Unravelling the Weave of Time, Part the 4th

18 November 2014

Assumptions and bias where you might not expect.

with the discovery of the patterns in daylight, I played around a lot with the images. It illustrated how heavily our cultural bias is weighed by the perspective of the northern hemisphere – not the southern, or even the tropics, or the high arctic. They all have very different experiences with the movement of the sun throughout the course of the year.

13-month-N-numbered The length of day remains relatively stable between the tropics. In the arctic, the sun stays overhead at high summer, and is never seen in the depths of winter. The idea of the sun rising in the east is an alien concept in the arctic. As is the notion of a “day” the way we’ve come to accept it as day and night.

So I endeavoured to make southern hemisphere equivalents for the images I’d come up with.
13-month-S-numberedThis lead me to question a number of our labels for standardized international points of reference.

Months of the Gregorian Calendar – replaced with numbers
Days of the Week – not explicit part of theAbysmal
Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn – ?
Equinoxes – ?

Why are the tropics named after western constellations? Equator seems a fair name for everyone, but there are different traditions to naming constellations. Ask the Chinese. I’ve taken to calling the tropics the Northern and Southern Tropics, so we have the northern and southern solstice, depending on which hemisphere the sun happens to be in (so, Southern Solstice falls on or about december 21)

Equinox ≠ Day = Night

It turns our that the Equinox, although it means “equal night” isn’t the day that the day and night are equal. It is the day that the sun’s apparent path is directly over the equator. The time when the day and night are of equal length depends on the line of latitude where you find yourself.

Biggest Mythbuster Moment of the whole exercise right there. Not so much a busting of myths as holding up ancient facts to old beliefs.

So here we consider the variety of human experience, culture, and realize that although theAbysmal calendar is designed for everyone’s use, it may exclude some. When this turns out to be the case, finding a way to include those some would be important.

Creative Timekeeping

2 November 2014

An art clock – lovely but impractical (mind you, how hard is it to find out the time these days?)

Calling All Abysmal Readers

31 October 2014

That’s right, I said it.

It’s around that time of year when I put together next year’s calendar. I should probably figure out a more efficient way of doing it, but it’s almost as good as hand-written.

My question to anyone who would care to respond in the comments (and please do) – what, if anything, of calendar paraphenalia would you like to see available?

  • wall calendars? solar? lunar? solilunar?
  • day planners?
  • 365 day calendars? what theme? calendar trivia of the day?
  • app?
  • online calendar converter?
  • anything else come to mind?

I appreciate the feedback. If only I had the diabolical mind of a marketing executive placed in the reanimated corpse of a MadMan. Oh, now there would be the scream team of a lifetime.

13 Days of Holy Days

30 October 2014

13 Days of Candy, Costumes, and the Horror? Yes Please.

My two favourite times of year in this part of the world (either the Anishnaabeg territory on Kitchissippi on Turtle Island, or Ottawa, Canada, North America) are late autumn and winter solstice.

I’ve sorted out a running narrative for a 13-day holiday, which works with theAbysmal Calendar, and with northern hemisphere holiday and traditions.

These include harvest festival elements: pumpkins and decorative gourd motherfuckers, bats (as the sun sets earlier and earlier, we encounter the crepuscular earlier and earlier), spiders who weave their eggs to carry until next year; wiccan traditions, the witch, cauldron, black cat, broom; new year’s traditions, the thinning of the veil between the underworld and ours, and so ghouls, zombies, the undead, revenants, etc. are the costumes of choice.

Looking at existing holidays and observations around this time, it seems that there are already a number of commemorations for those who have passed at this time.

to whit:

Oct 30
Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions is an annual day of remembrance for victims of political repression in the Soviet Union.

All of those millions and millions of souls, killed in the purges, the pogroms, the gulags. If these days are meant to commemorate the dead, let us remember them, greet them as they pass, and wish them well until next year. They’ve been through enough in life, no need to be impolite in death.

Oct 31
Halloween, and with the Neopagans, the beginning of Samhain, the New Year.
All Saints’ Day, aka All Hallows aka Solemnity of All Saints aka Feast of All Saints aka Hallowmas is a ritual in several christian churches (the dates also vary), which acknowledges all saints, both known and unknown. This, too, touches on communication en masse with the other side, beyond the veil.

And getting inappropriately drunk in inappropriate costumes is the modern descendent for some reason.

Nov 1
Although this is technically All Saints’ Day, the observations begin the evening prior. Also, there are other observations at work here.

Dia de los Muertos, day of the Dead in Mexico, and many other countries. Although this is a three-day celebration, it fits together with our feasts of the dead. the celebrations include outings to the cemetery to pray for passed friends and family, decorate the tombstones, and colourful, skeletal decorations.

Nov 2
All Souls’ Day
A Christian day of prayer for the dead, typically ones family and relatives.

Nov 3
Nov 4

Nov 5
Firstly, this is theAbysmal mid-quarter day, and as such, is an international holiday. Just saying.
Secondly, it falls on Guy Fawkes Night in the Uk, NZ & Nfld, where that dear mad fellow whose mask is all over the Internet and streets these days, decided to bomb the British parliament. This has tones of an “underworld” although more criminal than spiritual, and in the case of mental illness, then it is the depths of the human mind.
Let’s celebrate him for the mask that levels the playing field.

Nov 6
Nov 7

Nov 8
Remembrance Sunday (at least in the UK) falls anywhere from here to Nov 14 depending on the year. It commemorates the British who fell in wartime.

Nov 9
Dia de los ñatitas
Day of the Skulls, the Bolivian day of the dead festival.

Nov 10

Nov 11
Remembrance Day (British Commonwealth)
Armistice Day (NZ, FR, BLG, SRB)

Where the war dead of the British Commonwealth are remembered.

This is the final day of the 13, and certainly there are dates without commemorations, and likely many commemorations that I have missed.

This date in particular is important to certain Canadians. When the poppy to commemorate the day go sale, they spread like wildfire, showing up on everyone’s lapel (I always lose mine. I buy 13 of the things every year). My personal beliefs, which I have heard echoed elsewhere, are that WWI was the true birth of the Canada we’ve come to know. It was a birth out of bloodshed, and it truly feels like the ceremonies in Canada are a mournful acknowledgement of the blood on which our country nourished itself.

something like that.

and the Canadian government just decided to go to war, while laughing and patting one another on the back. It seems the solemnity of the occasion is lost on them.

theAbysmal Holidays

At any rate folks, enjoy the holiday season, and remember, with theAbysmal Calendar [TM], you too could have 13 days of trick or treating, costume themed events, and painting the whole town black and orange. One other thing to consider, is that the way theAbysmal Calendar breaks down into 28 periods of 13-days, this holiday period happens to fall on the first 13-day period of the last House of the year. To whit:


theAbysmal Year – a Radial Representation

4 September 2014

From days to half-years, the multiple permutations of the perpetual year.

At least with the design of theAbysmal Calendar, there’s room for all sorts of even divisions of the year into weeks, months, and all other measures you can imagine.

Here are the ones I’ve come up with: the outer circle alternates black and white, the next circle in alternates two black days, two white days, then three black three white, four black four white, etc… up to 182 black and white.

circle-of-market-weeksClick on the image for an enlargement.

In terms of theAbysmal Calendar, the New Year is at the bottom. Each measure of time begins with black and alternates ending on either black or white in whole measures.

The Gregorian 365 days can be divided evenly by 5 and 73.


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.


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