Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Doomsday Clock

Today is the day we lose a couple of minutes that we really might want to get back. These are the kind of minutes that matter more than most. No, it's not leap year, and no, this isn't a leap forward of any sort. In every way, it is a step backward. It's getting toward that time again when you'll need to scramble under your school desks or duck for other suitable cover and kiss your asses goodbye.

As Shakespeare famously said in Hamlet, most of our tomorrows creep by at a petty pace, to the last syllable of recorded time. Well, turns out there is a clock that's keeping track of when a heckuva lot of recorded time might end.

And when THAT last little millisecond strikes, for many of us, our time is, as they say, up.

In 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists associated with the University of Chicago, started a symbolic clock to mark their collective perception of the planet's proximity to nuclear war. They played on the ominous phrase "minutes to midnight" and set the clock with just seven minutes to go to the witching hour. Now and then over the years, the bureau has chosen to reset the clock, backward and forwards. The closest it's been was a mere two minutes in 1953 and three minutes in 1984. And what's a relatively "safe" setting since '47? Try a not so impressive 12 minutes in 1963 and 1972 and a real breather at 17 minutes out in 1991. Still, that's 11:43, and most people are asleep by then.

You can read the Wikipedia entry about the Doomsday Clock here.

Since 2002, the clock has been holding at 7 minutes to midnight. But today, the clock is being reset to show another two minutes have been lost. So as of today, we're hanging in at 11:55, five minutes to midnight. The increasing instability in the Middle East, the recent taunts and war drums from North Korea, and the aggressive preemptive threats and strikes of the Bush administration's "war on terror" are the reasons we're losing a minute. And with six to go, maybe it's time we worked to move the clock back a few minutes or an hour.

While you've still got a keister to kiss, please take a bit of time to speak out for disarmament and peace. Otherwise, we'll all be kissing something much more sinister. We won't wake up in time, or we just won't wake up.

Achtung! Atencion! Pozornost! Hey!

Lechiem! Salud!


At 1/17/2007 5:24 PM, Anonymous Jon S. said...

Cute, ABN guy. You timed the post for 11:55 PM, and it's not even 8 PM where you are! Well, no matter el clocko de blogspoto (???), I see you beat Dan Shorr to the punch on this one --- his commentary this evening on ATC was about the clock -- yours is sassier to be sure you snark you.

Keep it up!

juan s.


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