Toasted Jams: Music for Jah Weekend and Jah Lyfe

A review of the new Thievery Corporation album “The Temple of I & I” and some inspired listening to accompany it.

Editor’s note: The Corporate Buddha will be doing music focused posts under the “Toasted Jams” label. They will cover music both new and old, and always be completely and totally focused towards listening while consuming and enjoying cannabis.

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The New: The Temple of I & I

Every good cannabis enthusiast has some familiarity with Thievery Corporation. With a career spanning 20+ years, songs like 2001: A Spliff Odyssey, Lebanese Blonde, The Richest Man in Babylon, and countless festivals and tours, they are a group that is hard to miss.

Over the course of their career Thievery Corporation has blended all sorts of genres into their music. From Bossa Nova, and eastern Indian to reggae and hip-hop and everywhere in between, their eclectic style has become signature to their sound. It’s one of the things to love about them. Each album weaves a tapestry of influences from around the world.

The best way to describe The Temple of I & I as a whole is reggae-chill. That is not to say that it lacks some tracks that are upbeat, rather overall the album is decidedly on the chill side of reggae and this is evidenced by the opening track. Signature reggae sounds meeting the bong rips of ambient chill. One can just feel stress melting away on deep riddims. In one album longtime fans will find odes to Thievery’s signature sounds and reggae enthusiasts will find a new take on a beloved genre.

“In one album longtime fans will find odes to Thievery’s signature sounds and reggae enthusiasts will find a refreshing take on a beloved genre.”

A couple of tracks offer up some solid hip-hop and a few are straight up ambient/chill in true Thievery Corporation form. As a whole, this is a great album. It’s perfect for a relaxing smoke session and warm feelings for any time of year. Got some snow where you’re at? Give this a listen and it’ll feel like summer is just a spliff away. Hanging out on the back porch in some flip-flops? Throw this on and it’ll do you just right. Also, if you have Amazon Prime, it’s free, though this is one album that merits repeat listening for years to come.

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The recently uncovered: “Why don’t I know this?”

I was heading down to the market in my town to collect some fruits, veggies, spices, and Asian staples. After parking, I was making my way to get a bhan mi from a local food truck and a dude pulled up in his shiny red pick up truck. He was blasting some music – it was reggae, that much was clear – and I watched him park and then get out. The dude who got out was a black guy with dreads and a rastafarian knit hat. You know the kind. It’s large enough to hold dreads while looking nice and colorful. He seemed friendly enough, and I am always on the hunt for good, new music so naturally I asked him what he was listening to. Sho nuff, it was Stephen Marley with the song “Rock Stone”. As soon as I got home, I did a search and found the whole album “The Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit Of Life” free with Amazon Prime.

The incident described above took place a couple of months ago, but I just can’t get away from “The Revelation Pt. II.” Seriously, it’s a great record. With lots of upbeat tracks, some you might hear in a club, then just good music the rest of the way through, it holds its own. After listening from start to finish a few times, it is hard to find fault with anything. “The Revelation Pt. II” is right up there with “Welcome to Jamrock” as far as a fun, great, reggae record is concerned, and dare I say it has surpassed “Jamrock” in my book.

“A tough world meets feelgood reggae”

That being said, it is definitely a modern addition to the genre. With the use of Pitbull, Shaggy, Damian Marley, Bounty Killer, Wyclef Jean, and a whole host of others, the whole album is fresh, inspired, and striking. Great lyrics, great music, and overall a really fun, enjoyable listen.

At 24 songs including the bonus tracks at the end, you get your money’s worth. Some of the highlights are: Revelation Party – a total blast, upbeat, but chill, it will have you singing along and tapping your feet; The Lion Roars – a little bit more emotional, this is a heartfelt ode that depicts the depth this album can take; Pleasure or Pain – Busta Rhymes lends his voice to this minimalist track that shines for it’s ability to highlight lyrical work; Paradise – sensuous melodies plus Twista, it’s just awesome; Tonight (It’s a Party) – can definitely be played at your next party; Ghetto Boy – it is the surprisingly listenable story of a ghetto boy; Rock Stone – going to lose some hearing to blasting this one at high volume, just like the guy in the red pickup; When She Dances – another great song for a party or good feels.

