Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Calendar Revolution Begins in Three Days

January 1, 2012 is the target date for the first use of a new calendar devised by a Johns Hopkins astrophysicist, Richard Conn Henry, and Hopkins economist, Steven H. Hanke. Its signal innovation: Year to year, dates would fall on the same day of the week. Beginning in 2012, in other words, Christmas and New Year’s Day would forever fall on  Sunday — and your birthday would henceforth be associated with one specific day.

The goal is for the calendar to be in universal use by 2017.

“Our plan offers a stable calendar that is absolutely identical from year to year and which allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities, from school to work holidays,” Henry said in a statement. The calendar would accomplish this by means of a 364-day year — augmented every five or six years with an extra week tacked on at the end. Otherwise, the rhythm of months would be more regular than what we’re used to: January and February have 30 days, March 31; and that pattern (30 days/30/31) would repeat itself throughout the year.

Convenience aside — “Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world,” Henry said — the calendar would also make many financial calculations simpler. All sorts of such calculations involving mortgages, bonds, “swaps,” and the like currently have to take into account the existing irregular month lengths, and there’s often a “rip-off factor,” the scholars say.

That Christmas would always fall on a Sunday “will be pleasing to Christians,” Henry writes on a website devoted to the project, “but will also be pleasing to companies who currently lose up to two weeks of work to the Christmas/New Year’s annual mess.”

One advantage their plan has over previous reform calendars is that it doesn’t deal with the issue of keeping the year in sync with the seasons by adding partial weeks, creating weeks without a Sabbath. In contrast, the so called Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar “Fully Respects the Fourth Commandment of the Bible.”

2017 is the target for the worldwide implementation of the calendar. Skeptical they can meet that target? The final entry in the project’s FAQ (go here and scroll down) is “Well, I still say you are going to fail.” To which Henry responds:

Oh yes? I vividly remember phoning my elderly mother, in my native Canada, some years before she died: and with astonishment hearing her quite casually say, “it was very hot today, 30 degrees.” What this shows is that a nice conservative old lady was able to totally adapt to an alien idea, the Celsius temperature scale. We are all adaptable! … It CAN be done, folks, and the decision is YOURS, not mine. Each of you.
Come to think of it, maybe our collective acceptance of the Celsius scale is not the precise point to stress. That quibble aside, are you onboard?

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