Friday, 31 July 2009

Let the sun shine, let the sun shine ... AARRGGHH!! It burns!!

While scientists remain baffled about just how low the sun's activity has got during its regular 'solar minimum', that's not stopped others deciding that its current quiet period is THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM!!!! Thanks to this little piece of solar scaremongering, we now know that "The sun is unusually quiet right now and has been for some time but there should be an increase in solar activity at some point in the near future."

The best bit, though, is the leap of logic (in the 'leap buildings in a single bound' sense) from the knowledge of a 'solar maximum' to this: "The best current scientific estimate for the next solar maximum is 2012. If this estimate is correct, there is still a few years to try and prevent the potential of a future global disaster. A disaster that would begin on the surface of the sun and could end with tragedy on earth.

However, we prefer to turn to NASA, who have said that although sunspot counts should pick up again soon, the solar maximum in 2012 or 2013 should be of "below-average intensity".

Thursday, 30 July 2009

The REAL moment the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly erupted into war

Declassified documents, revealed at a conference on the Cuban Missile Crisis in Havana, show that events edged closer to global nuclear war than previously thought.

The most dangerous day of all was apparently October 27, 1962 - when a US Navy destroyer dropping depth charges off the Cuban coast almost accidentally hit the hull of a Soviet submarine carrying a nuclear warhead.

The U.S. military "did not have a clue that the submarine had a nuclear weapon on board," said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archives.

The nonprofit archive at George Washington University collected many of the documents for study during the three-day conference back in 2002.

The depth charges "exploded right next to the hull," Vadim Orlov, the submarine's signals intelligence officer, said in a written account of the incident. "It felt like you were sitting in a metal barrel, which somebody is constantly blasting with a sledgehammer."

At first, submarine crew members considered using the nuclear weapon, thinking war had erupted. But they ultimately surfaced, showing themselves to their American pursuers and defusing the tension.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

What do you need to cripple the United States of America?

Well, the New England bit of anyway ...

Well, according to Republican House of Representative member for Maryland Roscoe Barlett (great name, fella), you need a boat, $100,000 to buy a scud-missile launcher, and a crude nuclear weapon. Then you fire it into the sky and set it off.

The electro-magnetic pulse from such a weapon "might not paralyze the entire United States, Roscoe concedes, "But you could shut down all of New England. And if you missed by 100 miles, it’s as good as a bulls eye"."

Hardly a doomsday weapon by any stretch of the imagination, though surely if any rogue state or terrorist organisation actually HAD such a system they'd go for the wide-spread and altogether more attention-grabbing loss of life by firing it AT a major city, rather than wasting it inconveniencing a few New Englanders who find their TVs don't work no more?

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Waiting for the End Times Part 2

This post could be sub-titled "Still Waiting" ...

Jehovah's Witnesses, those darlings of the failed prophecy community and adherents to the idea that Judgement Day could be "any day now", continue to ... well, watch.

So do enjoy this charmingly sedate report about a Philadelphia district convention.

"Sister Odell Davis of Philadelphia, who said she had been waiting for Judgment Day since 1963, ... is "not at all disappointed" that it has not yet come."

Monday, 27 July 2009

Waiting for the End Times Part 1

End Time Watching is big business - just ask those preachers through the ages who have only been too happy to bandy the apocalypse about. There's nothing more likely to get the faithful handing over their precious cash like the thought that it might buy them a one-way ticket to Paradise.

But make no mistake about it, it's as popular now as it was when all you needed was the birth of a two-headed cat and a pulpit to stand in. At least now cynicism can make a rough stab at standing up to blind faith, and the vast majority of reasonable, logical people needing only to cite that last failed prediction to take the wind from the sails of your average Armageddon seller.

Yet even the boom in recent years of scientific scaremongering (which we've reported on here, there and everywhere), whether by scientists themselves or a headline-chasing media, has not meant the fervent have gone away. No, if anything they're even MORE convinced that the end is nigh - bending reality still further to support their claims.

But why do they continue to get away with it? Why do people still believe them? Why do they not listen to sensible, thought-out demolitions of these absurd ideas?

It's refreshing to see a deconstruction of the mechanics of modern religious doomsaying, even though it does strain its metaphors somewhat ...

"Academic dishonesty seems to be the norm when passages don’t coincide with what the prognosticator has already concluded about a topic. Doctrinal concepts, conveyed in actual verbiage, considered malignant to the purveyors’ point of view, are given a sort of theistic chemotherapy, while others are transplanted to help prop up preconceived opinions. The outcome of these tactics is that we find ourselves in an intellectual gymnastics match, with those holding to the sensational being the Romanian all-stars and those who adhere to more realistic views being a team of overweight Slovakians with uni-brows. The irony here is that the latter, despite appearing to be tremendously outmatched, eventually emerges victorious. Why? Because truth always trumps error, no matter how nicely adorned or well groomed that error might be."

