Pharyngula

Leap tomorrow!

The two most amusing explanations for why we have leap years that I’ve heard came from creationists:

  1. Those scientists can’t even measure the length of the year accurately! They have to keep fudging their numbers every few years to make everything add up, so why should I trust them?

  2. We have leap years because the earth is slowing down in its orbit, which proves that the earth can’t be old — a million years ago the earth would have been whirling around the sun so fast it would have flown out of orbit!

Phil’s detailed explanation isn’t quite as funny. My simple answer: the earth goes around the sun in 365 days plus a fraction. We carry the fraction each year until it adds up to one, and then we add a day to the year. We know with great precision how long a day is and how long a year is, and the adjustment is not to “fudge” the numbers, and we also know the rate at which both the day length is changing and the orbit is changing, and those numbers are miniscule and are not the reasons we have leap years.

Comments

  1. #1 MAJeff, OM
    February 28, 2008

    My simple answer: the earth goes around the sun in 365 days plus a fraction. We carry the fraction each year until it adds up to one, and then we add a day to the year.

    I thought it was as a reminder of when we were supposed to be having Presidential Elections and Olympic Games.

  2. #2 skyotter
    February 28, 2008

    is it because Creationists are loathe to admit that the “intelligent, purposful design” of the universe involves solar days and solar years that don’t match up evenly, because that ruins the whole notion of a perfectly-designed Earth?

    of course when we toss in lunar months that don’t evenly match either solar days OR years, that just increases the problem

  3. #3 Brownian, OM
    February 28, 2008

    Wrong, all wrong!

    The extra day is so the creotards, like the two quoted above, can catch up.

  4. #4 Dan
    February 28, 2008

    No no no… We have leap years because God didn’t make the earth spin correctly.

  5. #5 Brian English
    February 28, 2008

    I thought it was as a reminder of when we were supposed to be having Presidential Elections and Olympic Games.
    So we wont be having a presidential election or Olympic games any year that is divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400 then?
    No Olympics or elections in 2100 I guess then.

  6. #6 Jeff
    February 28, 2008

    PZ and Phil take all the fun out of leap year.

  7. #7 Brian English
    February 28, 2008

    Just to explain: A leap year occurs every 4 years, except when that year is divisible by 100 and not 400. Like the year 1900 or 2100.

  8. #8 MAJeff, OM
    February 28, 2008

    Wrong, all wrong!
    The extra day is so the creotards, like the two quoted above, can catch up.

    I think Brownian needs to spend some time in his room, thinking about the mess he made and the extra work that made for PZ.

  9. #9 MAJeff, OM
    February 28, 2008

    No Olympics or elections in 2100 I guess then.

    I’ll be dead, so it won’t matter much to me by then.

  10. #10 Carlie
    February 28, 2008

    Just to explain: A leap year occurs every 4 years, except when that year is divisible by 100 and not 400. Like the year 1900 or 2100.

    And before e except after c?

  11. #11 Zarquon
    February 28, 2008

    Wait, what? People actually say that? I know there’s some crappy education out there but how hard is it to learn that a year is 365.25 days long so we add an extra day every four years?

    (OK 365.2422 so we skip centuries not divided by 400)

  12. #12 thalarctos
    February 28, 2008

    I think Brownian needs to spend some time in his room

    Isn’t that what caused the problem in the first place?

  13. #13 Ichthyic
    February 28, 2008

    I’ll be dead, so it won’t matter much to me by then.

    don’t count your deaths before they are, um, enacted?

    who knows? you might have access to retroviral treatments that modify the aging process considerably in the next decade or so.

    Well, unless you plan on submitting yourself as food for Cthulhu (the beat the rush plan).

  14. #14 MAJeff, OM
    February 28, 2008

    who knows? you might have access to retroviral treatments that modify the aging process considerably in the next decade or so.

    132 years old just doesn’t sound appealing. If I get a good 80-90, I’ll be pretty damned satisfied.

  15. #15 Rey Fox
    February 28, 2008

    “The extra day is so the creotards, like the two quoted above, can catch up.”

    If that’s true, then us who know better should have the day off. But instead, I gotta drive to friggin’ Mountain Home and back for work. Life sucks.

  16. #16 Brian English
    February 28, 2008

    And before e except after c?
    Neighbor?

  17. #17 Dennis
    February 28, 2008

    I spent all that time reading phil’s explanation when I should have just come here first!

  18. #18 Phil Plait
    February 28, 2008

    Unfair! I thought what I wrote was funny, too.

  19. #19 Bill from Dover
    February 28, 2008

    I think get it now… its like saying that Bush knows what he is talking about until he opens his mouth unless he closes it immediately.

  20. #20 Carlie
    February 28, 2008

    And before e except after c?
    Neighbor?

