December 31, 2011

Let's talk about 12.

1. Write a poem about the new year. There are only 2 words that rhyme with 12: delve and shelve. You could expand the possibilities for rhyming with "12" by adding an additional word to the end of the line, such as "is." For example: "2012 is/a year without Elvis." Improve on that concept.

2. 12 is the largest number with a single-syllable name, so think of all the time we'll be saving saying "2012" instead of "2011." (That said, there were more rhymes for 11, including a few that are much more useful in poetry than "shelve." I'm thinking of "heaven," "seven," and "leaven.")

3. 12 feels nicely stable and satisfying, because of the familiar concept of a dozen and the number of inches in a foot. I guess that's why the 12 Steps program has 12 steps. And why there are 12 persons on a jury. You have 12 pairs of ribs too, you know. 12 months in a year. 12 hours on the clock.

4. Here's the etymology of "twelve" (which highlights the oddness of its being "twelve" and not "twelf"):
O.E. twelf, lit. "two left" (over ten), from P.Gmc. *twa-lif-, a compound of the root of two + *lif-, root of the verb leave (see eleven). Cf. O.S. twelif, O.N. tolf, O.Fris. twelef, M.Du. twalef, Du. twaalf, O.H.G. zwelif, Ger. zwölf, Goth. twalif. Outside Germanic, an analogous formation is Lith. dvylika, with second element -lika "left over."
So it's basically "2 left" (and 11 was "1 left"). It's the same concept as the "-teen" numbers, relating the number to 10, but 12 and 11 use subtraction — what is left after 10 is removed — and the "-teen" numbers use addition, with "-teen" meaning "ten more than." I wonder why. Does it have something to do with the development of a child? If the child is 11 or 12, you think of taking him back to a younger age, but at 13, you picture him standing on a foundation of childhood and building from there? If that is so, then maybe 2012 is the last year when we feel we've just entered the new century/millennium, and next year, we'll feel we are truly in it.

5. 2012 is the last year when we won't have a name — a name that we actually use — for the decade. Next year, we'll be in the "teens." Don't tell me there really was a name for the first decade of the century. You can concoct something — I'd say "the 0s," pronounced "ohs" — but we didn't call it that casually and naturally, the way we said "the 80s" and "the 90s." The first 12 years of the century have been a weird respite from focusing on the decade-ness of the decade. And that has had some subtle effect on us. 2012 is that last year to experience that effect. And then next year, 2011 and 2012 will be swept into the decade that will thenceforward be called "the teens."

6. What's your favorite "12" movie?
The Dirty Dozen
12 Angry Men
12 Monkeys
Cheaper by the Dozen
Ocean's Twelve
Twelve
12

  
pollcode.com free polls 

7. We'll ring in the new year at 12. At 12 it will be 12. Unless you're very young — and also very optimistic — you can't think that there will be any other day in your life when at 12 it will be 12. Unless you're extremely old, you've never before had the chance to realize: At 12 it will be 12. How stunningly unique today is!

80 comments:

David Avera said...

My favorite 12 movie is 12 O Clock High.

Ann Althouse said...

"My favorite 12 movie is 12 O Clock High."

Too late! Sorry. I got my list of 12 movies from Wikipedia.

Michael Haz said...

12 feels nicely stable and satisfying, because of the familiar concept of a dozen and the number of inches in a foot. I guess that's why the 12 Steps program has 12 steps. And why there are 12 persons on a jury. You have 12 pairs of ribs too, you know. 12 months in a year. 12 hours on the clock.

And the 12 Apostles.

Al of the above are why God didn't want man to use the metric system, which is based on 10, and was invented by dullards who couldn't divide/multiple by 12. ;-)

traditionalguy said...

I hope it will be as zany a year as the plot of Twelfth Night. That would be a Happy New Year!

Ann Althouse said...

"And the 12 Apostles."

The 12 Disciples included Judas, so that was instability, not stability.

Phil 3:14 said...

Numerology?

ironrailsironweights said...

For example: "2012 is/a year without Elvis."

Not necessarily true, if you believe the Elvis-is-alive stories.

Peter

oldirishpig said...

Clifton Webb or Steve Martin?

Craig said...

My nephew is an aught 9. That makes him an aughter.

Jose_K said...

The 12 Disciples included Judas, so that was instability, not stability...
They were 13 with Jesus and everybody knows that is why american building used to lack 13 th floor.
After Judas hanging another one was elected.

Ron said...

what if you were born on Jan 1, 2000?

Why at 12 it will be 12 and YOU will be 12!

traditionalguy said...

