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 www.hipasiwannabe.com):
“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 . . . .
- 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 . . . .