At the top of the list of the world's most crucial yet underappreciated inventions has to be the humble calendar. As annoying as the modern Gregorian calendar can be ("Why are the months different lengths? Why do we need a freaking leap year?"), it is worlds better than the others people have come up with over the centuries.
So let's sit back and appreciate the fact that we don't have to experience the utter chaos that is ...
5 The Balinese Calendar of Mathematical Madness
The basic idea of a calendar is pretty simple: days follow the Earth's rotation, months follow the moon's cycle, and years follow the Earth's path around the sun. It all lines up in a nice, uncomplicated progression: Thor's Day leads to Freya's Day leads to Saturn's Day leads to Sun's Day, just the way Cthulhu intended. What more could you ask for?
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Decades based on fingers, months matching your menses? Got that, too!
Well, if you live in Bali or Java in Indonesia, apparently you can ask for a lot, and receive even more than you can handle. Their calendar is what chaos theorists masturbate to. Here's what a single calendar day looks like:
Is that math up in the corner?
Each and every day in the traditional Balinese Pawukon calendar is the result of a ridiculously convoluted mathematical process. Instead of a simple week cycle of seven days, the Pawukon runs 10 different week cycles, all at the same time. The length of these weeks can be anywhere from one to 10 days, and they constantly overlap each other, because fuck your concept of time. The closest thing Pawukon has to a year is a period that lasts for 420 days, which is divided into two Pawukon cycles.
To recap: Every 420-day year consists of two 210-day Pawukon cycles with 10 different week systems running at the same time, and each day has up to 10 different names. Oh, and every day is also a week all by itself, except when it's not. This is, of course, defined by complex math equations.
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Clearly, days in a year weren't the only 420 involved in the design of this thing.
Because things apparently can't be complicated enough for the Balinese, the Pawukon calendar also ventures far beyond mere day counting: It provides both detailed, Farmer's Almanac-style advice and a set of seemingly random prohibitions for each week. These temporary taboos range from cutting bamboo plants to fishing, and unless you can check them from a pre-printed calendar ... well, we're assuming somebody out there offers a six-year post-grad program in Understanding Balinese Calendars.
All right, so what happens when somebody goes the opposite direction and tries to make normal calendars nice and simple? Then you get ...