Altruistic Evil

Altruism is defined as a selfless act of kindness. While saying altruistic kindness is rhetorically redundant (like free gift or rhetorical redundancy), the term altruistic evil is an oxymoron, used in an overt attempt to draw attention to the paradox (e.g. cold fire).

The first step is to determine when an act can be labeled as altruistic. When doing so, there is but one hurdle: identifying the elusive absence of self-benefit.

When searching for a perfect example, invariably, Mother Theresa’s name arises. I posit that although her actions were without material gain, she was motivated by a self-imposed duty to her deity and–like any religious zealot’s–her sights were always on receiving an “ultimate reward,” (which the faithful believe is received after death). Altruism was, consequently, not present.

Ten years ago, when Ted Turner made a magnanimous gift of one billion dollars, the term altruism was used. This wasn't altruism. Besides obvious tax benefits, anyone who blares their own horn (at the time, CNN–his own international media company–touted his largess incessantly) clearly intended to profit socially, politically, and historically.

The best example of altruism is a hypothetical one: A non-suicidal atheist, with no life insurance, dives on a grenade to save the lives of the men in his foxhole. Although the atheist’s death is not a requirement, his belief that the grenade is going to detonate is.

Selfishness, commonly used to define the opposite of altruism, is a bland and ineffective term. The best label for committing selfless acts of unkindness is: Altruistic Evil. At first glance, one may think most acts of unkindness are selfless acts. That's untrue. I suspect almost every act of evil is committed with self-gratification as the primary raison d'ĂȘtre.

Suicide bombers, kamikaze pilots (the 11 Sep 01 pilots have joined their ranks), Nazi concentration-camp soldiers, the reverend Jim Jones, Hitler, Pol Pot, The Son of Sam, Jeffery Dahmer, the dude who tossed the aforementioned hand-grenade; whomever one envisions as the embodiment of the antithesis of the insurance-less atheist in the foxhole–their motivations can almost always be labeled: duty, loyalty, greed, self-aggrandizement, or martyrdom.

I qualify this with the addendum that many evil people (possibly, many of those listed above) were irrational or insane and although it may be argued that killing because ‘your neighbor’s German Shepard told you to’ qualifies as selfless–I contend that any action taken to please one’s inner voices qualifies as the ultimate in selfishness...even if one is too much of a snapperhead to recognize the voices are internal.

The best examples of evil altruism are hypothetical: An apolitical atheist adds a lethal poison to the machinery near the beginning of a food supply; without knowing the destination of the food, with no specifically identified targets, and with no chance of being caught. Then, the poisoner never tells anyone. Or... A wallet is found on the ground (no matter if it's empty or contains someone's life savings) and the person who found it, drops it in a dumpster without opening it.

It could be argued that the ‘thrill factor’ is sufficient personal benefit to disqualify these as selfless acts of unkindness. (Possibly a similar thrill of accomplishment which motivates computer-virus designers and their older hacker-cousins.) But, couldn't the grenade-diver's training or conditioning have influenced his decision to "take the biggest-possible-one for the team" be loyalty? And if the three seconds–between diving and boom–was filled with self-pride, then, was it altruistic? Also, is death a viable measuring stick?

To measure altruistic evil you also have to determine intent. Just like loyalty, duty, honor, and martyrdom disqualify ones actions from being altruistic; carelessness, negligence, apathy, and accidental acts lack sufficient malice to qualify as evil.

I realize there is, really, no conclusion to be made here. In fact, as I typed these paragraphs, I came to the conclusion that I have no real point to make. Except this: a word exists that defines an act that, arguably, can not exist. And its opposite, also, seems impossible.
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Harvest Festival

My paramour Pam
a native of this great land
whom I think is grand

I don't give any thanks today.

For non-North American readers: today is a national holiday called Thanksgiving, which many Red-White-and-Blue (read: Republican-Caucasian-and-Bluecollar) citizens celebrate by giving thanks to an invisible creator-deity for bestowing them with the wonderful land on which they have formed a country. When they give thanks, they blithely fail to recognize the uncounted millions of murders and deaths their ancestors committed and orchestrated to "clear the land" of the indigenous people that previously occupied it. When I attempted to discuss this with my mother, she replied, tersely, "I don't choose to think of it in that manner." Way to go mom; way to stick to your ancestors guns. (There's a joke in there.)

