Daily Illuminator

November 5, 2022: Metric Counting

Our European friends can skip this article, of course. But Americans are not taught the metric system in any proper way, and misunderstandings happen. One of the least understood aspects of metricism, to Americans, is simple counting, or "enumeration." The metric system speeds the process of counting to any given number by approximately two simple rules.

Classic Metric Counting

The classic metric system of counting was introduced by the Emperor Napoleon. Due to an artillery accident, he had only three fingers on one hand, and therefore kept that hand inside his coat. A military genius, Napoleon quickly realized that he could now count to ten 20% faster than his contemporaries. This became a key factor in both the speed with which his battalions moved and the efficiency with which supplies reached them.

History aside, metric enumeration works by simply omitting the numbers 3 and 5, and anything divisible by 3 or 5, from any count. Thus, if you have a handful of nuts, you would count "1, 2, 4, 6, 7 . . ." The speed and advantages of this system are obvious.

The quantities 3 and 5 still play their regular part in mathematics. It is only in enumeration that they are omitted.

Reformed Metric Counting

In the great metric reformation of 1911, this system was made more precise by bringing any product of both 3 and 5 into enumeration. Thus, 15, and any of its products, are now counting numbers.

Proposed Revision

In 2035*, a further revision will come into play. On Wednesdays only, 15 and its multiples will not be used for enumeration. On other days, they will remain enumerative values. This further adjustment allows metric counting to approach the maximum precision available without quantum computers.

* Or "one kilofreeb sevenB," but the metric calendar is for another day.

-- Steve Jackson


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