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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/594

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

present absurd method, involving two sets of twelve hours each, all marked with the necessary appendages, "morning," "afternoon," "evening," "A.M.," "P.M." and so forth. All this is just as sensible as it would be to name months enough for half a year only, and then to repeat them during the last half, with some cabalistic letters attached to distinguish them from the first set. It is surely more logical and definite to commence the day at midnight and number it straight through, as we would number any other series of parts belonging to a whole. If our clocks, watches and railway time-tables were numbered in this way, it would require but a few months for everybody to become entirely conversant with the new method. The writer has long carried his watch with the hours from 13 to 24 marked in red figures below the usual black ones. Any old time-piece can be so marked and the new scheme thus automatically becomes familiar.

The improved numeration has long been in use by the big Canadian railways and by various railways in Europe. It is also used by the general public in some places on the continent, but just to what extent I am not fully informed. Only to-day the news is cabled that the 24hour scheme has been adopted in France.

Some years ago this numeration was advocated and practised at its conventions by so scientific a body as the American Society of Civil Engineers. Thus, they habitually, upon their programs, etc., appointed afternoon meetings at 14 o'clock; dinners at 19.30 o'clock and dances at 21 o'clock, and so on. They have for a few years allowed the matter to drop, but it is to be hoped only temporarily.

In the diagram below I have tabulated the chief points of the Geneva scheme before referred to, except that I have used the German spelling "kalender" which I suggest for future use, to distinguish it from the old "calendar" previously used. It is better thus to place the 31-day months at the beginning of the season rather than at the end; firstly, because in such case there are two less of the old months to change the length of than is the case by the other plan; and, secondly, because with a 30-day month at the end of the season, the "leap day" following June and the "extra-day" following December can, if desired, be considered as part of the month preceding them, thus giving it thirty-one days. This need not affect the position of the weeks, but it might be convenient in some cases involving monthly stipends, as in paying for domestic service, etc. Thus, there never would be thirty-two days to consider as perhaps belonging to a month, which would be the case with the other arrangement.

An inspection of the table will show the fortunate circumstance that all of our present American holidays occur on week-days, with one exception. This is Lincoln's birthday, which com.es upon Sunday, February 12. It is perhaps better so, as another holiday, Washington's