In my struggle, shared with some 190 million of my fellow citizens, to fathom why the Congress waited until the ’10th’ hour, albeit 24 hours late, to pass legislation preventing the draconian impact of the ‘fiscal cliff,’  it came to me this morning.


The necessary debate and final vote during the holidays between December 24th and January 2nd occurred during what is as close to a news blackout as we can muster in this, the age of 24/7 communication.


Most of us had simply tuned out.


While many of us were ho-ho-hoing and, hopefully, arranging for the designated driver, they thought they could slip this bit of buffoonery past us.


They had overlooked the third part of the trilogy:  You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

(attributed to Abraham Lincoln)

Why did they miss the deadline by twenty-two hours?  Well, date-time math is tough, what with all those 12s and 60s.  Even the Excel spreadsheet has trouble with some of the concepts.


By the way, we have no lock on this math challenge, either geographically or in time.  In the Jonathan Swift 1726 satire spun around the travels of Lemuel Gulliver, Lem meets the Laputans:


“Laputa’s population consists mainly of educated people, who are fond of mathematics, astronomy, music and technology, but fail to make practical use of their knowledge. Servants make up the rest of the population.


“The Laputans have mastered magnetic levitation and discovered the two moons of Mars (which in reality would not be discovered for another 150 years). However, they are unable to construct well-designed clothing or buildings, because they take measurements with instruments such as quadrants and a compass rather than with tape measures.”  (


Remember, not ALL of us, not ALL the time!