Arguments for New Calendars

17 July 2014

Arguments for Change, Renaissance, and Revolution

Having long ago decided that a change from the Gregorian to something else would be an improvement for the people of the world, the idea of adopting a new calendar is the first step. But which one? And in the course of my search for alternatives, I came up with theAbysmal Calendar, which combines features of the Chinese Solilunar, 13-Month Reform, the Balinese Pawukon Calendars with the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year, Western Astrology and Astronomy, the Julian Day, and the Unix Time Code – or at versions meant as equivalents.

Needless to say, I’ve accepted the idea of a calendar to replace the Gregorian for so long, I have to remind myself that this isn’t a subject most people think about. They are immersed in the calendar as much as the city. It’s there as a tool, why change it?

A fair question, of course, but I find it difficult to articulate. So, here is yet another attempt, but my focus is more on the situations in which new calendars tend come to the fore.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not proposing that the Gregorian Calendar be done away with, mmmm’kay? I’m proposing that another calendar replace as the one we use to communicate dates and times globally.

DISCLAIMER ALSO: When I use the word revolution, I’m not talking about armed insurrection. I’m thinking of the turning of the circle, y’know, like the seasons, the year, they revolve, or so we have come to think of them. That’s what I mean.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My chief source for this material is Eviatar Zerubavel.

As men free themselves from submission to the external cycles of nature, relying more often on self-created and variable social cycles, they increasingly risk internal disruption.
Kevin Lynch, What Time is this Place?

I suppose you have to accept that what Mr Lynch proposes above is true. Having read a number of books on Chronobiology, including Introducing Biological Rhythms, the Light Book, Space, Time and Medicine, The Time Paradox, Rhythms of Life, the Body Clock Guide to Better Health, which expand on the notion that timekeeping methods removed from the changes in the season, or in the position of the sun, moon, stars, and planets leads to particular health-related consequences. There are a number of examples of biological functions that we do according to the artifice of time, instead of according to the demands of the body. The most obvious are scheduled meals, sleeping times and daylight savings time.

Point 1a: submit yourself to the external cycles of nature, rely less on self-created and variable social cycles.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

gaining control over the calendar has always been essential for attaining social control in general

  …from the very start, the evolution of the schedule in the West has always been embedded within a pronouncedly economic philosophy of time.

Eviatar Zerubavel,Hidden Rhythms – Schedules and Calendars in Social Life

Control over the calendar. That’s the first bit I wish to address. If we look at the Gregorian Calendar’s history back to its Roman foundation, here are the chief reformers of some sort or other:

753 BC – Romulus – demi-god/quasi-deity
713 BC – Numa Pompilius – King of Rome
46 BC – Julius Caesar – Pontifex Maximus/dictator
8 BC - Augustus Caesar – founding Roman Emperor
325 AD – Constantine the Great – Byzantine Emperor
1582 AD – Pope Gregory XIII
1752 AD – British Parliament

What this tells me is that, yes, indeed, control of the calendar has been in the hands of the powerful. Social control is certainly a part of it, as we now have sports seasons, sweeps weeks, prime time, and other distractions tagged with the indications of time with which we had become accustomed.

The schedule evolved and came into prominence during the Industrial Revolution. Time is money. There’s a reason that saying persists. Are you paid $15/hour or $32,000/year? Time, money. It’s evident in English (can’t speak for other languages): spend time/money, waste time/money, save time/money, bank time/money, currency.

Point 2: remove the calendar from the hands of the powerful (or at least partial-deities, kings, dictators, emperors, popes, and parliament. I’m sure other forms of government are included by extension)

Point 1b: industrial-economic associations are in part the mechanism that pulls us out of natural time and into mechanized time, so this, again, supports our first point.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The temporal coordination of complementary differences among members enhances their interdependence and, thus, functions as a most powerful basis for a strong organic solidarity within the group.

The tremendous symbolic significance of the calendar is quite evident from the fact that substantial calendrical reforms have always been associated with great social – political as well as cultural – reforms.

 Eviatar Zerubavel,Hidden Rhythms – Schedules and Calendars in Social Life

This is the heart of it right here. The first sentence sums up my idea for theAbysmal Calendar, however, I envisioned it on a global scale, such that the differences (calendar systems) among members (people who use theAbysmal) enhances their interdependence (working together while retaining cultural autonomy). I didn’t expect it to function as “a most powerful basis for a strong organic solidarity within the group.” I think I’ll use that quote on business cards (if I actually printed some).

