Tonight I found this in a folder on my computer. It’s from earlier this year.

My friend asked me why Flamenco musicians count a bulerias or solea rhythm starting with 12 instead of 1. This was my lengthy answer to him, and I quickly went off topic… :-)

The gypsies took the example of a clock, is what I heard. Looking at the clock face the 12 is at the top, so you start on the 12. The old traditional pattern has accents on 12, 3, 6, 8, 10, then came the newer one you described 12, 3, 7, 8, 10, and now there all kinds of variations of that. So, the clock is probably the cause of starting the count with 12.

Old Byzantine math used 12 as the basis, instead of 10. Decimal time was also called French Revolutionary Time. Anyway, the church wanted to hold on to old Byzantine math, which is why they made a deal with Napoleon. He had been excommunicated by the church, but was feeling his age and wanted the church to accept him again. At the time France was moving to decimal everything, after all they had invented the meter, the kilogram, etc. So naturally the French divided the day into 10 hours instead of 24, which made each hour rather long, into 100 minutes per hour, which made the new minute not much longer than the old minute, and 100 seconds per minute. There are 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds in a 24 hour day, and 1,000 minutes, or 100,000 seconds in the French 10 hour day. It’s what Star Trek time sounds like: 6.3.5 hours, meaning the sixth hour, plus 30 minutes (3/10 out of 100) and 50 seconds (5/10 or half of 100 seconds). Midnight would be zero, 6AM would become 2.5, noon would become 5, 6PM would become 7.5. A 90′ performance as we know it, would last 62.5 new minutes. 120′ would become 83 new minutes. 10 minutes of old time would become 6.94 new minutes. I bet we would get used to it really quickly. Might need two dials on the Apple Watch so we can switch back and forth while we are learning to change. Or a conversion page added to the clock app. Easy!

So anyway, the pope made the condition that if France should go back to the old 24/60/60 division of time, he would lift the excommunication from Napoleon.

On one hand it’s a total bummer that we are still dealing with inches and feet in this country, with the ridiculous armpit scale called Fahrenheit, and a 24 hour day, but on the other hand maybe it’s nice to use some old things that have no value and purpose other than this is how we used to do stuff. It’s not smart, it’s not practical, but it’s a piece of history.

PS: The reason I refer to Fahrenheit as the armpit scale is because 0° = freezing of salt-slush and 100° = the armpit of the inventor’s wife. Unbeknownst to him she was running a fever at the time.

Compare that to the clean and sensible French method of freezing water and boiling water at sea level. Now that makes sense.