If I was a whiz with numbers, I probably wouldn’t be writing for a living. But I can count to ten, and I can read a calendar.

Take a second to fill in your punch line …

As we head into the final month of 2009, the newspaper is receiving end-of-the-decade copy from various news services. The Associated Press is soliciting votes for the athlete of the decade. McClatchy is looking back at the economic ups and downs of the “ohs,” and in Sunday’s Forum section, columnist Leonard Pitts ponders possible names for the second decade of the 21st century.

Which starts in 2011, folks. It’s as easy as one, two, three with, not nine, but ten as the last year of any decade. There wasn’t a year zero after all.

But the marketers decreed that 1999 was the end of the last century, and the news media (and the public) went along for the ride. It’s been ten years, so it must be a new decade, right? Maybe it’s just the new, new math.

— Jim Sweeney