    Dunno, where do you live?
    [ba-dum-bum]

  21. #21 Carlie
    February 28, 2008

    Should I torment all of my students tomorrow by reminding them that it’s a whole extra day in the year, but they have to spend it in class?

  22. #22 xenophthalmia
    February 28, 2008

    Well god obviously created leap years so that creationists could make up cute arguments for a young earth, and therefore provide entertainment these so-called “evolutionists.” It’s all in the hand of Providence!

  23. #23 True Bob
    February 28, 2008

    You know, they lined up perfectly, moon too, until Adam ate the fruit…

  24. #24 Brownian, OM
    February 28, 2008
    I think Brownian needs to spend some time in his room

    Isn’t that what caused the problem in the first place?

    Sigh. This is just like junior high all over again. I guess I’ll just head over to the fridge to bury my emotions in a tub of Rocky Road.

  25. #25 MAJeff, OM
    February 28, 2008

    It’s all in the hand of Providence!

    Could we at least get a city with over a million people?

  26. #26 MAJeff, OM
    February 28, 2008

    Sigh. This is just like junior high all over again. I guess I’ll just head over to the fridge to bury my emotions in a tub of Rocky Road.

    Hey, I was the one arguing for crate training….be glad you even have a room, young man.

  27. #27 Geral
    February 28, 2008

    It proves that our calender isn’t exactly perfect.

  28. #28 Crudely Wrott
    February 28, 2008

    You mean I can stop leaping out of bed every February 29th? So the reaction of my jump would speed up the earth? So we could have an even number of days? And not be late or get yelled at?

    Gee. Thanks, mister.

    Science. It works better than anything else.

  29. #29 Rich F
    February 28, 2008

    Doesn’t it have something to do with the earth’s rotation slowing down under the weight of all that collected sin?

  30. #30 Michael
    February 28, 2008

    Oh, ow, ow. my side hurts from laughing. The earth is slowing. Ow, it hurts. The illogic of it all.

  31. #31 xenophthalmia
    February 28, 2008

    Could we at least get a city with over a million people?
    Probably not, if you don’t already have one. After all, no matter how utterly unintelligible it is, we all know that god has provided us with the best of all possible worlds. If it weren’t for all the abnormalities in the calendar, and your lack of a city with over a million people, I would not be able to sit here and write this while eating pistachio-nuts. Which is obviously the goal in the best of all possible worlds.

  32. #32 MAJeff, OM
    February 28, 2008

    xenophthalmia,

    Just for that: It Must Be So and Glitter and Be Gay

  33. #33 Ann
    February 28, 2008

    Brian:

    “…or when sounded as A, as in neighbor and weigh.

    But you probably knew that already.

  34. #34 MAJeff, OM
    February 28, 2008

    I’ve got an awesome Candide post in mod (two links–sorry)

  35. #35 defectiverobot
    February 28, 2008

    Actually, I thought Phil’s explanation was kinda funny.

  36. #36 g
    February 28, 2008

    I wonder if any Catholics use the “stupid scientists” argument. The current system of leap years was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after all. You do trust the Pope, don’t you?

  37. #37 Kimpatsu
    February 28, 2008

    Neighbor?
    @Brian English (your name should really be Brian American or, even better, Brian Colonial): As any fule know, the correct spelling is “neighbour” (and colour, harbour, and, just for good measure, centre). The reason colonials misspell these words is because, being selfish, there is no room for “u” in their language.

    Drum roll, please, but I won’t give up the day job… :D

  38. #38 George
    February 28, 2008

    The obvious implication is that the gods are Mayan.

    And they have a chuckle every four years as we mortals struggle with our silly Gregorian system. “We gave them the real calendar! They just invented this one and started using it!”

  39. #39 CrypticLife
    February 28, 2008

    I think we should just get rid of the leap year, and have the new year come six hours later each year.

  40. #40 s1mplex
    February 28, 2008

    You forgot to ask Bill O’Reilly about Leap Year! How could we forget his interview with Michael Grant (ACLU)…

    GRANT: …The proper place to talk about [creationism] is in comparative religion. It’s in the philosophy classes. Biology classes should be science.

    O’Reilly: OK. But science is incomplete in this area of creationism, is it not?

    GRANT: Science is always incomplete in all areas.

    O’Reilly: Well, I don’t agree with that. Science is not always incomplete and I’ll give you an example. There are twenty-four hours in a day. Alright. That’s science. And there are four seasons. That’s science. So you can state things with certainty in biology or any other science you want.

  41. #41 Dahan
    February 28, 2008

    It’s just god’s way of testing us. Like utting fossils of shells at the top of mountains.

  42. #42 Dahan
    February 28, 2008

    well, actually, like PUTTING fossils…

  43. #43 Anonymous Coward
    February 28, 2008

    Happy St. Tib’s Day. :)
    (Yes, it’s already 4 hours in, here at UTC+1)

  44. #44 Brian English
    February 28, 2008

    …or when sounded as A, as in neighbor and weigh.”
    Never heard that one before. Must be an ad-hoc explanation of why English don’t follow it’s own rules.
    And I’m Aussie. But I’ve got an American spelling plugin in FireFox and I let it have it’s way. It sulks so much when I spell favour, neighbour, etc.

