Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Mayans are coming - run for your life!

I’m writing this blog thing for something like three years and a half years now, and looking back, I find it hard to believe it still exists. Every week (almost without fail) I write about something that is interesting me at the moment. I’d guess it’s mostly split among politics, history, culture and miscellaneous. It’s never been a struggle, although sometimes when I have to goddamn work that gets in the way. My sole policy is to stick to what I’m thinking about, and only to try and please my audience in trifling matters.

Naturally, since it’s my blog, I think the topics are interesting and varied. Most weeks I have between two and ten readers. Even if it were two, that’s about twice what the average blog has, so, yeah for me. If it was about getting readers or making money for me, I would have stopped three and a quarter years ago.

And, I admit, my blogs are far longer than the average blog, which, is the most frequent comment I get (never, shockingly, as a compliment). Still, when I want to say something I want to say what I think and that takes me time. When I’ve written the handful of op-eds the local paper has published, I’ve never felt I could say all that I wanted in the just 700 word limit. That was work.

This is just an outlet for me to talk about things I want to talk about but don’t get a lot of opportunity. A few years ago my friends, middle aged, started having kids and buying houses. Suddenly, and naturally, the conversations with many of them started coalescing around kids and kitchen cabinets. Now, I don’t mind talking about kids and kitchen cabinets. BUT NOT ALL THE TIME, OKAY? I waited a few years before expressing my feelings about it, and then casually let it be known – can we sometimes talk about something else? The men, honestly, were all for it, but it was nigh impossible to get the mother’s to talk about anything else in a public arena. And, we know who wins these things, no? Perhaps this is also why my child bearing female friends find me so much less important these days. Y’think?

For me, this change represented the end of one era and the start of another. So, no doubt it was one of the reasons I started this blog – another era - because I find Nikolai Tesla and the origins of Santa Claus and mountain men and George Patton and the presidential campaign and ancient kings and Tolkien and so on, much more interesting than babies and kitchen tiles (and I actually have a kid).

So, you can imagine my disgust when I read a New York Times article about the HUGE SUCCESS of mommy bloggers who WRITE ABOUT THEIR KIDS! They were invading my territory, the one I escaped to so I could blather on about stuff I find interesting and they can blather all they want about bottles and diapers and wall paper.

Here’s roughly half an article from one of these mommy blogs (found at

“There is an emerging trend in my household and I am not sure how to feel about it. Part of me is amused. Part of me is sad. Part of me is frightened to death.

My sons have discovered GIRLS.

A couple of weeks ago I mused about how iCarly had stolen Young Jedi’s heart. At that moment it was funny because he had never had an interest before. In fact, he had repeatedly told me how gross they were. She wasn’t really a threat.

But the mommy gloves are now off. Selena Gomez is now in the picture and he is OBSESSED. Compounded with that is the fact that Tiny Ninja (who is 10) has claimed his long time friend (who shall not be named) is his true love and he is going to marry her.

Both boys are discussing kissing. . . .”

I only gave you half her article because a few lines in I started shaking and three quarters the way through I went into a 20 minute coma. I could get all smug and laugh at her, except, she gets about THIRTY SIX THOUSAND HITS A MONTH. And that’s just one of these blogs. There are apparently lots of them and lots of mommies (God, I hope it’s just mommies) reading them.

Let me put this in mathematical terms. That means I get, taking the largest number of possible hit I get a month, somewhere in the range of 1/3600 of the hits this MOMMY WRITING ABOUT HER SONS LOOKING AT GIRLS GETS!!!!

So, basically, any mother can sit down and write the stuff that makes all non-parents and parents of older kids and people too young to be parents – stifle a yawn if it goes on too long, and plenty of people read her. And I can stand on my head and write all stuff you see on the sidebar to this blog and almost no one reads it.

Oh, well. Maybe if I thoroughly proofed these posts before I published them I’d get more hits. Sure, maybe that’s it. And maybe Shakira is going to knock on my door in three, two, one – nope.

Actually all it really does is confirm my view that I was not meant for this world.

So, you might be asking yourself exactly where I’m going with this diatribe, because I still mean to write about something that I find interesting and if you look at the title of this post, it has nothing to do with cradles or pacifiers or even kitchen tiles.

I’m going to talk about the END OF THE WORLD, which is apparently coming quite soon. So, I’m told.

Someone mentioned to me recently that according to the Mayans, the world was going to end in 2012. Because I’m an arrogant know-it-all, I couldn’t let them have their fun and immediately said – no, not the end, but the completion of the turn of the wheel. And then we start again. Nothing more.

