Copyright 1998 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.

Rules for "Judging a Book by Its Cover."

Arthur "C" Clarke has jumped on his own bandwagon again and released the fourth book in his "Dates to Remember" series, "3001."

Back in the olden days (pre-Millennium fever), I always thought that he picked "2001" as the title for his Space Odyssey because it was an odd year. Sorta like, "Well, 2000 is a nice round number, but 2001—hey, that's about as one-off as you can get!"

I come to find out, in one of the zillions of articles about 2000 vs 2001 that some looney-tunes figure that the millennium doesn't start until 2001. So, Mr. Arthur "Living in Sri Lanka and Not Paying Taxes" Clarke was picking what was, to him, a nice round number.

Why do these deranged people think that 2001 starts the new millennium, when the rest of us will have spent a year crossing out "19" on our checks and writing in "20"?

These folks—who are the same ones who belonged to the after school Math League in High School—point out that there was no year zero. On New Year's Eve 1 BC, when Dick Clark (who's name is suspiciously similar to Arthur "Methuselah" Clarke—a coincidence? I think not!) ushered in the New Year, everybody said, "Welcome to 1 AD!" (And all their computer programs crashed because lazy programmers hadn't included "BC" in the year field.)

Because there was no year "0," the first ten years lasted from 1 AD to 10 AD, with the second century starting in 101 AD, which has led ever since to squabbling about when the decade/century/millennium really starts.

Well, I have a simple, elegant solution to this problem, that also gives us extra time to fix those pesky computers: let's just add a year zero and solve the whole damn thing! Then 2000 will be really the start of the new millennium and everyone will laugh at Arthur "A Day Late and A Year Short" Clarke.

The only remaining issue is where to put the year zero. If we make 1 AD into year zero and move all the other dates back, suddenly the only two dates we remember from history class are wrong. Plus, it screws up the rhyme "In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue" (1492 being one of the two dates I remember). It becomes "In fourteen hundred and ninety-one, Columbus tried to prove he wasn't a bum," which doesn't even rhyme!

The solution to this problem is to add the year zero after the year 1999. So, on New Year's Eve 1999, Dick Clark can say "Welcome to Zero!" which would be kind of nostalgic for him.

Computer programmers around the world could breath a sigh of relief and keep playing DOOM for another six months because they wouldn't have to worry about their programs puking bytes everywhere.

And, of course, "3001" would not be the start of yet another millennium, but simply a boring year that old timers could refer to as "back in ought one" (another thing that puzzles me is whether old timers will refer to the year 2000 as "back in ought ought," because if they do, everyone will think they are stuttering).

So what is life like in the year 3001? Well, as part of my audition for the Psychic Friends Network, I will boldly make the following predictions:

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Copyright 1998 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.