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Friday, May 6, 2011

2012: The End (of what?)

As the "end of the world" approaches, interpreted as December 21, 2012, the number of articles covering the unknown significance of that date have increased, and have inspired me to present some challenges to many theories on the forthcoming event, along with some information for those unfamiliar with the mythology surrounding it.

The common thread of most theories that predict 'Doomsday' in December 2012 is tied to the Mayan Calendar, which follows a "long count" system.  The Long Count calendar identifies a date by counting the number of days from the Mayan creation date (August 11, 3114 BC) and the calendar happens to end after Baktun 13.  A Baktun equals 144,000 days (approximately 5125 years) and Baktun 13 ends on or around December 21, 2012, at which time the calendar will go to the next Baktun, like the odometer turning over on your car.  As proof that the Mayans did not predict Baktun 13 as the end of the world, there are Mayan names for periods of time longer than 13 Baktuns (example: 20 baktuns = 1 piktun).  Furthermore, even if the Mayans did believe that the world would come to an end at the end of the Long Count there is no reason to assume they had any special knowledge which would give them the insight to make such a prediction accurately.

Another popular myth regarding an impending catastrophe comes in the form of Nibiru, a somewhat mythical planet which is said to collide with Earth, causing the type of damage that led to the extinction of dinosaurs.  First of all, if there are any planetary events which could pose a threat to our existence, NASA would be the first source for anything to back that up and here's what they have to say about the 2012 predictions:

"The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012. Then these two fables were linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the Winter Solstice in 2012 -- hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012."

Notice how they say "when nothing happened, the date was moved forward", coincidentally tied to the end of a cycle of the Mayan calendar, which is believed to be the end of all things.  This sounds like a feeble attempt on behalf of whomever made the 2003 prediction to retain credibility by changing the date to align with another date of alleged significance.

Yet another theory for the catastrophic events set to take place comes from Winter Solstice, at which point the Sun is said to align with our galactic plane.  The theory is that the close proximity could reverse the rotation of the Earth which would cause monumental earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.  Each December, the Earth and sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.

In summary, misinterpretation of the end of a cycle on the ancient Mayan calendar is mostly to blame for widespread belief that life as we know it will cease to exist on December 21, 2012.  Once considering the facts, it is up to everyone out there to decide what they believe, but there is no proof or scientific evidence that the end of our current "world age" and the end of the current cycle of the long count calendar are meant to be interpreted as direct predictions of any catastrophic event.

Monday, May 2, 2011

America's Most Wanted: Who's Next?

Nearly a decade ago, on September 11th, 2001, the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history claimed more than 3,000 lives.  It was announced yesterday that Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind behind the attacks, was located and killed in a raid, thanks to intelligence obtained 8 months ago.  On Friday, April 29th, President Obama signed the order to carry out the mission which occurred May 1st in the late night hours in Bin Laden's Pakistan compound.  No U.S. personnel were killed in the raid; four adult males were killed: bin Laden, his son, and his two couriers.  This event will not end the war on terrorism, but it is the single most significant victory in America's fight, and for those who lost family and friends on the day that is known worldwide only as "9/11", it is certainly welcome news that may not bring closure but will mean justice.  This victory sends a very important message that our persistence will always prevail against those who challenge us and threaten our Freedom.  Al-Qaida may not dissemble immediately but the death of their founder will certainly take its toll, along with our continued pursuit of any new leaders who may step into his role. 

Every generation has events that are etched into their memory, such where they were when they heard the news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and now our generation will remember where we were on the day that the most hated man in America was killed.  Last night, as we arrived home from dinner for my wife's birthday, her parents had been listening to Fox News on the radio and her Dad told us "They killed Bin Laden".  We watched as President Obama announced the news; He praised U.S. military and intelligence professionals for working “tirelessly to achieve this outcome.” To the families of 9/11 victims, he noted that the U.S. has “never forgotten your loss.”  He called former President George W. Bush to give him the news. 

On the drive to work this morning, expecting to hear more details about the events and listeners calling in to celebrate, I was disappointed to hear many accuse Obama of accepting sole credit for this achievement.  Osama Bin Laden has been a target during both the Clinton and Bush administrations, well before the 9/11 attacks, and while Bush dedicated his entire time in office to the capture of Bin Laden, he was not successful, but not for lack of trying.  The simple fact is we didn't have the right intelligence that led to a successful capture until August of last year, when two of Bin Laden's most trusted couriers were tracked, leading us to the compound where he was hiding out.  Obama was briefed on this intelligence and once there was enough confidence in that location, he ordered the raid.  I watched the same news report that everyone else saw, and heard the same words directly from Obama himself, and at no point did I hear the words "I have killed Osama Bin Laden", or "I have won the fight against terrorism."  Regardless of who is in office or who signed the order, justice has been served and this is what Americans should be focusing on.  This victory belongs to none other than our Armed Forces, who have sacrificed and fought and will continue to fight.