But he put the Hanke-Henry calendar online anyway, weathered a storm of publicity, and watched nothing come of it. This time, he said, he's hoping that the influence of Hanke, the economist, will spur real interest in change.
To Hanke, the need for a new calendar goes beyond the annoyance of out-of-date syllabi. Calculations for interest payments, for example, are complicated by the irregularity of months. Different financial entities deal with these irregularities differently, meaning that the amount of interest accrued depends not just on time, but on who did the calendar-related math. The Hanke-Henry calendar would do away with these irregularities, streamlining the process, Hanke and Henry wrote in the January 2012 issue of Globe Asia magazine.
The new calendar would also be more business-friendly, the researchers wrote. Meetings and holiday time off would be easier to schedule. Other businessmen's attempts at calendar reform, including one by Eastman Kodak founder George Eastman, failed because they didn't always maintain Sundays as weekends, disrupting the Sabbath for Christians. The Hanke-Henry calendar doesn't have that problem.
"The natural date for the introduction of these changes is 1 January 2012, because it is a Sunday in both the current Pope Gregory calendar and the simple, new calendar," the researchers wrote.
While that would not be enough time to update computers to the new calendar, he said, the target for complete technical adoption could be January 1, 2017, when the Gregorian year again begins on a Sunday.
When's my birthday?
But no matter how simple Hanke and Henry's suggestion is, it faces high psychological barriers.
"My favorite reason it shouldn't be done is, 'But my birthday will always be on a Wednesday!'" Henry said. "Of course the answer to that is you can celebrate your birthday whenever you want."
Another problem: "To my extreme annoyance, my calendar contains four Friday the 13ths each year," Henry said. "Isn't that awful?"
Nonetheless, Henry has some hope for a simpler calendar. After all, he said, smoking has gone from completely acceptable to often banned in public, in just a few short decades. The federal government once managed to institute a nationwide speed limit of 55 miles per hour. And despite centuries of habit, no one says "Peking" anymore when they mean "Beijing."
"Real change is possible," Henry said.
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