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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Daily Drift

 How sad it that.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Tunis, Tunisia
Puchong, Malaysia
Cape Town, South Africa
Nakhon, Thailand
Kota Kinabalu, Mlaysia
Brussels, Belgium
Johannesburg, South Africa
Kuching, Mlaysia
Warsaw, Poland
Manchester, England
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Ankara, Turkey
Cairo, Egypt
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Macau, Macao
Ljubjana, Slovenia
Ampang, Malaysia
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Rostov, Russia
Kuantan, Malaysia
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Makati, Philippines
George Town, Malaysia
Bangkok, Thailand
Sampaloc, Philippines
San Jose, Costa Rica

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1197 Emperor Henry VI dies in Messina, Sicily.
1399 Richard II of England is deposed. His cousin, Henry of Lancaster, declares himself king under the name Henry IV.
1493 Christopher Columbus leaves Cadiz, Spain, on his second voyage to the new world.
1513 Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovers the Pacific Ocean.
1789 Congress votes to create a U.S. army.
1833 A civil war breaks out in Spain between Carlisists, who believe Don Carlos deserves the throne, and supporters of Queen Isabella.
1850 Mormon leader Brigham Young is named the first governor of the Utah Territory.
1864 Union troops capture the Confederate Fort Harrison, outside Petersburg, Virginia.
1879 Dissatisfied Ute Indians kill Agent Nathan Meeker and nine others in the "Meeker Massacre."
1932 A five-day work week is established for General Motors workers.
1939 Germany and the Soviet Union reach an agreement on the division of Poland.
1941 30,000 Jews are gunned down in Kiev when Henrich Himmler sends four strike squads to exterminate Soviet Jewish civilians and other "undesirables."
1943 Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf is published in the United States.
1950 General Douglas MacArthur officially returns Seoul, South Korea, to President Syngman Rhee.

Non Sequitur


Twelve Proposed U.S. States That Didn’t Make the Cut

Quite a few states were proposed in the history of the United States that never became reality -although most of the areas in them were or eventually became part of other states. But what if they had gained statehood? Kids in school might be singing rhymes that include Absaroka, Scott, Transylvania, and Nickajack! Read about these and more states that might have been at Mental-Floss.

Ten Accounting Tricks the 1% Use to Keep the Taxman off their Cash

From tax havens and shell companies to equity swaps and real-estate borrowing, here are 10 Accounting Tricks the 1% Use to Dodge the Taxman. More

The repugican Florida vote scandal spreading nationwide?

We reported last night that a firm doing business with the national republican cabal and the Romney campaign was being investigated for voter fraud. The firm has done $2.9 million in business with the repugican national cabal this year alone, and another firm run by the same did $80,000 in work for Romney. And, as I said last night, harkening back to all the faux outrage from repugicans claiming that ACORN was trying to steal the election: “repugicans accuse us of doing what they are, and we’re not.”

AP has more:
What first appeared to be an isolated problem in one Florida county has now spread statewide, with election officials in at least seven counties informing prosecutors or state election officials about questionable voter registration forms filled out on behalf of the repugican cabal of Florida.
Lux said there have been forms that listed dead people and were either incomplete or illegible. He met with local prosecutors on Friday, but added that his staff was still going through hundreds of forms dropped off by Strategic employees.
Lux, who is a repugican, said he warned local party officials earlier this month when he first learned the company was paying people to register voters.
“I told them ‘This is not going to end well,’” Lux said.
The Los Angeles Times says it’s actually at least ten counties. And this could involve other states, not just Florida, as the LA Times notes that the firm was working in Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia, and had work yet to commence (supposedly) in Wisconsin and Ohio.
The controversy in Florida — which began with possibly fraudulent forms that first cropped up in Palm Beach County — has engulfed the repugican national cabal, which admitted Thursday that it urged state parties in seven swing states to hire the firm, Strategic Allied Consulting.The rnc paid the company at least $3.1 million — routed through the state parties of Florida, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia — to register voters and run get-out-the-vote operations. Wisconsin and Ohio had not yet paid the firm for get-out-the-vote operations it was contracted to do.
And the LA Times notes that the repugican cabal was well aware of charges of impropriety concerning the firm that allegedly committed the fraud. So what did the rnc and the Romney campaign do? They didn’t not hire the firm. They simply asked it to set up “new firm” with a new name to “avoid being publicly linked to the past allegations.”
Heck of a way to avoid even the appearance of impropriety: Make sure you hide the appearance, but keep doing the impropriety.
Was there any voter fraud committed in the seven other swing states? Was anyone in the rnc and the Romney campaign aware of the alleged voter fraud? Were they aware of the past charges against the firm?
And get ready for Faux, Dimbulb and Reince Priebus to start arguing that this (alleged) fraud was necessary to “level the playing field” after ACORN “stole” the last election.  Just you wait.

