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Some Change Can’t Be Imagined

One of the “cool” things about Twitter is that someone can tweet a link to something like this and launch a whole blog topic or even, if you guys are on board, a discussion.

The gist of the article is that a couple of guys have created a new calendar for the whole world. It keeps the 7-day structure, but sets up the months so that every date falls on the same day each year. They say it would make everything more efficient and cut the costs of making new calendars every year by a huge amount. Planning would be easy, because we’d always know what day a date falls on, or what dates an annual event will take place.

These guys also advocate doing away with time zones and making the world all work on the same schedule, because it would make international business easier. That one is just ridiculous. Changing the clock doesn’t change the sun. If you live in Columbus, Ohio, and you want to talk to someone in Asia, one of you us setting up the meeting when it’s dark. If we did this, who would get to have their work day during daylight hours? Whose physical systems would be royally screwed, not just on the occasions when they need to be, but every day? They mention that pilots already use UTC time (what used to be Greenwich Mean Time), but that’s useful to them because they’re traveling across zones. What about the people who live, work, and do business all in one place? Are we going to make kids walk to school in the dark just to put everyone on the same schedule?

“Don’t be silly,” some might say. “The kids could still go to school in the daylight. It would just be nighttime on the clock.” Then what the heck is the difference? Why force almost the entire world to change to something unnatural? I can’t see any logic in this one at all.

Okay, back to the calendar. This at least does have some logic to it. The schedule they propose creates a 365-day year, but instead of leap year, they’d just add an extra week to December every 6 or 7 years. Besides that factor, it would make planning easier, I suppose. Kind of. I mean, how hard is it to look to see if my May retreat starts on the 17th or 16th next year? Or which day my birthday falls on?

If your birthday is a weekend, maybe you’d be happy for it to never change. But that wouldn’t be the case for most of us, and that would kind of suck. I also like the variety of having holidays fall on different days. The rare Wednesday Fourth of July, for example, breaks up the week quite nicely.

Plus, okay, some stuff we’d always know, like what day is New Year’s Eve. But we won’t memorize all 365 days, and instantly know what date goes with each day. Relatively few things in our day to day lives rely on a static date.

They say financing and other math/calendar calculations would be much easier, streamlining the system and reducing errors. Great! Of course, all the people who do the calculating, whether it’s to create future calendars or figure out a mortgage, would be out of a job. That would be helpful to the economy, right? More people unemployed.

The biggest obstacle I see, though, is getting everyone to agree to do it, then instituting it. There would have to be a really long lead time. The organizers of the Fiftieth Annual Possum Festival would be royally pissed if they had to change the date of something already in planning. So we’re talking at least a year of preparation and education.

Assuming everyone would be on board. I mean, look at the European Union. How many years did it get them to implement the euro? And there were still holdouts. You should (and probably do) hear the whining whenever Congress in the U.S. passes a new law that requires companies to do something. New Medicare regulations got postponed to give medical practices and insurance companies more time to comply. That’s a small proportion of the population that’s affected. What happens when we try to get the U.S. government and, say, Saudi Arabia to cooperate? Never mind Pakistan, Libya, or, God forbid, North Korea.

These guys say they’ve worked with countries to change their currency, and the resistance to change is overcome when people see the benefits. But getting 40 million people to convert to something is a helluva lot different from getting 7 billion to do it.

Anyway, it seems to me a purely intellectual exercise that has absolutely no chance of seeing practice. Not pre-apocalypse. Because yes, the global calendar underwent many changes before we settled on the one we all use today (and not everyone uses it exclusively). But change four centuries ago was easier when there were only 500 million people to convert. We’ll never get 7 billion people to change something that monumental.

Who disagrees? Am I missing any benefits that would make this worth forcing? What other issues can you see arising from such a change? Are you in favor or opposed? Sound out in the comments!


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