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Twenty-one days hath September...
March 8, 2014 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Yeah, it sucks that we're losing an hour tonight. But it could be worse. We could be losing eleven days.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (28 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's totally fascinating. Thank you for posting it. Although, at this point, I would be happy to lose 11 days if that meant we were close to spring.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:46 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


The article didn't mention some of my favorite Gregorian calendar changeover trivia:

1) the various peasant riots of 1582 when people thought they were being cheated out of 11 days of pay

2) if you look up George Washington in Wikipedia (or elsewhere), it will note that he was born on Feb 22 or Feb 11 "Old Style" because the calendar changed during his lifetime. American History textbooks rarely note the changeover but the American colonies changed in 1752 along with the rest of Britain.

3) the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox still use the Julian Calendar, because the Eastern Orthodox believe only the Roman Emperor can call a council (the Western Catholics believe a Pope can) so they can't fix the calendar because there's been no (Eastern) Roman Emperor since Constantine XI Paleologos; upon his death the (now empty) title eventually technically passed to his niece Sophia Paleologos, who married Ivan III of Russia and became the grandmother of Ivan the Terrible, the first Tsar of Russia, which is one reason Anastasia Romanov is of such enduring interest as she would theoretically have inherited the title of Eastern Roman Emperor and be able to call an Orthodox council and, among other things, move Orthodox (Julian) Christmas onto Roman (Gregorian) Christmas. This is sort-of a dumb thing to worry about but it keeps theologians off the streets.

4) Calendar math is hard, and it gets HELLA HARDER when you're doing it in Europe in the years between 1582 and the Russian Revolution and you constantly have to figure out if you're in the Julian or Gregorian calendar, country by country, date by date.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:19 PM on March 8 [26 favorites]


There's no "sort-of" about it.
posted by Flunkie at 7:29 PM on March 8


if you look up George Washington in Wikipedia (or elsewhere), it will note that he was born on Feb 22 or Feb 11 "Old Style" because the calendar changed during his lifetime

Even more fun, we say that he was born on Feb 22, 1732. But if you took a time machine back to watch his birth, people then would tell you that it was Feb. 11, 173*1*. Because New Year's Day used to be March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:37 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


Yeah, it sucks that we're losing an hour tonight.

Speak for yourself. I'm on call this weekend and the time change means one less hour of being a slave to the beeper.

Glad to see this posted; I've always thought the 11 day shift and other calendar shenanigans were interesting bits of trivia (althought it probably wasn't so trivial to the people who had to deal with it).
posted by TedW at 7:40 PM on March 8


Britain (England until 1707) was a holdout. It had a large empire, and enough power to feel like it didn’t immediately need to cop to the Catholic calendar

Reminds me of a certain country's attitude towards the metric system.
posted by TedW at 7:43 PM on March 8


If we were to lose 11 days starting tomorrow, I would totally and completely lose my head - I'm not writing 5 papers and taking a math Final in the next 4 hours.
posted by spinifex23 at 8:18 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Huh? Clocks don't go forward til the end of the month, at least in the majority of countries which implement DST. I guess there must be local observations of it, but...?
posted by Thing at 8:23 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Speak for yourself. I'm on call this weekend and the time change means one less hour of being a slave to the beeper.

So do people working overnight shifts get cheated out of an hour's pay?
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:29 PM on March 8


"we"

which we is this?
posted by wilful at 9:12 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


TedW: "Reminds me of a certain country's attitude towards the metric system."

Liberia or Myanmar?
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:24 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


Even more fun, we say that he was born on Feb 22, 1732. But if you took a time machine back to watch his birth, people then would tell you that it was Feb. 11, 173*1*. Because New Year's Day used to be March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.

Obviously, February 11 is his real birthday. There's no way GW was a Pisces, he's a prototypical Aquarian.
posted by rue72 at 9:28 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


yes, Thing, "the majority of countries which implement DST" don't include the USofA or Canada (with a few local exceptions).
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:52 PM on March 8


So do people working overnight shifts get cheated out of an hour's pay?

