photo of classic Victorian era study and lounge

Writer’s Lounge – Here Comes 2020, James Hatch Navy Seal, And 80s Music


The Prague Astronomical Clock, or Prague Orloj is a medieval astronomical clock located in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.
The Prague Astronomical Clock, or Prague Orloj is a medieval astronomical clock located in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

Here Comes 2020 

Another decade past and another one upon us. Or not. Apparently, with all of the other matters that Americans disagree on – impeachment, cultural issues, climate change … there is a controversy about whether 2020 actually begins the new decade.  I know, right?

NPR notes that in a recent YouGov survey, 64% of Americans said the next decade will begin on Jan. 1, 2020, and end on Dec. 31, 2029. But nearly 20% said they weren’t sure – and slightly fewer people said the next decade won’t start until Jan. 1, 2021.

Arguments about what date and year on the calendar signify new decades and millenniums, are far from new. Just within the last 2000 years, there have been disputes about calendars – among the most notable, the rancor that ensued with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar of 1582 and the corresponding retirement of the Julian calendar. The disputes lasted nearly 2 centuries.

The History Channel notes that:

According to some accounts, English citizens did not react kindly after an act of Parliament advanced the calendar overnight from September 2 to September 14, 1752. Rioters supposedly took to the streets, demanding that the government “give us our 11 days.” However, most historians now believe that these protests never occurred or were greatly exaggerated. On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, Benjamin Franklin welcomed the change, writing, “It is pleasant for an old man to be able to go to bed on September 2, and not have to get up until September 14.”

I would venture to guess that although the protests were somewhat “exaggerated”, they did in fact, occur. England, even under a monarchy, was always tumultuous. The record seems to indicate that the implementation of the Gregorian calendar introduced a conflict between renters and landlords as to when payment was due. Go figure.

Protestants in Germany gave up the fight about adoption of the Gregorian calendar half a century earlier than the English, but states in Europe where the national churches were Orthodox (Greek and Eastern), hung on to the Julian calendar quite a while longer and the churches themselves, have never recognized the authority of Pope Gregory XIII as to calendars.

Due to cumulative discrepancies between these calendars, the Eastern or ‘Oriental’ Orthodox churches, (which include Russian Orthodox, Coptic (Egypt) and Greek Orthodox) – observe Easter on a different day, in certain years as much as five weeks later than Roman Catholics and Protestants.  I mention these calendars to illustrate an example of long standing disagreements about days and years and what they signify.

To throw another wrench into the works, the Hebrew New Year, Rosh Hashana will commence on September 21, 2020 – but will be counted in that calendar as the year 5781!

Back to the controversy about what happens 1 minute after midnight this evening. The majority view – and in this case, it seems to be more sensible and less needlessly argumentative – is that decades begin on zeros and centuries on ones.  At the end of the decade, it’s fairly arbitrary. Just don’t get me involved in your food fights over it.

Thank you, now go listen to some “80s” music.

by Richard Cameron


photo of James Hatch, Navy Seal, Purple Heart recipient, wounded in the search for Bowe Bergdahl and recently enrolled at Yale University.

On my Facebook timeline recently, I posted an essay written by James Hatch, a 52 year old former Navy Seal and veteran of 25 plus years of service, and 150 missions including in Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan, about his life changing decision to enroll at Yale University. He’s known to his fellow veterans and friends as “Jimmy Hatch”.

About the book Hatch wrote about his service and life as a veteran, the Navy Times, summarizes that,:

“Touching the Dragon: And Other Techniques for Surviving Life’s Wars,” released Tuesday by Alfred A. Knopf, refers to a technique Hatch learned in a mental hospital after his wife encountered him at home with a gun in his mouth. The approach involved writing, over and over, about the night that he suffered a career-ending wound searching for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who walked off his post in Afghanistan.  

That written recollection sets the stage for Hatch’s reflection on how commandos fighting abroad cope with returning to civilian life and, as Hatch writes, “shoulder the darkness that accompanies such work.”Hatch endured 18 surgeries to fix skin and bone mangled by an enemy bullet. As he recovered, Hatch struggled with dark thoughts about his missions.

Compounding  Hatch’s PTSD, was the death of his comrade, “Remco” – his military dog, in the catastrophic episode during the search for dishonorably discharged Bowe Bergdahl. 

Remco went down in the first hail of bullets and Hatch was next to be hit by a volley of enemy fire, saved from bleeding to death only by the timely application of a tourniquet by a fellow soldier. “The fighters sprayed AK-47 bullets in our direction. Remco was shot in the face, dead, and I stopped a bullet just above my right knee”, Hatch told the Capitol Gazette.

Hatch has since founded a non-profit org dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of military and law enforcement canines. 



The title of his article in Medium, “My Semester With The Snowflakes”, (linked above), was a little bit clickbait, but in a legitimate way because it reflected part of his experience or at least his initial perceptions of what his experience would consist of – generational conflicts and some alienation and communication gaps. 

What actually transpired was counter-intuitive, both to him and many people who hold the idea that millennials, especially in a secondary educational setting, are hyper sensitive, hyper ideological and just all around, hyper. 

Turns out, as you will hear, that Hatch’s classmates were all about asking questions, looking at whatever the subject was, from a variety of angles and exchanging views with very little of the rancor that some might imagine.

It was such an enjoyable read and I was so impressed with not only Mr. Hatch, but his fellow students that he introduces us to, that when I heard that National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” host Mary Louise Kelly was going to interview him, I had to listen.  NPR, by the way, is the official favorite radio station of this publication and its writing staff.  

The essay and the interview (below), were a great ‘Mental Martini’ to end the year. We really need to hear more from these sorts of constructive, sober minded individuals, because, if you will allow me a metaphor, in the midst of the chaos we’re facing, they are compass headings leading to a better place – which of course, is what we aim for here at National Compass.


by Richard Cameron


"2020" in lights and fireworks and the greeting, "Happy New Year from National Compass"


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