544 – Hat Trick • 01


It must be accepted as fact that mankind’s demise rides on the wings of his own scientific hubris, and that one day own own creations will rise up against us to slaughter us all. We all know this to be true. What is less clear however is the form that destruction will take. To clear up the matter and bring the light of hope to humanity, I take it up with you, the reading audience of Heroes of Lesser Earth, to weigh in and save the world.

The Monday Question:

How will the world end for mankind?

Zombie Apocalypse. Everyone knows that the punishment for racism is death by zombie, and I think it’s safe to assume that homophobia is the same. When the outbreak occurs, look for it to start in states that have overturned gay marriage first. The big downside here is that once it gets going, even social liberals aren’t safe.

Robot Rebellion: The Chevy Volt gets 230 miles per gallon in the city, how can humankind hope to survive? As the world moves from fossil fuels to renewable electricity producing resources, we are actually saving the environment for our metal conquerers, and giving them the means to live without us once and for all. This is no different from the prescient Cassandras who shouted that artificial insemination would spell doom for the male gender, and we all know how that turned out.

Alien Invasion: Just as Star Trek predicted the cell phone, and Buck Rogers foresaw the laser, Hollywood has been telling us for decades that we are not safe from the very sky above our planet. Oh sure there may be a few hot blue or green skinned alien chick races like in Star Wars, Farscape, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Lost in Space, Dr. Who, Marvel and DC Comics, John Carter of Mars, Mass Effect, Futurama, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, (no wait, those were demons…) and Fifth Element, but mostly they’re all bloodthirsty psychopaths who want our water/women/flesh/brains/gold/whales/pizza and don’t care how many of us they have to kill to get it.

Health Care Reform: The Democrats want everyone to have health insurance, which clearly translates to Death Panels and wanting to euthanize anyone with a cold. Really, there is nothing so threatening to the well being of the world as wanting medical care for every American.

Book of Revelations: Whatever. There are real things to worry about on this list.

How do you think it’s going to go down?

70 Responses to 544 – Hat Trick • 01

  1. Going to be practical here (not that we shouldn’t be wary of things like a zombie apocalypse), you forgot “Total Ecological Collapse.” Studying in the field it seems very apparent that this could very well be a cause of the end of the world as we know it. Another one could be death by super bacteria, which we are certainly pressuring into existence with our liberal use of antibiotics and such. Apparently they’re finding bacteria in soap dispensers now. You know, the stuff you’re supposed to use to get rid of bacteria. There’s also some soil bacteria (these in particular are harmless, but nothing ruling out that it can’t occur in harmful cases) that actually eat antibiotics. I’m not so sure that this trend would lead to a “end of the world” scenario, but if the trend continues it will certainly be problematic. Fortunately there’s people looking into bacteriophage alternatives (basically fighting the constantly evolving/adapting bacteria with counter-evolving/adapting viruses).

    Jumping back into crazy land, there’s the 2012 global disasters idea. I don’t give that one much credit though.

    • Phage therapy looks to be one of our big “savior treatments” on the horizon. It’s been used for centuries, but our understanding of it is so much better now.

      I will laugh at every building developer who falls to ecological collapse.

    • I would rather see them work on (good) bacteria that attack (bad) bacteria. We (humans) aren’t nearly as good at fighting off viral infections and I would hate for a good virus to quickly turn into a bad (and untreatable) virus.

      That being said, I think that humans as a species are very adaptable. Short of complete destruction of the planet (which can be argued is what Revelations is about), I think humans will stick it out until the sun causes our planet to be inhospitable.

      Aliens likely exist, but I doubt they have anything that makes it feasible for them to send a massive army to take us out. Keep in mind that the nearest planets are VERY far away….aliens would likely be coming from further away. Short of warp drives and wormholes, sending an army to Earth from an inhabited planet would take quite a while…..and we would see them coming. One thing Earthlings have been good at is destruction, so we’d have time to prepare a very nice “welcome party”.

      Zombies? Too slow to take us out….they might make a dent in our numbers, but humans will survive.

      Robots? Can you honestly say that humans are smart enough to make sentient devices? Granted, with the current school system, we are getting closer and closer to Idiocracy, but our best game AI is still horrible.

