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Monday, 2 January 2012

Taking a sneak-peek... A Preview of 2012...

My friend Ron Vazzano who lives in NYC has collected the following information. I've copied from his Muse-letter.  

1) December 21, 2012

This is the date the world will end. What again?

Wasn't that supposed to have happened this past May 21st? Oh but that was an "end times" prediction, driven from an extremist Christian perspective. This one comes from a smorgasbord of beliefs. A little New Age here, a little pseudo-science there and the Mayan calendar everywhere.

The "scientific" belief is particularly intriguing as it mirrors the plot of the current movieMelancholia wherein—spoiler alert—another planet is supposed to come crashing into Earth. And in so doing, wiping out all those nest eggs we were building for a future never to come. Damn. Don't you hate when that happens? And yes of course there was the apocalyptic movie released in 2009, entitled 2012. We didn't see it. Not our cup of tedium.

In lieu of the planet Melancholia…meet Planet X or its "nom de guere," Nibiru (which is also the name for a computer game released in 2005, and sounds far sexier than the ubiquitous "X.")

According to NASA, this is not going to happen. Phew! Though come to think of it, hasn't NASA been off base a few times before?

Which brings us to the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, or the "Mayan Calendar" for short. What is interesting about this approach to marking the passage of time, is that it is a non-repeating calendar. (Meaning we suppose, that you need to buy birthday gifts only once?)

It started, at least as calculated by our Gregorian Calendar, on August 11, 3114 BCE, and will end December 21, 2012 AD.

What we find especially puzzling, is why the Mayan Calendar holds so much sway in the matter? At least to a rather sizable fringe? What is so special about it, compared to say the Gregorian, Hebrew, Buddist, Hindu, Coptic, or any of the other 22 calendars we found listed on line?

We never hear about the Mayans otherwise. Nor does anyone seem to pay them much heed on a daily basis. Then all of a sudden, their calendar signals that the end of the world is upon us, and it spawns a whole cottage industry of apocalyptic fear. And that fear, then trumps all other calendars that make no such catastrophic claims.

We're going to go out on a limb here and predict it won't happen. So yes, do not put off your Christmas shopping until December 22nd when the malls will be packed, and make you wish it really was the end of the world.

2) The Olympic Games

They will be held in London. Which is noteworthy, in that it will mark the first time in the history of the modern games (dating back to 1896), that a city will have been the host three times. It will also be noteworthy, because it will have the ugliest Olympic logo of all time. At least that is our opinion. And we have now come to learn, one that has been shared in many quarters. Apparently, there was a great deal of controversy when this "thing" was first unveiled almost five years ago.

Those large zig-zaggy shapes, are suppose to read "2012." To us this contraption looks like something with a bad back trying to walk. And dressed in bad colors no less. But as the stated goal is aimed at reaching young people, they will no doubt get it immediately and think it cool. (Sidebar: Why are marketers always trying to reach young people, when it is "old" people who have the money to spend?)

And then there is this even more horrific version, for the Paralympics. These are the games in which the world's disabled athletes compete. It is the first time that these two events will have similar logos. We suggest that the Paralympics committee reject any tie ins of this sort in the future.

And…these logos cost £400,000 according to a report by the BBC!

For the record, reflecting more provincial times and in a more black and white world, here is the logo for the games last played in London.

You make the call.

In any case, let the games begin! As we hold our breath to see who takes home the gold for synchronized swimming.

3) The Titanic and the Movies

April 14, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The last survivor of that disaster, Millvina Dean, died at age 97 on May 31, 2009. It might have been particularly poignant if she had lived but three more years. Although, given this "age of hype," she might have been carted around like a museum piece. Rest in peace Ms. Dean.

It is unclear as to how this event will be marked, other than for certain, there will be a re-release of the 1997 James Cameron film. In 3D! Disaster! This time in your face!

This should send hordes of throngs back into the theaters, to add to the astonishing $1.8 billion gross it amassed worldwide the first time around.