The calendar reforms (successful and not) that he refers to can include a number of religious groups with their own calendars: Christians: Gregorian, Julian, Coptic calendars; Hebrew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Bahai, Zoroastrian, etc. There were reform calendars to go along with the French and Russian Revolutions, however, they were abandoned.

Point 3: make the calendar user-friendly for people who speak a variety of languages, use a variety of writing scripts and calendar systems, and think about time in a wide variety of ways.

Point 4: the calendar has a tremendous symbolic significance

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One of the most effective ways to accentuate social contrasts is to establish a calendrical contrast. Schedules and calendars are intimately linked to group formation.

Eviatar Zerubavel, Time Maps – Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past

Here you go, group-forming enthusiasts. As the Internet weaves its ways farther and farther afield, and more and more people are able to see the state of inequality, locally, regionally, nationally, globally. There should be no surprise about the internet spying and censorship legislation either in place or proposed.

That’s me on the right. No further back. No, further back still. Keep going.

Now, here’s the thing I found rather serendipitous about theAbysmal Calendar launch. The date was December 21st 2012. I chose it as it was the Winter Solstice, and it coincided with the beginning of a new cycle of the Maya long count calendar. I am so impressed with the calendars the Mesoamericans developed that I’m tickled that our calendars are synchronized. The other thing that happened that day, I visited Parliament Hill in Ottawa on the day that Idle No More launched itself. It has since spread quickly, and support from Native peoples worldwide sharing the same struggles.

The Maya have been fighting the same fight as the Native People in Canada.

This is the group with which I associate this calendar. Even if it is intended for the world to use as it will, the local group that is leading the charge towards serious reforms in Canada is the one that announced itself in front of me the day my calendar launched. If the people at IdleNoMore aren’t interested, that’s certainly fine. Imposing theAbysmal Calendar on people is exactly the opposite of the point.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As I am wont to do (and want to do, too), I will weigh theAbysmal Calendar against some measure of informed criticism.

Point 1a: submit yourself to the external cycles of nature, rely less on self-created and variable social cycles.

Point 1b: industrial-economic associations are in part the mechanism that pulls us out of natural time and into mechanized time, so this, again, supports our first point.

theAbysmal Response 1: fortunately, theAbysmal Calendar follows the lunar month, approximates the quarters of the year with the solstices and equinoxes, and sets the new year at the southern solstice. It’s not perfect, of course, however, the quarters begin with a day or two of these events. The lunar part of theAbysmal Calendar takes an absolute measure of equinoxes, solstices, new moons, etc. whereas the perpetual annual calendar approximates.

Point 2: remove the calendar from the hands of the powerful (or at least partial-deities, kings, dictators, emperors, popes, and parliament. I’m sure other forms of government are included by extension)

theAbysmal Response 2: Done and done. Although I defer to scientific authorities and standards bodies when it comes to definitions of seconds, times zones, meridians, and so forth when it comes to accepted definitions, the calendar itself, once set into motion, is its own thing. Also, theAbysmal Calendar doesn’t name periods of time: weekdays, months, years carry numbers. Numbers are about as universal a character set as we have, and there is far less cultural bias associated with them. Each community of calendar users is still free to name those measures of time as they will. No one dictates that this month is named after someone you couldn’t care less about.

Point 3: make the calendar user-friendly for people who speak a variety of languages, use a variety of writing scripts and calendar systems, and think about time in a wide variety of ways.

theAbysmal Response 3: As stated above in point 2, the numbering of time periods is a means of transcending communication difficulties between diverse language speakers. As a result, at home we use either an existing calendar (there are plenty), or theabysmal with days, months, quarters, years named or not, as suits, ,and between groups using different calendars, theabysmal numerical system can serve as translation. the inclusion of lunar months makes transition between solar, solilunar, and lunar calendars easier (but not easy by any means).

Point 4: the calendar has a tremendous symbolic significance

theAbysmal Response 4:Not sure about this one. Consider that I stripped the symbolism out of several different systems, and looked at numerology, geometry, different numbering systems,  and so forth. The resulting calendar contains the numerical and relational framework to support a number of rich symbolic associations. I’ve even tried my hand at it. so, I suppose one calendar can have as much significance as it need.

 

mycelia-final


Breaking Down the Quarters

11 June 2014

Of the Year that is..

I was once again contemplating theAbysmal Calendar, and its market weeks, particularly as they relate to the quarter year. If we take the 364+1 model of the year, then each quarter is 91 days long, which is the same as 13 periods of 7 days, or 7 periods of 13 days. However, as theAbysmal Calendar is nothing if not overcomplicating things, has added a special calendar for market weeks. These are weeks of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 , 10, 12, 15, 18, 20 days. However, only so many of them fit within the 90 days of the market week calendar (it uses a 360 + 5 model of the year).

