All Day, And All Of The Night


30% of you either can’t count, or don’t know the difference between day and night – or both. Now that you’re insulted, here’s why.

In the picture above, the ‘No Parking’ sign says “from 10 AM to 12 PM.”  I know that they mean only for two hours, but the sign takes it from one ‘time zone’ into another, making it seem as if it indicates fourteen.

Let’s start at the bottom. There is no 12 AM or 12 PM!  The M stands for meridiem, noon, the split second that the sun is highest in the sky.  AM is ante meridiem – before noon.  PM is post meridiem – after noon.  You can’t have a 12:00 o’clock noon that is before noon, or after noon.

I recently was researching something on, and came across this statement, “Noon is conventionally expressed as 12 p.m. or 12:00 p.m. and midnight as 12 a.m. or 12:00 a.m.” Some quick research revealed that only 30% of people believe that.  Like a bunch of dentists in Reno, it’s not really that big a convention.

I like the Military or Medical way of doing things. With 1200, or 2400, there’s no doubt or confusion.  Son Shimoniac sets his wristwatch to 24 Hour time, or he used to, until he decided to get two pocket watches, one for work, one for dress.

No Parking sign painters in NYC used to be part of the 30% wrong-way crowd, until a court challenge proved them wrong – or at least so confusing as to be unenforceable. Signs had to be repainted, indicating noon as ‘noon’ or ‘Nn’, and midnight as ‘Mn.’

Yin Yang

Let’s learn to count. Did you start at 1, and end at 12?  Actually, you started at zero, and stopped at 12.  If 2 follows 1, and 3 follows 2, and 4 follows 3….then 12 follows 11.  If 1, and 2, and 3.…and 11 are AM, then 12 is AM too.  You don’t start counting at 12, and end at 11.  Like the Yin/Yang, you begin with the least, and end with the most.  The one chronon – noon (or midnight) – between 12:00 and 00:00 is where AM turns to PM.

I was going to continue with my usual long-winded rant, but it’s like explaining that water is wet. If you still don’t get it, if you don’t understand that 12 comes after 11, not before, I can’t help you.  Don’t blame me when you get a parking ticket.  Like the band Chicago’s song, 25 or 6 to 4 – Does anybody really know what time it is?    😕

12 thoughts on “All Day, And All Of The Night

  1. I don’t think anyone should be parking there, the house is on fire!


  2. Dan Antion says:

    I was going to ask if all those cars shouldn’t move so the firetruck has a place to park. My wife’s pet peeve is when the national weather says “Tonight’s forecast includes rain ending at 3:00 and then fog between 3:00 am and 6:00 am. She’s pretty sure that’s part of tomorrow’s forecast.


  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    The noon thing is indeed nonsensical, but the am/pm convention is less illogical than any other I can think of for 12 hour spans. Military time is better but society’s meme is too firmly embedded. Kind of like trying to get the U.S. to switch to metric. We yankees are a stubborn lot. Might as well try to herd cats.

    This reminds me of another big problem with numbering, one that has always driven me nuts: the centuries. The 20th century, for example, spans the time from 1/1/1900 to 12/31/1999. Or does it? Maybe it started in 1901 and ended in 2000? Depends on whom you ask. But the real problem is that the 20th century is called the 1900’s and not the 2000’s because Pope Gregory didn’t understand the concept of zero. To those who do, like myself, the first century should have been the 100’s and the century before that, the oughts. Aargh.

    Other people have thought about this too, although it ain’t gonna change. All those history books would have to be revised. OMG.


    • Archon's Den says:

      That’s why Arthur C. Clarke titled his book, ‘2001, A Space Odyssey.’
      The end of the second millennium was New Year’s Eve, 2000/2001, but the religious doomsayers had it the year before. Not much smarter than the peasants of a thousand years before. Not even counting the fact that Catholic monks lost count, and 2000 years had expired about three years previous to that.


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