The woman I love is of the Tohono O'Odham nation (pronounced: Toe-OH-no OhOh-dAHme). Although I've never been comfortable celebrating many, or most, holidays—especially those usurped by religious nutters (who I call 'prazy folk')—I find the thought of celebrating North American Thanksgiving (or Columbus Day)...both lovingly referred-to in our house as: indigenous death a Brit celebrating US Independence Day, the French celebrating Cinco de Mayo, or an Aboriginal native celebrating Australia Day.

Bottom line: It isn't always a party when the bully wins.

Teachers of children in the United States of America wrote this date on blackboards again and again, and asked the children to memorize it with pride and joy: 1492. The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them. — Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions (1973)
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fortunate fortnight

digital rendering by veach st glines — 2008

Portland OR — Reasons (#6)


A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number six.

A conducive climate exists here, literally and figuratively, for a proliferation of bookstores. The desire to escape the dreary autumn-thru-winter weather—inside a book—has given rise to a plethora of new and used bookstores. The best and favorite are the Powell's stores, of which there are at least five (the largest of which covers a city block x 4 stories tall). Also, there are dozens of specialty stores (used paperbacks, comics, etc.), a few national chains (Borders, B. Dalton), and a wonderful library system.

Are we foolish to be so elated by books in an age of movies and television? Not in the least, for our ability to read, when combined with libraries...makes us the freest of women and men - and children. — Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday (1999)


Following in the footsteps of Mr Allen—of Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons—who enjoys Vonnegut and (accordingly) has, maybe, the best esoteric name for a personal-blog (with Shouting to hear the echoes, still, the best in the non-esoterica category *wink*), I provide my list of jobs:
  • St Johns Elementary - brooms, buffers, mops, toilet brushes, and incinerator duty.
  • Peru Country Club - cart/club rental and cleaning, pro shop sales, spying on the lifeguard in the red one-piece, listening to the radio, stealing orange soda all day and playing in the evening for free.
  • Peru Animal Hospital - assist with surgeries, clean runs and cages, clean everything, learn not to use abrasive cleaner on metal, gain insight into: I may not want to become a veterinarian.
  • Essex Wire (weekend midnight shift) - injection mold presses (hot and boring), cardboard box construction; learn to despise: solely-for-a-paycheck jobs and the zombies who've done them for so-long they hate any spark of intelligence (brains!).
  • Mississinewa Lake State Park - lawn mowers, tractors (learn to drive a stick), garbage truck detail, public-park latrine duty, paint brushes, chain saw, back hoe, weed-eaters, poison ivy; "Lefty" Graf's obsession with road-side cleanup.
  • The Chocolate Factory - sandwich preparation, ice cream cones, robbed by a con artist; learn to despise: retail food service jobs, juvenile employees (all of them) and customers (all of them).
  • Milwaukee Metal Products - brake-press operator (bending metal); erase any doubt about how to become a zombie.
  • McKinley Marina - fee collection boat ramp, gas-jockey on a pier, security guard.
  • infantryman - clean (everything is always dirty), type, drive, run (a lot), exercise, set up/tear down equipment, practice to use large killing machines (some of the machines themselves are large; some are small but the killing is large), practice to use equipment to protect from getting killed (large and small); learn to unequivocally despise every aspect of being a soldier (bar none).
  • militarypoliceman - clean, type, drive (sometimes, really fast), run (less), exercise, give traffic citations, supervise some fucknuts, break-up fights, investigate petty dumbass-soldier crimes, practice using killing machines (one-on-one sized), practice using equipment to protect from getting killed (also small), help a small handful of people who needed it; learn there's too much soldier-stuff in MP-stuff.
  • bodyguard - type, drive (rarely, really fast), run (again, little less), help babysit a couple of over-privileged grown adults and reinforce their pampered lifestyle; learn to despise snobs and elitists—even while protecting them from harm.
  • criminal investigator - type, drive (mostly slow), run (much less), supervise some good people (and, still, some fucknuts), investigate serious felonies/deaths/thefts, incarcerate hundreds of bad to very-bad people, help thousands of people who needed it; learn "this bed's just right".
  • artist - pens, inks, paper, canvas, brushes, computer screen & mouse, paint, giclee prints; learn peace of mind is blissful and the flow of creating gives me peace of mind.
  • (updated Jun 2012)  newspaper carrier - insert, load, drive (very slow), bag, throw; groundhog day never ends; realize the depths I will go to pay bills/stay with the one I love.  
  • (updated Oct 2014)  rental car driver / cleaner - drive, clean, vacuum, wash, rinse, repeat. Bills caught up = quit.

