Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Against months

I just want to point out that as a unit of measurement, the month is an utter failure. If I say "exactly one month from now X will happen" when exactly is that? Is it four weeks/28 days? Or 30 days? Or 31? Do I just mean next month with the same number for the date? Does it matter that I am saying it in February on a non-leap year?

If I said it today, it probably would mean 28 days, because "a month" could refer to a four week period, or the number of days of the month we are currently in and at this moment they both happen to be 28 days. But if I said "exactly one month" on March 14, it could mean anything between 28 and 31 days.

The only purpose of a unit of measurement is to standardize the amount of the thing measured so that it can be talked about coherently and consistently. "One week" works because it is seven days and it is always seven days, no matter when you say it. "A day" is always exactly 24 hours (putting aside the occasional leap second that is small enough to ignore). A year is exactly one trip around the sun by the Earth. By that measure, a month is a failure. It used to mean one full cycle of the moon. But now it doesn't even mean that. Screw months.