Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Y2K With a Native Flare

Do you remember Y2K?

Computer systems with internal calendars programmed to treat the two-digit year double-zero as 1900 would not know how to process the impending change to the year 2000. All hell would break loose as financial systems collapsed, airplanes fell from the sky, governments across the globe gradually fell into anarchy with each passing hour, and Ted Nugent basked in the bunkered glory of being hailed the smartest man in America.

Fortunately, those things didn't happen all at the same time. Financial systems have collapsed, only certain governments have fallen into anarchy, and fewer airplanes have fallen from the sky than expected. Ted Nugent? Well, it's reassuring to know some things don't change.

For my part, I spent the majority of 1999 nursing the fears of the health system for which I worked. Because I knew how to format a newsletter and create fancy Excel spreadsheets, somehow that qualified me to research every last bit of technology the company owned to determine whether or not we should expect our medical equipment to suddenly stop working on January 1st. Halfway through the year, when the horrid individuals to whom I reported completely lost their tenuous hold on reality, it became necessary for me to contact the manufacturers of all electrical equipment to request letters assuring us Y2K would not affect their functioning.

Pulse oximeters, hospital beds, heart monitors, scales, wheelchairs, telephones, pagers, calculators -- nothing was too insignificant to be overlooked. Lamps, for God's sake... Lamps!!! Simply because they plugged into outlets, I had to catalog every lamp at all of our facilities and document the fact these devices that are only one step more technologically complex than a potted plant would not erupt in flames at midnight on December 31st, 1999.

I hoped at the very least for something somewhere at some point to fizzle and pop. Nothing life threatening, just enough to help justify months of work. But all was calm and quiet, and all those efforts were for naught.

Abbreviated translation:
"Holy crap! The world is ending!!"
And here we are again, facing yet another pending cataclysm thanks to an administrative-level Mayan who got a hand cramp when he reached the end of 2012 while carving out the calendar. Judging by the success of the Maya Empire, he could have saved himself time and quit somewhere in the 10th century.

Regardless of the fact the Maya people did not actually predict the end of the world, sales of bunker building supplies is at an all-time high and millions of people all over the world reportedly are working themselves into a frothy state of apocalyptic apoplexy. If these poor slobs are going to put so much stock in old calendars left lying about, then I have an old desktop calendar from 2007 that should scare the bejeezus out of them. According that thing thing we should all have been raptured nearly five years ago.

Plus, even if the Maya culture did make an end-of-the-world prediction, whose to say they weren't completely wacked out of their minds? Jules Verne predicted the invention of the taser, videoconferencing, solar sails, electric submarines, and news podcasts. The Mayans couldn't predict a 200-year drought or being conquered by the Spanish. Even Mitt Romney isn't that bad at predicting the future.

So, I don't know about you, but this Friday night I plan to enjoy time with friends and not sweat out the doom and gloom sooth-saying of a long-deceased civilization. Besides, Jersey Shore was just cancelled and we haven't heard a peep out of Ted Nugent in months. How bad off can the world be?

© 2012 Mark Feggeler


  1. The predicted world’s end on 21 December is irrational scare-mongering nonsense – but the ‘Millennium Bug’ was not. There’s a difference, and it’s important to the human race that we understand what it is. See my latest blog: ‘Mayan Catastrophe versus Millennium Bug’:

    Short link:

  2. It's all fear-mongering, but that doesn't mean I can't point and laugh.