last day of the 2nd millennium

Brian Garrett mgy1912 at
Sun Dec 31 19:04:53 UTC 2000

Good points, Alex.  Although I'm still not convinced that Dionysius Exiguus
was able to deal with the concept of zero
(wasn't everyone in Europe still using Roman numerals back then?), the
arguments for beginning a new century with
xx01 still carry more weight.  I hereby join Alex in welcoming us all to the
21st Century and the third Millennium, regardless of which year you

Happy New Year (and any related powers of 10 thereof :))
Brian Garrett

----- Original Message -----
From: Alex LIVINGSTON <alex at>
To: <CALNDR-L at ECUMAIL7.ECU.EDU>; GIRGIS Laila <laila at>;
<tz at>; LIVINGSTON Alasdair & Naomi
<zoolithion at>; CROWLEY Rachel (& DENLAY John)
<rcrowley at>; DENLAY John <rhythm99 at>
Sent: Sunday, December 31, 2000 1:21 AM
Subject: last day of the 2nd millennium

> Today (Sunday, 2000-12-31) is the last day of the the 2nd Gregorian
> millennium, the 20th Gregorian century, the 200th Gregorian decade,
> and the 2000th Gregorian year.
> Happy 3rd millennium!
> Sorry if this is off topic for the tz discussion list, but for those
> on it who promote "origin zero", what do you say to the following?
> Claiming that the epoch of the Gregorian calendar was at the
> beginning of a year "0" immediately before the year 1 is to fly in
> the face not only of history but also of the thriving and abundantly
> tested convention of numbering "1" the first in a sequence of
> discrete entites, whether periods of time or pages of a newspaper.
> Outside digital electronics and computing, where the technology
> justifies them, exceptions to this convention are extremely rare and
> often questionable.
> The distinction between numbering the items in a sequence and
> specifying a quantity, such as the number of billiard balls on a
> table or the length of a piece of string, is crucial: it has been
> unavoidable so far in human history and there are no signs that this
> is about to change.
> The years of the Gregorian calendar comprise such a sequence: the
> numbers they are labelled with apply to discrete periods of a whole
> year, not to a continuum of instants, as for times of day. Their
> numbering is not, should not, and should not have been, an exception
> to the rule. Dionysius Exiguus did the right thing (and I'm sure he
> did have a "concept of zero").
> What do you want to call the number-one bestseller and the number-one
> hit single, and what about the expressions "numero uno", "A1", and
> even "ace"? How do you want to number children in a family ("my
> number-0 son"?), lines and verses of a poem or song, volumes of a
> book, places in a race (0, 1, and 2?), lanes in a swimming pool,
> houses in a street, faces on dice, cylinders in an engine (think of
> firing order), weeks of a semester or term and, most glaringly, days
> of a month and months of a year?
> Allowing an exceptional "origin zero" for the discrete whole-year
> periods of a calendar is to defy the KISS principal. In fact, I think
> the term "origin" is being abused in such a case anyway: in
> mathematics it applies to the measurement of quantities, not to the
> numbering of sequences.
> I've heard this year being referred to as mathematically the last of
> the old millennium, but emotionally the first of the new. Well, I
> hope I'm helping to make it emotionally what it is mathematically.
> _______________
> Macintosh and Lotus Notes Support / Information Technology (IT)
> Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM)
> UNSW SYDNEY NSW 2052 / Australia
> Facsimile: +61 2 9931-9349 / Telephone: +61 2 9931-9264
> Time     : UTC+11---[last Mar. Sun.---UTC+10---[last Aug. Sun.---UTC+11---
> At end of today, Sunday, December 31,
>    time since epoch (1-1-1 at 00:00:00)
>      = 730485 days = 2000.00000000 average Gregorian years
>    time until 3rd millennium, 21st century, 201st decade, 2001st year
>      = 0 days = .00000000 average Gregorian years

More information about the tz mailing list