— FEATURED —
— FOLLOW US —
— POLICIES —
Except where indicated, Boing Boing is licensed under a Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution
— FONTS —
It's Christmastime, and if there's anything that can unite a nation, even one that doesn't universally love the holidays, it's a collection of wonderfully weird vintage Christmas videos. And even if you don't like the holidays, you'll probably still enjoy these strange (but fun) attempts at whimsy and festivity.
The video is freakish not for the video itself, but for how freakishly progressive it was when it was made -- in 1913!
Read the rest
It’s the end of the world. Again.
If 3,000 years of history tell us anything, it’s that December 21st, 2012 – a date associated by some with the Mayan apocalypse – will feel a lot like any other day of the year.
Human beings have never been very good at predicting the end of the world. Though one would never know given our current surge of enthusiasm for apocalyptic scenarios. Even firearms manufacturers today are marketing real-life (and deadly) weapons as “zombie apocalypse” guns. (We all know that zombies aren’t real. Right? Right?). And just consider the last dozen years: Public interest has lurched from Y2K to 2012 to solar flares. It’s easy to make light of these attachments. But recent events reveal a contradictory and troubling attitude at the back of our fascination with The End. TV viewership, radio banter, and online surfing reveal a perverse sense of wonder toward Armageddon. Yet at the same time, we as a society evince a peculiar denial toward predictable and increasingly frequent weather emergencies, such as Hurricane Sandy, which crippled power and left thousands homeless in parts of the northeast.
Why do we often balance between this odd fascination with fictitious apocalysm and a state of unpreparedness toward authentic urgencies? Read the rest
Read the rest
What could possibly make a 1960s-era nuclear war worse than you'd already assumed it would be? How about being packed like sardines into a fallout shelter with 13 of your soon-to-be-closest friends?
Frank Munger is a senior reporter with the Knoxville News Sentinel, where he covers Oak Ridge National Laboratory—a nearby energy research facility that previously did a lot of civil defense research. Munger turned up this, and several other photos, of mockup nuclear shelter arrangements tested out in the basement at ORNL when the facility was trying to establish best practice scenarios for surviving the Apocalypse.
They look ... less than pleasant.
That said, though, they may not have been meant as long-term arrangements. Munger linked to an Atlantic article that makes an interesting case related to these photos: If what you're talking about is one relatively small nuclear bomb (as opposed to massive, hydrogen bomb, mutually assured destruction scenarios), the idea of "Duck and Cover" isn't as ridiculous as it sounds. If you could get these 14 people out of the way of the fallout for a couple weeks, their chances of survival would rise exponentially. Fallout shelters were not meant to be "the place you and your people live for the next 50 years."
The radiation from fallout can be severe -- the bigger the bomb, and the closer it is the the ground, the worse the fallout, generally -- but it decays according to a straightforward rule, called the 7/10 rule: Seven hours after the explosion, the radiation is 1/10 the original level; seven times that interval (49 hours, or two days) it is 1/10 of that, or 1/100 the original, and seven times that interval (roughly two weeks) it is 1/1000 the original intensity.
John Herman sez, "I am producing 'An Evening of Apocalyptic Theatre' in Portsmouth, NH. Nine plays, nine visions of the end -- including new works by Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author James Patrick Kelly and best selling author of The Great Typo Hunt, Jeff Deck. A couple argues in a bomb shelter over a dog puzzle. A man gets an unexpected visit from Intergalactic Salvage. CERN scientists experience the romance of multi-verses. PLUS: Not only is the money raised going to three local charities, but I will also shave my head halfway through the show’s run to raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a group that funds childhood cancer research grants"
An Evening of Apocalyptic Theatre (Thanks, John!)
It's August of 2011, do you know when your Apocalypse is?
There are 1000s of people who think that something important—if not the end or the world, then something—will happen on December 21, 2012. These speculations spring from a well-seasoned cultural melting pot, but a key ingredient is the writings and beliefs of both ancient and modern Maya people. In fact, the folks promoting the 2012 movement often frame themselves as experts in Maya traditions.
Here's the thing, though: There are actual experts in ancient Maya traditions, and actual experts who study the culture and religion of modern Maya living today. These archaeologists and anthropologists have, inadvertently, created some of the pop culture legends that spawned the 2012 movement. But, until very recently, they've largely ignored that movement. This is starting to change, however. Last January, archaeo-astronomers held a symposium on the 2012 phenomenon and those papers were recently published in The Proceedings of the International Astronomy Union. Meanwhile, a new scholarly book, collecting essays on the 2012 phenomenon by Mayanist researchers, is set to be published soon.
One of the researchers featured in that book is John Hoopes, an archaeologist and one of my former professors when I was an anthropology student at The University of Kansas.
Hoopes does field research, digging at archaeological sites in Costa Rica and other parts of Central and South America. But, as a side project, he's also developed some expertise in the way archaeology—and, particularly, pseudo-archaeology—influences pop culture in the United States and Europe. I spoke with him about where 2012 myths come from, why scientists need to study and address pseudo-science movements, and why he thinks the 2012 phenomenon owes as much to H.P. Lovecraft and Aldous Huxley as it does to the ancient Maya.