We Made It!

When I was a kid, I would sometimes wonder if I’d live to see the 21st Century. I’m not particularly old, so it wasn’t a question of dying of old age first, but rather that I grew up in 1960s Los Angeles, with all the anxiety that entailed.

This was an era of “duck and cover” drills in elementary schools, borne of the somewhat laughable thought that everything would be fine if you got under a desk during an “atomic war.”

And if war didn’t kill you, surely the air would: I remember that it literally hurt my chest to take even a normal breath in smog-choked 1960s Los Angeles, let alone a deep one, on bad days — which included most of every summer.

We don’t have a gigantic permanent space station in orbit as a way-point to the moon, nor manned missions to Jupiter (sorry, Arthur C. Clarke, but at least you lived to see 2001!), but we do have a space station — thanks in large part to the heavy-duty launchers of that nuclear foe, Russia — and the neat unmanned Cassini probe approaching Jupiter even as I type.

But now, with the Cold War over, it looks like the rosy prognosticators were more correct than the doom-sayers. I’m glad you all got here with me.

And It’s the Right Date

And speaking of the start of the “Real” Millennium, I got yet another message on the subject, from Alex in NSW, Australia, about this post from a year ago:

I have just caught up with the petty discussions and arguments your site has been hosting regarding the correct commencement time of the third millenium and the twentyfirst century. So what if we didn’t have a year zero – so bloody what! This doesn’t mean that each successive millenia need to suffer by clicking over at the wrong date. All it means is that THE FIRST MILLENIUM WAS 1 YEAR SHORT!!! It’s as simple as that, and if you insist that each and every millenium must have 1000 years then count the first millenium as commencing a year earlier at 1B.C. I’m afraid to inform your readers that anyone who insists that the third millenium doesn’t commence until 1 Jan 2001 is petty minded, not as smart as they think, and lack the ability to think objectively and logically.

Not nearly as much as someone who spends the time to display his ignorance and argue the other way, Alex! Like others, you shouldn’t argue about the millennium until you learn how to spell it, and then understand the simple definition.

For Everyone Else, Welcome to the 21st Century!

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2 Comments on “We Made It!

  1. Reading through the Y2K page about when the 19th century ended I suddenly remembered a primary (elementary) school teacher I had who tried to explain to our class that the twentieth century started in 1950!

    I say “tried to”, because half way through his explanation he stalled, thought about it for a bit, and then went next door to ask another teacher.

  2. Oh, lordy, thank you for that page. Of course, like you, I’ve heard all the arguments, pro and con. But your slant definitely reinstated the comical edge in it, especially with comments from the Idiots.

    What brings up my comment is that I was in Kuwait. They sell these large 5-inch diameter coins called Mary Theresa’s, supposedly silver coins dredged from the wreckage of ships lost during the Arab Trader days of the 1600’s. Basically, they’re really base metal coins coated with a thin layer of silver and etched in acid to make them look old. For $12 (at that time) it was a fun souvenir to bring back for conversations. Of course, I’d tell guests the ‘story’ of the Mary Theresa’s, in which everyone was properly awed and convinced that I had a very valuable historical item. Then I’d tell them about a coin I’d misplaced that I also brought back, which was dated 4 B.C.

    Invariably, their eyes widened at losing such a rare antiquity, something that must be nearly priceless. And, of course, I’d have my laugh that no one ever considered that “B.C.” couldn’t possibly be defined until a reference point had passed when it was no longer B.C.

    In other words, the reactions of some people are so predictable that I can’t resist eliciting them for my own amusement. I suspect you do the same. Don’t take that as an insult. People pay over and over to watch Shamu do the same tricks at Seaworld.

    A lyin’ mo-fo? ME? Well, truth be told, I do sometimes ask people with a voice of incredulity, “Did you know that nearly half of all people are below average intelligence?!” When they nod and say they “believe it,” I say (at least to myself) “…and you’re one of them.” -rc


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