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Editor, The Konformist
Steamshovelpress.com is back! New web content! New book product! New conference information! PLUS: a new, daily, twitterish quip: "Parapolitics Offhand!"
Now available on CD and through US Mail only: Popular Parapolitics, 219 pages, illustrated, of comentary on the nexus of parapolitics and popular culture. $15 post paid from Kenn Thomas, POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121.
Full `2012: Science Or Superstition' Film
Only 99 cents
December 21, 2012
Disinfonauts, as an endtimes special, we're pleased to offer you the chance to own a complete digital download (high quality MP4 video) of our most popular film ever, the Disinformation original documentary 2012: Science Or Superstition, for just 99 cents.
Featured in the film are Graham Hancock, John Major Jenkins, Daniel Pinchbeck, Alberto Villoldo, Anthony Aveni, Robert Bauval, Jim Marrs, Walter Cruttenden, Lawrence E. Joseph, Alonso Mendez, Douglas Rushkoff, John Anthony West and Benito Vegas Duran.
Doomsday Averted; Long Live Doomsday Predictions
December 21, 2012
As everyone knows by now, the apocalypse has been averted.
As detailed in movies, television shows and numerous advertisements, the end of the world predicted in ancient Mayan lore strikes on Dec. 21, 2012, the last day of the Mayan calendar, bringing with it floods, earthquakes, the reversal of the Earth's magnetic poles and the beginning of a new spiritual age.
This unlikely doomsday story has become a prominent thread in the national conversation. And if it resembles everything that Americans expect in a Hollywood blockbuster, that's probably because it's mostly an American creation, not a Mayan one.
Professor Mark Van Stone of Southwestern College, who studies Mayan hieroglyphs and calligraphy, says that early scholarly work on the Maya is partly to blame. "The scientists speculated that the Maya had this cycle and when the calendar went to 22.214.171.124.0, the gods started the clock running again," he said in a phone interview from Mexico Thursday.
The Mayan Long Count calendar is separated into 360 day years called "Tuns," 20 year periods called "Katuns," and 400 year periods called "Baktuns." The end of the 13th Baktun, or 126.96.36.199.0, falls on Dec. 21, 2012. In the mid-1970s scholars who had previously speculated on the Mayan cycle found references to dates far beyond 188.8.131.52.0.
"This escaped the general understanding," said Van Stone in the interview, "The scholars said, 'Oh, we were wrong,' but the memo didn't get out to the general public."
Professor John Hoopes of the University of Kansas, who has studied the development of the 2012 phenomenon, says that the origins of the doomsday myth lay in speculative academia that was then co-opted and embellished by others.
"Specific assertions about 2012 derive from statements made by reputable scholars -- the experts of their time -- that were misinterpreted in unanticipated ways," he wrote in an article last year for the International Astronomy Union.
Early scholars of the Maya in the U.S. and Europe derived their ideas of a Mayan prediction of the apocalypse primarily from documents dated to the 16th century, which led them astray.
"We don't see doomsday myths before the arrival of the Spanish, and that's an important distinction because there are end-of-the-world predictions that come after Roman Catholic missionaries," said Dr. Hoopes in a phone interview. "It was a Christian end-of-the-world eschatology."
However, all of this work might have remained on the dusty bookshelf of an academic library if not for the work of writers, poets and New Age spiritualists in the 1950s and 60s.
A book called "The Ancient Maya" published by archaeologist Sylvanus Morley in 1946 brought Mayan mythology to the masses, and inspired members of the Beat movement like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg to travel to the sites of ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations for further study.
Kevin Whitesides, who studies the emergence of 2012 mythology, says that there have been about 3,000 books written since 1966 that discuss 2012.
"There's quite a huge variety," he said over the phone. "You'll find perspectives from all the major religions. There's Buddhist books about 2012, there's Muslim, Christian and Hindu books on 2012.
"Then there's also all the new age books, those who are looking for the dawn of a new age, doomsday stories."
However, he says, most of these books have been self-published by their authors. Along with them have come books about less well-known aspects of the Mayan apocalypse.
"There are books on how to make money off of 2012, 2012 cookbooks, that sort of thing," he said.
The hold that 2012 has on the American imagination is so strong that astronomers and scientists have been asked to weigh in on the matter. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson vented his frustration at having to explain why the Earth isn't going to end from a scientific perspective while appearing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon recently.
