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The Meso-American Long Count

Stela C from Tres Zapotes (Olmec): the oldest, clearly written Long Count date found so far: 7.16.6.16.18 (September 1st 32 BC).

The Meso-American Long Count (by 32 BC) counts the number of days since the beginning of the world, since August 11th 3114 BC. It is also known as the Mayan Long Count since the Maya are the best known for putting it on their monuments.

The number zero: The Long Count is the first thing known to use the number zero. The earliest clearly written Long Count date found so far by archaeologists is 7.16.6.16.18 or September 1st 32 BC on the Gregorian calendar. By then the Long Count had probably been in use for hundreds of years, probably starting with the Olmecs.

Today on different calendars:

  • Mayan: 13.0.5.16.4 (17 Yax 9 Kan)
  • Gregorian: October 15th AD 2018
  • Roman: October 2nd 2771 AUC
  • Alexandrian: October 2nd AM 7511
  • Byzantine: October 2nd AM 7527
  • Athenian: Pyanepsion 6th Olympiad 699/2
  • Hebrew: Heshvan 6th 5779 AM
  • Islamic: Safar 4th 1440 AH
  • Persian: Libra 23st 1397 AHS
  • Julian Day: 2458406
  • Unix: time() = 1539561600
  • Discordian: Bureaucracy 69th YOLD 3184

The Mayan date:

13.0.5.16.4 (17 Yax 9 Kan)

Comes in three parts:

  • Long Count: 13.0.5.16.4
  • Haab: 17 Yax
  • Tzolkin: 9 Kan

The Haab date was for farmers (it repeats every 365 days). The Tzolkin date was for priests (it repeats every 260 days). The two together determined daily life and repeated every 52 years. That made it terrible for history, monuments or long-term prophecies. Thus the Long Count, which can last over a billion years.

The Long Count is made up of five numbers:

13.0.5.16.4

Each number goes from 0 to 19, except for the second-to-last one, which only goes up to 17

Tomorrow will be 13.0.5.16.5, then 13.0.5.16.6 and so on till 13.0.5.16.19. The day after that will be 13.0.5.17.0. The day after 13.0.5.17.19 will be 13.0.6.0.0. And on and on.

Format: If Western dates, like October 15th 2018, were expressed the same way, they might look like this:

20.1.8.10.15

the format being:

century.decade.year.month.day

For the Long Count the format is:

baktun.katun.tun.uinal.kin

where the kin goes up by one every day, the uinal every 20 days, the tun every 360 days (almost a year), the katun every 7,200 days (19.7 years, almost a double decade), and the baktun every 144,000 days (394.3 years, almost a quadruple century).

So for 13.0.5.16.4, the first three numbers (13.0.5) are like a year, the next one (16) like a short month, and the last one is the day of that month, the first day being day zero.

The full format has four more numbers:

alautun.kinchiltun.calabtun.pictun.baktun.katun.tun.uinal.kin

An alautun is 23,040,000,000 days or 63,081,429 years. Twenty times that is 1.26 billion years. One alautun ago was about when a comet hit Mayan land, killing off the dinosaurs.

Hieroglyphics: Meso-Americans wrote the Long Count vertically in hieroglyphics. An example is pictured at the top of the post.

Oh, one more rule: If the gods destroy the world and recreate it, then the Long Count starts over, at 0.0.0.0.0.

End of the world: The last time the gods destroyed the world, the Long Count had reached 13.0.0.0.0. Which is why some thought the world would end on December 21st 2012, which was also 13.0.0.0.0. The Maya themselves never said that. What some of them say is that the world will end on 17.0.0.0.0, which is January 3rd 3590, a Wednesday.

– Abagond, 13.0.5.16.4.

See also:

544

The Kanye-Trump meeting

The Kanye-Trump meeting (October 11th 2018) was when rapper Kanye West met US President Donald Trump at the White House, aka Crazytown, to discuss “manufacturing resurgence in America, prison reform, how to prevent gang violence, and what can be done to reduce violence in Chicago.”

Kanye tried unsuccessfully to get Colin Kaepernick to attend.

In the part that was shown on live television, in the Oval Office with Trump sitting behind a very empty desk, Kanye West did almost all the talking.

About stop-and-frisk in his native Chicago:

KANYE: The thing that the head of the police and Mike Sacks met with me last night at the Soho House about was we feel that stop-and-frisk does not help the relationships in the city, and everyone that knew I was coming here said, ‘Ask about stop-and-frisk.’ That’s the number one thing that we’re having this conversation about.

REPORTER: points out Trump favours stop-and-frisk.

KANYE: I didn’t mean to put you on blast like that bro.

TRUMP: I’m open-minded. I’m here. I am open minded.

