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January 1st, 2009 - Happy New Year, 2525

When I was growing up, we had a "45" (you know, that thing like a CD, only it's bigger and revolves 11.1 to 4.4 times slower) by Zager & Evans called, "In the Year 2525."
I was thinking about it this morning and then Sharon said, "Yup, Happy New Year, now we have to remember to write 2009." It got me thinking about how we put so much importance on our own sort of virtual system, because we have to.
It's been weird for me to write "two-thousand... anything," maybe because of being born in the sixties, (the 1960's, that is) or maybe it's just the way I look at numbers. Numbers are weird for me. I'm not sure if other people feel weird about them too, or in the same way.
I suspect they do feel weird about them, because living through the passing of a millennium number was a big deal for a lot of people, especially with the "Year 2000 Bug" hanging over our heads.
When I was a kid there was a lot of talk about "what it was gonna be like in the year 2000," (I didn't think I was going to be alive, as I've said before I was extremely superstitious and didn't think I'd live past 13, then trying to imagine myself being 39 was like trying to imagine another dimension, it just couldn't be done and we'd probably get hit by Haley's comet anyway.
Then as it got closer it was, "Dude, where do you want to be when the millennium flips?" If it all blows up, where would your favorite place to be at the end be?
At some point though, I realized 2000 was just a number. Not only was it just a number, it was just a number in a system of time that we made up ourselves, starting not at the beginning of time but somewhere quite a ways down the road from the beginning. 
Then we went and changed the whole system a few times, and now we have at least six different systems in use.
We could have said it was 1999 yesterday and go through it again if we wanted and it would mean just as much really. We'd just have to get everyone (well, almost everyone) to believe in it.
Time like a river, "it always flows past and you never see the same water twice." Or do you? How do we know? If we go by the adage, "Matter cannot be created nor destroyed," the same raindrops keep going past (evaporation / transpiration cycle) and we've drunk the same streams as the dinosaurs. How do we know time doesn't loop in the same way?
The Year 2000 Bug was a little different, it was actually taking the number 2000 to mean something quite literal, and we invented the numbering system for that too, except I guess we didn't think the same computers would be around and have to count it, or we had very little foresight (scary) or trust in our own programming abilities. Either way, we seem to have headed off the "big crash," although it does rear it's annoying head occasionally, even now. 
Some have said that it was all just a sham to sell more computers, software, labor, and equipment, but if that's what it takes, look at how much we've improved our hardware, software, and computing abilities because of all the upgrades. It may have cost more at the time, but intelligence wise it was a big step forward. Environmental impact wise, ugh, I hate to think about it.
So back to Zager & Evans. In their song they take you through some future date milestones, pondering the plight of man along the way. 
Then the last stanza goes, 

"now it's been 10,000 years 
man has cried a billion tears 
for what he never knew 
now man's reign is through 
but through the eternal night 
the twinkling of starlight 
so very far away 
maybe it's only yesterday... "

I woke up thinking, 10,000 years? Why has it been 10,000 years? That would only be the A.D. stuff. If this song is talking about evolution, it would actually be (we think) something like 6 million years (supposed "Dawn of Man") + the 10,000 Zager & Evans years.  Give or take a million years. Or more. Or some would argue, (but I personally don't lend them much credence) much less. 
The thing is, I think in their song however long it was, was really just long enough for us not to notice it happened. 
Oh well. Great song, anyway. Happy 2009.

1 comment:

dignature said...

Found this quote today:

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.

Albert Einstein