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How should 1999 by written in Roman numerals? It seems that the Romans didn't leave any instructions, and that more than one representational system was in use. MDCCCCLXXXXVIIII is certainly correct, but awkward. MIM may be acceptable, if subtraction can be applied over more than a single order of magnitude. MCMXCIX is the most common answer, according to a NIST spokesman, although one may sometimes see MCMXCXVIIII. For more info, see and . [Alvin Austin , 03Jan99. Tony Kusalik.] (The year 2000 is just MM, although James Randi says there is precedent for the multiplicative version IIM.) [, 04Jan99.]

GT Interactive was so proud of the graphics for their new "Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus" video game that they made a movie of the story line, showed it in a Los Angeles theater for the required three days, and then submitted it for Oscar consideration as an animated short. [Roy Furchgott, BW, 14Dec98, p. 6.]

Third place in the 1998 Bad Writing Contest -- drawn from published academic books and articles -- went to this compact gem from Homi K. Bhabha, an English professor at UChicago: "If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline, soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to 'normalize' formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality." Another honorary place winner was D.G. Leahy with (in part): "This is the real exteriority of the absolute outside: the reality of the absolutely unconditioned absolute outside univocally predicated of the dark; the light univocally predicated of the darkness; the shining of the light univocally predicated of the limit of the darkness; actuality univocally predicated of the other of self-identity; existence univocally predicated of the absolutely unconditioned other of the self." [David Cohen, Guardian. SJM, 07Jan99, 1E.]

-- Ken