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Not every wanna-be prophet can be a star. Wrangling a book deal or grabbing TV time still remain out of the scope of most obsessive basket cases. But with the advent of the World Wide Web, poor, lonely loonies across the globe can now nick their 15 minutes of qualified fame with a website, a BBS or just semi-regular access to Usenet. Even literacy levels on a par with the common flat worm seem to present no barrier whatever to the truly motivated and seriously delusional ‘Net Kooks. They may not have any followers, they may not have any friends, they may not be able to express a single coherent thought, correctly write their own names or maintain socially acceptable levels of personal hygiene. But, darn it all, they’ve got spunk! And without their passionate strangeness, the WWW would be a safer, saner, yet, drabber, duller place.
1994 CE - No discussion of 'net kookery would truly be complete without giving an irreverent nod to the proto-kook, the First Flake, the missing twink, the aboriginal aberration, the spammer primeval, himself, Mr. Clarence L. Thomas IV. Back in the wilderness days of the Internet, when netiquette counted for something more than being able to turn off the Caps Lock key, Clarence shocked and appalled surfers on a global scale. He spammed his very own, proudly cobbled (if primitive, by nouveau nutcase standards) apocalyptic screed titled, "Global Alert For All: Jesus Is Coming!" to just about every newsgroup and mailing list then extant.
"Just another day in download hell" you're thinking. But, this then-unheard-of breach of decorum spawned a flood of angry posts and email which ended in the now-unheard-of result of getting the little bedbug bitch-slapped clean off the 'net and suspended from his job as a systems admin. It also spawned scores of parody posts like, "Global Alert For All: Elvis Is Coming!" and "Global Alert For All: Satan Roams The Earth!".
Clarence, like so many a pioneer before him, faded into the sunset after his one moment of "greatness". But, his seminal spamfest braved the way for rafts of raving loonies who followed ever since, inspired and emboldened by his example to jab their jibberings into every nook and cranny the 'net could provide. So, the next time you find your newsgroup, BBS or webforum invaded by twirling squirrels shrieking the Good News O' Doom in your face or your email is bombarded by multi-k mulch of the driveling kind, you can light a little candle to the trailblazer who kick-started it all...and burn him in effigy over it.
Anytime between now and 2018 CE - The site owner of the hoarily titled “A Nightmare for Everyone” (recently re-dubbed the more subdued, if equally silly, “Behind The Veil”) is very keen on telling people to remain calm in the face of his private Doomsday fantasy, which involves a God-piloted planetary pasting by a stray asteroid dubbed, “Wormwood”. ...I’ll try to be brave.
March 23, 1997 CE - Not only do ‘Net Kooks love to spam multiple newsgroups, they also love to post under multiple names. Take, for instance, one Richard Michael Schiller, an End Times/Numerology/killer comet junkie who at different times posted as Schiller, Proslyte, John of wilderness, Wilderness John, John the ForeRunner, ForeRunner John, ForeRunner Eliyah, Eliyah, Elijah, Eliyahu, Eliyehowa, Malachi's Eliyah and Malachi-Eliyah. Indeed, Ricky did think of himself as a modern-day Elijah and the revelation he was so keen on sloshing around was that comet Hale-Bopp would plow straight into planet Earth on March 23, 1997. His joy at having numerologicaly deduced the date of the wicked world’s demise could hardly be contained. And though naysayers from alt.archaeology to alt.religion.misc picked his claims and calculations apart like piranha over a dead dugong, Ricky stood firm...Well, okay, he stood semi-firm...actually, he was kind’a wobbly...well, truth is...he pretty much cut and ran.
Even by the morning of the 23rd, he was already backtracking, asserting that Hale-Bopp would not cause the end of the world, just the end of the Catholic Church. And by the next day, in the face of merciless taunting, he pulled another disaster date out of the air, claiming that the apocalypse would come 9 months later when the Earth passed through the comet’s killer tail. Gales of electronic laughter followed and within the week, Ricky and all his Elijah-selves up and disappeared for good. Oddly enough, for such a committed doom-fiend, only days before spamming the newsgroups with his apocalyptic ravings, he was posting to alt.personals looking for a woman interested in a long term relationship.