      Health Care Reform…..ummmm this will only wipe out Americans. Get ready for the Canadian invasion. (Starts singing “Blame Canada!”)

      • *sigh* I think I have to clear some things up here for people, scientifically.

        Bacteriophages are a special group of viruses that target and kill ONLY bacterial cells. They’re adapted to bacteria ONLY. Period. As animal and plant cells differ massively from bacterial cells in almost every aspect, there’s no chance in frikkin hell bacteriophages will “mutate” like a bad horror B-movie and attack human cells. In fact, we all carry around billions of bacteria in our guts and on our skin at every give movent, so do we carry billions of bacteriophages. Bacteriophages are among the most common organisms on Earth. They’re in the soil, in water, anywhere where bacteria can be found. Some phages force the bacterium they infect to dissolve after replicating the virus, others simply insert their own genetic information into the bacterial genome. (Bacteria do not have chromosomes like humans, but a single, continuous, circular chromosome called a nucleotid.)

        Viruses were discovered and isolated in the late 19th century by various French, Russian, Dutch, German and American bacteriologists. In the early 20th century

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phage.png for the standard textbook picture of how a bacteriophage looks like. The phage attaches to a bacterial host cell and then forcefully injects a strand of its own DNA or RNA into the bacterium with a kind of plunger. The “body”, or casing, of the phage stays outside, as it is only a carrier for the genetic information.

        In fact #2, bacteriophages for breeding phage therapy stocks were traditionally harvested “from the wild” from sewage water. Preferably sewage outlets of hospitals where the latest strain of bacteria of bacterial disease of your choice could also be found. The water was put on bacterial subtrates, and phages were isolated from patches were the target bacteria were killed off, then grown in liquid suspension where they multiply. Phages could then be harvested and stored as a powder, which was applied topically to open wounds or swallowed as a pill. Russian surgeons used this powder liberally during surgery before they sewed the patient shut again, and it was dispersed in operation rooms and patient rooms, too, especially to prevent post-surgery staphylococcus infections. If you have no way to provide total antisepsis of the environment (like, because there’s a WAR going on) this is surely better than doing nothing, and in contrast to aggressive disinfectants it does not kill beneficial skin bacteria.

        Fact #3, bacteria and phages have been at an evolutionary arms race (co-evolution) for as long as they exist (about 4 billions years by modern estimates), and phages are very host-specific, meaning each species of phage targets only a certain type of bacteria.

        The claim that bacteria cannot evolve specific resistances to phages like they do to specific antibiotics (which are fungal poisons, btw) is partially true: If the prey bacterium mutates, the predator phage quickly adapts. In contrast, bacterial cells can transfer DNA “horizontally” between each other through cell-to-cell contact in a process called conjugation and thus transfer resistances to antibiotics rapidly.

        But Bacteria as single-celled organisms *do* have systems of antiviral self-defense against infection, either by trying to block the phage from injecting its genetic material into the cell, by degrading the foreign viral RNA or DNA, or by preventing the viral genetic material from replicating (DNA restriction). Integrated phage remnants can be found in the DNA of a variety of bacteria, a process called transduction, which has in some cases in the past turned a non-lethal human gut bacterium like Escherichia coli or a soil bacterium like Clostridium botulinum into a virulent and poisonous variant. Shit happens.

        Phage therapy has been used successfully and extensively by Russian and Georgian scientists in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since 1915 and as an alternative to antibiotics since the 1940s! (Georgian citizens didn’t even have to pay to be treated, or so I heard.) After the dissolution of the USSR, the only phage institute which had supplies all of the USSR ended up in Tiblisi, Georgia, where it’s threatened by lack of funding, lack of electricity and civil war.

        Unfortunately, although the existance of bacteriophages was known in the West, due to a combination of factors phage therapy was ignored in the rest of the world for 60 years, until recently when both a British veterinarian (who treats cows with phages) and an American millionaire stumbled across mentions of this “Russian phage therapy” thing.

