Is it the Millennium yet?...
The Royal Observatory in Greenwich has announced that the
real millennium change is 1/1/2001. I find this kind of nitpicking
to be a trifle annoying. It is true that if there had been a real calendar
in use for 1999 years beginning in a year "1" that the 3rd millennium
would actually begin in 2001... BUT
1. The Gregorian calendar (last major adjustment in Sept 1752
for English-speaking countries) was set by that pope,
within the 2nd millennium, to begin at the conventional date
of the birth of Jesus. There is good reason now to believe that the
historical Jesus was born around four years earlier than year "1".
On this basis the millennium "really" ocurred around 1996.
2. Given that Jesus were born in the year 1 and we observe
the conventional date as December 25, then we should not
observe the millennium until 12/25/2001. More likely Jesus
was born in the month of March which is when shepherds "tend
their flocks by night" while the ewes are giving birth. The point
is that the starting point of the calendar is riddled with imprecision.
3. Remember when you were a small child riding with your Dad
in the car and he slowed down so you both could watch the
odometer roll over to an even thousand miles? Watching all
those zeros move at once is fascinating. Nobody says
"My car turned over 100001 miles today!" Likewise 2000
is the millennium event and not 2001.
4. You might say "Well a new car's mileage is 000000 not
000001 so car mileage is different than the calendar!" There is
something strange about the year number being a name for
the year which will not be a "number" of years, i.e. years
actually "counted," until year's end. To make calendar
years more like numbers used for counting it might make
more sense to start the calendar at year "0." Of course the
Gregorian calendar is patterned on the calendar of Julius
Caesar and we know that the Romans did not use a number
5. If fact, nobody starts their calendar THIS year. Even the
Romans kept fudging the start date for their calendars back to
earlier times just as if they had been ticking off the years since
that date all along... so it is ludicrous to split hairs on our end
of the time scale.
6. When you turn 40 people say you are in your "40's,"
a useful concept for a block of time. Likewise the year
1990 is in the "1990's" meaning that the date is later than
12/31/1989 but earlier than 1/1/2000. Clearly we are no longer
in "the 90's." Likewise, it is a useful distinction to say we are
in the 3rd Millennium similarly because the date is later than
12/31/1999 but earlier than 1/1/3000.
7. Okay, okay, 1/1/2000 is a new year and a new decade, so
it just seems, well, untidy for it not to be a new century and
a new millennium as well!
The Vatican seems to get around the problem by declaring
2000 a Jubilee Year. Looks like we can celebrate all year long
Men of Honor
Another Concept of Animals
Rules of Chocolate
Working with Volunteers
Laws of Cat Physics
Complaint to the Pontiac Division
Impediment to Peace