We decided that, if the end of the Mayan long count calendar means the world ends today, we’d rather not face the music in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a wonderful city, of course, but we decided the end of the world requires something . . . different. Something . . . Caribbean. Something that allows us to greet the end of society as we know it with toes in the sand, cold and fruity tropical beverage in hand, and a view like this one in front of us.
So, we’re here in Antigua. where it’s warm and bright and last night we enjoyed this stunning sunset. I’d say we’re ready.
The big problem with the Mayans is that they weren’t very clear about what would happen when this latest bak’tun cycles down to nothingness. Will old Earth be smashed to bits by a comet or a hidden planet? Will returning aliens land on the Gaza plateau and plains of Chichen Itza? Will the 22nd mark the commencement of the Apocalypse, Ragnarok, and the return of vengeful Mayan gods, ready to give puny humans their comeuppance? Or, as I prefer to think, will the end of the unlucky 13th bak’tun herald the beginning of a blissful new era of enlightenment where negotiations about “fiscal cliffs” are quickly consummated to the satisfaction of all and the Cleveland Browns win dozens of Super Bowls?
We’ll find out soon enough. If I’m right, on the 22nd all of those panicky folks are going to feel pretty silly, wasting their money on candles and food instead of buying Cleveland Browns paraphernalia that you can get a bargain prices these days.
Our New Year arrives carrying some apocalyptic baggage. Many people have focused on the significance of 2012 under the Mayan calendar, and whether the calendar predicts that 2012 will bring the end of the world. It’s even been the subject of a hilariously over-the-top disaster movie.
According to this BBC article, however, that apocalyptic interpretation of the Mayan calendar is in error. The Mayan “long count” calendar, which began in 3114 BC, proceeds in 394-year periods called Baktuns. 2012 marks the end of the 13th Baktun, which is supposed to mark certain celestial alignments and herald the return to Earth of a powerful god and the start of a new era. So, the end of the “long count” calendar just marks the end of an era, not the end of the world.
Whew! What a relief! I was concerned that, of all the civilizations, religions, and cults in the history of mankind that have predicted the end of the world, a civilization that engaged in ritual human sacrifice and other bloody practices and hit its high point more than 1,000 years ago might have just been the one to get it right.
The structure, located in the Mojave Desert in California, was constructed by AT&T in 1965 to protect the telecommunications infrastructure from nuclear attack. And it has just about all the disaster scenario bases covered, too. It was “built to withstand a 50-megaton nuclear blast 10 miles away, 450mph winds, a magnitude-10 earthquake, 10 days of 1,250°F surface fires, and three weeks beneath any flood.”
The promoter of the project also knows his end-of-days stuff. He notes that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world on December 21, 2012. Other possible cataclysms include solar flares with electromagnetic pulses that pulverize the power grid and lead to social anarchy, direct asteroid hits, and plagues.
Yes, but would it protect us against zombie attacks?