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December 2005

Have a holly jolly golly molly Boutros Boutros-Ghali Christmas.
merry christ-x | Thursday, 12.22.05
Unlimited gift-giving POWAH!
I finished my holiday shopping yesterday with a hefty swipe of my American Express card. I'm specifically mentioning my American Express card because I've become obsessed with Membership Rewards points. Basically for every dollar you spend (and eventually pay off), you get points towards super fabulous prizes, such as trips to exotic locales, front row theater tickets, or $10 gift certificates to stores that don't sell anything under $3,000. Right now, I have 1,200 points, and that two year subscription to "Ebony Skin Care Monthly" is so close I can smell it, taste it, and feel it with those 20 pound virtual reality goggles that were all the rage in the early 90's.

Thanks to the internet, my Christmas shopping was positively dull and without incident. I didn't get to experience the rush of cutting off three lanes of traffic to wedge myself into the last parking spot at the mall, nor did I get to side check a dim-witted stockboy into a display of robotic velociraptors who rip his organs apart with their metallic talons. And isn't that what the holidays are all about? I mean, aside from the cocoa and iPod accessories and last-minute regifting as you realize in horror that your great great uncle didn't die last year and he's standing on your porch with a garbage bag full of inappropriate gifts for your forgetful ass. "Here you go Great Great Uncle Mortimer... it's, uh... a case for your iPod Shuffle! And, um... a bag of fun sized holiday M&M's! Merry Christmas Happy Holidays Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards GET THE FUCK OUT UNDEAD ZOMBIE UNCLE." Flicking off the lights and hiding behind furniture is a good technique to avoid unwanted party crashers, but don't forget to unplug that dancing Santa... his vision is based on movement.

How do I, John Lacki, webmaster extraordinaire, spend my holidays? The same way I have for the past 20 some odd years... sprawled out on the living room floor, buried underneath boxes and boxes of Lego in a puddle of my own egg nog vomit. I'm a man of tradition, and I'll be building kickass race cars and heaving egg-based beverages until the earth opens up and sends me straight to Hell for skipping Christmas eve mass for the umpteenth consecutive year. The Christmas eve mass was an important character-building event, because it taught me that I had to suffer like Jesus if I wanted to get presents. It's possible that getting crucified was slightly more of an inconvenience than sitting quietly in a pew for an hour, but I don't care who you are, dying for the sins of the world is a pretty shitty gift. Yes, I'm fully aware that Christmas has nothing to do with the death of Christ, but the analogy wouldn't work in an Easter update, so just run with me here, ok? Don't ruin Christmas for everyone else. Santa doesn't like little boys and girls who poke holes in hilarious website ramblings.

So, have a great holiday and a healthy New Year. Unless you don't believe in the New Year. Or you don't believe in months. Or you don't believe in holidays. I'm sorry if I offended you and your non-month, non-holiday recognizing religion. Let's try this again... Have a great thing and a healthy other thing, whatever those things may be. Merry Thing-mas to all, and to all a good thing!

 
APOPHIS SMASH
raaaargghh | Wednesday, 12.07.05
ROCK!
I'm not one for doomsday theories. Maybe because the only time I ever read up on doomsday theories is when I'm standing in line at the checkout counter behind a coupon-clipping madwoman who is requesting to speak to the manager over a misprint in the Sunday circular that could save her seven cents on a 35 pound box of Cheese Nips. "WORLD PROBABLY ENDING IN A FEW YEARS" reads one headline. "RADIOACTIVE DEER OVERTHROW PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNMENT, YOUR STATE IS NEXT" reads another. "FAMOUS COUPLE BREAKS UP, WORLD WEEPS AND IS READY TO EXPLODE" reads yet another. Finally, the woman ahead of me settles her dispute with the manager, a team of stock boys load the 35 pound box of Cheese Nips onto a mule driven cart, I pay for my purchase and quickly forget about the devastation that will disembowel the earth. The earth has bowels, right? See, this is why I need to hire and intern. I need a fact checker and someone who will cut up my food into tiny pieces and feed me.

Now compare those wacky headlines from the first paragraph with this monstrosity from The Guardian. It's got units of measure and an Egyptian god of destruction and a countdown to our extinction and oh god I need my intern to change my diaper...

It's called Apophis. It's 390m wide. And it could hit Earth in 31 years time.

Dun dun duuuuuun. Jesus Guardian, you might want to take it down a notch. How about something like, "It's called Apophis. It's 390m wide. And it's going to hug the everloving shit out of you." See? That's the stuff that sells papers, folks. People like to feel good about themselves, and who doesn't love the thought of a 390m rock named after a lord of death and destruction hurtling towards the earth as part of an intergalactic mission to deliver free space hugs?

Nasa has estimated that an impact from Apophis, which has an outside chance of hitting the Earth in 2036, would release more than 100,000 times the energy released in the nuclear blast over Hiroshima. Thousands of square kilometres would be directly affected by the blast but the whole of the Earth would see the effects of the dust released into the atmosphere.

And, scientists insist, there is actually very little time left to decide. At a recent meeting of experts in near-Earth objects (NEOs) in London, scientists said it could take decades to design, test and build the required technology to deflect the asteroid.
The Guardian

OK, I have an idea. I'm just putting it out there, if you don't like what you hear, pretend I didn't even say anything. I bought a big pack of graphing paper from Staples (Staples had a sale on graphing paper this week), ran a few tests, ran some tests on the tests that I originally ran, and believe me, all the numbers add up. I even showed my work so I can get partial credit if my final answer is incorrect, but I'm pretty confident that it's correct. So, again, this is just an idea that I've been kicking around, take it or leave it. Let's just say, hypothetically, we hire Superman. Now, I have no idea what his schedule looks like in 2036 or how much he charges for an appearance, but this is the type of thing that the Man of Steel handles all the time and I'm sure he'd be more that willing to-- ok, we're pretty much fucked. Luckily I can return my graphing paper since I didn't even open the package, and I don't think I threw out the receipt.

Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer from Queen's University Belfast, said: "When it does pass close to us on April 13 2029, the Earth will deflect it and change its orbit. There's a small possibility that if it passes through a particular point in space, the so-called keyhole, ... the Earth's gravity will change things so that when it comes back around again in 2036, it will collide with us."
The Guardian

oh fuck oh god oh fuck oh god

The chance of Apophis passing through the keyhole, a 600-metre patch of space, is 1 in 5,500 based on current information.
The Guardian

Oh. Why didn't they put that little nugget of information in the headline? 1 in 5,500? I have better chances of getting hit by a truck, then crawling out of the wreckage to a local deli, buying a lottery ticket, winning 75 million dollars and then getting struck by lightning twice before getting run over by the same truck again. Looks like the power of odds has saved the day once again. So sure, you could start taking yoga classes to obtain the flexibility needed to kiss your sorry ass goodbye, or you could just sit back, relax, and let science do its thing. Psh, 390m's. What is that, like 3 feet in normal American measurements? You got nothin' Apophis. You hear me? NOTHING.

 

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