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VOL.12 ISSUE. 24
HOME / STORY

It Will All Be Okay

Vanda Schmöckel
Published Thursday December 13, 11:16 am
A patient Mayan explains that the world isn’t ending

Have you heard? The world is ending on Dec. 21 and it’s all the Mayans’ fault! Who can you turn to for some sober advice in these trying times? How about a Mayan?

Meet Leonzo Barreno — adjunct professor and Global Chair at the University of Regina’s School of Journalism. Lucky for us, Leonzo has been studying Mayan timekeeping for 25 years and he’s got news for you: your life will not change after the 21st — at least not because of any Mayan predictions.

So, December 21st. What can we expect?

Nothing. It’s just like any other day. It really doesn’t mean anything in terms of any apocalyptic meaning that some fearmongerers have given it. If you want the Mayan version, it has several meanings. Of course the main one being, for us it’s the end of the long-count calendar. Which is 5200 years old. It’s as simple as moving to a new calendar. That’s all it means.

So is this the same thing as taking an old calendar off the wall and putting up a new one after New Year’s?

Yeah,exactly. Some people [suggest] the beginning of [Mayan] timekeeping was perhaps when we first started using corn as our staple sustenance — that’s one version. Another version is that it’s just the first time they started recording time. Most cultures have a starting point — for this culture, it’s the birth of Jesus Christ, and that’s how we’ve come to 2012.

There have been no shortage of doomsday stories over the centuries — most recently, that wingnut in Florida last year. Y2K is another example. Nothing ever happens, and yet these stories still prevail. Why do you think so many people continue to think the world is going to end?

I think it has to do with the media. I mean, the mother culture is media culture. We live by what the media tells us today. And if people are digesting messages every single day, of course there are people who truly believe that something is coming. I’m so glad it’s not the majority, though. But that minority [includes] a lot of people and I think psychologically it’s easy to take advantage of them, and make them buy stuff. You know, there are people who are getting rich off of this — selling pieces of land somewhere in France — because those, apparently, will be the only places that will be safe.

France? Really? Sounds like a good excuse to move there, anyway.

And of course, we know about the bunkers that are being sold in the States, and survival kits. And there are people engaging in public speaking at universities and colleges, talking about it. None of them are Mayan. None of them are Mayan timekeepers. You never see Mayans publicly speaking about it or making money off it. In fact, it’s kind of morally forbidden. It’s just plain and simply wrong.

That must be very annoying.

It is annoying, but to tell you the truth we have so many other priorities in Guatemala. Some groups — and I agree with them – will use the date to do some demonstrations. Because, up to this date, indigenous peoples’rights in Guatemala and other parts of Central America are being ignored.

Of course, governments are making a big celebration out of this for tourism or commercial purposes, but not really to create meaningful policies or programs for indigenous peoples. So, it’s not: ‘Oh, we’re poor little Indians, we want some favours out of this’ — not at all. We’d just like for people to notice that others are exploiting this — not us. Yeah, people will celebrate but it’s no big deal.

What other misconceptions are there about Mayan beliefs?

The first one, and I think the cruelest of all, is that we disappeared. I call it the intellectual or academic genocide. Because, even when I came to Canada, I witnessed that some of my instructors were teaching that the Maya had disappeared. And I came to realize that most books written about my people concluded that they disappeared. So, when I became an instructor, I was in kind of a dilemma because how can I penalize students who [think] that the Mayans disappeared, when all they read was the books?

So how did that happen? How did people come to the conclusion that the Mayans no longer exist?

 Because anybody can go to Cancun and to the surrounding cities there, and you won’t find us living in the temples anymore, right? And, secondly, it’s that intellectuals and academics did not make the connection between the Mayans of the past and the Mayans of the present. Because the Mayans of the past built those magnificent temples, city after city — there are many cities that are still underground with jungle grown on top of them. So they think, “well, they disappeared.”

Of course, when you go to southern Mexico and Guatemala and you see my people in a state of extreme poverty — malnourished, illiterate — you simply conclude that there is no way these people built those things. And in countries as racist as Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador, led by racist people, they promote that. So instead of calling us Mayans, they insist on calling us Indians — which is not just wrong geographically. But Indians, in [their] social reality, means “ignorant,” “stupid,” “backwards” — you name it. So when we claim our identity as Mayan, they laugh.

And they don’t teach that in the schools. That kind of ignorance is a product of the education system.

So, I’m sorry, but I have to ask this: What are your plans for the 21st?

I have to work. I have to do chores, and I have commitments. And I’ll be with my kids.

Great, I won’t cancel my dinner plans for that evening then.

 No, just keep your plans. You’ll still have to pay your mortgage and phone bill too.

feedback@planetsmag.com

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Apocalypse Gifts II: The Revenge!

More perfect presents for the end of the world

by Nathan Raine and Ashleigh Mattern

 

FOR THE SHOWER IDOL

Kohler Moxie showerhead. $199, kohler.com

If you’re lucky enough to emerge from a pile of rubble and dust after the apocalypse, you’ll probably find yourself quite the filthy and stinky person — meaning no one will want to help you loot the local Walmart. So, do yourself a favour, and get rejuvenated with the Kohler Moxie showerhead. This product is a stroke of genius — so much so that it’ll probably catapult you into such a blissful and euphoric state of mind that you won’t even hear the zombies eating your roommate in the other room.

