Sunday, April 24, 2005

Base 2 birthdays

Back from a weekend celebration of a 70th birthday, I am inspired to publish an idea I have about birthdays, and what intervals are worthy of extra celebration as especially special, in the hopes that it becomes a cultural meme. Hallmark, are you listening?

In these modern times, all our (=anyone with enough computer access to be reading this blog) identificatory information is stored and manipulated in binary form. From a numerological-superstition point of view, this means that our base-10 system's typographical intervals (10, 20, 30, etc.) are insignificant epiphenomena in the vast ocean of binarily-represented numbers ebbing and flowing around us every day. Consequently, I feel, the 'major' intervals ought to be those dictated by the typographical intervals of the binary system, i.e. the powers of two.

At base-10 age 2, one is binary 10. Base-10 age 4 is binary 100. Base-10 age 8 is binary 1000. Base-10 age 16 is binary 10,000. Base-10 age 32 is binary 100,000. Base-10 age 64 is binary 1,000,000. Surely these ought to be the moments we make a fuss over.

This also fits in with an idea I have about the internal perception of passing time, which is that the mental organ of time-measurement uses as its yardstick the amount of time that it has current experience of. Consequently, when one is four years old, a year represents a quarter of the peceiver's total existence-time, i.e. a really long time. In middle-aged years, say, for a 40-year-old, that's equivalent to a decade of perceived time. We all know how the halcyon hours of youth stretched longer and sweeter than any of these cheap mass-produced hours you get nowadays. Celebrating big birthdays at power-of-two intervals would allow the celebrant adequate time between parties to really work up the proper amount of anticipation and sense of achievement.

Sweet 16 would still be a big birthday. And 32 seems like a good age to sit back and think about life past and life to come. And as we all live longer and longer, the occasional human who reaches 128 (=10,000,000) will really deserve their letter from the Queen (if they're a Subject, i.e. a citizen of the commonwealth). Her hand must be getting cramped from all the congratualtory notes she has to write to centenarians these days.

And Hallmark could sell extra-special cards celebrating birthdays that end in -0 for every two years of life, rather than every ten. And just think of the ridiculous lengths that a card for a 100,000th birthday could go to. It could cost at least $10.00. It's win-win, I'm tellin' ya.


Blogger Luis said...

There is really more business opportunity for Hallmark here than you have realised. My next birthday (27) is going to be 11011. And who can resist celebrating such beautiful symmetry? ;)

5:21 AM  
Blogger hh said...

hey, yeah! and all the completely 1-ones, 11, 111, etc. :) hh

11:11 AM  
Blogger @ said...

Maybe for your millionth birthday we'll get you that T-shir that says:

There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.


8:01 PM  
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