Are you prepared for the Mayan Apocalypse?
Mark your calendars for December 21. That's the day that the silliest rumor in history will either come true...or not.
It's the Mayan Apocalypse and while it's too easy to make sport of those who are preparing for it, the fact is, there is hysteria being generated and my guess is a lot of people are going to get hurt - or perhaps die.
In America Ron Hubbard, a manufacturer of hi-tech underground survival shelters, has seen his business explode.
"We've gone from one a month to one a day," he said. "I don't have an opinion on the Mayan calendar but, when astrophysicists come to me, buy my shelters and tell me to be prepared for solar flares, radiation, EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) ... I'm going underground on the 19th and coming out on the 23rd. It's just in case anybody's right."
In the French Pyrenees the mayor of Bugarach, population 179, has attempted to prevent pandemonium by banning UFO watchers and light aircraft from the flat topped mount Pic de Bugarach.
According to New Age lore it as an "alien garage" where extraterrestrials are waiting to abandon Earth, taking a lucky few humans with them.
Russia saw people in Omutninsk, in Kirov region, rushing to buy kerosene and supplies after a newspaper article, supposedly written by a Tibetan monk, confirmed the end of the world.
The city of Novokuznetsk faced a run on salt. In Barnaul, close to the Altai Mountains, panic-buyers snapped up all the torches and Thermos flasks.
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, even addressed the situation.
"I don't believe in the end of the world," before adding somewhat disconcertingly: "At least, not this year."
In China, which has no history of preoccupation with the end of the world, a wave of paranoia about the apocalypse can be traced to the 2009 Hollywood blockbuster "2012".
The film, starring John Cusack, was a smash hit in China, as viewers were seduced by a plot that saw the Chinese military building arks to save humanity.
To their eternal discredit, the History Channel has been running a series of programs for years on the end of the world relating to the Mayans. And while they are careful to offer a sane scientist debunking this nonsense, the fact that they have dozens of lunatics preaching Armageddon makes them at least partially culpable if the hysteria results in deaths.
One thing is clear; the end of the world is good for business.