I proclaim the twelfth comment, unless The Professor deletes one.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The first 12 years of the century have been a weird respite from focusing on the decade-ness of the decade... And then next year, 2011 and 2012 will be swept into the decade that will thenceforward be called "the teens."


Echos of

This holiday has felt a bit like one last long, deep breath before we plunge into 2012.

Paddy O said...

"The 12 Disciples included Judas, so that was instability, not stability."

Ah, but Judas was replaced. The twelve tribes of Israel were represented.

Order disrupted was restored. Take that, instability!

Paco Wové said...

Forecasting economic hard times:

In twenty twelve
Men learn to delve
Or find themselves shelve-
d.

PaulV said...

Math question for English majors. Complete the following series:


1 2 6 10
0 4 5 9
3 7 8 ?

PaulV said...

12 is popular because it is divisible by 2,3,4,6. Easier to divide without knowing fractions.
60 used for seconds and minites is also divisible by 5. 360 (degrees) is also divisible by 6.

Jess said...

I see that you took Peter Hoh's comment of yesterday to heart. This is a few months late, but it is a proper haiku:

These are the virgins?
Winter of my discontent
Praying Mantis femmes

Michael said...

12

English Major
Odd, odd, evev, even
Matching the preceeding series and anticipating a fourth series.

Curious George said...

Twelve
By Curious George

Twelve is a word that means less ten leaves two,
Althouse finds it comforting, her reasons more than few.
Also called a dozen, a grouping we hold dear,
From inches on a ruler, to months in a full year.
Jury members, eggs in cartons, donuts in a bag,
It’s also the times a year a woman’s on “the rag!”
I think that’s enough for now, more examples we shant delve,
Happy New Year Althousians in two thousand twelve!

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

To welcome the year 2012 in
I'll celebrate with my Uncle Melvin.

Happy New Year!

Toy

grgeil said...

Can we all start identifying years as "Twenty - x" rather than "Two thousand - x"? Three easy syllables, "Twenty twelve".

Paddy O said...

Twas twelfish, and the yesters melve
for wame and hample in the breeke:
Full corose were the pekohelve,
And the alts raths bowneek.

"See the Twelve, my host!
The twos are left, the teens that wait!

Beware the bambam snake, and toast
The tinctuous amazate!"

Craig said...

Oops. My nephew will be two in three weeks. So he ws born in 2010. That makes him a tweener instead of a teener or an aughter.

Michael said...

A drop of melting ice
A wreath in the sun
Twelve ants drink

Henry said...

I think the 'teens' started back in November '08.

In 'A Distant Mirror' Barbara Tuchman points out that if the 14th century nobles and royalty seem incredibly feckless and erratic it's worth remembering that many of them were teenagers.

Don't have that excuse any more.

* * *

@Craig -- I like "aught" over "oh" myself. My lineup is aught-one, aught-four, aught-seven.

toby said...

Twelve Angry men was good cinema and a great cast. I've watched it several times over the decades. As I got older I came to see how Hollywood liberal the theme was, the poor minority being prosecuted. That only diminished the movie some in my eyes, it was still great writing and acting.

Old Navy said...

"helve", meaning a tool handle, is another word that rhymes with "twleve". The hand tool guys will know about it (google/bing "Galoots" to find them).

Pogo said...

Dodecahedonism: seven deadly sins and the five-fingered discount.

chickenlittle said...

I voted for The Dirty Dozen.

My favorite is not on your list. In High Noon, Gary Cooper faces down a gang of killers alone with no help from the recalcitrant townfolk he's sworn to protect. Others have mentioned political allegories but I leave that to the experts.

The word noon is interesting in its own right and stems from the 12th century.

Kirby Olson said...

The elf, being done with Christmas
Looked on the shelf
To find a book in which to delve
He came up with Twelfth Night
He read Shakespeare
While everyone else shook their pelvis.

Ann Althouse said...

I dislike "12 Angry Men"!

Any other "12 Angry Men"-haters out there?

Maybe as a stage play, it would be okay... like 50 years ago. But as a movie... it's awful. Unless you just have a guilty pleasure in hambone acting.

It's always on these lists of law movies, which are mostly junk.

You know what's also crap? "Inherit the Wind."

jeff said...

"The 12 Disciples included Judas, so that was instability, not stability"

Without Judas, would anyone have cared about the disciples, let alone how many of them there were? Wasn't he kind of a integral part?

chickenlittle said...

Oh this High Noon montage is nice--kudos to whomever trespassed those copyrights.

Robert Cook said...

