Sunday, January 01, 2012

From Darkness Into Light - an excerpt for 2012

Happy Octave-day of Christmas!

It is also the feast of the Circumcision, and the start of the civil new year 2012.

And, I've already heard and seen silly whines from the Media about this so-called "Maya end-of-the-world" thing, which is, apparently, just the usual kick people get from seeing the odometer in their car turning to all zeros. There are several reasons why it is so unimportant: the Maya calendar was terribly inaccurate, as it was set up not to indicate any periodic action of the cosmos, but for the casting of horoscopes. Moreover, the "overflow" is just an end of the baktun denoted "twelve" - the famous "long count" will read - but even funnier, there is still disagreement among archaeologists about the coordination between the "Long Count" and our own calendar. We might as well worry about the 2000th anniversary of the death of Caesar Augustus, which I believe is coming up. (Yes, I checked - it's August 19 in 2014.) Oh woe... (hee hee hee!)

Anyway, to reassure you, and to give you something exciting to look forward to, I will give you an excerpt from my 13-part forthcoming novel, From Darkness Into Light, a major component of my Saga. God willing, some part of this complex and lengthy adventure tale (also known as a "Boys' Book") will become available in this new year...

And I shall also remind everyone to pray for the defeat of evil in our world, and for assistance to those who are needy - and to be grateful for all the good things we have.

Dr. Thursday.

* * * * * * *
an excerpt from:

From Darkness Into Light
Part Ten:
(Fall 2015 part 1)

The third calendar of the Maya was the "long count" which reckoned the number of days since the mythical beginning of the Maya era, which was dated 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu for reasons unknown (equivalent to B.C. 3111).
Victor W. Von Hagen World of the Maya 177

Whoever put in order this computation of katuns, if it was the devil, he did it, as he usually does, ordaining it for his own glory.
Friar Diego de Landa, first Bishop of Mérida (quoted ibid 179)

Tuesday September 8, 2015

It was another hot day. Bernie had started his SCUBA class again, and the water was refreshing – but he was almost panting as he headed back up the hill. At least the clubhouse was pleasantly cool. After he grabbed a glass of water, he went into the computer room to check his e-mail. Marty was there, working on the Chandler Clock puzzle, while the two Gregs were doing homework. He glanced at Greg Weller's screen, and saw a list of very odd words.
"Imix, Ik, Akbal, Kan, Chicchan, Cimi... What the heck are those, Greg?"
"This is for Ancient American History. Those are the day-names of the Maya calendar."
Bernie peered at the list. "Oh yeah... the Long Count and all that. And the world was supposed to end in 2012, wasn't it? Late December?"
"Sure! You missed it, huh? Where were you?"
Bernie sat down at a computer and pulled up his calendar tool. "Around. Marty and I were seniors... let's see... December 2012. Was it the 12th?"
"No, but we thought that shoulda been the date – twelve-twelve-twelve. They said it was supposed to be the 21st."
Bernie examined the display. "Friday? Oh that was the last day of school before Christmas. Nope. Hey Marty, the end-of-the-world was scheduled but we missed it!" He laughed. "Rats. Maybe we'll catch it next time."
Marty turned towards the others. "What was that all about anyway?"
"The Maya had some really goofy calendars. One of them was called the Long Count – it was like those old adding machines, with five gears that ticked over as the days went past. They counted in twenties, so as the units gear turned past 20 days, the second one ticked over. The second gear counted to 18, so the third one would register a 360-day unit called a tun, kinda like their year. Those extra five days were unlucky..." He trailed off.
"Oh yeah. But what was supposed to happen in 2012?"
Greg Weller leaned back, staring up at the ceiling as he lectured. "It's the end of the baktun, that's a roughly 400-year interval. All four lower gears would reach their highest place, and then, as that last day of the baktun expired, they would all carry, and the fourth gear would make the fifth gear advance."
"Overflow! And it would go back to all zeroes?"
"Nah. That's what you would expect, given the way the fearmongers liked to whine about it, like good old Y2K. The Maya did expect all sorts of disaster on the last day of such intervals. But actually – it would be..." He dropped his voice, trying for a Boris Karloff effect. "Thirteen, zero, zero, zero, zero."
Marty snorted. "Oh big deal. Good old triskaidekaphobia strikes into Meso-America!"
"Yeah – of course that would really be the first day of the new world, if we survive the end-of-the world terrors... and if that's really the correct date in the first place! Our professor said it was based on somebody-or-other's correlation between the Maya Long Count and what he called our 'standard calendar' – and he said there's a group of historians who think they were off by a couple years: the Goodman-Thompson-Martinez correlation started with 3113 BC but the one used by von Hagen gives it at 3111 BC. And apparently they found another small error, so now they have a revised theory." He chuckled wryly.
"Sure they do – yet another doomsday bunch, always revising their predictions! So what's their latest guess?"
"The last day of the current baktun – the end of the world, – comes this year, 2015, in late December – the 23rd."
Bernie and Marty looked at each other. John's birthday. "Yeah, right," Marty laughed. "That's John's birthday, it better not end then!"
"I once took a look at the math," Bernie chuckled as Marty went back to his work. "Remember, the Maya might have had a 'zero' but their so-called year was as lousy as the old Roman one – worse, since they never did any intercalations."
"Did any what?"
"Intercalations are periodic adjustments, like Leap Day, to deal with the fact that the day and the year aren't even units of each other. If we didn't have leap year, eventually we will have Easter in the winter, or Christmas in the summer. But Julius Caesar put in the major fix, and back in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII made it even more precise."
"I gotcha, Bernie!" Greg Weller nodded. "But the Maya didn't do intercalations, neither in their 260-day tzolkin nor in their 365-day civil year, so their 'new year' floats around the solar year. That means their calendars go out of sync with the seasons after a while."
"Why is that?" asked Marty, not bothering to turn.
"Uh... let's just say it was a good thing Columbus found them." Bernie chuckled again as he signed onto the e-mail program. "And not just because of their stupid calendar."
"And don't forget good old Bishop Zumárraga – right Greg?" Greg Jones spoke for the first time.
"Who's that?" Bernie said. (He knew, of course, but he wanted to hear their comments.)
"He was the first bishop in the New World. He ordered a printing press and by 1544 they were printing books. He was the one that St. Juan Diego came to see – with his tilma – and the roses – and the painting of Mary of Guadalupe!"
"Correct." Bernie nodded. "I don't know if you guys knew about this. I told Marty and John a while back..." He continued to elaborate. [Some details from earlier part of the story omitted]
When Bernie was finished Greg Jones said, "Wow, amazing! Too bad I can't put that into the paper I'm doing about the bishop. Greg's doing one about the Dark Side."
"Sounds good – we ought not forget our enemies," Bernie mused...

Copyright © 2011 by Dr. Thursday.


At 04 January, 2012 13:17, Anonymous some guy on the street said...

Well, there is the apparent period of Venus, as Feynman noticed (and maybe some Spanish commentators too: he made a point of NOT reading what they had to say, and so hasn't reported it).

On the one hand, it doesn't seem likely that a culture that keeps records and depends on farmers and all that *doesn't* notice the link between what part of the sky the sun crosses each day and what the weather is like in which half of the year; I'm reminded that Julius Caesar, before his Glorious Revolution, was for some time the fellow responsible for deciding whether to insert a leap-month each year, which was a tangled question because elections and appointments were timed by the calendar, though there was a general suspicion that the calendar itself ought to follow the seasons.

Hmmm... I seem to have wandered off my train of thought, so before confusing the matter any further


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