Since You Asked: Humility-R-Us
Your response (March 28) to Marilyn H.'s inquiry was lucid and thorough, and correct EXCEPT:
"Think of the 1st century. It began with year 1, ... and ended with the close of the year 99." Thus, the 1st century was 99 years long?! No, it wasn't! There can be no such thing as a 99-year century. The 1st century ended with the close of the year 100. As the start of the 1st century was year one, the start of each succeeding century has been '01, and each has ended with the year '00.
Which explains my exasperation with the worldwide celebration of Jan. 1, 2000, which was greeted as the start of a "new century, new millennium." It was neither. The century and the millennium started on Jan. 1, 2001.
Am I the only one left who is cognizant of this simple fact?
— Grant S., Medford
You are absolutely right. We goofed. The 2nd century didn't start until the year 101. And so on.
But we would like to argue that you're wrong in spirit about the millennium argument. We simple folk here at Since You Asked's Bastion of Millennial Celebration Defenders like folded corners, solid colors, clean numbers. Right or wrong, switching from 1999 to 2000, on its face, is more celebration-worthy than going from 2000 to 2001. It's like how we say a prayer of thanks when our old beater car's odometer rolls from 199,999 to 200,000 miles — we've broken the hoopty barrier!
And yes, you were the only one cognizant of this simp- ... er ... hang on a sec. We got an e-mail.
OK, Scott W. also is cognizant and agrees wholeheartedly with you on the millennium thing. On the years he urges us wisely to "Count them!" Fair enough.
So you and Scott are the only two peo- ... uh ... another e-mail. Just a moment ...
OK, Gloria's cognizant, too. She asked us if we "looked this one up." Apparently not, Gloria, and we deserve to have our noses rubbed in it. She apologizes "for being so picky." We love your pickiness, Gloria (and Scott and Grant)! Don't ever change!
Um ... OK. Another couple of e-mails. Wang Lo wants to sell us an herbal "upsizing" tincture, but Joel C. writes to say he, too, is highly cognizant and also points out that all the rest of you, and we, aren't quite so cognizant as to recognize that "Anno Domino" is not Latin "the year of our Lord"; that would be Anno Domini. "Anno Domino" is, as we all know, "The Year of Our Fats Domino," which was 1955, the year his "Ain't That a Shame" exploded onto the rock charts.
Whoa! Several more e-mails. What's this ... "server overloaded" message? Angry calls from corporate IT ... Wow, we're popular today, glad to see everyone is cogniza- ... Hey! Yes, we do in fact have a human mother, and, yes, she loves us! And no, our father in fact NEVER "smelled of elderberries"! As far as we know. OK, there was that one time, but he washed up right after.
We goofed. You nailed us. The reporter and editor responsible are now wearing the requisite 40-pound beard of bees. Angry bees. We hope you can overlook our infrequent flaws and see the soft gooey center surrounded by crunchy and occasionally useful information.
Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We get so many questions we can't answer them all, but we'll try.