I'm watching this show on the History channel right now - mostly because Pete teasingly suggested it and I had to call his bluff - and it is, well, silly. That is really the best word for it. It is chock-a-block with "scholars" talking about scientific interpretations of Nostradamus' quatrains. Seriously. Men who have trained in real sciences (yes - only men) are using their understanding of nuclear and cosmic radiation to explain... Nostradamus. Their justification is that Isaac Newton believed in alchemy and prophesy. Yes - and he also believed that leeches were a valid treatment for disease. Time and place, Scientists! Time and place!
The problem with this kind of "science" is that it's all predicated upon a completely ridiculous supposition: that Nostradamus could predict the future. He predicted Sadaam, you know. Here is their evidence. Quatrain 8:70.
He will enter, wicked, unpleasant, infamous,
tyrannizing over Mesopotamia.
All friends made by the adulterous lady,
the land dreadful and black of aspect.
Okay, that is not even English. That does not make any kind of grammatical sense. Here is the French.
Il entrera vilain, mechant, infame
Tyrannisant la Mesopotamie,
Tous amis fait d'adulterine d'ame,
Terre horrible, noir de phisonomie.
Admittedly, my French is a wee rusty, but I believe that "dame" is "lady" and "d'ame" is "of soul." I read this more as "He/It will enter ugly, mean, infamous / Tyrannizing Mesopotamia / All friends made by the bastard of soul / horrible earth, black physiognomy." It is interesting to note this definition of "physiognomy" from the wiktionary: "The art of telling fortunes by inspection of the features." I this this is really about a soul singer turned fortune teller who is good at neither avocation. But I digress.
Has there ever been a time when human beings didn't think the apocalypse was right around the corner? No. There has never been such a time. This program is looking for concordance between the Mayan End of Days Calendar, Hopi folk tales and a the poetry of a 16th century French pharmacist. Oh, and the Bible Code. The answer is: The world will end in 2012. Well, the Hopi say that the Fifth Age will begin in 2012. I say, "Fair enough, Hopi." To the rest of them, though, I can say only this: you are not doing science! Please stop pretending that's what you're up to!
I know what you are thinking: why keep watching if it is so ridiculous? Well, it's on the HD History Channel and it has all these gorgeous images of space (you know - predictions and cosmic rays all come from constellations). And now that it's muted, it's way less irritating.
Pete's take: "It's a stretch for being history, too." Maybe they should call it "pre-history" or "peri-history." Or, you know, "bull shit."
Okay, it just ended with shots of Portland and a guy saying something about "when new Rome fell." Um, hello? We're Little Beirut? Geez - it's like he's totally out of touch with the world or something.