Friday, 24 July 2009

Games console nearly sparks Armageddon!

Occasions when electronic video games consoles are appropriate: while relaxing at home, a distraction on long journeys, entertainment while on holiday ...

Occasions when they are NOT appropriate: GUARDING A HIGH SECURITY NUCLEAR WEAPONS PLANT!

Three guards have been suspended for bringing video game devices, including one with transmitting capability, into the heart of a the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Spokeswoman Courtney Henry confirmed that the three security police officers were suspended without pay for an incident three weeks ago at the plant after they brought electronic game devices into the plant's "protected area" where warhead parts are made, dismantled and recycled.

Not even mobile phones are allowed in there, yet one of the players was a portable Sony PSP with "transmission capability".

The plant has since issued new rules requiring that guards personal bags be checked before they are taken into the area.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Will the Antichrist be a homosexual ... ?

... clearly not our words, but most definitely those of Ron Hamman, pastor of the Independent Baptist Church of Wasilla. You may remember Wasilla as the hometown of former vice-presidential candidate and now outgoing governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

Marvel in the theological vitriol of Rev Hamman as he posits the idea that as homosexuality is "the greatest of sins" it follows that the Antichrist would be he who sins the most. Ergo, the Antichrist would/will be gay:

"While the word “homosexual” is not in the Bible, the behavior of those who practice homosexuality, and God’s estimation of them, very definitely is. When the word came into existence I cannot tell you, but what we can say for sure is that when Noah Webster published his first dictionary in 1828, it was not included. This means that homosexuality is a modern word invented to replace the word Noah Webster did include, sodomy, defined as a crime against nature"

Would it be too churlish to point out that the word 'Antichrist' isn't in the Bible either ... ?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Don't panic! ... (but has swine flu started to mutate?)

The Telegraph, always keen to ask the questions that other feel are moderately irresponsible, is asking whether the ol' piggy sniffles* virus is starting to mutate and become more virulent.

Littered with phrases like "very difficult to be sure", it succeeds only in proving how little we actually know - so speculating really helps no-one.

As our next issue is due to explore, if anything the focus on "AM I GOING TO DIE?!?!?" hides a more important point with a cloak of panic - doesn't the swift and unstoppable nature of swine flu prove that even with all the world's preparation and vigilence we would still be utterly helpless in the face of a more deadly virus?

* we'll get tired of calling it that eventually ... honest!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

"Mayan" crop circle warning sign of End Times

A 350ft crop circle of an ancient Mayan symbol, "said to be a sign of an impending apocalypse", has appeared next to Silbury Hill in Wiltshire.

According to the Telegraph, "members of the crop circle community believe the mystic symbol is a signal of the end of the 5,126-year Mayan 'Long Count' calendar on December 21, 2012".

Karen Alexander, a crop circle enthusiast, said: "This is one of the most interesting crop circles I have ever seen. It is definitely a Mayan symbol and we are sure it is linked to the Mayan calendar, which ends in 2012.
"It appears to be a warning about the world coming to an end when the calendar does. For the ancient Maya, reaching the end of a cycle was a momentous event, so we are taking this crop circle very seriously as an indicator of a possibly huge event in 2012."

1) the Mayan calendar doesn't "end" in 2012
2) the Mayans didn't "predict" the end of the world
3) buy The End is Nigh #3 if you want the full rundown of why
4) as "warnings" go, it's pretty poor
5) and since when were a Mayan headdresses and a Phoenix now signs of the end of the world?
6) a little research appears to show that Karen, who "has been researching crop circles for over 15 years", has been the 'go to' for a lot of lazy, lazy journalists ... still, she *does* have a book out ...

Monday, 20 July 2009

'Armageddon' alarm bell rings over Pakistan

All is not well in Pakistan.

The north western region of Buner is only 65 miles from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, yet it has become a stronghold of the Taliban after locals allowed them operate with impunity in exchange for the local implimentation of Sharia Law.

This underlines the growing concern that the Taliban are a significant threat to the Pakistani state - something echoed by former CIA Middle East expert Bruce Riedel - who is now warning about "Armageddon in Islamabad".

In February, President Barack Obama appointed him chair of an inter-agency overhaul of US policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. His latest assessment says, "A jihadist victory in Pakistan ... would create the greatest threat the United States has yet to face in its war on terror ... [and] is now a real possibility in the foreseeable future." It would bolster al Qaeda's capabilities tenfold, Mr. Riedel concludes.

It would also give terrorists a nuclear capability.

