Pat Keenor: The end of the world 2012
I HAVEN'T bought a single Christmas present, card, plum pudding, box of dates or novelty pair of underpants featuring Rudolph with a flashing nose.
There's really no need for any of us to put ourselves out for Christmas because we've already had our last one. Ever.
I know this for a fact because I am a keen surfer of the internet and there are hundreds of websites predicting the imminent end of the world.
The story started with claims that Nibiru (or Planet X), a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is hurtling toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the date was moved to December 2012 and linked to the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21.
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So that's good enough for me and the thousands of internet loonies who think December 22 is never going to arrive. Did I say "loonies"? I mean sensible citizens whose critical sensibilities remain intact.
I know that only last year Californian preacher Harold Camping convinced thousands of people that The Rapture was nigh (the Rapture being an American term for the end of the world and the second coming of Christ). He stated categorically that the world for all except a chosen few was going to end on May 21, 2011.
He was wrong, obviously, or you wouldn't be reading this.
He was good enough to apologise for his mistake, though, which I'm sure was a huge consolation for the hundreds of people who quit their jobs in readiness for The Rapture or spent their life savings to spread the message around the world.
Then there was another American, Edgar C Whisenant, who wrote a book called 88 Reasons Why The Rapture is in 1988. When the date arrived and nothing happened, Whisenant adjusted his calculations for September 15. Then October 3. He was nothing if not persistent because he continued changing his predictions until his death in 2001, but by then even his keenest of disciples had stopped listening.
In 1994 there was The Bible Code, a strange book that saw secret messages in the Hebrew text of the Torah, as if God was incapable of straight-talking but had to hide his message in some impenetrable type of "word search". In a sequel, author Michael Drosnin predicted a world war would bring an atomic holocaust and "the end of days" on December 2, 2006.
Jean Dixon was another one. Undeterred by the fact she had predicted the start of the Third World War in 1958, a cure for cancer in 1967, the Russians being the first to put a man on the moon and America having a female president in the 1980s, she confidently asserted a comet would strike the Earth in the middle of the 1980s with subsequent earthquakes, tidal waves and the end of the world as we know it.
But I'm not worried that all these predictions turned out to be wrong – anyone can make a mistake.
I know NASA is so fed up with being asked about the current prediction that it has printed a rebuttal on its website – but what does the premier space agency in the world know?
What about that planet Nibiru? NASA says: "Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist."
NASA goes on to say: "The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012."
I hope they're wrong, otherwise am I going to look silly on Christmas Day when I get presents from all my family and I have nothing for them, not even a bath cube or pair of socks.
Sorry, family. I thought the end of the world was coming... and that's my story and I'm sticking to it.