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2012-12-20

World ends Friday! Or not

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

If you are not reading this, that means the world truly did end Dec. 21 and the joke is on me! I must confess to never being drawn into the 2012 apocalyptic fears based on the Mayan calendar. I simply assumed those scientifically astute ancient peoples had run out of room on their round carving stone.
"Hmmm. I've filled up the entire circle," the diligent carver murmured to himself. "Let's see, I've gotten to Dec. 21, 2012. That's a couple of thousand of years right here on this one convenient calendar. I think that's far enough. If anyone is still around then, they can start carving their own calendar!"
And with that, he put down his hammer and chisel and went to the local pub for a few rounds of balché and chocolate and a well-deserved break.
In French, Dec. 21, 2012, is referred to as La Fin du Monde Day. Lots of bars will host Eve of Destruction parties this evening. Some of the partiers who overindulge probably will probably wish the world had ended Friday.
NASA issued a press release earlier this month reassuring everyone that the space center folks do not expect the world to end Friday.
The end-of-the-world supporters have tied the approach of Nibiru, a phantasmagorical planet discovered by the Sumerians, with the end of one of the many cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar. There's no Nibiru, says NASA.
Others claim our solar system's planets will align in space, thus wreaking havoc in the form of tsunamis, floods, storms and power blackouts. Some have even gone so far as to predict that the earth will change the direction of its rotation, like a kind of cosmic Chicken Dance.
"There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012," NASA said.
OK, my hat's off to the scientists at NASA. I'm a big fan of science. But ...
Yes, but! What about the movies? What about the documentaries on cable TV? What about the experts with British accents? They can't say those things if they aren't true, can they?
Could it be possible that NASA gurus may be overlooking significant evidence?
After all, for centuries the "experts" believed Earth floated in the center of the universe.
For centuries, the "experts" believed Earth was flat.
For decades, the "experts" believed we would one day be inundated with horse poop, since no one envisioned the invention of any other form of transportation.
For a few years, the "experts" thought Billy Ray Cyrus could sing.
Sometimes, it's best to be wary of "experts."
It's easy to understand how people who have studied the Mayan calendar might get a bit confused. The ancient Mesoamerican calendar features numerous cycles: the 260-day count cycle, the 365-day solar cycle, shorter cycles of 13 days and 20 days, (possibly known as the bi-cycle and the menstrual cycle, respectively), the Long Count, a lunar cycle and a 584-day Venus cycle. Could it be possible that staring at objects going round and round for long lengths of time could result in nausea, dizziness, disorientation and half-baked theories?
Their emphasis on repetitious cycles reflected what the Mayans observed in nature, focusing their spiritual lives and daily living on the imagery of death and rebirth.
Theorists propose that the calendars came from mathematical operations, the length of human pregnancy, astronomy, geography, archaeology and planting and harvest times of important crops.
According to Wikipedia, "Misinterpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is the basis for a popular belief that a cataclysm will take place on Dec. 21, 2012. Dec. 21, 2012 is simply the day that the calendar will go to the next b'ak'tun, at Long Count 13.0.0.0.0." In other words, the Mayans are just flipping the calendar over to the next cycle.
I like to think of it as Captain Kirk on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise announcing the Star Date for Earth's next adventure. However, a cataclysm might make life more interesting in good ol' Bantucky.