By Frans Snackers
December 21, 2012 was the date of the Apocalypse according to interpretations of the ancient Mayan calendar. The date gripped the world, resulting in various media outlets jumping on the bandwagon, like the producers of the film 2012. However, the date passed and nothing happened. While this might be disappointing to people that truly believed the world was going to end and consequently spent all their wealth on living it up one last time, the rest of the world was not really surprised nothing actually had happened. Throughout the ages, a lot of people have set dates for the end of the world, so far none of them have had it right.
Predicting apocalypses has been a hobby of many doomsday-preachers throughout the ages. This started off as early as in the Roman days, and still continues to this day. People might assume that these predictions are only made by people who will either benefit from people believing them, or people that would generally be considered lunatics. However, persons of note have also dabbled in the art of predicting the end of the world. Examples are Christopher Columbus and Isaac Newton, the last of whom predicted the world to end in 2060, based on his study of biblical scriptures. Let’s hope the apple missed his head on that theory.
Many predictions for the end of the world have had religious backgrounds. For example, the Puritan minister Cotton Mather, alumnus of Harvard and the university of Glasgow, was a prediction-enthusiast. The first date the minister set was 1697, which he revised to 1716 when that prediction failed. When 1716 came and passed, the minister rolled the dice once more and set the date on the year 1736. Unfortunately for Mather, he struck out on his third try as well.
So when can we expect the end of the world? Scientists have set the date in approximately one billion years from now. By this time, the sun will have swollen to such size that the surface of the Earth will have been burned to a crisp. However, well before it has come to this, the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere of the earth will have dropped too low to support any plant life, and thus have already eradicated all life on earth.
Richard Abanes, End-Time Visions. Four Walls Eight Windows, New York, 1998. p.338
By Frans Snackers
Even though you might have an elaborate plan of action already set up in your mind, or maybe even have made actual preparations, I have quite some reasons to believe there’s a big chance you’re still going to be one of the walking dead faster than you would ever have imagined. The scenario of the zombie apocalypse has become a hot topic on various platforms of social media, with many unlikely supporters who for the sake of self-preservation should stay far away from supporting a possible zombie scenario. It takes a specific type of person to survive a zombie apocalypse. Overweight hipster kids, who browse different kinds of silly forums on the internet and watch pictures of cute, anime zombie cats all day, are not that specific kind of person. To be frank, it’s likely you’re not that specific kind of person either. Not that there is any shame in that. In fact, you might be a more valuable member of today’s society because of it. You see, to survive a zombie apocalypse, and to keep surviving, you will have to throw out any social conventions you previously had on aspects of charity, compassion, sharing etc. While many people will be able to conform to these notions in due time, fact of the matter is, you won’t have a lot of time. Especially the first 24 hours after the outbreak will be hectic. What’s going on? Are my friends and family ok? Where do I go? What do I bring? These are questions that will all pop in your mind. They won’t pop into the mind of the true survivor. He immediately assumes his family is dead. He knows his friends are eating each other in the hallways of their housing unit. He knows going to the places the government has indicated as safe zones are likely death traps. He knows what to bring, in fact, he has had his bag packed, full of basic utilities and survival gear, and has been ready to go for a couple of years now. He has a plan to get out of the densely populated areas, and several contingency routes. He is dedicated to do whatever it takes. He is the person everyone thinks of as crazy, but who they’ll be begging for help when shit hits the fan. Being a survivor is not for everyone, certainly not for those who try to romanticize it based on their favorite television show. Most of you will be better off dead.
By Rhea Holleman
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By Maggie Tan
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By Maggie Tan
The flesh-rotting drug ‘krokodil’ – or desomorphine – appeared in Siberia and Russia around 2002 and is now widely used in the poor rural areas of Russia. The first cases of krokodil have recently emerged in the United States and they have been met with panic and investigation. This raises the question whether the drug will become popular in the US.
Krokodil earns it name due to the way it alters the users’ bodies. Not only does the drug turn the skin of its users green and scaly, but it also leads to “serious damage to the veins and soft tissue infections, rapidly followed by gangrene and necrosis”, says CNN. Krokodil can also cause other irreversible damage, such as speech impediments and erratic movement. Said side effects of the drug have led the media to name krokodil ‘the zombie drug’.
Krokodil could be cooked up just by combining codeine from painkillers with other readily available ingredients, such as iodine, gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol or oil. This deadly concoction is then injected into the veins leading to a high that is similar to heroin. However, compared to heroin, krokodil is not only easier to make, but also far less expensive.
Despite its disturbing side effects, the use of krokodil has not slowed in Russia. Victor Ivanov of the Federal Drug Control Service told Time that “since 2009, the amount of the drug seized has increased 23-fold”. Furthermore, an overwhelming 65 million doses of the drug was confiscated in the first quarter of 2011. As of 2012, the sale of medicines containing codeine without prescription is banned in Russia.
Although krokodil is not yet a controlled substance in the United States, the DEA does not believe that the drug will grow popular in the US. Whereas Russia has a shortage of heroin, there is an abundance of heroin and other opiate drugs in the US. Nevertheless, there is still anxiety over the use of krokodil in the US, as krokodil is a cheaper substitute for heroin and can be marketed as such, attracting addicts who are inclined to use.
By Maggie Tan
The War of the Worlds. H. G. Wells. London: Cox and Wyman Ltd, 1898. 192 pp. ISBN: 9780375759239
H. G. Wells’ science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds, is one of the first stories to depict an extraterrestrial invasion of planet Earth. Despite being overlooked by its more well-known radio and movie adaptations, H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds proves to be a beautiful piece of writing, that has helped to lay the foundation for countless other works.
The novel is made up of two parts, Book One: The Coming of the Martians and Book Two: Earth under the Martians. Book One deals with the arrival of the Martians on Earth, or more specifically, in England. As it becomes increasingly clear to the anonymous narrator that the Martians have set out to destroy mankind and take over planet Earth, the protagonist tries to survive the apocalypse, all the while struggling to reunite with his wife. Book One also discusses the experience of the narrator’s unnamed younger brother in London, who manages to escape the Martians by the skin of his teeth. Book Two continues with the adventures of the narrator.
The novel feels disturbingly realistic, because the protagonist presents the story as a factual account, describing events he witnessed in retrospect. As a result, however, his matter-of-fact tone makes some of his situations unintentionally humorous. For example, when the narrator came across a body, he felt repulsed as he had never touched a corpse before, but he turned it over anyway to feel his heart, and reported that the body was in fact “quite dead”. However, this does not take away the overall sense of realism in this novel.
Although The War of the Worlds was written well over a century ago, the novel feels far from outdated. The concept of the Martians, their advanced weaponry, and the way in which they wipe out humanity is well thought out. The story is not only ahead of its time, but also convincing due to how the facts are put together. Moreover, the novel touches upon many ideas and questions one still has about extraterrestrial life. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise why this novel continues to exert great influence on movies, (comic) books, video games and such.
The War of the Worlds is a classic science-fiction novel that is worth picking up. Original, highly imaginative and endlessly imitated. The War of the Worlds is a novel that still manages to hold its own today.