        These factors where
        a) the rise of the “wonder weapon” antibiotics in medicine during WWII,
        b) the fact that all scientific papers written about phage therapy in the USSR were written in Russian and Georgian language (see below [1]), not to mention the specifics of the process were considered medical secrets,
        c) the Cold War meant that scientific information didn’t flow between East and West and many discoveries were made on both sides simultaneously and independently,
        d) what little info about phage therapy trickled into the West involved bad 1950s newspaper ads gushing about the wonders of this “miracle medicine”, with the ads claiming it could heal not only infections but everything from cancer to bad breath. You get the drift. Seeing this, Western scientists decided that this Russian invention must be pseudoscientific humbug. Killed by badly written reporting.

        I myself chose bacteriophages as the topic of my microbiology exams during my Vordiplom (roughly the German equivalent of a Bachelor degree, but as a biologist you were examined in several fields, including chemistry) during the early 1990s and I remember asking my professor why phages had never been developed as a medical therapy. He just shrugged and, looking a bit embarrassed, said he didn’t know.

        The problem is, while unlike antibiotics phage therapy has no known side-effects, it’s a time-consuming process to find the correct phage strains, isolate them, breed them and turn them into useful medicine, because you need the correct phage. (In contrast, with antibiotics people were simply given a broad-band antibiotic that killed off everything bacterial, like a hammer to the head. Effective for a time, until the rise of resistances.) That’s why phage institutes in the USSR maintained archives full of phages for all sorts of diseases and continuously searches for new strains. But the archives need to be maintained, the powders kept try, the liquid solutions containing phages need to be kept in coolers, which needs funding and infrastructure that doesnt crumble. A lot of documention from the 1940s is no longer considered sufficient by modern standards.

        Since the 1990s, interest in phage therapy has re-arised in the West and it gets a lot of news:
        * BBC Horizon (1997): The Virus that Cures – Documentary about the history of phage medicine in Russia and the West
        (look for it on Google video)

        * U.S. needs to open eyes to ‘phage therapy’

        Of course, with all the interest in phages, you bet someone wants to make money from it first, help ill people second. Pharma corporations such as Phage International have entered the field and bought up the knowledge of methodology and old phage archives. On the one hand this is good news as it means money for new research and hopefully phage therapy will be cleared for use on humans in Western nations soon. On the other hand, corporations will (hopefully) find it difficult to patent methodologies that have been known and used for decades. And we all know what happens next: Instead of getting inexpensive treatment for millions, Big Pharma is mostly interested in making a buck, not in curing people, because healthy people do not buy expensive medicine. Nor do poor people. Look what happened to Malaria research.

        [1] American scientists are infamous for rarely reading scientific papers from foreign countries even *if* they’re written in plain English, and as good as never reading any other foreign scientific papers published in their field of choice, apparently not even bothering to research if they exist. This has even been admitted on occasions. (There have been statistical papers written *about* this lack of willingness of many Angloamerican scientists to read anything published by “foreigners”, and how this hurts scientific advances and flow of global information.) It certainly explains why I, a German zoologist and ecologist, keep stumbling across articles in the popular science section of news magazines which invariably start something like “American scientists have just now made the fascinating discovery that [insert discovery here]!!” which makes me go, “Wait, how is that a new discovery? I learned about this at university. Heck, didn’t my [German equivalent of] High School biology teacher mention something like this?”

        • I <3 brainy Christina.

          What awesome information. Thank you!

          In a sort of related idea – this reminds me of Kevin and I playing World of Warcraft. Whenever you go so someplace in the game that you haven't been before it says "You've Discovered XYZ!". Which we always say "Yay! Now that we've discovered it, everyone can live here now". Of course, it's already populated with other people who were there first – but I guess it doesn't count until you get there. 🙄

        • Thank you for being less lazy than I am and explaining all this.
          If you had the microbiology background to answer I’d be interested if there’s any reasonable guess on the maximal taxonomic level jump a given virus can make between species, but hey… this topic is now buried and I have my doubts that the best guesses we can make today regarding viral and bacterial microbiological limits are authoritatively close to the truth.

      • Bacteriophagic virii can’t attack human cells, they require cells which match their target conditions to do their thing. Human cells handle genetic replication and protein construction in manner which are significantly different from any bacterium, and you’d have to have a really jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none virus to manage to infect more than just a few closely related species of anything.

