The millenium definitely ends with the 1999The question...

LETTERS

January 09, 1996

The millenium definitely ends with the 1999

The question John Porea (letter, Jan. 3) should ask is, "When did the century really begin?"

A better perspective is to review one's own birth. When Mr. Porea was born, he was in his first year of life, yet his age was zero years.

Wishing Mr. Porea the best of good health, when he celebrates his 100th birthday, it will be the day after his last day as a 99-year-old man and he will have completed 100 years of life. He will then begin the second century of his life.

Therefore, the 21st century does, indeed, begin Jan. 1, 2000.

!William H. Barker III.

Annapolis

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We can't know for sure, but reasonably assume, that the 21st century will herald a familiar assortment of news items to inspire hope and fear, joy and sorrow, cause for celebration as well as for despondent recrimination.

We can establish with certainty, however, that it will begin after the stroke of midnight, Dec. 31, 1999. So Jan. 1, 2000 will be the first day of the third millennium.

To correctly interpret anniversaries, birthdays and calendar-years, one must understand that unlike counting discrete items (like eggs), time (like distance) is measured on a continuum, requiring a starting point which is not one, but zero (zero on a ruler is always present, though not labeled).

Also, the anniversary date marks the end-point of the named year and is the first day of the "next" year.

I was zero on the day of my birth; I celebrated my first birthday on the day marking the completion of one year of life, which was the first day of my second year.

My hundredth birthday will mark the end of 100 years, or one century, and the first day of my second century.

Likewise, Jan. 1, 2000 will mark the completion of 2,000 years and the will be the beginning of a new millennium.

May it find us all laboring for justice, hope, understanding and peace.

John H. Christensen

Baltimore

Not much wrong with Canada

Twice in a month you published opinion columns using the same headline: "Woe Canada." Both were by Canadian writers of small celebrity: one a "free-lance writer," the other a "journalist based in Washington."

And both were rot.

Susan Riggs' horror stories about Canadian health care were exposed in a letter by Elizabeth Kostuik (Dec. 1). But what about Martin King's jeremiad (Dec. 20) about Canada's political troubles?

Let me make a few corrections.

First: "Canada's per capita debt is only slightly less than Nigeria's." So what? Canada's per capita GDP is several times greater than Nigeria's. So the debt is much more bearable.

Second: "The street violence and arson in Montreal" following the Quebec secession referendum. What are we talking about here, the Los Angeles riots?

No, there were a few scuffles, and someone tried to burn down a building. There's more "street violence" in Montreal any time the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup.

Third: "Today the only countries besides Canada that still seem to be trying to define themselves in terms of their social values seem to be Cuba and the remnants of the Marxist empire."

I don't know about those other countries, but most Canadians take pride -- rightly or wrongly -- in their quality of life, compared to the horror stories they hear and see about the United States in American TV newscasts. Not their fault, if they are misinformed.

Most French Canadians accepted Confederation (the founding of Canada) in 1867 as the closest they could get to independence without fighting the redcoats. Now many Quebecers see the prospect of going further.

Secession may result, but Canadian society (maybe Quebec's, too) will still be healthier and more stable than that of the United States. It will take a lot to persuade Canadians to join the Gunsmoke Empire.

And let me see now: What North American democracy had its second government shutdown in a month?

Not Canada, I think.

Paul Romney

Washington

Need more stories like this one

A thundering round of applause to The Sun for the Dec. 24 front-page story by Sandy Banisky ("Blessed is a boss in lowly mill town") about the heroic acts of human kindness by Aaron Feuerstein to the employees of his burned-out mill in Methuen, Mass.

Proof positive that kindness still begets more kindness: The story stimulates donations from all across the nation, the mills' customers pledge continued support and loyalty until the mill is rebuilt, and The Sun publishes this chain reaction of good will on its front page on Christmas Eve.

My wife and I were so touched by this sequence of events that we feel compelled to complete the chain by simply saying "thank you" to The Sun and by wishing that this article would become required reading in classrooms all over America.

!Phyllis and Marc Stern

Abingdon

Schmoke golf decision wrong

Mayor Kurt Schmoke will make a serious mistake if he pursues his intended litigation against Municipal Golf Corp. He cannot win this case, and litigation would be costly to all concerned.

The golf corporation agreement is binding.

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