Monday, November 15, 2004

The Numbers Are Sapping Our Essence

My friend Naz Nomad provided a link to this story: An Indiana congressman wants to change the number of Interstate 69.
Hostettler, a proponent of the interstate extension, agrees. “Every time I
have been out in the public with an ‘I-69’ button on my lapel, teenagers
point and snicker at it. I have had many ask me if they can have my button. I believe it is time to change the name of the highway. It is the moral thing to do.”

Another data point to support my theory: The entire conservative social agenda is driven by parents being embarrassed to talk to their teenagers.

The Hoosier Gazette offers some pedantic support to Rep. Hostettler's initiative:

As a matter of fact, naming the highway’s extension I-69 is a violation of the
Interstate Highway System’s rules for numbering roads. Interstates numbers
are to increase from west to east. If the extension through southern
Indiana is named I-69, then 69 will be west of I-65, a direct violation.

Forgive me, but this is a case of the media and the congressman engaging in some 69 action on each other. Not even hot paper-on-pol action--I'd call it perfunctory--but still, a surrender of the chaste gazetteering that Hoosiers have traditionally insisted on.

Let me just ask -- Is the ultimate goal to eliminate 69 from the list of whole numbers altogether? Because that seems a little off the wall to me. What if we just tried to be cool and accept 69 whenever it naturally occurs, in highway numbers or street addresses or whatever? The other way to go is to change hundreds of highway signs and have the old ones turn up in college dorm rooms and on eBay. I don't think that's the way to lessen the sexual connotation of old 69.

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