"There's no greater sign of the failure of the American educational system than the extent to which Americans are distracted by the possibility that the Earth might end on Dec. 21, 2012," he said.
The idea of setting a date for the end of the world is nothing new; American writers and religious leaders have predicted the end of time for centuries. Radio preacher Harold Camping signaled the alarm to his devoted followers on the coming of the "rapture" to no avail.
A recent Reuters poll found that one in seven people around the world think that the world will come to an end during their lifetimes, and that 10 percent believe it could happen in 2012 as predicted by the Mayan calendar.
If this is their fear, they should sit comfortable in knowing that the Mayan calendar accounts for many, many years to come.
Apocalypse believers' big finish predictions vary
Fri December 21, 2012
When the Mayan "Long Count" calendar ends on Friday, December 21, some people predict it could mark the end of the world as we know it. But despite the attention that December 21 is garnering, many apocalyptic believers don't actually give much thought to the hype surrounding the Mayan calendar.
Some doomsday believers pinpointed 2012 as a pretty good year for disastrous solar flares, giant asteroids or global pole shifts that could likewise signal the apocalypse. Other theories that may or may not happen this year involve the Rapture, the catastrophic collapse of civilization or even a zombie uprising.
There is diversity among apocalyptic "prepper" groups, and to paint them all with a broad stroke of the crazy brush is to ignore the nuances in what these various groups believe.
John Hall, author of "Apocalypse: From Antiquity to the Empire of Modernity," said groups organized around 2012 end-of-world predictions -- driven by pseudoscientific or numerological predictions -- are "more fanciful" than some other doomsday believers. That's because they look toward dramatic external events, as opposed to others that approach theories with a "fair amount of scientific basis," such as the disappearance of natural resources.
Although Hall and his colleagues have spent years trying to define or connect them, the groups can be as hard to explain as their disparate beliefs.
"It's not like a pie of apocalyptic stories that can be divided up so much as it is a story where people coming from many different places can ... express the urgency of the crisis they foresee," Hall said.
For instance, Hall said the survivalists -- both those of the fundamentalist religious persuasion and the nonreligious -- are looking to opt out of post-apocalyptic strife.
That analysis applies to Dan Martin, a survivalist living off the grid and author of "Apocalypse: How to Survive a Global Crisis," a book that teaches skills for living a self-sufficient life after what he perceives to be an oncoming collapse of civilization and governments. He said his readers are "normal middle-class" soccer moms and teachers who read about world events and "connect the dots."
"Most of my readers aren't die-hard, end-of-the-world subscribers or enthusiasts," he said. "They don't want things to change, but aren't ignorant to the fact that they most likely will within our own lifetime, so preparing for such a strong possibility isn't desperation or ignorance or naivety, it's just another insurance policy."
Insofar as civilization's collapse is something we're bringing upon ourselves with a little help from world powers, Martin and his readers might relate to radical environmentalists or peak oil environmentalists, who subscribe to the theory that there is a date when petroleum production will max out and decline rapidly.
Hall sees a connection between the survivalists and religious rapturists who "look at themselves as missing out on the agonies of the apocalypse because they're going someplace else."
Jerry Jenkins, co-author of the "Left Behind" book series about the Rapture within the Christian Bible's end-of-days Book of Revelation, doesn't completely agree with Hall's assessment.
He said the media has incorrectly portrayed his readers as triumphalists who boast "We're going, you're not, too bad for you." The whole point of the "Left Behind" books, Jenkins said, was to encourage people to read the Revelation prophecies because religious rapturists want all people to have a better life in heaven.
"[We're not] saying 'good' people go and 'bad' people are left behind," said Jenkins, who believes the key to being raptured (or taken into heaven before the Apocalypse happens on Earth) is to receive Jesus Christ. But Jenkins added that even those "looking forward to being rescued" are still dedicated to improving life for everyone on terra firma before they go.
Interestingly, Jenkins said Christ himself said he didn't even know the day or hour of the Rapture, so the ilk of Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping who attempt to predict its timing are "crazies" engaged in folly that "make us all look like idiots."
Camping claimed he was able to use the Bible to calculate the exact date of the Rapture (most recently it was supposed to be May 23, 2011, and before that in 1994).