"A jihadist, nuclear-armed Pakistan," says Riedel, "is a scenario we need to avoid at all costs."

Back in May, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif claimed Pakistan’s nuclear command and control system was "safe and more secure than that of any other country in the world", yet the Taliban insurgency in the north of the country has only heightened the fear of the US and its allies that, unless stopped, the militants could conceiveably gain access to nuclear weapons. Assurances that their missiles could be scuttled in the event of a Taliban victory have done nothing to allay fears, as even basic nuclear material could be engineered into so-called 'dirty bombs' that require no delivery system more complex than a van.

It has long been assumed by Pakistan and others that the main threat to its security was the long-standing emnity with its regional rival, India, and its first nuclear test 11 years ago sparked fears of a serious local nuclear arms race between the rwo - the flashpoint assumed to be the disputed region of Kashmir. Pakistan now has between 35 and 120 warheads, all within the 25-36 kiloton range, and they also possess the means to deliver them - their Shaheen-II missiles have a range of 3,500km.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Panic as Penultimate Pope 'rushed to hospital'

We at Doom Towers don't believe in the end of the world. You might think that's odd for a bunch of people who produce a magazine about the end of the world but from the general tone of this blog it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise.

Yet even we, with all our sneering and cynicism, felt our hearts jump into our throats when we saw the 'Pope rushed to hospital' headlines pop up a few hours ago. Y'see, we've been watching Pope Benedict for a while now and, well, we've been praying that he avoids a ... somewhat untimely fate.

For according to the so-called Prophecy of St Malachi, Joseph Ratzinger is due for a very short stint in the top job. As reported in The End is Nigh #3, Malachi supposedly penned a list of all the popes "up till the Second Coming". When Ratzinger was elected in 2005 he became, according to that list, the 'penultimate pope' - the last before the final pope, who would either be the Antichrist or the one ushered him in.

There is plenty of evidence that the list was made up long after Malachi died (not the least of it being that it's remarkably cryptic and requires quite a stretch of the imagination to 'fit' each pope to their description), but if you're a believer then you'd know that Ratzinger would supposedly reign only for a short time before dying.

And, since he's only been in post since '05, we ... well ... we were worried for a moment there.

Luckily, we stopped panicking when we saw this - turns out he just had a bit of a spill.


Ring a ring o' particles ...

The Large Hadron Collider, the massive science experiment which broke down last year within days of being switched on, is to start up again in September - a year after it was first activiated.

Amidst the hoo-ha that in the race to discover the so-called 'God Particle' it would create a black hole and bring about the end of the world, the activation of the machine produced not even the slightesy hint of anything apocalyptic. And then it broke.

The machine is currently being readied for its restart and the first beams of particles will be fired around its 17-mile ring in September with the first collisions will follow about a month later.

The LHC, based at the Swiss headquarters of the European nuclear research organisation Cern, was switched on in September last year amid a fanfare of publicity. But just 10 days later an electrical fault led to a catastrophic leak of helium used to cool the machine's powerful magnets, causing a complete shut-down.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Iranian nuclear chief 'resigns'

The BBC is reporting that the head of Iran's nuclear programme has resigned.

No immediate reason for the resignation has yet been revealed, but back in April during one of the inumerable stand-offs between the US and Iran over the latter's nuclear programme, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh said Iran had increased the number of centrifuges - required to enrich (and, the US claims, weaponise) nuclear material - it is running from 6,000 to 7,000 in February.

This little piggy went to hospital ...

The excellent BBC interactive map showing the spread of H1N1 'swine' flu gives a real sense of how patterns of travel and migration have spread the disease to specific countries.
At the same time, the UN's top health official, World Health Organization head Margaret Chan, has said that the spread of the virus worldwide is now unstoppable.
"As we see today, with well over 100 countries reporting cases, once a fully fit pandemic virus emerges, its further international spread is unstoppable," Dr Chan said in her opening remarks.

The virus has entered more than 100 countries, infected more than 70,000 people and killed more than 300 worldwide. While Mexico has seen swine flu cases decrease, the peak of the flu season is approaching in South America - Paraguay has reported its first fatality, while in Central America El Salvador has also recorded its first swine flu death.

A notice and some good news

I guess it wouldn't be THE END IS NIGH without the unexplained and prolonged silences, followed by intense bursts of blogging, followed by more inexplicable breaks ...

But we're back! It's been a bit of a busy few weeks, apocalypse watchers - what with the piggy sniffles cutting a swath through the tabloid press and further dire warnings of impending climate disaster.

So I hope you'll be pleased to hear that, after a FOUR YEAR hiatus, the next issue of THE END IS NIGH is due to be published in October.

More details, and hopefully more regular blogging, here soon ...