Finished Friday, September 22nd, 2023, at 6:43 PM Rio de Janiero, Brazil Time
Author: Mattanaw I., The Honorable Dr. Mattanaw, Christopher Matthew Cavanaugh, Retired
Interdisciplinarian with Immeasurable Intelligence. Lifetime Member of the High Intelligence Community.6
Former Chief Architect, Adobe Systems
Current President/Advisor, Social Architects and Economists International.
Most are aware that in our calendaring system for tracking and planning days, years, and months, that there are imperfections that have caused us to need to add an extra day every four years for what has been called the leap year. The cause for our addition of an extra day every fourth February is to account for the fact that a solar year is not really 365 days, but is 365 and approximately a quarter days. To fix this issue, we simply add one year every four years, to make a periodic adjustment. Watch makers making fine automatic luxury watches are aware that a year is not precisely even 365 and one quarter days, but is only nearly 365 and one quarter, meaning that additional adjustments are needed after some larger number of days. Their watches were designed to keep time even more precisely to function and show dates correctly, even after some hundred years have elapsed.
We have not come far regarding the solution of the calendaring for universal understanding of the true duration of a solar year, to make it unnecessary to have adjustments after four years, and after longer periods of time; and if we look more precisely still at the length of the solar calendar year, going to very high precision into the millions of digits, we’ll see that more adjustments will be needed for even greater periods of elapsed time. Our calendar, only adjusting every four years, is a basic calendar, and is only the third or fourth advancement in calendaring. Other calendars have existed in the past that are more inaccurate than our present calendar, but it must be admitted that the present calendar is certainly not that advanced, although it does work well for our normal planning and tracking of days, weeks, months and years.
Here we solve the calendaring problem permanently into the future, so that there is no longer any need to continue to devise new calendars with greater sophistication. What is offered here is a permanent solution. It is the author’s view that imaginative attempts to resolve the calendar were still too committed to concepts such as the week and the month, and this is related to a desire to incorporate other older interests in moon phases and structuring of days into seven day weeks, and months resembling earlier ideas about what a month consists of.
In my work as a software architect, and in my work doing sophisticated personal planning on paper, I recognized eventually that our calendar software appears complex but relies on very simplistic underlying structure. The calendar shows to you days, weeks, and months in a familiar way resembling earlier printed calendars we have all seen and are familiar with. Calendars on paper and in software are shown to us with grid-like visuals. We have months that have a table structure, or grid of squares, that is seven wide for all days in a seven day week, and other days beneath. The number of days in a particular month control the size of each calendar grid. When all pages in a print calendar are taken together for a 12 month period we have a sequence of month pages, or month grids, that show a total of one year. Typically a print calendar will focus on just one year, with a month or two of previous and future months showing, to give us time to switch from one print calendar to another. In software we have a similar approach, and when we use date-selection tools for planning trips with airlines, hotels, and car rentals, we switch between the grid-months in a way that is not unlike flipping through pages of a printed calendar. Users of the calendar systems then feel like they immediately know how to use the software, from prior exposure to similar calendar tools, and from experience of the print calendar. Soon it may turn out that all will use the software calendar instead of print calendars, and already it is somewhat rarer to see calendar booklets. But at present all know how to use the calendar from familiarity with both, and definitely all have been trained in school using booklet calendars.
There were a few insights required to arrive at the finished solution to the calendaring problem. Firstly, that the underlying structure used by all calendars is really not a grid, but a list. I’ve used a text list in the past for my own calendaring purposes. One can think of the list calendar as simply showing a list of days numbered from one to 365 for a normal year. These are then split into months, but for that one simply “chunks” the list into months with the number of days that each month has. So days one through thirty would be January. February first, would be on day 31, and you could really use the number 31 for the year instead of using February 1. But for convenience one can simply start writing February’s days on day 32 of the year. It is not strange to realize that every day of a particular month is still an Nth day in a year. For any day of any month you can know which day in the year it is, numbered from one to 365. Weeks, like months, simply go onto the list. The same is true for day-names, like Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Once you’ve written out the list, you have a calendar in list format that is identical with the normal grid-calendar. One could use only this type of text calendar for one’s planning and tracking of days. This is the first insight required, that the calendar can simply be a list of days.
Secondly, one must become aware that days really are an unarbitrary division required for planning. Animal life has become cyclical according to changes of day and night that relate to rotations of the earth. Normal human planning and functioning relies on cycles of earth-rotations, for healthful sleep and daytime activities, and one’s biology actually has become what it is because of human biological development over many thousands of years of the earth rotating. It is unarbitrary to use days and one expects to use days to track time. Days cannot be omitted to use only time. We need days to retain normal planning. Likewise, days are real, and correspond to a real physical cycle. A day really is the rotation of the earth and has a beginning and end. It is known that the length of the day is also lengthening, as the earth’s rotation slows down. But even with the change, the day is still what is required for normal human planning, and not only for normal human planning. Animals use day and night to plan their behavior, and their behavior also is what it is, because of their life on a rotating earth.