It’s been years since I’ve studied the Mayans at all, maybe 20 to 30 years. It’s been probably 15 years or more since I visited Chichén Itzá in Mexico, climbed the temple there and walked through the ancient ball courts. But, I remember some stuff about them. Much of it is difficult, as is all history, but due to lack of evidence, Meso-American history is particularly so.

The Mayans were actually not the first of my Meso-American interests. First were the Incas, then the Olmecs, and then the Toltecs and then the Mayans and last the Aztecs. The Olmecs probably preceded the others, but it is very difficult to tell who got what from whom. For example, modern scholarship seems to indicate a belief that the Mexicans or Aztecs took much from the Mayans and even more from the Toltecs and were their inferiors in it all, not including warfare. But, each group no doubt contributed, just as, for example, in Europe. In fact, due to invasions and migrations and the like, no one can quite clearly say where the dividing lines actually were.

No doubt the main interest for me about these groups was their developed civilizations complete with complex governments, monumental buildings, roads, highly ornamental art, engineering and agriculture, written language, complicated math and various inventions, taxes, rubber products, medicine, raised and incredibly straight roadways, blah, blah, blah (what’s my motto? – this isn’t Wikipedia – look it up yourself).

And, of course, there was their astonishing calendars, which required a deep knowledge of astronomy as well as math. The Mayans took the calendars to a higher level, as they did writing and art, of all the groups, and they often get the most attention. However, that is also possibly because the left a true written record – their system, although comprised of pictographs, was partially syllabic.

There really wasn’t just one Mayan calendar; there were many. Thanks to Bishop Landa, a Spaniard, we will never know as he destroyed much of the Mayan records. Ironically, scholars were able to finally decipher the Mayan writing system starting with the highly flawed writings of Landa himself.

We use calendars to keep track of time, but for them the calendar provided religious, spiritual, predictive, astrological, and other purposes – even things like predicting the gender of a child. Among them they had a calendar synchronized to the human gestation period. Another was a 52 year cycle, five of those being the 260 year cycle and a thousand of those being the 26,000 year cycle (you might or might not want to know that the Mayans used 13 and 20 as their most significant numbers – 13 x 20 = 260). But, 26,000 years was nothing to them. There is evidence of their calculating dates into the hundreds of millions of years (for all the good it did them).

Not to get too deep into the mythology, which along with their writing, was my main focus in my youth, but in traditional Mayan belief, humans come from four races and the Mayans from the red race. There were apparently many gods, but there was possibly a Godlike god as well, known as Hunab K’u. Actually, he may not have been personalized, but more like a creative force, and there is some belief he is a post-Christian creation modeled after the Western God and even the puppet-God of Catholic missionaries whom they associated with another high godm Itzamná (but sometimes he was Hunab K’u’s son). Scholars can’t find reference to HK before the Spanish came, but then again, so much was destroyed, it is not possible to say with certainty. As I said, it is all rather confusing.

The Mayans also measured the days (“k’in,” that is, the sun) and 20 days made a month and 18 days made a year (360 – not quite). They did know the year was actually 365 days and had a separate calendar. Indeed, they apparently understood that there was a quarter day in there too and calculated it almost exactly – 365.2420 to our 365.2422 – off by seconds (I have some doubts about their 365 day calendar, although it is popularly believed and need to read some scholarly articles to satisfy my cynicism).

Actually, to make matters more confusing – they used that calendar for secular purposes and the 360 day year for the long count described below and a 260 day long calendar for religious purposes. It is interesting, to say the least, that the 360 days of a calendar, usually circular in design (typical of Meso-America since around 500 b.c.), would so exactly correspond to our mathematical degrees – 360 degrees in a circle. They also calculated Venus’ year to within a day. It is possible they did the same with Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Saturn.

One of the Mayan calendars is known as “the long count” and goes for a period of 144,000 days or roughly 394 years. The initial year in our Gregorian calendar was in 3114 B.C., although we do not have historical evidence about the Mayans that far back. The end of the 13th B’ak’tun (that’s the roughly 394 years) should occur about December 21, 2012, give or take a day or so. Eventually, somewhere around the 16th century or thereafter, they discontinued the long count and began the short count. Scholars have never been able to quite figure out just how the short count fit into the long count.

