Thursday, March 04, 2010

Remember the Millen(n)ium?

click photo to enlarge
Millennium is the sort of word that crops up only once in a thousand years, but when it does appear it leaves its mark. Do you remember the Millennium? Like many people I was reminded of it with the recent news concerning the Playstation 3 bug whereby the software saw 2010 as a leap year and gave February twenty nine days, causing owners a few small difficulties.

There are three things people tend to remember from the time the twentieth century tipped over into the twenty first. The first is the change in dates and the celebrations and memorials that accompanied it. Secondly, there was the brouhaha surrounding the "millennium bug": the dire consequences that would befall mankind unless the clocks of all the world's computers were made to read the date correctly. It wasn't just a trivial matter of people losing their highest scores in a computer game (one of the consequences, apparently, of the Playstation 3 bug). No, airliners would fall from the sky, stock markets would crash, military equipment would malfunction, and people woudn't be able to play SimCity. In the event, nothing much happened except computer consultants clawed in lots more money than usual.

The third thing many remember from the year 2000 was the spelling problem. Was it "milennium", "millenium", "milenium" or "millennium". People scattered the letters "l" and "n" gamely, and after a while most people got the hang of the correct formulation. Unfortunately, by then the moment had passed, and the ability to spell the word was as useful as being fluent in Dalmatian, Eyak or Slovincian.

For a number of years I've been aware of the Lincolnshire hedge shown in today's photograph. The owner was clearly impressed by the millennium, and sufficiently public spirited to celebrate the event with topiary. Perhaps it's a consequence of a working life mainly spent in education, but when I first saw it the missing "n" jumped out at me, and it continues to do so every time I pass the hedge. However, after some reflection I did consider that it may not be a spelling error. Perhaps the owner got the letter size wrong, then as he got half-way through the word realised it wasn't going to fit in the available space, and therefore deliberately dropped the second "n" to make it do so. What I do know is that if I'd cut that word the mis-spelling would really bug me. I wouldn't leave it there for 10 minutes, never mind 10 years, and I'd clip the lot off. A thought has just occured to me (and you might wish it hadn't) - would that qualify as having the Millen(n)ium bug?

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On