Thirdly, while the day is unarbitrary and necessary, the month is not. We use month’s partly to track seasons, but the length of months are not coextensive with seasons. Furthermore, seasons are not the same on different places on earth. The month is closer to a relic from the lunar calendar. We are familiar with months and like to use them, and since all are aware of months, everyone has very little issue communicating about plans using months. But we could eliminate months easily from a new calendaring system. We could have four months, one for each season, with approximately 91.5825 days per month. This would allow us to preserve a sense of seasonal change, in a way more clear than is presently done, but it must still be admitted, that we don’t have the same seasons in different locations on earth. We introduce a regional-cultural bias in choosing to have months that correspond to seasons, because we would make the choice like we did historically, to use the season’s in a richer location in one part of the northern hemisphere, like in Europe, to decide for everyone else. The calendar would make the most sense in Europe with such a decision. But then in other regions it would make little sense. We experience such an issue when we celebrate holidays like Christmas, with winter themes, in December, making it strange for others to try to celebrate similarly in the Southern Hemisphere, in places where it may be summer. We could fix this issue by having different calendars for different regions, but since this reveals that the choice is arbitrary, or relative to region, and that we want a single calendar, the author instead chose an unarbitrary solution for everyone that works everywhere. This solution is one that is more natural and is unarbitrary, and not relative to regions. Instead it is more respectful to the various regions and cultures around the world, and uses a system that everyone can use, that doesn’t prefer one single richer region in the northern hemisphere, in Europe for example.
Fourthly, it must be noticed that the method of correcting for the extra quarter day for every year, by making a ‘leap year’, seems a too-simple solution, and one that creates a strangeness, in that it is known that there is not an extra day every four years, but an extra quarter day every year. This creates a sense that the leap year is false, and that the years leading to the leap year are false too. Really, each year is the same. Since each year is the same, what can we do to make them all the same?
A solar year, like a normal day, is unarbitrary and real. Like the earth rotates once over and over, really the earth does go around the sun over and over, and this rotation matters for our lives and planning, and for understanding of the timing of the seasons at all places on earth. The year really has a consistent time. The rotation of the earth around the sun is slowing, but very imperceptibly. It is consistently and reliably about the same amount of time every year, and that is very near to 365.25 days. If we measure very precisely, with millions of digits, we will understand it is changing, and that it is not exactly 365.25 days. But a single rotation really is a single rotation, and it does happen every year, and we define a year by this rotation. We can measure it very precisely. It cannot be omitted from our calendar, and it is very useful to us. It is natural and unarbitrary, both instrumentally, and scientifically regarding regularity of cycles.
Fifthly, then we have the combination of insights of what is really unarbitrary and natural, and that is the unarbitrariness and usefulness of both days and years. Combined with the knowledge that day names, weeks, and months are arbitrary and not totally required for usefulness, they can be omitted from our new calendar solution. We can combine this with our first insight that the calendar is a simple list, to see we can have an even more simple list, of just days and years. But there is one additional insight required, that I don’t think others have had, from my history of listening and attending to ideas about the calendar. This is what I’ll explain next.
The year does not need to be marked the same every year, as happening right at the end of the 365th day, which is December 31st. At the very end of the year, when we celebrate the new year, there is already a strange confusion, that the new year would be at night, at different places on earth. When the earth completes a rotation around the sun, it has finished that rotation around the sun at the same time for everyone on earth. We have to decide when that is exactly too. Is that when the center of the earth has passed a point around the sun, or when the edge of the earth has passed a point around the sun. Either way, we choose one point. The earth is one object. Once the entire ball of the earth has circled the sun, it has finished when one spot has reached the finish. This means the new year has begun for everyone on earth and not one at a time, for 24 different time zones. It was always strange that one person celebrating the new year, could call a friends someplace else on earth, acting as though the year was not the same! The other strange part was that since the year is not 365 days, but 365 and a quarter days, that it would end on the very end of the 365th day.
The solution to this is simply to change years when the year has really changed. This makes days the fundamental cycle to use for our calendar. We count days until we have really gone around the sun totally, and change our year, all at once, when the year has changed. So on the 366th day, one quarter of the way through, we all celebrate, at the same time, the new year. Doing it this way we can see we are all brought together, to celebrate correctly, all at once, the new year, in a way that is entirely correct and unarbitrary, and natural. It is the same for everyone on earth, and every year is the same, the correct length of a circling of the sun, of 365 and one quarter day, with any additional precision desired. We can exactly change years every year to the millions of digits of precision. We can even account for changes in lengths of years. Notice the earth’s rotation is independent of the rotation of the earth around the sun, and if we count days, we can make small movement of the years, and simply place them on days accurately. So the new year would be celebrated at a very slightly different time every year.
