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Strange Weather for Strange Times



Naveen Sunkavally

Recently, a Korean man from Texas, where cults are strangely popular, decided that he thought that the end of the world was imminent. He believed that God was going to communicate to people through Channel 18, a local TV UHF station. Throngs of his followers tuned in on the predicted day to witness the end of the world.

Of course, he had it all wrong. God did not communicate through Channel 18

What was the man thinking? What kind of upbringing could drive a man to such lunacy? How could he be so wrong? Did he ever go to school? After all, everyone knows how the world will really end, as recorded in ancient historical tracts by a student observer from the last time human civilization surfaced on this planet several millennia ago:

"Winter had passed MIT and New England by rather quickly the last year, gathering up its usual assemblage of snow and sleet for a retreat in California. Hardly a foot of snow had fallen the entire season. By the end of March, students on campus were clothed in shorts and T-shirts, picnicking outside Kresge Oval or smoking outside the Student Center. The nights were warm, and, despite the long, hard problem sets, a sense of love pervaded the air.

"The warm weather continued for another month. The days gradually grew hotter and hotter along with the nights. Students carried beach umbrellas and transported lawn chairs out on the grass. Those who usually slept outside Athena clusters decided to sleep outside. Speakers regularly chose to speak outside rather than suffer the stifling mixture of perspiration and agitation indoors.

"But soon the weather grew so hot that students started to seek the comfort of the indoors. Administrators were observed pulling up their shirt sleeves and removing their ties as soon as they entered their offices. Eventually, the temperature indoors too grew intolerable. Now students started to complain. They could not take it any more. They couldn't learn anything in class. Forbidden by the law of collective morality to go in the nude, they started clamoring for the installment of air conditioners in all dormitory rooms.

"The official student complaint, made at the ODUDE by various campus student government organizations, passed through the QUIP, FAIF, GAGA, GANGA, PVC, HAHA, WEARE, and the CARE before eventually reaching the ODUDE. "What a great idea," thought the members of ODUDE, as they had Physical Plant install air conditioners in their offices.

"As the end of April approached, students pined for cooler summers away from the Boston area. But then, suddenly, the weather started to cool down. Blistering sunshine gave way to rain and sludge-filled streets. What happened?' students asked. They really didn't care. It was no longer hot. For days students openly basked in the rain and let their shoes fill up with water.

"The rain, however, did not cease to fall. It kept falling for three weeks, and students once again were forced to remain indoors. As students stayed inside and prepared for finals, the puddles coagulated into large, nebulous, amoebic masses. Workers tried to bucket out the rain from the roads to permit safe travel, but the effort was in vain. Amherst Alley started to flood. Crew practice was replaced with boating to and from class, and the administration decided to award Physical Education credit to everyone at MIT for their ordeal.

"Then the basements of several dormitories and fraternities began to flood. Phone lines went dead. Power lines toppled spectacularly. Thunderstorms raged. Classes were cancelled. Only the essential administrators were kept in office while the rest went home, waiting for the whole ordeal to wash over.

"Then one day, the rain stopped. Students thought the worst of what they had attributed to El Nio had passed when the area around Boston began to cool even more. The clouds in the sky hovered like a dense shawl, but neither snow nor rain nor cats nor dogs could be coaxed to fall from them. All vegetation and animal life ceased to exist. The wood from the dead and dry vegetation was carted indoors to warm students and administrators. It was as if MIT was caught in the permanent lull of a hurricane. Everything, everywhere, was a giant frozen lake.

"As temperatures across the Boston area began to drop drastically, Physical Plant finally arrived at each dormitory to begin installation of the air conditioners. We have our orders,' said Ralph from Physical Plant, as Jamie, a fierce desk worker at Baker House, brandished a whip and shooed him away, saying, We don't need no damn air conditioners now.'

"One dark, silent morning, an MIT researcher shunned from the scientific community for his anarchistic views was sipping cider and looking up at the cloudy sky when he finally grasped the awful reality of the situation.

"As he looked around, he could not believe it. He rearranged his toupee four times. The situation seemed as probable as Disney acquiring MIT for a paltry 6.9 billion dollars.

"But he knew it had to be true.

"The sun had exploded."

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper.