Switchblade, correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't taht mean the beginning of the 14th B'ak'tun rather than the 13th? Like the year 2008 is in the 3rd millenium, not in the 2nd?

Nope. the Gregorian calendar counts from 0, which artificially bumps all the numbers up by an integer. year 0 was actually the first year of the first decade of the first century of the first millennium. The year 10 was the start of the second decade of the first century of the first millennium, the year 100 was the start of the second century of the first millennium, and the year 1000 was the start of the second millennium.

In other words, years 0000 to 0999 all played out in the first millennium. years 1000 to 1999 were the second millennium, and years 2000 to 2999 will be the third.

It's a common misconception that this millennium actually started on January 1st 2001 - people claimed that because they were forgetting to include year 0. It's the equivalent of forgetting to include yourself when you take a head-count.

The Long Count did not begin at 0, however - it began at 1.1.1.1.1 - the first k'in of the first winal, of the first tun of the first ka'tun of the first b'ak'tun. The current b'ak'tun number is 12 - meaning we are currently in the 12th b'ak'tun - eleven have been completed, the 12th is yet to be completed. When it ticks over, we'll be in the 13th.

In other words, the Long Count does not measure how many intervals have been completed - it measures the intervals that have been completed

*plus the one we are currently in*Here's the Long Count notation for December 20th 2012:

12.20.20.18.20

Err, shouldn't that be 12.19.19.17.19?

[/pedant]

Again, no. All the components of the Long Count - Tun, Winal, etc. - are expressed fully. The B'ak'tun number doesn't tick over the moment the 20th Ka'tun is reached - it ticks over the moment the 20th ka'tun ends.

The same is true of our own calendar. there are three hundred and sixty-five days in a year (ignoring leap years for a second) and there are 31 days in December. The year doesn't change until the thirty-first day of December - the three hundred and sixty-fifth day of the year - has completely transpired

Incidentally, there is another level of time-keeping above the B'ak'tun - one which represents 20 b'ak'tuns. That number represents a period of 7,880 years, however, so we're still in the first one.

To me, the interesting thing is that the LCC is actually more mathematically and logically consistent than the Gregorian calendar. It's fundamental basis is base 20 math - everything comes in 20s. The only reason there are 18 Winals in a Tun is because that makes a Tun roughly (to within five days) equivalent to a solar year.

The Gregorian, on the other hand adheres explicitly to the spin and orbital period of the Earth, and throws in the lunar cycle for good measure. This is unfortunate because all of these figures were dictated entirely by arbitrary random chance. To make matters worse, the number of Terran days in a Solar year (365.25) is a multiple of a prime number. Worse than that, it's a multiple of a prime number plus a non-integer, making it impossible to mathematically subdivide into a series of neat, uniform intervals.

Hence why four of the months have 30 days, seven have 31, and one has 28.25. if you divide 365 by 12 you get 30.41667. if you divide it by 30 you get 12.1667

The mathematically optimal calendar would actually have to throw the concept of "months" out the window and settle for seventy-three weeks of five days. If we didn't want to lose the concept of months altogether, we would have to reduce the year to five months of seventy-three days instead. Even then, you'd have to have one year in ever four where you tacked a whole extra day onto the end just to make the numbers match up.

The modern calendar is a mathematical mess because the figure at the core of it - the length of a solar year - is a very awkward number indeed.

the Long Count, on the other hand, is based on some very solid mathematics, and it's honestly a shame that they dropped two Winals per Tun just to make it adhere (even roughly) to the Solar year.

Math is delicious!