Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Decade Is It, Anyway?

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote an article in Sunday's opinion section entitled, "The Big Zero" in which he analyzes the economic history of the 2000s. It begins as follows:

"Maybe we knew, at some unconscious, instinctive level, that it would be an era best forgotten. Whatever the reason, we got through the first decade of the new millennium without ever agreeing on what to call it. The aughts? The naughties? Whatever. (Yes, I know that strictly speaking the millennium didn’t begin until 2001. Do we really care?)"

Yes, we do. I am one of the people who really cares, and if you knew me ten years ago, you heard it then; I just didn't have access to a blog at the time. The last year of the twentieth century was not 1999, it was 2000. The first year of the twenty-first century was 2001. Accordingly, the last year of whatever this decade is called will be the coming year, 2010. We will begin the teens, as I assume they will be called, in 2011, just a couple of days from a year from now.

Think about your birthday, for instance. Say you are going to be 58 tomorrow. That means you will have completed fifty eight years of life, and the day after your birthday - New Years Eve - you will begin working on year number fifty nine. So if on New Years Eve someone wishes you a happy 58th year, you should tell them that you have already completed fifty eight years in the world. If they then change the subject and opine that they are looking forward to the coming decade being better than the last, you should tell them that the decade for which they are so eager won't begin for another year. Or perhaps you should just say, "Thank you and happy new year to you", drink your champagne and shut up.

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