My ship’ll come in before I’m sunk

My ship’ll come in before I’m sunk February 29, 2020

Here is your open thread for February 29, 2020.

It’s Leap Day, and thus also Sadie Hawkins Day, a somewhat problematic folk-custom “allowing” women to propose to men or girls to ask out boys on this one day every four years. This was cute-but-troubling back in the day, maybe, but now seems hopelessly old-fashioned even though it’s a “tradition” that’s not really that old (Al Capp’s 1930s comic strip took the idea from a British leap year tradition that wasn’t all that traditional either).

Anyway, given all the patriarchal or creepily Nice Guy implications of the whole Sadie Hawkins thing, here’s a filthy little NSFW tune from Mary Prankster celebrating the day:

It’s not quite true that we institute a leap year every four years. You may remember that the year 2000 was not a leap year because, to keep everything as in-synch as possible, we’ve calculated that every four centuries we need to skip one. So 2000 was not a leap year and 2400 will not be a leap year either. You may want to write that down so you don’t forget. Just be sure to write it on something substantial enough that you’ll still have it handy 380 years from now.

It’s generally a Good Thing to consider what we’ll be leaving behind for whoever is around 400 years in the future, but I’m not sure that this matters much in the case of the intricacies of when to institute leap years. Either they’ll be reaping what we’ve sown, in which case calculating the number of days in any given February will be the least of their problems, or else they’ll be the heirs of people who finally managed to fix everything we’ve screwed up, and I would imagine anybody who’d gotten their act that much together would be more than capable enough to handle the arithmetic (it’s not even math, really) involved in reconciling the fact that the Earth spins slightly more than 365 times for every circuit it makes around the sun.

Still, though, maybe we should leave them a note about this whole leaping leap year once every four centuries thing. It’s fun to think about what form such a note would need to take in order to ensure it lasts for the next almost-400 years. A classic work of literature might do the trick. Or maybe a big granite monolith with giant letters in every known language and alphabet saying, “2400 shouldn’t be a leap year. Sorry about the CO2 and all the extinctions and the racism.” Something like that.

The poet John Byrom (not a typo) was born on February 29, 1692. His greatest literary legacy may be the phrase “Tweedledum and Tweedledee.” (That phrase has lasted more than three centuries — with a big assist from Lewis Carroll — so maybe that’s a way to remind any surviving future generations of the whole leap year business. We just need to embed the message in a memorably mellifluous bit of doggerel.)

Bandleader Jimmy Dorsey was born 116 years ago. And February 29 was the birthday of serial killers Richard Ramirez and Aileen Wuornos. Simon Gagné was born on February 29, 1980, which is the same day that Gordie Howe scored his 800th goal.

Rapper turned festival-promoter Ja Rule turns 44 today.

Anyway, happy “Sadie Hawkins Day.” You don’t ever need permission to ask, but if you’ve been wanting to ask someone something, today is as good a day as any to do it. We’ve all only got so many February 29ths ahead of us.

Talk amongst yourselves.


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