About why he wears a “Make America Great Again” Trump hat:

KANYE: You know, my dad and my mom separated, so I didn’t have a lot of male energy in my home. And also I’m married now into a family that, you know, not a lot of male energy going on, it’s beautiful though. But there’s times where, you know, it’s something about, I love Hillary, I love everyone, right, but the campaign “I’m With Her” just didn’t make me feel as a guy that didn’t get to see my dad all the time, like a guy that could play catch with his son. It was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman. You made us Superman, that’s my favourite superhero, and you made a Superman cape for me.

About whether Trump cares about Black people:

KANYE: A Liberal will try to control a Black person through the concept of racism because they know we’re very proud, emotional people.

About his answers:

KANYE: You are tasting a fine wine that has multiple notes to it.

About his mental illness:

KANYE: I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was connected with a neuropsychologist that works with the athletes in the NBA and NFL. He looked at my brain, it’s equal on three parts. I’m gonna go ahead, drop some bombs for you. 98 percentile IQ test, I had a 75 percentile of all human beings when it was counting eight numbers backwards, so I’m gonna work on that one. The other ones, 98 percent, Tesla, Freud. So, he said that I actually wasn’t bipolar, I had sleep deprivation, which could cause dementia 10-20 years from now, where I wouldn’t even remember my son’s name.

He told Trump “I love you” and then hugged him.

(Photo by Oliver Contreras – Pool/Getty Images)

Kim Kardashian, Kanye’s wife, was mortified and heartbroken. She thinks her husband meant well but was played by Trump, who at one point was laughing at him.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

578

Eratosthenes

“Eratosthenes Teaching in Alexandria” (c. 1635) by Bernardo Strozzi at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Note that books in Eratosthenes’ time were all in scroll form.

Eratosthenes (c. -276 to -194) was the Alexandrian scientist from which the West gets:

  • the word “geography”,
  • the musical scale,
  • leap days,
  • the idea of prime numbers,
  • dating events in history,
  • dates of many events of ancient history.

And that was not even his day job.

Ptolemy III of Egypt had put him in charge of the Library of Alexandria and made him tutor to his son, the future Ptolemy IV.

Like Columbus, Eratosthenes said the Earth was round and that you could sail west from Spain to reach India – some 1700 years before Columbus did.

In our time he is best known for his amazingly accurate measurement of the circumference of the Earth. But no one knew how right he was till 1522, after the voyage of Magellan.

In his own time he was best known for solving the Delian problem: doubling the cube. It was one of three great problems of Greek mathematics, along with squaring the circle and trisecting an angle.

Round Earther: Eratosthenes believed the Earth was round because its shadow was round during an eclipse of the Moon. And, from living in Alexandria, he knew you could see a whole ship from the top of the Pharos lighthouse while on the ground you might only see the sails peeking above the horizon. That made sense on a round Earth, not a flat one.

Measuring the Earth: He did it with a stick, a well, and a royal pacer. At noon on the first day of summer, the rays of the sun reach the bottom of a well in Syene (now Aswan) in the south of Egypt. That meant the sun was directly overhead. At that very same moment a stick to the north in Alexandria casts a shadow of 7 degrees. That meant 7 degrees of the Earth’s 360 degrees lay between Alexandria and the well. Once the royal pacer he hired had walked back from the well to Alexandria, pacing out the distance, all Eratosthenes had to do was divide the distance by 7 to get the length of a degree. From that he got a circumference of 252,000 stades or about 39,700 km. The right value is 40,008 km.

Other measurements:

  • tilt of the Earth’s axis: 23.85 degrees (our value: 23.77)
  • distance to the Sun: 125.5 million kilometres (our value: 150.0)
  • distance to the Moon: 122,300 km (our value: 384,000)

Notice he gets at least the scale right, which seemed way too big to people back then.

What his world map might have looked like. Click to enlarge. It did use latitude and longitude, with the prime meridian going through Alexandria. The map went from Britain to Sri Lanka and from the Caspian Sea to Ethiopia. He knew it covered only a fourth of the Earth and that Africa was probably larger than it is on the map.

His books: He wrote at least 12 books, among them:

  1. “Geographica” – where the word “geography” comes from.
  2. “On Ancient Comedy”
  3. “Erigone” – the story of Virgo.
  4. “Hermes” – epic poem about the god Hermes.
  5. “Hesiod” – epic poem about the death of the poet Hesiod.
  6. “Chronologica” – history with dates! Introduces the leap day (did not catch on till 200 years later).
  7. “Platonicus” – includes the Sieve of Eratosthenes for finding prime numbers.
  8. a star catalogue of 675 stars
  9. a book of constellations and the stories behind them

All are lost – all we have are bits and pieces of them quoted in other books.

