Friday, December 21st, it’s said that the Maya calendar will end and some terrible cataclysm will befall the earth. As it turns out, the calendar doesn’t end; it merely rolls over to the next baktun. December 20th will be 188.8.131.52.19 in the Maya calendar, and December 21st will be 184.108.40.206.0. So on one hand, there’s nothing to see here. But on the other hand, there is a fascinating story behind the significance of 220.127.116.11.0 and the start of the 13th baktun.
The Popul Vuh, which is the Maya Book of the People, tells the story of four different creations. The two most important gods in the story are Heart of Sky and Sovereign and Quetzal Serpent. Another of the gods is called The Framer and The Shaper. Together, these gods are known as the Forefathers. Heart of Sky is himself described as a trinary god, made up of Thunderbolt Huracan, Youngest Thunderbolt, and Sudden Thunderbolt. Plus there are also other gods called She Who Has Borne Children and He Who Has Begotten Sons. Great White Peccary also has a minor role among the Maya gods, but that’s not really relevant to the end of the world.
In the first creation, Heart of Sky, together with Sovereign and Quetzal Serpent, created animals. But the Forefathers wanted to be praised for their work, and the animals had no voices. As much as the Forefathers cajoled the animals, all they could do was grunt and growl. This wasn’t good enough, so the Forefathers created people out of mud. The problem was that these mud people were too delicate. They washed away in the rain, and they dissolved when they fell into water. Thus, they were also unable to praise the Forefathers. Eventually, the Forefathers grew tired of this, and they destroyed the mud people.
Next, the Forefathers created wood people. The wood people were more durable, but they lacked intellect and they refused to praise the Forefathers. When the Forefathers grew angry with the wood people, they were destroyed in quite a gruesome manner. Their limbs were broken and they were burned with fire. A great flood of resin rained down upon the wood people, and when they tried to escape, their houses collapsed on top of them. Even their own cooking utensils rose up and crushed the faces of the wood people. There is more face crushing in the Popol Vuh than there is eye gouging in King Lear.
After the destruction of the wood people, there was a bit of an interlude where the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque defeated Vucub Caquix (Seven Macaw). They also defeated both sons of Vucub Caquix, the second of whom was Cabracan, the wrecker of mountains. Even more importantly, they tricked the Lords of Xibalba (the Maya underworld) into allowing themselves to be killed. Thus, Hun-Came (One Death) and Vucub-Came (Seven Death) were defeated, leading to the downfall of Xibalba. An interesting side note is that the mother of the Hero Twins was herself the wife of Gathered Blood, who was one of the minor Lords of Xibalba. But, I digress.
Finally, the Forefathers created corn people. The corn people were strong and handsome. They praised the Forefathers. They built cities, formed nations, and established a civilization. As you can see, the corn people pleased the Forefathers much more than the mud people and the wood people ever did.
Oh, by the way, we are the corn people.
What does all this have to do with the 13th baktun? Quite a bit. The destruction of the wood people and the creation of the corn people is recorded as being on 18.104.22.168.0, but this date is also recorded as 22.214.171.124.0 because the calendar was reset after the new creation. This has generated speculation that the destruction of the mud people and creation of the wood people also occurred on a date of 126.96.36.199.0, at which point the calendar was reset to 188.8.131.52.0 again.
According to some Maya artifacts, it seems like the Forefathers usually give their people until the start of the 13th baktun to prove their worth. And at that point, if the Forefathers are displeased, they destroy creation and start over again. That’s where the December 21st, 2012 story comes from. The calendar doesn’t end then, but it is still a very important date in Maya mythology.
So, considering the fact that most of you are hearing all this for the first time, and have probably made the Forefathers quite angry in one way or another, you’d better hope that The Framer and The Shaper is still pleased with the actions of the Maya people, because if he isn’t, there are going to be some very angry kitchen appliances coming to get all of us on Friday morning.
Today, I bring to you a short article relating to the Transit of Venus across the sun, which occurred earlier today. With proper ocular ornaments, one can see Venus, a small black dot relative to the sun, traversing the yellow/orange sphere in the sky. However, as I reflected upon this later today, an odd, and somewhat…naughty…thought traversed my mind.
You folk of the latter half of the 20th century may recall that Sexually Transmitted Diseases were once called Venereal Diseases. Venereal is derived from the Latin genitive word Veneris, which was a form of the word Venus, the Roman interpretation of the Goddess of Love, called Aphrodite in Greek culture. This is due to the fact that, once upon a time, people had sex (which tends to be how SEXUALLY Transmitted Diseases are…transmitted) because they loved each other. Venus=Love, Love=Sex, and Sex=Ailment.
