I swear, this is the last time I listen to the Maya when it comes to the end of the world. You’d think we would have learned our lesson 5,125 years ago, when this same thing happened, but no.
Three days to go before Christmas and I’ve got no shopping done because, dummy me, I believed that the world, according to the Mayan calendar, would go kaput! today, Dec. 21, 2012. I ain’t the only one: A Reuters survey of 16,000 people, published a few days ago, claimed that 10 percent of the global population believed the end was at hand (opinion polls like this usually have margins of error of 3 or 4 percent but this one must have had a “margin of idiocy” of about 9.6 percent).
The way I understood the so-called “2012 phenomenon,” the Mayan “Long Count” calendar (whatever that is) would reach the conclusion of 5,125 years or its 13th b’ak’tun (whatever that means) on this day, Dec. 21st, and, apparently for lack of a new calendar, this would be a very bad thing.
Of course, if you are reading this, that means the doomsday prediction was wrong (unless it’s gonna happen later in the day). But there is much evidence that, in recent weeks, many folks have been acting like there would be no tomorrow.
Do you think the Giants would have stunk up the stadium in Atlanta the way they did last Sunday if they had any inkling there would be playoffs and a Super Bowl after 12/21 comes and goes? Impossible.
Do you think all those right-wing, upstate Republican state senators would have formed that goofy, desperate alliance with the five liberal, downstate Democrats — with expectations that the GOPers would raise the minimum wage and approve public campaign financing — if the Republicans expected the Maya to issue a new, “Long Count” calendar? I think not.
And no way do those folks we sent to Washington keep foisting trillions in debt on our kids and grandkids unless they thought the day of reckoning never would occur.
As the Mayan apocalypse approached, two things were inevitable — they told us that the Maya really did not mean it and sharpies figured out how to make a buck off it.
The Discovery Channel — my source for all things apocalyptic — reports that a company called Hardened Structures Inc. has been building these gigantic arks big enough for Noah and 184 other people along with food for five years. They cost $20 million each and the outfit says two spendthrift geniuses already purchased one apiece. And a Chinese farmer has been building and marketing fiberglass pods that look like 20-foot-tall bocce balls, selling price just $48,000. Creator Liu Qiyuan says 14 people can fit comfortably inside his floating ping pong balls but in an emergency (and don’t most apocalypses have just a hint of emergency about them?) 30 people could exist for two months (don’t want to be there when they open that one). Liu says he invested his life savings but had yet to sell one with 12/21 fast approaching. Undaunted, he told a reporter, “If there really is some kind of apocalypse, then you could say I’ve made a contribution to the survival of mankind.” I kind of like that phrase “some kind of apocalypse,” like there might be a version of the Richter Scale for comparing various apocalypses.
The indigenous people in Mexico are said to be not happy with all the commercialism but resorts there were sponsoring all manner of “end of the world” excursions. One outfit even touted that, if you put it on your credit card, and the apocalypse happened to happen, you would not have to pay.
Then the denials. Experts said the Maya never did attach any significance to the “Long Count” calendar’s finishing up today and Mayanologists — if there are such — said the Maya regarded calendars much as we do, as cyclical, not finite, and therefore probably expected that another calender would follow. If you can believe it, even NASA got into the swim, posting a video on YouTube explaining scientifically why there will be a Dec. 22.
Mark my words: In just a few days your favorite Hallmark store will feature new Mayan “Long Count” calendars and we will all feel good about ourselves for another 5,125 years. By the way, I recommend you wait 200 or 300 years until the calendars go on sale.
Me? I’ve had it with the Maya, Nostradamus and all the rest of them. From now on, I get all of my info from the Long Island Psychic.
John McLoughlin is a freelance columnist and a veteran Capital Region journalist now at NewsChannel13. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach him at JMcLoughlin@WNYT.com.