worry about... er... you know... at least until the next big doomsday theory crops up.
Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com
Here's some additional reading:
- NASA FAQ - Beyond 2012: Why the World Won't End
- The Doomsday 2012 Fact Sheet - NASA Lunar Science Institute
- Ask a NASA Scientist about Doomsday 2012: National Public Radio
- The 2012 Hoax website: Debunking Doomsday 2012
- National Geographic Story about the Room at Xultún
- Welcome to the 14th Ba'ak'tun: Mankind's New Frontier (added after Dec 21st)
UPDATE on 21 Dec 2012 @ 11:32 PM PST: It's now, as I write this, about a half hour until December 21st, at least here in California, officially ends. And, so far, we're all still here... as expected. Of course, in fairness, we really need to wait until the 59th minute of the 23rd hour has expired in places nuzzled right up next to the International Date Line so that it's officially no longer December 21st anywhere on the planet. So, technically, until it's finally midnight in places like American Samoa, there's still time for all hell to break loose. I'll be asleep for that, though, so if I had a message for the gods: Try to keep it down, will ya'?
Reader Teacher Kurt posted a joke he saw on Facebook:
I saw a cartoon on Facebook the other day apparently showing 2 Ancient Mayans working on a sculpted round calendar from stone. It showed 2012. One Mayan turned to the other and asked, "Should we put 2013 on there?" The other reponds, "Nah skip it; it's so far in the future no one will really notice...."
This reminded me of a joke graphic I saw of a weather forecast for this week. Of course, it's not in English, and the temperatures are in Celsius, but I think you'll get it:
Ha! Pretty funny, I thought. But, then again, I'm easily amused...
...speaking of which: Tonight's the night, on The Late Show with David Letterman, that the now-annual Christmas traditions of Jay Thomas first telling his famous Lone Ranger story, then his knocking the meatball off the Christmas tree with a football; followed, at some point, by the incomparable Darlene Love, backed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra, and numerous extremely talented additional musicians and vocalists, singing Love's Christmas hit, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"...
...soooo... gotta' go. Bye.
ADDENDUM: Thomas told the story better than ever, and nailed the meatball on only the second throw. And Darlene Love, et al: Fahgetabowtit! Now, that's entertainment!
Life, you see, goes on... as expected.
UPDATE on Saturday, 22 Dec 2012 @ 9:51 AM PST: It has, at this writing, been six hours and 51 minutes since it was December 21st anywhere on the planet. And we're all still here. No surprise, there, of course... but I'm just sayin'. A funny story, though: I joked, in my immediately-previous update, that I'd be asleep during the hours left until it was no longer December 21st anywhere on the planet; but that, in fairness, because of those hours, there was technically still time for the end of the world to happen, but I joked that if I could say anything to the gods it would be, "Try to keep it down."
So, then, along comes... I dunno... sometime in the middle of the night, for me (I didn't bother looking at the clock), and we had a thunderstorm here in Napa Valley. And not a small one, either. Lots o' wind, pounding rain, and rolling thunder that seemed to last forever, and was loud enough to awaken me. For those of you in some parts of the country, that's a regular occurrance; but here, in Napa, rain is rare, and thunder is rarer. It's dry here... at least to me. I'm from the Chicago area, where humidity is the norm, and rain is kinda' almost frequent. Then I lived in Florida for a while, where rain is daily. Then I move out here, where there are only two seasons: Green and brown. And my sinuses and I are no longer on speaking terms. Dry, dry, dry, compared to what I'm used to. And when it does rain, for a very short part of each year here, it's very quiet. No thunder... almost ever.
Last night, though, almost as if to taunt me after what I wrote, here, the thunder was intense, at least for a while; exacerbated by that we're in a valley, and so it echoes off the hills. I'd be lying if I said it didn't, right when I first awakened, and before I got my wits about me, give me a start... and I don't mean a normal awakened by thunder start: I mean a "did I speak too soon" start. Of course, as soon as I awakened more, I found that funny. Still, it was an interesting moment... lasting maybe twelve seconds, I admit, but still kinda' interesting. For those twelve, not-quite-yet-awake moments, I admit that I actually experienced a sort of "wait a minute... were those Mayans onto something? Is this it?" sort of thing. Honestly, as I laid there, after fully awakening, with the thunder rolling, and reflecting on what I imagined in my 12-second-or-so almost-dream-state moments earlier, I was both ashamed and amused.
The gods have a sense of humor after all, I guess.
I'm sure glad this whole December 21, 2012 thing is over, though. I've had it up to here with it. I do wish that poor Isabel Taylor were still around to see that it was much ado about nothing. [sigh] The thing with depressed persons like Taylor who contemplate suicide, though, is that if it hadn't have been the December 2012 doomsday thing for her, it would have been something else. Still, it's such a pity. Perhaps if she had made it past September 2011, to today, something might have happened between then and now to give her hope and disabuse her of her suicidal notions. We'll never know, of course. My prayers are with her family.
So, that's it. No more of this. This is my final writing in this article, on this page. I'd close with "may we never endure anything like this silliness again," but, of course, I know that the next big doomsday scare is just around the corner. Someone will think of something. In fact... hey... here's one: If we, as a global society, don't finally do something about global warming before it's too late, we, as a species will eventually be destroyed on this planet! How 'bout that one.
Until that seemingly inevitable day (before which, gratefully, I'll likely have shed this mortal coil), peace.