Translated from Latin scroll dated 2BC
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 Consultus, but he simply
said that continuing downwards using minus BC won't work and as usual
charged a fortune for doing nothing useful. Surely we will not have to
throw out all our hardware and start again?
Macrohard will make yet another fortune out of this I suppose. The
money lenders are paranoid of course! They have been told that all usury
rates will invert and they will have to pay their clients to take out
loans. Its an ill wind ......
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.
I have heard that there are plans to stable all horses at midnight at
the turn of the year as there are fears that they will stop and try to
run backwards, causing immense damage to chariots and possible loss of
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
I will send a parchment to you if anything further develops. If you
have any ideas please let me know.
Cassius replies thus:
I am surprised at you, listening to all these wild rumours. It's only a
numbering system and anyone reading -1 will simply remove the minus sign
from the front and all will be well.
Also, I have been testing all the hardware I can find and the scrolls
all work OK with the new system. In fact, even the old stone tablets
I wish people wouldn't get their togas in a twist about something that
they know little about - there will be a few minor problems, but nothing
that can't be sorted out.
We can, however, take comfort from the fact that future generations will
have learned from this lesson and they will prepare for such events well
THE Y1K CRISIS
Canterbury, England. A.D. 999.
An atmosphere close to panic prevails today throughout Europe as the
millennial year 1000 approaches, bringing with it the so-called "Y1K
Bug," a menace which, until recently, hardly anyone had ever heard of.
Prophets of doom are warning that the entire fabric of Western Civil-
ization, based as it now is upon monastic computations, could collapse,
and that there is simply not enough time left to fix the problem.
Just how did this disaster-in-the-making ever arise? Why did no one
anticipate that a change from a three-digit to a four-digit year would
throw into total disarray all liturgical chants and all metrical verse
in which any date is mentioned? Every formulaic hymn, prayer, ceremony
and incantation dealing with dated events will have to be re-written to
accommodate three extra syllables. All tabular chronologies with
three-space year columns, maintained for generations by scribes using
carefully hand-ruled lines on vellum sheets, will now have to be
converted to four-space columns, at enormous cost. In the meantime,
the validity of every official event, from baptisms to burials, from
confirmations to coronations, may be called into question.
"We should have seen it coming ," says Brother Cedric of St. Michael
Abbey, here in Canterbury. "What worries me most is that THOUSAND
contains the word THOU, which occurs in nearly all our prayers,
and of course always refers to God. Using it now in the name of the
year will seem almost blasphemous, and is bound to cause terrible
confusion. Of course, we could always use Latin, but that might be even
worse -- The Latin word for Thousand is Mille which is the same as the
Latin for mile. We won't know whether we are talking about time
Stonemasons are already reported threatening to demand a proportional
pay increase for having to carve an extra numeral in all dates on
tombstones, cornerstones and monuments. Together with its inevitable
ripple effects, this alone could plunge the hitherto-stable medieval
economy into chaos.
A conference of clerics has been called at Winchester to discuss the
entire issue, but doomsayers are convinced that the matter is now one of
personal survival. Many families, in expectation of the worst, are
stocking up on holy water and indulgences.