  45. #45 Bubba Sixpack
    February 28, 2008

    Creationists surprise me with their creative “thinking”.

  46. #46 Carlie
    February 28, 2008

    Brian, really? I just brought it up because your explanation of Leap day as x rule except for y and z made me think of it. So many rules have exceptions. :)

  47. #47 eewolf
    February 28, 2008

    Rey Fox – “…I gotta drive to friggin’ Mountain Home and back for work.”

    I thought there wasn’t anything in Mountain Home but the air base. You live in Boise and work in MH? That’s one long-ass boring ride.

    I suppose you’ve noticed there’s no mountain there either.

  48. #48 PJC
    February 28, 2008

    To #35 kimpatsu, I am open to the possibility that I am wrong however last time I checked Australia was a colonial nation and used the spelling “neighbour”. We love the letter “u” down here.

  49. #49 Bride of Shrek
    February 28, 2008

    Speak for yourself PJC, ,my ancestors weren’t colonists, they were smelly, toothless, street-living, pick pocketing crims…and nothing has really changed.

  50. #50 bigjohn756
    February 28, 2008

    But, y’all have completely forgotten about the leap second. Poor little feller is feelin’ all left out.

  51. #51 Chayanov
    February 28, 2008

    The only reason the solar day and year aren’t perfect is because of Teh Fall. We wouldn’t need a leap year if we weren’t such sinners.

  52. #52 antaresrichard
    February 28, 2008

    Didn’t forget the little feller. So you can well imagine my horror when I found out according to Wikipedia, there’s a vote to do away with the wee critter altogether! How cruel! Wha’d’he ever do to deserve the axe?

  53. #53 Zeno
    February 29, 2008

    The proposed World Calendar would be a nice improvement over the Gregorian system because it’s a perpetual calendar, always starting on Sunday, January 1. However it uses one or two “intercalary” days to make things work out nicely, and those days have neither number designations nor days of the week. I’m sure that conservative Christians would be horrified at the interruption of God’s divine plan to an unbroken succession of seven-day weeks. No doubt the World Calendar is a tool of Satan. [Link]

  54. #54 Kseniya
    February 29, 2008

    Figures that people who can’t wrap their minds around evolution, and who tend to see everything in terms of predetermined absolutes and unknowable truths, would jump to the conclusion that the leap year is the result of sloppy science covering its butt – when, in fact, it’s about one simple and unavoidable aspect of our reality they also can’t seem to wrap their brains around:

    The number of hours it takes the earth to go once around the sun isn’t an even multiple of the number of hours it takes the earth to complete one revolution around its own axis.

    With that in mind, I wonder if we could send their brains into some kind of infinite loop by pointing out that a full season of “24″ can be viewed in approximately 16 hours and 48 minutes.

  55. #55 Slyer
    February 29, 2008

    Brian English, use the Australian English Dictionary add-on for Firefox, it works well. (New Zealander)

  56. #56 Janine
    February 29, 2008

    Speak for yourself PJC, ,my ancestors weren’t colonists, they were smelly, toothless, street-living, pick pocketing crims…and nothing has really changed.

    Posted by: Bride of Shrek

    So, tell us how much your live resembles The Three Penny Opera? Or would you prefer The Beggar’s Opera?

  57. #57 MikeM
    February 29, 2008

    In a universe where pi=3, what do you expect?

    (I really need to give that one a rest.)

  58. #58 Rey Fox
    February 29, 2008

    Fortunately, only for the night. I’m counting meat at the Wal-Mart there.

  59. #59 dzho
    February 29, 2008

    I before E, except after C,
    or when sounded like A
    as in neighbor and weigh

    Except for seize, foreign and seizure
    or weird height and leisure,
    and not either, neither.

    Not in protein, seismic or caffeine,
    feisty atheists, heifer,
    or stein or whatever.

  60. #60 Masks of Eris
    February 29, 2008

    A non-mathematical person might cry: “Why? Why, when I get an extra day, it has to be a workday?”

    That’s, however, not how “adding a day” works.

    A person in mathematical education, like me, has a better understanding of the issue, and knows that pain is inevitable.

  61. #61 Ross
    February 29, 2008

    Dzho,

    nice one, but Seizure and leisure only really rhyme in US accents (and maybe others I haven’t heard yet)

    I think of it the ‘Dr Zeus issue’ because I first encountered it at infant school where he rhymed vase with face (or a similar word).

  62. #62 Holydust
    February 29, 2008

    Hey, I’m an American and I say “leisure” “lehs-ure”. :P

    Do people really say it “sehz-ure” though? That just sounds strange to me. Because you’re “seizing up”. Do you guys say “sehz” instead of “seize”?

