October 3, 2008 · Updated 1:50 AM
Happy New Year! And as for the new millennium, are we there yet?
The discussion continues. Here are a few musings to consider. In many
cultures, when someone turns one, they have lived for one year _ from the day
they were born through the first anniversary of their birth, or one trip
around the sun on spaceship earth. Likewise, when someone turns 100, they
have lived through 100 years, from the beginning of their life's
time line to the 100th consecutive evenly spaced
point along that line.
This counting is possible because we recognize or designate the
starting point as zero. Zero is a tricky, sometimes elusive, extremely useful
construct. For measuring elapsed time or distance, zero provides an origin,
a starting point. But surprisingly, as one of the world's highly valued tolls
for solving problems and constructing knowledge, it is a relative newcomer.
And with zero lies the crux of the millennium quandary. It is not
clear that the "Christian era" time line,
the one that now puts us at 2000 A.D., ever had "year zero" between 1 B.C. and
1 A.D. Enumerating the years, ticking off either first century, going
forward (A.D.) or backward (B.C.) in time, is done using the "counting
numbers." The "counting numbers" are
a bonafide mathematical category, the core of the real numbers. They
are whole, start at 1 and just keep going up. (And yes, there are
imaginary numbers, but that's for another day )
Think about counting the pages as you read a book: you start on the
first page, it's labeled one, and when you finish, you've read one page.
When you finish page 100, you've read 100 pages. So it goes, some argue,
with millennia: since the counting started at one (1 A.D.), the first
millennium, a period of 1000 years, concluded with the last day of the year 1000.
Thus, the second millennium began on 1001, and the third would begin on 2001.
This, they say, follows the logic of reading a 1000 page book and
saying you're done when you've finished reading the last page. It wouldn't
work to say you're done when you finish page 999 and begin page 1000.
But perhaps the popular lure of the even thousands, 1000, 2000, has
made the careful counters' arguments seem picayune and even a bit cranky.
But just think _ if we do come to recognize 2001 as the beginning of the
new millennium, Seattle gets a second chance to have the Big Party!
The sun came up, the rain came down, the world as we know it is
continuing. Just think of all the people who made a lot of money last year
catering to Y2K concerns, real or imaginary. In the annals of history,
will "Y2K Preparedness" join the likes
of the basement fallout shelters of the `50s? Who knows, and as they
point out, we haven't made it past February 29 yet.
Heads up for two important Comp Plan Update meetings: Land Use
and Zoning Changes are the topic for the Monday, Jan. 10, meeting at
Tolt Middle School; Code Changes, including rural legacy, farm and
forest issues will be covered on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at the Preston
Meetings are from 7 to 9 p.m. Copies of the Public Review Drafts are
in the library or at www.metrokc.gov/exec/orpp/cpmpplan/.
News Notes items may be
submitted to Janna Treisman
at Box 1329, Fall City, WA 98024; or phone (425) 222-5594 or