Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Timely Warning from the Mayans?

USUALLY, AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, Americans are too busy searching for holiday bargains (or, if they watch Fox News, worrying about losing the imaginary “War on Christmas”) to focus on world events. This year it’s different.

Fear is building with each passing hour as we count down to the Mayan Apocalypse, just two days away. You think the fiscal cliff is a concern? Not really a problem. Let them raise your taxes if you’re a millionaire! Who cares! Not one taxpayer is going to be around to pay the bills after December 21, 2012. The planets and stars are going to align and bam!

That will be that.

We’re never going to know if President Obama and Speaker John Boehner might have worked out some kind of compromise. We’ll never learn who would have been this season’s winner on The Voice. The Chicago Cubs will never ever reach the World Series again.

Neither will anyone else.

Some skeptics, of course, may still be saying, “Screw the Mayans. I’m going Christmas shopping.” This writer admits to being skeptical, himself, until he received this ominous letter from his dentist, who claims to be “retiring” after 46 years in the field. Look at the date! My god, he’s just trying not to create a panic:

Now that you understand how short the time you—personally—have left on earth you might like to know a little about these Mayans, who somehow knew, thirteen centuries ago, that we were going to be screwed. First, they were math wizards, expert at charting stars and planets and heavenly cycles. They built impressive temples and developed a written language. They understood the concept of “zero” at a time when our European ancestors were trying to divide and multiply using Roman numerals. The Mayan people were skilled farmers, working communally to build vast reservoirs and irrigation channels. They grew corn and beans and actually liked squash.

An advanced people.

They had a monetary system (involving jade and cacao beans, the stuff of chocolate). They lived in cities like Tikal, population 60,000. They traded for hundreds of miles up and down the coast of what we know as Central America and out across the Caribbean. And they computed time backwards and forwards. According to their figures the first date in human history was August 13, 3114 B. C. Or is it August 10? My history books disagree.

Wikipedia says: August 11.

Who cares! The Mayans knew we we’re doomed. They knew it wouldn’t make any difference, not even if Obama kicked Boehner square in the nuts.

THEN AGAIN, MAYBE THEY WEREN’T SO SMART. Their civilization collapsed around 900 A. D.; and somehow they failed to predict that.

Maybe the Mayans are wrong about December 21; but maybe they still have a warning to offer. From what we know, as Mayan population grew, farmers cut down the forests and planted more and more crops. With forest cover gone there was heavy erosion and fields produced smaller and smaller yields. According to archaeologist Richardson Gill, when a long drought hit their homeland around A. D. 900 water tables dropped so fast, “There was nothing they could do. There was nowhere they could go. Their whole world, as they knew it, was in the throes of a burning, searing, brutal drought...There was nothing to eat. Their water reservoirs were depleted, and there was nothing to drink.”

It might make you feel safer knowing that the Mayans never saw their own collapse coming. Maybe we have plenty of time left. Maybe the Cubs do reach the World Series in this century.

Well, that’s the moral of that story. It’s time to quit worrying and head for the mall to do some serious shopping. When you get home, maybe, turn on the television and relax and watch Fox News. At Fox News, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Well, fear itself and labor unions. 

And Muslims.

Oh, and gay marriage.

Otherwise, Fox News is like a powerful sedative. Gretchen Carlson doesn’t scare fans with stories about melting Arctic ice and rising sea levels. Sean Hannity won’t bring up altered weather patterns and wonder why the Mississippi River was almost unnavigable last summer. The weather babes at Fox aren’t concerned about why Superstorm Sandy packed an unusually powerful punch. Megyn Kelly doesn’t care if the Ogallala aquifer, which underlies the heartland of America, is being drained at a fearful rate putting farming at risk. (Even the Wall Street Journal took note of that story). No one who works for Rupert Murdoch or Roger Ailes is ever going to admit there’s a problem when toxic chemicals show up all over the world in women’s breast milk or when traces of Prozac show up in fish. Nope. Nothing to worry about when it comes to the environment. 

Even the fish are relaxed.

Did you hear? Steve Doocy says Obama is crazy because he’s pushing solar energy. So, sit back and crank up the volume because Sarah Palin is coming on after a commercial. Listen to her coo seductively, “Oh, baby, oh baby, drill me baby, drill me!”

After that, it’s time to listen to Bill O'Reilly fume about the “War on Christmas.” So, yeah, screw those  Mayans.

What did they know?


  1. You are the Man! I love the bit about the Fox news pundits. Mayan party this Friday. Be there or be square.

  2. Crap, I'm going to miss football Sunday!

    1. Yeah, Thomas, that is bad: I thought the Bengals were going to make the playoffs, too.