Tuesday, April 20, 2021

You Be Doobie Do

So it’s 4/20, at least here in the United States where we write our dates with the month first.

I’ve never had any strong feelings about how to write dates, to be honest. There are good arguments for writing it in ascending size of units (day/month/year), the way the rest of the world does, but in the US most people say it in month/day/year format (“April 20, 2021”) so writing it that way also makes sense. It’s one of those things where either way is fine.

Unlike putting only one space after a period, which is unequivocally incorrect and inelegant. You can’t avoid it online, since computer programmers have decreed it mandatory and that’s why we don’t take style advice from programmers, and there are a great many nonsense arguments out there to defend one-spacing on a number of spurious grounds (all of which will be appended below in the comments, if experience is any guide) but I’m done with trying to convince people that they should not crowd their pages with rushed sentences and I’m not going to have that discussion again.

You do you and good luck with that, one-spacers, but don’t expect me to support your folly.

One advantage of the American style of writing dates is that you get little Easter eggs now and then. We have Pi Day, for example – 3/14. 14/3 doesn’t have the same resonance and the calendar stops at the twelfth month so there’s no 3/14 the way the rest of the world does it.

There’s no twentieth month either.

For long and complicated reasons that I can’t be bothered to look up right now but which I am sure made sense at the time for certain values of sense that include copious use of marijuana, 420 has become a symbol of the copious use of marijuana. This knowledge is one of those bits of American culture that floats around the edges of my consciousness without particularly attaching to anything meaningful, sort of like NASCAR or daytime television – I know these things exist and are important to many people but I’m not one of those people so that’s as much energy as I am willing to devote to those ideas.

I’ve never actually tried marijuana. I’ve had friends who enjoyed it and I’ve been in rooms with them while they did, but I can’t say it ever tempted me. I live in my head and I don’t like things messing with that. Honestly, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve even been drunk and probably have fingers left over. I don’t mess with my head.

Not really a party animal is what I’m saying here.

But you know, try as I might I just can’t really see how it’s a huge problem. It’s not something you want to be doing every day or while operating heavy machinery as the results will no doubt be sad, but neither is alcohol and we’re fine with that as a culture. The last time we tried to prohibit alcohol was rather a fiasco after all.

There are a lot of places where marijuana is now legal for recreational as well as medical use in the US, and the last time I looked at poll numbers 92% of Americans approved of this, including 85% of people who self-identify as conservatives so it’s not just a hippie 60’s leftover thing. I expect that it will be fully legal everywhere in the US in my lifetime and probably fairly soon, though my track record with predictions is pretty poor so take that for what it is worth. There are political reasons why this might not happen – drug convictions are felonies and in many states felons can’t ever vote again, and if you think that’s an accident or that it’s coincidental who tends to get charged with those felonies and who tends to get merely reprimanded for the same offense then you’re not paying attention to American history – but one never knows. Could happen.

It seems to me that the US would be better off legalizing most drugs, actually, and treating them as health issues rather than criminal issues. It’s worked in other countries, and it would cut down on a lot of the nonsense that surrounds them here. We could probably halve our prison population overnight, for example, and legal things can be taxed to support other legal things like schools and roads. You’d have to have some regulation, I think – age limits, for example – but we do that with alcohol and nicotine already. We know how that works.

So happy 4/20 out there, all you stoners! I’ll not be joining you, but I wish you well.


LucyInDisguise said...

Although not a 'stoner', my wife thanks you for the sentiment all the same ...

I once did an internet search on the 420 thing. I regretted it muchly.

On the date thing, I'm a mixed-use user. I consider the number thing as shorthand for the date (4/22/21). When writing out the date I use the other format (21 April 2021). Never seems to fail to irritate somebody no matter what I do, so I aim to displease as many people as I can at any given point in time.

As noted elsewhere (and as alluded to in this post), Blogger refuses to render the second space after anything, not just periods. Grammarly apparently hates it as well.

Ya try. Ya keep trying. And lo and behold, ya fail.


It's not for jest anyone.



David said...

Yeah, I posted something about two-spaces vs one-space a long time ago and learned a) not do to that again very often and b) that HTML is written to convert any number of spaces after a period into one space because REASONS. I have accepted this insult as the price one pays for using free software, but I know in my heart I have typed it with two spaces originally so I feel I have done my best against a cruel online world that way.


I generally stick with Month/Day/Year when talking to my fellow Americans, but I have learned that if I want to avoid miscommunications followed by long explanations when talking to anyone else I should just use Day/Month/Year to start with. I find either way makes sense, so it's not really a hardship once I remember what format I'm using.

You might as well please yourself in this world. Ain't no pleasing everybody anyhow.

I've actually had several people respond on Facebook with links to some decent articles on where 420 came from - all of them ultimately pointing to a group of California high school kids in the 70s who had a connection to the Grateful Dead somehow and eventually by the 90s it's nationwide slang. So I learned a few things, which is nice.

Please pass along my best to your wife!

LucyInDisguise said...

Such a big sigh - heard that one clear out here!

The two-space thingy is not one of the many things I obsess over. I'll nail it down in anything formal, but even in email I just have lost any and all passion about it that I ever possessed.

On the off chance that you haven't already seen it, the (somewhat less than) definitive history of 420:


You want that to be a forward pass or just a lateral?


David said...

I've stopped worrying about the two-space thing as far as other people go. As long as they're willing to let me do it correctly, I'm willing to let them do what they do without arguing about it.

I haven't seen that article, though I've seen other articles that said more or less the same thing. Learn something new every day if you're not careful! It's interesting how these things propagate through the culture.

You should pass them along as if you were a Cold War spy, folded into an envelope and handed over with the barest of muttered information for context. ;)

LucyInDisguise said...

Sue was looking over my shoulder when you posted that.

She wants me to convey the following:

"Tell him hs's a little shit. But thanks again."



David said...


Janiece said...

Seriously. The correct way to document a date is YYYYMMDD, in accordance with ISO 8601 basic format. I myself learned this methodology in the Navy in the early 1980s, as it was (and still is) widely used in military telecommunications. Using monotonic date codes in a digital world only makes sense in keeping database and filing systems systematic and easy to manage from a chronological perspective.

As to other controversial formatting topics: I have no preference on the one-space/two-space debate, but you'll take my Oxford comma from my cold, dead hands.

David said...

I always use YYMMDD for computer files - that's the only way they ever stay in the proper order. I'll use the full YYYYMMDD for historic documents that I want to save in original creation order rather than file creation order.

But I find that in everyday use that system gets clumsy for me.

Oxford comma forever.