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Gregorian calendar, nursery rhymes, Wales, SeptemberEvery school child learns the months of year with an easy rhyme: thirty days has September, April, June, and November. All the rest have thirty-one, except February alone… How exactly does it end? We’re not entirely sure, but the first lines continue to help us remember the idiosyncrasies of our calendar. (Rhymes or phrases that help you remember something are called mnemonics, named after the Greek goddess of memory, Mnemosyne.)

This mnemonic helps us keep our months and days straight. But where did it come from? The rhyme has been attributed to many different sources, including Mother Goose, but a Welsh scholar may have uncovered its earliest source. It turns out that the poem actually dates back to 1425. However, the words have changed slightly. Originally, the poem read: “Thirty days hath November, April, June and September…” Since November and September rhyme and they have the same number of syllables, they can easily switch places in the poem. The usefulness of the rhyme continues even as its internal linguistic conventions change. We’d never say “hath” nowadays, so the poem has evolved to reflect our current variation of hath: has.

How are nursery rhymes important in language development? Find out here.

This poem also obviously relies on the calendar staying the same. We’ve been using the Gregorian calendar (and its similar predecessor the Julian calendar) for quite some time. Recently, though, an economist and an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University developed a new calendar that would not require a leap year and would make dates occur on the day same every year. They still have to think of a new rhyme.

Can you think of other useful mnemonic devices that rely on rhyme and word play? Have you ever made one up? Are there any questions you have about them?

Supreme Court to Review Insanity Defense [Correction 4/25/06]

The Washington Post April 20, 2006 | Charles Lane The Supreme Court embarked on a potentially far-reaching review of the insanity defense yesterday, as the justices heard oral arguments in the case of an Arizona man, Eric Michael Clark, who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time he shot a police officer to death.

At issue in the case is whether Arizona’s version of the insanity defense, which requires defendants to prove with “clear and convincing” evidence that they were too mentally ill to understand that their conduct was wrong, is so narrow that it violates the constitutional right to due process of law. go to site insanity vs p90x

Clark’s lawyer, David Goldberg, told the justices that the law denied Clark an opportunity to show at trial that, even if he was able to tell right from wrong, he could not have formed the requisite criminal intent — in this case, the intent to kill a police officer.

Goldberg said that due process requires allowing a defendant to prove that, whatever his sense of right and wrong, he did not grasp “the nature and quality” of his acts. Goldberg noted that at the time of the killing, Clark was obsessed by the idea that aliens were stalking him and that he might have thought he was defending himself from an alien when he shot Flagstaff, Ariz., police officer Jeffrey Moritz.

Clark is supported in the case by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.

Arizona counters that its law gives defendants ample opportunity to introduce the relevant evidence of their mental illness. The state is backed by the Bush administration, which argues that, although the federal insanity defense law is more broadly worded than Arizona’s, Congress’s discretion might be limited by a ruling in favor of Arizona. A brief from 16 states also supports Arizona, arguing that a broad ruling in Clark’s favor “will call into serious question the validity of the majority of state insanity statutes.” Although the insanity defense has deep roots in English common law, the Supreme Court has never ruled that the Constitution requires it. Many states revamped their insanity defense laws after a jury’s finding that John W. Hinckley Jr. was not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. Four states — Idaho, Kansas, Montana and Utah — have abolished the defense.

Arizona toughened its law in 1983 by raising the defendant’s burden of proof, and again in 1994, when it replaced the “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea with “guilty except insane,” the plea Clark entered.

If he had been found guilty except insane, Clark would have been committed to a mental hospital. Instead, he was found guilty of first- degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. insanityvsp90xnow.com insanity vs p90x

The court’s decision to hear Clark’s case, which was summarily turned down by Arizona’s Supreme Court, suggested that some justices saw insanity law as ripe for judicial review. But there were signs yesterday that they might be having second thoughts.

“I thought some of these questions might be in this case, but now I’m having doubts about that,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer remarked.

Breyer noted that much of the evidence of severe mental illness that Clark would use to prove his delusions about aliens would also be introduced as part of proving whether he knew right from wrong.

Seeking to reinforce that point, Randall M. Howe of the Arizona attorney general’s office told the court that “it would be difficult to imagine a situation where someone knew right from wrong, but not the nature of his act.” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy agreed with Howe. “I’m trying to think of some hypothetical where it would make a difference, and I can’t come up with one.” But Justice John Paul Stevens challenged the state’s position, asking Howe whether someone could be found guilty if he thought he was shooting a Martian and believed that killing Martians was acceptable.

Howe conceded that he might have a strong case of insanity but quickly added that “a state has a right to define insanity as it sees fit.” The case is Clark v. Arizona, No. 05-5966. A decision is expected by July.

Charles Lane

100 Comments

  1. Emillio -  October 18, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    I’m so glad someone mentioned Calendar Man in Arkham City, because that’s who I think of whenever I hear this. He cites it as: Thirty Days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have thirty-one, Except for February alone, which has twenty-eight rain or shine, but on a leap year, twenty-nine.

    Reply
  2. olivia -  September 11, 2012 - 12:26 am

    hello these are awesome

    Reply
  3. David Brian -  May 16, 2012 - 11:52 am

    I’ve read about the article of “the new calendar”, it’s interesting though but rediculous, imagine having the same date on the same day (ex: Dec. 25 is Sunday) then it would always be the same over and over again as the years pass. That I don’t want to happen having the same date of birthday on the same day again every year, of course if I was born on Monday, I don’t want to my yearly bithday to be in the same Monday for the rest of my life, it really is stupid..

