"An April 17, 1981, a CIA cable[pdf] described an army massacre at Cocob, near Nebaj in the Ixil Indian territory, because the population was believed to support leftist guerrillas. A CIA source reported that “the social population appeared to fully support the guerrillas” and “the soldiers were forced to fire at anything that moved.” The CIA cable added that “the Guatemalan authorities admitted that ‘many civilians’ were killed in Cocob, many of whom undoubtedly were non-combatants.” In May 1981, despite these ongoing atrocities, Reagan dispatched Walters to tell the Guatemalan leaders that the new U.S. administration wanted to lift the human rights embargoes on military equipment that former President Jimmy Carter and Congress had imposed."The Guatemala Documentation Project, part of the National Security Archive, collects information about the decades long civil war in Guatemala, including State Department documents that point to Washington's complicity in massacres, assassinations and human rights violations.
December 21st came and went and somehow humanity's still here, but have you ever wondered how many apocalypses you've survived so far? The Goddamn Apocalypse can help.
Miss Peppermint sums up some highlights of 2012, in the style of Azealia Banks, with some obscenities for good measure.
In 1984, The Voyage of the Mimi set sail on PBS, exploring the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts to study humpback whales. The educational series was made up of thirteen episodes intended to teach middle schoolers about science and math. The first fifteen minutes of each episode were a fictional adventure starring a young Ben Affleck. The second 15 minutes were an "expedition documentary" that would explore the scientific concepts behind the show's plot points. A sequel with the same format, The Second Voyage of the Mimi aired in 1988, and featured the crew of the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico. [more inside]
The government of Mexico along with archeologists are releasing a film in 2012 that purports to prove alien contact with the Mayans
Mundo Maya Online is chockfull of illustrated articles about various aspects of Mayan history and culture. Learn about the Mayan calendar, read Mayan legends, explore Mayan history, archaeology and the natural environment they thrived in. Mundo Maya also has articles about the daily life of the modern Mayans and the handicrafts they make.
The Mesoamerican Ballgame was central to the culture of pre-Columbian Central America, with Mayan kings using ah pitzlaw (he the ballplayer) as one of their royal titles. It is played with a rubber ball, which sometimes had human skulls for cores. The object of the game was to get the ball through a vertical hoop. Called many names throughout history, pitz, ulama and juego de pelota, this game has been played for 3000 years. Though usually a form of recreation, sometimes it would be played for ritual purposes, with the players of the losing side being sacrificed. [more inside]
Mexican Day of the Dead, only with a twist: in Pomuch, in the Mayan area in Southeastern Mexico, Mayans celebrate their dead by digging out their remains, and cleaning them. Photos here. The regular Day of the Dead of the dead festivities have been discussed previously on MetaFilter here, here, and here. For those of you who may want to practice, this is a story en español. The link to the pictures might be NSFW.
Mystery of 'chirping' pyramid decoded: "A theory that the ancient Mayans built their pyramids to act as giant resonators to produce strange and evocative echoes has been supported by a team of Belgian scientists." Others are not so sure... Coincidence, or engineering? Did the designers of El Castillo pyramid cannily build in a sound effect that mimics the warble of the sacred quetzal bird? Listen for yourself, with the .wav file (first set is the real bird, the second is the pyramid) featured in this Acoustical Society of America page. I prefer to think it's deliberate; after all, it's possible that early man was experimenting with cave acoustics to to create sound-enhanced rock art (there are sound samples for this included here - unfortunately a Geocities site). Also of interest, the BBC programme "Acoustic Shadows" (requires RealPlayer - *heavy sigh*).
The Rapanui (of Easter Island), the Mayans, and the Norse colonists of Greenland all share one similarity: each culture was brought down by preventable, human-cause environmental catastrophe. Sure, Michael Crichton says it's all bunk, but Jared Diamond (the author of the infinitely discussable, Pulitzer prize winning Guns, Germs and Steel) recently came out with a new book that suggests that maybe we ought to be worried after all. Hear him discuss it on NPR's morning edition.