Happy New Year! Happy New Decade?


We are taught to count to 10 at a very early age.

But that does not stop many from forgetting the lesson. So for those who have forgotten when counting to 10 it is better to start at one and work your way to 10 in single digits; one, two three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and then 10. Simple isn’t it?

Counting is simple. It is so simple we teach two year olds to do it.

Even cricketers can count. But they prefer to count to a hundred. They do this by counting to 10, 10 times. If a batsman is skilled enough when 10 runs are scored 10 times in one innings the batsman is said to have scored a century. Unfortunately the magic century is not reached if the batsman only scores 99. There is not a cricketer who ever played the game who does not know that.

Unfortunately that simple mathematical lesson is lost on vast numbers of the population when the same principle is applied to years. Many seem to think counting to 10 stops when they get to nine. They do this when they say we are about to start a new decade next year. As 2010 looms, they’re doing this right now.

A decade is 10 years and there are 10 decades in a century. It is a bit like dollars. If you are lucky enough to have 10 10-cent coins you have a dollar.

A decade can be any 10 consecutive years and a century can be any 100 consecutive years, but as a society we like to count a decade from the start (one) and end a century when we get to 100. The first decade goes from one to 10. The second from 11 to 20; the third from 21 to 30 and so on till the last ends on 100.

That is why 2009 was not the last year of the first decade of the century or the millennium. Just ask any cricketer if they have scored a century and then ask them how they counted it. But do not ask then if they have scored a millennium. None have had to count that far. Yet.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.