Things to worry about in 2011 go beyond the price of gas
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In masks outrageous and austere
The years go by in single file;
But none has merited my fear
And none can quite escape my smile.

Elinor Wylie, American poet and novelist, 1885-1928

New Year's Resolution: Enjoy every minute, because the end is near.

This is a good idea for all us mortals, whether we believe in the Mayan calendar thing or not.

For those who missed the movie, and the mystical theory that inspired it: The Mayans (250-900 AD) "predicted" the end of the world with a calendar that ended abruptly on the winter solstice in 2012. Of course they were counting from a different beginning date, but adjusting for our Gregorian calendar, this will be the date that the Earth will be destroyed by multiple cataclysmic events.

Wait! According to a recent headline in Discovery News, "The 2012 Maya Calender 'Doomsday' date might be wrong"!

Well, that's a relief.

Wait! "Might be"?

Reading on: An associate professor at UC Santa Barbara has found that this date "could be at least 60 days out of whack. Which way?

Will we celebrate only one more Salem Halloween week? Or get two Halloweens and two Christmases more?

One thing that makes me feel better about this is a Bizarro cartoon that shows a Mayan rolling his round stone calendar toward his chief. The stone is covered with markings and the carver says, "I only had enough room to go up to 2012."

Smiling, the chief says, "Ha! That'll freak somebody out someday." Ha!

Sad, though, that a real Doomsday for most Mayans arrived around 900 AD.

According to a very thick book I am presently reading, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," by Jared Diamond, who won a Pulitzer Prize for "Guns, Germs and Steel," the collapse of the Mayan civilization was probably due to population growth exceeding available resources, similar to problems in Rwanda and Haiti today.

Diamond wonders why the kings and nobles failed to recognize and solve seemingly obvious problems undermining their society, and concludes that "their attention was evidently focused on their short-term concerns on enriching themselves, waging wars, erecting monuments, competing with each other and extracting enough food from the peasants to support all those activities."

Uh-oh. Sounds familiar enough to merit a little fear for ourselves in January 2011.

Moving right on to the "smile" part, Ms. Wylie.

Sunday morning I was reading the paper with WBZ-TV on in the background, waiting for Jon Keller's political interview segment. My attention was caught by a news story from Arkansas, about "thousands of birds falling out of the sky on New Year's Eve." The news babe told us that fireworks may have caused the birds, mostly blackbirds, but also some ducks, to fall from their nests and then they were hit by lightning or hail on the way down to the ground.

I was laughing even before she ended the segment by looking into the camera and saying, "That's so sad."

This is another reason, along with age and looks, why I could never be a news babe: I'd be yelling at the teleprompter, on air, "How can you feed me this @#*!?"

I'd heard about tornados in Arkansas, so I'd have assumed that this could be a reason for birds falling from the sky, having been scooped up like Dorothy and dropped where and when the funnel stopped. But no, as with climate change, we have to blame human beings; it must have been the fireworks (which don't seem to bother birds on the Fourth of July).

Later news stories had scientists theorizing that the now 3,000 dead birds might have been poisoned.

A little weather research, however, did show reports of "high winds and tornados" striking Arkansas on New Year's Eve. Makes more sense to me than a hapless blackbird being startled from his nest by fireworks, then being struck by lightning on his way to the ground.

In an apparently unrelated story, 100,000 fish were found dead in an Arkansas river; but Andrew Goodwin of the University of Arkansas Aquaculture & Fisheries Center said he suspected that "the drum fish may have experienced a population boom this summer that created more competition for food and sapped the weaker ones of their ability to fight off disease" during a winter cold snap.

Uh-oh, no longer smiling. Do you see an overpopulation pattern here? First the Mayans, now the fish.

Fearful about the future, I went to a usually reliable source, Llewellyn's 2011 "Daily Planetary Guide" from the Pyramid Bookstore. A year ago it warned that "this is the year when coming up with new solutions to pre-existing problems is necessary though it won't be easy."

Not easy, therefore not done by the kings and royals; so in 2011 astrologers predict "huge financial and social change ... worldwide transformation." They mention the Mayan calendar only in passing, on the way to warnings about a rare astrological alignment causing "major showdowns between the old establishment and the new world order."

"Yes", Llewellyn says, "the world will still exist after 2012, but it will be a different world."

Smile, friends, as we work together for a better one.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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