theAbysmal Calendar ~ arguments for reform

Why change the calendar?

Before we get into these details, check out how theAbysmal Calendar stands up to Jacques Ellul’s 76 reasonable questions to ask about any technology.

First and foremost, the greatest argument for a replacement of the Gregorian Calendar with a Calendar system that better serves as an intermediary between calendars is summed up with a few juicy quotes from Eviatar Zerubavel, who has done extensive work on the nature of our understanding of time in sociological terms. Given the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, Idle No More, and the widening array of groups opposing the status quo in support of massive reforms, this may just be the best time to consider changing such a fundamental system as the calendar we share.

“Gaining control over the calendar has always been essential for attaining social control in general”

Who have been responsible for past reforms of the Gregorian Calendar? Romulus; King Numa Pompilius of Rome; Dictator Julius Caesar; Emperors Augustus, Constantine, and Charlemagne; Pope Gregory XIII – those are the major calendar reformers. Notice anything in common about their social station?

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

This is particularly key, given the disparity of interests in groups looking for reform: environment, human rights, labour, law, agriculture, urban design & development, climate change, energy usage, etc. I’ve often heard members of such groups ask how they can better communicate between one another. Given the wide availability of the Internet (in urban centres, which are away from the front lines of much opposition to illegal development), it always struck me as an odd question. I think it was more a comment about the nature of decentralized organization. The feelings of community are as solid or as frail as our relationship in the absence of a common immediate goal.

Many of the groups oppose the rapacious consumerism that drives the economy, resource extraction, disregard of first nations, disregard for the environment, industrialized agriculture, accelerated use of unsafe and untested agriculture, etc. yet don’t think twice about using the calendar which is a fundamental expression of it. The weekdays are from Roman and Germanic mythologies (all except for Sunday and Monday, which keep their pagan roots), the month names are Roman, the calendar spread with European colonization, often displacing indigenous calendar systems. This is how genocide happens. when no one is left who can speak a language, or know how cultural artifacts are to be used, then those people are gone.

theAbysmal is the mortar between those disparate cultures. It is designed to translate from all the languages and cultures through the medium of numbers (granted, even that isn’t universal by any stretch). We can all agree that moon 7 is moon 7, regardless of whether that’s the month of raspberries, or the rains, or the scary clouds, or Harry Potter, we can all agree on the time.

It allows us to live in our native time (whether that’s lunar, solar, solilunar, or something completely other), yet communicate with others doing the same. It doesn’t force anyone to adopt a new system to replace their own, only a means of reaching out beyond the local. At least, that’s the goal.

“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.”

Which means, if you want to remove the unhealthy influence that the ancient Romans continue to have on our lives, it might be best to cleanse oneself of thinking according to their calendar. We are seeing great reforms around the world, and the response by those most threatened seems to be violence before any attempt at serious conversation. However, there is nothing that prevents people from jettisoning the Gregorian (easier said than done, but well worth the effort), and insisting on using something more inclusive. There are political motions being passed to restrict the Internet, to criminalize public gatherings, to jail legitimate opposition, however, calendar reform is completely off the political radar. They don’t control it, so they have no say.

Arguments for the Gregorian

theAbysmal response

1. The calendar year stays in sync fairly well with the seasonal year. More exactly, the vernal equinox always occurs during a 51-hour period spread over March 19, 20 and 21. theAbysmal calendar is more affixed to the seasons throughout the year. Each quarter starts and ends on or about either Solstice or Equinox, and maintains an equivalent level of accuracy.
2. Everyone is familiar with it. Although the Gregorian is our de facto global calendar, in many cultures it is not the only calendar, and may be the less familiar. This is a presumptive argument.theAbysmal calendar retains the seven-day market week, as a familiar structure.
3. The rules of the calendar are already embedded in innumerable computer programs. theAbysmal calendar begins a linear count of seconds, days as of its implementation, which is a simple arithmetic step away from the Unix Time Code and Julian Date already in use. Also, the Internet broadcasts a standardized time, such that it would be a relatively easy modification to one’s operating system.
4. The calendar is an integral part of the vernacular of many cultures. theAbysmal calendar does not suggest doing away with the Gregorian calendar at all. It simply seeks to replace it as the global calendar. If users wish to continue using the Gregorian, they may.  The weekdays may remain, and observers of theAbysmal calendar may name the months as suits their sensibilities. The differences from month-to-month are 10 days at the most between the Gregorian and theAbysmal, which doesn’t undermine the vernacular significantly, if one choose to retain the same month names.
5. It maintains an uninterrupted seven-day week, which is important to religious groups. theAbysmal Calendar doesn’t dictate how the days are to be named. Anyone is free to observe the 7-day week or not, as is there preference.
6. It may be difficult to promulgate changes to the calendar because all countries that use it would need to agree to make a change. The Gregorian calendar took nearly 350 years to be adopted by all countries that previously used the Julian calendar. Global communication has never been so fast as it is now. Besides, not everyone is forced to adopt it – one can continue to use the Gregorian Calendar locally, and theAbysmal globally. Besides, the decision will be made by calendar users, not by national leadership.

