A different kind of Y2K apocalypse

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It's payback time.

That is, it's the year 2000.

And it is not The End Of The World As We Know It.

In fact, it's very much the same world we knew before last week's New Year's countdown.

Here and there, glitches hit a few government computers. Some ATMs shut down. There were some nuisances. But the date change around the world came and went without any sign of the K-lamity that some had feared. Similarly, on Monday, the millennium's first big business day, corporate computer systems were reported to be running quite smoothly.

When the New Year began I was sitting in my cubicle at work, merely because fear mongers and profiteers had ably managed to pump so much hysteria into the issue. As a member of the media, I had to dutifully be at my post in case disaster hit. And just as I had predicted in a previous column, I wound up staring at my computer monitor bearing witness to -- absolutely nothing of major consequence.

International commerce didn't collapse, nuclear reactors didn't melt down and ICBMs didn't go ballistic.

Some Y2K alarmists are still in a state of denial, insisting that the real effects of the millennium bug won't be felt for a month or more as -- get this! -- computers become progressively "degraded." (Does that mean that our PCs will crash five times a day instead of the usual four?)

Now listen up, Y2Krackpots and Konsultants, wherever you may be.

It's over.

Let me repeat.

It's OVER!

There are no more people for you to bilk with your doomsday scenarios. No more buyers for your fear-driven windmills. The market for your freeze-dried groceries has dried up. No more children for you to terrify with your techno-bedwetting predictions. The gullible folks on your pusillanimous e-mail lists have unceremoniously departed their bunkers.

I recall how I came under repeated attack over the past couple of years for downplaying the potential risks.

In a June 2, 1997, rant entitled Hyping the 'Millennium Bomb', I took issue with a Newsweek cover story featuring a smashed computer monitor and the words, "The Day the World Crashes." While acknowledging that the Y2K glitch was indeed a serious problem for many older computer systems, I emphasized that there was no cause for hysteria.

"Programmers revise code all the time for all sorts of problems," I wrote back then. "The world has yet to crash."

That earned me the following anonymous e-mail message:

"There will be a very special place in hell for you. Maybe if someone competent had researched this topic, something sane might have been published. When you are lying on the freezing ground with your parched tongue lolling out of your cracked and bleeding lips, you will remember how stupid you were  Pie in the sky well wishers like you, (sic) harm others by not warning them to prepare for the worst."

Somebody named "Russ" reacted to a subsequent column in which I again downplayed Y2K fears:

"Idiot. Moron. You endanger people with your rosy illustration of this UNPRECEDENDED event -- in which the IT professionals facing it every day are the first to admit: THEY don't know how bad it will be. Keep your dangerous optimism to yourself -- you don't have the right to lull folks into a false sense of security. YOU are ignorant of the problems' potential for economic and social disaster ... Again: Idiot. Moron. And ... YES! A great big ol' twitchy horses' (expletive deleted)."

Another column prompted this missive from Sulphur Springs, Texas, computer programmer Steve Heller:

"First, the bad news: this problem is real, very big, and isn't going to be fixed in time There is no likelihood whatsoever that the banking system is going to make it, nor the power grid as a whole. Therefore, we are in for a major disaster. The good news? You (and all the other pollyannas who have your head stuck in the sand) will stop consuming valuable resources, like air. Too bad that you may convince others not to protect themselves as well, but I guess that's another example of Darwinism in action."

I actually didn't mind the attacks. They provided great fodder for columns ridiculing the extremists. Their hate mail was more than offset by expressions of appreciation from others. Like the reader who signed her e-mail Jennifer B. She wrote:

"Thank you so very much for the insight to the Y2K frenzy in the world. When I first heard about Y2K I was pregnant and living with my in-laws. My father-in-law started preparing the house for the disaster. He got me so scared and I feared for my unborn child's life. I was considering having an abortion, just so I wouldn't have to worry about how I was going to feed my child when the time came for the stores to no longer have food. I was an emotional wreck."

The self-appointed prophets of doom told us to expect an apocalyptic catastrophe.

We got our apocalypse, all right.

But in the original meaning of the word: a revelation.

As we enter a new millennium -- the dawn of a high-tech age whose benefits far outweigh the dangers -- the fear mongers have helped us to see with new eyes.

We had to put up with their ravings, but we can all now surely see the falseness of their technological fears.

That's our payback.

-- Elvis (elvis@graceland.com), January 04, 2000


Ummm...you're not REALLY Elvis...are you?

-- Ludi (ludi@rollin.com), January 04, 2000.

He's a hunkahunka burnin love!
(Hey! You want that Jelly donut?) Uh, thankya verrah much!

-- Jay Urban (Jayho99@aol.com), January 04, 2000.

If I only knew that all I had to do was to go to Elvis for assurance that there would absolutely be no significant effects from possible global supply chain problems in the first quarter of 2000, I could have rested easier all along.

Hail to the King!

-- eve (123@4567.com), January 04, 2000.

Amen to that, Elvis!

But don't you see, these people just aren't believing all computers will fail, they are HOPING they fail. They are wishing that everything collapses and only themselves and a few choice nutcases survive to repopulate the planet once they crawl out from their pathetic, stench-ridden bunkers.

Don't worry, in a month, maybe two. All of these nuts will forget all about Y2K and be up to their old tricks of blaming the Jews or the Blacks or maybe something new for all of their problems.

At least this time they picked an inanimate object on which to project their hatred.

Sincerely, Bill

-- Bill Perkins (trimmer_cc@hotmail.com), January 04, 2000.

Actually -- it's

"Thank ya -- thank ya verr much!"

It's more realistic if you break wind while you say it, but that's kinda hard to represent in a post. Anyway - I've left the building!

-- Elvis (elvis@graceland.com), January 04, 2000.

Dear Elvis, The Meltdown of the markets is the Y2K Bug. Think about it! I never did like your music.

-- lenny (Chmielecki@worldnet.att.net), January 04, 2000.

"When I first heard about Y2K I was pregnant and living with my in- laws. My father-in-law started preparing the house for the disaster. He got me so scared and I feared for my unborn child's life. I was considering having an abortion, just so I wouldn't have to worry about how I was going to feed my child when the time came for the stores to no longer have food. I was an emotional wreck."

Here is a priceless piece of logic from his one polly e-mail. Let me paraphrase: I was so concerned for my unborn child's life that I thought about killing it. Brilliant.


-- Coder (Coder@Work.Now), January 04, 2000.


Elvis, thank you for the funniest post I've seen yet on this forum. You're a hoot! Go, guy, rant on.

-- (4@5.6), January 04, 2000.

Please, if you are going to post the DJA, add the time with it. Thanks.

And Elvis, I apologize for the nasty utterances you received.

Mr. bob

-- Mr. Bob (Mr.Bob@Mr.Bob'sWorld), January 04, 2000.

This article is by Sam Vincent Meddis of USA TODAY. His e-mail address is:


-- Mr. Messenger (bythew@y.folks.com), January 04, 2000.

Elvis may be burning in Hell, but for entirely different reasons.

A Hunka Y2Kook

-- Y2Kook (Y2Kook@usa.net), January 04, 2000.


The attacks on you were completely uncalled for; really a form of verbal abuse. I'm sorry you experienced this.

-- eve (123@4567.com), January 04, 2000.

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