  63. #63 Wacko but not in Waco
    February 29, 2008

    Oh dear, you’ve all fallen for the “you’ve never had it so good” propaganda of the LeapYearists and believe that the year is 365-and-a-bit days long. NO!!!!!! IT’S A CONSPIRACY!! A full year is actually 367 days long and THEY steal February 29th and 30th EVERY YEAR but they let us have February 29th once every few years to taunt us and remind us of THEIR power to control TIME!

    The real scandal is why do we let THEM steal a day-and-a-big-bit off us every year? What are THEY using it for? THEY are probably meeting up in secret to plot the continued suppression of The Chosen People of the [insert favourite loony's name here] Church who aren’t allowed to spread THE TRUTH (which was revealed only last week).

    Make the most of this February 29th; soon THEY might even take that off us… THEY are taking your life, 2 days at a time, haa haa haaaaa!!!!

  64. #64 Brian English
    February 29, 2008

    use the Australian English Dictionary add-on for Firefox, it works well. (New Zealander)
    Damn energetic Kiwi’s. Do you think I can find the time to update my plugin that’s almost good enough when there’s cricket, pre-season footy and beer? Se ve que no eres australiano…..

  65. #65 LisaJ
    February 29, 2008

    #4 said:”No no no… We have leap years because God didn’t make the earth spin correctly.”

    Of course, God did this to challenge our faith.

  66. #66 steve_h
    February 29, 2008

    Language and spellig were developed by intelligent beings. They developed some rules (i before e, year=365 days), then found they had to modify them (except after c, leap year every four years), and modify again (sounds like A, but not /100), and again (see #59, unless also /400), also lots of other examples (leap seconds).

    The rules match precisely; Therefore, I conclude that the solar system was intelligently disegned by an intelligent disegner who couldn’t spell.

  67. #67 Graculus
    February 29, 2008

    They developed some rules

    Not in the ase of English. They developed some ad hoc little sayings to help young children learn how to spell most stuff, and figured that they would be old enough to not rely on them by the time they hit the “big” words.

    One of the most endearing things about the English language is that it is a complete bastard.

  68. #68 phantomreader42
    February 29, 2008

    Carlie @ 46:
    So many rules have exceptions. :)

    Every rule has an exception.
    Except this one.

  69. #69 June
    February 29, 2008

    MikeM (#57): In a universe where pi=3, what do you expect?

    Engineers know that, to get the working area of a circle, you must use the INSIDE diameter.
    You can use the OUTSIDE diameter, but then you must subtract the wall THICKNESS.
    Using the Bible figures intelligently, you will get PI = 3.14.

  70. #70 John Scanlon, FCD
    February 29, 2008

    Ross #61, I think you’ll find the ‘vase/… face’ rhyme NOT in Dr Seuss, but it is certainly in Madeline. OK, it might also be somewhere in Seuss but if so it’s one of the few I haven’t collected.
    It’s not even a real rhyme in American is it? – don’t they all say ‘vase’ with a zed or soft s, not like in faiss at all?
    Bemelmans wasn’t what I’d call a great poet, far below Geisel, and even further from our own Cuttlefish (who knows more than one metre and has never posted a dud line as far as I’ve seen).

  71. #71 dogmeatIB
    February 29, 2008

    Wrong, all wrong!
    The extra day is so the creotards, like the two quoted above, can catch up.

    I think we’re going to need a lot more leap years.

  72. #72 dogmeatIB
    February 29, 2008

    Sigh. This is just like junior high all over again. I guess I’ll just head over to the fridge to bury my emotions in a tub of Rocky Road.

    So that’s what you kids are calling it these days.

  73. #73 Flex
    February 29, 2008

    This may be as good a place as any to wish Frederick a happy 38th birthday.

    For those who are wondering who Frederick is, he’s the tenor in Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance’. Born on leap year, and indentured to pirates until his 21 _birthday_, he celebrates his 38th natal day today, 156 years after his birth.

    So raise a Pirate Toast to Frederick’s birthday today!

    Okay, off-topic but it’s a silly thread anyway.

  74. #74 Samantha Vimes
    February 29, 2008

    I’m a Californian. We say vase rhyming with face, and seezhure and leezhure. We are aware some high-falutin’ easterners say vahz and leszhure, but you may as well say shed-ule instead of skedule if you’re going to do that :)

  75. #75 g
    February 29, 2008

    The plague of pi in the sky.

    Let’s construct our own reality and do away with irrationals – it’s a personal “thing” where we just read in our own needs & preferences – and it is so easy.

    Make it “fit” – “my needs.”

    It should be just as easy to do away with the people that we disagree with – the human irrationals.

    “Be gone,” ye bastards & devils.
    “I just don’t like her; she reads herself and her sexuality into everything, Mama.”