“The Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit of Life” is a new classic. A tough world meets feel good reggae. The intro says it all. It is a clip of Charlie Chaplin’s famous speech from “The Great Dictator” imploring us to unite against tyranny, oppression, hate, and greed, set to a solemn drum beat. But despite the hardships and difficulties in life, there is a lot of fun to be had, the Fruit of Life as one might say. This is not one to be missed.

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Who controls your narrative?

Who writes your narratives? Who controls what you are reading?

This is something I often think about. With almost unlimited access to information and news sources, which ones do we regularly depend on? And how does that control how we see the world? These questions can take us much deeper; right into our core beliefs. Who controlled our narratives growing up? How are our core beliefs shaped?

I grew up in the post Regan days where DARE was still very much a thing. “JUST SAY NO!!” and all that crap. A few years after going through that program in a white suburban middle school, I started smoking cannabis at the age of 16. It changed my life in a number of positive ways and I realized that I had been fed a bunch of bullshit by most of the authoritative figures in my life. It led me to question what other things they were lying or were just plain wrong about. Fast-forward to 2017 and we know that the War on Drugs is predicated on lies told to the public with the objective to lock up minorities. The War on Drugs has done nothing but harm to millions and millions of people all over the world. The momentum of the program, the money invested in keeping drugs illegal and American’s prisons full, is fighting tooth and nail to keep from reforming. Heck, after the DEA ruled CBDs a Schedule 1 drug, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the UK has just announced that CBDs are medicine.

It goes to show that there are different sides to every story. On the one hand, the stereotypical image of the stoner is something that nearly everyone can call to mind with little hesitation. That image alone is enough to push people away. Compounded by the fact that getting caught with cannabis is the most dangerous aspect of the plant, and it just isn’t worth trying to many folks.  On the other hand, according to this article, which cites this research paper, maybe humans (some of us anyway) suffer from a cannabis deficiency. Cannabis could be downright healthy for us. And without the civil disobedience of widespread illegal cannabis use, we almost surely wouldn’t have the wave of legalization and changing public opinion that we have seen recently. Maybe cannabis isn’t the demon drug my generation was told to think it was.

We have all been fed a steady diet of narratives since we were born. Many of them were outright lies designed to controls us. These narratives mixed with lies have shaped who we are, how we identify ourselves, how we project ourselves to the world, and how we behave every single day of our lives. We are nurtured from childhood to consume stuff. It starts with the toys we want based on commercials we see, the chemicals in the food we crave, and ultimately how we view, and more importantly value ourselves. The story is told in many ways, but the Story of Stuff is a most succinct explanation of how criminally screwed up our society has become in the last 60 years due to a false narrative. It’s really an excellent short film, and certainly more powerful now than when it was first produced in 2007 because very little has changed.

These collective narratives leading us to consume have also led to depression, obesity, pill addictions, eating disorders, climate change, suicides, and more.  It is a powerful narrative spoon fed to us in every imaginable way. The ‘consume’ narrative is propped up by more money than we can possibly imagine, but it is not the way to happiness and never was, despite the fact that we are tricked to believe that it is. Cracks in the narrative have been appearing since the financial crisis in 2008. Recently those gaudy,oversized homes have fallen out of favor. The lifestyles of our parents are unaffordable by their children. Millennials are living at home more than anywhere else. Many are even worse off than their parents were at the same age for the first time in generations.

Compounding into all of this is the fact that everyone still collectively believes the narrative that we have to go to college. As a result, colleges got smart and look what happened to the cost. This narrative needs to be challenged and in some ways, it is.

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Here’s the part where I’m supposed to share a positive upside, but I’m not sure that I have anything positive to share. I don’t have all of the answers, and I’m just as susceptible to collective narratives as everyone else. I buy shit all the time chasing the rush, but that is starting to change for me. This year my wife and I placed a mandate on no gifts for Christmas. We are shopping for our first home, and we are focusing on smaller homes and steering clear of larger ones. I just donated a ton of clothes that I don’t wear any more, and I have no intentions (nor am I the type) to go shopping for more. This year I am making a concerted and focused effort to do more with less. To get rid of stuff, keep more from coming into our lives, and get the maximum utility out of everything we have.