1997 CE - Not all ‘Net Kooks are of the “unintentional” variety. Sometimes imitation can be the highest form of tomfoolery. An example of this is provided by Superdave the Wonderchemist who, in a reply to a Dec. ‘96 sci.chem Usenet thread, “Of Strange Flesh - re 666 & chemistry” showed that if, “you subtract 1331 from 1997 (you) get 666! 1331 is an interesting number in its own right as it is the same backwards as forewards! Not only does it shamelessly display the unlucky 13 in both directions, but it is also the fourth row in Pascal's triangle:
If that isn't enough, 1331 is also 11 cubed!!!”
Not content to leave the miraculous at that, Dave went on to show that, “the most common isotope of boron is boron-11 and that boron has only 3 electrons in its valence shell. Also take into consideration that boron is famous for its 3 center bridging bonds. The last 3 comes from the nuclear spin of boron-11, which is 3/2, and that is 3 times the nuclear spin of hydrogen! Now that we have boron and hydrogen together, we have boranes. Also 666 is man's number. What all this means should be obvious by now:1997 will be the year in which humans use boranes to bring about the beginning of the end of the world!”
October 11-23, 1997 CE - Minus his buckaroo buddy Bob Wadsworth, Dan Millar is just another garden variety ‘Net Kook. Addicted to posting wacky prophecies on the newsgroups, Danny blithely ignored the total failure of the big Hale-Bopp apocalypse that he and Bobby predicted for April and posted one of the all-time silliest Marian doomsirens, yet. Little more than an insanely protracted, repetitious whine, it reduced Mary to a neurotic neighborhood mom chewing out the kids on the block for not wanting to play ball with her darling, lonely, suffering Jesus. Danny followed up the despairing melodrama with a list of 11 loony cataclysms that were to be coming up in the next few days. He then finished the lot off with the warning that all needed to prepare themselves for the final coda by groveling as long and as low as possible before the lights went out.
To his credit, when absolutely nothing came of his nutty squawkings, Dan posted on Oct. 30th owning up to the non-event and promising to give no excuses for it. To his debit, that promise lasted only until the end of the first paragraph. By the top of the second, he was already off and running with a babbling litany of world events that kind’a, sort’a, if ya’ squinted hard while hanging upside-down, bore an uncanny similarity to the events he’d foretold. (You can find this and many more Danny rants by typing “firstname.lastname@example.org” into Google’s “Beta Groups” archive.)
November 27, 1997 CE - A group calling themselves “The Sacerdotal Knights of National Security” (whose website is now, unfortunately, defunct) alerted the world to the news that an alien had been captured by the CIA. It seems the hapless ET cracked under interrogation and revealed his species’ nefarious plan to attack with a massive space invasion force, stripping the world of every last one of its natural resources and enslaving all humankind!!! Not only that, they planned to carry it all out over Thanksgiving weekend, thereby completely ruining the football games and annual Twilight Zone marathons for everybody! The fiends!!! (Reference from “The Ontario Consultants On Religious Tolerance”)
1998 CE - Mirth was spread to Usenet groups far and wide when a certain David John Thomas went into a spam attack and cluttered up the collective bandwidth with his prophetic prattle. It seems that God was pretty darn displeased with the Word-spreading performance of Jesus and so, more recently, He had to resort to sending the Missus, Yahshenah Ben (Ben??? As in “son of”???) Yahweh, to give it one last shot. Trouble is, she was so eager to take the mission on, she left heaven without her purse and now needed to rely on the kindness of strangers to get her ministry in gear. About $300,000 US should do it, plus a new car and a carte blanche expense account.