12 Monkeys is my favorite "12" movie. Despite Terry Gilliam's expected stylistic eccentricities and excesses, the film becomes powerfully moving, especially in the key scene of the young boy at the airport witnessing the shooting death of the grown man who is his future self.

By the way, the year just ending is the 11th year of the 21st Century, not the 12th year, and it is the first year of the second decade of the 21st Century.

William T. Sherman said...

Speaking of "12", this will be one of the big novels of 2012:

http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Novel-Justin-Cronin/dp/0345504984/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325347141&sr=1-1

edutcher said...

12 Angry Men has been done as a plot (Rope Of Cards, a very clever riff, on Maverick was run a couple of weeks ago)in so many ways I just picked that.

The only way I'd picked Ocean's Twelve was if Ol' Blue Eyes, Dino, Sammy, and the rest of the Pack (guys like Henry Silva and Richard Conte were uncredited members) were in it.

I thought Clooney was a dud actor long before I was made aware he had views.

And the year I turned twelve (1960) was probably the worst of my life.

Not my favorite number. I'll take 13 any day.

Pogo said...

12 drummers drumming.

#OccupyXmas!

ironrailsironweights said...

I dislike "12 Angry Men"!
Any other "12 Angry Men"-haters out there?


Count me as one. It's a way overrated movie.

Peter

chickenlittle said...

Curious George nails the probable reason 12 is so special: the number of times the moon cycles the earth. Many other special numbers have "organic" origins: Ten digits; 60 beats of the heart; 360 degrees nicely encircles 12 suborbitals.

Pogo said...

A baker's dozen of bakers dozen equal 12.

Joe Schmoe said...

Curious George - awesome. 'nuf said.

Maybe an aspirant can get more mileage out of rhyming if it's broken down rap-style, like 'one-two' versus 'twelve':

watcha gonna do
in two-oh-one-two
have a hearty brew
and a cheese curd too!

chickenlittle said...

I liked 12 Angry Men, especially after doing jury duty. It's not a favorite though.

Amy said...

I've heard of "0" years referred to as the "aughts" before. Though obviously it's not common, and rather archaic, probably used in England moreso than the US.

Ann Althouse said...

I've never served on a jury. I've only been called up twice in my life. Once, I was away at college and couldn't go. The other time was here in Madison, and, of course, the lawyers rejected me.

chickenlittle said...

Pogo said...
A baker's dozen of bakers dozen equal 12.

A dozen dozen anything is gross.

chickenlittle said...

There are ways to sabotage your own jury duty if you work in the legal world at any level. In my case, I made it clear that I assisted in IP law. The case involved real estate ("real property")--metes and bounds stuff-and both sides seemed to like me at voir dire.

Chip Ahoy said...

Twelve times two is the number of light bulbs in a case. Four cases of lightbulbs is four lightbulbs short of a hundred which is a nice round decimal number for being in the teens.

At twelve o'clock noon there will be twelve hours left to drop oneself into the Althouse vortex and pass through the Amazon portal and search:

SYLVANIA 12709 100-Watt 130-Volt A19 Household Bulb, 24 Pack.

and change quantity to four in the blue box and then hit 'buy now with one click.' For the children. Think of the children.

Twelve is the number of dollars I will charge for each lightbulb in the 100 watt incandescentless future.

Twelve is the number of steps in the Hoarders Anonymous program.

Twelve is the number of times I will kick myself in the ass when the feckless government changes the law back and this whole lightbulb thing proves nothing but nonsense.

Rabel said...

When Althouse votes
In two thousand and twelve

And her small sweaty palm
Grips lever's helve

Her cruel neutral mind
Will deeply delve

Into the question
Obama to shelve?

Psychedelic George said...

12 Angry Men...

Great use of camera angles...at the end of the movie the camera is positioned below speakers, so you can see the ceiling, creating an oppressive feeling.

And what a magnificent cast with tightly drawn characters. Plus, a riveting plot.

The sort of movie I would want to show to someone from another country to try to explain to them our nation's highest ideals.
Makes me think of two other great movies that have closed room scenes--Fail Safe (Fonda and Hagman) and Downfall (the much parodied Hitler tantrum scene)

Ann Althouse said...

Helve!

Very good. I had to look it up.

Ann Althouse said...

"There are ways to sabotage your own jury duty if you work in the legal world at any level. In my case, I made it clear that I assisted in IP law. The case involved real estate ("real property")--metes and bounds stuff-and both sides seemed to like me at voir dire."