Those who point to science instead of Biblical lore to predict the end of the world are another apocalyptic subculture, according to Hall. These groups are comprised of theoretical physicists and futurologists -- such as Michio Kaku -- whom Hall calls "optimistic utopian prophets."
These people believe in the Technological Singularity theory: The possibility that technologically augmented intelligence will change human life as we know it or possibly wipe it out completely. There's even a think tank of sorts formed around this logic.
The Singularity Institute is comprised of scientists, philosophers and philanthropists from places such as the Research Triangle and Silicon Valley, and universities such as Oxford, Harvard and Stanford, said Michael Anissimov, media director at The Singularity Institute.
Their goal? Constructing a smarter-than-human intelligence that has the values of humanity. Instead of avoiding the growth of artificial intelligence, the Singularity Institute is trying to manage the risk.
If peak oil theorists believe we're rapidly running out of a major resource, the institute postulates that technology itself is advancing so rapidly that society will have an overabundance of it -- and an artificial intelligence is set to emerge that will not necessarily pursue mankind's best interests.
"We do think it's possible, if not probable, that it could actually lead to either the marginalization or end of humanity," said Anissimov.
Whereas religious and scientific apocalyptic subcultures converge and diverge on various points, there is one end-of-world scenario that manages to reflect all their anxieties: the zombie apocalypse.
The zombocalypse of popular culture has become something of a Rorschach test of apocalyptic fears. Depending on the point of view, zombies may result from an act of God, the irresponsible use of science, an environmental disaster, a cosmic event and so forth.
Scott Kenemore, author of "The Zen of Zombie" and a member of the advisory board of the Zombie Research Society, said the zombie apocalypse can represent a validation of sorts for people awaiting their particular extinction event.
Hall agreed that the pop-culture connection of zombies to apocalyptic groups is "a shared motif of a dystopian world emerging." He added that zombies are a stand-in for "The Other," an alien group, process or force that is "almost always" the basis for apocalyptic developments.
Zombies can be a substitute for a corrupt government, an oil-based economy, foreigners or even a Sodom and Gomorrah society itself.
"[H]ow you deal with the threat is an open question," he said.
Whatever route to the end (or new beginning), Hall thinks the very diversity of subcultures underscores the fact that we have reached an apocalyptic apex.
"In this moment, people are seeing the old ways of life recede," he said. "That's the occasion when all kinds of different people from all kinds of different directions come forward with one or another apocalyptic scenario."
The apocalypse, by the numbers
Fri December 21, 2012
1 in 10 - People around the world who believe the world might end in 2012, according to a May poll by Reuters.
3 - Different types of calendars used by the Mayans.
5,125 years - Length of the Mayan "Long Count" calendar.
144,000 - Days in a b'ak'tun, a cycle in the Mayan calendar which restarts around December 21. That's about 394 years.
52 million - Tourists expected to visit Mexico during the "Year of the Maya" in 2012, according to the Mexican Ministry of Tourism.
200,000+ - Searches for "End of the World" and related terms on Google on December 20, the top search as of this writing.
200 - 300 - Calls per week NASA has been receiving recently from people asking if the world really is about to end.
36 - Percentage of Americans who believe increasing severity of recent natural disasters is a sign of the apocalypse.
6 - Times since its discovery in 1989 Asteroid 4179 Toutatis has passed "close" to the Earth. The nearest to us it came was 962,951 miles away.
$50,000 - $120,000 - Price of a luxury underground bunker, sold by Atlas Survivor Shelters.com
189 - Residents of Bugarach, a French village receiving hordes of visitors who believe the only safe place to hide during the apocalypse is inside a "sacred" mountain there where extraterrestrials live.
69 - Peak position of "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," by R.E.M., on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart in 1988.
2 - Dates in 2011 Christian broadcaster Harold Camping predicted as dates of the end of the world, May 21 and then October 21.
27 - Percentage of respondents to a National Geographic survey who felt somewhat likely that a catastrophic event would happen on December 21, 2012.
27 - Percentage of those surveyed who said they make sure to "resolve feuds with loved ones" first if there was a possibility the world might end.
8 - Percentage of those who thought they could only survive about a day in a doomsday scenario with supplies they had at home.