Synecdoche, New York = must see

Charlie Kaufman has just become one of my favorite directors.

The writer of such wonderfully bizarre films as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which he also produced) and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind has now accomplished a filmic-feat with very few peers: Synecdoche, New York — a work of existentialist art which transcends all accurate description.

You could read any two-dozen of these articles on MQRE about it and still be unprepared for the complex, phenomenal, accomplishments of Philip Seymour Hoffman (whom I suspect will win an Oscar), Samantha Morton, and Emily Watson.

If you are not highly entertained by films which challenge your thought processes, this film is not for you. Since Kaufman wrote, directed, and produced (his first in the director's chair) it is more complex, more convoluted and more cram-filled with metaphor and allegory than his previous films. Think Adaptation (one of his) meets American Spendor, with the intimacy of Requiem for a Dream and the humor of Being John Malkovich (also, one of his).
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Portland OR — Reasons (#7)

Voting Simplicity

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon:
Number seven

Step one: register to vote (like in every state).
Step two: receive ballot in the mail along with booklets detailing all propositions (including pro/con arguments)...about two weeks before election day.
Step three: fill ballot out.
Step four: seal ballot in your preprinted security envelope, sign outside of envelope, and place it inside another envelope.
Step three: mail ballot; or drive to polling station and drop it off at a drive-thru (and save the cost of a stamp); or if you have questions or need assistance you can take it inside and vote in a booth. I mailed mine. This is the easiest, most comfortable way to vote. I can't understand why every state doesn't have this capability.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. — Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

Why do you live there?

Most people rarely contemplate the place they call HOME—even less question it. Many people move away from someone else, while others move to be with a loved one. We are transferred by our employers (members of the military expect it). We move to attend university and when obtaining a new job. Retirees move to live closer to their children or grandchildren. Elderly move to warmer climates. Recreational vehicle residents pick-up and go because they can do it fast and the weather is nicer in that direction. Gamblers relocate to where it's legal. Farmers flee to get the seeds out of their bones. Victims of cataclysms depart because they've got no homes. Homeless vagrants jump-town because the police don't know them there, yet. Upgrade-moves are made when more elbowroom can be afforded; downgrade-moves, when that space is no longer needed. The world moves to The City because they have a need to be crushed, in a good way; and leave once they realize getting crushed—even voluntarilycan be unpleasant. Porn stars gravitate toward the San Fernando Valley, white supremacists to Idaho, and bicycle enthusiasts move to Portland (platinum rated since 2003 by LAB).

Many people never move. Ever. They were born in the same hospital as their momma, went to school seven blocks over, graduated, got married, and their children were born there too. They still are friends with the same people they pushed down at recess. They drive out of their neighborhood, but only to the nearest market. And they say, "A one-hour drive?..there better be front-row seats."

Why do you live where you do? Do you aspire to move like Catherine? Have you always loved your environs? If not, where do you want to move?

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Portland OR — Reasons (#8)

Art Theaters

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number eight.

Cinema 21,
Bagdad Theater & pub, Hollywood Theater, Living room Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Clinton Street Theater, Mission Theater & Pub, St. John's Theater & Pub—that's eight art theaters. There are also several dozen cinemaplexes throughout the greater PDX-metro area (some devote an occasional screen to foreign/art-house films, one seems to dedicate half of it's screens on a constant basis to art & inde films).

...I want to stay as close on the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center ... big, undreamed-of things—the people on the edge see them first. — Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano (1952)

Portland OR — Reasons (#9)

Urban Boundary Lines (UBL)

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number nine

Decades ago, urban planners passed laws to control 'urban sprawl' by drawing lines around cities and prohibiting all re-zoning outside the UBL. When communities can't expand, they become denser. The down sides: flag lots and urban row houses. The up sides: when you drive out of the city, the country shows up quickly. Farmers on the outskirts (who would have sold to developers if they could) now sell land to mini-agri-businesses, farm co-ops, and small independent farmers (the direct result of which is almost year-round availability of fresh foods at several fantastic Farmers Markets).

