Various and sundry

1 – Still not old: Arthur C. Clarke is reported to have said “When my past becomes more fascinating than my future, I’m officially old.” Well, I’m in my seventies, but not yet ready to dwell in the past or sit and watch Jerry and Maury all day. I still want to know what’s beyond that next hill and what’s around that next bend. If that changes, I’ll let you know.

2 – Trump 1: Many people are upset that the apprentice president spends so much time golfing. Considering what happened in Hawaii over the weekend, we should all be glad he chose to do so this weekend. Can you imagine the carnage that might have resulted if he’d been aware of the false missile alert at the time it happened? He’d have issued the launch codes immediately and since it took 38 minutes to rescind the alert, missiles would have landed on Pyongyang before that happened. We wouldn’t be here to read this.

3 – Trump 2: His description of some other nations has rightfully caused indignation among those nations. Again this spotlights his general ignorance of the world and its history. Many of his so-called “shithole” nations have given the world brilliant scientists; brilliant writers and artists in all genres, as well as successful politicians and diplomats. According to historians, many of these nations, especially in Africa, were leading the world in science, mathematics and literature while Europeans were still living in caves. Can someone please prepare a picture book for the apprentice president so he may understand just how far off-base his comments really were.

While on the topic of things he said this past week, in an interview, he stated “I’m the best athlete, people don’t know that”.  Uh huh.  The man who evaded the draft because he had “bone spurs” is a great athlete.  Sorry, but was he lying about the “bone spurs”, the “best athelete”, or both.  My Money is on both.

4 – Rogers Communications: If you live in southern Ontario, you have probably had Rogers Communications inflicted upon you for your cable, phone and internet service. Personally, I switched my internet to someone else and have no problem with my landline (remember those?), but have serious doubts about their cable. Specifically the descriptions they use on some of the listings on their channel guide. Here are some recent examples of just how fanciful some programmes have been described.
Sanctuary, starring Amanda Tapping, has been described as “dealing with spiritual matters”. Excuse me? If you’re unfamiliar with the programme, it deals with a lady who offers safety to what many would consider monsters and freaks. Hardly spiritual.

The Magicians is another example, if you’ve watched the show, you know it deals with special people, teenagers, who have special abilities and is pure fantasy. This was described as a reality show.

Finally, the movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. I think we are all aware of this movie and its plot of a husband and wife team who are assassins hired to take each other out (no, not on a date). According to Rogers, this is about two forensic accountants investigating a company but neither is aware of the other’s existence or purpose in the company,

I have to ask myself if the people responsible for these descriptions live in hermetically sealed caves, for they seem to have never seen or heard of the programmes they’re describing. They also seem not to know whether a show is a new episode or a repeat. I’ve skipped shows not marked as “new” thinking they were reruns only to discover later they were the latest episode.

Okay, enough grumbling and venting. I hope your 2018 is off to a good start and stays that way. Remember to hug an artist, we need love too, no matter where we or our parents came from.


Are they at it again?

Some of you may remember the films produced during WWII and how they all seemed to portray the Americans (often led by John Wayne) taking on and defeating the evil Axis powers. They were meant to instill a sense of patriotism in the viewers.

Again, you may remember the (usually not very good) invaders from space movies that were popular during the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. In these the aliens were meant to be seen as analogous to the “Red menace” and, as with the movies of the ‘40’s, once again the Americans were always victorious.

These movies, in addition to entertainment, were intended to instill a sense of patriotism and a belief in the invincibility of the American armed forces. Hollywood has often been used as a propaganda tool, as it was during the Second World War and the cold war.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I think the studios and other independent producers of television programming are at it again. By “it” I mean pumping up the patriotism and faith in the invincibility of American forces,. Times have changed greatly and too much has happened for people to believe in the infallibility of US forces but they are still a formidable opponent. Three new shows this year, “Seal Team”’ “The Brave” and “Valor”, appear to be designed to put a positive face on the military. I find it more than coincidental that we have three new shows glorifying the armed forces.

