05 January 2012

The May2K Bug

The Temple of the Inscriptions
Palenque, Mexico, August 2008
Good news everyone, January 16th has been declared the most depressing day of the year according to a group of UK mental health charities. According to the website beatbluemonday.co.uk: "The day was identified according to a formula devised by happiness and motivation expert, Cliff Arnall, formerly a researcher, lecturer, and post graduate tutor at the Medical and Dental School of Cardiff University", so its a scientific fact.

Why is this good news? Well because it is also my birthday, of course. That's right, this, the last birthday of my thirties, coincidently falls on the scientifically-proven most depressing day of the year.

Of course it does.

On the plus side, it means every day afterwards is guaranteed to be all sparkels and unicorns, at least until December 21st when according to the Internets everything sort of comes to an end thanks to the slap-dash horological skills of the Mayans whose Long Count calendar stops somewhat suddenly on that date, in an event that surely someone else must have decided already to call May2K.

Well fear not my friends, because Unkie Dave holds no truck with the doom-mongers of May2K, for as a Consulting Theologian he knows a thing or two about eschatology (the study of the End of Days, not the eating of French snails). The May2K bug (as I hope you will all now refer to it as) is based on the notion that the end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar this year means that the Mayans thought the world would come to an end long before we had a chance to see part two of the Hobbit (due for release in December 2013), and only a week to catch part one (An Unexpected Journey opens on December 14th, though its probably too soon to start queuing now). Sneaky Mayanses. However instead of heralding the End of the World, the calendar's end could instead signify a transition into something new, like a utopian era of peace and harmony or a bowl of soup and a small potted plant (both being as statistically likely as the End of the World).

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the Mayan Long Count Calendar does not actually end on December 21st 2012, or at least if it did the Mayans certainly thought other events would take place after its end, for hieroglyphs found in Palenque, a Mayan city abandoned in the 9th Century CE in Chiapas in southern Mexico, make reference to events that will occur on 21st October 4772, meaning the end of the Long Count Calendar should be seen less as an apocalyptic event and more as a marketing tool to shift some end-of-season stock (no doubt Tesco will try something similar come November).

Take that David Icke!

Interestingly enough the same ruins in which these hieroglyphs were found, The Temple of the Inscriptions, also housed the famous 7th Century CE Sarcophagus of Pakal, the lid of which has graced many the page of an Erich von Däniken book as it portrays a figure reclining on a couch in what apparently resembles the inside of an Apollo space capsule, leading to all sorts of hilariously trashy books from the 60s and 70s that said aliens visited the Earth in our prehistory and our ancestors worshiped them as gods, after they gave us fire, pyramids and possibly velcro.

Now before you scoff at the notion that prehistoric aliens traveled through the stars in the finest technology the 1960s had to offer, keep in mind that since last year's retirement of the Space Shuttle (the finest technology the 1970s had to offer), that is exactly what every human astronaut is reduced to doing now through their dependance on the Russian Soyuz capsule or its Chinese derivative, Shenzhou. What's more if you look closely at Pakal's Sarcophagus you can clearly see that it has an iPod dock, something not even the Space Shuttle had. Truly these ancient god-astronauts were all-powerful and all-knowing (they didn't bother with a Zune dock you'll notice. "What's a Zune?" I hear you ask. "Exactly!", I reply).

I had an opportunity to examine both these objects a few years ago (The Temple of the Inscriptions and Pakal's Sarcophagus, not an iPod and a Zune, though that should have been obvious for no one has actually ever seen a Zune), or rather while I was able to explore The Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque unfortunately access to Pakal's Sarcophagus was forbidden, so I had to make do with a very good replica in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City (photo above-right), and based on my superlative knowledge of Mayan hieroglyphs I can confidently say that you will indeed all need to pay your December credit card bills, so don't start going crazy now.

Whether those bills will be paid in Euro, Punts Nua or sacrificial hearts was a bit less clear, but you might want to start sharpening up your good knife just in case.

All of which leads me to believe that, as predicted by scientists, the most depressing event of the year will indeed be my birthday, and not the end of the world.

Hooray for me!

More photos from Palenque can be found here.
Photos from the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City, can be found here.

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