I can't think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can't believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to the human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will. — Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night (1961)

Portland OR — Reasons (#10)

No Sales Tax

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number ten

Oregon is not unique in its lack of a sales tax; other states have none as well. I find it to be a refreshing new-experience to go to the checkout counter and pay exactly the sticker price (especially when the sticker price is large). After living here a while, it may fade into a forgotten bonus, but a quick reminder is always available: shop a few miles north in Washington.

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. — Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions (1973)

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Philosophy has interested me for deades, but I—unfortunately—have gotten lost in other authors' need to impress their peers. This book is for the everyman. It makes this esoteric subject readable, and, more importantly, understandable.

As an example of 'inductive logic' (reasoning from specific instances to a general conclusion, that is broader than what can logically inferred from the instances):

A man is driving down the road.
A woman is driving up the same road.
They pass each other.
The woman yells out her window, "Pig!"
The man shouts back, "Bitch!"
The man rounds the next curve, crashes into a huge pig in the middle of the road, and dies.

The "funny" here, is the man used 'inductive logic'. He reasoned that every time a woman has called him a 'pig' in the past, was because she was negatively describing his character; therefore he concluded that this woman must be doing the same, and called her a 'bitch'. His 'crashing into a pig' proves that his logic was faulty and that what has always come before is not proof of what will come in the future.

Previous Reviews


digital rendering by veach st glines — 2008
As you know, it isn't enough for a reader to pick up the little symbols from a page with his eyes ... Once we get those symbols inside our heads and in the proper order, then we must clothe them in gloom or joy or apathy, in love or hate, in anger or peacefulness, or however the author intended them to be clothed. In order to be good readers, we must even recognize irony—which is when a writer says one thing and really means another, contradicting himself in what he believes to be a beguiling cause. — Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday (1981)

Electoral College Opinion

Thank you, veterans. I am one, know many still serving and many more who once served. My thoughts are with you as I write:

I, like most, have been vaguely aware of our Electoral College system since a long-ago High School American History class (about the same time I learned we bought Alaska from the former USSR on the cheap). Since then, I have propped-up my end of several conversations by parroting some long-forgotten opinion-maker who must have decried loud enough for me to take note that: 'our antiquated system smothers the popular vote'. It was an effective way to pretend to have more intelligence than I held title to; everyone sounds more passionate riding a strong negative opinion.

Today I ask: why are so many people (who may not even understand the system, and the reasons behind it) against our electoral college?

The framers of our constitution certainly knew why a nation-wide popular vote was impractical. They were aware that we humans are supremely ignorant people. We (the royal we) are: too easily led; too stupid to be trusted with our own self-preservation; and should never, never, never, be given something as valuable and important as electing a president without oversight. Thus, we elect a group of intelligentsia-esque politicos who, in turn, elect the president and vice president. They provide a much-needed buffer by injecting careful and calm deliberation into the process of selecting the most qualified candidate. (I thank them for their future service every time the phrase 'Palin 2016' leaves the lips of some talking-supermodel-esque-head, whom I watch in HD but hope-dies-a-painful-videotaped-death for even forming the thought.)

The members of the electoral college are nothing more than judges; judging before the new president and vice president take over the Executive Branch of the US government. They are tasked with deciding for us, when we may be too stupid for our own good (please feel free to supplant the word 'stupid' with the word 'religious' as needed).

We (or, at least the Californian-we) needed an 'electoral college buffer' in place, when voting on Proposition 8. If they only had a group of people, smarter than the average stupid-fucknut (feel free: 'stupid-fucknut'/'religious-fucknut') then we would not be witnessing a reversal of civil rights. But...I guess there is a group of intelligentsia in place, isn't there?—and they are called California State Supreme Court Judges. Who will now need to do, after the fact, what the mentally infirm majority of Californian voters were incapable of doing: enforce equality under the law on the majority of stupid-haters who follow without question (the purest definition of 'stupid-belief') a few vaingloriously bigoted stupid-leaders.