I am at work now, and my 9 p.m.-5 a.m. shift will be an hour shorter than normal. I will enter 7 hours on my timecard. I also was working on the fall time shift, which meant staying at work for an extra hour, which did come with overtime pay. It roughly balances out.
posted by rewil at 10:42 PM on March 8


Even better was the Swedish Calendar.
Sweden adopted the leap-year rule of the Gregorian calendar in 1700, making it a non-leap year, but without adjusting the calendar otherwise, so that after that Sweden was out of sync with both Julian and Gregorian calendars. After a while they discovered it was not such a great idea, and in 1712 Sweden moved back to Julian calendar by adding an extra day to February, resulting in the unusual date of 30 February 1712. One should be careful in rejecting "impossible" dates...
posted by Mitheral at 10:48 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


There was a great chapter in Mason and Dixon where one of the characters is in England at this time, and for some reason doesn't skip ahead the eleven days and has to live them out alone.
posted by Evstar at 11:51 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Where I work we'll put 12-8 on our timecard, and get paid for eight hours. In the fall, it's 12-8 with one hour overtime.

I worked overnights (years ago!) and was the only person who knew how to change the house clock. When I was moved to weekends off I had to go in twice a year to do the clock change. There's nothing better than getting paid eight hours overtime for one hours work. Then they upgraded to a GPS based system that's totally automated, so that went away.

I love my union!
posted by Marky at 12:05 AM on March 9


Although, at this point, I would be happy to lose 11 days if that meant we were close to spring.

It is spring here. The crocuses are in full bloom, I've seen the first butterflies bumbling along my parent's garden yesterday and it was eighteen degrees outside and sunny. This really has been the mildest winter I've ever seen.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:47 AM on March 9


[A couple of comments deleted. For anyone who is confused, it's Daylight saving time change in the U.S. For anyone who wants to discuss, argue or complain about "we" phrasing in posts, this Metatalk thread is still open.]
posted by taz at 4:25 AM on March 9


My apologies for the use of "we". I'll keep it in mind for future posts.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:16 AM on March 9


Oh God, calendar math: the stuff of nightmares. Not only are there date issues, but DST rules can change in every country every year, and you need to keep track. Sometimes a country will adopt a DST rule just a few days before it's about to take effect.

Then add time zones, and getting displays right if you're going to be in one country at one time and another country (or TZ) a few hours later. And there's "floating time" which is TZ independent, e.g., I work out at 7:30 every morning and that doesn't change with the TZ.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:45 AM on March 9


FWIW, java.util.GregorianCalendar supports the discontinuity. And it's configurable!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:00 AM on March 9


Daylight savings (and the switch back) both whack me out of alignment far disproportionate to the one hour swing. I'd gladly lose 11 days if it was 11 days even.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:07 PM on March 9


Mrs. Plinth always starts giving me a "that's bullshit!" look when I start reciting leap year logic, as if I could make up something so necessarily byzantine.

Just to make your lives easier, I've fixed the calendar system for you.

You're welcome.
posted by plinth at 4:30 PM on March 9


Not having to deal with daylight savings bullcrap is pretty much the only good part about living in Arizona.
posted by rifflesby at 4:41 PM on March 9


Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering why this hasn't been done sooner, it's because nobody thought to consult an engineer. This is a very practical solution to the problem of dates. If you gave it to a mathematician (or a pope), s/he would likely fuck it up for the rest of us.

A long time ago, I worked at Bell Communications Research in Morristown, New Jersey. The brand spanking new building was three floors with a shape more or less like the Mercedes Benz logo without the ring: three wings that meet at a central hub. Each wing consists of three long parallel corridors with some cross corridors. IIRC, standard format for addressing your office was something like LOC bfLxx, where LOC is the building's town location (MRE for Morristown), b was the building number, F was the floor number, L was a letter code for a sub-area on the floor and xx was an office number.

To lay out the office numbers, they handed the job to a fucking mathematician (not just a regular mathematician) and this fellow chose to use polar fucking coordinates. Not simplified. He laid out wedges and your letter was the wedge identifier and the xx number was how far out you were from center hub.

This is awesome if offices aren't so granular. The end result were things A office adjacent to a J office, because that's where the walls fell. Fortunately, each wing was painted a different color: red, green, and blue, so everyone had an alternate office location code based on color, cross corridor, etc. which worked much better as long as you didn't have protonopia.

And life totally sucked for everyone trying to find someone in the building, all because of a fucking mathematician.

Then again, there were an amazing number of buildings and grounds snafus, many involving geese.
posted by plinth at 4:42 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


TedW, David Ewing Duncan's fine book Calendar specifically enjoins the reader struggling with Britain and the Empire being eleven-plus days out of sync with most of Europe (and why they wold maintain this absurd practice) for a couple of centuries to consider the American attitude toward the metric system.

My favourite Gregorian/Julian trick is William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes being noted as dying on the same date in 1616 while also contriving to die a week and a half apart.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:13 PM on March 9


Excuse me, I will be busy building a shrine to plinth for the foreseeable future.
posted by blurker at 10:04 AM on March 10


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