Arguments against the Gregorian

theAbysmal response

7. The structure of the months is irregular, with month lengths ranging arbitrarily from 28 days to 31 days. theAbysmal months are regular periods of 4 Weeks of 28 Days each.
8. The leap year rule is hard for many people to understand: “An extra day is added at the end of the second month every four years, except in years whose number is divisible by 100 except in years whose number is divisible by 400.” The Leap Year Day isn’t a weekday, so its observation doesn’t disrupt the perpetual 52 Weeks. The rule is a little easier than the Gregorian’s and more accurate. Observe a Leap Year Day every 4 Years with an exception every 128 Years.
9. The conventional 7-day-week cycle does not fit exactly into a Common Era year (there are always one or two days left over). This means that it is difficult to know which day of the week a CE date falls on.  

TheAbysmal Calendar uses a perpetual system that uses a large number of measures (market weeks, months, etc), all of which are regular measures that fit evenly into the perpetual year. The structure is regular, and repeats itself every year.

10. The irregularity of the structure of the CE Calendar makes it difficult to formulate schedules of events occurring on certain days of the week which can be re‑used from year to year.
11. That irregularity also makes it very difficult to design schedules which can be used in any quarter (of three months), term (of four months) or semester (of six months). theAbysmal 52~Week Year divides evenly into Months of 4 Weeks, Quarters of 13 Weeks, and Semesters of 26 Weeks.
12. Despite the existence of a proposed standard way of writing CE dates (the ISO 8601 date format) such dates are currently expressed mainly either as month-day-year (in the U.S.) or day-month-year (in Europe and most of the rest of the world). This creates major confusion for people in one part of the world reading dates written by and for people in another part of the world. theAbysmal Date format can be introduced with set, universal rules, which will prevent such difference of standards.
13. The months of the CE Calendar, although called “months”, have no relation to the lunar cycles. The sequence of months and the sequence of lunations are completely unrelated, and a new moon or a full moon can occur on any day of the CE month. theAbysmal Calendar differentiates between and follows both Lunations and calendar months.
14. The leap year rules cause the timing of the equinoxes and solstices to vary by about 51 hours, which can be reduced if alternative leap year rules were adopted. theAbysmal has an observation-based component, which tracks the actual time (in UTC) of the event, whereas the perpetual calendar observations are rules-based and more approximations.
15. The intercalary day is inserted at the end of the second month instead of at the end of the year, which adds complexity to various date calculations. In particular, the number of days between a particular date in January or February and a particular date after the end of February is not constant. theAbysmal Leap Year Day falls on the day before New Year’s Day, so they occur after the last day of one Year, and the first day of the next. As a result, insertion of the leap year day doesn’t disrupt the 52~week year.

There are other points to consider.

  • theAbysmal Calendar begins each of its cycles in darkness. Midnight for the Day, New Moon for the Lunation, Northern Winter Solstice for the Year and Saturday for the Week. As much as our universe and we ourselves developed and grew out of darkness (the unknown, the unknowable), so does the measures of time in this calendar.
  • theAbysmal Calendar has a Year 0 (as well as a Quarter 0, Lunation 0, Month 0, Week 0 and Day 0), which the Gregorian CE lacks altogether. Beginning with 0 works just like a digital clock. At midnight, the start of a new day the clock rolls around to 00:00. In keeping with this, the calendar doesn’t count the first day until it is completed, and then it becomes Day 1 (just like 1 O’Clock occurs after the first hour is finished). This keeps the reckoning of time consistent from the measure of seconds to centuries.

Posts of Interest

theAbysmal Calendar
Astronomical Facts
Chromatic Counter
Lunisolar Calendar
Perpetual Calendar
Abbreviations & Notation
Calendar Symbolism
Arguments for Calendar Reform


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