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Introduction to the info entry for the unix “date” command

Our units of temporal measurement, from seconds on up to months,
are so complicated, asymmetrical and disjunctive so as to make
coherent mental reckoning in time all but impossible.  Indeed, had
some tyrannical god contrived to enslave our minds to time, to
make it all but impossible for us to escape subjection to sodden
routines and unpleasant surprises, he could hardly have done
better than handing down our present system.  It is like a set of
trapezoidal building blocks, with no vertical or horizontal
surfaces, like a language in which the simplest thought demands
ornate constructions, useless particles and lengthy
circumlocutions.  Unlike the more successful patterns of language
and science, which enable us to face experience boldly or at least
level-headedly, our system of temporal calculation silently and
persistently encourages our terror of time.

…  It is as though architects had to measure length in feet,
width in meters and height in ells; as though basic instruction
manuals demanded a knowledge of five different languages.  It is

no wonder then that we often look into our own immediate past or
future, last Tuesday or a week from Sunday, with feelings of helpless confusion.  …

— Robert Grudin, `Time and the Art of Living’.

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