    Reply
  4. wolsammoraa -  February 26, 2012 - 4:31 pm

    i learned about the that you jack love fight youtube lose you at home fight you at playgorund see that you are big chricken already here

    Reply
  5. JD -  February 23, 2012 - 12:00 pm

    I learned the last bit as “All the rest have 31 save february which has 28-and that is fine, but in leap year it has 29″.

    Reply
  6. mary torres -  February 22, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    party party party that all it wasited

    Reply
  7. Nasser -  February 4, 2012 - 2:12 am

    I just add the debatedlines:
    Leap years come in four
    Give February one day more

    Reply
  8. JSB -  January 30, 2012 - 4:37 pm

    I learned:
    “30 days hath September,
    April, June and November.
    All the rest have 31
    Except for February.
    With 28 days clear, and 29 in each leap year.

    When I was little, I even came up with a tune for it.

    Reply
  9. Ame Brett -  January 28, 2012 - 4:20 pm

    Thirty days has September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31except February which has four and twenty-four and every leap year one day more.

    Reply
  10. Lee Seo -  January 25, 2012 - 12:27 pm

    In college, mnemonics are quite useful. You have so much to remember in such a short period of time.

    Reply
  11. Tom -  January 23, 2012 - 10:29 pm

    While studying music in college, I created one for myself to remember the Greek modes:
    “I’D Play Loud Music After Lunch”.
    (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aolian, Locrian)

    Reply
  12. Tom -  January 23, 2012 - 2:30 am

    I love Malloman’s comment. It’ll come handy in my stand-up routine.

    Reply
  13. Tom -  January 23, 2012 - 2:11 am

    There s the one for remembering the planets in order of their distance from the sun:
    “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Neopolitan Pizza”.
    Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.

    Reply
  14. Oscar -  January 22, 2012 - 4:24 pm

    You can hear this rhyme in Batman Arkham City, as Calendar Man keeps repeating it over and over again…

    Reply
  15. JJRousseau -  January 21, 2012 - 1:11 pm

    30 Days in The Hole — Humble Pi — 1972. Oui?

    Reply
  16. Vicaari -  January 20, 2012 - 11:12 am

    It was long ago/far away and learnt it from my husband to know and tell how many days in a month: 31 days or less (though February has its own system of taking two).

    Just like Anonimous I was taught to go by my knuckle-way. Yes, starting from the index finger, the CREST, let’s name it, having 31 days, so other finger crests follow suite too of having 31 days. In between two fingers, that is the index and middle one (or between the middle and ring) VALLEY, they are of less, 30, 29 or 28. (The last two in the case of February having two versions; I liked and enjoyed Collete, Debbie, Dusty, Sue & Abi’s poem very much on this distinctive month).

    The requirement is of other such ….
    Well now… a couple of them perhaps and that are not rhyming, perhaps kind of mnemonics and useful:
    Badmas (algebra);
    Fanboys (grammar); and
    Vibgyor (the rainbow colour).

    Reply
  17. max -  January 19, 2012 - 8:19 pm

    30 days has September, April, June and November.
    All the rest have 31,
    save February alone.
    which has 8 and one score,
    but in leap year has one more.

    This and ROYGBIV are the only mnemonics that ever did me a bit of good.

    Reply
  18. Roane -  January 19, 2012 - 6:56 pm

    To help my 6th grade students remember the order of the planets in the solar system: My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)

    Order of colours in the rainbow: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)

    I wholeheartedly agree with Vicki above; music, role-play and dance increase students’ ability to remember otherwise “boring” factoids or material.

    Reply
  19. Blair -  January 19, 2012 - 5:26 pm

    I, too was taught a slightly different version. I remember the teacher from that year very well! She was cool! :)
    Her version went like this:

    30 days hath September
    April, June & November
    All the rest have 31
    Leap-year comes once in four
    February has one day more

    Reply
  20. Anonymous -  January 19, 2012 - 1:00 pm

    This is how I learned it in school:

    Thirty days hath September, April June and November.
    All the rest have 31, excepting February which alone as twenty-eight and then one more, every leap year come year four.

    And I’m in grade11.

    Reply
  21. Megan BV -  January 19, 2012 - 12:57 pm

    Thirty days has September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31, but February just for fun!

    Reply
  22. Matthew Ide -  January 19, 2012 - 11:45 am

    30 days hath September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31 except February which hath 28 until leap year gives it 29.

    Reply
  23. Kintrex -  January 19, 2012 - 11:34 am

    I never thought this rhyme was very useful, considering that one could easily replace the month names with others and it would still rhyme, but be completely wrong.

    Reply
  24. George Adams -  January 19, 2012 - 11:09 am

    One of several variations in French.

    Trente jours ont novembre,
    Avril, juin et septembre;
    De vingt-huit est février;
    Trente et un ont janvier
    Et mars, et août et mai,
    Décembre, octobre et juillet.

    Reply
  25. bholland -  January 19, 2012 - 11:03 am

    I learned it a slightly different way:

    Thirty days hath September,
    April, June, and No Wonder,
    But it doesn’t go good with peanut butter,
    All except Grandma,
    She rides a bicycle.

    Does that have any relevance here?

    Reply
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