May 31, 1998 CE one mo’ time - Tucked away within a rabbit warren of meandering pages on the “What Sayeth The Scriptures?” site was a page containing the prophetic jibberings of Messrs. David Heischman and Tim (The Watchman) Kittell. Both these boys were straight out of the Voices-In-My-Head school of doomsmanship and they took it upon themselves to channel the Lord’s messages to the faithful on all matters ranging from the date of the Rapture to the death of Princess Di. The website owners have a tendency to get a bit coy about past failures, though. So, the boys’ ravings have recently gone the way of the Watergate tapes’ 18 mystery minutes. A pity, since they provided a really fun read. Their Tribulation kick-off date was based on nothing more than the private whisperings of their invisible friend and when it failed to produce the promised divine whammy, their half coherent explanations sounded like something out of a Dr. Spock child-rearing text, “If we don’t give God the chance to fail, we won’t give Him the chance to succeed.” And who could argue with that? After all, you could raise a mean, dysfunctional God if you keep on withholding your approval every time He flubs an apocalypse. Why, He might just grow up all neurotic and sociopathic and turn into a mass murderer or somethi - Oh, wait. That’s right. They like that sort of thing.
May 31, 1998 CE - Marylin Agee just scraped by to warrant inclusion in the main chronology, rather than in here. Not so lucky is Agee fan Bob Ware, who clearly thought he was a math wiz. Fancying himself the “scientific” sort, Bobby went Rapture rooting by throwing a bunch of numbers around, scrambling them in bizarre combinations and announcing that the result equaled the apocalypse. Bob’s fave calculation combos involved important-looking prime numbers, hexadecimal codes and that ol’ Cabalistic stand-by, gematria. Dead certain though he seemed, the Ware Theorem was destined to be hosed over by the great street sweeper of reality along with all other predictions of this ilk. His web page has regrettably passed into the ether, as well, I’m sad to say. (Reference from “The Doomsday List”)
June 6, 1998 CE - Yet, another numbers junkie is the utterly indefatigable Eli Eshoh. Stuck like a barnacle to the idea that all mathematical roads lead to 666, Eli is never happier than when cranking out examples of the number of the Beast...Which include the prime numbers of the Beast, the fractions of the Beast, the square root of the Beast, the cubes of the Beast and, his proudest achievement, The Right Triangle of The Beast...None of which should be confused with his Operating System of the Beast, by the by.
Eli is a tad confused on the subject of just who the Beast is, however. Not surprisingly, Bill Gates is a top contender for the title and so is former Vice President Al Gore. But, then, he also insists that the Beast was born in 1998. Kind of an insurmountable disparity one would think. But then, one would be thinking that logic plays any sort of part in this. Certainly, it doesn’t figure into his continued insistence that the world was due to end on June 6, 1998. Though, in light of people’s post poop-out pestering, he’s modified the pronouncement a bit to a Rapture on that date (of precisely 603,729 unidentified persons...whose absence no one seems to have noticed) and a brand, spanking new asteroid apocalypse set for October 27, 2028.
If that seems a tad shameless, it ain’t got nuthin’ on Eli’s exhortations to any readers who might be the least munificently inclined. In his own words, “If you have anything left to give...it doesn’t matter who you give it to. It’s all going to be worthless anyway. You just might as well give it to me. At least we will tell you the truth of what we will do with your money and valuables: use it to support our hedonistic life styles.”
Well, at the very least (and it is) you’ve gotta give the man some points for truth in advertising.
July 5, 1998 CE, 7:00 AM - Who says the end of the world can’t be fun? Certainly not the happy crew of the Church of the Subgenius, who jumped head first into the shallow end of the apocalypse pool with their fevered declaration of the impending cataclysmic “X-Day”. (to be preceded by the merely ultra-disastrous “Pink Friday”) According to the Subgenii scripture, bright and early on X-Day, the Xists from Planet X would come swooping down on an unsuspecting Earth, make a sweet deal with Bob (that’s J.R. Dobbs, leader and High Epopt of the Church of the SubGenius, Living Avatar of Slack and the Saint of Sales) to “rupture” all the fully paid-up Subgenius members to waiting Escape Vessels/Pleasure Planets. They’d then lay waste to all the namby-pamby, unbelieving, non-$30-membership-owning “Pinks” left behind. Of course, as soon as X-Day came and went, the Subgenii logged on fully armed with a valuable collector’s set of excuses. Chief among them was the theory that the sacred tablet portending the X-date had been read upside-down. It was really set to happen in the year 8991. My personal fave, though, was the explanation that everything happened exactly as it was prophesied, but the Pinks were all replaced with identical fleshrobots. Meantime, the ruptured Subgenii were whisked away on a thousand-year tour, then returned to Earth, given brand, spanking new fleshrobot bodies, too, and had their memories wiped clear back to July 5, 1998. So, if you don’t remember any of it, hey, it’s all part of the plan.