But enough set-up, here’s the product: a showerhead with a built-in wireless speaker, which is [presumably] waterproof!

The device will sync with your Bluetooth-enabled phone / mp3 player / tablet / whatever from up to 32 feet away, and will spray you simultaneously with water and your Celine Dion discography while you bathe. Perfect for the shower singer that lives within us all. The showerhead will play up to seven hours of music or radio, and it has a water-saving 2.0 gpm spray (whatever the hell that means). So when your neighbour across the street looks up from firing his shotgun at the flock of flesh eating monsters and asks you why you look so vibrant, you can tell him you just sang in the shower for hours on end! /Nathan Raine

 

FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST BECAUSE HOUSECOATS ARE AMAZING

A comfy housecoat. $19.99-$119.99, Sears

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent survives the end of the world and then goes on to experience countless amazing adventures, all while wearing his housecoat — do I need to say more? Okay, so even if the person on your list isn’t the main character in one of the greatest sci-fi novels of all time, a housecoat is still a really sweet gift. Personally, I wear my housecoat every morning, and not many gifts get more use than that!

Just about anyone who opens this gift will try it on right away, and if you buy them a super-luxurious one, they may wear it the whole day — meaning yours will be the gift they immediately put to use. Score! I’d suggest choosing a housecoat in a size slightly larger than you think is needed, for the extra cuddle factor. Top off the gift with a great towel, and your gift receiver will be set because, according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide,a towel “is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” /Ashleigh Mattern

 

FOR THE NON-MORNING PERSON

Hamilton Beach Voice-Controlled Coffee Maker. $70, Amazon.com

The last thing you want to do after stumbling out of bed in the morning is fiddle with some buttons and dials before you’ve had your caffeine injection. That annoyance is increased tenfold when your kitchen is a post-apocalyptic battleground — standing over your coffee maker is the least of your worries. So the perfect gift this holiday season is the Hamilton Beach Voice-Controlled Coffee Maker. It’ll make those repugnant early mornings a little more tolerable when you find out there’s one more machine at your command. The voice-controlled coffee maker brews a hot cup of joe on your vocal command. Just yell at your coffee maker and that little soldier will get to work! It’s like having your own personal barista — but without the nose rings, hipster haircut and shitty attitude! /Nathan Raine

 

FOR THE COUCH POTATO

Apocalypse movie care package. $10-$30 per movie, Amazon.ca

There’s no better way to prepare for the end of the world than re-watching some of the best apocalypse movies. Plus, isn’t the thought of facing the end of the world kind of like the thought of going out into a raging snowstorm? (Except it doesn’t matter if you make it to work when the apocalypse is nigh, so you may as well curl up on the couch and watch some movies.) There are hundreds of apocalypse movies out there, and the ones you choose for your care package will depend somewhat on the recipient’s taste.

Here’s a hint: casually bring up the Mayan calendar to your couch potato, and sneakily lead the discussion to one about end-of-the-world movies. If you’re still lost, a few suggestions include The Planet of the Apes (1968), The Matrix (but not the sequels), 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, Wall-E, The Road, I Am Legend and one of my old favourites from the cult section of the dearly-departed, sadly-missed 49 Cent Video: Delicatessen. I would suggest buying from your local video store, but see the above lament for 49 Cent — those stores had their own apocalypse years ago. /Ashleigh Mattern

 

 FOR THE OUTDOORSY TYPE

Eb’s Source for Adventure gift certificate. Any amount

The outdoorsy types are always easy to recognize: they wear sporty, brand-name outerwear, and they have perpetually rosy cheeks and mussed hair. They’re also overly cheerful from spending time in the great outdoors, which ends up making you feel like crap for not being more active. But with the impending apocalypse, this will be their last chance to enjoy nature — so let them buy exactly what they want with a gift certificate from Eb’s Source for Adventure.

There are a lot of sporting goods stores out there, but Eb’s is the place in town for winter gear, especially when it comes to cross-country skis. They’re backed by the Saskatoon Nordic Ski Club, and even offer skis to rent for the reasonable price of about $15. While gift certificates can be bought for any amount, don’t be cheap. This is the last gift they’ll ever get from you, after all! /Ashleigh Mattern

 

FOR THE EXPLORER

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Ultimate. $12,100, cannondale.com

After doomsday, there will probably be insufficient fuel for cars and planes, trains will be derailed and people who own Segways will be killed off once and for all. Just because. Your options for transportation other than walking will be very limited. So this Christmas, find anyone with legs and a desire to see the outside world a Cannondale SuperSix Evo Ultimate. The name sounds fancy, and believe me, it is. Cannondale, for those who are exercise-deficient, is one of the world’s best bicycle manufacturers.

The SuperSix Evo Ultimate just happens to be the lightest bike in the world, coming in at a svelte 695 grams — perfect for those long commutes to the twinkie factory and back. Sure, it’s un-freakin’-believably expensive, but it’s still a small price to pay to feel like you’re riding on a cloud. A cloud full of apocalyptic murder and bloodshed, maybe, but a cloud nonetheless. /Nathan Raine

 

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