National Geographic, The Doomsday Machine
June 12, 2012 6:41 AM   Subscribe

"This beautiful, educational, erudite, and thoroughly appreciated publication is the heretofore unrecognized instrument of doom..." MetaFilter loves National Geographic magazine; the beloved publication is mentioned in over 100 front-page posts. You may not know that in 1974, science humor magazine The Journal of Irreproducible Results printed an article warning of the threat posed by National Geographic magazine; because no one throws the magazine away, the combined weight of millions of back issues would eventually trigger earthquakes and other disasters. Readers of the magazine gleefully joined the "controversy" and submitted tongue-in-cheek rebuttals and letters to the editor. JIR's website has the collection of articles related to the joke.
posted by DWRoelands (22 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:43 AM on June 12, 2012 [7 favorites]

The thing, though, is that the Earth is a closed system; the weight gained from the production of the magazine is offset by the weight lost from cutting down the trees to mill the paper to produce said magazines. QED.

Yes, I know this is tongue-in-cheek. I just hope someone said something like that becuase duh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on June 12, 2012

the beloved publication is mentioned in over 100 front-page posts.

I am more in fear of what disaster will come from the weight of accumulated SLYT posts.
posted by three blind mice at 7:03 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Now just imagine what would happen if everybody in China jumped off a stack of National Geographics simultaneously!
posted by briank at 7:05 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

If nobody throws them away, how do you explain the boxes of NG I constantly find at the dump?

(And leave there, because seriously.)
posted by DU at 7:06 AM on June 12, 2012

I am more worried about how try to become a National Geographic cover animal has driven animals to become cuter and cuter.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:07 AM on June 12, 2012

I tried to get National Geographic to come out with an all nude issue. Natives Gone Wild! or something like that. They took it under advisement.

I used to do tech support at a library. We had issues of this magazine going back decades. We got in this Anti-librarian that gave all these issues to the art department for collages, since "I can get them all on DVD now."
posted by cjorgensen at 7:07 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Old New Yorkers, and whether to keep or toss, is a very toxic issue in my household.
posted by Danf at 7:17 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used to have a huge old collection of NG going back to the 30s. There were so many great stories and photos, and it was interesting to see the imperialist perspective of earlier issues. I carried them around for years until I got sick of it and started going through them, cutting out pictures and ads for collages (which I still feel guilty for). But one of the oddest things I found was this.
posted by Red Loop at 7:20 AM on June 12, 2012 [8 favorites]

I don't think there's but a handful of times I haven't raised my camera and simultaneously started up the theme song in my head. Then I laugh, because I'm taking a picture of the cat. We loved that magazine as kids, and my dad and I - amateur photographers at best - just shake our heads at some of the shots and the circumstances required to get them.

I'd show him one I took of an alligator or something, and he comes back with a "what, you didn't get down in the water on your hands and knees and go eye-ball to eye-ball with the beast? you'll never get into national geographic with a zoom lens" &c.

When a magazine regularly weaves its way into the family language, you know you're a fan.

But don't get me started on their Kids magazine, which is absolutely horrendous.
posted by jquinby at 7:25 AM on June 12, 2012

This potential global calamity is dwarfed by the danger that somewhere, a rubber band collector will build a rubber band ball so large that, when one more rubber band is added, the combined inward pressure of all those rubber bands is sufficient to create a black hole in the ball's center, which will then proceed to suck the entire Earth into itself.
posted by beagle at 7:26 AM on June 12, 2012

I always knew the end of the world was going to start in my mom's basement.
posted by vytae at 7:26 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

"anti-librarian" is good, I'm going to need to use that.
posted by DU at 8:06 AM on June 12, 2012

If getting rid of old National Geographics is anti-librarian, somebody forgot to tell the librarians.
posted by box at 8:16 AM on June 12, 2012

Old New Yorkers, and whether to keep or toss, is a very toxic issue in my household.

Sometimes I feel a twinge of regret when doing so, but old NYers are discarded from my home when they're done. I at least take them to my mom so she can read them first.

I'm going to have this issue with Lapham's Quarterly, though.
posted by LionIndex at 8:20 AM on June 12, 2012

"I can get them all on DVD now."

And so can you.
The complete collection: Includes every issue from 1888 to 2009—over 1,400 issues with every article, map, diagram, and advertisement, and 200,000 photographs.
It's true that the white man's outlook is pretty thick in the earlier issues.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:12 AM on June 12, 2012

I leave old New Yorkers at bus stops for others to stumble upon, like a jewel. Or give them to baristas at coffee shops.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:40 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm going to have this issue with Lapham's Quarterly, though.

This is indeed a problem. First off they cost as much as a book ($15 an issue). Second, they are thick and take space quick. Third, LQ is a gateway to reading the full works quoted, the ones that are interesting. I am so far behind that curve and the issues keep coming. It seemed better to stop the flow at the source, I can always buy back issue omnibuses when I've caught up (not reading LQ, which is done, but reading in full interesting works quoted). My LQ's are loaded with BookDarts.
posted by stbalbach at 9:52 AM on June 12, 2012

Ever try to give away a collection of NAtGeos? Right. That's why DU finds them at the dump. Next try giving away the Five Foot Shelf or Harvard Classics.
posted by Cranberry at 11:54 AM on June 12, 2012

odinsdream, you just scared the heck outta me. "MetaTalk?! How did I make someone mad with THIS?!" :)
posted by DWRoelands at 1:47 PM on June 12, 2012

National Geographic! I tip my hat. My family surely has years and years of it stowed away somewhere (just like we have Readers' Digests from 1970, I kid you not). Wow, this is making me nostalgic - not just for the thrill of reading National Geographics for the first time, but getting parcels! finding out what the post office staff took their permanent markers to! whining for subscriptions to be renewed!

My father subscribed to the kids magazine for me, while he was living in the US. (And we weren't.) I remember being slightly affronted (at five!) since I wanted the real one, but the romance five-year-olds imbue the post with took over. It remains one of the things that reminds me how awesome my dad is. (Ooh, in time for Father's Day!)
posted by undue influence at 6:46 PM on June 12, 2012

because no one throws the magazine away

OH RLY? I have the hologram from the first hologram cover. No prob tossing the rest.
posted by Twang at 8:21 PM on June 12, 2012

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