The end result of this, I hope, is that we have more experiences. Personally I want to get outside more. Go hiking and camping and backpacking. Enjoy the vanishing nature that legally belongs to all Americans – for the moment. Spend time with the people I love doing things. We would rather take trips and go places than be shackled to our home by things with little to no intrinsic value. We are rejecting the narrative that stuff brings happiness.

However, choosing your narrative – and choosing it carefully – is going to become considerably harder. President Obama signed into law an act with a provision to create a national anti-propaganda center. The provisions in this law could be dangerous for the freedom of the press.  And almost certainly will totally not turn itself into it’s own propaganda machine to act in the interests of those throwing the most money at it. I mean, I just can’t imagine a scenario where this turns out bad. The American people being told what and how to think by corporate interests under the guise of the government…

My point with all of this is that in the era of fake news and information bubbles we owe it to ourselves to scrutinize not only who we are getting our information from, but the narratives that we ourselves believe – and the narratives that are constantly being forced on us by external parties. When we pick and choose what is right by us, we can’t turn a blind eye to the bigger picture or to the possibility that we are being duped. It is not OK anymore to dogmatically believe in one way of thinking and ignore all evidence to the contrary. The world is a complicated and nuanced place that requires more adaptation now than ever before, and that has to extend to our belief system. When I turned 16 I thought that buying shit at the mall was good and that cannabis was bad. I have since figured out that it is the other way around, guided by the search for truth. In that search I’ve had to shed closely held beliefs as their fallacy became exposed. The quest for truth will never end, but that’s the whole point: it is the journey itself that matters most.

 

Getting what is really important to you

This year had a lot of ups and downs, both globally and for individuals. A lot happened, and it effected people differently. Only in November did we discover the blind eye that we turned towards our fellow citizens and mankind. As we gather with family, loved ones, friends, and even strangers around the table for our holidays, it is important to be thankful for so many things this year – but it is also important to begin looking ahead and planning for a successful next year.

It is no secret that distractions have grown more abundant in the past year. Whether it is some asshole’s glorified life on Instagram, or that dude you went to high school with posting photos of his new car on Facebook, or Twitter pictures of someone making a ‘snow’ angle in a pile of fat, delicious green nugs, this stuff doesn’t help us – it only hurts. Of course I’d love to have access to a room full of fresh kush, or own a Tesla, or have every moment of my life be ‘gram worthy, but that just isn’t how life works and the chasm between the ideals put forth on social media and our own lives only grows and fills with negativity.

So what is really important to you? Maybe it is the people you are spending holidays with. Maybe it is the pursuit of a goal or a dream. Maybe you don’t know the answer, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long as you actively seek the answer (living a life unexamined is no different then being a zombie caught in a time loop; how depressing is that?). Find and articulate what is important – really important – to you. Write it down in a notebook. This simple act is immensely helpful and can increase your chances of bringing more of that into your life.

The next step to a better year of life is to remove the aforementioned distractions – or to ruthlessly focus them towards what is really important to you. Let’s say that spending more time with close friends and family is the most important thing to you. The next time you log into Facebook, spend the first 10 minutes going through your friends and unfriend anyone who you wouldn’t send or want to receive a holiday or birthday card from. This would focus your newsfeed on just those people in your life who are really important to you. This principal can apply to anything. Basically tuning out the noise of useless shit that relentlessly tries to get us to consume, buy, and indulge our Id is just going to make you happier.

Next year I want to spend more time outdoors, in the wilderness, hiking and camping. Allowing myself to drop down into the rabbit holes of unrelated social media, news feeds, or news sites isn’t going to help me accomplish that. Now researching places to go in my area, hikes to take, and maybe a big trip or two would be a much better use of my time and bring more of what is important to me into my life. Next year I want to spend more time writing on this blog as well. Guess what isn’t going to help with that? A whole bunch of social media. Even stuff like GQ, Backpackers Magazine, Vogue, etc., it’s all oriented to try to get us to spend money on shit we don’t need, distract us from what we want out of life, and delay – possibly indefinitely – the stuff that is really important to us. When you lay on your deathbed, are you really going to be scrolling through social media or reflecting how much of your life was wasted wrapped up in it?

