Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year: Welcome 2010!

Well, it's official: With the arrival of 2010, we are finally just one year away from closing the books on this decade, which in many ways will probably be judged as rotten from start to finish. (That is, unless some truly great things happen this year, but I'm not holding out much hope for that).

The media has been acting like 2010 is the beginning of a new decade. It's not. It's just a nice, round number. If the calendar we follow was different, 2010 would be the beginning of a new decade, but it turns out the people who originally put together our calendar did not include a Year Zero. That means the ancient calendar went from the year 1 B.C. to 1 A.D.

The reason for this is the present system we use for counting wasn't invented until well after the time of Jesus. Prior to that, Roman numerals were used, and they don't include an integer for zero. So that's why there isn't any year zero.

(B.C., for those who did not pay attention in history class, stands for Before Christ; an E can also be added on the end of the acronym so it stands for Before Common Era. A.D. stands for Anno Domini, or, In the Year of Our Lord).

Consequently, since there was no Year Zero, every A.D. year ending in "1" is equivalent to "0". That means we have three hundred and sixty days to go before we leave the decade of the Bush error behind us. And yes, the absence of the Year Zero also means we celebrated the arrival of the third millennium one year early.

In retrospect, it's just as well since we frightened ourselves silly with "Y2K". As comedian Lewis Black (a favorite of many at NPI) joked back in 2000:
It was the worst New Year's ever. Ever!

We scared ourselves so badly... Seven year-olds, locked in a closet, by themselves, don't have the paranoid fantasies we came up with!

Don't go out! Don't go out! We don't know what's going to happen. We don't know! There could be giant ticks everywhere. We don't know!

Most Americans were so scared that they actually stayed home... and watched people in other countries have fun on television. By nine o'clock we knew this was nonsense. Nine in the morning we knew there was no "Y2K". I'm sitting there, I'm watching these people in Afghanistan - they don't have two sticks to rub together - they're having more fun than I'm going to have all year!
Because North America lies within the Western Hemisphere, we are among the last in the world to celebrate the New Year. Australia and New Zealand, for instance, entered 2010 more than eighteen hours ago.

In Sydney, it's currently mid-evening on a warm summer New Year's Day, and in Auckland, it's about a half hour or so past sundown.

The Left Coast does, however, get to ring in the new year ahead of Alaska and Hawaii. It's just after ten in Honolulu and just after eleven in Anchorage.

That's it for this first post of 2010. Happy New Year! Here's to the noble but unachieved goal of lasting peace and prosperity throughout the world.


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