New Calendar?

Twenty-eight days hath September, April, June and November. And December, January, February. Heck, throw the rest of the year in there too. Including that 13th month.

That's how the rhyme might go if the self-proclaimed "human calculator" has his way in replacing the Gregorian calendar most of the world relies on with a new version he wants to begin in January.

"The human calendar will start on Jan. 1, 2001, and it will be the end of time as we know it," Scott Flansburg grandly proclaimed in a telephone interview this week. "The calendar will make sense to our minds, our bodies, our budgets, our accounts," said the Phoenix, Ariz., resident.

Flansburg, a mathematical savant who has a page in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records for his calculator-defeating counting ability, believes great things will happen when the calendar goes into effect: "Paychecks will always fall on the right day. Women will be able to make natal calculations. People will be able to keep up with their natural cycles. And people will finally understand time."

Digit-ized

And the best part, the math whiz added, is that it's all based on numbers and drastically improves on the old calendar, established by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.

Flansburg's calendar has 13 months of 28 days each, adding up to 364 days. Making New Year's Day a monthless day, designated "00" brings the tally to the regular 365. And he eliminated unlucky 13 by counting up from zero instead of one, so that the year begins with Month zero and ends on Month 12.

Individual nations would decide what to name each month, under Flansburg's plan. And the seven days of the week would simply be named after numbers ? Oneday for Monday, Twoday for Tuesday, and so on. Flansburg suggested Sunday be Godsday, and each month be named after a virtue.

Under his system, every New Year's would be a Sunday. Christmas, always on a Monday, would always lend itself to a three-day weekend. Flansburg hasn't figured out how to handle leap years ? yet. But that's only a minor hurdle.

"As soon as you say, 'Let's meet next Fiveday,' we'll know exactly how far away that is," he said. "Businesses and clubs could meet exactly the 10th day of each month, and have it always be the same day of the week."

The calendar would also be more efficient, save people money and make public transportation run more smoothly.

"Factories won't have to shut down for holidays in the middle of the week; loans would be spread through 13 months so people would be saving on principle; paychecks will be more consistent, budgets easier, school schedules, airline schedules, radio schedules, train schedules, baseball schedules ? there's no end!" Flansburg said. "What boggles my mind is how much the list of positives outweighs the list of negatives."

'Fear of Change'

At the top of that list of negatives: Fear of change.

Flansburg hasn't quite figured out how to handle the fierce skepticism he encounters as he tries to peddle the human calendar idea to everyone from Microsoft to greeting-card companies. None of the corporations or governmental agencies he's talked to has given him the time of day.

"It's crazy trying to change the calendar," he said. "Everyone says it's a great idea, they just don't think it's possible. Hallmark won't return my calls. Bill Gates won't return my calls."

Princeton University astrophysics associate professor Michael Strauss says that's understandable.

"People are very, very slow in changing their ways of doing everyday things. When I was learning the metric system as a kid they kept telling [me] I had to learn this because everyone in the U.S. was going to start using it soon, and now my kid is in school learning the metric system, and he's being told the same thing."

Beyond mere stubbornness, Strauss said sciences that require accurate day counts have already worked their way around the Gregorian calendar. Astrophysicists, for example, merely count the days from Jan. 1, 1900, when they record events.

In the spirit of compromise, the human calculator suggests the world adopt the human calendar alongside the Gregorian calendar, instead of simply replacing one with the other.

"I think businesses will use it first and then it will be adopted by society," he said. "I'm just one mathematical miracle away. If something happens on New Year's, or with the Dow Jones or the presidential ballots, this whole thing will really be brought to the surface."



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