So - a new year has begun and the usual optimism and good cheer fills the air. All will be good, fixed, taken care of or bad things eliminated.
OK, so my nose has grown a few inches and none of that is true. Hmmm, lemme see... that lasted almost long enough for the Times Square ball to drop. You see, I am so old that I can remember when optimism was the order of the day before and after a new year turned.
As a country, we were particularly optimistic during a day or so before January 1 and for almost a week after January 1. This year seems to be different. As for me, I am so optimistic I believe that things will be better tomorrow and we won’t have to wait until next December 29 to start celebrating. Of course, all this celebrating started as somehow appeasing whatever gods were currently popular and way back “then” and having an excuse to over indulge and yell a lot was as popular as it is today.
Fortunately for the tribes of barbarians, there were no automobiles to crash and kill people as an ox cart can only do two or three miles an hour.
I have asked the question about who made January 1 as the beginning of a new year and I found the answer. Some of the skeptics won’t believe me but somewhere in a darkened wrinkle of my brain, I almost remembered. So I researched and found it. Research also contains some material that sounds as it politicians today are taking clues from 2500 years ago.
When Julius Caesar became emperor he had the calendar changed as things were all out of sorts. The “months” they were using didn’t match to actual seasons and things would get so out of whack that days would be added and/or subtracted at will. Now this would never happen now but, to quote: “In addition, the pontificates, the Roman body charged with overseeing the calendar, often abused its authority by adding days to extend political terms or interfere with elections.” That is just hard to believe!
Yes, I know, my nose just grew several more inches. Julius lost his election to continue in power as he was killed not too long after fixing the calendar problem. He also changed the name of the seventh month to July from Quintilis. For that we can all be thankful.
But things got worse during the Middle Ages. The people were almost as against science as many of our current politicians are. According to history, in the 1570s, Pope Gregory XIII had astronomer Christopher Clavius to come up with a new calendar. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar was put in place and it omitted 10 days for that year and established the new rule that only one of every four centennial years should be a leap year.
Sometimes wouldn’t you just like to omit a few days from your year? I can think of one entire school year I would omit but that was before 1966 so I guess it is too late now.
It would be fun again to read new year’s predictions from celebrities that are a silly attempt at being serious while showing a complete lack of knowledge of what they are speaking. However, even “experts” can show an alarming lack of understanding.
Read this but do not (!) take a sip of coffee during your reading:
1876: "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." — William Orton, President of Western Union. 1889: “Fooling around with alternating current (AC) is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” — Thomas Edison
1903: “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” — President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company.
Then moving on up in history. 1981: “Cellular phones will absolutely not replace local wire systems.” — Marty Cooper, inventor.
1995: "I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse." — Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com.
2006: "Everyone's always asking me when Apple will come out with a cell phone. My answer is, 'Probably never.'" — David Pogue, The New York Times.
2007: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.” — Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO.
Go ahead and make your predictions as they cannot possibly be any worse than the so-called experts. My prediction is that Texas will soon build a wall to keep out all the Oklahoma teachers who are trying to get a job and move there.
You can find the whole story of the calendar here and it is an easy piece to read and not technical so even “I” can understand it. In fact, it is enjoyable to find some facts about this.
Here is the link: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/new-years-day