The truth hurts

Romney phones Netanyahu hours after Obama does same

Israel/Iran via Shutterstock.

Romney thinks he’s America’s political messiah, and he’ll butt into every national security crisis until he proves it.

What is Mitt Romney doing getting involved in US foreign policy to the degree that he’s now ambulance-chasing the President’s phone calls to world leaders over possible future wars in the Middle East?
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Friday by telephone, ending the call with a common pledge to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon but no apparent consensus on a specific timeline to do so.A few hours later, repugican nominee Mitt Romney spoke by phone with Netanyahu, his one-time consulting colleague and a friend since the 1970s. After the call, Romney said that he does not believe military force will have to be used to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program.
Nobody asked, you Mitt.

It’s time someone had an intervention, and explained to Mr. Romney that it was bad enough when he pulled an Al “I’m in charge” Haig hours after a US ambassador was murdered in Libya, and then made things worse the next morning by holding a press conference in on a dais made up to look like the White House briefing room.  But now he’s butting his nose into the Iran nuclear crisis and our relations with Israel on the an issue that could lead to war.

Who does this guy think he is?

The hubris – and the utter lack of understanding of the risk of what he’s doing by undercutting the American president while’s hes attempting to avoid a potential nuclear stand-off with a terror state.  Not to mention, with Romney’s history of foreign policy disasters, the last thing he should be doing is injecting himself into the Iran nuclear crisis.

Maybe he could start with something easy, like Liechtenstein, and work his way up.

But butting into a national security crisis has been Romney’s plan all along.  He admitted it on the 47% video.  Not only did we already know that Romney’s staff saw the assassination of an American ambassador as “an opportunity,” but Romney himself admitted that he would like to have his own “opportunity,” like the Iran hostage crisis, in order to butt in and show how presidential he could be.
Questioner: When Carter was president, we had hostages. Ronald Reagan was able to make a statement even before he became, he was actually sworn in, and the hostages were released…
Mitt Romney: On the day of his inauguration.
Questioner: Right. So my question is really how can you sort of duplicate that scenario?
Romney: I could ask you, I could ask you how you do I duplicate that scenario?
Questioner: I think it had to do with the fact that the Iranians perceived Reagan… That’s why I’m suggesting that something that you say over the next few months gets the Iranians to understand that their pursuit of the bomb is something that you would prevent. And I think that’s something that could possibly resonate very well with the American public.
Romney: I appreciate the idea. One of the things that’s frustrating to me: in a typical day like this, when I do three or four events like this, the number of foreign policy questions I get is between zero and one. And the American people are not concentrated at all on China, on Russia, Iran, Iraq, and this President’s failure to put in place a status of forces agreement allowing ten to twenty thousand troops to stay in Iraq - unthinkable! And yet, in that election, in the Jimmy Carter election, the fact that we had hostages in Iran, I mean, that was all we talked about. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, I mean, that was the focus, and so him solving that made all the difference in the world. I’m afraid today that if you simply got Iran to agree to stand down on nuclear weapons, they’d go, “Now hold on. It’s really a-” I mean, if something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.
Let me repeat that. “If something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.”
That’s all Mitt Romney has left. The “opportunity” of American lives being at risk. That’s why stuck his nose into the Libya/Egypt crisis. And it’s why he’s now sticking his nose into our attempts to talk Israel down from starting a nuclear war in the Middle East. Because Mitt Romney is looking for the opportunity to put American lives at risk and then rush in to save the day.
It’s almost a messianic view of his existence. Romney believes he’s America’s political messiah. The mere fact of his being elected president, before he’s even sworn into office, will save the American economy.
“My own view is that if we win on November 6th, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back and we’ll see — without actually doing anything — we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.”
And he thinks the same about any and all crises the US faces between now and the election. Super Romney of Nazareth will descend from on high, and his mere presence will convince Israel to forgo war just as his sheer will is lowering the unemployment rate.
Of course the irony is that at the same time Romney has this almost messianic view of his own power to resolve crises, he admitted on the 47% percent that he can’t resolve the Middle East’s problems, and isn’t interested in doing so.
Then what was he doing butt in to them in the first place? He was playing politics with our national security.
Mitt Romney’s wife worries about his mental health if elected.
I worry about his mental health today.

