Dec. 20, 1999

It's Not the Freakin' Millennium!

Definition of "millennium": one thousand years.

OK, let's do this one more time: They started counting at year one. Not zero, like your age. One. The beginning of year two was the FIRST anniversary. The beginning of year ten was the NINTH anniversary. And the beginning of year 2000 is the 1999th anniversary!

The twentieth century has one more year to run. Ditto the current millennium.

Not to mention that in many other cultures it's not the year 1999 anyway.

I understand that the big deal is that the first digit of the date will soon be a 2 instead of a 1. If we must, we can call it the turn of the century. Is a single digit worth all this hysteria? I personally postdated some bowling scoresheets for January 2000 and while it felt weird, I think I survived the ordeal.

What bugs me most about this is not the popular misconception itself.. it's that the media, who should know better, are perpetuating it shamelessly!

Take CNN (please!).. everything is the LAST one of the millennium. The last full moon, the last Christmas, etc etc... NOT! Even worse, they describe the upcoming US Presidential election (November 2000) as the FIRST of the NEW millennium, and the 21st century! DOUBLE NOT!

Is CNN pandering to the perceptions of the masses?? No! They can't even use that excuse, for on their website they have posted a poll (I think you have to click to choose from other available polls) where one can vote for the date the millennium "actually" begins. And the results so far? EIGHTY PER CENT got it right. Four out of five.

Tell the terrorists to chill until next year.

Earlier this evening I happened upon the Encyclopedia Britannica's website. This headline on the front page caught my eye: The Medicine of Art.. oh goodie, an article on how art forms enrich the spirit, thus enabling the body to heal itself!

Uh, not quite.

Rather, it was about the chemistry of different kinds of paint and pigments, and art restoration techniques. Important but about as stimulating as........ watching paint dry. (I couldn't resist!)

I tried looking up "millennium" there but landed at the Barnes & Noble bookstore, somehow. The line between education and marketing continues to blur..

I notice they have a free email service. You can have an address @britannica.com. Will that make your letters look smarter?

How the world has changed.. Over there in the corner of the room sits a 24-volume set of Britannica (plus world atlas), 1960 edition, purchased back then by my well-meaning parents. It had more use looking up crossword puzzle clues than it did furthering my education, but it's kind of a cool museum piece now.

For my own kids, it was Encarta '95 on CD-ROM, and failing that, trips to the library. Today, everything is free online. Zillions of trees can breathe easier.

Dad update: The doctor says he can stay off his pill medication (casodex?) until he comes back home (early March) as long as he gets his lupron shot in February. Considering how sick he felt on the pills, there's probably not much choice. He sounds so much more like himself now. I must keep repeating to myself, "quality of life, quality of life.."

Three more days till we leave. I'll probably manage one more entry, likely to contain hysterics about how I leave everything to the last minute. Hey I loaded up my camera and set aside some books today. That's a start!

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