There is no doubt, that all of the end of the world hoopla is a modern day creation patterned after the Y2K nonsense at the beginning of 2000 (a date upon which I won a bet with a friend who thought cataclysmic events would occur). There is no evidence whatsoever that the Mayans thought the end of any of their calendars cycles resulted in the end of the world (leaving aside that the thought that a man created measuring system could end the world is just absurd to begin with) although there is some evidence of a belief in the world ending and being reborn on more than one occasion. In fact, Mayan predictions certainly go farther into the future than the end of 2012. Besides, quite frequently there have been ends to the 52 year period calendar. Nothing happened. Our calendar just went through its millennium and again, nothing happened. The Russians apparently thought the world was ending in 1492. Why in the world would just one of the Mayan calendars coming to the end of its cycle mean anything different?

If you have any interest in this stuff, I have to warn you about the Mayanism, which is sort of a mystical new age version of Mayan history and mythology. Hunbatz Men, who I’ve read, just to see how credible it was, is probably the leader in this field. He did not pass my intuitive tests. However, he would claim that he is the descendant of a long line of Mayan holy men, and he knows better than the white scholars, who he often derides. Even if he is genuine, he is not scholarly, and takes the traditions he likes as substituting for it. At least, this is in my opinion.

Those of you who religiously watched the X-Files may have noted that the long awaited day of the alien invasion is set for December 22, 2012, one day after the end/beginning of the B’ak’tun. What date could be more appropriate?

But, you knew all this and were probably really hoping I’d tell you stories about my kid when she was growing up. Well, once, and this was really cute . . . .


  1. Hey David! Found your blog and your quote on me. I'm sure your mind went numb when you read that post. hehe!

    A couple of things you should know - First of all, my blog does NOT GET 36,000 hits. That is Scary Mommy. The blog she referenced of mine is my personal one, more geared towards "moms” and my extended family, not the professional blog she and I discussed attached to my business ( or my Washington Times blog or my professional blogging services.

    I am a business owner, writer (Maryland Life Magazine, style editor for Frederick Magazine, former Bureau Chief for Sony Worldwide Networks) and, of course, a mom. Now, I am referencing all of these things only to let you know that "we" are so much more than then "mommy bloggers." (A term that I personally loathe.)

    And while I appreciate that your head might explode for the content that you found, please consider the fact that this specific woman went in there with an agenda and created a story around it. Our conversation was geared around my business and how my blogging and social media skills are enabling me to assist my clients in their online endeavors. All she quoted me in saying was “we live our lives online.” Err, okay.

    Anyway, nice to “meet” you. Good luck on your own blogging journey.

  2. Anonymous7:00 AM

    I think "almost no one reads you" because you are a terribly boring writer...not because of the amount of vapid mommy bloggers supporting each others boring blogs. Just saying.

  3. Anonymous7:32 AM

    I'm not a blogger or a mommy, but I do enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of my friends or interesting stories about how mom's lives have changed since having children because I may someday still become a 'mommy.' I don't find it vapid or boring, unless I had to read it ALL the time. But it's an amusing side of life nonetheless and these people are much more well-rounded than you give them credit for. Just because ONE blog is about being a mommy (to which there is a huge following) does not mean that that is all there is to them. I've talked with many a mom who had far more interesting things to talk about than family, but since family is such a huge part of who we are, I fully support and applaud those willing to put their thoughts out there to help others gain insight, add humor to our lives, or just reach out to help others feel like they are not alone. Good luck to you in your future blogging endeavors.

  4. Well. This is what I find so amazing about the blogosphere...there is something for everyone. People who care about kids (like myself as I am one of the dreaded Mommy Bloggers) and those of us interested in learning about the Mayan calendar and how the world is on its last leg (I tend to lean toward the restart of the wheel theory myself, but as I'm a Dumb Mom not sure it matters).

    Hipasiwannabe is a blog that entices moms for being inspirational and motivational. She is a great resources for other things (like fitness and business and PR) that make her relatable and useful aside from the fact that she is a mom.

    As for myself, I think something that draws people to my specific brand of mom blogging is that it's funny. People are into funny stuff, especially when it is something they can relate to. Not as many people read the stuff text books are made of in their leisure time. At least not many moms, and I'm thinking that there are more of us (who are, or who want to be, or who will be soon) than there are of you.

    The most awesome part about blogs is that it's easy to just navigate away. There are tons of mommy blogs I won't read (because they are boring and that makes them suck). And there are tons of non mommy blogs that I love to read (because they aren't boring and that makes them awesome). Point is there is a place for all of us. And not all of us are useless. Some of us even have multiple advanced degrees, sucessful careers, and involvement in numerous activities outside of blogging that make us sorta know what we're talking about even if you do think it's boring.

    P.S. I'm sending Dumb Dad your way as he's into all types of history and specifically that which pertains to ancient civiliations from Middle and South America. He's a nerd like that and I love him for it!

