IN THE YEAR 2000, A MAN WILL PAY HIS BILLS : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Regular people, unlike programmers, like large, round numbers. But how could this zero-filled number not be more hype that substance?

by Brent Johnson

Here's one prophecy. Now that millennium products have invaded stores, now that millennial slogan-spinning has gained momentum, now that the latest round of New Year's resolutions has been summarily executed by a firing squad of hard-to-break habits: The morning and the day that follows -- New Year's Day 2000 -- will be the same as any other. A new world will not have been created overnight -- or destroyed. The skies will be the same -- dreary somewhere, cloud-free somewhere else. The same roads will lead to the same destinations. Sounds and smells will be familiar not foreign: coffee brewing in the kitchen, traffic accumulating outside, dogs barking, a distant siren wailing, a shower starting. A farmer will arise before first light to feed his chickens. A doctor will make rounds and head to the golf course. A cab driver will get lost. A child separated from parents shopping for the irresistible sale item will be found. A romance, a stamp collection and an outline for a first novel will begin. A romance, anticipation of title bowl games and a battle against cancer will end. A fight will break out. A burglar will break in.

Here's what might be different. A beaming mother, who timed her request for induced labor to reserve her 10 seconds of fame, will be surrounded by reporters and photographers as she cradles the first baby of the new millennium. A record number of birth certificates will document the names Mill or Len or Ian. A collection of centenarians will be gathered for the first photograph of people who have lived in three centuries.

The international intake of aspirin and antacids will soar. Bartenders will still be summing tips from the greatest night of their careers. City cleanup crews will give up by midmorning or successfully end their strikes for higher wages. Wealthy revelers who rented islands in the South Pacific or paid dearly for Concorde flights across the international date line at midnight will wonder whether it was worth it. One half of a couple, who was stuck in line for the bathroom as the seconds were counted down and "Auld Lang Syne" was sung, will still be hearing from the other half that they both missed the kiss of a lifetime.

The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, wishing he weren't known as the Artist Who Sang "1999," will become known as the Artist Whose Elevator Stopped Running to the Top Floor after attacking yet another reporter asking him, now that the party was out of time in 2000-zero-zero, what he had partied like in the last breaths of 1999. Let's go crazy!

The lines to see the next Star Wars installment -- with ships far more cinematically advanced than the Millennium Falcon -- will still wind around theater buildings. A television junkie will finally pass out after watching the entire 24-hour coverage of New Year's celebrations around the world. (He will wake up later and realize he never took the VCR control off pause.)

And computer programmers everywhere, who braced themselves for the worst-case, knockout blow of the "Y2K bug" and then felt only the slightest glitch, will be preparing for an even bigger party the night of January 1, 2000. The stacks of Y2K lawsuits, on the other hand, will still be making their way toward already overburdened courts.

However, in the passing of a second, hyped for years, chances are that expectations of something significant, monumental, metaphysical, even transcendent will not have been met. It is unwise to ask a second to carry such weight -- a second that comprises 19 miles in the Earth's spinning around the sun in one corner of one galaxy among millions still traveling in a universe that has had incalculable seconds.

The world, it seems, has zeroed in on what may possibly be the most extensive "pseudo-event" ever. Historian Daniel Boorstin created the term to describe the unreality of the planned and packaged images that dominate public and private life. He wrote of our era's preponderance of contrived evidence: "Each of us individually provides the market and the demand for the illusions which flood our experience. We want and we believe these illusions because we suffer from extravagant expectations. We expect too much of the world."

A tick of the clock. A turn of the calendar page. The arrival of the millennium has grown to represent all things to all movements -- doomsday and heyday alike, religious and secular, economic and environmental, apocalyptic and futuristic. It is a banner restitched and waved uniquely by competing carriers. It is the chatter as the cigar box is passed around about what the newborns will grow up to be, which has nothing to do with the destiny the children will create for themselves. The millennium is an unmarked gift box everyone is anxious to unwrap. What happens when it's opened and there's nothing inside?

-- Arlan H. Adams (, April 06, 1999


With any luck, many of the goofball movements related to the arrival of the millenium will fade away. That would be nice.

-- Paul Davis (, April 06, 1999.

Easy to maintain a mindset that discounts anything saying, Beware, or alert, or 'read carefully',...The challenging of basic assumptions is critical to autonomy, and more difficult. For an interesting read try E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops

"The Machine Stops", by E.M. Forster

-- Donna Barthuley (, April 06, 1999.

More likely is this scenario in the burbs:

Man gets up late with a hangover Man gets in car to go to Brkfst at McDonalds Man finds out power is off and no breakfast Man goes home to watch the Rose Bowl. Man can't watch the game Man goes back to McDonalds and burns it down. Man goes down town and joins the rest of the rioters and comes home with a new large screen TV. Still no power and he had a hell of a time getting that TV out the front window with that generator sitting there.

-- Taz (, April 06, 1999.

Arlan, you need to learn how to spell your name. Or did Arlin not post this garbage???

-- wondering? (, April 06, 1999.


Amazing story esp. when considering when it was written. I read this a many years and occasionally remember it hauntingly more frequently these days.

Thanks for posting the link.


-- Texan (, April 06, 1999.

I didn't notice the misspelling of Arlin's name...regardless, it is a good discussion of sentiment about whether the machines will continue to support all that we take for granted.

The original poster said: "Regular people, unlike programmers, like large, round numbers. But how could this zero-filled number not be more hype that substance? " Misspellings notwithstanding, does not address in this first statement how dependent human beings have become on automated systems.

I agree that there is a gift in the chaos. I think however that many are so focused on the status quo, and the ever-present monkey wrench that they can't see the "gift for the trees."

-- Donna Barthuley (, April 06, 1999.

I dunno..., that part about "a distant siren wailing", could be civil unrest !!

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), April 06, 1999.

As I speak with people in my community, this is the common point of view - things will be fine. If I am to accept this (without any proof from any resource or any company or any government) why are those of us who are making preparations looked at at a bit odd (ok, I am a bit odd but that's not what I meant!!)

To say no preparation is warranted is foolish. Do something!! Buy a limited amount of food ( a couple of months anyway ) and then when everything is OK, you don't have to go to the store. Or, if things get rocky you can eat.

I find it odd - all this resistance to preparing for things not working as we are used to them working.

-- Bill Keller (, April 06, 1999.

wow, somebody actually pretended to be me! and as usually happens with people who don't know me *sigh* whoever it was misspelled my name.

sorry folks I didn't post this one. I guess my posts upset one of the trolls...


-- Arlin H. Adams (, April 06, 1999.

The author has displayed one of the common signs of a hack journalist who tries to fool people into thinking he knows something. To attribute Y2K fears to traditional religious or superstitious fears about the large round number 2000 is a pathetic pseudo-academic cliche. It's right up there with talk of planes falling out of the sky. No substantial arguments against the doomsday expectations of myself and others.

There is something else that must be pointed out. Whenever something is repeated incessantly then it is a lie. Have you noticed that within the mass media there is no diversity of opinion on this matter? They all agree that it will be a bump in the road.

-- Joe O (, April 06, 1999.

Gee, I wonder if Arl>A
-- Sysman (, April 07, 1999.

Those damned brackets . Not worth the repeat, but I wonder if Arl(A)n is the evil twin of the NEW Norm, if you know what I mean... <:)=

-- Sysman (, April 07, 1999.

Odd you should mention McDonalds. They not only became compliant, they have sent teams to their suppliers and shippers and helped them become compliant.

-- Paul Davis (, April 07, 1999.

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