– Abagond, 2018.

Source: mainly Google Images; “The Rise and Fall of Alexandria” (2006) by Justin Pollard and Howard Reid. 

See also:

633

Columbus Day

Columbus Day (1892- ) is a US holiday that celebrates October 12th 1492, the day Columbus landed in the Americas. Since 1937 it has been observed on the second Monday in October.

In the late 1700s, Columbus became a hero in the US when it won its independence from Britain. That was when it became common to name streets and towns after him. It was part of feeling American instead of British or English.

In 1892, it was first observed by US schoolchildren, on the 400th anniversary. That was the very same day they first said the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag.

In 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt made it a US government holiday from coast to coast. Columbus was a huge hero to Italian Americans, part of his voter base.

In the late 1900s, when I went to US public schools, the three great heroes were Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves, George Washington, who freed the nation, and Christopher Columbus, who, we were informed, discovered America and proved the Earth was round. Each hero had his own holiday.

The myth: America and the roundness of the Earth were known long before Columbus, of course, but that was part of the myth, to make him seem greater than he was.

The man: Our teachers failed to inform us about the Taino genocide and how Columbus set in motion the enslavement of Africans and the destruction of the Americans, who not only lost nearly all their land, culture, and people, but even their English name: by the 1800s “Americans” no longer meant the indigenous people of the Americas but the White people of the US.

If you want to celebrate the discovery of the Americas, then you should celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It is on the same day and is already observed by some US cities. Palaeo-Indians, not Columbus, discovered America.

If you want to celebrate it as a great day in history, then consider what that day means:

Rigoberta Menchú, a Quiche Maya and Nobel Peace Prize winner:

“The celebration of Columbus is for us an insult. … Who would celebrate their own colonization?”

Russell Means, a Lakota Sioux activist:

“To indigenous people of this hemisphere, the celebration is the ultimate affirmation that since 1492, Western society has regarded us as expendable.”

Jimmie Durham, a Cherokee poet:

“Greenrock Woman was the name
Of that old lady who walked right up
And spat in Columbus’ face. We
Must remember that, and remember
Laughing Otter the Taino who tried to stop
Columbus and was taken away as a slave.
We never saw him again.

“In school I learned of heroic discoveries
Made by liars and crooks. The courage
Of millions of sweet and true people
Was not commemorated.”

Joe Feagin, a White sociologist:

“Commemorative ceremonies on holidays, such as July 4th or Columbus day, honoring our history celebrate and sanitize a horrific past, thereby shaping contemporary communal memories by accenting the continuity of the present racial status quo with a positively portrayed racial past.”

Translation: it is a racist holiday! Worse than Hitler Day.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

545

Celia Cruz: La Negra Tiene Tumbao

NSFW: Nudity from 2:39 to 3:20, wherein the title character wears only gold paint. 

Remarks:

My favourite Celia Cruz song. Mikey Perfecto provides the rap. In 2002 it went to #4 on the US Tropical Songs chart and was popular in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Puerto Rico. It was one of her last hits before she died a year later. The Wikipedia counts the song as both salsa and reggaeton.

The video was filmed in Mexico City.

See also:

Lyrics:

Esa negrita que va caminando
esa negrita tiene su tumbao
y cuando la gente la va mirando
ella baila de lao, va bien apretao

La negra tiene tumbao
y no camina de lao

Si quieres llegar derecho
mejor camina de frente
para que no haya tropiezos
y vengan y te lamentes

Si quieres llegar primero
mejor se corre despacio
disfruta bien de la vida
aunque tomando medidas

La negra tiene tumbao
y no camina de lao

Cuando la gente se muere
se dice que era tan buena
tan buena cuando vivía
como la noche y el día

Que a mí me vengan a decir la verdad
no aguanto ya más mentiras
disfruto bien de la vida
aunque tomando medidas

La negra tiene tumbao
y no camina de lao

Tiene tumbao
anda derechito no camina de lao
diosa de la noche, dulce como el melao
otra como ella yo nunca he encontrao

Ven aquí para poder compartir
porque eres tú la negra linda que me hace feliz

Otra no quiero
(eres tú la que me da inspiración)
sin ti me muero
(me hace falta aparte tu corazón)

Otra no quiero
(si no estás, siento desesperación)
sin ti me muero

Source: AZ Lyrics, Wikipedia.

Brett Kavanaugh being sworn in to the Supreme Court by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, October 6th 2018. (Via MPR News)

On October 6th 2018, Brett Kavanaugh became one of the nine judges on the US Supreme Court, the highest court in the land – in spite of three women coming out publicly against him accusing him of sexual assault. In spite of seeming to lie under oath to the Senate repeatedly. In spite of coming across as a bitter, angry partisan hack, not as a calm, fair-minded judge – what, in my day, two weeks ago (seems more like three), was called “judicial temperament”.

