SMOKE: Armageddon Is Nigh
Originally published: 5 September 2003
Quick question - where are all those arseholes who predicted the world was going to end at the millennium?
Why have they not been arrested for lying? Why have they not been jeered at and prodded with sticks in the town square once their foolish doomsday predictions were proved nonsensical, as the dawn rose over New Year's Day, 2000?
Far too many bullshitters get away with shitting their bull and none of them are ever made to pay. Freaks me out, man.
Anyways - I've been trying to write this article for two days now, but I've been so busy with newsletters and dating sites and online shops and a myriad of other weightier issues, I haven't had a chance.
But I've finally got to it - like a piranha to the cow trapped in deep water - and all the jeering and just plain nastiness I have been unwillingly bottling up for the last two days can finally come out, hot on the trail of a fresh stream of filthy invective.
Have you seen the armageddon story currently floating around the newswires, being breathlessly picked up by editors who "understand their demographic" and who "sense a hot lead" and all the other bullshit that publication staffers like to bumph their lives up with?
The story is about some asteroid called "2003 QQ47", which some fear will bring calamity to our planet on 21 March 2014 when it plunges into us with the force equivalent to 20-million atomic bombs.
Apparently it has a one in 909,000 chance of hitting us, which has got everyone all hot and sweaty and planning what to do with the rest of their now shortened lives.
Live it in hedonism, 'cos what the hell? Ride out into the country to savour the memories of the smell of pine needles and dust, mixed with the sweet scent of sage as the sun kisses the horizon on its way down? Become depressed and sit in a corner for ten years, waiting for the bang?
Such decision, such decisions.
There is so much to discuss here, but let me start with the asteroid's name - 2003 QQ47. What absolute bastard came up with that name, and why?? It just makes it impossible to drop into casual conversation, much as you would on a date with some bird you're trying to impress.
"Hello then love - did you hear about old 2003 QQ47? Yeah - some telescope picked up 'The Q-ster' heading in our direction, and you and me need to make up time, baby. We've got ten years left on the clock and I'm full of loving tonight."
Something like that. But why not Bob? Or Randy, Michael or Theodore? Scientists are absolutely ridiculous with their naming conventions and are seriously killing off the art of flirting.
But perhaps more seriously - for starters this story (with only the names changed to make it appear original) comes around every few months or so, and is always good for an excited frisson, perhaps an intake of breath or two, and indeed who knows - perhaps a slight stiffening of the nipples in an horrified-yet-eager thrill of anticipation?
But otherwise it's complete and utter bollocks. When I worked for a large local internet portal I must have put that story up three of four times a year, always leading with headlines like "Armageddon An Asteroid Away", or "Earth Faces Gravest Danger Yet".
All that was missing was a reference to Britney Spears' tits, which was also always good for a few thousand clicks.
What's always killed me is the chance the damn thing has of hitting us - this one has only a one in almost a million chance of hitting us, which means it won't - plain and simple. It could - as any editor will defend - but it won't.
So why is it in the news? It's not news - it's complete shite. Hogwash. The product of some bored newswire staffer who knows it is a story that always proves popular.
The editors carry it because they know people read it, and people read it because they need to know details in case it really is something this time. Which it never is, but it's still a good conversation piece when your other alternatives are politics or the weather.
Blokes telling it to others will always embellish it a little ("Well - in cosmic terms it's a mere whisker away"), in order to get the girlies gasping, while chicks will embellish it simply because they get too over-excited and swept up by the whole big thrill of it all ("Darling - we're going to get all smashed up by a nasty big asteroid which is going to hit us any minute, darling. Run, darling - go to your children. They need you in your most desperate hour, darling. I too must flee darling, and while I would love it to be merely 'au revoir', I fear it will be more lasting than that.")
Same story, different gender.
So hey - whatever thrills you. What I don't understand is why people get even faintly excited by armageddon stories - think about how many there have been, from blokes like Nostradamus right through to our modern kooky cults.
Yet the Earth is still here, turning away as it's done for a very long time, and nobody since the birth of time has ever been correct with a doomsday prediction.
All Smoked Out,