      • quote: “I would rather see them work on (good) bacteria that attack (bad) bacteria.”

        Exactly. IMO that is how death of man will come. Someone will create a device (nano-bot or bacteria or phage) which will be designed to kill something, and it will either malfunction, or will function exactly as designed in a horribly wrong way, and kill us all.

        Case in point, In college some Bio-chem students were talking about curing cancer by creating a phage to target any human cell that was not EXACTLY like the host cell. It would reproduce and wipe out all cancers in their body. I pointed out that once this phage gets into the envirionment it would see EVERY human cell that is not the original owner’s cell as an enemy/food, wiping out the human race. The responses? “yeah, well we would cure cancer!” and “we will figure out how to fix that if it happens”/

        Um… thank goodness they can not program a phage, or create a nanobot to do that. YET.

  2. DO we get to pick? Our vote influences the end of the world? Awesome!
    I vote for the Zombie Apocralypse! Apparently, I’m one of the few who
    will survive that scenario. Facebook thinks so, at least…

    Zombie Apocalypse in 2012! It all makes sense now! The Mayans knew!
    Maybe they’re behind it, somehow?

  3. Well, none of the above really. I forsee more of a geo-climate disaster punching our time cards. I think it’ll be something simple- maybe a small meteor strike or the magnetic poles shifting, and WHAM! All the faultlines give way and flatten everything, super-volcanos like Yellowstone and Krakatoa going pop and smogging up the atmosphere for decades, tidal waves demolish the coasts, disease running rampant amongst survivors, icecaps melting off and swamping everything under 100m above sea level, etc. etc.
    Everything else I think we could handle without too much trouble. The biosphere going kaboom- well, we all just pretty much kiss our asses goodbye and find a nice place to lay down to make cool fossils for scientists to find 100 million years from now. There might be pockets of survivors a-la-HG Wells, but it would take a humongous effort to keep even a small population fed and sane over decades of a global ash black-out.

    Out of everything on the list, I’d probably vote for alien invasion. They’re out there, don’t doubt it. And don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re all nice E.T. aliens either. Some are, but most are real bastards- there just isn’t much on this backwater little planet that they want at the moment. However, once we get “universal healthcare”, we may start seeing them lining up at our hospitals for free colonoscopies and Viagra perscriptions. We may have to re-think “death panels” for sure at that point.

  4. The instrument of our undoing has already been created and is simply lying dormant. In the year 1900 Nicola Tesla used his Magnifying Transmitter to infuse a thousand chickens with a timeless cosmic essence. These ageless birds remain to this day in a subterranean complex in Colorado and will emerge whensoever Buckethead dies.

    Mankind will be powerless before them; in the intervening years they will have constructed unassailable armaments. The chickens themselves will ride about in tripedal powered suits or antigravity saucers, but few humans will see them as they will employ automated machines to do their bidding. The very existence of the Cosmic Chickens will be but a rumor, but the few among us who have seen The Truth will be aware.

    We will be gathered into masses and forced to live in giant paddocks crowded shoulder-to-shoulder. There will be no room to evacuate our bowels. Sparse bits of food will be periodically dropped from the ceiling and massive fans will evacuate the putrid stench of the facilities so we don’t die from the fumes. Our skin will become inflamed and pus-ridden from exposure but the chickens will be unsympathetic. Should any of us become sick we will be run live through giant woodchippers. Many will feign sickness, hoping for death, but the chickens will have the ability to discern real from fake illness. The fakers among us will be publicly killed by the excruciatingly-painful chicken-rays and their bodies secretly ground into pellets to be mixed (along with the bodies of the legitimately sick) with the aforementioned ceiling-delivered food.

    We will live in this squalor for however long it takes the chickens to fabricate several hundred automated guillotines (they’re very skillful birds, so it’ll likely only take a few months). When they’re completed we will be systematically run through the guillotines which, unbeknown to us, will have been programmed to spare a single reproductive pair of humans (I’ll get to them later). All the bodies will be unceremoniously gutted with the “nasty bits” either incinerated or used in compost. The flesh will be cut into small pieces, lightly breaded, deep friend and dropped by an automated Chicken Air Force all around the world, that they might be consumed by omnivorous and carnivorous fauna.

