Justin and Justina, two fictional and Brooklyn-based friends, combine to make up The New Leaf Journal’s fictional dialogue duo. This article marks their 58th dialogue. There is nothing particularly special about the number 58. But what if I told you that this is our 999th full New Leaf Journal article? That is neat, no? We started on April 27, 2020, and article 999 goes live on May 24, 2024. Now one may think that article 1,000 is a bigger accomplishment, but I am here to tell you that is wrong. This is not to say that I do not also have a fun article planned for number 1,000, but 999 is the magic number in these pages. Instead of explaining why myself, I defer to Justin to pontificate on the magic of 999.

(Justin and Justina are a fictional New Leaf Journal dialogue duo created by New Leaf Journal editor Nicholas A. Ferrell. Their dialogues cover their strange, sometimes random conversations (usually) in Brooklyn, New York. If you enjoy this dialogue, you can find many (over 50) more in our Justin and Justina Collection hub.)

The Magic of 999

Justin and Justina are walking through the sometimes-trendy neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. After Justina finishes saying something about her life, Justin changes the subject.

Justin: What do you think the biggest number is?
Justina: This is a trap, isn’t it?
Justin: I keep telling you that isn’t it is an aggressive way to formulate your questions.
Justina: Well I did just accuse you of setting a trap.
Justin: Why are you so on guard?
Justina: First because it’s you. Second because I have a philosophy degree. I remember enough of it to know a trap when I see one. This is some kind of Descartes completed infinity thing isn’t it?
Justin: That’s a good guess but it’s not.
Justina: Then what is it?
Justin: The biggest number is 999.
Justina: How do you figure?
Justin: You know those old style scoreboards?
Justina: No.
Justin: Three digit electronic.
Justina: I really don’t.
Justin: Or the one with the cards.
Justina: What are you talking about?
Justin: The possible numbers for each digit go from 0 to 9. Unlike years. There is no year 0.

A poor drawing of a box with three squares and each square showing a 9. Supposed to demonstrate a digital or card-based score counter. Drawn by N.A. Ferrell.
I scanned my beautiful drawing using the OSS-Document Scanner on my LineageOS-powered Pixel 6a phone. I added a Polaroid filter to my scan since this is supposed to be an old digital or card-based score counter. Whether it is digital or analog is for you to decide.

Justina: I suppose.
Justin: So the biggest number is 999. Anime understands this.
Justina: No, wait. What if you just got a four-digit one?
Justin: Stay your tongue.
Justina: Our five.
Justin: I didn’t think you were the kind of person to say such outrageous things. More broken than a bug.
Justina: I did think you were the kind of person to say something like that deadpan.
Justin: I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t realize the magic of 999 when I was younger.
Justina: It’s not magical.
Justin: Not until Herman “Cain Train” Cain ran for President in 2012.
Justina: Who?
Justin: Herman CAIN. He ran on the 9-9-9 plan.

Image of Herman Cain giving a speeck next to a red 9-9-9 added on top of the image. It appears as if Herman Cain is pointing at the 9-9-9.
Modified from photograph by George Skidmore. Original license info:
Gage Skidmore
CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. I modified the image by adding “9-9-9” in red text. My modification is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Justina: But he lost, right?
Justin: Thought of that when he passed away in 2020.
Justina: Wait weren’t we just talking about scoreboards?
Justin: He lived quite a life, 9-9-9 life. Romney would have been President if he adopted the 9-9-9 plan.
Justina: Really, what is this plan?
Justin: No I lied. He would have still lost.
Justina: …
Justin: The country wouldn’t be ready for a Ulysses S. Grant count-back president until 2016.
Justina: A what?
Justin: Precursor to Lincoln count-back.
Justina: Wait what happened to the scoreboards?
Justin: It was only after Mr. Cain taught me about 999 that I played 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.
Justina: Is that a game?
Justin: Yes. Nick meant to put it on his big impact games list as an honorable mention but he forgot.
Justina: His what?
Justin: Don’t worry, he’s adding it retroactively because he remembered it now.
Justina: What is this game?
Justin: First entry in the Zero Escape series and the one with the good story.
Justina: There are others?
Justin: The ending really left a big impression.
Justina: Of the others?
Justin: No things spiraled out of control in parts two and three but they’re still fun.
Justina: Why are we talking about this again?
Justin: Because this is the 999th New Leaf Journal article.
Justina: Wait you went on this tangent because of something like that?
Justin: If we count Leaflets and Leaf Buds this is actually the 1,401st article.
Justina: What now?
Justin: Oh come on, they were all the rage in 2022. But we keep them separate.
Justina: Alright sure I guess.
Justin: No way Nick is going to top this for article 1,000.
Justina: I still don’t know what’s going on.
Justin: Oh look a Donut Fender.
Justina: …