The Grumbles are paying no attention to dotty doomsayers who forewarn that this is the year of the apocalpyse.
True, they are puzzled by news that thousands of blackbirds have fallen to their deaths in an Arkansas town for the second successive New Year’s Eve.
But they have no expectations of anything untoward happening on December 21.
The Los Angeles Times gives an idea of the extent of the scaremongering and its link with Mayan mythology.
That date has kicked up a swirl of anticipation, based on science, pseudoscience, hucksterism and spiritual belief. The idea is that 2012 will be a game-changer, the last year of civilization as we know it.
The predictions range from the benign — that this will be a year of spiritual breakthrough, the beginning of a new era of nonviolence and sustainability — to the worst sort of disaster movie cataclysm.
The Maya calendar is just the start of this nonsense.
Other theories are being promoted around the same date.
There are groups who claim that an uncharted, unseen planet called Nibiru will strike Earth or nearly hit it; that the Earth’s polarity will reverse (so that north is south and south is north), wreaking widespread havoc; or that solar storms will destroy civilization by disrupting power grids. Most of the predictions are timed to coincide with the “end” of the Maya calendar on Dec. 21, the winter solstice.
Scientists and many Maya scholars insist there is nothing to most of the predictions.
The idea of 2012 as a watershed year nevertheless has gotten great traction, says John Hall, a sociologist at UC Davis who specialises in apocalyptic movements.
Hall said he expects the frenzy will only grow over the next 12 months.
Already, survivalist websites are full of accounts of people preparing for the coming TEOTWAWKI — survivalist shorthand for The End of the World As We Know It. Mexico, Guatemala and Belize are getting ready for an upsurge in tourism to Maya ruins.
Alf is disappointed to observe that the Daily Mail, in Britain, is having a bob each way.
It is reporting (a) a Mayan expert’s debunking of the apocalpsye bollocks and (b) the deaths of lots blackbirds that are being regarded as a bad omen.
The Mayan expert is Leonzo Barreno, of Saskatchewan, Canada.
He is reported as saying the ‘apocalypse’ concept is a false interpretation of the Long Count calendar.
The University of Regina journalism professor said Mayan elders taught him that December 21 this year simply marks the start of a new calendar.
During his training he never heard “end of the world” from the elders or spiritual leaders, he said.
It’s a cyclical thing, a simple calendar change, and has happened before.
Many Mayans apparently dismiss the apocalyptic predictions as largely a Western idea.
In the light of this, the Daily Mail is being unnecessarily mischievous in linking a myth with the mysterious deaths of blackbirds in the USA.
Ancient Mayan legend says that 2012 will bring the end of the world.
A small Arkansas town might have shown the first example of that as approximately 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead from the sky last night in the early hours of the new year.
As if the incident was not strange enough, it is the second time in two years that the birds have fallen as the calendar year changes.
Scientists – it seems – are baffled.
The fact that the birds were flying in the middle of the night makes no sense.
Dr Kevin McGowan, an ornithologist from Cornell University, is reported as pointing out that the birds don’t see any better at night than you or I do.
“They aren’t adapted to see at night like owls so if they went off from their perches at night they’re blind at night just like you would be.”
Last year’s deaths initially were blamed on celebratory fireworks, with people thinking that the birds were startled to death.
A flash hail storm or massive lightning strikes were among other possibilities.
But those theories have been debunked because the weather was calm in Arkansas last night and police had imposed an impromptu firework ban in an effort to prevent it from happening again.
The Grumbles are happy to leave it to the Americans to sort out what killed the blackbirds.
They also are advising constituents to ignore talking of 2012 being the year of the apocalpsye.
Alf has every intention of being alive and well and ready to stand for Parliament again three years hence.