So nature has provided us with a year and a month that refuse to divide evenly into each other. To make it worse, neither is a whole number of days. At the same time it has given us the unquenchable desire to find order and symmetry in this mess. How are we to square the wobbly ellipse?
Well I thought long and hard about this a couple of years ago, and something struck me. The real lunar month is very close to being 29.5 days long. If we had 29.5-day months, every other one would begin at midday rather than at midnight. And while that would be kind of cool, I predict it would quickly drive people nuts.
So why not have alternating calendar months of 29 and 30 days? That way they’ll stay in step with the real ones – starting when the moon is new, ending as it fades out – without being too different from our current system.
But twelve of those only add up to 354 days, falling short of a full solar year. That would leave us with a situation not unlike the Muslim lunar-only calendar, with annual events coming around eleven days earlier every time. Which may be all right in climates without a lot of weather, but we want a calendar that stays in time with the seasons.
For this, we need an extra month. Not a silly mini-month like February, but a full-length one so that we stay in sync with the lunar cycle. What will we call it? Well, modesty forbids I suggest you name it after me. So until someone else suggests that, let’s just call it Etc. As in November, December, Etc. The trick is that this month doesn’t occur every year, but only as necessary – which will be almost (though not always) every third year. Its insertion will make sure that the other months keep falling at the same time of year, and so have the same weather, as we’re used to. Not precisely of course, but weather is not precise.
Thus we get all the advantages of our current solar calendar, plus the natural rhythms of the moon, and everything stays in tune. Quite brilliant, eh? More details tomorrow.
More calendar bollocks. I linked to this a couple of days ago but it’s been picked up by Time, so now it’s real.
Some people think we should change the calendar so that each date falls on the same day of the week ever year. It’s one of those ideas that’s so brilliantly simple you wonder why no one’s ever done it. Until you realise the reason why no one’s ever done it is that there’s no bloody point in doing it.
The chief stumbling block to the enterprise is that 365 is not divisible by 7. But while others might give up at that point, these two have a simple solution: Adding a day that has no name. It ain’t a Tuesday or a Sunday or nothin’, it’s just “Worldsday”.
The advantages of this? Well, you wouldn’t need to buy a new calendar every year. If you still buy calendars. And you’ll be able to work out which day of the week every date is, forever. Instead of asking a computer to.
Any disadvantages? Well, we’ll have to memorise a different set of month lengths. Thirty days hath… November? And there’s the little detail that it puts an end to a seven-day cycle that has been unbroken for thousands of years. That… seems a shame.
I believe we have a seven day week simply because it divides evenly into both a 364-day solar year and a 28-day lunar month. Of course we know now that the year and month are both a little longer than that, but when the ancients came up with it I bet they thought it was really cool. It isn’t sacred though. Well, not any more. We don’t have to stick with their mistake. Indeed throughout history, people have tried to clear that mess up. What bugs me most about this attempt though is that it is so much change to achieve so little. The sixteenth of May will be a Thursday, forever. So ****ing what? If we’re going to rip it up and start again, let’s replace it with something that will be worth the trouble, something that will really blow the doors off calendrical conformity.
They tried to decimalise it after the French revolution. Unfortunately, ten divides into 365 even less well than seven does and the system was ridiculed. Merely being revolutionary for its own sake doesn’t cut it. For a new system to catch on, it will need to have real benefits. I’ve had a go at this myself, spending weeks on a radical but no doubt ultimately doomed scheme to harmonise the rhythms of the firmament. I’ll tell you how it works if there’s time – and such a thing as – tomorrow.