It may take some time to reflect, but this really is a complete solution. Even as we count years, and decades, we do need to know the days that have happened from when we started counting, but the years only need to fall someplace on the list of days with regularity. The result of doing it this way would not be a strange calendar as one might think. Since days and years are so uniform, it would hardly change anything at all. The end of the year would still happen exactly as expected at the same time, but it would be more precise and not less. There would be no strange leap years. The year would always be the same length to our human perceptions. We know scientifically it varies slightly, but that change is so slow that our human perceptions could ignore it, but still learn about it. This way all are smarter about the calendar too.
In the next ten years, we will have 3650 days. Each year will finish on the 365.25 day, and it will be that way through all our lives, and through the lives of many generations afterwards. But it is also a complete solution until the end of the earth.
Thus in conclusion we arrived at a natural calendar that is maximally unarbitrary and parsimonious. By parsimonious what is meant is that it does not include any extras that are not needed, and that it includes exactly what is required. The sense of the use of this calendar is that it is a true calendar. This provides additional substantiation that it is the calendar that we would most want to use, after thinking it through completely.
The reader should consider that the author has recognized the related topic of time keeping. Time is currently kept according to days. Days change, and so in the distant future, there is something wrong with time. Time has to be related also to something that changes less. But for the calendaring solution there is no such need as to fix this. We rely on day rotations more than we rely on an idea of perfect time-keeping. We have chosen our time-keeping using days. We rotate our times using days. But like our list of days used to determine calendars, we could have a list of times connected to another more constant source of relation. If we were to make that change, however, it would appear more arbitrary, and less natural. That is how important the daily cycle is, that even if we could choose another timekeeping method, it would appear less related to our lives. The regularity of days can be used to calibrate time, to have a separate system of timing even while we use our normal method. There are decisions to be made there but they are about scientific precision and this is less relevant to calendaring in a way that is useful. Additional reflection will reveal that this calendaring solution is extremely complete. The author has to provide some statements such as this considering time so the reader is aware that the author is not often overlooking things of importance, and to share with the reader that certain observations about possible mistakes are not actually observations about what has not been thought of or not considered. Instead the author should be recognized for having already appreciated certain perceived limitations the reader might notice. The author has noticed them and this is the cause for arriving at the correct solution.
This calendar also reveals that we do not so much need to depend on calendaring software solutions that might appear complex. Instead it should be recognized that they provide us very little. What is used for planning is a list of days, that can be simply represented in plain text. The mutual collaborative planning of days with events, via email, simply updates textual shared calendars. This should reveal to the reader that software providers can pretend to provide solutions that are very sophisticated while asking in return for too much personal information or money. It is anticipated the others could use this information to create extremely simple calendar solutions that cost very little to develop that could be used by anyone. It should be noticed that all calendaring solutions do the same work, yet each provider of the calendar solution, while knowing about the simplicity of the solution, wants you to commit to using theirs. But truly there is very little special provided that would require any commitment. Instead habits are relied upon for having a customer relationship that continues for a period of time that’s too long, or creates issues for switching to new solutions. One could write one’s own list of days quickly and maintain one’s own calendar, even simply writing down who might attend events, and place the result in a location that all can see. More is wanted for an automatic solution, but already the print calendar and communication was effective, otherwise we would not value our governments. They did all they did without software calendars.
This completes the search for new types of calendars and there is no need to name such calendars with the names of individuals. Historical calendars have had the names of different ancient leaders. We could call this the “Mattanawian Calendar”, or the “Wanattomian Calendar”, given the author’s other efforts, but the author thinks this absurd. There is no calendar ownership and it is too simple to name. We can simply call the complete calendar the calendar. Some temporary acknowledgement to the author is desirable, but there is no special need to always say “Mattanaw” anytime the calendar is mentioned in discussion about what is the best calendar. Instead this solution is just a historical detail in the history of calendar making.
I am a semi-retired social architect and consultant, with professional/academic experience in the fields of computer science, psychology, philosophy, and more recently, economics.
Articles on this site are eclectic, and draw from content prepared between 1980 and present. Topics include ethics, art, fitness, finances, health, psychology, and vegetarianism. The common theme connecting all articles is moral philosophy, even if that is not immediately apparent. Any of my articles that touch on "the good and virtuous life" will be published here. These articles interrelate with my upcoming theory of ethics, two decades in preparation.
I welcome and appreciate constructive feedback and conversation with readers. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org (site related), email@example.com (academic related), or firstname.lastname@example.org (intelligence related), or via the other social media channels in which I have a profile.