Ahead of December 21, which marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year “Long Count” Mayan calendar, panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.
The article cites panics in places like Russia and China. But it adds:
Meanwhile in Mexico, where the ancient Mayan civilisation flourished, the end time has been seen as an opportunity. The country has organised hundreds of Maya-themed events, and tourism is expected to have doubled this year.
I say, good for the Maya in Mexico! Go ahead and take advantage of the “Maya Doomsday” fraud, and milk the idiots who subscribe to it for all you can get. When December 22 dawns, laugh at the fools all the way to the bank!
As I always do when I blog about this, I’ll make the situation as clear as possible. The Maya “Long Count” calendar will not “end” on December 21, 2012. All calendars are cyclical and perpetual. They never “end.” The Maya calendar can no more “end” than our own can. What will happen on that date, is that we’ll go from the 13th baktun to the 14th. That’s all. As for Nibiru, it doesn’t exist, it never has, and it will never collide with the earth. It’s a fantasy spun by a crank who claims to be the world’s only expert on Sumerian and Babylonian texts, but who actually knows nothing about them. Put bluntly, it’s a lie.
I was in my car yesterday listening to C-SPAN (yes, I do that sometimes), when to my stunned surprise I heard Congressman Dan Burton launch into a diatribe on how mercury in vaccines causes autism. No, this was not a replay of a recording from a decade ago. The hearing was held just a few days ago by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Congressman Burton used this hearing to rehash a series of some of the most thoroughly discredited anti-vaccine positions of the past decade. Burton is a firm believer in the myth that vaccines cause autism, and he arrogantly holds the position that he knows the truth better than the thousands of scientists who have spent much of the past decade doing real science that proves him wrong.
Burton’s absurdly-orchestrated escapade featured bona fide CDC and NIH scientists — who understand the truth here, which Burton and his fellow Representative Bill Posey of Florida don’t like — being chastised and lambasted, and Antivax cranks lauded for their lies.
The last paragraph in this Forbes piece includes this pithy gem:
Message to Congress: science isn’t easy, and autism is complicated. Don’t criticize science when it doesn’t give you the answer you thought you knew. That’s not how science works.
And that, folks, is the problem … with this and many other scientific and technological issues. People have certain beliefs, and they demand that science confirm them; when it doesn’t, they pitch fits and holler and whine like little children. Burton and Posey and all their anti-scientific cohorts should grow up and act their ages, fercryinoutloud.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve blogged a few times about the so-called “Maya apocalypse.” That’s the assumption that the Maya prophesied that the planet would be destroyed — or the universe grind to a halt — on December 21, 2012 because (supposedly) that’s the day their long-count calendar will “run out.”
They address a number of claims that have been made about what will happen on December 21, 2012. Among them is the wild-eyed claim that a planet Nibiru will collide with the earth. (That particular aspect of this lunacy owes its origins more to the laughable spew of Zechariah Sitchin than to anything the Maya left behind.)
That said, I have no doubt this will not actually calm the fears of the “Maya apocalypse” true-believers. Rather, they’ll decide that NASA’s efforts to debunk their delusions and lies are merely further evidence of their veracity (for instance, they’ll ask, “Why would a federal government agency spend so much time debunking ‘nonsense,’ unless there was something to it in the first place?”). The backfire effect is a powerful psychological force and it will certainly infect many, as the next couple of weeks go by.
As I’ve done previously, I’ll point out a few simple, obvious facts that explain how this whole “Maya prophecy” is pure bullshit:
The Maya calendar can no more “run out” than our own can. Calendars are by nature cyclical and perpetual. You always go from the last month of one year, to the first month of the next, over and over again, without letup. The Maya calendar works no differently, in this regard. December 21, 2012 will be the transition between the 13th baktun and the 14th. That’s all.
The idea that the Maya had any special knowledge of the future is laughable on its face. This is especially true when one realizes they never foresaw the collapse of their own civilization, which happened back in the 10th century. The upheaval the Maya experienced in the 10th century — a time in which they did not all “disappear” or “die out” as sometimes has been alleged, although many of their city-states declined measurably and in many cases precipitously — ought to have concerned them immensely, had they seen it coming.
Modern Maya (yes, the Maya still exist as a people!) don’t buy any of this bilge, themselves. Since they’re in a better position than the rest of us to know what the classic Maya thought and said, it’d behoove us to pay attention to them.
The bottom line is that the so-called “Maya apocalypse 2012″ is a flat-out lie, cooked up by an assortment of New Agers and cranks who have precious little knowledge of the Maya; they’ve taken that little bit of knowledge and extrapolated it to ridiculous proportions. It’s time for them to just fucking stop their lies.
Previously, I issued a challenge to the Maya-apocalypse-promoting cranks, and I’ll repeat it here: Will you state in advance — right here, right now, without reservation — that, once December 22, 2012 arrives and there’s been no “Maya apocalypse,” you promise to issue an unqualified apology for having lied to people, and without delay or equivocation donate the proceeds of your doomsaying to charity?