    The two remaining humans will be taken under the wings of the thousand birds and taught the nature of the universe during an indeterminate period of stasis. They will be infused with knowledge of philosophy, ethics, science and technology. They will emerge from this training as righteous stewards wont to maintain at all times a balance between their curious intellectual inclinations and the natural cycles of life on the planet. At this time the cosmic essence will depart the thousand chickens and the humans will repopulate the planet, ushering in a new era of unrivaled prosperity and happiness.

    I have seen The Truth; it is Poultry.

    • That’s sweet! I wanna be that last guy, with all the enlightenment and stuff. I bet he gets to have LOTS of sex repopulating the planet!

      Once the cosmic essence is gone, we get to eat the chickens that are left, right?

      • Yes. This is just pure speculation, but perhaps the essence will have altered the thousand chickens such that their flesh became cosmically delicious, y’know, as a sort of parting gift to the first new generation. Then future humans could remark, “they sure don’t make ’em like they used to.”

  5. My money is on an interstellar gamma ray pulse. But I foresee great difficulty collecting my winnings.

  6. My vote is the Super Bug. Genetic engineering will become so commonplace that it will only be a matter of time before some wacko with an agenda uses his kitchen sink laboratory to breed a virus capable of wiping us all out.

  7. You forgot introduction to a new superior race like homo sapien sapien sapiens. 🙂 This new species has the ability of telepathy. Also don’t forget nuclear annihilation, chemical spills, global warming, viral epidemic (swine flu virus anybody?), world power outtage, meteor strike, chemical weapon annihilation, unearthing demons and/or hell, unearthing dragon eggs, global terrorism, or it could be something like from Serenity where we introduce something to the air to create a utopian society only to have it back fire horribly. 🙂

    Oh, I also forgot creating nanobots that destroys the human race.

  8. Regarding the comic strip:
    Nice to see Morty finally grow a pair of Sense Motive and Intimidation and tell Martin to shut up. :mrgreen:

    • Well kinda, anyway. He was mostly just doing what Bunker told him to, but yeah, it IS nice to see Martin not running roughshod all over his friends all the time.

  9. The aggressively stooopid will outbreed the smart people and thus create a race made up entirely of Paris Hiltons, Rush Limbaughs and wacko religious nutcakes, thus finally fulfilling out potential as the descendants of Golgafrinchan telephone sanitisers. Then they’ll outlaw evolution and astronomy and repeal the law of gravity.

  10. I’ve always been a fan of the “big rocks from the sky” scenario. Hollywood (and NBC in particular) have done an awful job of depicting it realistically. If a 750 mile wide rock (Armageddon) or even a 7 mile one (Deep Impact) is headed for Earth – we gonna die – period. We can’t push it away, blow it up or zap it with lasers (just how was that supposed to work, NBC?). It comes, it hits, we perish. A huge rock smacks into the Pacific and the earth gets utter devastation – tidal waves, earthquakes, firestorms. A few furry animals scurrying into caves in desolate locations would be the only survivors. Yeah, that’s how I want the world to end – nice big ker-splat!

      • It’s not impossible, but most of the big rocks have already collided with something, all the big rocks are now so big they would need an even bigger rock to knock them out of their orbits and pose a threat. No doubt there are a few large objects flying around randomly out in the Oort cloud which could theoretically trouble the inner solar system at some point (if the Jovian gravity trap doesn’t get them), but they are relatively so few and their orbit times are so great that the chances of any of them hitting us in the next 100,000 years is negligible. Whatever Lembit Opik says.

  11. I agree with the ‘Replacement’ theory. Something will come along, cyborgs, clone-babies, Homo-Superior mutants, whatever, that won’t wipe humans out quickly, just slowly replace them so that by the time the last human dies, they’ll care as much as when the last Apple IIe goes defunct. Vaugely sad end of an era, but not actually important.

        • Very good book, Stross groks the concept of the Singularity quite well. It basically deals with how we become obsolete because people have begun uploading themselves, and turning all the matter in the solar system into “smart matter” – molecule or smaller sized processors, aka “computronium”. I highly recommend reading it, but with a warning: the reading is very dense. You should stop every so often to digest, so as to avoid the mental equivalent of indigestion.

