keepin' it thirty-six
August 27, 2019 8:22 PM   Subscribe

A thirsy-one pernif joking / dozen-five pernif serious argument for base six, and not base 12, gross, from the conlang critic YouTube channel (self-described as "the most superficial commentator on con-languages since the idiotic B. Gilson"), which usually critiques constructed languages like IS, Novial, Dothraki, Zese, Skyrim's Dovahzul, Na'vi, Klingon, and his favorite Toki Pona, among others; also featuring a history of w and, uh, whatever this is.
posted by fleacircus (9 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sold on this idea.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 10:10 PM on August 27, 2019

It sure would've been nice to have a table that listed, say all the numbers up to decimal 36 along side his new naming scheme so I didn't have to keep doing arithmetic in my head. I think my favorite part of the video was the slide that said "Most people have 14 fingers"...
posted by leahwrenn at 11:30 PM on August 27, 2019

1:00am ramble:

As someone who has done years of complex work using points, picas (12 points), and inches (6 picas; 72 points), i say that centering on 12 instead of 6 can be better in real-world use. He’s largely hung up on semantics and decimal notation (you know what i mean) and seems ignorant to the fact that those of us who work primarily in duodecimal (for the type of work where it makes sense) don’t use the system in a way that runs into the “problems” he uses to dismiss it.

Perhaps if we were in Imaginaryland and everybody was going to switch from base-10 to base-6 or -12 for all uses, then base-6 would be better in many contexts. I’ll keep my ability to easily divide by thirds and fourths and he can keep his weird hang-up where he thinks fifths are more important (he says this in one of the videos), which strikes me as the thinking of someone who is in a base-10 mindset and has never really done natural, non-contrived, base-12 work. Yet, several times he arrogantly says he’s right and those who think otherwise are wrong.

My eyes, rolling.
posted by D.C. at 2:33 AM on August 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

I am not a math person and have always had trouble understanding bases and, like, a lot of number things in general. I think I have some mild form of dyscalculia? Also, my brain just totally stopped listening around the 12 minute mark. But! I crochet. I crochet like crazy, and about six months into the obsession I realized that I was counting stitches by threes. Six years into it I absolutely use base 12 (I think??) for the majority of all my crochet work. Because crocheting in the round is about getting your work to be flat or curve as you want it to go, and that's all about stitch heights and gauge. One row of single crochet in the round that's flat is six stitches. One row of double crochet in the round that's flat is twelve stitches. To make an increase, you add six or twelve stitches to each row, or nine if you're using half-double crochet. If you want to change the rate of the curve of your work or otherwise change the shape, put a point somewhere or take it in somewhere, you have to know the rate of increase or decrease and depending on the stitch you're using it's all about counting in... base six or twelve. I think? I think. Anyway, this is pinging my brain in ways that are frustrating because I can tell there's a lot I don't understand, and don't have the vocabulary for, but that I am already currently using physically in my daily life. Arrgh!
posted by Mizu at 2:46 AM on August 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

As someone who has done years of complex work using points, picas (12 points)...

Alas, another soul lost to Helvetica Syndrome.
posted by fleacircus at 3:23 AM on August 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

"Math books that don't have that Base-6 crap in them."

posted by thelonius at 6:38 AM on August 28, 2019

When I was a teacher, I would show kids how to count on their fingers up to 99, and usually like one kid would get it, some kids would sort of understand but kept forgetting how to express values greater than 5 on one hand, and the majority would just completely not get it at all.

That finger counting in seximal part was a goddamm thing of beauty. Thanks for the post!
posted by 23skidoo at 7:27 AM on August 28, 2019

It's a little weird how quickly he dismisses counting to 12 on one hand using the knuckles as markers. My understanding is that it's the common way to count in some cultures, although as I go looking for evidence of that online right now I'm coming up with a bunch of flaky stuff. But one theory is it was used by the Sumerians and is part of why base 60 is such a popular number system even today.
posted by Nelson at 8:39 AM on August 28, 2019

I am definitely a fan of this. If you are going to use a base which is a factor of distinct primes it feels right that it's the first two primes rather than the first and third. I still prefer bases that are a power of two, but I'd support this over replacing pi with tau.
posted by 3j0hn at 4:09 PM on August 28, 2019

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