Other states, as choc-a-bloc full of stupid-hating fucknuts as they are, will be force-guided away from their bigotry some day too. As will the entire country. Someday we will see a Federal Constitutional Amendment that will force equality in every aspect of 'sexual orientation' including the right of same-sex couples to bind themselves legally in a ceremony (which will last about 50% of the time). And, someday we will elect an openly gay US President.

This prophecy doesn't sound as hollow as it once would; does it?

As a retired member of the US Armed Forces, I served to protect the rights of Americans. Does that sentence require "all" in front of "Americans"? I protected against hatred and bigotry maybe MORE than criminal activity and physical harm. One positive thing: our ever-present 'enemy within' (unforgivably stupid, hate-filled American citizens) are eroding. Slowly. Much too slowly for me at times.

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Non-Required Reading 2008

The Best American Non-required Reading 2008 (Best American Nonrequired Reading) The Best American Non-required Reading 2008 by Dave Eggers

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful collection of articles, graphic shorts, lists, and blog posts, both fiction and non. Although I did not read everything, I greatly enjoyed: Steven King's short (Ayana - Paris Review); George Saunder's article (Bill Clinton, Public Citizen - GQ) informed me; Gene Weingarten's article (Pearl's Before Breakfast - The Washington Post) made me think about stopping and smelling the roses; and the excerpt from the graphic novel The Three Paradoxes by Paul Hornschemeier made me want to read the rest of it.

Previous Reviews

Portland OR — Reasons (#11)

Full Service Gasoline

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number eleven

Self-service gasoline stations are illegal. In Oregon, all gasoline stations must either be mini- or full-service. At mini-service, they only pump gas. At full, they clean your windshield, check your fluid(s) and tire pressure, if needed. Mini = no tip. Full = tipping is suggested depending on the amount of added service provided (beyond pumping gas). It's wonderful to stay seated, out of the weather, and never get gas on your hands. This law also prevents environmental accidents (from fluid spills) and results in thousands of minimum-wage jobs (Oregon's minimum wage is $7.95).

We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we are hooked on. — Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country (2005)

Film Review: W.

This inconsequential film would never have been released if it were not our current president's last daze in office. However, I suspect Oliver Stone knows he is our era's D.W. Griffin, and this film will insidiously become the primary way that our future youth (and our future-future great-grandparents) will view G.W. Bush.

A high-school freshman told me, recently, that his history teacher showed the film Good Night, and Good Luck to his class when teaching about McCarthyism (I was off by a few years when I predicted this); one of the episodes of the TV mini-series John Adams (when teaching about the early formation of our government and constitution); and one of the episodes of 30 Days (when teaching about tolerance). Is it too much of a leap to suggest Oliver Stone is aware of this trend? This film may be rooted in some truths, but most of the subdued dialogue is fiction, drawn from supposition. I'll bet this film will be shown to the eighth-grade history classes of 2025 (if not much sooner), when teaching about foolishly ignorant US Presidents.

Portland OR — Reasons (#12)

A dozen rational reasons to enjoy living in Portland, Oregon: Number twelve.

In many other states and cities zoning restrictions relegate strip-clubs to industrial areas or push them outside of their city limits. In some places laws prevent either the sale or consumption of alcohol (or both); and most states limit the amount of nudity permitted. None of that is true here. Exotic dance has a attained a ‘protected’ or at least an ‘un-restricted’ status, in Oregon.

Here, there are a large number of venues in most, if not all, suburbs and city neighborhoods. There are no restrictions on alcohol relative to lack-of-undress (full nude + full bar = full house). To top it all off, cover charges are reasonable, and some have excellent restaurants. I feel less like the dirty-old-man-that-I-am when I can walk across a decent parking lot at happy hour, and enter a respectable establishment where a double-sawbuck will get me: dinner, drinks, and a half-dozen disrobed damsels (all of whom get at least a dollar).

A plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. — Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake (1997)


digital rendering by veach st glines — 2008

The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something. — Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country (2005)

Thank You, Voters

I want to thank those of you who voted, stood in lines, voted for the first time (or first time in a long time). My opinion of my country has improved today. Thank you, again. I haven't smiled this much on a voting day in . . . maybe never.

