Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A modest proposal

In science and engineering, the units used to express a quantity are typically chosen so that the number of places either before or after the decimal point are not excessive.  This makes for easy reading, and lowers the risk of a mistake (were there 7 zeros between the decimal and the '3', or were there there 6?  Better count again.)

In the boaters' world, prices and expenses are high enough that dollars have proven to be inadequate as a unit of measure.  This explains the near ubiquitous use of 'boat buck' (for you readers not fully in the boating world, a 'boat buck' is 100 regular bucks).

But we boaters are suffering from an identity problem here.  All the other currencies of the world have a symbol to identify them.  I propose that we in the boating world need a symbol for the 'boat buck'.  Without a symbol, we have no street cred.

So I started a search - through HTML and then Unicode.  My first find was (I will always show the symbol with a quantity, as it would be used): ฿1.95.  It looks great and invokes the boat buck concept by virtue of being derived from a 'B'.  Sadly, the reason that it looks so appropriately like a currency symbol is that it is a currency symbol: for the Thai currency baht.  Well.  Boating is international, and so we can't risk errors of interpretation by overloading the symbol (are you listening NASA?).  Rats.

Next, for your viewing pleasure, I have another submission: Ƀ1.88.  This is not a currency symbol anywhere in the world, at least that I could find.  To enter it (other than by copying/pasting) might seem a little complicated...  you use this collection of letters (without the enclosing single quotes):    'Ƀ'  That might seem like a lot of typing, but with use, it would become not much different than using the degree symbol: 70° by typing '70°'

And then there is perhaps the simplest version:  a strike-thru capital B:  B2.45.  Easy peasey.

Any other suggestions out there?  Which do you think we should use?

Sadly, in these days of inflation, even the boat buck is inadequate in enough cases to have spawned yet another unit of measure: the 'boat unit', where

1 'boat unit' = Ƀ10.00 = $1000 

Yet another symbol is called for.  I humbly submit this proposal:

ℬ1.000 = Ƀ10.00 = $1000

This symbol represents the Bernoulli function, and thus will never be confused with a currency.  It is produced with the characters:  'ℬ'.

Now, only accountants and gas station operators represent dollars to 3 decimal places - the rest of us are accustomed to using only two.  For the Ƀ, two places allow direct visual translation to dollars.  But please note that for the , I have provided three - two do not provide sufficient precision. 

Any other suggestions out there for the boat unit?

(I plan to begin using these unit symbols immediately, with a link back to this post as a means of explanation.)

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