Even in this past year I’ve seen the cannabis industry get on board with this. How many vaporizers and pieces do we really need? Is buying another one really important to us? Or is it just another way to spend money and let shit collect around our houses? I have a PAX2 vape and I absolutely love it. Often times I see pictures of other vapes and I slip into a “ooohh lala, what is this?” trap. After a few seconds I snap out of it, kill the app, and move into a different thought progression. Is it easy? No. I’m human; we are human. Of course we are going to be side tracked by that shiny thing over there. By removing some of the distractions and some of the “BUY” triggers, writing down what is really important to us, and staying focused on that, we can get closer to the life we so desire. Don’t get trapped by shit. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole like a sucker. Next year starting today we can take charge of our lives and get closer than ever before to the things that are really important to us.

Silver Haze Strain Review 

Step aside, Jimmy because we have a new legend here!!

I picked up some Silver Haze last week and I must say that I have been blown away by the effects. With a quick onset I experienced a very clear and focused high. Green Crack and Bay Dream both left me in a very cerebral and intense state, but Silver Haze has none of that!! It was very creative, but not cloudy in the slightest. I felt fantastic but had zero difficulty in holding a conversation and keeping my train of thought. To say that Silver Haze is delightful is an understatement. With its high functioning buzz, this should be a staple in nearly every enthusiasts humidor. If you have to clean the house, take care of errands, have a conversation without seeming high, this is what you should use. 

Like most enthusiasts I respond to the Sativa/indica differences in the traditional way. However, I partake with folks who have an inverse relationship with the plant. After enjoying Silver Haze, they found it to be calming and soothing, with an element of introspection. 

With my Silver Haze experience, I can safely add it to my list of favorites, below. 

Sativa/sativa dominant hybrid:

  1. Maui Waui
  2. Blue dream
  3. Silver Haze
  4. Jack Frost
  5. Sour Diesel 

Indica/indica dominant hybrid 

  1. Blackwater 
  2. OG Kush
  3. Bubba Kush 
  4. Blueberry Kush
  5. Pure Kush 

Tesla Continues its Vice Grip on Badassedry

  
I doubt I’ll raise many eyebrows by stating that Elon Musk is a shotgun spray of badass. Open source tech, million dollar literal moonshot prizes, and a forward thinking (and acting) leader in environmental obviousness. None of this is new to the Daily Puff audience.

What may have slipped by you, however, is a small step towards Musk’s car fleet Tesla introducing autonomous driving right now. As in fucking today. All the general tech is in place for driverless cars, we’re just waiting on big insurance to figure out how to incorporate them on our roads. Enter the gray area of law; Tesla Summon.

This feature lets your new Tesla (you pre-ordered the butterfly door Model X, right?) act as your personal valet by driving to you with the touch of a button. Right now Tesla suggests that you only use this feature on private property, but there’s not much in the way to stop you from Summoning your $100k toy to the front steps of the office or pulling up as you leave the gym. Celebrating chivalry, it opens and closes the garage door for you. Tap the keyfob or phone app to engage Summon.

Ever the optimist, Musk sees coast-to-coast Summon from your phone commonplace in just a few years. Here’s hoping that other federal laws important to the Puff family can catch up to reason in that timeframe as well.

Daily Puff News Round-Up 29 March 2016

Dangerous plants, badass animal attacks, US history gets even more racist, the one new thing you can’t enjoy summer without, and new Trailer Park Boys!

Holy mother of god, I just learned about a shitstorm of a plant. This plant can cause so much pain with just a single brush, it has driven people and animals to suicide. This thing is seriously a demon plant creating hell on earth for anything that runs afoul of it. If it were driven to extinction, I don’t know that it would necessarily be a bad thing. Even breathing around it can cause allergic responses, respiratory issues, and may result in hospitalization. Any way you look at it, it’s the exact opposite of the cannabis plant. (Contact results in months or years of pain and suffering, has no use to humans.)