Given the Apprentice President’s words and actions, especially regarding North Korea and Kim Jong Un, and Kim’s responses, it appears war grows closer every day ( or hour – I have seen any new tweets today.) Shows such as these could have the effect of, as I said, increasing feelings of patriotism in viewers as well as prepare them mentally for the possibility of war. I sincerely hope I’m wrong and it really is just coincidental these shows all appeared in the same season, for I know that living north of the US/Canada border won’t protect me if everything does fall apart.

All we can do in the meantime is let ourselves be entertained and pray that calmer heads in both Pyongyang and Washington prevail.



Not with a bang or a whimper

As I write this, it is now 2:20 on the morning of Friday December 21, 2012 in Tokyo and as far as I can tell from the news reports, it’s still there.  So much for the Doomsday predictions the world will end midnight Friday December 21, 2012.  Of course, like all these predictions, nobody ever mentions a time zone, so perhaps I’m writing this prematurely and it will happen midnight Eastern time, or some such thing.

In “Who to believe?” of December 18, I promised I wouldn’t say “I told you so” when life carried on, but … .

How many times over the years have we heard these Doomsday predictions?  How many times have we heard some religious fanatic tell us he has deciphered the clues in the Bible, then state categorically the world will end August 32, or some such thing, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon? How many times have we also seen these people  come up with excuses, such as “I made a mistake in my calculations,” or other reasons even more fantastic than their view of the End of Everything when life goes on?

Many people believe Doomsday will coincide with the return of Jesus.  I’m not a religious scholar, so I can’t argue for or against that possibility, but I am aware the Bible does state that no man may know when the Lord will return.  Given that statement from the Bible, I would suggest that these religious groups that make Doomsday predictions are attempting to place themselves above God.

Yes, the world will probably end some day, but I doubt it’s going to happen this weekend.  So if you were using the end of the Mayan calendar as an excuse not to do any Christmas shopping, guess what?  You’re gonna find the mall very, very crowded on Saturday.

Enjoy your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and Christmas presents) too.


Who to believe?

The Mayan long count calendar ends on December 21, 2012, which is this Friday.  According to doomsday theorists, that means the end of the world as we know it.  These theorists say it will end midnight, Friday December 21, 2012.  Notice they don’t specify a time zone.

Since it is almost impossible to turn on a television set this week without seeing some programming covering the end of the world, I’ve watched some of the more reasonable ones.   Some of the things I’ve heard and seen are very interesting.  Things such as the Mayans don’t predict the end of the world. People who are supposedly experts at deciphering the Mayan glyphs say they can find nothing that indicates the physical end of life on earth. The calendar just ends, which apparently indicates the end of the 13th baktun, a span of time defined as 144,000 days. December 22 will mark the beginning of the 14th baktun, nothing more.  The nearest analogy used was when our calendar changed from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000.

Remember the panic and paranoia over “Y2K”?   And what happened? People woke up Jaunary 1, swearing never to drink that much again, then went about their normal lives.  Expect the same kind of reaction Saturday December 22, 2012.  People will wake up, have coffee, then hit the mall for some full contact Christmas shopping on the last weekend before Christmas.  Even the descendants of the Mayans simply say “the calendar will start over”, which has been my view all along.

Of course, if I’m wrong, there won’t be anyone left to say “you blew it, girl”.  If I’m right, I promise I won’t say “I told you so” – really, I  promise.

Interestingly enough, there are many predictions of the end of the world, but they don’t have any date attached to them.  The legends of the Hopi describe the end of everything.  Of course, the Bible covers it, graphically, in The Revelation of Saint John, which is the last book in the Bible.  According to what I heard, the Torah and the Q’ran also mention the end of the world as do other religions.

Nostradamus, who apparently has quite a high accuracy rate, also predicts the end of the world. His prediction mention balls of fire from the heavens (pick your own description – missiles, comets, meteors, whatever), but not until the year 3797.

