Y2K AND BEYOND

by David Sisler

There were two embarrassing parts about Y2K, the disaster that did not happen. Before you decide that I am a member of the procrastinator's club, or just forgetful in my dotage because I am writing at the end of February about Y2K, have patience. All will be revealed in good time.

The first embarrassment of Y2K, you remember, was the disappointment which was obvious on the faces of reporters as they scrambled for news of a disaster, even a little disaster, and there were none. The second, and for me a greater embarrassment, was the stampeding herd of evangelical Christians, particularly evangelical Christian writers who trumpeted Doom-and-Gloom and then played the tune all the way to the bank.

Paul told the Corinthian Church, "If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"

Uncertain trumpets were sounded by (among others) Grant Jeffrey in The Millennium Meltdown, by Noah Hutchings in Y2K = 666? and Michael S. Hyatt's The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos, and Countdown to Chaos Protection Kit, a six-audiotape set plus an accompanying handbook, which came complete with "recommendations, checklists, and the essential resources and supplies you'll need to survive this looming crisis" for $89. Uncertain trumpets weaken all who raise future instruments of warning.

Last March I wrote about the "Christian" web site which was selling freeze-dried carrots, a 20 pound bag for $115. They gave you the privilege of charging your purchases to your credit card, thereby adding 21 percent more to the price of their survivalist rabbit food. A Wisconsin family spent a total of $20,000 for a stash of food, drinking water, and medical supplies including 400 boxes of Hamburger Helper, 175 pounds of pasta, and a generator. Sorry, no refunds, they were told.

Michael Hyatt does not seem to wish to let go. "I can certainly understand your disappointment or perhaps your frustration," he said on his interactive website. "However, I want to emphasize that things are far from over." Does that mean there is another book, or tape series on the horizon?

I hope you haven't gotten rid of all of your Y2K supplies, because disaster is looming. To quote Stephen Sondheim, "There's something due any day. I will know right away, soon as it shows. It may come cannonballin' down through the sky, gleam in its eye, bright as a rose!"

Have no fear. You still have plenty of time to worry. I do not wish to keep you in suspense. I am making a mockery of your terror. "Villain," you shriek! Very well. I will dissemble no more: Damocles' sword will fall on Leap Day, February 29. At least that is what The Sydney Morning Herald said.

The problem is not the double zero for the date this time. Older computer programs were taught that there is no leap year in any year which can be divided evenly by 100. That is true, but there is another rule which says there will be a leap year in any year which can be divided evenly by 400. And since the year 2000 fits both of those parameters, we have a leap year this time around. The disaster of Leap Day will probably not come close to equaling the wanton calamity of Y2K, but "deadlines will not be met, and time-related commands may be delayed by 24 hours."

So there you go you have been living on borrowed time for the last two months. When the world did not end by January 3, the fall-back disaster day, the day the business computers were powered up following the holiday weekend, you thought all was safe.

"Oh, well," you say, "February 29 is small potatoes." Don't breathe easy yet. As a public service, I must warn you not to become complacent. According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, December 31, 2000 to January 1, 2001 is another disaster waiting to happen because it is "the last of the minimum set of Year 2000 transitions and takes the [computer] system completely through the new century."

Maybe the personal disaster which threatens you is nothing so trivial as a potential computer glitch. There is a book which covers all such trials and its Author said, "When you hear of wars and commotions and you will hear of wars and commotions do not be terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not yet. You believe in God, believe also in me." His word is enough.

-30-

Published in The Augusta Chronicle 2/26/2000

Copyright 2000 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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