Another tape, another disaster

Mother Jones has obtained a video from 1985 in which Romney, describing Bain's formation, showed how he viewed the firm's mission.

He explained that its goal was to identify potential and hidden value in companies, buy significant stakes in these businesses, and then "harvest them at a significant profit" within five to eight years.

He intended to "harvest" these weak and dying companies the way doctors harvest organs.

 "We'll take the heart and the eyes and the lungs and you can dispose of the carcass."

Is that how Romney would run America?

Harvest the super-rich and let the rest of us die?

Tell me, how many more nails can fit in Romney's coffin?

How your first name, beer and smartphone predict your politics

An example of how one name, Jane, tends to donate three times as much to Democrats.
I love this. They have a very cool chart that you can click on to find your name and see how it tends to donate, Democratic or repugican:
From Chris Wilson at Yahoo News:
Nicknames and diminutives also correlate to party preference. “Christopher”—just to pick a random name out of my hat—tilts slightly to Republicans, while “Chris” trends slightly Democratic (though that could be because there are some women named Chris out there). People named William have a 57 percent chance of supporting the repugicans, while Willies are the most Democratic name on the list at 93 percent.
Along the same lines, people named Liz are extremely Democratic, with only 11 percent donating to repugicans. But 26 percent of Elizabeths give to the repugicans, and Betty is one of the most repugican women’s names on the list, with 37 percent of women who share their name with Barney Rubble’s wife ponying up cash on behalf of a candidate who wanted to replace President Obama.
Of all names that appear at least 25 times, the most repugican men’s name on the list is Brent. (Willard is No. 4!) The most repugican women’s name on the list is Ashley. But that could include some men, as could the next two women’s names, Kelly and Courtney. So let’s declare Patsy, the No. 4 contender, the most repugican women’s name.
How fascinating. While names like Bipsy or Tagg would probably suggest you’re a repugican, I’m fascinating that names like Jane are Democratic, or that Jerry, James, Frank and Douglas are repugican.
Oh, and Willards are UBER-repugican.
Why is this?
It’s possible that different ethnic groups tend towards certain names. Certainly Greeks have an awful lot of Georges, followed by Johns. They tend to use biblical names. And Greeks in America tend to be Democratic. But then again, the Greeks are hardly the only people to call our kids George and John. I’m really intrigued by this. Does anyone have any more info on how these could possibly be linked?
Other studies like this have been done, looking at what your beer says about your politics, for example. Then again, you pick your beer, you usually don’t choose your own name.

Folks have also looked at what your smartphone, and use of Twitter and Facebook, says about your vote.
  • 40% of Obama supporters get their news from Twitter and Facebook, compared to 33% of Romney supporters who use social media to gather news
  • 46% of people who post their political preferences on social media support Barack Obama, suggesting that Obama supporters are more active on social media
  • Smart phone users are more likely to vote for President Obama, with 51% of smart phone users supporting Obama
  • Men are more likely to own a smart phone, and lose it, with 68% of men losing their smart phones
I love this stuff. Though it’s also rather scary. This is what the data marketers do every day. They pull together everything you’ve done in life and predict what you’ll buy, who you’ll vote for, and even who you sleep with (meaning, your sexual orientation).
Still, I find this awfully cool.

