The years are bugging me

THURSDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2015

What does 2015 mean? What does it mean that I was born in 1971? And no one except scientists even talks about 2045 or 2055!

It’s been bothering me for some time that I always think of these numbered years, yet I don’t quite know how they fit into each other. And before I know, the numbers have changed again.

Here’s one explanation:

I was born in 1871. It’s now 1915, the second calendar year of the Great War. According to life expectancy (now, anyways, if not 100 years ago), I can expect to live until roughly the mid 1940s.

That means I was born in the year when Otto von Bismarck led Prussia and allied states to victory over France and the unification of Germany, and I should die in my seventies just after the Allies defeat the fascists in World War II. Should I survive another decade and live until my mid eighties, I would also see in a colour magazine or possibly on black-and-white TV how a young upstart called Elvis Presley shakes his leg like no decent man would have done in my day.

   

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(Acknowledgement for the Bismarck photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R68588 / P. Loescher & Petsch / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

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