Respecting the Umps

I am writing in response to the editorial, "Judgment Calls," Oct. 29, about the growing concern for unfair umpire calls in the World Series. Every baseball fan already knows the difficulty in "seeing it the way it is."

There is little doubt in my mind that the umpires at these games do a fine job and should be commended on overall performance

This game is based on accepting the umpires' calls. Further, the popular appeal is due to our emotional involvement. Please leave the second-guessing to the tabloids.

Ben V. Boynton Jr.

Slaterville Springs, N.Y.

Long-term constitutional thinking

In the Oct. 25 opinion-page article on constitutional amendments, "The Constitution: Above the Fray," the boldfaced excerpt reads: "Unless the ordinary give-and-take of our politics proves incapable of solving something, the Constitution is not the place to fix it."

The author's example of overzealous amending is the balanced-budget amendment. Clearly there is no better case against the failure of the "ordinary give-and-take of politics." If the Constitution's framers could have foreseen that elected leaders would someday provide unlimited government services to a current generation and pass the bill on to the next, they would have included protection against such short-term sentiments.

The balanced-budget amendment is not about short-term sentiments. It is needed to preserve America's future.

Mark Browne

Alfred, Maine

Millennium miscue redux

In an Oct. 25 letter, "Millennium miscue," a reader argues that the start of the new millennium is really in the year 2000 and not 2001, stating that "with calendar years we begin with zero." While this may seem intuitively correct, in their great wisdom the folks who set our calendar more than a thousand years ago began with the year 1, not zero. The year 1 BC transitioned directly into the year AD 1. The reader goes on to say that without starting at zero, the first decade in the BC/AD calendar could not be base 10 and therefore must begin with zero. One does not, however, need a zero to be base 10. For example, the ancient Egyptians had no zero, but did have a base 10 numeration system with signs for 1, 10, 100, 1000, etc... Thus in our calendar, 1-10 equals the first decade, 11-20 the second, and so on, which is why 2000 is really the end of the second millennium, not the beginning of the third.

Stuart Tyson Smith

Los Angeles, Calif.

The reader writes that the third millennium will begin in the year 2000, not 2001 as claimed in an Oct. 11 opinion-page column. For this reader, the AD era began with the year zero. The columnist says year 1. Encyclopedias support both views.

The World Book says, "The years 1 through 100 are called the first century.... The 21st century begins Jan. 1, 2001."

According to Collier's, many astronomers accept a zero year but "other astronomers as well as most historians and chronologists have no year zero, but instead have AD 1 following 1 BC," adding, "astronomers commonly prefer to use the '00 year as the beginning of the new century." Their zero year is the historians' 1 BC.

Neither camp violates math laws. Astronomers are counting the era's age. Historians count the way we count years of life (when you are born you begin your first year). Accepting the astronomers' view and making 2000 the first year of the millennium also requires subtracting a year from every BC date in the history books.

Incidentally, the Monitor's founder's Thanksgiving essay in the Boston Globe, Nov. 29, 1900, supports the historians' view, acknowledging 1900 as the last year of the 19th century.

M.K. Terrell

Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Letters for publication must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be addressed to "Readers Write" and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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