My "problem" was that I take questions seriously, so my answers always involved questions about the questions, and as a result, I seemed too weird/unpredictable/legalistic/annoying/???. It's not that I was trying to be annoying, but that I was sworn to tell the truth and then asked vague questions that required clarification to be answered honestly. I found it annoying, but I'm sure they thought I was too annoying.

Ron said...

I was on a jury where a newspaper crime beat reporter was held up at knife point at 6AM.

We convicted!

Kirby Olson said...

I've been on several juries and am shocked at the logic of the other jury members. In a drunk driving case in which two children were seriously injured at midnight on New Year's Eve, one elderly woman with blue hair said she always drinks and drives so there's no way she would convict someone for doing the same thing she does. It took an hour but I maanged to convince her to balance her sympathy with the driver to sympathy with the injured children and other likely injured or killed children if we didn't get the guy off the road. We convicted, but back then the penalty was just a lost licence for two years. He should have been imprisoned for at least ten years. He caused a ten car pile-up and claimed it was because of a sudden case of vertigo. Half the jury believed this. Right, on New Year's Eve, coming out of the Navy yard? Why did it happen then and there? Because he was DRUNK, that's why.

toby said...

People who work a profession seldom if ever like movies about that profession, be it doctors, athletes, lawyers, etc. I worked in the mental health field and never really liked any movies of that genre. So, a law professor hating 12 Angry men is consistent w/ that tradition.

The acting was the classic male acting of gthe 1950's. It was nominated for best picture, best director[the great Sidney Lumet] and best screenplay.

Having served on a criminal jury I have more knowledge than Ms. Althouse about such. I apparently wasn't found to be too obnoxious since I was selected.

Joe said...

According to my IMDB list (with 2,467 ratings) Twelve O'Clock High is my highest rated 12 movie.

David Blaska said...

2012 is also the last year that will lend itself to a numerical transcription that will duplicate the month or a time of day. Late in the year it will be 12:12 a.m. (or p.m.) on 12/12/2012. I.E., there is no 13th month or 13th hour, unless one resorts to military time.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

Athouse, I totally agree about "Inherit the Wind."

OT a bit, but kind of a tangent on "teens"-- Late this month in our waning year, I surrendered my 18 year tenure as the mother of a teenager. Whew! And that was with only 3 spread out kids.

Toy

Jeff said...

12! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZshZp-cxKg

Trashhauler said...

What a shame. For drama, acting, story-telling, cinematography, and a timeless theme, "12 O'Clock High" outshines all of the listed movies.

"Twelve Angry Men" became outdated decades ago and "The Dirty Dozen" was always intended as a caricature. Have to go with "Twelve Monkeys." Bruce Willis always gives value.

Hagar said...

A good movie could have been made out of the real situation of the "Scopes Trial," perhaps starring Bill Clinton as the mayor.

Sofa King said...

For all these reason and more, I have long advocated that we abandon our crappy base-10 counting system and switch to base-12. It would also greatly improve the metric system.

rcommal said...

But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught; but first he folwed it himselve.


Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Prologue. Line 529.

rcommal said...

Line 529! Of just the prologue!

Man, can you imagine Chaucer as a blogger?

deborah said...

Come on, Wine Slob, I'm counting on you.

Patrick said...

I didn't particularly like 12 Angry Men, but I loved seeing Jack Klugman as a younger man. I had only seen him on Quincy, M.E, and got a kick out of it.

Oligonicella said...

"There are only 2 words that rhyme with 12: delve and shelve."

Helve

Joe Schmoe said...

12 is the most common jersey number for football quarterbacks.

In 1912 Fenway Park in Boston opened. It will be 100 years old this year.

The Titanic was launched and sunk in 1912.

There are 12 days between Christmas and the Epiphany; hence the '12 Days of Christmas' carol.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Before reading the comments I picked Twelve Monkeys, one of my favorite all-time films. Then David Avera nails it in the first comment-- Twelve O'Clock High is simply a great movie, one of the first to look back at WWII honestly. I feel connected to it in a way since my uncle was an Eighth Air Force B-24 copilot who was shot down and spent a year and a half in Luftstalag 3.

ricpic said...

Let's shelve it, all the talk about '12 being the end,
Let it not be forgot that in '12 new life will be begottin',
So let's rather delve into the glory that '12 will bring,
For new life's the glory that '12 will surely bring my friend.

Blue@9 said...

Midweek I awake with a splitting hangover
and don't remember the pills or drinks
that passed my lips and laid me low
or the hips of girls I caressed
after singing karaoke
(my judgment blindfolded)
or the hours missed entirely--

the phone rings, a new voice
reminds me that the past exists
only as a memory, and sometimes it's a gift
to erase the thing entirely.

