February and Thursday

I was thinking about how the calendar we use is based on a large span of time in the history of humanity. We have all the old gods in there. We have the whole A.D. (Anno Domini) thing. The days and months are, in a way, a constant reminder of our pagan roots. I was thinking about the whole utility of the calendar and how, if we were going to redesign it from scratch, there isn’t actually that much to improve. The calendar is an abstraction that we all agree to in order to provide order. It doesn’t matter much that February has 28 days vs 31 for January. February is an abstraction. It is funny, though, that there are billions of lines of computer code to accommodate our weird calendar. The astronomical basis of our calendar is, unlike so many astronomical things, quite variable. The earth and the moon and the sun and all of the planets make for a wobbly little clockwork universe to write code for. To think there are satellites in orbit worried about whether today is the day named after the moon or the one named after Saturn and whether we are in Octavius’s month or Julius’s is a funny thing.

But if we were to do it again, we could abandon the moon but we couldn’t abandon the sun. The seasons are an annual cycle thanks to our orbit around the sun and no calendar makes sense that does not acknowledge the utility of that. The New Year actually starts at a fairly logical time, as our orbit reaches an extreme. Months are the only thing you could really argue about. A year divided into 10 or so parts makes sense, and the moon does orbit the earth roughly 12 times per solar year. So really, the system we have is not so bad. Those ancients knew what they were doing!

Whenever you say the word “Thursday” you are really in touch with our ancient forebearers.

February and Thursday

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