ha-ha history

From my bookshelves: The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp through Civilization’s Best Bits, by Eric Sass and Steve Wiegand (Harper: 2008).

Trivia magazine Mental Floss says learning history can be fun, with their humorous take on facts and figures from across time and space.

As Erik Sass (now that’s a name, snort) says in his introduction, “We know that 99% of “history”, as they teach it, is mind-numbingly boring. And we’re sorry about that; we can’t change what happened in your youth. But this book is about to make history, by making history interesting.”

Here’s something that’s relevant to the present time, given that it’s become a meme in popular culture:

Maya Borrow Your Calendar?

Although the Maya have become famous for having developed an incredibly accurate calendar, they should be thrice as famous: they actually developed three calendars.

One was the “Long Count”, which started when they believed this version of the world began, on August 13, 3114 BCE. The Long Count calendar is slated to end on December 21, 2012. More on that in a bit.

The Tzolkin calendar was based on thirteen twenty-day periods called kals, which represented the time it took to prepare a cornfield or plant ¬†and harvest it….

Since neither of these calendars squared with the time the Maya knew it took for the earth to complete its yearly cycle around the sun, they came up with the Haab calendar, which was eighteen months of twenty days each, plus a five-day period called the uayeb tacked on at the end…

Incidentally, various alarmists and people with not enough to worry about cite the date December 21, 2012, the end of the Long Count calendar, as the date of the end of the world. Most Mayan scholars disagree as to whether that was what the Mayans were predicting, but it’s still a great fact for terrorizing any of your more gullible friends.

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1 Comment on ha-ha history

  1. Bea
    5 January 2011 at 9:51 am (3381 days ago)

    For me, history has always been interesting. It’s the teachers in elementary school that make them seem boring. :D

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