    Feel free to leave evil comments on my blog, just not on today's post. Today I have a guest who incidentally is a father. He's kind enough to be sharing about his battle with kidney disease, something some of us mom bloggers are also knowledgable about!

  5. Love the Mayan stuff. I'm a fan of Mayan history, and sure, the popular reading of it is all "wrong", but I don't think they were trying to get it "right". It seems like "they" were just creating a myth to use to publicize a really dumb movie. As for the mommybloggers, I am a misfit as well, and just don't get it, but I appreciate their good humored rebuttals. Men would have been meaner. Vive la difference! At least you know someone is paying attention.

  6. Oh, boy. Oh, boy. I pissed off the most powerful, relentless and determined group of people in the world - moms.

    These are probably the funniest comments I ever received. Imagine the chills I got when I saw the author of hipasiwannabe reply. Who knew? Actually, she had a pretty good sense of humor about it, expecially considering that I said I went into a coma when I was reading hers (I was exaggerating). And, thanks for the correction.

    As to some of the less happy comments, relax ladies. First, I really was making fun of myself, although it might have seemed like I was making fun of you (actually, never in a million years did I think any mommy was going to read it). I wasn't complaining about mommy talk, but hearing years of nothing else and then seeing it invade my "safe place" - the blogosphere and kvetching that it is so much more appreciated then the things I find interesting.

    Believe it or not I subscribe to a blog written by a "mommy" friend of mine and I read it all the time. In fact, my own deceased sainted mom used to write magazine articles about her kids long ago (with typewriter).

    As for parentingBYdummies, I don't leave evil comments on blogs, so no worries. But, I promise to take a look at yours.

    But, you all did teach me a lesson - if I just put the word "mommy" into the title of my blog, who knows how many hits I'll get? Maybe 36,000 a month.

    Thanks to all for your comments, especially the one who told me I was a boring writer. At least you didn't say I was long winded too. Love those best.

  7. BTW, just so you know, I wasn't the anonymous commenter who said you are "terribly boring".

    It was funny though; after reading the post and the comments I said "Uh Oh" he really stepped in it.
    But it may increase traffic- at least by "Dumd Dad"(who probably is an interesting fellow).

    And you thought it was tough refereeing the scrums between me and Bear!

  8. There were many possibilities for the identity of the "boring writer" commenter, fortunately limited by my infinitesimally small readership.

  9. So.... what was really cute?

  10. Guess what, David?! I think I'm gonna start reading your blog. I'm not too interested in history (despite also having been a history teacher in my former life; I know I'm a poser), but it was an informative post (which you seem to have a lot of). Plus. I freakin' like you. You're witty, you seem smart, and you took all of this stuff in stride. Some buckle under the pressure of a mommy scorned; a characteristic I both love and hate. And, for the record, I like evil comments. Gives me something to blog about other than my bloody children:)! So, have you come by yet? Feel free to leave a comment. I will appreciate your insight and I'll warn all my mommy frenz to be nice.

  11. Well, who'd a thunk? Thanks for the nice comments, Miss former history teacher (no worries - all teachers are posers - the honest ones admit it). The regular readers are going to think I paid you. I did, in fact, go to parentingBYdummies last night, but I did not leave a comment. There is a lot going on there. I often leave comments on political blogs, but I can be shy about leaving comments on other ones due to my obvious propensity to accidentally offend people. But, tell you what. I will come by tonight and have something to say, if I can figure it out (I can't even figure out how to get a password on youtube). But, I have to warn you, I am highly critical of modern day parenting and can make myself very unpopular in company. Take a look at the first topic on last week's post "Kvetching Sunday," and see if you don't regret the invitation. I also wrote a post on education (10/15/07) that might just interest (or offend) you. Thanks again for the kind words.

  12. David...what a great start to my morning as I caught up on my monthly fix of your blog. First, I chuckled over your post, but then, those chuckles burst into full-blown laughter (with a huge smile still on my lips stretching out those 200 muscles) as I read the far-reaching comments. Little brother, you have made it big time, attracting the attention of "the mommies" of which of course I am one. And I am definitely going to take a look at ParentingByDummies and HipAsIWannaBe especially as they may give me a way to support parents with crucial info (nope, not about pacifiers despite that I so tried -- unsuccessfully -- to get my own kiddos to use them) but to help parents of kids with learning challenges. Thanks for the heads up -- I too loved their good-natured responses, and as always your ability to laugh at yourself!
    (and as I've learned to do to attract those parents needing special education help:)
    Yael Jan


Your comments are welcome.

About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .