Saturday, November 04, 2006
E pluribus unum. From many, one. We're a melting pot and a tossed salad. We're a freakin' 3 meat buffet.
United we stand, divided we fall. You're either a friend on our side, or you're not. Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. American culture is a giant sponge, digesting and assimilating nearly everything we come into contact with.
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On the subject of the Maya Calendar and the world "ending" in 2012:
Bishop Diego de Landa burned all but 4 of the Maya books back in the 1500s. (They were full of demonic figures and drawings, y'see.) For this act he was reprimanded for overzealousness by the Spanish Inquisition, but it was too late. In penance he attempted to create a phonetic dictionary of a pictographic written language.
Scientists only really cracked Mayan heiroglyphs in the 1980s. If you were to sample any four English language publications that happened to survive such a thorough book-burning censorship campaign, you might get some weird ideas about our culture too. Who writes a calendar that goes more than 600 years into the future? According to all my old calendars the world should have ended a few years ago. Oh wait... calendars don't predict the future, they just tell you when you are.
Now we discover that they actually had a Venus based calendar that was more accurate than anything in wide use on the other side of the Atlantic. They were advanced astronomers. They built observatories and astrological temples all over central America.
There are straight line-of-sight 'sacbes' or roads, networked all over central America. These can be seen from spy satellites if cleared of overgrown vegetation. (Just about every other hill on the Yucatan peninsula is actually a vine and tree covered pyramid.) They independently came up with the concept of zero in 357 AD. Yet the Maya didn't use the wheel, despite having wheeled toys.
Megalithic architecture is almost always a stone calendar. (It may serve other religious or governmental uses, too.) The pit and the pendulum, (also known as a plumb bob,) combined with advanced math, can tell you where and when you are located with a fair degree of accuracy. There are dead monarchs entombed under most of the big cathedrals in Europe. Freemasons don't run the country, but a bunch of 'em did help found the country.
The Maya perfected stone-age knapping of delicate obsidian blades. Obsidian is volcanic glass. The state of the art scalpel blades in use for eye and heart surgery today, are obsidian blades.
The cutting edge approaches one micron in thickness. It's sharper than any steel blade that we can manufacture today. That degree of sharpness can slice individual cells. This greatly reduces bruising and tissue damage. Like a papercut or a razor cut, as opposed to a cut with a bread knife.
Archimedes may have invented a pocket calculator. Hero invented a steam engine in ancient Alexandria. (Though we're not sure what else he might have invented because the library burned down.) Medieval librarian monks came up with the idea of index cards.
Da Vinci designed a helicopter 400 years ago. Most of our technology is very very old. We just refine and apply it in cleverer and cleverer ways. But we still can't predict the weather next week accurately. And if no one wants it, or if no one believes your hype, your product won't sell.
So since we're talking about wild guesses and things that seem to work... I predict a large volcanic eruption between now and 2012 that will result in a volcanic winter and global cooling. I also predict a major earthquake in California between now and 2012 will happen within a few days of a full moon or an eclipse. And if I'm wrong, who cares? I guessed.
We are reliving the too rich and too thin goth 1980s, (with a crazed, minimalist, perky, citrus, Barbie, wasabi infusion.) Loud prints and colors are still generally a bad idea, even when balanced with black. The satire well shall never run dry. (Until I'm in charge, and then everything will become deadly serious.) If mullets make a comeback I'm packing up my toys and going home. If your delicate sensibilities aren't being challenged and offended, you're clearly not paying attention to the whackjobs all around you.
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