Letters from the Lunar Outpost

All kinds of beauty do not inspire love; there is a kind which only pleases the sight, but does not captivate the affections.
- Cervantes, Spanish Novelist, Dramatist, and Poet (1547-1616)

2012

Sunrise, December 21, 2012, Our World Still Exists

The end of the world came, and then it went, and yet the world still exists! The exact moment of the winter solstice occurred at 6:12 a.m. EST (1112 GMT) this morning, the “end” of the Mayan calendar. Of course, once a year we pass into the winter solstice, but what was special about this solstice was the fact that it marked the point where the Sun is aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years.

What an incredibly advanced society of astronomers the Mayans were to forcast this alignment of the Sun and the center of the galaxy in a calendar which stretched back thousands of years before their time, beginning their “Long Count” on August 12, 3114 B.C. and looking forward to the end of the calendar 5,126 years later on this date, December 21, 2012.

What it really amounted to however, was not the end of the calendar but the end of the thirteenth baktun and the start of the fourteenth, as the “odometer” of 12.19.19.17.19 yesterday rolled over to 13.0.0.0.0 today. The world is still here and tomorrow will be 13.0.0.0.1 on the Long Count.

The reason I became somewhat transfixed with today’s date was that I began my own countdown to today’s date in 2008 as I added a new feature to my date reminder software program that had always worked as a handy reminder for yearly occurrences such as birthdays and anniversaries and created a new event type which allowed people to track a specific date years ahead or years in the past. To test the new feature, I added an event marking The End of the Mayan Calendar on December 21, 2012. I’ve been watching the approach of today’s date for over 1,700 days.

One of the benefits in watching the end of the world approach for years in advance is that you get a real sense of how the time we have on this Earth is a finite thing and you develop a sense of urgency in realizing that we cannot count on an endless expanse of days to accomplish the goals we were born to achieve.

Of course, there can be unintended consequences of half-heartedly convincing yourself the end of the world is just around the corner, you might find yourself maxing out the credit cards or convincing yourself with a wink and a nudge that there’s really no need to quit smoking today because the world’s going to end in a few months or years anyways, but if and when December 22nd rolls around and you and I are still here to enjoy it, we can tell ourselves hey, the world was supposed to end yesterday, all our remaining days are just gravy – an unexpected bonus.

My wife worries about my obsession with the apocalypse and the end of the world. When I told her the solstice came and went and the world’s still here, she replied simply, “Life is beautiful if you make it beautiful.”

Enjoy the overtime period, my friends.

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Bottled water? Check. Iodine tablets? Check. Magnesium fire starter? Check. Hand-crank solar flashlight and radio? Check. Multi-function knife tool? Check. Zombie skull thumper? Check.

The ancient prophecies have foretold that the final day would arrive on December 21, 2012. We are now one week away from the end of the Mayan calendar.

Even if you don’t believe in the supreme visionary powers of the Mayans, it still makes for a great question to ask yourself – you have one week left on Earth, how are you going to live it? What are you going to do in these last seven days?

Once you’re done with the hypothetical and live these final seven days to the fullest, on the eighth day . . . we’ll wake to the news that, of course, the old date for the end of the world was wrong (are you with me on this, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists?) and the new date is Wednesday, May 31, 2051.

So you’ll then have to ask yourself, what are you going to do with the extra 14,040 days?

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“[T]here are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America.” – Barack Obama, DNC Keynote Speech, July 27, 2004.

Remember that speech? I sure do, and that electrifying seventeen-minute speech was the spark that ignited Obama’s rocket rise to political stardom. He was a breath of fresh air, a voice that rose above the petty politics of our day.

Most of us remember that speech, but it’s hard for most of us to remember the guy who made that speech. The president we’ve gotten to know is a man who urges his supporters to seek “revenge” and to “punish our enemies.”

Eager to propel his rocket rise, within days of being elected to the U.S. Senate, reporters from his adoring media were already asking Obama if he had any plans to run for president in 2008:

“You know, I am a believer in knowing what you’re doing when you apply for a job. And I think that if I were to seriously consider running on a national ticket, I would essentially have to start now, before having served a day in the Senate. Now, there are some people who might be comfortable doing that, but I’m not one of those people.” – Barack Obama, November 8, 2004.

