Saturday, December 25, 2004

Roman Numerals Are Stupid.

The Romans made lots of cool stuff, but their numerals sucked. Why these things were not outlawed in 1999 (MCMXCIX), I have no idea. I guess the thrill of the upcoming 2000 (MM) was too much to ignore. The stupidest part is things like 4 and 9, which are symbolized as "one less than the next number." What the hell is going on with that? Why isn't 99 written IC?

Mistake #1 (that's "1," not "I," which is a pronoun): You think they're cool when you start low. Super Bowl I (which wasn't called that in those early days) sounds much cooler than "Super Bowl XXXVIII." Honestly, just take a glance at that and try to figure out what that number is. It's a train wreck with lots of cars.

Mistake #2 (that's "2," not "II," which means "the second"): When you get sick of Arabic numerals, you resort to Roman numerals. The Macintosh operating system worked fine through numbers like 6 and 7, but when they got to 10, that was too much to bear, so now we have "OS X." Where is OS IX? How can you use different numerals in the same sequence? 1, 2, 3, XL... it's reprehensible. For the love of God, XL is a shirt size, not a number.

Our society is infested with X's, and you can never tell which ones are tens and which ones are really X's: The Ten-Men? Malcolm Ten? Oh-Ess-Ex? X has lots of other problems, like when they tell you that X is for "experimental," which is a subject for another time.

I suggest that when you decide to name something "Thing I" you seriously consider the horror that results when you get to the thirty-eighth version. Think ahead, for God's sake.

A prerequisite should be established for any use of Roman numerals by an advertising campaign, sports league, government, or political activist: If you can't do calculus with Roman numerals, you can't use them. The Compvter Romanvs is forbidden for such a test, of course.

Let's face it folks: Roman numerals are inferior to Arabic numerals, current political situation notwithstanding. Don't ever use them. Always pronounce them as letters and not numbers, just to annoy people who think they're cool. Join with me in celebration of Super Bowl Ex Ex Ex Ix, coming soon.

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