3The Soviet No-Weekend Rotating Calendar
In 1929, the Soviet Union was desperate to boost its industrial productivity. After noticing that machines don't need to take breaks the way humans do, they devised a brilliant plan to keep factories running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, never stopping until the collective power of the organized proletariat would crush its rivals under its massive, mechanized boot. It was a fine plan, but there was one tiny problem: In order to make these never-stopping, never-failing factories run, the human beings manning the factories also had to function like cold, tireless machines. How would they solve this issue?
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No, not with literal workerbots. There was a steel shortage.
Why, with a shiny new calendar, comrade!
Thus the Soviet governing body introduced a thoroughly communist calendar system that ran a continuously rotating five-day work schedule. The days were numbered or color-coded; the workers were issued a number, and the day of the week that matched was their mandatory day off. This regular rotation of four work days and one rest day meant that 80 percent of the able population was working on any day of the week.
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Monday, Tuesday, Red Day, Blue Day ...
The cycle overlapped the standard Gregorian calendar on printed materials, but no one ever bothered giving it a solid week or month structure of its own. This made it easy for workers to lose track of time, as everyone's workweeks immediately spun crazily out of sync. This was further complicated by the fact that workers were issued their codes entirely at random, so families and friends were torn apart, as nobody had days off at the same time and there was no longer any such thing as a "weekend."
To say the system was problematic is to waste a perfect opportunity to use the word "clusterfuck." Industrial equipment couldn't handle a nonstop schedule. Worker efficiency and enthusiasm waned.
They invented TV but abandoned it when program lineups proved too confusing.
Yet somehow, the five-day week limped on until 1932, which is when the Soviet leaders came to their senses and brought back the calendar everyone was used to.
Ha, just kidding! They totally adopted an even crazier system: a standardized six-days-working, one-day-off scheme that was also ridiculously broken. Months consisted of five six-day weeks that still overlapped with the Gregorian calendar, but only worked with the months that were exactly 30 days. The other eight months required a set of special rules to deal with the odd days. This resulted in over 50 different patch schedules, which were unsurprisingly less than successful in fixing the problem.
By this point, workers were already so fed up that they'd just passive-aggressively take fake sick days whenever Sunday rolled around, regardless of what their indecipherable job schedules said. After a few years of this complete and utter chaos, even the Soviet leaders eventually understood that the system would never work. The calendar was abandoned in 1940, and nothing bad happened in Soviet Russia ever again.
2The Islamic Watch-and-See Calendar
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Calendars evolve over time, just like everything else, and as we've demonstrated, the defective ones have a tendency to go extinct. However, sometimes a calendar functions just well enough to survive to the present day regardless of its flaws, kind of like those electric hand dryers in public restrooms. For instance, there's the traditional Hijri calendar used by Muslims around the world. An example of how convoluted it is: In August of 2013, the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court had to be brought in to figure out when a month begins.
They ruled that the month had stolen a day and had to be cut short.
Why? Well, the Islamic calendar operates on the principle of moon sighting, a method of starting the new calendar month on the first night of a new crescent moon. This may not sound like such a big deal -- casual astronomers have been able to forecast the lunar cycle for thousands of years, after all. However, tradition mandates that the first crescent must be officially sighted in the night sky by human eyes. Is it too cloudy? Well, too bad! Heavy smog? Sorry, your payday will have to wait until it clears up.
Bad weather is just the beginning of the problem. Different locations on Earth see the moon at a different angle, and in some places obstacles such as mountains may obstruct the view something fierce. Since Muslim nations have so far been unwilling to set a standard moon sighting rule that people around the world can use, even the timing of important celebrations such as the fasting month of Ramadan can easily become controversial and confusing.
Moon gazers often end Ramadan the day the Sheikh happens to crave noontime shawarma.
But at least they're all trying to adhere to the same calendar, which we certainly couldn't say about ...