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| Human World on Dec 28, 2011

A fixed-date calendar and no time zones, researchers say

In the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, if your birthday is on a Monday, it’s always on a Monday. Plus, these researchers want to abolish time zones.

A new kind of calendar called the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar has been proposed as a more stable alternative to the Gregorian Calendar that’s currently used by most countries of the world. Using computer programs operating on mathematical formulae, astrophysicist Richard Henry and applied economist Steve Hanke, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, have devised a new system, originally conceived by Bob McClenon, with new features that simplify how we mark time. They discussed their plan in a press release issued December 27, 2011. They also advocate abolishment of time zones in favor of Universal Time (UT), so that everyone across the world is on the same clock.

Carving on the tomb of Pope Gregory XIII celebrating the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. Image credit: Rsuessbr via Wikimedia Commons.

Our current calendar system, the Gregorian Calendar, was established in 1582. Over the centuries, it was gradually adopted as the ‘civil’ calendar for most countries. However, in some cases, it does not easily synch with the scheduling needs of the modern world.

So, for example, if you’re annoyed about paying the same in rent or mortgage for February and March, the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, which also eliminates leap years, may be the one for you. If you own a retail store and rely on Christmas shoppers to boost annual profits, the number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas will determine your potential sales figures. This new calendar, which would establish a constant and permanent number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, could stabilize sales expectations from year to year.

Early people used the waxing and waning of the moon as a calendar. Photo Credit: Missouri Skies

Said Professor Henry, in his press release:

Our plan offers a stable calendar that is absolutely identical from year to year and which allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities, from school to work holidays. Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world and it becomes obvious that our calendar would make life much simpler and would have noteworthy benefits.

Added Professor Hanke:

Our calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate what we call the ‘rip off’ factor. Determining how much interest accrues on mortgages, bonds, forward rate agreements, swaps and others, day counts are required. Our current calendar is full of anomalies that have led to the establishment of a wide range of conventions that attempt to simplify interest calculations. Our proposed permanent calendar has a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days, which does away with the need for artificial day count conventions.

In a nutshell, these are the new features of the proposed calendar:

  • The same day always falls on the same date, year after year.
  • It maintains a 7-day week to preserve a day of religious observance (a Sabbath).
  • All months would have 30 days, except March, June, September, and December that are 31 days in duration.
  • Every 5 to 6 years, an extra week is added to the end of December to bring the calendar in sync with seasonal changes on Earth.

A summary of the new Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar. In addition, an extra seven days is added to December every five or six years to bring the calendar back in sync with the seasons.

This doesn’t mean that the Gregorian calendar is going away. Farmers rely on it for planning spring plantings, so it will always remain useful to them.

This is how February 2012 would look like in the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar system.

People with birthdays on February 29th who grumble about only celebrating it once every four years will love this new calendar.

But what if your birthday fell on the 31st day of a month that’s been shortened to 30 days? Or, if the new calendar is instituted, what’s the birthday of a child born during that extra week in December that’s proposed for every 5 or 6 years? Professor Henry, in a FAQ that answers many questions like these, suggests that since your birthday was the last day of the month, move it to that date. That may not be a satisfactory answer for some, after all, how many people would be willing to give up their birthday dates?

Henry and Hanke also propose the abolishment of time zones. In a January 2012 article in Global Asia, they write.

One time throughout the world, one date throughout the world. Business meetings, sports schedules and school calendars would be identical every year. Today’s cacophony of time zones, daylight savings times and calendar fluctuations, year after year, would be over. The economy – that’s all of us – would receive a permanent ‘harmonization’ dividend.

The Gregorian calendar is entrenched in our lives. How hard would it be to make this change? Perhaps not as hard as we think; many countries of the world, including Canada, made the switch to the Metric System after years of using either the British Imperial System or the U.S. Customary Units. (The U.S. is the only industrialized country that has not fully converted to the Metric System.)

The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar comes with a proposed universal adoption date of January 1, 2017, which is a Sunday. But in his web page, Professor Henry encourages us to adopt it starting the first day of 2012, which is also a Sunday. Henry and Hanke believe that this calendar, with the same day for each date, with most months that are 30 days long, that preserves a seven-day week, and requires an additional week appended to December every five or six years, will help to make every day life across the world run a little more smoothly.

Bottom line: Astrophysicist Richard Henry and applied economist Steve Hanke, both of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, have devised a new calendar system, originally conceived by Bob McClenon. They call it the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar and say it is a more stable alternative to the Gregorian Calendar currently used throughout the world. They discussed their plan in a press release issued December 27, 2011. They also advocate abolishment of time zones in favor of Universal Time, so that everyone across the world is on the same clock.

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