  12. Hooray for Mortroll being back!

    I’ve been meaning to ask this for a while, so here goes:
    “Mr. Pettway, are you particularly fond of the not-so-good-yet-not-totally-evil sorcerer Martin?”

    The reason for this question is that whenever he’s in the panel the cartoons seem to be more vivid and detailed. Not complaining at all, I personally love the bastard. One of my favorite panels is the one when Enkidu has just put on the magic sex-swapping Lizardman belt and Martin consoles him with just one word: “Lesbians”.
    Good times, indeed.

    • I never really thought about it Matt. Maybe?

      I can say that Martin, because of his very simple attire, is the easiest to draw. That both gives me more time to spend on his surroundings and the incentive to do something else fun with the panel to keep the visually simplistic Martin from looking boring. I do LIKE Martin… but I kinda like ’em all.

      I’m gonna have to think about that.

      • Harley Quinn (Joker’s girl) once said that evil is much more intriguing than good (or something like that), and I guess I have to agree with her. Enkidu always cracks me up, Martin is likely my favorite character and the latest Fleece is just pure gold (“Try not to die!”).

        Or maybe I’m just ebil. 8)

  13. Those who warned us of the “Death Panels”, have already pointed out these panels will spell the end of science. The argument is a brilliant physically impaired scientist, like Steven Hawking, couldn’t survive in a country with socialized medicine, like the UK. Of course the argument overlooks the fact Hawking is a Brit.

    The devil is in the details.

    • It also overlooks the fact that the health care bill doesn’t resemble Britain’s health care system, or that the “death panels” are really just a clause that requires the government to pay for a consultation with a doctor about things like hospice and how you actually want your end of life matters cared for… but this could be a better topic for another day.

  14. I seriously think that if Aliens or Zombies ever started coming after mankind they would have a pretty easy time of it for the first few weeks/months. I say this cause noone would believe it until they were beating down your door hungry for your flesh. I loved the movie Signs for the way he pointed that out. By the time anyone had actual proof they were here it was too late to do anything but wait for them to attack. I do agree with whoever said it up there that it’s highly unlikely that aliens would travel hundres of millions of miles just to attack earth though. And we all know the dead won’t be getting up and walking anytime soon so if there ever is a zombie apocalypse it will likely be more like 28 Days Later where it’s a virus or some shit that makes people go all blood-crazy and attack anything that moves. Zombie-like, but not dead per se. My personal vote for the end of the world as we know it is the meteor strike. Pretty much anything else that happens, super-bugs, zombies, nuclear destruction, etc. we as a species will probably live through, even if it descimates the current population. World could use a little thinning out anyway, I’m just not willing to die so that others may live better lives.

  15. I propose two options:
    1) Some science experiment (possibly including the uncontrolled climate adjustment one currently being performed by civilization across the planet) will collapse the planet or at least all human life on it.
    2) Some idiot at a switch somewhere will make a mistake or be asleep at the wrong time, and it’s all over.

  16. The end of the world…

    Personally I would love a Zombie Apocalypse because at least then you would have a fighting chance. And it would silence all extremist religious nonsense, save for the prophets wearing “End of the World is Nye!” boards on city corners.

    What do I think will really happen? Some country will get pissed off and kill everyone in their country, then invade another country, China will have a massive starvation followed by another natural disaster forcing them to invade surrounding countries to recover. The United States will be forced into military restrictions with non NATO countries because of China’s inability to import and export there by significantly reducing the US economy. The UK will fall flat on its face in economic decline. France will lock its borders and Spain will continue to be force fed immigrants ending in another economic disaster and mass starvation. Then out of shear desire to survive small independant wars will break out across western europe engulfing the world in another world war.

    Dependant on the ability of the US Government, Russia, and the UK special teams to thwart Nuclear warfare the world may be engulfed in radiation. As for North Korea, after China invaded Mr. Kim filed for help from NATO and was rejected, just for hilarity. Mexico will riot against the Drug Lords engulfing itself in a Civil War, the US will build walls and garrison its borders, eventually leading to US annexing Mexico simply to keep the peace – this leads to further rebellions due to martial law.

