8/03/2010

When I am King: Age-Old Logic

When I am King...

There will be no more aging.

Obviously I am not proposing stopping people from growing old. We’ll always have older people around, driving slowly in the left lane with the blinker on, saying completely inappropriate things in loud voices, and telling the rest of us that we don’t call home often enough.

But what I can and will change is our age.

Time marches on, minute by minute, day by day, and year by year. Even when it seems like time is standing still, like when you’re in line at the DMV or you’re sitting next to someone on the subway that’s talking on a mobile phone in tedious detail about every one of her children. Even then, time is racing by, pushing us further toward the cliff of our existence into the chasm of our not.

And as the years roll by, they add to our age, one by one. Another birthday cake eaten, another year gone.

Some try to cheat the system by simply telling people the wrong number for their age. But everyone knows. And it's rather sad.

But there’s a better way. Why change the number when we can change the number system?

For millennia, humans have used the decimal system, in base 10. I suppose this came from our having ten fingers available, but that makes it a cruel joke that we’re taught not to count on our fingers in school.

But haven’t we lived with that system long enough? Don’t you think we’ve gotten smarter in the last couple thousand years? Did Plato have reality TV? No, he just had reality. Did Copernicus have the internet? Of course not; he just had the galaxy. Did Benjamin Franklin have glasses? Well, yes, but they probably looked a lot dumber than today’s designer glasses and certainly cost far less. And he certainly didn’t have contact lenses that he could lose, tear, and have to replace every few days.

So isn’t it time that we had a shiny new number system, too? In fact, we should have several to represent the fact that our society is complex, diverse, and horribly bad at math.

When I am King, our age will be kept artificially low by increasing the base that we count in. For example, if you are about to enter your 40th year, then you might tell people, truthfully, that you are 37 (in base 11). Or if you are feeling particularly spritely, you can tell them that you’re having your 28th birthday (in base 16).

Or if you’re feeling young and completely nerdy, you can say that you’re 2A (in base 15).

The system also works in reverse. If you’re only 14 and you feel you really really need that six-pack of beer, then you can tell the clerk at the 7-11 that you’re 22 (in base 6).

No longer will people have to construct elaborate and pathetic lies about their age; they can simply tell the truth while using the power of Math.

Remember: It’s not how old you are, but how old you feel... like telling everyone you are.
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