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What in the world?

Published:Saturday | December 8, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Tony Deyal, Contributor

We have only one world but many different perspectives on it. In 1999, James Bond said emphatically, "The world is not enough." Now, according to climate experts and Bond freaks,
Skyfall is already here and may have arrived through the hole in the ozone layer.

There are still people who believe that the world is literally flat and you can fall over the edge into infinity, and then economist Thomas Friedman came around saying the same thing, but referring to the world of business as a level playing field where all competitors have an equal opportunity. Another economist, David Smick, retaliated with a different spin: "The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers To The Global Economy."

Next, geographer Tim Gulden and his colleagues came up with a new interpretation of the economic topography. The world is "amazingly spiky".

Filipino playwright Alberto Florentino wrote the highly acclaimed, 'The World Is An Apple', and even though he may not have written it on a MacBook, long before Florentino came up with the idea, Steve Jobs believed not just that the world is an apple but that an apple is the world.

Shakespeare, in 'The Merry Wives of Windsor', initiated the assertion: "The world's mine oyster," but clearly that is a shellfish attitude. Had he written 'The Merry Wife of Cambridge', he would have been greeted with a pregnant pause.

If you feel a little queasy, it is because CNN says that the world is going downhill fast as consumption rises. This way we will all be left in the lurch. Charles Bradley sings, "The world is going up in flames and nobody wanna take the blame." One writer complained that the world is going to the dogs, and another said that the dogs will probably make better use of it than people.

Chris Rock, the comedian, is sure the world is going crazy. He quipped, "You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese, the Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the US of arrogance, Germany doesn't want to go to war, and the three most powerful men in America are named Bush, Dick, and Colon. Need I say more?"

Of course, that has changed a bit since, but who would believe an American president named Hussein? Just before the last apocalyptic warning, Rush Limbaugh, who says the fiscal cliff is Obama's plot to end the Republican Party, attacked TIME Magazine and climate change: "TIME Magazine is having a lot of fun here mocking these Christians. But are they any more deluded than the people who believe so devoutly in man-made global warming? As I say, these comparisons are fascinating, global warming and these end-of-the-earth guys, it's almost identical."

A self-described environment activist full of fervour and feeling said very seriously to me, "Tony, the world is going global." This is like saying marijuana is going herbal, or your father is paternal, but I did not point out the flaw. The fact is that increasingly, a bunch of folks are convinced that the world is not going anywhere, it is just going, and taking all of us along with it.

If they are right, there will be no Christmas 2012 and no New Year 2013. All your Christmas cards and New Year's greetings are wasted. The talk is that the world is going to end on December 21, 2012, less than two weeks from today.

Hurricane Sandy on the Jersey Shore, floods in England and a tornado in the Phillipines, the West Indies losing to Bangladesh, Obama beating Romney are all portents. One website says, "As the days continue to count down to December 21, 2012, we will begin to experience a number of natural disasters and unprecedented weather events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, droughts and many other extraordinary life-threatening natural events ... . Tornadoes will strike in uncommon places and at uncommon times of the year. Severe thunderstorms with intense lighting and uncommonly strong winds will become more prevalent, and the earth will rumble with unusual and unidentifiable sounds of stress."

The discovery of a 'rogue' or 'free-floating' planet has convinced many people that the 2012 prophecy is being fulfilled. Wikipedia says, "The 2012 phenomenon comprises a range of eschatological beliefs according to which cataclysmic or transformative events will occur on 21 December 2012 ... . A New Age interpretation of this transition is that the date marks the time in which earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation and that December 21, 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era. Others suggest that the date marks the end of the world or a similar catastrophe, an interaction between earth and the black hole at the centre of the galaxy or earth's collision with a planet called Nibiru."

NASA's website denies this will happen. It asserts, "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."

People say that the space shuttle was doing well until the Challenger disaster in 1986. Charles M. Schultz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' cartoon was pragmatic about the Apocalypse. He joked, "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia."

A friend sent me a reworked version of an old joke. On December 18, 2012, God sent for the world's three most important leaders, informed them of the impending event, and sent them forth to break the news to their people. Obama returned and said, "No need to worry about the fiscal cliff no more." Bill Gates told his giant corporation, "Looks like curtains for Windows 8." And the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago was jubilant, "Well, that's it for hunger strikes."

Tony Deyal, who is now demanding payment in advance, was last seen repeating, "Don't worry if you don't know what eschatology is; it's not the end of the world."