Ever on the lookout for ways to spread the good news, the SubGenii stumped hard in '99 for J.R. “Bob” Dobbs to win the title of TIME magazine’s “Fraud Of The Century”. Well, the returns came in and guess what, kiddies? He’s number 1! Beating out such stiff and stellar competition as Rush Limbaugh, “Dr.” Laura Schlessinger, Joseph McCarthy and O.J. Simpson! On August 26, '99 TIME.com caved to public pressure and nixed all their other dubious religious leaders. (and a big, bad “Boo!” for that weasel-wiggle, TIME staffers!) But miraculously, Bob remained. I like to think that I did my little part to make the miracle happen by directing ardent Bob fans from here to TIME's polling page. So, just take a spin over to the Subsite for more info, or view the miracle on TIME's pages, yourself.
July 7, 1998 CE - Ah, for the good old days, when one fanatic’s wiggy beliefs canceled out all other comers. None of this combo-lunacy business. It was just straightforward, one to a customer. Nowadays, though, thanks to TV, gun shows, Sci-Fi, UFO and conspiracy conventions and, of course, the Internet, carriers of every imaginable kook meme mingle together and infect each other freely. All of them happy as primordial clams to tack exciting, new manias onto their basic obsessions. The mutant results are, by turns, funny as hell and scary as all get-out. Take Robert Hallman, for example. Robby most likely sat through one too many episodes of The X Files and definitely slogged through far too many readings of the New Testament and something just...snapped. The result was an unholy mating of both obsessions. The fruits of which, are a proclivity for churning out scrumptiously bad poetry and a contention that UFOs are not only real...they’re Satan’s minions, out to enslave mankind and destroy the world!!! (insert mad, cackling alien laughter here)
Fortunately, according to Robb-o, the faithful wouldn’t have to worry about the threat too long, since the Rapture would whoosh them all off to the waiting arms o’ Jesus in the summer of ‘98...Though, just in case that didn’t quite pan out, he had a July 7, 2000 scoop-away already set for backup...And in case that didn’t happen, either, he included a built-in, whiny weasel-out of the whole messy thing at the bottom of the very same page. Oddly enough, after July 7 came and went, so did most of Rob’s site. (Yes, I gasped in amazement, too!) One can hope that he’s merely in the midst of a minor cognitive dissonance make-over and that his place will soon be bursting again with prophetic poesies of the ET kind.
August 22, 1998 CE - The twentieth century has been hard on traditional credophiles. Not being able to believe in fairies who live at the bottom of gardens must’ve hit some people as a real psychological burden. Good thing for them, they can now indulge their need to retreat from reality by believing in space aliens who fly around in UFOs. Like sdicapos, owner of the now-vanished ESH Dream Prophecy page. “s” seemed to be awfully fond of jotting down his most bizarre dreams and then trying to convince people that they were really psychic time travel tours of Earth’s apocalyptic future. Flitting about the timeline in the spaceship, Phoenix, helmed by one of his Space Friends, Commander Soltec of the Light People, “s” saw such interesting coming attractions as California sinking beneath the sea, (always popular with non-Cal residents) a polar shift, (always popular with the self-styled psychic crowd) Jesus landing in a UFO, (always popular with Born Again abductees) and Washington DC covered almost entirely by water. (currently popular with just about everybody) The fact that none of these Tribulational visions materialized, either on schedule or anytime since, hadn’t dimmed “s”’s heartlight by so much as a single watt...at least not in any public way, right up until his page went a-poofsies.