    Eventually enough people will die, or Nuclear holocaust will begin, and the only countries able to fully sustain themselves will be in South America who decided to stay the hell out of everything and prep for nuclear disaster.

    So as long as someone doesn’t get mad at someone else and kill some people we should be all good… damnit Africa why can’t you play nice!

    Well that is our end of the world… I mean eventually the Sun will engulf the galaxy and annihilate everything, so unless we find another planet to live on those Prophets on city corners are not exactly wrong!

  17. The biggest myth on there is probably the Chevy Volt’s 230 mpg. Sure, just ignore the fossil fuel (and price thereof) involved in things like electricity and battery material mining. The electricity costs alone put the Volt at an equivalent 40-160 mpg. The Volt’s estimated $35k pricetag reflects battery material mining costs. Compare to $1k per year for gas on a similarly performing $17k Corolla. Except the Corolla is larger, has lower maintenance costs and doesn’t have battery replacement costs every 6 years. Given that the Volt is an overpriced economy compact car, the only possible market base is environmental braggers. Now won’t we be happy to put up with them.

      • Wanna really piss the environmentalists off? Talk about the mining and manufacturing costs of the metals in their batteries, and how the coal that powers those batteries is more polluting than the equivalent energy of petroleum extraction. It’s even true!

    • Check out a company called Zero Pollution Motors. No gas, no batteries, lots of fun!

      They are working on cars powered by compressed air. Last I read, they expect to have one on the roads by October next year, with an 850 mile range and a top speed of 90 mph. I forget what that translates into in metric units, sadly, but if they pull it off it rocks! Oh, and a projected sale price of $17,800!

      • Considering how much of the US (and worldwide) power generation overflow is handled by coal I say that until the last crappy, old-school non-fully-scrubbing coal plant is offline that petroleum is net as clean or cleaner than recharging whatever power storage from a wall-socket.

        • Well, except that compressed air tanks can be recharged by hand, if need be; there are NO electrical or electronic parts required, and no batteries involved. It’s just air, squeezed into a tank. Set up a windmill, use the turning of the shaft to turn a compressor, plug the hose into your car’s air tank, and voila! Clean power. And when you consider that hooking an alternator to this same car’s engine gives you a generator, with again, no fossils being used… Although, -that- requires a storage device of some sort. I recommend capacitors, but chemical storage works too; for chemical storage, I’d go with a hydrogen cell, personally. Now, if I could just GET one of these babies!

  18. My thoughts on the most likely apocalypse fall into 3 categories but they all stem from one root cause: human stupidity

    -Nuclear annihilation. With the number and power of the nuclear arsenals in the world it would only take one idiot leaving a door unlocked for a terrorist or falling asleep on the wrong button to wipe us all out.

    -Grey goo. this can take the form of ether nanobots or a retrovirus. The idea is to convert all of the X in the world into Y, (say cancer cells into healthy cells, or ozone depleting chemicals into cheese.) But someone missed a line of code somewhere and now the little buggers destroy all humans, (possibly all matter)

    -Selective breeding. When you hear this term it’s usually talking about creating a superior race… well the exact opposite is happening very effectively right now. The smarter, more successful people are having very few children and the less successful are breeding like crazy. Thanks to modern medicine these less successful people who would normally be culled by survival of the fittest are surviving. Idoicracy is a good movie on this subject, and although it’s a bit cheesy; it’s scary how true the basic premise is.

  19. Well, in my opinion the alien invasion happened and they won 10-20k yrs ago, they’re going to crank up the heat mark of the beast style. Possibly thru universal healthcare – but everyone else has had that for 30+ years. Damn Republicans look stupid these days. I think they’re trying to kill their own party so they can start a worse one:)
    Anyway once our alien masters really get nuts the galactic police kill us all AGAIN just like the flood in genesis, maybe in 2012 but probably later, and that’s what Revelations is about. Ecological collapse is possible but I expect the Deep Ones will get tired of our garbage and kill us before then.
    Zombie apocalypse is just another step in normal warfare and a badass one at that. Think we won’t get to the point where it takes as much damage to put us down as a cockroach can take? It’ll happen.
    In short we lost a long time ago. Accept that we’re doomed and think about what world you want to go to next.