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Published: Sunday, 10/18/2009

Apocalypse not

DON'T cancel that Disney holiday

vacation in 2012. The world will not end a little more than three years hence, no matter what Hollywood and New Age philosophers might say. And, remember, you read it here first.

For more than two years, there's been an apocalyptic murmur about what will happen when the so-called long count calendar devised by the ancient Mayan culture in Central America resets to year zero in 2012, specifically on Dec. 21 of that year.

Whatever happens, and nobody (except the movie maker) is predicting precisely what, it's bound to be wonderful or terrible or devastating. Definitely earth-shattering.

In the face of all this manufactured uncertainty, and perhaps because nature abhors a vacuum, there is no end to suggestions of cataclysmic or consciousness-enhancing events that might occur on that date.

Some claim the sun will go supernova, turning the Earth instantly into a cinder; a killer asteroid will smash into the planet; earthquakes, tsunami, and other natural disasters will destroy population centers; the Earth's magnetic poles will go haywire, causing heaven knows what sort of damage, or a new super-flu will emerge, killing billions.

Other people anticipate amazing technological, biological, or intellectual advances for humankind, as if everyone in the world will make a simultaneous evolutionary leap. Or perhaps the mother ship will finally arrive to take us all home.

Nothing says box office like the end of the world - the gorier the better - so, naturally, Hollywood next month will add its 2 cents - and untold millions in special effects - by combining several end-of-world scenarios in 2012, the movie. It sounds like great entertainment, but not the destruction of life as we know it.

So don't stop paying the mortgage, contributing to your retirement account, or saving for your children's college education. Do continue buying Christmas presents and planning that trip to the Magic Kingdom. Not even the alignment of the sun with the center of the Milky Way on the winter solstice, an event that happens only once every 25,800 years, is going to make the Earth grind to a halt.

But what if we're wrong? Well, if the result is collective consciousness raising, no one will care. And if the planet is turned into a speck of floating ash, we'll publish a correction.

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