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2009/06/gympie-gympie-once-stung,-never-forgotten/

lounge1

We have found one MAJOR thing that will change the way we cannabis enthusiasts enjoy our time outside! I saw a video for an almost identical product that ultimately led me to this. With the additions of an anchor loop, cup holder, phone/tablet/book holder, I don’t know if there is anything more amazing than this…what the heck do you call it? Chair? No. Hammock? Closer, but no. Air bag? Ok, Air bag kind of works. It floats, it can seat three, and you can spend a good chunk of the day in the thing and not regret a single minute. I have a vision of me chilling in this bad boy with my two UE Boom speakers on either side playing some reggae, smoking a pipe, enjoying an adult beverage, sitting outside in the sun or shade with an ear to ear grin plastered on my face for multiple hours. Heck, I can even see taking this on a lake or a friends pool. You can take it in a pool! This will especially come in handy at music festivals as well. What more could you want?

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/kaisr-original-the-ultimate-inflatable-air-lounge/x/10001509#/

The Brotherman found this article and sent it to me. It’s old, but that shouldn’t matter. This dude used a pocket knife to defend against an attack by a cougar. The whole story is utterly badass, as is the guy involved, and it serves to underscore the importance of always carrying a pocket knife with you wherever you go – as most of us at the Daily Puff do.

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Attacking-cougar-killed-with-pocket-knife-1092755.php

This story is the only one here that gave me that sinking feeling in my stomach. The kind of stomach-pit that is filled with dread, disgust, and anger. Confirming long held assumptions by many anti-drug war advocates, we know now that the complete failure known as The War on Drugs was started as a way to target far left dissidents and African Americans. With this coming to light, it’s time to end this costly and terrible war and divert all of the funding to NASA and asteroid defense initiatives.

http://mic.com/articles/138664/the-war-on-drugs-horribly-racist-origins-have-finally-been-revealed#.TBIlKL2Jn

Trailer Park Boys season 10 now out on Netflix! After bingeing the first 6 episodes, I can honestly say that I am enjoying it. I had read that some people didn’t like it, but there’s a chance that they were not medicated enough to go with the flow and enjoy it. I have been having a good time with it and I think their expansion into the world of Sunnyvale is pretty cool. My opinion might change upon finishing the 10th season, but so far, it’s a greasy good time.

The Art of Balance Album Review

Mighty Mystic – The Art of Balance

I just picked up this album at the local record store (iTunes) today to get the vibes during the day that I can only indulge in outside of the workplace. And I am pleased to say that it is pretty awesome. It’s a roots reggae with some incredible rock guitar laced throughout like some nice dabs wrapped around a six paper joint.

As a whole, the tracks on the album contain enough diversity of sound to keep you from getting bored without losing the relaxing reggae vibe. This is an album you can pump on your speakers, spark up a spliff, and head to the beach with. However, Mighty Mystic doesn’t shy away from using some songs to address some difficult issues. For instance, “Red Light Girl” is about exactly what you think it’s about, but the verses contain the nuances and insight to paint a picture of an individual and the struggles and systems that lead to a young, good looking, smart girl getting into prostitution. It’s a solid song, though not the most uplifting one on the album (but it’s reggae so how down can you really get?).

On the other end of the spectrum, you have “How I Rock” which fits perfectly with some good headphones, a long board, and a paved beachfront path. “High Grade” is a cool addition that is ideal for sparking up whatever indica you got and straight chillin’ to the sounds of Jamaica.

One thing that adds an amazing dimension on almost all the songs are the guitar solos. A smooth, clean electric guitar lifting you up and carrying you across the tops of the clouds. Sometimes it sounds almost Santana-esq and other times it has me thinking about Slightly Stoopid. Either way its a great add that helps this album stand out against other reggae I’ve stumbled across.

I am quite fond of reggae music, though I am not well versed and lack a depth of knowledge into the scene itself. That being said, I spent $10 on this record to scratch a pretty gnarly reggae music itch and I am very pleasantly surprised! It was a $10 well spent and it has inspired me to dig further into Mighty Mystic and his contemporaries. It has me wanting to go see live reggae music pretty badly and craving the arrival of summer something fierce. If you need some good vibes to add to your next experience, definitely give this a go. You’ll be happy you did.