Market weeks that fit into a 90-day quarter: 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 18 days.

I was also riffing about grouping certain market weeks together – like 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, or 2, 4, 8. I made some visualizations of it, just for kicks. The numbers are the length of the market week.

This illustration below indicates the market weeks that fit inside each quarter evenly. Yellow denotes the basic market weeks of 1 and 2 day duration, red for 3, 6, 9, 18, blue for 5, 10, 15

market-weeks-by-quarter

 

The next illustration (below here) shows the market weeks for the full 360-day year which are factors of 12: 2. 3. 4. 6, and 12.market-weeks-by-quarter-12

 

And the last examples is the binary, 1, 2, 4, 8.market-weeks-by-quarter-binary

Doesn’t really mean anything – just patterns I’m pulling out of measures of time already established. Also, makes for pretty circles…


From Seconds to Precessions

10 June 2014

Numerology in Calendar Systems Makes Memorization Easier.

Well, recently having come across a series of posts on slashdot.org regarding the second as regards “universal” timekeeping. These are programmers who rely on the SI second (the official for our purposes) as the basis of calculation, whereas I’ve been focusing on the day, month, year, etc.

One of the points that came up in the discussion (well, the end of a long post refuting some of the claims):

Days, months and years aren’t SI units, and the one true SI unit of time has jack shit to do with any of them

So, this is in the context of exactitude. Days aren’t really precisely 86,400 seconds, any more than lunar months are 29 or 30 days long. It got me thinking back to the days when I started looking at all these different calendar systems. One in particular (a Babylonians and Early Egyptians shared a lot of the same features in their calendars).

The year was observed as 360 + 5 days (with no leap year. That meant that every 4 years, the calendar day would fall one day earlier relative to the Equinox, and it would take 1,460 days until a particular date fell at the same time of year again. Aside from that, they divided the 360 days of the year into 12 months of 30 days. Each day was divided as we do today, 24 hours x 60 minutes x 60 seconds = 86,400 seconds or 2 x 43,200 or 72 x 1,200.

Each hour was associated with one of the 7 ancient planets – Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun (Earth orbit), Venus, Mercury, Moon (in order of their orbital period). The first hour of each day (i.e 0:00, beginning at midnight) is assigned a planet. At the time, the week began with Saturday, so Saturn was attributed to the first hour. the hour beginning at 1 am would be assigned Jupiter, 2 am began Mars, etc. Midnight of the next day is assigned the Sun, which makes it Sunday, etc.

It is merely a symbolic representation of the planets, however, at the time, as they were actually more easily visible, the associations between celestial observation and timekeeping was always associated.

So every hour and every day is assigned one of the seven planets. Consider the periodicity of the planets as (such as with the moon, looking at the duration approximated in terms of days of each synodic cycle – i.e. the length of time it takes for a planet to return to the same apparent location in the sky as seen from Earth.

Each hour was comprised of 3,600 seconds, or 60 x 60. Considering the Babylonians used a base 60 system (and you thought memorizing timetables was hard), each second, and each minute was assigned one of the symbols

Alright, so they have that all going on with the seconds to hours. Withe the 360 days of the year, they associated those with the 360 degrees of the circle. As well as not bothering with a leap year associating particular calendar dates with particular times of year, the Babylonians apparently took the Precession of the Equinox into account. Long story short; there’s a wobble in the rotation of the Earth’s axis, which causes the stars to shift position by about 1 degree (along the ecliptic) every 72 years.  This means that it would take 72 x 360 years for the full Precession to return the stars to their original starting point, or about 25,920 years.

the rate of precession varies, but it is estimated at about 25,772.
25,920 years/Precession = 60 x 60 x 72 = 60 x 60 x 24 x 3
360 days/year = 60 x 6
86,400 seconds/day = 60 x 60 x 24

I could see why programmers might prefer to use TAI, where leap seconds are not counted as it would be cleaner, even if the days eventually drifted relative to the Equinox. The UTC counts every second, either inserting it in June or December if one is required.

celestial_watch_face

The point was, if one is willing to count the odd second, the odd day (or five) outside of the perpetual calendar, as did the Babylonians and Early Egyptians (I just recalled). One could approximate the SI second to the day, the day as the base unit for longer periods of time (calendar time like weeks and months, or natural time, like lunar months, or years).

