Preparation gives way to paranoia : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

from the Business Journal of San Jose


May 17, 1999

Editor's Notebook

Preparation gives way to paranoia

Aliens could invade Earth, Y2K could ignite WW III--or not

Aldo Maragoni

First came warnings about the "Big One," the earthquake that will shatter the Golden State and create new parcels of beach-front property.

Then it was the new millennium (which actually begins Jan. 1, 2001, not Jan. 1, 2000, as most seem to think).

Associated with that is the Y2K computer problem, which, if you believe some reports, will throw the world's computer systems into such a tizzy that we won't be able to withdraw money from banks and planes will fall from the sky.

Now comes news from New Mexico: An asteroid may come "dangerously" close to Earth by 2039.

Or it may not.

Just like no one really knows when the "Big One" will hit and break California in multiple pieces, no one really knows what will happen at 12:00:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, and no one really knows whether this asteroid will smack the Earth.

Even the Italian researchers admitted the asteroid doesn't pose a real threat of slamming against our home planet (one in a billion, to be specific) ... but it may. And that possibility is apparently enough to publish reports in almost all news media.

In the world of scientists and prognosticators who brought you reports about the earthquake-to-end-all-earthquakes, the computer-crash-to-end-all-computer crashes and the asteroid-to-end-all asteroids, all these events could happen ...

The Raiders win the Super Bowl;

Bill and Hillary live happily ever after;

Michael Jackson becomes a babysitter;

Extraterrestrial life lands at a 7-Eleven near you to buy Slurpees for the crew;

Elvis miraculously resurfaces ... at a 7-Eleven near you; and

Canada, tired of just being known as "that country to the north," invades the United States.

There is something to be said about publishing reports and findings to encourage people to adequately prepare. I've got my emergency earthquake supplies, but the idea that a quake may hit at any moment isn't at the forefront of my thoughts.

But people have moved from preparation to paranoia.

As 2000 nears, there are people who have built the equivalent of a bomb shelter--stocking ammo and guns alongside the canned tuna, water and first-aid kits.

After every temblor that strikes the Bay Area, a seismologist comes on the air to tell us how, because of the recent quake, the odds of the "Big One" have just increased.

With absolute certainty, they say, the quake will strike between now and ... later.

I have no doubt that when 2000 is ushered in, there will be some computer problems. But there are those that have withdrawn their money from the bank and stored it in their mattresses, socks or some other "safe" place.

(Not to further worry those who have done this, but I believe the probability of someone breaking into your home are much greater than being denied access to your money on Jan. 1.)

These actions remind me of a line from a song by the band Harvey Danger: "Paranoia, paranoia ... everyone's comin' to get me."

I used to be skeptical of the media's power. I used to believe people could think for themselves--they would read and hear reports about asteroids and Y2K doom and realize, yes, those events are possible.

Anything is possible.

But I also assumed they would realize the probability of them happening is pretty slim.

But recent reports on the extreme measures people are taking, the publishing boom of Y2K-books and the number of people involved, makes me realize I've assumed too much.

People hear the stories, they see others go to extremes and believe they should do the same. The cycle continues.

There's plenty in our lives that we can control. Let's be judicious, plan wisely and then get on with living our lives--until the "Big One" hits ...


Reminds me a lot of what I told good buddy "Andy" the other night in our 'most fruitful' little chat....that being, "there's a chance I could get shot when I leave the house in the morning, but I'm not going to wear head-to-foot Kevlar just because of that..."

Got odds?


-- Chicken Little (, May 18, 1999


This is just another salvo in the media campaign to keep the sheeple from stampeding.

-- Prometheus (, May 18, 1999.

Really, could they lay it on any thicker?

-- Prometheus (, May 18, 1999.

What? You no wear your kevlar? You crazy or what?

-- Mad Monk (, May 18, 1999.

Well you have us Canadians figured out. First we take over the Beer market, Hollyweed, then the world. Go BEAVER!

-- Brian (, May 18, 1999.

Iceberg? What iceberg? Go back to the party. This ship is unsinkable. The Late Chicken Little somewhere in the North Atlantic-- long ago.

-- RD. ->H (, May 18, 1999.

Chicken Little wrote: As 2000 nears, there are people who have built the equivalent of a bomb shelter--stocking ammo and guns alongside the canned tuna, water and first-aid kits.

And exactly what, pray tell, is wrong with that?

I smell a liberal here. Their credo is basically that if some are without, ALL must be without, otherwise it's just not fair. After all, some can't afford to build and stock such a shelter, while others would rather spend their funds frivolously in other pursuits. Therefore, no one should be prepared is some cannot/choose not to be prepared.

One thing's certain: liberals and socialists get to stay on the outside of MY shelter.

-- . (.@...), May 18, 1999.

fortunately, I don't qualify according to this description. My guns, water, canned tuna and first aid kits are all in different places, and not alongside one another at all.

-- Flint (, May 18, 1999.

Chicken,Got Odds?

Lifes unknowns are 50/50.We are 100% prepared to be 100% wrong, and gladly.Are you 100% prepared to be 50% wrong,and gladly?

-- Tony C. (, May 18, 1999.

Okay, Flint, I give...

If your gun isn't by your tuna, how are you going to protect it? If you cut yourself on the lid, how far is it to your first aid kit?

I understand the concept of not putting all your eggs in one basket, but sometimes you need at least a couple of eggs. : )

-- Doug (, May 18, 1999.

(1) Having been through several major earthquakes, and living on an island that has been through two major hurricanes in the past 12 years, I fail to see why one wouldn't prepare for any number of contingencies. It has been my experience that some of them do eventually which time it is a whole lot more comfortable to be prepared than to be cold, wet, hungry, and/or a victom.

(2) Failure possibilities/probabilities. As a mathematician turned computer professional (for 32 years) I am well aware that many companies will not finish their projects on time. My current projection is that 35-40% of major US corporations will not finish remediating mission critical systems by January 1. Smaller companies will do slightly worse. This does not look like a bump in the road scenario... State and local governments don't look much better. Use anything from overseas? Like gasoline, parts for your foreign car, coffee, sugar?

(3) Based on the realities...not hope...not cute rhetoric...I choose to prepare what I could need here.

-- Mad Monk (, May 19, 1999.

Chicken Little, That's earthquake supplies you have? Or tornado, tsunami, hurricane, flood, snowstorm supplies? Definately not Y2K supplies, huh?

-- Gia (, May 19, 1999.

Typical propaganda piece. Belittle a serious concern (ask GM or the GAO how serious Y2K is) by sandwiching it between tales of UFOs and Elvis. Make the helots laugh at it. Always keep in mind that the best slave is the one who thinks he's free.

-- Spidey (in@jam.commie), May 19, 1999.

Hey Brian, when you guys take over, do I get points for having lived in Beaver Dam?

-- Paul Davis (, May 19, 1999.

Belittling earthquake preparations in California is as irresponsible as it gets. "Someday" could be today. I DON'T understand the mentality that makes being prepared a subject of derision.

-- kozak (kozak@formerusaf.guv), May 19, 1999.

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