“An extreme optimist is a man who believes that humanity will probably survive even if it doesn’t take his advice.” – John McCarthy

The Idler is feeling apocalyptic lately and it has nothing to do with the frozen pizza he had last night. It doesn’t have anything to do with “Inflategate” or even the Super Bowl either. Apocalyptic means doomsday, but not in the sense of the so-called “Doomsday Defense” which is what the Dallas Cowboys called their 60’s era squad. How many Super Bowls did they win anyway? And didn’t Notre Dame have the Four Horsemen? Football can be pretty apocalyptic.

As long as we’re talking about grim prospects, if you were relying on Tom Brady to be your alibi witness, you’re probably on the fast track to the electric chair. We don’t care what kind of hat he wears, that boy looks GUILTY. Belichick, on the other hand, looks like a guy who fell asleep in the getaway car and was awakened by the police. “What robbery? I just stopped to take a nap on the way to work.” But Brady looks like your dog when you find him surrounded by fragments of your new shoes with a lace stuck in his teeth.

H bomb

What has us contemplating the end is an article in Scientific American about the “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.” They’re the crowd that maintains the Doomsday Clock, and they recently moved the hands so that they read 11:57 The idea seems to be that when the clock strikes 12:00, it’s Adios, muchachos. We wonder why they decided to use a clock anyhow. A clock is a device that is supposed to keep running, assuming you either wind it or keep it plugged in. A clock that you regularly and arbitrarily change depending on how ominous things appear to you isn’t really a clock at all. On the other hand, these are atomic scientists, and given that they’ve turned it backwards a few times (all the way back to 11:43 after the START treaty was signed in 1991), maybe they know something about the space-time continuum that they’re keeping from the rest of us.

Meanwhile we’ve given it a lot of thought and, just to dumb it down for us non-atomic scientist types, the Idler hereby proposed that they lose the clock and change the whole deal to the “Doomsday Odometer.”

Think in terms of Thelma & Louise racing toward that cliff only in our ‘64 Mercury Comet. There’s a doomsday metaphor for you. The reason we picked the Comet is because we happen to know that the odometer has been turned back a few times so it can’t be that hard to do, especially if you know this mechanic named Vince who used to work for . . ., well, it’s a long story. So if, say, the Norks announce that they now have the capacity to land an ICBM on Biden’s left bicuspid, you can roll the Mercury Comet of Doom right up to the cliff’s edge. Then when satellite images show they’re launching them with giant rubber bands, you can roll it back a quarter mile or so. The Iranians announce a fleet of mobile tactical nukes? Forward. They’re strapped to camels? Backward. See how easy that is?

The other thing that has us wondering is that it turns out one of the reasons the scientists are alarmed is because, and we quote, “ . . Earth could be 5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 8 degrees Celsius) warmer by the end of century.” (Scientific American, January 24, 2015) End of the century? They have us three minutes from annihilation because of something that might happen eighty-five years from now? We might have to back that crate up all the way to Wilmerding.

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