5* out of 5*. Highly recommended. Excellent cannabis music. Couldn’t find any reasons to drop a star.

Why the Mayans Were Right About 2012


Most of us have forgotten hullabaloo around the end of the world Mayan calendar sensation that preceded December 21, 2012. In the months and years leading up to 12/21/12 there was pseudoscience, History Channel specials, and a bunch of talk about a coming cataclysm. Mixed in, though, was some actual archaeological science that was pretty interesting. We learned that the Mayan calendar responsible for the end of the world speculation did not actually mark the end of the world, rather it marked the end of a Baktun. Baktuns are Mayan Long Count Calendar periods of about 394 years (144,000 days).

To illustrate why the Mayan calendar was right about 12/21/12 we first have to provide proper context. Looking at human civilization in long form – from the rise of the “modern” human to today, you have to take a few steps back to see it as a whole. The long count – a little less than 400 years at a time – is a pretty good measuring stick of human eras. Day 1 of the Mayan calendar has been determined to be August 11, 3114 BCE of our conventional understanding. However, the calendar should not be viewed as a Nostradamus precision predicting device. Rather, each Baktun marks the end and a beginning of an epoch that ushers in defining alterations to human civilization that shape us. The turning of a Baktun seems to represent an “out with the old, in with the new” time period on the a scale far larger than even the world wars. Let me explain.

Working backward from 2012, we get the years 1618, 1224, 830, 435, and 41 A.D. (I hesitate to go back much further as historical records prior are much harder to date with certainty.)While the years themselves are of some importance, the main focus is on the larger context of what is happening in history around those years. In 1618 the Jamestown colony was gaining footing in Virginia in the new world. It would mark the first permanent settlement of Europeans in America. Basically the beginning of America, which some consider to be of historical significance.

Going back to the the previous Baktun, in 1224 A.D. the Mongols were on a rampage through the steppe heading east. After 1224 they crashed through eastern Europe. Genghis Khan dies in 1227, but the Mongol Empire continues to expand for nearly a hundred years. Never to be defeated, the mongols controlled large swaths of territory throughout Asia and mongol descendants even fought on horseback in World War I. The Mongols devastated nearly everything in their path when creating their empire. They killed so many humans that scientists measured a change in the carbon levels during that period.

In the Baktun beginning in 830 A.D., a little over 15 years after the death of Charlemagne, we see his Empire on the precipice of decline, but we also have the ascension of the Macedonian Dynasty in the Byzantine Empire. While western Europe suffered through what was known as the Dark Ages, the Eastern Roman Empire flourished during this period and much of the success occurred under the Macedonian Dynasty. This stretch of time also coincides with the Golden Age of Islam…which was ended by the invasion of the Mongols and ultimately the sack of Baghdad in 1258.

The year 435 A.D., while not being particularly notable, still centers on the decline and fall of Rome. The fall of Rome has traditionally been marked with the date of 476 A.D. Afterward, Europe descends into the Dark Ages culminating in the death throes of the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne.

The year 41 A.D. a whole four years after the death of a one Jesus Christ actually marks the first open break between Rome and the Jews – a significant precursor to the rise and spread of Christianity. Once could make a case for this Baktun as the foundation of Christianity, ending amidst the fall of Rome. Two Baktuns’ prior to this, we get the year 747 BCE which falls right around the time that Rome itself was founded (several dates are given from various sources spanning from 753 BCE and 728 BCE).

It does not require much imagination to see how each Baktun coincides with major human events that completely alter the course of history, like the rises and falls of entire empires and THE two largest world religions by population (Christianity and Islam) and real implications for all of human history. A mere four years into the present Baktun – the 13th Baktun – we can already see what is going to determine the next major human epoch: Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, and mobile technology. (Duh.)