Did you know ...

Here's Ted Koppel on why faux news is bad for America

Why sneering at public servants comes so easily to many of America's richest citizens

Caution cute alert! San Diego zoo newborn elephant gets a name

Here's some things that wingnuts (inexplicably) hate

That Bank of America is to lay off 16,000 workers. Wanna bet none of them are the execs who made bad mortgages?

Is there a backlash against comedienne Mindy Kaling?

Why can't pacemaker users read their own medical data?

In this ten minute TEDx talk, Hugo Campos explains his frustration with the fact that his pacemaker is designed to let his doctor read his biometric status, but to stop the patient from doing the same. As a result, Campos isn't able to use his pacemaker as a diagnostic tool to help make good choices about eating, exercise and other activities. He writes,
I have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for primary prevention of sudden cardiac arrest. I have been fighting for my right to access the data collected by the ICD for about 3 years now, without much success. Data about my heart is regularly collected from the implanted device by its manufacturer over remote monitoring.
The modern ICD is a sophisticated computer capable of detecting and treating malignant arrhythmias. It is also capable of wireless telemetry, a feature that is used by all device manufacturers for remote patient monitoring. Today, there are about 5 top manufacturers of pacemakers and ICDs and 1MM patients being remotely monitored on a regular basis. Not a single one of these patients is allowed access to their device's data.
I am sure you'd agree that this is an objectionable practice and it must be stopped.
TEDxCambridge - Hugo Campos fights for the right to open his heart's data

Pair arrested for camping on roof of shoe shop

A couple of suspected thieves were caught camping out on the roof of an Ocala, Florida, shoe store. Police said Travis Rose and John Vaughn, both aged 20, pitched a tent on the roof of the Shoe Carnival. One of the suspects said he was up there because his mother wouldn't let him have friends over. "We both still have homes with our parents and everything. It was just a home away from home. A spot to chill and hang out with friends," Rose said.

Rose said he and Vaughn pitched a tent and lived on the roof of the store for three weeks. "Family tent. Bright red tent. Really large tent," said Detective James Deas of the Ocala Police Department. The detective couldn't believe it, until he realized how they got away with it. "It was butted up to the back of the Shoe Carnival sign, which is basically a wall. And no one could see it," said Deas. Rose said it had "all the comforts of home."

"It just kept progressing. Let's go get beds so we're more comfortable. And then we decided, let's go get chairs so we can sit out outside," Rose said. Rose had plans for fake grass, a gazebo, television and an Xbox. "We just had a bunch of ideas. Hot tub idea. Putt-putt golf on the fake grass. We had a bunch of ideas," Rose said. Rose and Vaughn found an outlet on the roof connected to the shoe store and plugged in an extension cord for a couple of fans to keep them cool on the hot roof.

Police said they first got on the trail of Rose and Vaughn while investigating the theft of a truck full of furniture from a Leisure Living store. They pulled the truck out of a local lake, found the furniture in a local home and followed up a tip that led them to the roof of the shoe store. Rose said his mother told him he was too old for slumber parties. "So I made my own spot for them to come over and hang out with me," he said.

There are news videos here and here.


Filmmaker arrested after sending teenager onto street with fake grenade launcher to test police response time

A Phoenix filmmaker has been arrested for allegedly videotaping his nephew dressed in a sheet while pointing a fake grenade launcher at passing cars in an apparent terrorist hoax to test police-response time after the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre. Police arrested Michael Turley, 39, on Monday after a nearly two-month investigation. The filmmaker faces charges of knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of his minor nephew, 16.

Police said they responded one minute after they first received calls, but the video, which Turley allegedly filmed July 28 and then posted on YouTube, apparently shows the fake terrorist roaming around a busy intersection for 15 minutes. "They told us they were just making a movie," Phoenix Police Department spokesman James Holmes said, adding that there was no arrest that day. "We deemed it a pretty dumb action but we didn't know what their real intent was, so we initiated an investigation," Holmes said.

