Officials to public: Chill out on Y2k (Why? Who's worried?) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Officials to public: Chill out on Y2K

November 23, 1999


Government, business and banks have two words for Americans: Calm down.

Not that more people than usual are actually upset, of course, or that rioting has hit the streets. But the nation is in the midst of the Y2K schizophrenia, in which ratings-craving TV executives and overwrought public relations agencies try to create a consumer fear, even when most consumers say they're tired of the scare talk.

Sunday night, NBC-TV showed "Y2K," which depicted the millennium as a computer-driven apocalypse. Most critics said it wasn't one of television's shining moments. As a bit of media tomfoolery, it appeared to fall far short of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" broadcast in 1939.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings showed "Y2K" finished last among the network shows. Utilities denounced the movie before its air date and proclaimed their Y2K-readiness. Monday, the federal government said it's ready too--mostly--and the Securities and Exchange Commission said brokerages are all right.

Still, Mayor Daley's Y2K chief, Barrett Murphy, was worried enough to remind Chicagoans the film was fiction and said the city "is prepared for Y2K and does not anticipate any major Y2K-related disruptions." A spokesman for the mayor said the movie prompted a few calls of worry to the city's 311 non-emergency number, but not enough to keep a count of them.

Murphy said Chicagoans should prepare for the millennium "as they would for a winter storm. They should also beware of a variety of Y2K-related scams by con artists who are trying to make money off of people's fears."

He wasn't available to say whether he'd consider this a scam: a solemn release from the job-placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. talking about job growth after a computer meltdown.

We'll all need "survivalist consultants," said the company's chief executive, John Challenger. Another biggie will be "Y2K Realtors" to assist the hordes fleeing darkened cities for the countryside.

Challenger was a little vague on how to locate these specialists if all forms of communication are down. "They're all going to be bunkered somewhere," he said, adding that his release was supposed to be "tongue in cheek."

An Evanston company, Emergency Survival Food Service, boasted Monday that its Web site offers a complete selection of dehydrated foods, perfect for post-disaster family togetherness. It's at

Then there's, which has an argument for making the last week of 1999 a holiday for everybody. Among the reasons: more time to select "the outfit" for Judgment Day and to trade in Christmas socks for Kevlar vests and cans of Spam.

Maybe in a few weeks, we'll all be able to laugh.

November 30, 1999

-- Homer Beanfang (, November 23, 1999


"Just keep quiet and you won't get hurt ...."

-- SH (, November 23, 1999.

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