The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

American exceptionalism

Once again, a major American newspaper has reported on something as universal fact, but that only makes sense in the U.S.:

The day is a palindromic date: 01-02-2010, meaning the number can be read the same way in either direction.

There will be 12 palindromic days this century, [Aziz Inan, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Portland in Oregon,] said, and Saturday is the second. The first was 10-02-2001. (To check out his complete list:

Well, only here. Almost everywhere else in the world, people use different formats for dates. In Europe, for example, today is 2/1/10; the next "palindrome" date is February 1st (01-02-2010), and the last was 10 February 2001 (10-02-2001).

Except maybe not. Most people don't customarily use leading zeroes when writing dates. That makes today 2/1/10 most places, and means the next "palindrome" really won't be until 1/1/11. Or 11/1/11. Or 11/11/11. (20-11-2011? What manner of numerical silliness will that date cause people?)

Don't even get me started on International System measurements and American exceptionalism[1]. But it's the same idea.

In his defense, Prof. Inan isn't serious (and neither am I): "Despite Inan's excitement, he dismisses the notion that mysticism and magic lie behind such dates. He doesn't, for example, fear Dec. 21, 2012, the date the Mayan "Long Count" calendar marks the end of a 5,126-year era. Some folks think the date portends a revolution or an apocalypse. Jan. 2, 2010, and Dec. 21, 2012, he said, just happen to be really cool dates."

[1] There are 310 million people in the U.S. of 6.5 billion worldwide—we're 1/19th of the world population—and the only country including England who still use the English system of measurements.

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