Define theAbysmal Calendar year as 364 + 1 + 1/4 -1/128 Days, where each Day = 86,400 SI seconds, with provisions for leap seconds as per the International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service (IERS).

Each day is defined then as 86,400 seconds
Each week is 604,800 seconds
Each month is 2,419,200 seconds
Each quarter is 7,862,400 seconds
Each year is 31,449,600 + 86,400 (annually) + 21,600 (observed every 4 years) – 675 (observed every 128 years) seconds per calendar year

and then the leap second here or there – there have not been any leap seconds since the inception of theAbysmal Calendar (which means that we can expect another one soon).  These will be counted along with leap year days and all that.

Let’s see how that works out, mmm’kay.


A Refutation of All Proposed Calendars

30 May 2014

Funny, because, alas, so much of it is true.

This is not my material – for the original article, click on the title.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You advocate a ________ approach to calendar reform

You advocate a

( ) lunisolar ( ) atomic ( ) metric ( ) Luddite ( ) overly simplistic

approach to calendar reform. Your idea will not work. Here is why:

( ) solar years are real and the calendar year needs to sync with them
( ) solar days are real and the calendar day needs to sync with them
( ) the solar year cannot be evenly divided into solar days
( ) the solar day cannot be evenly divided into SI seconds
( ) the length of the solar day is not constant

( ) the lunar month cannot be evenly divided into solar days
( ) the solar year cannot be evenly divided into lunar months
( ) having months of different lengths is irritating
( ) having months which vary in length from year to year is maddening
( ) having one or two days per year which are part of no month is stupid
( ) your name for the thirteenth month is questionable

( ) the lunar month cannot be evenly divided into seven-day weeks
( ) the solar year cannot be evenly divided into seven-day weeks
( ) every civilisation in the world is settled on a seven-day week
( ) having one or two days per year with no day of the week is asinine

( ) requiring people to manually adjust their clocks is idiotic
( ) local time should not be discontinuous
( ) local time should not go backwards
( ) people like to go to work/school at the same time every day all year round
( ) no amount of clock-moving can increase the amount of solar energy received by Earth
( ) "daylight saving" doesn't

( ) UTC already solves that problem
( ) zoneinfo already solves that problem
( ) rearranging time zones yet again would make the zoneinfo database larger,
    not smaller
( ) the day of the week shouldn't change in the middle of the solar day
( ) local "midnight" should be the middle of the local night
( ) I shouldn't need to adjust my wristwatch every few miles

( ) there needs to be a year 0 and negative year numbers
( ) no, we don't know what year the Big Bang happened
( ) years which count down instead of up are not very funny
( ) planetary-scale engineering is impractical
( ) not every part of the world has four recognisable seasons
( ) "sunrise" and "sunset" are meaningless terms at the poles
( ) Greenwich is not unambiguously inferior to any other possible prime meridian
( ) the Earth is not, in fact, a cube
( ) high-tech applications need far more accuracy than your scheme allows
( ) leap seconds have been a fact of life for more than forty years
( ) leap seconds are more frequent than leap years
( ) TAI already solves that problem
( ) most of history can't be renumbered with atomic accuracy
( ) everybody in the world is already used to sexagesimal time divisions
( ) date formats need to be unambiguous
( ) abbreviated date formats should be possible and still unambiguous
( ) a leading zero on the year number solves nothing
( ) date arithmetic needs to be as easy as possible
( ) 13-digit numbers are difficult for humans to compare, even qualitatively

Specifically, your plan fails to account for:

( ) humans
( ) clocks
( ) computers
( ) the Moon
( ) the inconsistent rotational and orbital characteristics of Earth
( ) rational hatred for arbitrary change
( ) unpopularity of weird new month and day names
( ) total incompatibility with the SI second
( ) general relativity

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

( ) BC and AD aren't
( ) technically, our calendar is already atomic
( ) they tried that in France once and it didn't take
( ) nobody is about to renumber every event in history
( ) good luck trying to move the Fourth of July
( ) nobody cares what year you were born
( ) the history of calendar reform is horrifically complicated and no amount of
    further calendar reform can make it simpler

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

( ) sorry, but I don't think it would work
( ) this is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it
( ) please just shut up and fix your broken date/time code

Happy Abysmal New Year

21 December 2012

the end of the world as we knew it. Don’t you feel fine?