Turley apparently posted the video on YouTube two days after filming. He called it "Dark Knight Shooting Response, Rocket Launcher Police Test." "The Anonymous Filmmaker explores how the Phoenix Police Department reacts days after the event at the Century 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman, James Holmes, killed 12 people and injured 58 more at the premiere of Batman The Dark Knight Rises," the video description said.

Police spokesman Holmes said authorities became aware of the video a few weeks after they were called to the scene. "We reviewed it and at that point we realized they were intentionally endangering the public to prove a point," Holmes said. Police said Turley's nephew faces pending charges. They have not released his name. "There are a lot of bad things going on around the world," Holmes said. "And by referring to the shootings in Aurora, he took those victims and families and he connected them to something that was completely idiotic and dangerous."

Outlaw auction includes Bonnie and Clyde's guns

You could be the new owner of Bonnie & Clyd's personal pistols, Bugsy Siegel's Nevada Project Corporation stock certificate, or a subpoena signed by Wyatt Earp. This Sunday, RR Auction is holding an "American Gansters, Outlaws, and Lawmen" auction with those fine artifacts and many more criminal curiosities. "Bonnie and Clyde's guns go up for auction"

Random Celebrity Photo

An iPad left at airport checkpoint ends up at TSA inspector's house

ABC News ran a sting against dirty TSA inspectors by leaving behind iPads (with tracking spyware) at ten airport checkpoints known for theft and following them electronically. One iPad, left at an Orlando checkpoint, moved 30 miles to the home of Andy Ramirez, a TSA inspector at the airport. Initially, he denied stealing the iPad, then he blamed his wife. He has since been fired from the TSA. I'm sure that he was the only crook working in the entire agency and now we're all safe. Thank goodness.
According to the TSA, 381 TSA officers have been fired for theft between 2003 and 2012, including 11 so far in this year.
The agency disputes that theft is a widespread problem, however, saying the number of officers fired "represents less than one-half of one percent of officers that have been employed" by TSA.
...Ramirez produced the iPad only after ABC News activated an audio alarm feature, and turned it over after taking off his TSA uniform shirt.
His explanation for the missing iPad in his home was that his wife had taken it from the airport.
"I'm so embarrassed," he told ABC News. "My wife says she got the iPad and brought it home," he said.
... No TSA official, including director John Pistole, would agree to be interviewed by ABC News about the issue of theft and what steps TSA has taken to address the long-standing problem.
In its statement, the TSA said it "holds its employees to the highest ethical standards."
Republicans have promised to fix this problem by firing the unionized federal workers and replacing them with private contractors. Because private contractors -- not directly accountable to the government, insulated by layers of contractor/subcontractor relationships -- would never, ever abuse their authority. Which is why mall security guards are the pinnacle of policing efficiency.
ABC News Tracks Missing iPad To Florida Home of TSA Officer

How Social Media Distracts You At Work

How often does the social media monster swallow you whole? More than you may think. This infographic details how interruptions impact employee productivity. Among the findings, the infographic shows that workers are interrupted approximately once every 10.5 minutes, and that it takes an average of 23 minutes to return to an assigned task.

Why do these 32 metronomes suddenly get into synch?

All the metronomes start at different times but after a while they all synch up, permanently. How?

Some 908 Nigerian female pilgrims held in Saudi Arabia under law that prohibits women under 45 traveling without close male relative

Saudi Arabian authorities have held more than 900 Nigerian women on the annual Hajj pilgrimage under a law that prohibits women under 45 to travel without a first-degree male relative. Nigeria’s National Hajj Commission has reported that 908 female pilgrims were held at King Abdulaziz Airport in the Saudi city of Jeddah.
The commission also stated that the pilgrims have been held in poor conditions, and some of them need “urgent medical attention.” According to Article 5 of the Saudi law on applications for a Hajj visa, all women are required to travel for Hajj with a Mahram (a first-degree male relative), and the proof of kinship must be submitted with the application form.

However, women over the age of forty-five may travel without a Mahram with an organized group on the condition that they carry a no objection letter notarized by husband, son or brother, authorizing the pilgrim to travel with the named group, the law stipulates. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Riyadh Abubakar Shehu Bunu filed a formal complaint with the Saudi foreign affairs office, calling on Riyadh to release the Nigerian women.