Other movies due for release this year that caught our attention, mostly for their audaciousness, and again in no particular order…

The Great Gatsby — A remake starring a much more grown up version of DiCaprio, than the lad we see in the poster above.
Two Lincoln films — Lincoln by Disney starring Daniel-Day Lewis and Sally Field and… Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Swear! A word for word synopsis from the net, in fine print follows:

Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, secretly battles with the undead as an ax-throwing, highly trained vampire assassin. Vampires are presented as the real conflict behind the Civil War.
Butter — A premise even more outrageous than Lincoln battling vampires: 

A young orphan discovers her uncanny talent for butter sculpture in an Iowa town where her adoptive family lives. The talent pits her against the ambitious wife of the reigning champion, in the annual butter sculpture competition.

Bullet To The Head — Another subtle and nuanced film written by, and starring, Sylvester Stallone. Yo! No synopsis necessary.

Ouija — Yes, based on the board game.

The Three Stooges — another Farelly brothers offering, for the Dumb and Dumberset. In watching the trailer, we note that nuns are once again being spoofed. How irreverent! Like that hasn't been done ad nauseum in movies and pop culture in general, over these past fifty years.

Though Larry David is in it, he does not appear in the trailer. One might wonder what he brings to this slap-schtick, if one were inclined to wonder about Larry David at all. We will curb our enthusiasm for this one, so to speak.

Les Miserables — Regarding the play: it opened in London in 1985…it is the longest-running musical in the world… the second-longest in the West End...third-longest running show in Broadway history. (Wikipedia). And in celebration of its 25th year in 2010, it was sent on a worldwide tour.

This then is a movie for the twelve people who didn't see the play. Or for those curious to see if a star-studded cast, including Russell Crowe, can sing?

Mirror, Mirror — No! No! And with Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen? No! No!

The Big Wedding — A heavyweight cast— DeNiro, Keaton, Sarandon, Williams—trying to pull off a lightweight premise: "A long-divorced couple fakes being married as their family unites for a wedding."

Because divorce of course, is such an aberration in that only 50% of marriages end up that way. (79% for cops, we were told recently by a divorced cop.)

4) The 100-Watt Bulb Goes Dark?

On October 1, congress will enforce the new standards requiring that light bulbs use at least 25% less energy. (This in delay as to what was supposed to happen on January 1st). In effect, what is happening, is that traditional incandescent light bulbs—which essentially use the same technology as Thomas Edison's original one—will begin to be phased out. Alas Horatio, I knew him well.

They will be superseded by those squiggly compact florescent lights (CFL's), which are highly energy efficient and now account for 25% of sales. Edison's bulb, while still dominant at 60% share of market, is said to waste energy "generating more heat than light." (Always thought that was just a cliche…a figure of speech).

The 100-Watt bulb, being particularly wasteful, will be targeted for extinction first. Which, according to a recent article in the Business section of The New York Times, is beginning to result in a hoarding and a run on these bulbs.

Imagine this scenario one day, dealing with light bulbs in some dark alley: "Pssst! Hey, you wanna score some 100-Watters? I got frosty or clear."

5) Numbers That Numb

IBM will complete a super computer some time this year, for the National Nuclear Security Administration. They will name it Sequoia and it will reach a peak performance of 20 Petaflops. Wow! Er…what's a Petaflop?

A "flop," in this context, is a floating-point operations per second which is measure of a computer's performance (Wikipedia). A Petaflop then, is the ability of a computer to do one quadrillion floating-point operations per second.

Some numbers transcend a brain's ability to wrap its lobes around them. One quadrillion? In onesecond? We can't help but wonder how many "flops" would there be in a nano second, which isone billionth of a second.

1 comment:

  1. You are completely right about the human brain's ability to understand or comprehend numbers.

    There is a rule of thumb saying that we can easily distinguish three of a kind - apples, sheep or whatever. Four is three with one on the side, and five is three with one on both sides :)

    So anything beyond five has to be translated into something we can see or touch or understand.

    Astronomy has long since worked on that. It was so hard for mankind to think that there could be star-galaxies outside our Milkyway - It was only in th 1920'ies that Edwin Hubble who brought that perspective into Astronomy.