Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Everybody's talking about this new decade

This is actually a line from "Waiting For That Day" by George Michael. In fact, that whole verse goes like this:
Now everybody's talking about this new decade
Like you say the magic number
Then just say goodbye to
The stupid mistakes you made

That was 30 years ago. So what's the point of this post? Well, although most people, media and websites are now talking about the "best songs of the last decade", "the best films of the last decade" or, as George Michael did back in 1990, "the new decade", there are a few who complain. They say that the new decade doesn't start in 2020, but next year, in 2021. These are the same people who were complaining 20 years ago that the millennium did not start in 2000 but in 2001.
Let's focus on the decade thing for the time being, These people say that a decade starts with the number 1 and ends with the number 10. Well, that shouldn't be a problem because we are talking about the decade of 2010 or "the 10's". This means the 10 years from 2010 to 2019. To make it easier to understand let's talk about a more important decade for popular culture: The 80's! When we talk about the 80's, we mean the years from 1980 to 1989. Nobody would dream of including 1980 in the 70's! It's the number that counts, the number that's referenced in the name. That's why it is called "the 80's". And after all, what "decade" means is ten years. I could for example talk to you about the decade from 1987 to 1996 which was an important one for my personal life. So, I think that's settled.
But, since we're on the subject, what about the millennium, or the 21st century for that matter? The problem began with the Romans who had no concept of the number 0 so they started their calendar with year 1. With the mathematical knowledge we have now we can say that this was wrong. On top of that in 1582 we skipped 11 days in the calendar since by then it had been discovered that the earth's rotation around the sun wasn't exactly 365 1/4 days and we somehow had to make up for the difference. (The Gregorian calendar). All this is explained in more detail on this link 
So, for those of you who still insist that the new decade begins on January 1 2021, I've got new for you: According to your logic, it doesn't. It would start at around January 12 2021. Case closed! And now please let the rest of us start celebrating the twenties...