My guess is, none of them are sincere enough in their (crazy) beliefs to accept this challenge and make this pledge. More’s the pity.
Anyway, there is obviously more Christmas chaos in Rhode Island and Governor Chafee is again behind it. Apparently he believes that Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island in 1636, would not want to call a Christmas tree “a Christmas tree” or something.
O’Reilly has some problems with semantics. Since “Christmas” is a “holiday,” then it is always correct to call a “‘Christmas’ tree” a “‘holiday’ tree.” There’s nothing wrong with doing so.
Also, the Billster conveniently forgets who Roger Williams was. He’s notable for having been the first major advocate of religious freedom in the American colonies. He was a Baptist preacher who was run out of the Massachusetts Bay colony by furious Calvinist Puritans who’d objected to his presence there, who took refuge among the Narragansett to the south, and then founded the colony (now state) of Rhode Island. Roger Williams understood sectarian persecution far better than Billy-boy ever will. He lived it! He even penned a work whose words have become part of the canon of the United States, an exhaustive treatise called The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience. This work — notThomas Jefferson’s now-famous letter to the Baptists of Danbury, CT — is the true origin of the phrase “separation of church and state.”
(Yes, folks. That’s right. The Founding Fathers’ effort to prevent the state from encroaching on religion, and vice versa, was not even their own invention; a century before them, a man had been agitating for that exact same policy. They were, to put it bluntly, Williams’s students. For Billyo to dismiss Roger Williams’ work as blithely as he does, is not only an affront to his memory, it’s also an insult to theirs. So much for the Religious Right’s vaunted worship of the Founding Fathers!)
I concede that it’s fair to ask if Roger Williams would have objected to calling a “‘Christmas’ tree” a “‘holiday’ tree” … but as far as I can tell, it’s also fair to conclude he would likely not have cared. Most people in the colonies in his time didn’t really celebrate Christmas at all, much less put up Christmas trees. (You can thank those angry Puritans for that.) This complaint is a strictly modern concept, manufactured from whole cloth by Religious Rightists like Billy-boy and his ilk. It’s not a controversy that Williams would have even known existed, nor would he have understood it, had he been aware of it.
Having spewed such a laughable anachronism, though, Billy-baby doesn’t stop there. He charges happily on to even greater heights of ridiculousness:
Now, this is insane, of course. There is no reason to mess around with the word “Christmas”. As we reported, President Grant signed a law in 1870 making Christmas a federal holiday. So there really isn’t any controversy unless Congress revokes the holiday.
You see, in Billy-boy’s mind, the fact that President Grant — whose presidential administration was, shall we say, somewhat underwhelming — made a proclamation about Christmas, appears to do all of the following:
Requires all Americans, of whatever faith or of none at all, to worship Christmas along with all other Christians
Mandates that nativities be planted on every town hall lawn, in front of every courthouse, etc., all around the country, every December
Forces every American to say “Merry Christmas!” at each and every meeting — without fail, and without substitution or alteration of any kind
Prevents Americans from ever referring to Christmas as a “holiday,” even if by every English dictionary definition, it is one
It removes all of the sacredness from the holy day known as Christmas and makes it purely secular
And on top of all that … Grant’s proclamation carries every bit as much authority now, as it did 142 years ago when he first signed it. The passage of time has only made it more compelling than it had been in the late 19th century.
I don’t know about you, but I find that quite a lot to ask of one simple presidential decree. Billy-boy must think Grant was a whole helluva lot more powerful — and everlasting — than he actually was.
Here’s my challenge to the Billster: If you really think that I, as an American, am obligated to celebrate Christmas alongside you; am obligated never, ever under any circumstances to refer to it as a “holiday” (even if it is one); and am obligated to wish “a Merry Christmas” to everyone I see, whenever I see him/her; then you just go right ahead and make me. I dare you. Please. I invite you to do everything in your power to compel me to obey your wishes. You deliver your copy of President Grant’s decree to me, slam it down, force me to read it, and then coerce me into celebrating Christmas. Go right ahead. If you’re truly convinced it’s my obligation as an American to do so, then why would you not do it?
Unless you’re willing to track me down and force me to do what you want me to, then you’re just another whiny coward who’s capable only of complaining, unwilling to put his own words into action.
Boo fucking hoo, Billy, you sniveling crybaby. Boo fucking hoo.
Anti-Semitic hackers invaded the websites of 50 Reform synagogues before Shabbat on Nov. 23 with an hour-long video that argued that the Holocaust did not occur. …
The hackers appear to be a group calling itself “Moroccan Ghosts,” according to Jeffrey Salkin, New Jersey community director of the Anti-Defamation League.
According to the group’s Facebook page, the Moroccan Ghosts targeted synagogues belonging to the Union for Reform Judaism because they consider the organization, said Salkin, quoting the website, “one of the most significant and very extreme Zionist assemblies that supports Israel in America.”