1511 Days Until . . .?

           On December 21st, 2012, the entire world is supposed to change in a manner that will come to the attention of every single inhabitant—from the most elegant giant squid jetting thru its December feeding-range off the west coast of Australia, to the world’s lowliest of life forms (e.g. this cum-stain).   Most have heard the murmurings; if not, let these murmurs of mine be your first murmurs.  Whether written: 21-12-12 (like most of the world does) or 12-21-12 (like the US does) the symmetry makes it sound like a different shade of Y2K, which always failed to pass the kindergarten End of World Common-sense Test (The world ends on 1 Jan 2000.  Oh...why?   Because of the three zeros.)

          A while ago, some foolish 2012 information blip-blapped across my bookstore surveillance radar—and then the dust jacket brandished several large and interesting weapons of mass destruction, which thwarted my skepticism shield.  So, after reading 2012 Apocalypse: an Investigation into Civilization's End, my interest became bolstered (in a, sort-of, willing-to-pay-a-NOT-nominal-fee-to-see-a-real-live-monster-in-some favorite locale, kind of way).  So, I delved a little deeper and read 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl.

          I learned (if I may distill over 400 rambling pages of a famously-drug-addicted author's words into a few paragraphs) there is only one reason to believe life on the earth will change (most authors don't use the word 'end', I suspect it to be Al Capone's Vault-effect driven) on the day of the winter solstice in the year 2012.  That reason is the conjunction of two things:  an ancient Mayan calendar's "prediction" (of sorts) and a astronomical alignment "re-discovered" by modern scientists.  (I would have used the words 'coincidental conjunction' in the last sentence, but I didn't want to use two words beginning with the same two letters together; that, and the word 'coincidental' shades things a bit I didn't use it).

          The Mayan 'prediction':  The ancient Maya were amazing astronomers and mathematicians; and they were calendar-fuckin-superstars. They knew—twenty-five hundred years ago—about the earth's precession.  Without getting too didactic, the Earth wobbles a little, as it spins.  This wobble takes about 26,000 years to complete one full circuit.  Although it's not difficult to see the earth rotate on it's axis by watching one of the pole stars, observing—even today—that the axial-spot in the night sky makes a small, 26,000-year-long circle is complicated and difficult.

          How the ancient Maya measured, observed, and computed this wobble is not knowable.  (Me, I suspect time-travelers from our future cocked-up and left a telescope connected to a solar-powered laptop.)  What is known is that the ancient Mayans incorporated this 26,000 year "cycle" into one of their calendars.  And, they did not start this calendar on a specific date (like...oh...I don't know...the death of some arbitrary fucknut).  Instead, they began their long calendar at some very distant point (relative to humans as a whole, and the Mayan's specifically) in the past and ended it on ... you got it ... 21 December 2012.  I will repeat, here, at the risk of redundancy, the calendar ends; not the world.  The 22nd of December, 2012, is day numbero uno on the next 26,000-year long calendar.

          The 're-discovered' astronomical alignment:  On the winter solstice of 2012, the earth will supposedly cross the center of the Milky Way galaxy's galactic plane.  I delved a bit deeper, read Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End-Date, got brain-bent stuck, and quit delving.  I was attempting to determine how it was possible to measure the earth's crossing (which is actually the entire solar system's crossing) of the exact center of our galactic plane.  Hell, I would have been happy if I could have learned how the exact center of the galactic plane was determined.  I think it may be like Parisians claiming the spot in front of the Notre Dame is the exact center of the world.

          Here's the gist:  picture our solar system as a speck of dirt about 2/3 of the way out from the center of a massive, sunny-side up, egg.  As the sun spirals around the galaxy-center, it oscillates relative to the galactic plane.  Which means, that every million years or less, our speck of dirt moves in an wobbly-arc from the "bottom" of the egg (nearest the skillet), thru the egg white, to the "top" of the egg (where you can see it, and pick it off).   On the winter solstice of 2012, our solar system ends a long arc and begins crossing the galactic center.

          How did the Mayans know of this million-year oscillation (if they did)?  Maybe they picked (our) 22nd of December, 2012, as the first day of their new 26,000-year calendar, for their own bizarre, heart-felt, reasons.  We can never know.  Maybe we are just guilty of ascribing the first synchronistic anomaly that comes along every once in 800,000 years, to their foresight (because we love a good Armageddon story).  If the entire world is going to 'change' in a little over four years, I'm looking forward to it.  Eagerly.  Here! Here! to the day!

All Saints

digital rendering by veach st glines — 2008