Category Archives: Calendar

Time for a change

It is clearly time to sort out time. There are all of these time zones around the world, and I guess this is so that everyone can wake up and go to work at nine ish or at least that was the plan. But who does this anymore?

There are all kinds of people working at their own pace. I have friends who do their best work at three in the morning. Sometimes it seems that they are on their own time zone but they don’t need an official one to work. The problem is that we all need a similar frame of reference. In an ideal world we would all just use UTC and be done with it but apparently people wouldn’t like having to wake up at eleven o’clock in the evening.

I have a suggestion which is pretty straight forward. Why don’t we divide days into four chunks. Each of these chunks will have two names the first set of names will be local names – in the UK I would suggest Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Night. Then we would have international names for these periods like Alex, Bob, Freda and Jeff, or whatever we can all agree on.

The advantage of the system is that for each time zone the periods would always be called the same thing. In the UK, morning would always be Alex, in Australia Alex would always be evening. This way, you don’t have to work out everyone’s time zone. It allows a kind of UTC by the back door. Everyone would know their local translation so everyone would always be able to tell you what time it was in a way you would be able to understand.

So let’s get down to specifics. What I am really proposing here is that there be only 4 time zones. Time would go from 0 to 6 o’clock in each period. Lets start at what is called midnight. For reference this is when the day starts at Night 00:00.

Then, at what used to be 06:00 on the 24-hour clock, we would have a mini reset so it becomes 00:00 again and the morning has begun. Morning finishes six hours later at midday, followed by six hours of afternoon and six hours of evening, ending at old midnight.

Now how does this help? That’s a good question, and one I’ll get to next week.

The nights are drawing in

You know that guy, the guy who says, right after the longest day, “Well, the nights are drawing in again”. Party pooper. Git.

I am not that guy, thankfully. I am, however, a pedant and what I would like to point out to that guy is that the summer nights are not actually drawing in. In fact, sunset will continue to get later until the middle of August but the mornings are instead drawing in, and at a faster rate than the evenings are getting later, so yes the days are getting shorter but sunset is getting later. I usually restrain myself because the pedant is just another type of party pooper.

I was explaining this to a friend recently and they asked me the perfectly reasonable question, “Why?”.

The answer is pretty straight forward. Noon is getting later in the day.

Ok, I’ll try again. Basically noon is when the sun is directly above you. And this is because that’s how time used to work, we didn’t care about globally consistent time keeping. We needed a way to keep our clock set correctly. And so what you would do previously was every day at noon you would set your clock to noon and then you’d hopefully be right for the next 24 hours – or right enough. The problem is that noon changes all the time, as does the sun rise and sunset time, but we don’t reset our clocks any more, which is why we experience this drift. Now noon on the clock is exactly 24 hours after the last time it was noon, rather than related directly to what the sun is doing.

Long time readers of this blog will know that I have been attempting to convince the world that it is time for a new calendar. But clocks could easily have been quite different too. There was a rival clock system in place which could have been chosen (you can still see one of the last surviving working version in Florence). The alternative idea was that actually noon is a bit tricky to measure. When is the sun directly overhead? You use a stick and a shadow, but what if you don’t have a stick? Sunset (or in theory sunrise) is much easier to measure. When you can’t see the sun anymore, that’s sunset. This alternative version was mainly used by farmers who presumably didn’t have sticks to hand or were using them for something else. The problem with this system was two-fold, one that midday was way more accurate than sunset to measure (what if there was a mountain in the way), and there were actually two forms of this sunset clock – one that was based on sunset, and the other that was based on “half an hour after sunset” which is a bit trickier to be accurate with when you don’t have an accurate clock.

The point is this, it is pretty much random that noon is 12 o’clock and that it happens to be when it’s mainly midday. We could have used the Italian system and had 24 o’clock be at sunset which would make noon around 17 o’clock. To us it seems crazy, but there is no natural order to this system. In fact, we are abstracting from the natural order of what we had. Why is new year in Europe in January? Why is new year in Asia in Spring? Surely if we think about it rationally, the Asian version makes more sense than the European version. The world is new in Spring and that’s when the year begins. In Britain, we used to celebrate new year that way, that’s why our tax year still starts in April for example.

But the French and then Pope Gregory wanted to fix time and the calendar, and so all of this changed in the 1500s.

But if they could fix the calendar and time itself, why can’t we? More of this shortly…

So what should the name for the new month be?

Since more than a week has gone by since the new calendar [So the pope hasn’t called me back] has been in place (I hope you noticed) we still haven’t got a new name for the fifth month. What you say? You thought that we were still running on the old calendar? Well answer me this. According to my Calendar it is 10th January, what day do you think it is? See how useful it is that you are able to say 10 – 7 = 3 so it must be the third day of the week eg. Wednesday. See all this and more is now available to you since we switched over.

The big excitement is that there will now be thirteen months in the year and because in the new calendar my birthday will be in the fifth month I think we should have that be the new one, and then shunt all the others backwards. Because otherwise Christmas wouldn’t be in December anymore and that would just confuse everyone.

But what hasn’t been decided is what this new month should be called. So please let me know your ideas? The best answer as posted on this blog will win. No longer do you have to be a Caesar, a god or a number to get to name a month see this blog can offer much better prizes than the proverbial cut in half yacht.

