If You Build It, They Will Come.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Holy crap you guys, I got bad news. Inspired by a side note from the X-Files series finale, I did a little research, and have figured out how the Mayan Calendar works. I find that, contrary to popular belief, the Mayan Calendar is not a calendar at all. It's a countdown.

First of all let me address the respect the Mayan people deserve. This is a culture of people who figured out the nature of the earth and sun and moon and stars, back when Europeans were still figuring out how fish work. In fact, as early as 3200 BC, they had figured out that the earth was round and rotated around the sun, a notion that we didn't discover until around four thousand seven hundred years later. Now a days we fucntion on whats known as a Gregorian calendar. January, February, to December, and back to January again. You know the one. Now we have got computers, and satellites, and all kinds of clocks and what not. In 3114 BC, the Mayans created a calendar while living in rock huts. Our's is off by six hours every year. Which is why every four years we add a day. Theirs is off by only 19 minutes per year.

Those who believe in extra terrestrials are almost sure that aliens had something to do with it. Now I don't really know what my stance on aliens is, but honestly, I think it's actually more believable to say that another race of creatures has a civilization much more advanced than ours. They came to visit us, and showed the Mayan people how to tell time this acurately, than to say a race of primitive people happened to just stumble onto a calendar system so accurate that it can judge the rotation of the earth almost perfectly. And these people have never left central America. I'm not saying it was aliens. I'm saying that they knew something that we do not. They had some advanced knowledge that we nowadays cannot grasp or comprehend. Which brings me to the bad news.

The Mayan calendar stops.

There is a last day, according to the Mayans. Now our calendars have a last day too. December 31. But after that, we get a new calendar and go on to the next day, January 1 of the next year. The Mayans however have a real last day. As in December 31.... Blank.... Blank.... Blank.... Calendars don't end. But countdowns do. After the last day is what is called a zero date. The Gregorian calendar has a zero date as well. January 1, 0001. The zero date is based on the birth of Christ. But you see, the Mayan Calendar works like a clock, its round, cyclic. A zero date signifies to the Mayan people, the end of this existence. They have what is known as the "Long Count" which is like an hour hand. It's the one that takes the longest to get all the way around and all the other portions of time are equal fractions of the Long Count. One Long Count cycle, in fact, takes over 5000 years to happen. It begins on a zero date with the beginning of some giant event, something happened back then and they started this timer. And it ends on a zero date, one that is the night, the end of existence, another huge event of astronomical proportions. Ready for the good news?

The Long Count Cycle began August 11, 3114 BC. It ends on December 22, 2012. By my watch, that's ten years, seven months, and a day from now. So I guess that means I don't really need to save money for retirement.


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