Opinion

Millenium ponderings

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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.

PPP

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

Community Center.

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

e-mail treismaj@hotmail.com.

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