    Imaginary numbers too because “they” give license to unbounded literary criticism – like Darwin making (not making?) Hitler crazy.
    All paradoxes and conundrums are so incommensurable – in their “essences.”

    I know what he means!
    He means what I say he means.
    I know what preversion is, Man.

  76. #76 gerald spezio
    February 29, 2008

    Fred Allen Wolf took the quantum leap, and never came back.
    Fred took the square root of minus one and went (did not go, no way?) bonkers.
    How can you tell?
    Imaginary numbers is what done it, Mama.

  77. #77 gerald spezio
    February 29, 2008

    Didn’t mean to be a “sock puppet” at #75.
    g is the muthaf’er, pigf’er, twit, etc. who made a mistake in keyboarding behavior.

  78. #78 AJS
    February 29, 2008

    There is no good reason why the time taken for a lump of rock to make a complete circuit around a nuclear explosion should be an integer multiple of the time it takes for said lump of rock to spin around its own axis.

    (Didn’t someone once claim that God made only the integers, and everything else was the work of man? First person to make a mathematician laugh their tits off, I suppose.)

    And you don’t have to work an extra day in a leap year; you get a few extra hours off in a non-leap year. Because the Earth reaches the same point in its orbit after 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds.

    BTW, the logic you want to check for a leap year looks like this, in most computer languages:

    ($Y % 400 == 0) || (($Y % 100 != 0) && ($Y % 4 == 0))

    Which returns true for multiples of 400 |or| numbers which return a non-zero remainder when divided by 100 &and& are multiples of 4. (We test for 400 first because evaluation ceases as soon as a result is known for sure, i.e. first true value in an || returns true and first false value in an && returns false.)

    By the way: A day is not precisely defined. But a second is precisely defined, as the amount of time it takes for light to travel 299 792 458 metres. And a metre is precisely defined as 100 centimetres (or, if you work in the building trade, 1000 millimetres).

  79. #79 AJS
    February 29, 2008

    Oh yeah. If you ever need to implement that formula and are working with a microcontroller where bytes and cycles are critical, you can use the remainder from each division in the next; because of the identity $A % ($B * $C) % $C == $A % $C.

  80. #80 Abby Normal
    February 29, 2008

    who knows? you might have access to retroviral treatments that modify the aging process considerably in the next decade or so.

    Key word there being “access.” This technique was actually perfected in the early 90′s. The research was funded by celebrities, who also served as it’s earliest human test subjects. Michael Jackson was the first to undergo the treatment. Obviously there were still some issues to be worked through at that time. However they pretty much had it down by the time Cher was treated.

    As to how long the process extends one’s lifespan; there are lab rats from the 1988 experiments that are still alive today. That’s a 10-fold extension! The complexity of the human brain makes it more susceptible to the ravages of aging. So humans will likely see less benefit. But still a 3-fold extension is the current low-ball projection.

    Now I know you are a skeptical lot. So I’ll offer this as evidence. Do a Google search and try to find any reference to support my claims. I’ll give you a hint, you won’t find any. If that’s not proof that there is a vast conspiracy to suppress the information, then I don’t know the meaning of the word proof.

  81. #81 Matt H
    February 29, 2008

    Asking a creationist to carry a fraction is like asking them to take Sisyphus’ place, or Atlas’. This is also why the only pi they understand is crusty and sweet, not full of mathy goodness.

  82. #82 Shirley Knott
    February 29, 2008

    But Abby, we need something that works on humans.
    Little mikey and big cherie don’t meet the entrance criteria, now do they?

    hugs,
    Shirley Knott

  83. #83 Kimpatsu
    February 29, 2008

    Must be an ad-hoc explanation of why English don’t follow it’s own rules.
    And I’m Aussie.

    I guess that being an Antipodean colonial explains why you can’t use the apostrophe correctly.
    BTW, what does “Don’t (sic) follow IT IS own rules…” mean, anyway?
    Does being upside-down mean all the blood rushes to your head…?

    No, I STILL won’t give up my day job…

  84. #84 Glen Davidson
    February 29, 2008

    Mercury’s the only planet that gets to avoid a leap year (or other manipulation to make days and years correlate overa long time range), since resonance between Mercury’s planetary rotation and its period of orbit locks its day and year into a simple ratio.

    On Mercury, its day simply lasts for two of its years. It makes for an inconveniently long day, at least by our understanding, but at least its calendar is relatively simple.

    Maybe creationists can have a new goal, to get to the one planet in the solar system that they might believe is “rationally designed.” Of course it’s a rational year/day relationship, but well-explained without design. That shouldn’t trouble them much, though, since scientific matters have escaped their brains–and at least Mercury’s year/day pattern mimics the rationality of design far better than does anything in life (indeed, the ancients always looked to the heavens for the regularity and order that seemed so lacking on earth).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  85. #85 Bill
    February 29, 2008

    … It just proves that God used pulleys and v belts to connect the heavenly spheres.