These sites were all hosted by the Union for Reform Judaism. As the NJJN explains, this is not the first time the group has hacked into sites in order to promote their Holocaust denials. They appear to subscribe to a view common in the Arab world, that the Holocaust was fabricated by the Jews in order to evoke sympathy for them and justify granting them their own state in the Levant.
The folly of this view is clear when one realizes that Jews had been living in the Levant for many centuries; by World War I the British, who then controlled the region, had expressed the goal of establishing a Jewish state there. For Jews to have gone to the elaborate machinations required to “stage” the Holocaust, merely to justify something that a lot of folks (in the occidental world at least) already supported for decades by the 1940s, seems more than a little excessive.
The irrationality of this claim, however — as with just about every elaborate conspiracy theory that’s ever been cooked up — escapes those who hold it. Telling them there’s no evidence for their conspiracy doesn’t work, because they view the lack of evidence ironically as evidence in favor of it (“See how effective the Jewish cabal was? They successfully cleaned up all traces of what they did! What better proof could there be?”).
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes that one of the NBA’s marketing deals is “a scam,” and he said Monday that he banned the product from the team’s locker room.
Cuban made his opinion clear in a video he posted to YouTube last week in which he criticized Power Balance bracelets before throwing the display case that was in the Mavericks’ locker room in the garbage.
“See this stuff?” Cuban said on the video, grabbing the display. “It was a scam when they were on ‘Shark Tank.’ It’s still a scam. I don’t care if the NBA was dumb enough to sign an agreement; this is going where it belongs.”
At that point, Cuban put the display case in a trash can.
It’s nice to see at least one NBA team owner taking on his own league, against this scam. Would that more owners did so, and more celebrities spoke out against Power Balance and the fraud it’s perpetrating on the public, rather than embracing and fostering it.
Most of us assume that religious people are capable of feeling a certain amount of gratitude for the things they have in their lives. But all too often, they don’t. For example, fierce Christofascist Glenn Beck bolted from Fox News, the network that placed him front and center in America’s living rooms, just as soon as they’d made him famous enough to build his own publishing operation (WebCite cached article).
If all publicity is good publicity, Two and a Half Men has once again hit the marketing jackpot. The show, which survives and apparently thrives on its off-screen dramas, has added new elements into the mix: God, Satan and eternal damnation.
Angus Jones, better known as the character Jake Harper, the adolescent “half” in the title, has released two videos criticising the CBS sitcom, now in its 10th season, as “filth”, and urging viewers to shun it lest they become contaminated.
The 19-year-old actor, who reportedly earns $350,000 per show, making him the highest paid teenager in US television, made the pleas after embracing the Forerunner Chronicles, a California-based Christian group which warns about evil in entertainment.
Wow. What a class act this kid is. He makes his fortune on a TV show, becoming one of the highest-paid performers in the industry … and decides to denounce it as evil and Satanic. Boy, that’s Christian gratitude for ya! Well done, kid. Well done. I’m sure your Jesus would be so proud!
A longtime holiday show, beloved by children, inadvertently sparked a controversy in Little Rock over the separation of church and state.
It happened when some teachers at Terry Elementary school sent letters home offering to shuttle first and second graders to see a stage version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at Agape, a local church.
“We’re not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown,” said Anne Orsi, a Little Rock Attorney and Vice President of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.
“The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state, it over steps it entirely.”
As is typical of such cases, the church used the old “We’ve always done it, so we should always be able to do it, forevermore!” defense:
Some of Agape staffers did say they have held holiday productions for students in the past and no one raised concerns about those shows.
Sorry but no. As I blogged previously — and repeatedly — that Christianists have been getting away with this kind of crap, doesn’t actually make it acceptable. It just means they managed to get away with it. Note that, usually, this kind of defense doesn’t work in other venues. For instance, someone caught for speeding can’t respond with, “But officer, I’ve always driven that fast down this road! I’ve been doing it for years! You can’t give me a ticket, now! You must let me continue speeding!” It just doesn’t work … and the Christianists who use these appeals to tradition damned well know it.
The article contains the station’s video report, that I can’t embed here, but it mentions an important aspect of cases like this: The fact that kids and parents who object to this sort of thing often go along with it anyway, out of fear their kids will be harassed if they choose not to. That’s how Christianists have been getting away with it for as long as they have; they use bullying tactics against anyone who dares not knuckle under to their religiosity. That’s not to their credit, and I’m fairly sure their own Jesus wouldn’t approve of it. Yet they do it nevertheless.
Christians, just fucking grow the hell up and stop using Christmas to ram your Jesus down everybody’s throats … OK? Is that too much to ask of you?
Full disclosure: I’m of the generation that grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas annually. I still find it amusing, its religious content notwithstanding. Nevertheless, it’s unacceptable to present to kids in public school, and taking them to a church to see it just makes the situation all the worse.