Did you change your calendars yesterday for the bright new 2012 versions?
I bet you didn't! At at least not to the overhauled calendar being advocated by Richard Henry and Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University in the USA, because the proposed Hanke-Henry Calendar is a bit radically different: it has a reformed pattern of two 30 day months followed by a 31 day month, four times a year. So the rhyme, "30 days hath September, April, June and November" would be revised to "30 days hath September, June, March and December".
This means that every year would be composed of a regular 52 seven-day weeks, and every date will always fall on the same day of the week — like Christmas Day would always be, say, a Sunday. It gets rid of the silliness of leap years and of remembering how many days each moth has.
So who sees the problem? Surely if it was that easy it would have been done centuries ago.
Yes, that's right the Hanke-Henry Calendar produces a year of just 364 days. Whereas the Earth year is 365.2422 days (hence our need for a leap day every four years to correct for that almost ¼ day error). So what do they do? Yes, that's right! They impose not leap days, but leap weeks by adding an extra week to the end of December every 5 or 6 years. GOK how they'd cope with the moveability Easter!?
There's another flaw, which the Scientific American article doesn't pick up on. Hanke and Henry want their calendar to start with 1 January on a Sunday (as 2012 is, and which will next occur in 2017). The only problem is that the International Standard on dates (ISO 8601, and see also the Wikipedia entry) decrees that the week starts on a Monday and that week 1 of the year is the first week containing at least 4 days (which turns out to mean the week containing the first Thursday of the year). It's that "week starts on a Monday" rule that is the killer. Thanks to 2012 being a Leap Year the next year when 1 January is a Monday is 2018. Hanke and Henry don't want to wait that long! But it would give time for everyone to agree to the idea and get their ducks lined up.
It's an interesting and actually quite a logical idea, but to be honest I cannot see it catching on. If we thought the brouhaha over Year 2000 was painful, this would be ten times worse as every date algorithm would have to be not just checked but actually changed. And in the 11 years since Year 2000 the electronic world has expanded ten-fold, maybe a hundred-fold, beyond what it was in 2000. Business would never stand for what would be a hugely complex change — although it might help the unemployment figures.
All those who'd like to try this calendar say "Aye".