What has yet to play out, though, is how each of these are going to affect our human civilization. Looking back, a case can be made for the end of 2012 being the line in the sand, a clear break from the past. I remember speculating during the 2012 hype that maybe we had hit a critical saturation point of humans owning smartphones and maybe that was what tipped the scales into the next era. But it could have been a lot of things. Companies and people had already begun executing meaningful advances in AI and VR prior to 2012, including IBM’s Watson computer winning on Jeopardy! in 2011. Now, in 2016 Google’s Deep Learning AI has just defeated 18-time world Go champion Lee Se-dol. Virtual reality goggles are slated to hit store shelves soon and the pre-orders are backlogged for months to come. IBM has begun running a number of Watson commercials on TV – a signal that big things are coming from the Watson AI and soon.

In the third month of the fourth year of the thirteenth Baktun only one thing is clear: nothing is certain and anything can happen. There’s no slowing down or stopping the breakneck pace at which the world is changing. Like our ancestors, all we can do is hold on to our quiet dignity and go forth with determination and a resolve to survive whatever this Baktun holds in store – if we can.

Why the Mayans Were Right About 2012

 
Most of us have forgotten hullabaloo around the end of the world Mayan calendar sensation that preceded December 21, 2012. In the months and years leading up to 12/21/12 there was pseudoscience, History Channel specials, and a bunch of talk about a coming cataclysm. Mixed in, though, was some actual archeological science that was pretty interesting. We learned that the Mayan calendar responsible for the end of the world speculation did not actually mark the end of the world, rather it marked the end of a Baktun. Baktuns are Mayan Long Count Calendar periods of about 394 years (144,000 days). 
To illustrate why the Mayan calendar was right about 12/21/12 we first have to provide proper context. Looking at human civilization in long form – from the rise of the “modern” human to today, you have to take a few steps back to see it as a whole. The long count – a little less than 400 years at a time – is a pretty good measuring stick of human eras. Day 1 of the Mayan calendar has been determined to be August 11, 3114 BCE of our conventional understanding. However, the calendar should not be viewed as a Nostradamus precision predicting device. Rather, each Baktun marks an epoch that harbors major changes to human civilization that resonate for hundreds and thousands of years. The turning of a Baktun seems to represent an “out with the old, in with the new” time period on the a scale far larger than even the world wars. Let me explain. 
Working backward from 2012, we get the years 1618, 1224, 830, 435, and 41 A.D. (I hesitate to go back much further as historical records prior are much harder to date with certainty.)While the years themselves are of some importance, the main focus is on the larger context of what is happening in history around those years. In 1618 the Jamestown colony was gaining footing in Virginia in the new world. It would mark the first permanent settlement of Europeans in America. Basically the beginning of America, which some consider to be of historical significance. 
Going back to the the previous Baktun, in 1224 A.D. the Mongols were on a rampage through the steppe heading east. After 1224 they crashed through eastern Europe. Genghis Khan dies in 1227, but the Mongol Empire continues to expand for nearly a hundred years. Never to be defeated, the mongols controlled large swaths of territory throughout Asia and mongol descendants even fought on horseback in World War I. The Mongols devastated nearly everything in their path when creating their empire. They killed so many humans that scientists measured a change in the carbon levels during that period. 
In the Baktun beginning in 830 A.D., a little over 15 years after the death of Charlemagne, we see his Empire on the precipice of decline, but we also have the ascension of the Macedonian Dynasty in the Byzantine Empire. While western Europe suffered through what was known as the Dark Ages, the Eastern Roman Empire flourished during this period and much of the success occurred under the Macedonian Dynasty. This stretch of time also coincides with the Golden Age of Islam…which was ended by the invasion of the Mongols and ultimately the sack of Baghdad in 1258.
The year 435 A.D., while not being particularly notable, still centers on the decline and fall of Rome. The fall of Rome has traditionally been marked with the date of 476 A.D. Afterward, Europe descends into the Dark Ages culminating in the death throes of the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne. 
The year 41 A.D. a whole four years after the death of a one Jesus Christ actually marks the first open break between Rome and the Jews – a significant precursor to the rise and spread of Christianity. Once could make a case for this Baktun as the foundation of Christianity, ending amidst the fall of Rome. Two Baktuns’ prior to this, we get the year 747 BCE which falls right around the time that Rome itself was founded (several dates are given from various sources spanning from 753 BCE and 728 BCE). 
It does not require much imagination to see how each Baktun coincides with major human events that completely alter the course of history, like the rises and falls of entire empires and THE two largest world religions by population (Christianity and Islam) and real implications for all of human history. A mere four years into the present Baktun – the 13th Baktun – we can already see what is going to determine the next major human epoch: Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, and mobile technology. (Duh.) 
What has yet to play out, though, is how each of these are going to affect our human civilization. Looking back, a case can be made for the end of 2012 being the line in the sand, a clear break from the past. I remember speculating during the 2012 hype that maybe we had hit a critical saturation point of humans owning smartphones and maybe that was what tipped the scales into the next era. But it could have been a lot of things. Companies and people had already begun executing meaningful advances in AI and VR prior to 2012, including IBM’s Watson computer winning on Jeopardy! in 2011. Now, in 2016 Google’s Deep Learning AI has just defeated 18-time world Go champion Lee Se-dol. Virtual reality goggles are slated to hit store shelves soon and the pre-orders are backlogged for months to come. IBM has begun running a number of Watson commercials on TV – a signal that big things are coming from the Watson AI and soon. 
In the third month of the fourth year of the thirteenth Baktun only one thing is clear: nothing is certain and anything can happen. There’s no slowing down or stopping the breakneck pace at which the world is changing. Like our ancestors, all we can do is hold on to our quiet dignity and go forth with determination and a resolve to survive whatever this Baktun holds in store – if we can. 