The Temple of Mithras

Two posts in a day! What devilry is this?

Well I was talking to Katherine last night about Mitrhas and how Nick hadn’t heard of him (Mithran the point). And she said, ah is he Mitrhas as in the Temple of Mithras? And I said, “oh you mean the temple on Vatican Hill. And she said, “No I mean the temple in the City of London that you walk past every day. And I said, “Eh”!

And then I looked it up on Wikipedia: Temple of Mithras, London and apparently it’s the most famous Roman discovery in the City of London.

So on my way into work this morning (at 7am hence the dark) I wondered past the Temple of Mitras:

See look it says “Temple Of Mithras” there.

And what does this fabled temple look like at 7am?

And how do you actually know that I was there? Well I took a picture and in my defence it was dark, and leaning at a very funny angle and trying to avoid being noticed by the slow trickle of people walking past.


Mithran the point

So I mentioned in my article (So the pope hasn’t called me back that at least with New Year we knew what we were celebrating whereas with Christmas it is very difficult to know.

There are two reasons this is the case. The first comes from the fact that a large number of people who believe in Christmas don’t believe in Christ (or perhaps more specifically god). And yet celebrate we do even though we don’t really know what the real reason we’re doing it is.

But it’s not just the non-believers who are confused. The Christians themselves are pretty confused as well. Lets imagine what December 25th might have been like for a Roman in 500 BC.

Well the Roman would be celebrating the birth of his God, a God who was born to a virgin on December 25th as a man and who had come to save everyone from their sins. Who the Roman would have shown his devotion to by getting baptised. When his God was born he was visited by Maji and shepherds. His holy day was a Sunday. His church was founded upon the rock (because to be fair he was born of a “virgin” rock – but you can’t have everything can you). And the cave where this happened was on Vatican Hill in Rome. And the head of the church was referred to as the Pope. Whenever their god was shown in pictures he always had an image of the sun behind his head which looks an awful lot like a halo – but had a point here as their god was born of the Sun (which also explains his day being Sunday). And his followers acknowledged their allegiance to him by having a meal in which they broke bread and drank wine and that the bread had inside it the pattern of the cross. His name was Mithras. And he supposedly lived somewhere near the beginning of 7,000BC. So quite a long time before Jesus popped up.

For a variety of other reasons and festivals (Saturnalia and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti) you as a Roman would also, on the 25th December be giving your friends and family little presents. You would have an evergreen tree which would have decorations on it in your house. And you would go out in groups of friends and knock on other houses doors and sing them songs.

But you say, surely, all of this is an incredible co-incidence? Well yes you’re probably right. It has nothing to do with early Christians mainly celebrating Easter not Christmas. And that because nothing was happening in the winter in the Christian church people decided to celebrate both. And that then the Christians decided to try and control the feasting and bring meaning to it. Which was especially important because most Mithrans were in the army and you didn’t want to tell them they couldn’t have a party any more. You’re right – it’s probably nothing to do with all of that.

So the pope hasn’t called me back

Since September 2003 (when this blog started) I have been campaigning for a change in the calendar. I’ve written about it a few times:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday,
Britney, Beyonce, Christina? Madonna! ,
Madonna! Pope Eugenius III. and It’s going well your Popeishness.).

But now the situation has come to a head. Another new year, and still no new calendar. But then it suddenly hit me, the old Pope was against the calendar but since those dim and dark days we’ve only gone and got ourselves a new Pope.

What? A new calendar I hear you ask? What manner of crazy is this? Well let me explain.

Very simply I don’t like the way that the months have a random number of days in them. And also I don’t like the way that all of the days move around and it’s complicated to work out what day something’s going to happen.

The solution is simple. We just need one more month. If we had 13 months then every month could have 28 days in it. This would give us almost the requisite number of days (364) and solve most of the problems.

The other thing which is good about 28 days is that 28 is divisible by 7 which means that every month would have 4 weeks in it. And every month could start with a Monday and end with a Sunday. So then you’d always be able to tell really easily what day of the month it was going to be. So say somebody said something was going to happen on the 15th you’d know quick as you like that that must be a Monday.

But hold on I hear you cry, what about the fact that the year has 365.25 days in it?

Ah yes! Well. The simplest way to deal with this is to have the 13th month have 29 days in it. And have whichever month we choose (say we stick with February) have 29 days in it as well on the occasions of leap years?

But hold on I hear you cry (you’ve been doing a lot of that lately and it is not becoming) if there are 29 day months then what will happen about the days of the week staying in order.

Well the simple* answer is that these extra days, “New Year’s Eve” and “Leap Day” will not be days of the week. So you won’t be able to say, “what day’s New Year’s Eve?” because it won’t be on a day. The week it happened would go, “Friday, Saturday, Sunday, New Years Eve, Monday, Tuesday” etc. Monday would be “New Years Day” but it would be “New Years Day” and “Monday” at the same time like now where as “New Years Eve” would be just “New Years Eve”.

So anyway that’s my plan, and the old Pope never really went for it. But I think with this new German pope he might be in for a much more efficient system like this one. Anyway Happy New Year. At least with New Year people are celebrating the right thing rather than at Christmas where everyone gets a bit confused.

*Okay it might not be that simple.