So, are we to believe those who predict Doomsday based on the ending of a calendar from a long-dead civilization; or those who, like me, take the more pragmatic view that the Mayan long count calendar simply marks the end of a cycle?  Personally, I’m going shopping December 22, 2012.

Enjoy the rest of your week.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love too and don’t worry, nothing’s gonna happen Friday midnight. No matter what time zone you live in.


I think we’re safe

Recently I read something, perhaps in a Facebook post by someone, that said the Mayan long calendar is wrong about December 21, 2012.  The reasoning was that the Mayans didn’t take into account leap years.  The addition of that extra day every four years is bound to throw off the calculations, and does anyone want to figure out how many leap years there have been since the calendar was (a) created and (b) deciphered?

Speaking of deciphering, I saw something on television last night that said the Mayan glyphs were actually deciphered by a mathematician and librarian in Germany.  So, this once again brings up the question “how do we know the decoding was accurate?”   Mathematic formulae can do wondrous things (such as get me through high school math) but since the Mayan glyphs are pictograms and not words in a foreign language I would think any values assigned by the decoder would need to be rather arbitrary and based upon his personal experience and education.  Which, as I wrote above, brings up the question of accuracy.

I would also think that something else that would cast doubt upon the accuracy of that dating is this: in 1752, much of the world switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.  September 2 was followed by September 13, not September 3.  Those eleven days surely would have also affected the accuracy of both the prediction and the translation of the glyphs.  So, given these possible variables, I think I can safely say we have nothing to worry about, except possibly the weather.

In any event, I ascribe to the view of an “expert” interviewed by the Toronto Star years ago who, when asked what he thought would happen December 22, 2012, said simply “the calendar will start over.”  Think about it.  Our calendar ends with December 31 every year.  Does the world end?  No, the sun comes up January 1 and life carries on, Why should it be any different with the Mayan long calendar?

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.


Answer me this

According to some doomsday theorists, the end of the world is less than three months away – December 21, 2012 to be precise.  That is the date on which the Mayan long calendar ends.  I have several questions on this theory, which I’m going to ask and, if I’m doing my job properly, you’ll have questions as well.

First, how do we know the Mayan cuneiforms have been translated properly?  Is there some sort of western hemisphere version of the Rosetta stone?  These people who are touted as being Mayan “experts” – how do we know for sure?  Is there some sort of exam you take and if you pass it you can call yourself a Mayan expert? There are no Mayans to test you.

Now, let’s move on to the calendar and the theories themselves.  First, I’ve written some of this before, but it still applies.  Can anyone give me one single reason why the Mayan long calendar wouldn’t act the same as our Gregorian calendar and simply start over?  This is what an “expert” interviewed by the Toronto Star a couple of years ago believes will happen. Our calendar ends with December 31.  Does the world end on December 31?   No.  The sun comes up the next day, January 1, and things carry on as usual.  Why wouldn’t this also apply to the Mayan calendar?  If we accept these theories for a moment (I don’t – I believe the calendar will just start over) I have one more question.  You say the world will end with December 21, 2012.  What time zone?

I know that some people put great faith in this calendar and the fact it ends just before Christmas this year.  Couple more questions: Nobody else has successfully predicted the end of the world, so why should the Mayans do any better?   And, if the Mayans were so great at predicting events, how come they couldn’t predict the fact they’d all die off?  They’re all dead, so why should we put any great stock in their end of the world prediction?  If they’re wrong, we certainly can’t turn to them and say “you screwed up”, can we?

I read an article in one of the Toronto papers several months ago that said archeologists had discovered a room at one of the Mayan ruins that indicated that their mathematicians didn’t believe the world would end.  Again, if the translation is correct, this would lend credence to my statement the calendar will just start over.

And one final question: What are you going to do in December: plan for Christmas, or plan for the end of the world?

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.