I wonder that some are so lucky
as to do the same to the future.
For instance, this week Samoa
will close its eyes to thursday
and wake up to saturday
reaching 2012 a little early
having crossed the dateline
and erased a day entirely.

Back in 1752 the british empire
adopted the gregorian calendar
and all those brits went to sleep
on september the 2nd, and woke up on the 14th,
and accordingly george washington,
who was born on february 11th
celebrated his next birthday on the 22nd
--eleven days lost, erased entirely

Quaestor said...

Ann wrote:
[M]aybe 2012 is the last year when we feel we've just entered the new century/millennium, and next year, we'll feel we are truly in it.

Yes, twelve is a significant number. Twelve months. Twelve hours of light. Twelve hours of darkness. Twelve tribes. Twelve tables. Twelve labors. Twelve apostles. Twelve days of Christmas. Twelve eggs. Our Western culture is full of cycles of twelve. Too bad it’s so unpoetical. Perhaps it all boils down to our defining nature as pattern-seeking animals. There are seasons and there are phases of the moon -- twelve cycles of the moon completed and a new cycle of seasons commences. Not directly related to the modern mind, but to the ancient mind profoundly significant. One cycle must cause the other, they thought, or at least signify the other in a mystical way. Thus twelve entered our collective consciousness and has wormed its way ever since.

Still twelve is a satisfying number, much more than ten for some reason. Ten eggs don’t go very far, but a dozen make an adequate breakfast for four, or a fine breakfast for three. Twelve months barely suffices for a year’s labor and expense, so ten months a year would be a disaster. Imagine what Christmas would be like if we had only ten months to save up for it. And twelve apostles – so twelve guys follow Jesus around (twelve signifying the Twelve Tribes of Israel, correct?) but then one ends up a traitor, leaving eleven. But the Church must restore the number to the portentous twelve, so they appoint a new apostle, a guy who never laid eyes on Jesus. Odd that.

My big frustration is a baker’s dozen. We’ve all heard of it, it’s a common phase. It’s a dozen plus a bonus of one. But who of us has seen a baker’s dozen? A bag of bakery cookies contains twelve exactly, never the pleasant surprise of thirteen. I want my baker’s dozen, damn it! if for no other reason than to make the term meaningful at least once.

As for 2012 and the mythology of twelve, I don’t believe it fits the pattern. If the last century is any guide 2012 will not be a watershed year, the great divide between the old millennium and the new. 1912 was an undistinguished year. Apart from the sinking of RMS Titannic, and the rise of Woodrow Wilson, what else of note happened? Edward VII had been gone two years, but no one spoke of a new “Georgian” era. 1912 was so indistinguishable from 1899 that the times could just as well been called Victorian.

It took a world war to give birth to the 20th century. When exactly the change happened is not clear. The war had been brewing since 1870 so it wasn’t simply the outbreak of violence. Perhaps they heard the change approaching when the tramp of German hobnails was replaced with the sound of shovels biting earth as the trenches appeared along the Marne. Perhaps there was a whiff of change in the air along with the mustard gas. The moment of birth is still obscure, yet no one could doubt that with the fall of three imperial eagles the end and the beginning were clearly marked.

We are still living in that age which dawned sometime after August, 1914. Everything of consequence to us now had its genesis in that transition. We’re in the 21st century now, but not of it. Not yet.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

12 Monkeys is my favorite "12" movie

Me too. I love time paradox stories.

JohnJEnright said...

It's not yet 2012, is it?
Till then, we might as well visit.
As for the Mayan end-of-days,
I predict it's a passing craze.

PaulV said...

Michael ENGLISH MAJORS

one two six ten
zero four five nine
three seven eight forty

MikeR said...

You did forgot to mention "elves",
When you were talking about twelves.

MikeR said...

Nyet - that's *forget

Quaestor said...

Ann wrote:
There are only 2 words that rhyme with 12: delve and shelve.

Incorrect.

helve [hɛlv]
noun
(Engineering / Tools) the handle of a hand tool such as an axe or pick
verb
(Engineering / Tools) (tr) to fit a helve to (a tool)
[Old English hielfe; related to Old Saxon hèlvi, Old High German halb, Lithuanian kìlpa stirrup; see halter]

Quaestor said...

Into this quandary I shall delve: to shelve my helve by the stroke of twelve.

WineSlob said...

It Should be a Helluva ' Twelve
For Ann and Her Cheeseland Blog Elves
Her Mousetrap Mind
Cheesed-off Detractors in a Bind
In the Velveeta Ann Sure Puts The Velve.