Sunday, January 5, 2020

PSA: You Can Start the New Decade Whenever You Want

I don't even know why I have to tell people this, except it turns out that a real, live Calendar Police Officer lives in my hometown. Can you imagine how excited I was to read this Letter to the Editor in my local newspaper?

Spoiler Alert: I was not at all excited.

You're going to be so sad, Eddie, because that actually IS an opinion, and not a very sound one, either.

Because, you know, math exists.

So here's a run-down of the "controversy" (and OMG, did we seriously not JUST do this ten years ago, and then ten years before that, as well, only more hysterically?):

It's the fault of early Medieval Europeans, who, unlike a lot of the rest of the world, had no concept of zero. They didn't have a word for it, and they didn't have a number for it. So when a sixth-century monk, Dionysius Exiguus, sort-of invented an entire calendar while he was actually trying to figure out what date Easter, a moveable feast, would be in the future, he just went from 1 BC to 1 AD, with no 0 in between.

Except, you know, OBVIOUSLY ZERO EXISTS. And OBVIOUSLY WE MEASURE TIME USING ZERO. Your newborn baby isn't instantly one year old the second it's born; there's a whole year zero for it to get through before it gets to have its smash cake. Friends, that's just how time works, and also common sense, and you don't have to live your life celebrating every decade a year too late just because everyone in Europe 1,500 years ago gave babies their smash cakes before they were old enough to eat solid food.

If you must have everything in even tens, and can't possibly fathom celebrating our 202 decade of the Common Era if 201 decades have not completely passed, then you can also just say hey, Father Exiguus didn't know what zero was, so his first decade (or first century--take your pick!) only had nine years, the silly dude. Because ZERO IS ACTUALLY REAL.

Or you could use the mathematically correct non-religious calendar system called Astronomical Year Numbering. It includes the year zero and then starts negative numbers. It's a real calendar--endorsed by astronomers, even!--and fully stands up to Calendar Police scrutiny.

OR you could utilize yet another piece of practical common sense and remember that the word decade literally means "ten years." It does not mean any specific ten years. You can start counting the next ten years whenever you flipping want!  You can start counting a new decade this year, in fact, when common usage dictates that it makes sense!

Or you can start counting it next year, if you super want to do that. I actually don't care, as long as you don't write a letter to the editor of my local newspaper acting like you're the Chief of the Calendar Police and I don't know things. Dude, as soon as I finish reading the articles, I do the New York Times crossword AND the Sudoku. I know things!

Anyway, Happy New Year! We didn't have as splashy of a celebration as we did a decade ago--

--(how on earth did I have enough energy a decade ago to turn New Year's Eve into a weekend getaway?!? My New Year's Resolution this year is to spend more time channeling the Julie of 2010!), but we had a lovely evening together, Matt woke me up just in time to ring in the new year as a family, and I'm looking forward to a happy 2020.

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