The Ecphorizer

A Uniform Date Standard
Dave Pressman

Issue #02 (October 1981)


The International Standards Organization (ISO) tackles the way we write dates.

[quoteright]Although not the biggest problem in the world today, the wide variety of ways of writing dates from country to country -- and even in different establishments in the U.S. -- has bugged me for some time.

Generally, most civilians in the U. S. write

The ISO date format looks like this: 1980-08-09.

dates in the illogical "month-day-year" sequence. For example, 8-9-81 means August 9, 1981. (And don't forget the comma; one schoolteacher TV-viewer recently wrote an indignant letter, which ABC aired, because 20/20 had omitted the comma for aesthetic reasons.) The military -- and many civilians now -- use a logical ascending order with the month abbreviated or spelled cut: 9 Aug 1981. Europeans tend to agree with the military, except that they usually don't spell cut the month; 9-8-81 means 9 August 1981 over there.

To dispel all this confusion, the International Standards Organization (ISO), headquartered in Geneva, has published an International Standard recommending a logical descending order. This appeals to me because it puts the cost significant portion first, doesn't require a comma, and is instantly clear no matter what you have used in the past. The ISO date format looks like this: 1980-08-09. It is already in use in many computer applications; hopefully it will spread. I'm doing my bit.

The ISO has published over 3000 such standards, in many fields. You can get further information by writing them at: Case postale 56, 1211 Genève 20, Switzerland.

[Ed. note: Your mailing label has a date above the name which indicates the year and month your subscription expires, in the format of 8208, or August 1982. A detailed explanation will appear in a future issue. -George 1981]  


Dave is a patent lawyer, author, and president of the San Francisco chapter of the International Society for General Semantics. He is active in the Vegetarian and Natural Hygiene movements, and follows the stock market. Following the linked items above will take you to other sites that will explain in detail all about General Semantics and Natural Hygiene.

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Definitions Webster Overlooked
Ken Uhland

Issue #02 (October 1981)


For the word-challenged among us

Archeologist

A person whose career lies in ruins

Burple

The color of a hiccup

Caterpillar

An upholstered worm

Junk Yard

A Chinese harbor

Ringleader

The first one in the bathtub

Sassafras

What you shouldn't do to a 250-pound fras

Tricycle

A tot rod

 


Master Puzzler Ken Uhland graced the pages of the SFRM Intelligencer with puzzles for over two decades. Ken has worked as a taxi driver and a technical instructor. For many years he coordinated the Mensa volunteers during San Jose's KTEH-TV's PBS Pledge Weeks. Ken passed away in May, 2004, at age 58.

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