Cracked Columnists

4 Hilarious Attempts to Fix Things That Weren't Broken

The world is bullshit. Our government doesn't work. There are rocks everywhere. Almost nothing hovers.

Issaurinko/Robert Churchill/GlobalP/indigolotos/iStock/Getty Images
All of these were supposed to be hovering by now, dammit.

People have been noticing the bullshittedness of the world for a long time now, and history is littered with examples of people who have tried to do something about it. And failed miserably, because, as previously discussed, the world is bullshit. Here are the stories of their failure.

#4. The 13-Month Calendar

The calendar we use is kind of nuts. August has 31 days. September has 30. February has 28, except when it doesn't, except when it does. Our weeks are seven days long, which isn't divisible by anything, nor does it go evenly into any of the months, except when it does, except when it doesn't. Basically nothing about our calendar makes sense, and indeed, the only reason we use it is because one of the popes made us.

Wikimedia Commons
"Also, God said to name it after me."

OK, strictly speaking, the problem has more to do with the Earth and the sun not being able to get their shit together and create a year that's composed of a nice round number of days: 365.25 doesn't divide evenly by anything, no matter what the pope says.

Wikimedia Commons
"God's working on changing what integers are, right now."

Still, that hasn't stopped people from trying. And 365.25 is kind of close to 364, which is 28 times 13. That means we could have nice, even 28-day months, except we'll have 13 of them, which is basically the unevenest number there is. And we'd still have a spare day each year, which we'd have to do something with. It probably couldn't be a regular day. These guys who invented a 13-month calendar want to call it the "day out of time." The guys who invented this 13-month calendar call the spare day "Year Day," which sounds less dumb until you think about it, at which point it sounds much, much dumber. And it wasn't even just kooks promoting these alternative calendars. After World War II, the United Nations was seriously considering a "World Calendar" that featured 12 months (phew) but still had those insane "blank days," which are so confusing.

None of these proposals have gone anywhere, although unlike some of the other items on this list, it's not just because people were lazy. No, it turns out that the idea of a blank day is really hard for most religions to wrap their heads around. If you're supposed to dedicate every Sunday to worshiping God and you spend the day after Saturday drinking beer in a park because that's the blank day for the year, is God going to be cool with your accounting?

Wikimedia Commons

#3. Map Reform

The Earth is spherical because of ... uh... I think seasons? And its ballingness makes it very difficult to depict a map of its surface on something flat. There are ways to do this, of course, called projections, but no matter what projection you use, you will always distort the shape, size, or proportions of the surface you're depicting. For example, the familiar Mercator projection ...

Strebe via Wikimedia Commons

... shows things in the Northern Hemisphere as being much larger than things around the equator. Notably, Greenland looks like a massive continent, larger than Africa, when in reality it's quite a bit smaller than India.

Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images
And just a smidge less populated.

OK, so what? It's not like we ever need to roughly estimate how large continents are, like when we're sizing tarps or something. But some people argue that by making countries in the Northern Hemisphere appear larger, it makes them seem more important than they are, and it makes it easier for us wealthy Northern Hemispherites to ignore the concerns of people around the equator.

Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Thanks for the spicy food, though, guys.

To counteract this subtle psychological effect, different projections have been proposed that more accurately portray the relative sizes of the continents. Like this Gall-Peters projection ...

Strebe via Wikimedia Commons

... which makes the Northern Hemisphere look like it got stepped on.

In the 1970s, the (re-)inventor of the Gall-Peters projection, Arno Peters, began lobbying the map users of the world to use his projection instead of the Mercator for the above reasons. This slightly noble pursuit wasn't helped by the fact that, by most accounts, Peters was a colossal ass about the whole thing. Notably, the argument he was making wasn't new; cartographers had long known and pointed out the problems with the Mercator and advocated the use of more reasonable projections, like the Robinson. Also, the Gall-Peters map isn't "less" distorting than the Mercator; it's just differently distorting. And finally, the reason we call it the Gall-Peters projection is because it was first invented by some dude called Gall a hundred-odd years earlier, which Peters never really acknowledged.

Strebe via Wikimedia Commons
"I didn't think anyone but me could create something so ugly."

Although a few users switched to the Gall-Peters projection, a lot didn't, and the argument kind of faded away. The only lasting impact the whole debate made was that most people realized that guys who talk about maps are really boring.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

Chris Bucholz

  • Rss

More by Chris Bucholz:

See More
To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!