Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tahoe Ticker Column 19 – IT’S NOT THE END OF THE DECADE!!!

OK. I know I'm crazy on this subject, but indulge me. I've heard all week long about the "end of the decade." I've heard it on sports shows, news shows, talk shows, you name it. There's just one problem:

IT'S NOT THE END OF THE DECADE

Right now, count to 10 in your head (don't do it out loud – people will look at you oddly). Did you count from one or from zero? I'll bet you my hat, buns, and overcoat that you started from one. If, oddly, you started from zero, you must have ended at 9, and then 2009 would be the end of a decade of years, but NOBODY STARTS COUNTING FROM ZERO!!!

Zero is the day you were born. One year from then you had your first birthday; when you had lived for ten years (a decade) you had your tenth birthday, and you started your second decade – that is, age ten was the zero point of your second decade.

The year 2000 was the last year of the second millennium and of the decade of the 1990's, which began in 1991. The year 2010 will be the last year of the first decade of the third millennium of the Common Era (sometimes called A.D.). Nothing that happens this week will be the "last of the decade," unless it's the last until after December 31, 2010.

Thank you for listening, I feel much better. They say I can go home soon if I promise to take my medication. Happy New Year – the last year of the unnamed decade.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know I have an additional year before I can really be depressed about the direction of the world. Maybe in 2010 Global warming will accelerate, there will be a huge tsunami, we'll all drown and I won't need the prescription for Prozac.

CI

imnxcguy said...

I liked Jon Carroll's article in the Chronicle a couple of days ago:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/01/DDQ11BBMH3.DTL

"Stephen J. Gould, a really famous scientist and pleasant human being, was on the side of the masses. He said that this was not really a scientific matter; it was a popular matter, and people just felt comfortable starting the new millennium when the first number turned over, sort of like an odometer. And once that decision was made, everything else fell into place. 2000, 2010, 2020 - it was the third number that governed the decade decision - not because he said so but because that's the way it was."

I agree with this. It's just not worth getting your underwear in a bundle over arbitrary numbers, anyway. And who cares what number we started on? It's all been mixed up over time as it is.

Take care,
Mark

CHARLES said...

Sorry Ed, I love ya like a brother but you are all wrong on this one. Counting finite items like one shoe or five toes is not the same as keeping tract of time, as in how old you are or how long you can hold your breath under water. If I was born on Jan 1, 2000 then on my birthday in 2001 I am one year old and on Jan 2, 2001 I start my second year of life. Granted I am only 1/365th of the way into my second year but I have begun my second year none the less. On Jan 1, 2010 I have am ten years old and on Jan 2, 2010 I begin my 11th year of life, my next ten years of life, or the next decade of my life.
A new born baby exists in life before they turn one year old. We do begin counting their age from 0, as in "she is six months old", etc. An item, shoe or toe, does not exist until it is counted as one shoe or one toe.
When you take your socks of tonight before going to bed, count your toes and be thankful that you don't start sprouting an 11th one when you're done. Counting items is different than keeping track of time.
Chuck Meyer