Resolved for 2012: Scrap December, launch the eight-day week
Departing from the convention of the year in review, I’d like to use the end of 2011 to propose something altogether different: Let’s scrap the conventional calendar.
Of the many calendars used by humanity through the centuries, all really are a blend of the rational and irrational. Rationally, we need some scorecard to track the lunar cycles of the moon and the solar cycle of seasons. Irrationally, we picked Jan. 1 as the roll-over point. So while we freight the event with great significance and will cheer the magic countdown Saturday night, in point of fact, there is no magic at all.
There are always imperfections. Scientists tweak the dominant “Gregorian Calendar,” in use since 1582, with periodic “Leap Years” to recalibrate. Historians struggle to align dates fixed in diverse systems. Russia’s “October Revolution” for example actually happened on Nov. 7. Inconveniently, the Russians were then using the earlier “Julian Calendar.”
My new calendar would incorporate all three of these elements. Rationally, it would still mark the basic year. As to imperfections, it would also require some periodic refinement by those better with a calculator than I. But irrationally, it would solve two problems. One it would get rid of my birthday which is in December; secondly, it would force us to reconsider Christmas, a holiday frankly out of control.
Let’s go from 12 to 11 months. This would allow us to go straight from November into January. That resolves my pet peeves. But the more appealing element is different. To compensate, I would add a day to the week. With eight-day weeks we could have three-day weekends. As a preliminary, this will surely bring support from the French, who by the way have some experience with the topic. Back in 1795 they scrapped the conventional clock in favor of a “decimalized” scheme of a day of 10 hours divided by 100 minutes in turn divided by 100 seconds. A great idea at which the typically fickle French grew bored after just two years. But that’s another story.
I worked my new calendar out. If you split the year by 11 rather than 12 months the result is 33.18 days in each. Divide that in turn by the eight days and you get 4.14 weeks in each month. As I said, this will need some expert tweaking but it is still close enough to work.
I realize there are religious sensibilities to consider here and we will. Remember that Christmas was celebrated for a millennia and a half before we fixed the day on the current calendar. We’ll reorganize and keep it light. It’s just my birthday that will no longer be celebrated.
Retailers can be mollifed. Yes, December’s shopping orgy will end. But imagine what we can do with longer weekends. I’m sure the Europeans can figure out the conversion in some way to aid their fiscal crisis: 11 salaries a year instead of 12 for everyone in Brussels?
Astrologers will probably grumble. But in exchange for surrendering Sagittarius to the cause they will get 44 extra “daily readings” to sell to the gullible. I think it’s a fair trade.
Which really leaves us with just the task of a name for this new day of the week. I will be happy to take suggestions. Finding a good one is my personal resolution for 2012. Happy New Year.