photo: Richard Harris
"The Vatican announced Monday that Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down on Feb. 28. While such papal resignations are extremely rare, there are precedents in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church.
Marcellinus: This early church pope abdicated or was deposed in 304 after complying with the Roman emperor's order to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods.
Benedict IX: Sold the papacy to his godfather Gregory VI and resigned in 1045.
Celestine V: Overwhelmed by the demands of the office, this hermetic pontiff stepped down after five months as pope in 1294. Pope Benedict XVI prayed at his tomb in the central Italian city of L'Aquila in 2009.
Gregory XII: The last pope to resign, Gregory XII stepped down in 1415 to help end a church schism."
photo: Richard Harris
Some things are annoying but one doesn't know why. For instance I can't stand it when someone uses "Sweet!" to mean "Hey that's really great!" But I don't know why it annoys me.
Other things are extremely annoying and one knows exactly why.
Before 2000 rolled around everyone was clear on the concept that a decade goes from 0 to 9. Had one suggested that 1960 was the last year of the fifties one would have been met with nothing but derision. But with the change of millennia an idea of Immense Nerdicity took hold. Based on the fact that the monks who developed the Christian calendar didn't know the concept of zero (invented by the Arabs a few centuries later) and that they had started with the year 1, a cry went up "2000 is not the beginning of the 3rd millennium!" Why is this so nerdy? Because it is so narrow in its scope, like if one were to say "It's on 6th Avenue and someone replied "You know, that's actually the Avenue of the Americas."
1) If Jesus did exist it is clear that he was actually born in 3 or 4 AD so getting pissy about "it really hasn't been 2,000 years" is nothing but nerdy. 2) Despite the fact that there was no year zero, 1940 is not the last year of the thirties and 1960 is not the last year of the fifties. The obvious solution (if one is really necessary) is that the first century only had 99 years. End of story. One needs to be flexible.
Just so we're all clear: 2010 was the first year of a new decade, not the last year of an old decade.
Next year is the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth. Anyone remembering the excruciating two weeks that followed his death in 2004 filled with extravagant eulogising and cheap sentiment can easily imagine the cavalcade of obnoxious celebrations that is being organized for 2011.
That's all I need to say about this, except to highlight the following: In his hometown of Dixon, Illinois, the beach where he was lifeguard is going to be recreated, including the re-installation of the lifeguard chair he used. Reportedly he saved 77 lives while lifeguarding. Really?! Who are they kidding? 77 lives? Did they throw people who couldn't swim into the water so that he could save them? Or were the people of Dixon especially dim?