Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


Article excerpt

Dead Digits

During an economic slump in the last half of the 23rd Century, M. E. O'Wally, CEO of America and Environs, called a meeting of his advisors, henchpersons, and assorted experts.

"We have to pump start the economy," he said sagely.

"You mean 'jump start'," said a novice advisor.

"When I need to know what I mean, I'll ask," replied O'Wally with a smile that sent dread into most of the assembly. He lifted a finger. In response to this signal, three Comfort Operatives surrounded the novice advisor, sedated him, and took him away. A miserable silence followed.

Then a clamor broke out, as those present vied to offer useful ideas.

"We need a paradigm shift," said a Ph.D. in Vending Philosophy. "A radical new techno-philosophy that requires doing something - anything - differently. And also requires everyone purchasing the necessary means."

"Interesting...," pondered O'Wally.

"More upgrades," cried a middle manager from Mandatory Upgrades.

"Upgrading what, exactly?" asked O'Wally with another of his dangerous smiles.

"More obsolescence," squeaked a junior in Customer Satisfaction.

"People have got wise to upgrade and obsolescence," muttered O'Wally, scowling.

"Something to do with time," pondered a long-haired advisor from Idiosyncratic Ideas who rarely said anything. "A time-dependent gizmo that everyone needs."

"Such as?"

"How about a terrible threat?" said a nervous-looking person from Emergency Management and Soothing Press Releases.

"Nothing like fear of disaster to provoke spending," mused O'Wally.

"Rogue as-as-asteroid heading towards Earth," stammered Emergency Management and Soothing Press Releases.

"Too many amateur astronomers these days," said O'Wally sourly, and Emergency Management hung her head.

"The person who owns time, owns everything," remarked the longhair from Idiosyncratic Ideas.

"I own time," growled O'Wally. "I bought Greenwich because they wouldn't give up the sixty-second minute. I decimalized time-keeping and people still say 'wait a sec.' It makes me sick."

"How did they ever manage with base sixty? People only got ten toes," said the junior from Consumer Satisfaction, laughing at his own joke, then choking at O'Wally's scowl.

O'Wally laughed. He'd just had a brilliant idea.

"I made base sixty illegal." O'Wally pointed proudly to a clock on the conference room wall. "America Incorporated made a fortune in time-related devices."

O'Wally paused for dramatic effect. He enjoyed watching his advisors and henchpersons gazing at him in feigned admiration, even though he knew their sycophantic posturing was rooted in fear. O'Wally liked watching people squirm.

"Owing to the current recession, emergency cuts are required immediately. Therefore, we are forced to remove two digits from the calendar, from all software using digital clocking, which all software does, and from all hardware that employs electronic clocking in any form."

His audience broke into an uproar of praise.


"A master stroke."


"What's the lack of two little digits going to do? Nothing. Who cares? Nobody. I'll do a propaganda blitz about breaking free of the past. A young universe. A new era. A fresh start, as we the people approach the 24th Century. The two-digit calendar. To comply with this new calendar, I'll require manufacture of hardware and software that uses only two date digits. What could be simpler in concept? Just a little matter of reworking clocks and calendars and related software on almost every device in the solar system."


"He's a genius."


O'Wally held his hand up to quiet the uproar. "Get to work. I want to see a complete plan in the morning."

The conference room fell silent, then with the scuffing and shuffling of feet, advisors, henchpersons, and assorted experts moved briskly to the door, where a bottleneck quickly formed. …

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