Early Fall, 1998 CE - Another Agee acolyte who’s managed to stick around a bit longer than the aforementioned Bob Ware is Messianic Jew (i.e., Christian) Charles Ryals. Charlie did the old Jubilee juggling routine, combined it with Noah’s Flood fluff, Feast day figures, Biblical genealogy, and State of Israel date obsessing and came up with a 2005 global expiration date. Of course, being a devout Pre-Tribist, this meant the Rapture had to happen sometime around Rosh Hashana, 1998. The complete absence of free-floating faithful anytime during or for quite some time after that date didn’t slow Chucky down one bit, though. Undaunted, (in fact, absolutely oblivious) he continued to spout endless reams of End Times assurances on his webpage. Sad to say, his predictive no-go, (complete with nifty graphs and charts) along with all the rest of his site, has finally succumbed to the rigors of reality and done an unsurprising disappearing act.
September 20, 1998 CE - A really funny (if not intentionally so) website was cobbled together by Roger K. Blake, a man who really should have taken his head out of the Bible long enough to hover it over a first grade grammar text for a while. His whole rationale for the Doomsdate he set was his insistence that Noah died in 1998 BC. Clearly, “reasoned” Rog, that meant the world would gasp its last in 1998 AD. Rog’s site is full of iron-clad logic like that. I especially liked the way he decided that Y2K was a sign of the End Times. He admits to having just about zero understanding of computer programming. But, he realized that if you read Y2K backwards, the way you would if it was in Hebrew, (Which it isn’t, but let’s ignore that for the moment, shall we?) you get “K2Y”. Astounding, isn’t it? But wait, there’s more! If you just take the “2K” part and write it backwards, you get “K2”, which is the name of a really big mountain. So, obviously, that’s just God’s way of letting us know that Y2K is a really big signal for Armageddon. Genius, huh?
Poor Roger must not have taken his prophecy’s failure too well, because he disappeared after its due date expired, leaving his site abandoned to the four winds for nearly a year. Fortunately, Rog must have eventually hit his head hard on something, because he came back in full bloom, once again. This time prophesying a "Judgment of the Fever" on August 7, 1999. True, it sounded like the title of a really rippin’ Gospel revue. But, it actually just seemed to refer to some boring little comet that trucked past Mercury that summer. The fact that absolutely nothing of apocalyptic note happened then appears to have gone past Rog utterly unnoticed. His K2Y ravings have sadly been excised in favor of rantings on his new obsession, which, while appropriately bizarre, are nowhere near as entertaining as the old stuff. The highlight of this nouveau batch is his theory on the I.D. of the Antichrist. In short, anyone who is not a Christian, is one! Not necessarily a bad thing, actually. I’m thinking if there really are that many of us, there must be a Union benefits package in there, someplace. Maybe even a 401(k)...
September 21, 1998 CE - Yet another flying fundie obsessed with the date the State of Israel was established, Everette Vasek went into laborious detail to prove his End Time date was the one to beat. Reality did. Evy abandoned his site in despair after that, but it’s still up and worth perusing, if only to take the amusing, if predictable, “Where Will You Spend Eternity Test”.
December 12, 1998 CE - An Arkansas survivalist felt the need to spam a wide assortment of mailing lists with his dread-tinged warnings of imminent nuclear nastiness. He included all the standard issue, regulation goofiness: mass destruction, contamination, starvation, millions dead at the outset and they’re the lucky ones, millions more die slowly later, yadda, yadda, yadda... His friendly advice? "Get strong in your spiritual life, get out of large cities and away from military sites and military storage facilities and get prepared to survive." And who wouldn’t want to, given such a sunny scenario, eh? (Reference from “The Ontario Consultants On Religious Tolerance”)
December 12, 1998 CE - The dangerously delusional Linda Newkirk created a whole website to spread the word that the U.S. would be ganged up on by global playground bullies Russia, China, a whole bunch a’ those trouble-making Middle-Eastern guys, plus NATO and the UN on 12-12-98. How did she know? Well, Jesus told her so, personally. Seems the J-Man has heart-to-hearts with her ‘bout the fate of the world on a daily basis. Lindy’s dictations from the Lord are as pricelessly funny as they are toxically odd. In fact, they’re so far out of Earth’s orbit, I almost took the place for a spoof page. I mean, what is one to make of a “vision” that describes a tiny, dancing goblin Bill Clinton making a Satanic pact with Nikita Khruschev (yes, of course Nicky’s been dead for decades...your point?) by drinking a blood and seltzer cocktail?
