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Mesa Musings: Folly of the human spirit

August 03, 2010|By Jim Carnett

A recent news report warned that a massive asteroid might strike Earth in the year 2182.

I'm not concerned. I learned long ago to carefully pick those things I fret about. Incoming asteroids didn't make the list. Besides, in 2182 I'll be 237 years old.

If you want to keep a wary eye on this celestial menace, the asteroid will be lingering in our neck of the galaxy for the next dozen decades or so, and, following a disappearing act for an extended period, will return with a bang (no pun intended). The asteroid is called 1999 RQ36.

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The space rock is 560 meters across and could cause catastrophic damage should it crash into our planet. The odds of that happening, scientists say, are 1 in 1,000.

Lest you pooh-pooh those odds as being insignificant, they're not. They are certainly greater than my chances of winning the lottery anytime soon, scoring an income tax refund, or scaling Mt. Everest.

Speaking of numbers and odds, did you catch last week's column in which I reminisced about the first Los Angeles Dodgers' baseball game I attended, on June 8, 1958? I reported that the crowd-count at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that afternoon was 57,000.

By coincidence, that same number of American soldiers died in 1918. They fell, not in the trenches and battlefields of World War I, but in the 1918 influenza pandemic. How tragic! That's 4,000 more than the number of Americans killed in the war.

Life — like Clayton Kershaw — sometimes delivers a wicked curveball. We've all been dropped a time or two by a sucker punch.

I was reflecting on the 1958 baseball game recently and wondering how many of those 57,000 people with whom I shared the stadium that day might still be alive? Half? Less than that?

It's a morbid question, I know, but a fascinating one. How many who filed out of the Coliseum with me that balmy Sunday afternoon remain with us 52 years later?

It's pure speculation on my part, but I'd guess — conservatively — that at least 28,500 have departed this world. One out of two. That would conform to the ratio of my own family members who attended that game. I went with my father, uncle and brother. Only my brother and I are still living.

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