Where Do They Pin The Nametags?

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Thousands of people are descending on a little town in France named Bugarach (I have no idea about the pronunciation). It seems that—once again—the world is about to end and this town is THE place to be to see it happen.

The more I look at it, it’s probably pronounced “France”, just like it looks.

Anyway, you have probably heard that the world is going to end on December 21 of this year. Well, according to some people—these people, anyway—it’s not so much going to end as be transformed. Starting December 22 (or possibly, just after the evening news on the 21st) a whole new era a peace will be ushered in. There will be no more anger or animosity or war, which means reality TV is going to become more boring than we can possibly imagine and James Harrison will disappear from the NFL as if he never existed.

The reason people are flocking to Bugarach is that it has a weird mountain outside of town called “Pic de Bugarach” (which is probably French for “Photograph this Mountain!”) which geologists say is really interesting and New Age hippie-types say is actually the shelter for a giant alien spaceship which is parked inside. On December 21, the aliens will emerge and in some way protect everyone who is nearby from the coming apocalypse.

What the aliens are doing in the mountain right now, no one knows. Considering the mountain hasn’t changed in recorded memory they must have parked there a long time ago. Maybe they’re in some sort of suspended animation, or maybe their spaceships are powered by Dell computers and they’ve been on hold with tech support for all this time. At any rate, just before Christmas they’re going to burst through—a fact the people flocking to the mountain don’t seem to have taken fully into account. Wouldn’t it be dangerous to be on or near the mountain when the spaceship pops through like a zit?

Anticipating all this, a mountain which normally only attracts a couple hundred climbers a year is looking to host as many as a hundred thousand people this year. Some of whom have set up tents as long as two years in advance (how do they pay for this?!?!) and many of whom feel obligated to climb the mountain naked. According to one news story, many of them like to climb the mountain in the nude, in pairs, holding a string between them to which is tied a golden metallic ball.

Yeah, I know: same-ol’-same-ol’, huh?

There’s also a story that the French military has been put on alert in the event that there is a mass suicide in conjunction with the coming of the Big Day. Sarcastic aspersions about the French military aside, what exactly are they going to do to stop such an event if it starts to come about? “Put down zee poi-zun or I weel shoots vous!” OK, so my French sounds a lot like Lisa Douglas on “Green Acres”, to what level of violence do you rise when trying to stop someone from killing themselves, especially if it’s a whole lot of people? One person might be stopped, but a whole commune’s worth? It doesn’t seem like this can work out well no matter what.

And finally, what is our fascination with the end of the world? Christians tend to take Jesus at his word that the end date cannot be known. Most other religions don’t have such a proclamation, but they’ve been around long enough to be skeptical of anyone who says they know when the end will be because they’ve seen failed predictions before.

So why does anyone believe the next doomsday prophet? Fatalism? A desire for something better? Or maybe there really are aliens and they’re the ones who have conspired to make sure there’s never anything good on TV anymore so why not let the world come to an end?