    If He had used gears, there would be an exact rational number ratio.

  86. #86 Bro. Bartleby
    February 29, 2008

    The problem is that the Intelligent Designer works in Binary, and of course the dilemma was between creating humans logically, or compassionately. The IDer knew once humans reached that point when the spark of the idea of counting took hold, of course that early human would look to the hands and puzzle out a numbering scheme there. And one digit on each hand would be the logical choice, then that first human to count would look to the hands and think, “one … one … hmmm … on, off … hmmm.” And binary it would be. But compassion filled the heart (figuratively speaking) of the Intelligent Designer, knowing that a single digit on each hand would preclude His planned next step, the sprouting of the thumb to be opposite the fingers, yes, fingers — plural. That was the design, or, the original design. But this early human had a developing trait that the IDer was startled to discover, the human constantly used self as a reference point to the surrounding “creation” and naturally would use self to devise the first counting scheme. So, letting compassion override logic, the IDer allowed four digits and a thumb to sprout from each hand, this would provide humans with not only a way to eat with their hands, but also to grasp footballs and baseballs and even ball-point pens. So as predicted, this first human, when the first idea for counting came about, looked to her hands and correlated little finger with little baby and each and every finger with another child and came to the joyful realization that she could now use her hands to watch over her children and when left forefinger was lifted and she uttered “four,” child number four would look to the pointing finger and knew it was him. Further, at the end of day she could easily take inventory, making sure all ten were seated around the fire, simply by raising each finger and counting from one to ten. And finally, in from the dark he came, father, and with but one rabbit, and never more than one, for he had yet come up with the idea of counting, not knowing that he could bring more than one rabbit to the dinner table, for to him, hands and fingers were for scratching, and nothing more.

  87. #87 Kseniya
    February 29, 2008

    Kimpatsu (v): To sharply criticize incorrect use of an apostrophe.

  88. #88 magula mcsnickers
    February 29, 2008

    I before E except after C
    or when sounded like A as in neighbour and weigh.
    If short E or long I is the sound that is right,
    place E before I as in their or in height.

  89. #89 Leon
    February 29, 2008

    Well, of course the Earth’s orbit is slowing down. It slows down by a day one year in four–that’s why we have leap years! Sheesh, you scientists and your complicated explanations for everything.

    You probably also believe, when you fly from one city to another and get there an hour earlier than you took off, that it’s because of that discredited “time zone” theory–when all along the reason is simply because the plane flies so fast.

  90. #90 Greg Peterson
    February 29, 2008

    Leap year is proof that the Bible is God’s Word, because Joshua stopped the sun in the sky for a quarter of a day and that’s where the extra time comes from that need to be accounted for. Any baby that’s been to Daily Vacation Bible School knows this. Don’t they have churches where you all live?

    Just fucking with ya.

  91. #91 Leon
    February 29, 2008

    @Brian English (your name should really be Brian American or, even better, Brian Colonial): As any fule know, the correct spelling is “neighbour” (and colour, harbour, and, just for good measure, centre). The reason colonials misspell these words is because, being selfish, there is no room for “u” in their language.

    We spell it “center” instead of “centre” because of a paucity of the letter “u”? Am I missing something? Speaking of which,

    u <> you
    (or, “u != you”, for the *nix crowd)

    We spell those other words without the “u” because that letter is extraneous, per Daniel Webster. It’s not pronounced “coloor”, “laboor”, “neighboor”, etc. Or “cent-ra”, for that matter. So we don’t spell it that way. Sure there are lots of other words that aren’t phonetic in English, but when you have a choice between one that’s more phonetic and another that’s less so, we go with the more phonetic one.

  92. #92 Leon
    February 29, 2008

    Damn, it munched my less-than sign. Forgot about HTML tags. Let me rephrase:

    u ? you

  93. #93 misterbowen
    February 29, 2008

    @62

    Does not everyone know leisure is pronounced: Lye-zhoor-ay?

    Classic English/American translation error.

    tip o’the pen to Eddie Izzard.
    :-)

  94. #94 Brett
    February 29, 2008

    Didn’t the church give us this calendar? They blame scientists?

    I guess history has never been their strong suit…

  95. #95 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    February 29, 2008

    Trivia.

    According to UM professor, Bob Pepin:

    Growth rates in coral during the Devonian period (417 million to 354 million years ago) showed 400 daily growth rings within each annual growth cycle, indicating that Earth’s year had 400 days back then. Even today, we feel the slowing of the Earth’s rotation, and so we add a leap second every few years to keep our sunrises and sunsets coming at the same time of day.

    It’s so easy to confuse creationists, especially YECs.