“They are stopping women particularly between the ages of 25 and 35 without a male relative. Those over 45 are not a concern to the Saudi authorities,” Bunu stated. The Nigerian National Hajj Commission also said that under an agreement between Abuja and Riyadh, Nigerian women could travel to Mecca for Hajj pilgrimage even if they were accompanied by local Hajj committee officials. Saudi authorities even stopped women who were entering the country with their husbands just because their surnames did not match those of their husbands, according to the commission report. “Islam allows wives to bear the names of their parents and not necessarily that of their husbands,” the report said.

North American Wife Carrying Championship

fThe European sport of wife carrying has become so popular that the North American Championship is in its 13th year. The event will be held in Newry, Maine, on October 6th.
The origin of the sport was apparently inspired by the Finnish wife-carrying tradition and a 19th century character named Herkko Rosvo-Rankainen, who--as folklore has it --chose people for his marauding band of thieves based on how well they could carry wives away as they plundered the villages.

Lucky, the modern day version includes only willing participants, and the women don't even have to be married. To compete teams must be comprised of a man and a woman, 21 years or older. Women are welcome to carry the men, but that usually doesn't work out well so much.
The winning couple will receive a cash prize and the wife's weight in beer. More

Random Photo


… the secret world !!!

The Brilliance of Passive Solar Homes

Passive solar houses sound like a good idea, but how do you go about living in one? In fact, what is it that makes a passive solar home what it is? More

This Is What It Looks Like When You Fire a Gun Underwater

Andrew Tuohy of Vuurwapen Blog captured this high speed shot of a .45 caliber M1911 handgun being fired underwater. Did he have to modify it to fire underwater? "Nope," he writes. John Moses Browning knew what he was doing when he invented that gun.

The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.

University of Utah computer science professor Matthew Might welcomes his new graduate students each year by explaining a PhD by drawing, literally, "the big picture" in graph form. That series of pictures has become a classic story of pride and knowledge and then a shattering dose of reality, but still ends with "Keep pushing." Don't neglect to read past the original story to the explanation of why Might is selling a printed version of the guide -it will all make sense when you see it. More

Zapping Nuke Waste Into Nuke Fuel

Belgian Nuclear engineers have proposed using a particle accelerator to zap the waste and create fast neutrons which can become a fuel source. Read more
Zapping Nuke Waste Into Nuke Fuel

Lightning Still Largely a Mystery

Physicists say they have three big questions needing answers.
Read more

Sun Dogs, Halos, and Double Rainbows

As sunlight scatters through ice crystals and raindrops it produces brilliant displays that can make a gray day glorious. Read more

Science News

Local funding leads to big things in parrot genomics

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Learning to live with Mars fatigue

Learning to live with Mars fatigue

Since the beginning of August, NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, has been roaming all over the distant planet learning as much ...
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Newspaper sales suffer due to lack of stimulating content

Since the newspaper industry started to experience a major decrease in readership in recent years, many people have deemed the ...
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World’s First Glimpse of Black Hole Launchpad

The current issue of Science Express, the online advance publication of the journal, features a paper by the Event Horizon ...
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Gut bacteria could indicate diabetes

The number of people suffering from type 2 diabetes world-wide has risen rapidly in recent years, and scientists estimate that ...
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The Mayas prophesied ...

