Dec. 21, 2012

By John Toth

The Mayans may have been good at stuff like sacrificing humans to please the gods, but they did not know a hot to make a simple calendar.

They mixed it up pretty well. Rather than using round numbers (if they had any), they made the calendar so convoluted that it’s very difficult or impossible to follow.

For example, on Dec. 21, 2012, the calendar will display the equivalent of a string of zeros, which is supposedly the close of something like a millennium. Except, it’s not 1,000 years.

It’s the end of Baktun 13. The Mayan calendar was based on multiple cycles of time, and the baktun was one of them. A baktun is 144,000 days: a little more than 394 years.

That’s enough of that. It’s way too complicated. But give credit to the Mayans for even making a calendar, although not too many people back in those days were able to decipher it; probably as many as today.

Before we get any deeper into this doomsday column, lets see what the Mayans did to please their gods. Oh, yeah, like we mentioned before, they sacrificed humans.

This is from About.com:

“The common method for human sacrifice seems to have been for the “ah nacom” (a functionary) to extract the heart quickly, while four people associated with Chac, the rain/lightning god, held the struggling victim’s limbs. Human sacrifices seem to have been made, as well, with arrows, by flaying, decapitation, hurling from a precipice, and throwing the victim into a limestone sinkhole.”

And where did they find the unlucky victims?

“Warfare was one source of human sacrificial victims. It is thought that losers in the ballgames may also have sometimes been victims, and sacrifice appears to have been connected mainly with ballgames, festivals, and the assumption of power by a new king.”

I don’t think I would have played any type of ballgames over there. Let’s just say the stakes were too high.

So, these same people then decided to make a calendar, and happened to end it on Dec. 21 — maybe, as far as we can guess.

Now, thanks to the Mayans, some people thing the world is at risk of being sucked into a galactic alignment that day, and, all life as we know it, may come to an end. If you read this on Dec. 22, it didn’t happen.

If we’re hanging out in a big white room, or where there are lots of clouds, or it’s very hot, then it happened.

“In fact, astronomy cannot pinpoint such a ‘galactic alignment’ to within a year, much less a day,” wrote E. C. Krupp, Director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, in his article entitled “The Great 2012 Doomsday Scare.”

One thing is for sure. A lot of people have made a lot of money on the Mayans trying to figure out how to put a calendar together. One of these ventures was the 2009 movie “2012.”

It earned $166,112,167 in North America and $603,567,306 in other territories for a worldwide total of $769,679,473. Worldwide it is the 41st highest grossing film, the fifth highest-grossing 2009 film, and the fourth highest-grossing film distributed by Sony/Columbia.

O.K., I saw it also. It was worth the matinee price. I didn’t like very much that in the movie $1 billion could buy you a spot in the protective arc while those who were not chosen or were not billionaires just died as the world started breaking apart and then flooded.

But that’s beside the point.

The real point is that since we never know when the world is going to end, we should always be ready for it. That’s why I always have on clean underwear and plenty of cash to last a few days (provided I don’t buy expensive stuff). Here is the official doomsday survival kit:

• Food, water, and emergency blankets for three days and two people

• An extensive first aid kit

• Two light sticks for safety

• One backpack in which to keep your supplies packed and nearby.

This should get you by for a while should the world come to an end on Dec. 21.

Wait, doomsday means no Christmas this year and no New Year’s Eve party. Let’s hope the Mayans got this one wrong, or that the calendar is open to interpretation, which could postpone doomsday for another 2,000 years. By then we’ll have the technology to counteract whatever the Mayans can throw at us.

This doomsday prediction is getting pretty lame. Let’s close by going over what else the Mayans sacrificed to please the gods.

“Besides humans, the following objects were offered as sacrifices: manatees, jaguars, opposums, parrots, quail, owls, turtles, pumas, crocodiles, squirrels, insects, feathers, dogs, deer, iguanas, turkeys, rubber, cacao, maize, squash seeds, flowers, bark, pine boughs and needles, honey, wax, jade, obsidian, virgin water from caves, shells, and iron pyrite mirrors.”

O.K. Everything. Here is one more thing they should have sacrificed: Their lousy calendar.

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