Interestingly enough, Linda likes to keep all her prophecies up and ready to read even after they fail miserably. When they do, she just comes up with an excuse (usually something ego-obsessed, along the lines of how lucky the world is to have someone like her praying for us and putting off the Lord’s Wrath) then cobbles together a new Doomsdate to go all ookie over. The best is saved for last when “Jesus” tells the reader that this website will soon disappear from the face of the ‘net due to the forces of evil. BUT, if you act now, all these pages PLUS valuable future updates can be had for a nominal donation of $50 US!...for orders within the United States. For International orders, the Lord jacks up the bill to $75. A must (MUST, I tell you!) read.
Sometime starting in ‘98, though really hitting the fan in ‘99, especially on the major fall holidays, but not really wrapping up until around 2002, or 2003, or 2004 CE...or something - Ping Wu, the writer of this confused and vague little page, doesn’t go into a lot of specifics, good or bad. Yet, that lack of content doesn’t keep him from blathering on for endless pages in an airy-fairy, fortune cookie style that conjures up memories of old Kung Fu episodes. (to be fair; the good ones from the ‘70’s, rather than the embarrassing ‘90’s version)
1999 - 2028 CE - Unintentionally hilarious site suggesting that WW III, the Great Chastisement (it’s a Catholic thang) and the end of the world will be visited upon us due to liberals and abortion. It’s a festival of loony predictions, Nostradamus interpretations and great, heaping, odoriferous piles of misinformation on abortion.
March 17, 1999 - April 6, 2000 CE - Still more fussing over the establishment of the State of Israel. This was the window of opportunity for anyone wanting to get in on the big Rapture pick-up, according to Ola Ilori. When it failed, he just kind of went, Oopsie! Did I say March/April 1999? Oh, darn! I meant to say March/April 2000! I was originally fielding guesses about what he’d mean to say by the next year. But, instead, Ola just went aloha after his second doomsdate dudd.
April, 1999 CE - The Dow Industrial Average as a sign of the End Times? Sure is, according to J. Adams, Webmaster of the "Spirit of Truth”. It seems that when the Dow reached the magic 10,000 point, a surprise world war was to break out like a big ol’ global rash. Well, the Dow done closed at 10,000 back on March 29, 1999 and I haven’t heard the air raid sirens blaring, yet. J doesn’t bother giving any excuse for the nuclear no-show, he just switched gears and now raves on and on in a similar fashion about Kosovo, Iraq, astrological signs and Bill Clinton.
April 3, 1999 CE - H.J. Hoekstra filled his cranium with the fluffy, cream filling known as Bible Math and, after some tortuously silly numerical contortions, spat out a Rapture date at the very start of the Spring rainy season. That may sound too run o’ the mill to merit a mention. But, it did have the advantage of being accompanied by H.J.’s chapter explaining why we’re living inside a hollow Earth. A highly amusing read, which unfortunately went completely missing just recently.
May 13, 1999, CE - The merry tag team of Kathleen & Thomas Stewart went and pegged Pentecost ‘99 for their Pre-Trib Rapture. Their main reasoning? They wanted it to happen then! And we all know that wishing makes it so, don’t we? Well, now that this date’s come and gone sans saintly vacuuming, their Pentacostal pumping page has inexplicably disappeared! (insert gasp of surprise here) Instead, these past-masters in the True Believer game of total denial just leaped headlong onto the Y2K bandwagon and busied themselves for a few months thumping for a more vague "sometime between now and New Year's-ish" Rapture recall...Which (need I even mention?) has also now vanished in a puff of html. Those who've been to this or their site before know they also had a deliriously wiggy page explaining how their belief in God hinged on Him granting their ardent prayers for triplets...until it was reaffirmed by Him not granting their prayers for triplets. A truly boggling example of the reason-proof mind at work, it has also gone mysteriously missing in the wake of the Penta-bust. With any luck, this heartwarming tale of cognitive dissonance is just getting a post-Y2K-flavored re-write and will reappear again, one day. Keep checking for updates.