No Foolish Consistency

Even the palindromes are helping us celebrate Canada’s 150th.

Huh?

Let’s start with some examples of palindromes, which are words that read the same forwards and backwards:

  • Kayak
  • Madam
  • Noon
  • The aforementioned “huh”

Similarly, a palindromic phrase or sentence reads – except for word breaks – the same forwards and backwards:

  • Some of these make sense – A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.
  • Some maybe not so much – Never odd or even.

Palindromic numbers are, of course, also the same fore and aft, a concept that applies regardless of the meaning of the digits:

  • 22
  • 141
  • 567,765
Two metal 8s on a brick wall.
Good feng shui, too.

 

Four metal 8s on a tile wall.
Great feng shui!

Palindromic dates are tricky to achieve, because they have three elements, and to agree on, because they depend on the format you use:

  • If you write your dates as m-dd-yyyy, then today – July 10, 2017 – is palindromic (7102017) but not tomorrow (7112017).
  • But if you write your dates as m-dd-yy, then you can enjoy palindromic dates from today (71017) to July 19th, 2017 (71917).

I have friends who use yyyy-mm-dd to align with the international standard based on computer time, where you can just keep specifying time to the right as long as you please (hours, minutes, seconds, and so on). I see no palindromic dates in this format for the foreseeable future.

In my former professional life I was focused on avoiding confusion, so I usually used formats with three letters for the month and four digits for the year:

  • dd-mmm-yyyy for certainty in proposal text (To clearly signal, “No, we didn’t miss a digit on the day.”)
  • yyyy-mmm-dd for quick comprehension of the schedule when a list of tasks extended across a calendar year-end

My father once told me that D-Day was scheduled for June 6 to avoid any confusion between the Allies on different date formats: It was 6-6, no matter what order you used.  True?  Dunno.

Not wanting to exhibit a foolish consistency, I’m good to set aside my usual practice where it seems worthwhile, and this is one such occasion.

So . . . may we have the drum roll, please . . .

Welcome to this year’s 10-day stretch of palindromic dates,
71017 to 71917
occurring in the same month as our national holiday,
no doubt as one of the first celebrations of Canada’s 151st year.

 


Read more here about palindromic dates.

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8 Comments

  1. Norma

    Thank you Isabel. Very interesting. I too prefer using the letters for the month. I can imagine that your father was correct about D Day. Different nationalities would write the date differently. Can you imagine the confusion? Take care.

  2. John Whitman

    Isabel – Being me I have to disagree with your father with respect to D-Day. The main invasion of Europe by the Allies was originally scheduled for June 5th, 1944 to take advantage of the morning low tide phase for the troops landing on the beach on the morning of June 5th and for the full moon conditions the night before for the paratroops who landed at night in advance of the beach landings. An unexpected summer storm and high winds in the Channel forced Eisenhower to delay the invasion to June 6th when there was a forecast break in the weather. That break in the weather presented barely acceptable conditions for the invasion. Had that break in the weather not occurred, the next time moon and tide phases would have coincided would have been sometime in August of 1944.
    John W
    (Amateur military historian)

    1. Isabel Gibson

      John – Fine, be like that. Introduce the facts into this lovely story. Actually, the (apparently true facts) are interesting in their own right.

  3. Judith Umbach

    Thanks for your inexhaustible attention to palindromic dates. I love to read about them but forget to think about them for myself. Such a string!

Comments are closed.