Before You Breathe A Sigh Of Relief, Here Are 5 More `Apocalypses' To Consider
1. Ragnarök The "Doom of the Gods" or Götterdämmerung (you Wagner fans will recognize that) is the end of the world according to Norse mythology. It will be preceded by the winter of winters, the Fimbulvetr, which is actually three winters which follow each other with no summer in between. Chaos will ensue with conflicts and fighting and morality will disappear. Then the animals come out and eat the sun and stars, wake the giants and the dead all kinds of interesting stuff. Then come the earthquakes, floods, poisoned skies, giants, serpents and Fenrir the terrible wolf. Loki will empty Hel into a really big ship and sail around looking for a fight. Then Heimdall will blow his horn and everyone will battle. But the good news is that after the battle everything will be copacetic and a Paradise will ensue, with gods and men living happily together.
2. Armageddon According to the Book of Revelation, this will be the final battle on Earth between God and Satan. Armageddon is actually the name of the spot where the battle will take place, Some scholars say that it is symbolic, while others say the term refers to a Mount Megiddo nobody seems to agree. There are seven seals and they get opened one at a time, releasing all kinds of nasty things: dragons and beasts and frogs and demons who will head out on a round-the-world trip to gather up "all the kings of the world." Then it's time for the big fight. After the battle which Jesus will win comes the Paradise.
3. The Kali Yuga Indian mythology follows a cyclic path, mirroring human life. There are 4 cycles to each era called "yugas." According to Hindu belief we are living in the last one, the Kali Yuga. In this time the "World Soul" is Black in hue; virtue slowly dwindles to zero as men turn to wickedness. The usual disease, lethargy, anger, natural calamities, anguish and fear will dominate. Religious observances will be ignored and temples neglected, which will rather annoy the gods. The end of the Yuga will inevitably be heralded by cataclysmic earth changes as civilization collapses and everybody goes the way of the dodo. Of course, at the end of the Kalli Yuga, we cycle back to the first, the Satya Yuga, and do it all over again.
4. Zoroastrian Apocalypse Yes, they have one, too. It is supposed to occur 3000 years after Zoroaster was born but since there is some dispute about that, who knows when it will happen? The whole thing will begin when the sun and moon are no longer seen and a long, dark winter kicks in. The usual fading of morality and religious values and such will darken our doorstep. Then a big demon will break out of the cavern its been held trapped in and it will eat 1/3 of the world's population (he's gonna need a ton of Pepto-Bismol). Then a virgin will bathe in a lake in which the long-ago ejaculated seed of Zoroaster is still alive and she'll get pregnant and give birth to the savior figure, Saoshyant. He will raise the dead, pass judgement, purge every one of evil and everyone will help him vanquish the forces of evil. Then the Earth will become Heaven and everyone will live happily ever after.
5. Nostradamus' Last Days If you believe in the prophecies of the French seer and a few of them are frighteningly accurate then we might be good for about 5000 more years. The following quatrain is often cited as his prediction of the Last Days: Twenty years of the reign of the Moon having passed / Seven thousand years & another shall take up his throne / When the sun will complete its weary days / Then accomplished & proven will be my prophecies. It's interesting that Nostradamus predicts that only at the end of things will all his prophecies be proven true. But we have a few centuries at any rate. If we've translated the Old French correctly.
It's fun to laugh at the dire predictions of apocalypse but it's also important to remember that these stories were and in some cases, still are the cherished beliefs of some. It's a scary thing to contemplate, the end of everything. It's a difficult concept to wrap your head around, as is our own individual mortality. So we create grand drama, placing our gods on high then bringing them down to dwell with us. Perhaps one day we will realize that they already do live among us: we have only to look in each other's eyes to see them.
The Apocalypse Underground Porn Bunker
Technically, an apocalypse is not necessary to enjoy an underground porn bunker, but it certainly does enhance the experience. With that in mind, Pink Visual of Van Nuys, CA released blueprints for just such a bunker in 2011, planned to be ready for the 12-21-12 Mayan prophecy. Among the greatest hits: co-ed glass showers, fully stocked bars, a center stage with stripper pole, a porn studio, "private fertility chambers" and a microbrewery.
Sadly, it turns out building an underground bunker costs a lot more than Pink Visual expected, so the plan was ultimately dropped. But as a dream, it lives on, a fantasy place a man can enjoy a lapdance to "Pour Some Sugar on Me" as an asteroid wipes out the suckers left on the surface in a fiery Armageddon...