US vs. European Date Notation

Paul Hill phill at
Fri Jun 4 14:25:28 UTC 1999

Markus Kuhn wrote:
> I didn't like the resulting
> article much. 

I can't say I liked it much either, but I think your conclusions are

> Mr. Auerbach presented as THE international
> standard format and yyyy-mm-dd as something only pushed by "a small but
> influential band of global order-makers" [...]
> In general, the article has a clear tendency
> to make fun of international standardization 

I thought it pushes for the older pre-ISO-8601 euro-standard of

I count the following:
15 YESes for[yy]yy, including the opening 2 opinions.

This included:
-- a banker at Merril Lynch -- what could be more All-American(TM)?

-- several militarists -- including the DoD itself, and several retired
militarist (can we guess these guys aren't sitting around at a
veteran's hall, but maybe members of the industrial-military complex.

-- a historian -- what could be more American than a historian at
Plymouth Rock!
-- and several other business folks, 
-- plus an Englishman (we can ignore him :-) 
-- and some other computer guy; all backed-up by American usage

This all sounds like a solid bunch of supporters to me.

On the other hand, there were 4 NOs for, but yes for the
style.  The four were:
1. a principal of a grammer-school (note he didn't use the more neutral
term: elementary school);
2. a proofreader (who either is a famous cartoonist or has the same
name and lives in the same city);
3. the old dictionary entry (but immediately counter by a yeah from the
himself) and 
4. a banker -- but not one at a company worth mentioning.

The 1st group not only out numbers the second in the article, but I
gets much more respect from your average WSJ reader 
any day of the week including on the 4th of July (or is
that July the 4th :-) In fact, I'm so sure of who the average reader
respect that I'll bet you a case of Bud, but I'm not sure you'd want to 
drink it.  I know I wouldn't.

> and it desperately tries to
> mix in good old-fashined All-American [TM] patriotism to generate the
> warm fuzzy national-anthem-singing feeling that Auerbach probably thinks
> the reader seems to hunger for. 

Another reading might suggest that a summary could be: American business
military are moving toward the (old) European date standard including 
all-american flag waving companies like Budweiser.

> The information on ISO 8601 served only
> as a cheap background contrast in this image ...

I'd have to agree with that, but I'd suggest that this article 
is less nationalistic than a typical example of a word oriented person 
who is more than willing to go with a little-endian single, smallest on 
the left, word-order style, that is more international and replace an
older "quirky" two phrase syntax. At the same time, to the author it 
seems hardly worth mentioning a big-endian, smallest on the right,
number-oriented style.

> Well, it wasn't the first disappointment I had with journalists who
> probably know already what they want to write before they interview you.

Maybe also you already knew what you wanted to read. ;-)

> About the Bud label: Does 02Jan03 now mean 2003-01-02 or 2002-01-03? Who
> cares, I am looking forward to collect Y2K bottles saying 02Jan100
> anyway ... :-)

I bet they don't appear, but I can send you an example if I see one.

By the way, the history of "mmm dd, yyyy" mentioned in the article
like a hokum to me.

Paul A. Hill, Myriad Genetics Laboratories,

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