This realization led to a breakthrough; one mundane to the untrained (non-nerdy) eye, but fantastic to me. If Venus, surprise surprise, is named after the Roman goddess with the same title, and Venereal diseases get their names from a word that was a form of Venus (if you don’t know, a genitive is a noun used to describe a noun, so Veneris means Of Venus), and an eclipse is when celestial bodies pass in front of one another, we could, in theory, safely call the Transit of Venus a Venereal Eclipse. Mind blowing, isn’t it? Are there any astronomers out there who can confirm or disprove this? I can’t, but I still think it’s cool. Maybe I’m experiencing space-bound Psychosexual developement?
Anyhow, I hope you all appreciate this tidbit of information. More articles will come soon.
The pedestrian crossing signals downtown have been upgraded to make them much more friendly. At least, I think that’s what they were going for. Now, when you push the button, a disembodied voice politely but firmly announces, “wait!” If you push the button again, you’re reminded that you need to “wait!” No matter how many times you push the button, the little man in the box patiently advises you of what you should do.
If I had designed this crossing signal, I wouldn’t have made it be so patient. After about the fifth time the button was pushed, I would have had it say: “Don’t be so impatient! Do you want to get hit by the train or something?” And after the tenth time, the little man in the box would give up and exclaim: “Fine! Do whatever you want, but don’t come crying to me when that crazy guy in the red Volkswagen runs you over. I see him go by here every day, and trust me, he’d do it!” Maybe this is why I’m not allowed to design pedestrian crossing signals.
Once the traffic is clear, the whole tone of the situation changes. You’d expect the polite man inside the pole to say something like, “walk,” or, “proceed,” or even, “you may now cross the street, and I hope you have a wonderful day!” But no. That’s not what happens at all. Instead, you are commanded to get yourself across the road by a series of rapid-fire sounds that sounds like, well, rapid fire. The message here seems to be that the patient man inside the pole has had more than enough of you, and you’d better get while the getting’s good. I suppose I might also feel a bit disgruntled if I were a little man in a pole telling pedestrians to wait their turn, but I don’t think it’s worth getting so worked up over. Fortunately, the pole-man’s rage quickly subsides and he returns to patiently telling the next group of pedestrians that they need to wait.
So, next time you’re downtown, be nice to the unfortunate little man inside the pedestrian crossing signal. He obviously has a terrible job, and I think he might be just a bit unstable.
Evening, readers. This post signifies the beginning of a new era; the beginning of something wonderful. It is my first full post at Armenian Fungus Cake. However, this is not about gargantuan grub, but about fast food.
My colleague and I were speaking of how various people order at a fast food establishment. In layman’s terms, a Mc***ald’s, Burger (Insert regency here), or other restaurants of that sort. More specifically, we spoke of how these habits correlate to various personalities in other aspects of life, outside of the all important fast food world. He pointed out that some are more aggressive, saying things like, “Give me,” or if they are feeling more Cesarian, “Render unto me,” a “quadruple double super-sized dodecahedronal fermented giraffe sandwich.” I concluded that these people had less time, were overtired, or were in general, kind of abrasive. I imagine that, if I was yearning to get to bed/work on time, I would be slightly more gruff to my ordering approach as well. I don’t have time to say, “May I get a triple decker herring shrubbery, please?” To be honest, this method bothers me the most. In my view, it broadcasts tendencies to be indecisive, uncannily polite (and not in a good way), and under-confident. Why wouldn’t your local moody high school dropout (fine, maybe they go to a vocational school) give you your food. At a fast food restaurant, chances are pretty slim that they won’t have it in stock. All they need to do is find some pigeons and felines to throw in a blender! They’re certainly not going to say no, just because they feel like saying no. If they say no, it’s probably your fault. If you want to be served, maybe you should stop going up to the counter/drive in window wearing roller skates and a baseball hat (with nothing else, of course).
Of course, however, there are the in between orderers. I fall into this category. Us in between-ers are more assertive about our ordering, but not in an antagonistic way. We say, “I would like,” or “I’ll have/get,” We are going to have/get the item we order, as we are not nude and wearing sporting equipment. We are the confident, but not cocky or violent. We say, “I’m going to offend vocational school attendees.” We don’t waffle, or use baseball bats to hurt people. And yes, we would like to order the thing we are ordering. Why would we be ordering it otherwise? Some may find this too brash. To that, I say, “I will have you put on some underwear and un-wheeled shoes. Hippy.” It may not be the nicest, but it feels the most appropriate. It’s not like these fast food people are your friends. Chances are, they won’t see you again. And if they do, and they have friends, put some clothes on!
Anyhow, I found how people order food profoundly interesting, and a fascinating yet fatty way to peer into the lives of the typical American. So, next time you order a thousand year tofu jumbo fries box, think, “What do my ordering choices say about me? And why am I naked?”