Category Archives: Apocalypse-ish

The End Probably Isn’t Nigh

By ANDREW FLYNN, Managing Editor

Upon waking from a crushing night that extended into the wee morning hours of New Year’s Day, there was football. It was all day, and it was glorious. After the one good game that was played all day (Packers 132, Lions 127), my houseguests and I were flipping through channels in hopes to find something to stare at for a couple more hours besides each other. Goodness knows we’d done enough of that during the prior night, socializing and all. Yuck, right?

2012 was on the Starz channel all day, so we caught the latter half of one showing. I guess it was fairly predictable that this moviefilm would be on somewhere, playing back-to-back ad nauseum until the Gregorian calendar flipped over to January 2nd. It did finish out its theatrical run back in the fall of 2009, and has made the rounds on premium cable since a few months later than that. It’s not the best movie ever made, but it does have some of the best disaster-porn scenes ever made by a few hundred million dollars and a decent director. So it’s a ridiculous time, and the indulgence was ours.

The movie’s subject matter begs conversation, if not civil, then definitely of the post-hangover-kind-of-obnoxious variety. We batted ideas of theology and human history back and forth, mainly centering on the Mayans and how they perceived the Winter Solstice of 2012 to be the end of something, if not the end of the world.

Now, is it really going to be the end of the world in 2012? The Mayans used a calendar known in nerd and anthropology circles as the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. In this method of keeping track of sunrises (big ball of sky-fire arrives!) and sunsets (big ball of sky-fire goes mimi!) as it pertained to their lives, they appeared to be mathematically proficient to a degree. They have these periods called b’ak’tuns which are equivalent to 144,000 days. One of these is a “great cycle” of sorts, and rightfully so. That’s a fucking long time for anyone. It also kind of sounds like something Bill Cosby used talk us into riding around town, a la those beautiful educational filmstrips that we used to see in grades school that were leftover from the 1970s.

Then the Mayans died out, and left a lot of shit buried in the ground in Mexico and a legacy of potential doom. Logic creeps into these kind of arguments, even ones that are held between 30-something adults who had too much beer and scotch the night before. Objectively enough, we did arrive at a cogent opinion based in reason and not fear. Since 144,000 days is about 395 years, and the Mayans existed for less than ten of these, they were probably ego-centric enough to believe that time was short, and that all things ended, just as a person’s life does.

Yeah, people die, and don’t have a long shelf life. At least not in the life of this universe and all its grandeur. Where there is a beginning, there has to be an ending. Humans of any era or religion have always proved to be ego-centric enough to believe that their kind is the last to experience all that is real and truthful. Based on this conjecture, we concluded that while the Mayans’ supposed prophecy was based in a type of educated math and astronomy, it was still riddled with fallacy. Enough to quell any fear that any of us in the room had at least.

People have been saying that the world will end every since it began. Cavemen peered out from under the rocks thinking that it was the end. The smarter cavemen, anyways. Most of them were savaging the land for food and women and warmth, those three things not necessarily being mutually exclusive. Fast-forward to the modern era, leaders of religious movements from all walks of life have told us that the times are near to be closing. They’ve always been wrong, even if they believe that their math is sound, like that one old craggily man on that internet radio show about fearmongering or something.

Just as May 21 came and went last year, so did October 21, and so will December 21 of this year. And then you’ll actually have to end up buying people Christmas presents after all. You lazy, lazy holiday gift shopper you.

And that’s my giving a damn.


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