And so we enter into a new way of thinking – I was hoping to use this day for contemplation, but as it turns out, there’s a more pressing call (see IdleNoMore). There is a lot of overlap between calendar reform and the rights of indigenous peoples – I mean, the Maya are indigenous to the Americas, and their calendar is in no small part what got me thinking about calendar reform in the first place. The imposition of the Julian, and later the Gregorian calendar is a fundamental strategy in the course of colonization. More fundamental than English as the language of business, or Christianity as the imposed religion with its one god who can stand no other. The way in which we experience time is in no small part the cornerstone of our belief, and up until today, the calendar shared by the world (i.e. the Gregorian) is probably the most unhealthy.

How is it unhealthy?

It’s irregular as all hell, doesn’t have anything to do with natural cycles, and instills a linear view of time, which is severely limiting, given all the paradigms that there are. It is named after Roman, Germanic, and European pagan mythologies, although it is a fundamentally Christian calendar, and this, really, is a slight to anyone who believes in something other than Euro-Christianity. So, if we’re going to share a calendar globally, it should be all inclusive, or at least as inclusive as possible, which also means that it includes currently existing calendars.

that, in my ever so (I wish it were) humble opinion, is healthier.

It’s time for a change. Why not?

I’ve found that few people think about the calendar critically. We’ve been taught how it works in our childhood, and have used it ever since, without really questioning why the tenth month is called the eighth month, or why the leap year day falls at the end of the second month, or what June is named for (Juno, as it happens). Why is Saturday named after the Roman god Saturn, and Wednesday after the Norse god Wodin (Odin)? It’s really an incoherent mishmash of belief systems (at least in English), which points to an accumulation of traditions through conquest throughout history.

So, having looked at it more critically, I took the next step of exploring what other calendar systems were out there, their advantages and disadvantages, and more importantly, what they hold in common. In the end, that’s what lead to theAbysmal Calendar, and lead to something specifically designed for the world’s countless cultures.

It’s as all-inclusive as I could make it, and hopefully, with time, will be robust enough to withstand changes to suit those I have overlooked in my research and distraction.

the blog in review

theAbysmal blog has gone through quite some changes since I started in June 2006. The calendar was named the synaptic calendar to begin with, but theAbysmal worked better in the end. I devised a 13 month calendar with a heavier Maya presence, which I later dropped, as the Maya already have a calendar, and why mess with it when it will continue independently?

Here’s a short list of some of the posts or series of which I am most satisfied (given that none of these are particularly final):

how to have fun with it

If nothing else, the calendar should be fun. Really. We use it every day, several times a day, and if we’re going to become so intimately familiar with it, it may as well give us some kind of pleasure in return. So, with that in mind, here are a few suggestions:

  • name the months after things that make you snicker, chortle, or guffaw. change them every year. give them to your friends as new year’s gifts.
  • celebrate your birthday with everyone else born during the same time period (months, houses and/or astronomical zodiac dates are probably the easiest). If you were born during scorpio, there won’t be nearly as many people as virgo. Blame astronomers.
  • demand holidays from work according to theAbysmal Calendar (which, given that it isn’t established, can be considered a sacred tool for some kind of belief system, let’s call it pantheism). That should easily get you a dozen weeks off of work – don’t say I never did anything for you =)
  • whenever anyone mentions a Gregorian date, respond with “is that old time, old timer?” until they give up in frustration.
  • post it on your wall, and let your kids decorate it – or someone else’s kids – or your inner kid – however it works out, definitely do not colour inside the lines
  • remember those folks in the Southern Hemisphere, because they’re living in the opposite season to the northerners, and don’t nearly get enough consideration when it comes to conventions about the year. Find a pen pal (even if it’s via email or FB or some other means). Send them your adoration.
  • stuff like that. suggestions welcome

It’s finally here

So, here’s the great Southern Solstice to kick off theAbysmal Calendar, and hopefully, a new era that does away with such social sicknesses as we’ve endured over the past however many centuries. That’s not to say that such sicknesses (or those like them) will recur, however, if we plan something robust enough to endure it, we will all be the better for it.

Consider theAbysmal Calendar as a means of helping us think about time in a variety of ways, many of which are as old as the hills.

and have a safe, happy, and delightful year.


Chromatic: Year 0 Lunation 0 Day 0
Lunar: Year 0 Lunation 0 Day 8
Annual: Year 0 Month — Day NYD


Month 12 Day 19

12 December 2012

9 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Month 12 Day 18

11 December 2012

10 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Month 12 Day 17

10 December 2012

11 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Month 12 Day 16

9 December 2012

12 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Month 12 Day 15

8 December 2012

13 Days to Dec 21st 2012


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