Seth Brown | The Pun Also Rises: Down With Leap Year, Up With Metric Time


NORTH ADAMS — Everyone agrees America is being ruined. They just don't agree on is the culprit.

Some people blame Obama, some blamed Scalia, some blame Beyonce. Some people blame the private prison system, some blame the welfare system, some blame New York System — a shame, as their hot dogs are delicious.

But I know the real culprit, the force destroying our nation which must be stopped once and for all: Leap Year.

A recent survey among me shows that February is the most disliked month. Not only does it contain the worst holiday ever (National Feel Terrible About Being Single Or Feel Pressured To Buy Things For Your Sweetie Day), but it also gets so cold that th--*kra-splinkt*

Sorry, my frozen index finger shattered as I was typing that sentence.

Mercifully, this most despised month of the year is usually quite short. But Leap Year extends February by over 3 percent, which is more than Ben Carson got in the New Hampshire primary.

Yet the worst thing about Leap Year is that it is a blight on our collective reckoning of time itself. We live in a world of time-keeping devices hung in the streets, on walls, upon our nightstands, on our wrists, and melting over tree branches (presuming you are Salvador Dali). Our electronic devices all have a clock which can be calibrated to the atomic clock to make sure we are precise to the millisecond when we set our TV to record Walking Dead.

And yet, once every four years, we randomly throw an entire extra day into our calendar. This seems very slapdash, and one has to wonder about the conversation when this idea was first suggested.

"Hey, we have a slight time measurement error; do you mind if we add a few extra seconds at the end of the month?"

"Well, how many is a few?"

"Er... eighty-six thousand four hundred or so."

"So, we're supposed to what, just magically create an extra day out of thin air?"

"Yeah, sorry about that. But we really need this."

"Well, that is inconvenient, but at least this will fix the problem so it never happens again."

"Er... not quite."

"What do you mean 'Not quite'?"

"Technically speaking, we'll be dumping another eighty-six thousand and change seconds on you every four years."

"Ugh, that's super-annoying. Can we at least take a break every century or so?"

"Oh, sure, no problem. Thanks so much. We'll be back next week to talk about our other new idea where we add an hour in the middle of the year and then steal it back later."

We need a better method of measuring time. And as I've said for years, that better method is Metric Time.

The metric system measures length in simple meters, centimeters, and kilometers, while the English system has 12 inches to the foot, three feet to the yard, and 10 yards to the first down. We fought the Revolutionary War to escape from beneath the oppressive foot of the English king, yet we still measure length by that oppressive foot.

When you get away from length it's even worse. Two pints to the quart, four pints to the hobbit, seven hobbits to the sheet, three sheets to the wind, and 99 problems to the Jay-Z hit. The metric system easily handles all of this with a system of tens.

Now, let's look at time. 60 seconds to the minute, 60 minutes to the Andy Rooney, and eight days a week. Clearly we should replace this with Metric Time. Get rid of this ridiculous "day" concept and replace it with a decimal system based on chrons. The chron, of course, is our standard unit of time (named in honor of Chronos, god of time), and is equal to slightly more than eight hours. Millichrons, Kilochrons, etc.

Metric time will fix a lot of problems. You can sleep for a chron and be awake for two chrons, taking a decichron for lunch at your leisure. Time will be measured precisely, so this whole "Leap Year" kludge can be eliminated. Until that day comes, I shall continue making Americans aware of this serious problem, and will mention it again in around four kilochrons.

Seth Brown is an award-winning humor columnist, the author of "From God To Verse", and a chronic curmudgeon. His website is


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