Rich Galen

-- Financial transactions, timed and transmitted via those satellite, will fail, causing millions or billions in losses.

-- The GPS system will go wonky.

-- Flights between North America and Asia, over the North Pole, will have to be rerouted, as they were in April during a weak solar storm at a cost to the airlines of $100,000 a flight.

-- Oil pipelines, particularly in Alaska and Canada, will suffer corrosion as they, like power lines, conduct electricity from the solar storm.

• I am wasting your time with this because it seems to me that one could make the case that the sun god is becoming angry with us for thinking we – humans – control the Earth’s weather and is about to show us who is boss.

• Greek and Roman lore is full of examples of the gods taking steps to remind humans that we are but toys in the playpens of Mount Olympus or wherever they were hanging about while they tinkered with our lives.

• Sometimes we suffered because Greek gods, like humans, had trouble controlling their kids. The story of Phaëton the son of the sun god, Helios, is a good example.

• Phaëton got the keys to the family chariot, lost control of it (sound familiar so far?) and set fire to the Earth.

• In one version of the story, the chairman of the gods intervened by giving Phaëton a Leroy Jethro Zeus whack to the back of the head (actually he fired thunderbolts at the chariot) to save the Earth but did Phaëton in for the price of it.

• The sun is awakening from its slumber and we may be in for some major storms.

• iPads and smartphones; HD-TVs and laptops; cars and airplanes; anything electric … everything electric…

• Sitting. Idle.

• Just like in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (the Michael Rennie version, not the Keanu Reeves version).

• Maybe we should all go outside, look toward the sky (but not at the sun) and chant:

Klaatu barada nikto

• Or, like everything else, we can just forget about it and leave it to our kids and grandchildren to worry about.

• On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to as much as you can want to know about solar storms. Also to the myths of Phaëton, a topic-appropriate Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at