Rethinking the Calendar and Our Measures of Time

We all know the Gregorian calendar, right? It’s the “standard” one, with 12 months, each one with a variable number of days from 28 to 31. And we may not love it, but we use it. But what if…there were a better way?

I started thinking about this at first when I watched Kurzgesagt’s video, which argues that we should find a new year “0” that better reflects the sheer magnitude of all that we have accomplished as a species. They end up settling on 10000 BC/BCE as the appropriate year “0”, for reasons that they describe in the video. In practice, in order to use the Human Era system, we just tack on an extra “1” at the beginning of the year. So the year 2020 AD/CE becomes the year 12,020 HE (Human Era).

That got me thinking, though, that there must be a better way to distribute the days of the year. I mean, the sheer madness that is the Gregorian calendar would be hilarious if it weren’t so ingrained into us. Instead of each month having a fixed number of days (possibly with some minor adjustment at the end to account for imperfections), we end up with a monstrosity where you have to memorize the number of days in each month. Of course, this happened because the calendar was iteratively refined due to increased knowledge about exactly how long one revolution around the sun takes, adding/subtracting months to please Roman emperors, and so on. But if we were to design a calendar from scratch, what might it look like?

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Why I’m Voting #UnionYES!

As you might have noticed from my recent posts, we are coming upon an election! I know I’ve spoken with many of y’all personally over the past 2 years(!), but I want to take some time here to discuss my personal reasons for voting yes for SUGSE.

Crucially, my personal experience here at Brown has been pretty great — my adviser is pretty awesome, my classes have been taught well, I don’t have a requirement to TA (but can if I want to), my stipend isn’t too bad, and so on. So this begs the question: why exactly do I want a union? And this is something I’ve thought about over the past couple of years, and the reasons have slightly evolved over time.

Note: Ideologically, I am fairly left-wing (at least in the context of American politics), so I’m already predisposed to supporting unions in that regard. While that certainly helps, it has mainly served as extra inspiration during certain rough patches.

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War on Christians

Now that the holiday season is officially upon us, I want to take some time to dispel a pervasive notion that has creeped into the public consciousness.

There is no War on Christians. Christians are not being persecuted.

Fact: The government, on all levels, is dominated by Christians.

Fact: The government has celebrated Christmas, Easter, Lent, and so on. Every. Single. Year.

Fact: Christians are the vast majority of the population. And have been. Since they killed off the Native Americans.

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Hillary Clinton’s interview

So Hillary Clinton did an interview recently.

[1:57] “I had not drafted a concession speech! I had been working on a victory speech!”

That…is kinda entitled. But, I suppose, if you believe in polling as your primary deity as she seems to (and, to be fair, as many do across the political spectrum), she had every reason to believe she would win.

[2:15] “I just felt…this enormous let-down…this, kind of, loss of…feeling and direction and sadness.”

I understand this — especially if you’ve been campaigning for the last few months and thought you would win (again, based on polling).

[3:56] “[Interviewer:] You specifically bought this house for a reason. [Clinton:] I did. [Interviewer:] And this was to be… [Clinton:] Well…I know a lot about what it takes to move a President and I thought I was going to win…[Narrator:] The Clintons had acquired the house next door to accomodate White House staff and security during a second Clinton administration.”

Okay, seriously? Look, I understand thinking you’re going to win. But being so sure that you already start making preparations honestly smacks of entitlement. It smacks of smugness and this sense of “Of course I’m going to win!” which is honestly quite frustrating and off-putting. And for those who are angered by my reaction, do you really think we liberals and the media wouldn’t lambast Trump if he had done the same thing? Of course we would.

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That Google memo

Here is the original memo. I’m just going to try to comment on the whole thing. Bear with me here.

Background: I actually agree with this — we do all have invisible biases, and we all would do well to examine ourselves to see what those biases are. Discussion with those who disagree with us (hello CCC!) can definitely help us figure out what those biases.

Google’s Biases: I don’t know enough about Google to comment on this.

Left Biases: Can confirm. Am a socialist 😉

Right Biases: I presume these are decently correct.

Rest of that paragraph: Again, I don’t know enough about Google’s culture specifically, so I can’t really speak to that. I do know, though, that in many “left”-majority spaces, there isn’t as much tolerance for dissenting views as I’d like. Notably, though, this applies to people on both sides of the nominal “left”, which is interesting (see: basically any news show where the supposed “liberal” comes on the TV to berate Sanders supporters for not falling in line behind corporate Democrats). So while I agree it is a problem, I don’t think it is only applied to people to the right of the nominal “left”.

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