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55


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 55, September 15, 1999
Fire Still Burning

Dress Rehersal For Y2K

by Tom Creasing
hobbyt@hevanet.com

Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

           My alarm clock went off on schedule this morning (too early, but that's my fault for setting it that way). The lights in the bathroom came on and electric toothbrush worked just fine. The newspapers were in the driveway as expected and my Mazda B2300 performed its assigned transportation duties flawlessly. At the gymnasium the sleepy eyed attendant scanned my membership card and waved me through.
           Some time later the stairmaster dutifully informed me that, as always, I had burned 444 calories and climbed 138 flights. I arrived at my office building this morning, was whisked to the proper floor courtesy of Mr. Otis's invention, and fired up my old Micron computer and turned on the stereo, listening to 620KNEWS. As usual, I logged onto the internet, grabbed up a ton of email from here and afar, and settled down to read, reply, and delete. No problems.
           So what, you ask? Well, today is September 9, 1999 -- the dreaded 9/9/99 which I had been dutifully informed by Many Informed Sources would cause computers to shut down in a sort of dress rehersal for Y2K. But instead of The Rehearsal For The End Of The World As We Know It, I have Routine Workday.
           Not long ago I attended a seminar telling lawyers what they could expect from Y2K. The world, I was informed, was divided into the Clueless -- who didn't know there was a problem, the Apocolyptics -- Who were storing bullets and beans, and the Blessed -- who knew there was a problem and who also knew that the problem would be fixed, so there wasn't really a problem.
           I broke an arm not raising my hand to ask what the difference between the Clueless and the Blessed was, given that there wasn't really a problem that couldn't be fixed? More recently, an acquaintance informed me that I am a WGI -- a Won't Get It, because I spend more time believing computer literati that say that Y2K will, at best, be a blip than I do believing the Apocolyptics who urge me to buy more beans and bullets, preferably from their overpriced catalogs or web sites.
           Several constants of the human animal are revealed by the popularity of the Y2K "crisis," and the first is that those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it. The End of the World is not new, and the Y1K crisis was going to be caused by the return of Christ.
           As the Year 1000 AD approached people became crazed, and the term "millenium madness" applies to this era as Europeans whipped themselves into a frenzy of greed, altruism, religious fervor, and dozens of other extreme behaviors.
           January 1, 1000 came around and, most to everyone's surprise, the world continued around the sun (or vice versa, given the scientific understanding of that era), people continued to be born and die, animals continued to transport and farm, and sundials, hour glasses, calendars, and seasons continued apace.
           Today people are working themselves into the same sort of millenium frenzy, looking for reasons to predict the End of Everything, and computers have made a handy scapegoat for that blame. I suspect that there will be as few apologies from the Apocolyptics on January 1, 2000 as there were on January 1, 1000.
           Another constant is that people like to form groups and soon begin wanting to believe that their group is "better" than other groups or that they personally are better than people who haven't joined their group (or who have selected a different group).
           As a WGI who is not among the Blessed, it is easy to feel the disdain that the GetIts and Blesseds have for people like me. It's only fair, I suppose, given that I feel similar disdain for herd followers who prefer to have their decisions made emotionally and by others.
           It is this socialization and subsequent "betterthanthou"ization that leads to Crusades and Holocausts, though, and has demonstrated itself repeatedly throughout human history as one of the most destructive forces humans subject themselves to.
           A third human trait demonstrated by the Y2K situation is the human penchant for pure unmitigated stubbornness in the face of facts. In April many states rolled over to fiscal year 2000 with no problem. In July, most states had made the change.
           In August the GPS system made its change. Today the world is functioning despite the 9/9/99 Rehersal. All that's left is the October fiscal year change for the Fed -- but given that Y2K has been all of nothing so far the scariest thing about October will most likely be Halloween. Despite this evidence, though, the GetIts and Blesseds still insist that they're right and that they're better and smarter and more clued than I am because, unlike me, they are Ready.
           For what -- the Second nonComing?


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