What does this make you think about?

I came across this article in the BBC Travel. It’s about the medieval city of Ani on the modern day boarder of Turkey and Armenia. A prosperous city in the near east located along a convergence of trading routes, Ani was ruled by more than a few regimes before eventually being abandoned. Only majestic ruins hinting at the city’s former glory remain.

While the article itself does have an interactive timeline, we find ourselves with more questions than answers. Coming across articles like these always raises questions that are incredibly fun to explore. What was the daily life like for the people of Ani? Earning the nickname “City of 1,001 Churches”, religion must have played a big role in the lives of people. What were the festivals like? What were the markets like? What kind of food did they eat? If they were located along a trade route with the east, surely they might have enjoyed food with delectable spices and flavors. What would life have been like in the citadel? How about when it was under siege?

Living in a major city in the present, for those of us that do, we have a pretty good idea of what each neighborhood or area is going to offer us. For example, if I have an engagement in Queens, NY, I’d have a decent idea of what to expect if I lived in NYC. We also have a good idea of what daily life is like for most areas. In America, you can travel to any city and experience it’s business district during the noon hour on a weekday and see a hustle and bustle of suits, business lunches, individuals making phone calls, and crowded restaurants. Any business district of any medium sized city and larger will have a similar scene. In once city alone an entire documentary can be made about life on a single day as it varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, area to area. A snapshot if you will. And that snapshot is subject to change with each passing year…5 years…each decade.

Think about your city. What was it like in the 1980’s? Memories are unreliable; go look at some pictures. What buildings have come and which buildings have gone? Now let’s extrapolate that across 400 years. Ani was inhabited for around 400 years according to the article. Granted, things have begun to change incredibly rapidly over the last 115 years compared to the slower changes preceding the industrial revolution, but during it’s lifetime, Ani experienced many changes of ownership. So what was that like for people? Did their day to day experiences change a lot or a little? What were their chores like? What was it like to live in the city as it was slowly abandoned and left to crumble? And was that a fast or a gradual transition?

Of Pompeii we have a snapshot of that life. We have a frozen moment of time to shed insight on Roman daily life and culture. There’s no such snapshot of Ani. But we are still blessed with magnificent ruins that dot the landscape. A testament to the different rulers of the city and the incredible architectural feats of their builders. The mystery of this city beckons us to explore its ruins and uncover its secrets. The good news is that they are applying for Unesco World Heritage status which would help bolster efforts to preserve the remaining ruins and discover what secrets the city can answer through archeology.

What questions do you find yourself asking about Ani? Are they similar or different from questions you ask yourself when learning about other lost cities and ruins? If you could travel back in time to an ancient city – any ancient city – which one would you choose? If you could visit the present day ruins of an ancient city, which one would you pick? What’s stopping you from taking a trip there this year or next? What do you think will become of our cities in 200 years?