... but not end of world
By Adriana Gomez Licon
FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2011 file photo, a Mayan priestess prays during a ceremony marking the Mayan solar new year in Guatemala City. Archaeologists and experts in Mayan culture are racing against time to prove that despite the approaching end of that civilization's calendar, the end of the world is not coming. Many agree that Dec. 21, 2012 is the end of the 13th Baktun, a measure of 394 years that the Maya used, and the rebirth of a new era. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo, File)
As the clock winds down to Dec. 21, experts on the Mayan calendar have been racing to convince people that the Mayas didn't predict an apocalypse for the end of this year. Some experts are now saying the Mayas may indeed have made prophecies, just not about the end of the world.
Archaeologists, anthropologists and other experts met Friday in the southern >Mexico city of Merida to discuss the implications of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which is made up of 394-year periods called baktuns.
Experts estimate the system starts counting at 3114 B.C., and will have run through 13 baktuns, or 5,125 years, around Dec. 21. Experts say 13 was a significant number for the Mayans, and the end of that cycle would be a milestone — but not an end.
Fears that the calendar does point to the end have circulated in recent years. People in that camp believe the Maya may have been privy to impending astronomical disasters that would coincide with 2012, ranging from explosive storms on the surface of the sun that could knock out power grids to a galactic alignment that could trigger a reversal in Earth's magnetic field.
Mexican government archaeologist Alfredo Barrera said Friday that the Mayas did prophesize, but perhaps about more humdrum events like droughts or disease outbreaks.
"The Mayas did make prophecies, but not in a fatalistic sense, but rather about events that, in their cyclical conception of history, could be repeated in the future," said Barrera, of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.
Experts stressed that the ancient Mayas, whose "classic" culture of writing, astronomy and temple complexes flourished from A.D. 300 to 900, were extremely interested in future events, far beyond Dec. 21.
"There are many ancient Maya monuments that discuss events far into the future from now," wrote Geoffrey Braswell, an anthropologist at the University of California, San Diego. "The ancient Maya clearly believed things would happen far into the future from now."
"The king of Palenque, K'inich Hanaab Pakal, believed he would return to the Earth a couple of thousand years from now in the future," Braswell wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Moreover, other monuments discuss events even before the creation in 3114 B.C."
Only a couple of references to the 2012 date equivalency have been found carved in stone at Mayan sites, and neither refers to an apocalypse, experts say.
Such apocalyptic visions have been common for more than 1,000 years in Western, Christian thinking, and are not native to Mayan thought.
"This is thinking that, in truth, has nothing to do with Mayan culture," said Alexander Voss, an anthropologist at the University Of Quintana Roo, a state on Mexico's Caribbean coast. "This thing about looking for end-times is not something that comes from Mayan culture."
Braswell compared the Mayan calendar, with its system of cycles within cycles, to the series of synchronized wheels contained in old, analogue car odometers.
"The Maya long count system is like a car odometer," Braswell wrote. "My first car (odometer) only had six wheels so it went up to 99,999.9 miles. That didn't mean the car would explode after reaching 100,000 miles."

The Amazing Mayan Ruins of El Mirador

A hidden city and the remnants of a lost civilization – not to mention a wild adventure through the heart of the jungle... The Mayan ruins of El Mirador. More

The 13 Creepiest Mummies on Earth

Be it in horror movies or cartoons, mummies are often portrayed as evil monsters, back from the dead. Here are 13 scary mummies we'd hate to see come to life. More

Ancient Burial Shroud Made of Surprising Material

The scraps, made from imported nettles, suggest the grave's inhabitant came from far away. Read more
ancient fabric

Awesome Pictures


(by warmsummernight)

Renoir at flea market may be stolen

The Renoir painting that caused a sensation when it was bought at a flea market for $7 may have been stolen from a museum six decades ago, and an auction house has put its sale on hold.

Mighty moose may be oldest such artwork in the world

A gigantic Stone Age chalk carving of a two kilometer-long moose could be the oldest ever discovered in the world, scientists in Russia believe.
The massive moose, carved into a hillside in the Southern Urals like Britain's Cerne Abbas Giant, is understood to have been carved by prehistoric man up to 8,000 years ago.

Archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute believe the moose was a message to primitive man's gods, as it can only be seen from above.

"We originally thought that the object, though large in size, was rather primitive - just two lines of large stones with smaller stones piled between them. Now it is clear that more complicated crushed stone and loam were used, among other things. Why this was done is still a mystery," said senior researcher Stanislav Grigoryev.

Loses to great ape habitat

BonobosSevere loss to great ape habitat

Great apes, such as gorillas, chimps and bonobos, are running out of places to live, say scientists. BBC Nature

Giant Crocs Ruled Ancient Seas

The ravenous creatures were such effective killers that they've been compared to the most famous predator of the Dinosaur Era, T. rex. Read more

Animal Pictures


(via Draxorr)