Friday, July 15, 2005

Toes and Fingers

A couple more weeks of silence, coupled with intense preoccupation with baseball, have generated this Great Thought: Wouldn't the world be strange if, instead of settling upon a decimal numbering system, we had settled on a hexadecimal system (because, perhaps, we had 16 fingers instead of 10)? *

For instance, today, Rafael Palmeiro would be one hit away from bb8. Or, more likely, a couple seasons ago we all would have waited with bated breath for him to get his aaa'th hit (or 2730th, to our decimal-trained minds). A .300 hitter would be a .12c hitter. In hexadecimal land, we might have begun idolizing .150 hitters (who would really be .336 hitters). The 500-homer plateau would instead be marked with the player's 1f4'th home run. Given that linguistic weirdness, I suspect the mark of home run greatness would be 300 homers (or 512 to those among us still obsessed with 10).

Unanswered above is how the game of baseball would be different if we had 16 fingers, instead of 10. Pitchers would certainly have a wider variety of pitches to throw. Strange spins could be imparted by the 6th, 7th, and 8th fingers. Without a corresponding benefit to batters, averages would likely decrease. And I can't think of a particular benefit to batters of additional fingers. To the contrary, they would face another detriment: Fielders would have large gloves and additional fielding dexterity. Hot ground balls would be successfully fielded more often; low throws dug out more effectively.

If we had 16 fingers, we'd probably have 16 toes too. That might benefit hitters a little. They would probably be more stable. However, so would fielders and pitchers pushing off their back feet. Would players be faster? I don't know. Do people who lose toes become slower?

Based on these difficulties, I'd be surprised if many hexadecimal-land hitters batted better than 10c.

Just to show I'm not totally consumed by baseball, let’s think in non-baseball terms. In April, I turned 21. Cool! Of course, I would have been getting snot-drunk since the age of 15. The next major milestone would occur when I turn 41 and become eligible for social security. A store that never closes would be open 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, 16d days a year. Speaking of years, what year is it? Why, it's the year of our Lord, 7d3, of course.

There may be a smartass out there who will make the following observation: If we really lived in hexadecimal land, numerals would not run from 0 to 10 and then be followed by letters. Instead, we would have 6 additional numerals. Thus, all the examples above are incorrect, because they depend on a force-fitting of a hexadecimal nomenclature into a decimal world. To that smartass, I say: There, I've made the point for you. Just realize this: You're annoying. Almost as annoying as someone who would spend an hour of a perfectly good day running meaningless crap through a stupid numerical conversion calculator he found on the internet.

* Don't ask me how this fits in with the scary story you've heard from Joseph K. I can't compete with that, and I can't post anything that might be deemed an attempt to compete with that. So instead I'm posting something that is totally, utterly, and absurdly different.


Blogger Earl Cootie said...

Well, I've spent a portion of my 2A years of life working with non-decimal numbering systems, and I've often found myself pondering these things of which you blog. In fact, oh, about F years ago, when I was a hardware guy, I dealt daily with the hexadecimal system (plus a good bit of binary and a smidgen of octal). A bar acquaintance a few years later called me "Charlie" because when I met him, I somehow got onto the subject of hexadecimal and the answer to one of my math examples was 3Charlie. Hm. I guess that's kind of sad. Forget it.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Sharfa said...

Not to be insulting, more to point out my total ineptness of mathmatical ability and how much that went completely over my head:

1.You have waaaay too much time on your hands.


2.You just totally geeked out.

It still made me chuckle though.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I'm of the "too much time" opinion, I'm afraid. I mean, it took me a bit (slow day at work) to come to terms with the fact that, on my calculator, any six digit number comprised of 2 sets of "straight-line 3 digits" (eg. 123789 or 741963 or 159753 etc) is evenly divisible by 3. [shouldn't we have learned that in elementary school or something?]

And that's all in regular decimal - I shudder to think of the corresponding hexadecimal issues...

2:03 AM  
Blogger Spiral Stairs said...

Earl: You are my hero. Working hexadecimal into conversation: Wow.

Sharfa: Both true. No shame in either.

Jenn: Wow, I can't even fathom figuring that out. I thought I had time; you must have more time than at least 4b% of people.

1:34 PM  
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12:46 PM  

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