Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Y-zero-K Problem

Following is a story that I saved from the Y2K "problem" 10 years ago. I wish I knew who deserves attribution. Here goes:


While browsing through some dust-covered archival material in the
recesses of the Roman Section of the British Museum, a researcher
recently came across a tattered parchment. After some effort he
translated it and found that it was a letter from a man called Plutonius
with the title of "magister fastorium," or keeper of the calendar, to
one Cassius. It was dated, strangely enough, 1 BC, January 7--or 2010
years ago (remember, there was no year zero). The text of the message

Dear Cassius,

Are you still working on the Y zero K problem? This change from BC to AD is giving us a lot of headaches and we haven't much time left. I don't know how people will cope with working the wrong way around. Having been working happily downwards forever, now we have to start thinking upwards. You would think that someone would have thought of it earlier and not left it to us to sort it all out at this last minute.

I spoke to Caesar the other evening. He was livid that Julius hadn't done something about it when he was sorting out the calendar. He said he could see why Brutus turned nasty.  We called in the consulting astronomers, but they simply said that continuing downwards using minus BC won't work.  As usual, the consultants charged a fortune for doing nothing useful.  As for myself, I just can't see the sand in an hourglass flowing  upwards. We have heard that there are three wise men in the East who have been working on the problem, but unfortunately they won't arrive until it's all over. Some say the world will cease to exist at the moment of transition.

Anyway, we are still continuing to work on this blasted Y zero K problem and I will send you a parchment if anything further develops.


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