The confirmation vote in the Senate was 50 to 48, the narrowest in over a hundred years. Not a single Republican voted against him. Not one. And one Democrat voted for him, Senator Manchin from the great red state of West Virginia.

You used to need 60 votes to get on the Court. The Republicans changed that to a simple majority – which allows them to put on judges who are far to the right. And will allow Democrats to put on judges far to the left. Neither can be good in the long run.

President Trump did order an FBI investigation into the accusations, as was right, but it was a whitewash. The FBI interviewed only nine witnesses, mainly Kavanaugh’s friends, and only one of the three accusers. They interviewed none of the more than 30 witnesses provided by the accusers. Nor any of the many people who came forward to the FBI with information. They were not interested in the truth.

Trump hamstrung the FBI while he mocked one of the accusers at a rally in Mississippi. His lily-White supporters laughed and cheered, both men and women.

The message from Republicans to the nation was in effect:

“Ha, ha! Fuck you.”

It has been scarring. Not as bad as, say, Trayvon Martin, but certainly worse than Anita Hill.

You go along thinking the US is slowly getting better, bit by bit, and then reality slaps you in the face.

The best face I can put on it is that the US is going through an Angry White Man backlash – because of Obama and because they will soon lose their democratic majority (only White women are keeping it going at this point). Sooner or later they will overplay their hand – arguably they already have. And that will lead to a backlash against them.

Black Twitter on this day:

Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_)

“This isn’t an alternate universe; this is what America’s been all along.”

Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu)

“I just wanna fight everybody. We gotta vote all the suckas out. All. Of. Them. Still wanna punch some folks in the face tho… like, in addition to voting”

Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint)

“Im 11. My generation will fix this mess of a government. Watch us.”

Ava DuVernay (@ava)

“This dark day in American history has a light that shines brighter than the cowardly men and women who will put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. That light is Fannie Lou Hamer. Born on this day in 1917, her love and activism looms larger than their hate and treachery.”

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

557

Bob Woodward: Fear

“Fear” (2018) is a book by Bob Woodward about the White House under US President Trump. Back in the 1970s Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate scandal that brought down President Nixon.

Title: Trump says real power is based on fear.

Time period: August 2016 to March 2018.

Sources: Based on interviews of some of the refugees streaming out of the Trump White House, especially:

  • Steve Bannon – campaign manager, later chief strategist (Trump’s brain)
  • Reince Priebus – head of the Republican National Committee, later White House chief of staff
  • Gary Cohn – Trump’s top economic adviser
  • Rob Porter – Trump’s staff secretary (handles all the president’s paperwork, in particular the pieces of paper he signs)
  • John Dowd – one of Trump’s lawyers trying to keep him out of prison.

Crazytown: It is pretty much as people in blue states imagine, maybe a bit worse:

John Kelly, chief of staff since August 2017, in charge of bringing order to the White House:

“He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in crazytown.”

An unnamed senior White House official in July 2017:

“The president proceeded to lecture and insult the entire group [of his top military and economic advisers] about how they didn’t know anything when it came to defense or national security. It seems clear that many of the president’s senior advisers, especially those in the national security realm, are extremely concerned with his erratic nature, his relative ignorance, his inability to learn, as well as what they consider his dangerous views.”

Rex Tillerson, secretary of state, right after that same meeting:

“He’s a fucking moron.”

Trump has the mind of a bright, spoiled 12-year-old. That is about his level of maturity and knowledge of the world. He is unwilling to learn and is bad at taking advice. He lies like it was nothing and easily breaks his promises. He expects loyalty but does not return it. He can ask sharp, profound questions, but the answers are lost on him.

Nepotism: On top of that he lets Ivanka and Jared Kushner, his daughter and son-in-law, do whatever they want, which undermines his cabinet and any orderly process.

Idiot king: If you imagine Trump as an idiot king, Ivanka as the princess, and Jared as the crown prince, you would have it about right.

Deep State: As Woodward tells it, there is a deep state – the Pentagon, CIA, FBI, Wall Street, etc. But it is not so much trying to overthrow Trump, as Fox News would have it, as trying to preserve the military and economic arrangements that the US and its allies set up to prevent a third world war. Trump is trying to tear all that down in the name of a narrow (White) nationalism.

Russiagate: Woodward, famous for Watergate, says surprisingly little about Russiagate. It appears, but more as an approaching storm. On one of the last pages of the book, John Dowd, his lawyer, warns Trump:

“Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.”

Expect a sequel.

– Abagond, 2018.

See also:

553

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