  96. #96 Carlie
    February 29, 2008

    Wait, so is the earth really old or not? Because if it’s not, then losing 35 days in the last 6000 years is something we would kind of notice. And if the rotation is slowing, why do we add days onto the year? Shouldn’t they be subtracted instead? My brain hurts.

  97. #97 MikeM
    February 29, 2008

    You see, June, I’ve heard that argument before, and it’s incorrect. Let me give you a real-world example.

    My car has 15″ wheels. That refers to the diameter of the rim. I put 15″ tires on it, and have no idea what the diameter of the tires is. This measurement varies; if I have a 225-40/15 or a 185-70/15, I still have 15″ tires on the car, even though the diameter of the tires is radically different in my example.

    When you have a wheel, you don’t report the diameter based on the inside measurement, and the circumference based on the outside measurement. The Bible approximates pi, because they didn’t understand decimals. They had the math capacity of second-graders. I have yet to see an engineer refer to the inner size when measuring these things.

    Go to SAB, June. You can learn a lot there.

  98. #98 DiscoveredJoys
    February 29, 2008

    Of course what we really need to do to tidy things up is move the Earth a little closer to the Sun to lose the extra quarter day.

    I’m sure that would please the religious people who like things neat and holy – but we would probably get various cults break away because they all wanted a different ‘whole number’. Why stick with 365 when you could have other numbers divisible by 7, or 31, or 28…

    On the other hand if we moved the Earth a little further from the Sun we could address Global Warming… 7.1th Day Adventists here I come!

  99. #99 MikeM
    February 29, 2008

    I mean, June, the Bible says that bats are birds:

    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/lev/11.html#13

    Great Flying Squid, how can that be? The bat has nipples, doesn’t lay eggs, and has fur.

    Ah, well, that’s what the Bible says. That settles it then.

  100. #100 June
    February 29, 2008

    MikeM, I did look it up.
    1 Kings 7:26 says the tank wall was a hand breadth thick.
    That may make Pi come out to about 3.14.

    But where did you find car tires in the Bible :)

  101. #101 dale
    February 29, 2008

    The value of pi is highly overrated.
    The bible had it right. Three is close enough.

  102. #102 dale
    February 29, 2008

    After having thought about this, I conclude that god really fucked up when he made the value of pi a number with an infinite number of decimals, as they say.

    It is so disenheartening to realize I can never have a calculator that can give me a precice solution.

    I just want to kill myself. Not tonight though….

  103. #103 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 29, 2008

    No Olympics or elections in 2100 I guess then.

    Of course not. Hey, you didn’t have elections in 2000 either… :- <innocent whistling>

    Well, unless you plan on submitting yourself as food for Cthulhu (the beat the rush plan).

    LOL!

    I think get it now… its like saying that Bush knows what he is talking about until he opens his mouth unless he closes it immediately.

    :-D

    Oh, ow, ow. my side hurts from laughing. The earth is slowing. Ow, it hurts. The illogic of it all.

    Not the illogic, the moon. The moon is a brake.

    The rules match precisely; Therefore, I conclude that the solar system was intelligently disegned by an intelligent disegner who couldn’t spell.

    Brilliant.

    However, the whole “I before E” crap is a red herring.

    Every rule has an exception.
    Except this one.

    ROTFL!

    But a second is precisely defined, as the amount of time it takes for light to travel 299 792 458 metres.

    The other way around. Look it up.

    per Daniel Webster.

    Noah Webster.

  104. #104 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 29, 2008

    No Olympics or elections in 2100 I guess then.

    Of course not. Hey, you didn’t have elections in 2000 either… :- <innocent whistling>

    Well, unless you plan on submitting yourself as food for Cthulhu (the beat the rush plan).

    LOL!

    I think get it now… its like saying that Bush knows what he is talking about until he opens his mouth unless he closes it immediately.

    :-D

    Oh, ow, ow. my side hurts from laughing. The earth is slowing. Ow, it hurts. The illogic of it all.

    Not the illogic, the moon. The moon is a brake.

    The rules match precisely; Therefore, I conclude that the solar system was intelligently disegned by an intelligent disegner who couldn’t spell.

    Brilliant.

    However, the whole “I before E” crap is a red herring.

    Every rule has an exception.
    Except this one.

    ROTFL!

    But a second is precisely defined, as the amount of time it takes for light to travel 299 792 458 metres.

    The other way around. Look it up.

    per Daniel Webster.

    Noah Webster.

  105. #105 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 29, 2008

    7.1th Day Adventists here I come!

    :-D :-D :-D

  106. #106 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 29, 2008

    7.1th Day Adventists here I come!

    :-D :-D :-D

  107. #107 Leon
    February 29, 2008

    per Daniel Webster.

    Noah Webster.

    D’OHHH!! Yes. My bad–being sloppy again. Sorry.

  108. #108 Kseniya
    February 29, 2008

    MikeM, I did look it up. 1 Kings 7:26 says the tank wall was a hand breadth thick. That may make Pi come out to about 3.14.