Ultimately, Obama’s own HOPE for the presidency won out over his repeated assertions that he wouldn’t have the experience to run in the next election, but even though he had reversed himself, there was still something refreshing about the way this guy who had already wooed so many managed to remain humble and aware of his deficiencies and lack of experience.

In 2006, Obama released his book, The Audacity of Hope. There was a good deal of candor when Obama shared this in the prologue:

“I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them.” – Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope, published October 17, 2006.

Already looking at a run for the White House, Obama was shrewd enough to realize that the factor of his being an unknown, a “blank screen” onto which many people could project many things would be one of his greatest strengths, at the same time, he was also smart enough to realize that those widespread hopes and great expectations could become his greatest liability were he to have to live up to them once elected.

So when he finally declared his candidacy and it became time for Obama to begin projecting his own images onto that blank screen, what did we get? We ended up with slogans such as

Obama Fills in The Blank Screen with Hope    and    Obama Fills in The Blank Screen with Promises of Change

And through four years of his presidency, what did we actually end up with?

Obama Seeks to Punish His Enemies    and    Obama Seeks Revenge on His Enemies

Barack Obama wants people to vote for him out of revenge? Revenge for what? Daring to challenge you? Daring to provide the American people with an alternative to your failed presidency and perpetual campaigning?

As he predicted might happen, I think Obama now knows that most of America did end up disappointed in his presidency and he realizes now that his time is done. Only a loser seeks revenge.

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We’re three days in on the new year, but nothing much of note has really happened so far, so still not too late to unload my psychic powers on the world . . .

Spun Honey’s Predictions for 2012

2012 Football Predictions1. Coming off the 9-6 LSU victory in the regular season, in the LSU – Alabama rematch for the BCS Championship, someone finally manages to score a touchdown. The way those defenses are playing, forget picking a winner, that’s a bold enough prediction right there.

2. Drew Brees manages to outgun Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship, taking his Saints to the Super Bowl. The Ravens, who had a regular season record of 6-0 against playoff teams, beat both the Bengals and Patriots, but end up losing in the big one. They never need an excuse to party down on Bourbon Street, but it’s Super Bowl number two for the Saints and the people of New Orleans.

3. The day before the vote on the Stop Online Piracy Act, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter and Facebook launch a black page protest, shutting down service and asking their loyal users to tell Congress to get their cotton-pickin’ hands off the Internet. Congressional phone lines are flooded beyond anything the Capitol has ever seen, and in a stunning reversal, SOPA bites the dust.

2012 Video Game Sales4. Hollywood will earn $500 billion less in domestic box-office sales from the previous year, just as they did in 2011, and the movie studios still remain completely in denial, crying about piracy when the real problems Hollywood faces are a dearth of new ideas (nothing but remakes, sequels and comic book adaptations) a public that prefers their own home theater experience to over-priced movie tickets and the fact that video games are drawing more and more people’s disposable income.

5. Video game sales will break records again, hitting $20 billion and doubling Hollywood’s take for the first time ever. While video games are just as easy to pirate as movies, you hear very few calls from the video game industry for the government to have an Internet kill switch.

6. London Olympics are smashing, baby! Security is tight, no terrorist attacks, and the only incident is when a bunch of hooligans get out of hand with the celebrations as Great Britain pulls off the upset Gold Medal in football.

7. The Israelis will not and cannot allow the Mullah Hitlers to have nukes in Iran and the much anticipated airstrike is launched. Thankfully, predictions of oil at $250 a barrel are exaggerated, with oil maxing out at $198 a barrel. Gasoline rises to an earth-loving $8 a gallon, and the Obama administration couldn’t be happier.

 Punxsutawney Phil8. Documents come to light proving what everyone already knew, that Attorney General Eric Holder was guilty of perjury when he denied having knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious. Fortunately for the Obama administration, all the news channels outside of FNC decide the story is not as newsworthy as the reports on Katy Perry’s second divorce and whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so the story is never even mentioned.

9. On a personal note, I’m able to stay on the straight and narrow with no cigarettes and I get back down to my target weight of 200 pounds this year, but it doesn’t matter because . . .

10. December 21, 2012 lands most conveniently on a Friday, and Mayan apocalypse parties are going off all across America. When everyone else wakes up hungover on December 22, they realize there is no Mayan apocalypse, we survived to suffer a fate far worse, because just a month previous, Barack Obama was given another four years.

December 21, 2012

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Currently Listening To:

Team of Rivals
by
Doris Kearns Goodwin