Scientists agree that give or take a few billion, the Universe is about 14 billion years old, counting from the Big Bang. I have been told many times that on Friday, December 21, 2012, our world is going to come to an end based on the prophecies of the Mayan calendar.
Although this would be about the fifth end of the world that I will be surviving if this particular prophecy also turns out to be incorrect, I thought that I would be remiss not to publish one more post before it’s all over for me, just in case it is for real this time.
So here it is.
Fortunately, I was able to finish and deliver a long patent translation yesterday, and although I will not get paid for it if I cease to exist along with the rest of the world, I know that because I finished that job on time, somewhere in this world there is a patent lawyer trying to figure out how to write a new patent application for his client without infringing upon existing technology described in the Japanese patent that I translated. I hope he will have enough time to send the bill to his client.
I would hate it if the world were to be swallowed by oblivion before I had a chance to complete my last translation. This way I can say that I never missed a deadline in my life and it will still be true even if the physical world no longer exists.
Both of our kids will be here with us. One of them flew in from San Francisco yesterday – he said with a smirk on his face that he had to come to see us one more time because of the end of the world – and the other one will be driving here tomorrow from Charlottesville.
So that’s good too. I saw several pretty sad movies about the end of the world, and it seems to me that the people in these movies were mostly depressed because they realized that they were so damn lonely while the world was still there, full of vibrant colors, indefinable scents and smells, crying and laughing children, noisy birds, affectionate dogs, weird and funny and interesting people, and they could have taken advantage of everything that the world was offering – and now it was about to end, and they were still lonely.
I remember that in one of the movies one really lonely and kind of pathetic guy was trying to have sex with as many women as possible before the asteroid hits the Earth. One could say that he was looking for the plaisir d’amour without the chagrin d’amour, which is something that can probably exist only when the world is about to end. The Greeks called people like that hedonists, and the Japanese word for this is 快楽主義者 (kairakushugisha), I think.
Well, that actually sounds like a really good idea to kill time before the end of the world. But at least I can say that I never missed a deadline. And I get to see my kids one more time before my time runs out.
Another good thing is that I already paid all my translators …. oh, except for one. But her invoice is not due until mid January of next year. Should I mail the check to her before the end of the world? I think I will pay her only if she and I are still alive next year. Even if I mailed the check now, there is not enough time for her to receive it. So what would be the point?
Everything bad is also good for something. For example, if everybody dies on Friday, nobody will owe any taxes any more for the current year, and spam will disappear too. I can’t think of anything else than the end of the world that would make spam disappear.
If the Mayan prophecy is applicable only to humans, it is also possible that only humans will be mercilessly eradicated from this planet, and if everything else remains as is, inhabitants of other planets would probably at some point be studying our culture.
If they come across nonsensical advertising messages that worked so well in TV commercials, such as “We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For!”, once the space alien translators of that other civilization from another planet crack the code of English and other human languages, they are in for a treat when they start deciphering all those stupid commercials. In the end they will probably put together a short chapter, no longer than about a couple of pages, describing life as it used to exist on planet Earth in their history books about extinct civilizations on other planets.
I’d love to know under what name that particular extinct civilization would be listed in their history books in the language of the space aliens once the word “human” loses its current meaning and it will remain only as a foreign word describing a long-extinct civilization on a faraway planet.