Sunday, December 26, 2004

25 years to go?
Eventually, Earth is going to be hit with a substantial asteroid. It has happened before (ask the people of Manson, Iowa), and it will happen again. Now according to scientists, one determined rock has announced its intention with an "unprecedented" level of likelihood.

Rating a first-ever 4 on the Torino scale of 1 to 10, "2004 MN4" is said to be a 60-1 favorite to ruin someone's year in 2029. That's slightly less than a 2% chance. My question is more about the math of it. What kind of 1-to-10 scale rates the 2% longshot at 4?

Luckily, this rock is about 100 times smaller than the Manson rock that killed every thing in the region. Meanwhile, there are other natural disasters to fret over while we wait it out. So far, nearly 4 times nearly 5 times nearly 8 times as many people that died in the World Trade Towers bombing have lost their lives as a result of the biggest earthquake in 40 years. Sri Lanks has been ravaged, the island of Sumatra has been dislodged by 100 feet, and oh yeah the Earth's rotation was "disturbed."

But, alas, Asian deaths do not rate much on a more important scale here than either Torino or Richter: the Nielsens. A quick check of the 24-hour news channels (the ones built on the exploitation of tragedy), show a rerun of Dr. Phil on Meet the Press, a story about a dead football player, and Tyson Foods will be putting chaplains in their factories to make the workplace more faith-friendly. Nice job, fellas. I suppose the whole of Asia would have to fall into the ocean to get round-the-clock coverage on CNN for a day.

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