    June: Please show your work.

  109. #109 Bob Munck
    February 29, 2008

    Would it be less disruptive to have a Feb. 29th every year, but have it be only 6 hours long? Why or why not?

    Would that eliminate the need for daylight savings time?

  110. #110 Kseniya
    March 1, 2008

    That would be weird, but the idea is interesting. Along those lines, I propose instead that Dec 31st be 30 hours long.

  111. #111 June
    March 1, 2008

    June: Please show your work.

    Well, it’s hardly ‘my’ work.
    I just looked it up and checked the calcs.
    If the circumference was 30 cubits (540″) and the OD was 10 (180″), with a thickness of one hand (say 4″), Pi was = 540 / 172 = 3.14 .
    ————-
    1. http://www.purplemath.com/modules/bibleval.htm
    2. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Bible_Commentary/1Kings7v23.html
    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_curiosities

  112. #112 June
    March 1, 2008

    My comment did not take last night.
    I subtracted 8 inches for the width,
    and got Pi = 540 / (180 – 8) = 3.14

  113. #113 Brian Macker
    March 1, 2008

    He’s got it all wrong. The leap day is proof that the solar system was not designed perfectly and therefore there is no god. ;)

  114. #114 AJS
    March 2, 2008

    I know, I know, the second is defined first and the metre is defined in terms of the second ….. It was a joke. I thought the “building trade” comment might have given it away …..

    If one takes a cubit to be 50cm., then assuming the inner circumference of the biblical bowl is 30 cubits and the outside diameter is 10 cubits, we get the thickness of the walls as (5 – (15 / pi)) / 2 = 0.1127m. = 11.3cm. That’s probably close enough to the “hand’s breadth” (nominally 10cm.) mentioned. However, and it’s a big however, the laws of physics do rather tend to get in the way of measuring the inside circumference of a bowl. What I think more probable is that the circumference was between 14.5 and 15.5m. (29 and 31 cubits), the diameter somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5m. (9 and 11 cubits) and the author of the passage simply rounded both figures to the nearest whole number. You can solve graphically to find the range in which D and P may lie, if you’re really that bothered.

    Someone also mentioned daylight saving time. This is a concept inextricably bound with the nine-to-five working day.

    The Earth always receive the same amount of daylight before solar midday as after, and solar midday is always within a few minutes of 12:00. Working hours of 08:00 to 16:00 would maximise daylight during the working day. The reason why the working day was chosen to begin at 09:00 was simply that this allowed sufficient daylight for the whole routine of washing, shaving, dressing and travelling to work, even in the depths of Winter.

    For some reason, instead of simply running business hours from 09:00 to 17:00 in the Winter and 08:00 to 16:00 in the Summer (which would have required adjusting only the alarm hand on one clock in any home where someone worked in business), someone had the bright idea to spend the Summer pretending that it was an hour later than it really was (thereby requiring adjusting the timekeeping hands on all clocks everywhere).

    Since then, buildings have been designed not to be dependent upon natural daylight, and forms of communication such as fax, e-mail and voicemail have been developed which do not require the two parties to be present at the same time. So the original justifications for fart-arsing about with all the clocks twice a year no longer exist, while the contraindications remain in force as strong as ever.

  115. #115 thalarctos
    March 2, 2008

    For some reason, instead of simply running business hours from 09:00 to 17:00 in the Winter and 08:00 to 16:00 in the Summer (which would have required adjusting only the alarm hand on one clock in any home where someone worked in business)

    It would require a bit more than that–communicating the change to everyone, keeping track of what businesses chose to go along with it, and which didn’t, being out of sync with the rest of the world and its associated supply chains that are on daylight savings time, etc. etc. The transaction costs of such a proposal would be a nightmare.

  116. #116 QueenoftheHarpies
    March 2, 2008

    Didn’t we change to a 12 month calendar because of the Christians? Wasn’t the lunar calendar more mathematically accurate? What of the Mayan calendar that’s been spot on for over 3000 years? Why aren’t we using that?

  117. #117 Leon
    March 2, 2008

    Since then, buildings have been designed not to be dependent upon natural daylight, and forms of communication such as fax, e-mail and voicemail have been developed which do not require the two parties to be present at the same time. So the original justifications for fart-arsing about with all the clocks twice a year no longer exist, while the contraindications remain in force as strong as ever.

    Actually, daylight savings was implemented as a means of saving electricity. That was also the rationale for Congress shifting it back a week and a half this past year–which was a nightmare for us IT folks (and predictably did jack sh** in the long run–we saved on one end and lost on the other).

  118. #118 Aphrodine
    March 22, 2008

    Actually, it is a known FACT that the reason why we have Leap Years is because god divided by zero.

    Of course, I am using a rather liberal definition of the word “fact.”

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