The Cameron Column #75
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      Those of you who look to the Cameron Column to explain the important issues of the day (a) need to make a serious reappraisal of your news sources, and (b) are going to be the first to understand the "Y2K" in "layman's," which is to say, "uninformed person's", language.

      "Y2K" is probably short for something, I don't know. But I do know that come the turn of the century, we're gonna be in big trouble in America. Here's why:

      At first, America was an agrarian country, meaning most of the people lived off of the land, producing edible products like soybeans, which can be made to taste like meat if you've maybe had some sort of tongue accident. Later, we became an industrial country, meaning we produced pollution. Recently, though, we've become a country of information processors, meaning we get paid to send e-mail to each other.

      One e-mail that got sent out not too long ago announced that sometime after the year 1999, we would use the year 2000. But no one sent this message to the computer programmers, who were amazed to find out that their programs counted the year "00" as occurring BEFORE the year '99!

      Us: You idiots! Your software thinks "00" comes BEFORE "'99,' and now we're going to have to pay programmers billions of dollars to fix everything!

      Programmers: We're amazed! How on earth could we have been so stupid? Please make the check out to Rich Programmers, Inc.

      Of course, a cheaper solution would be to take all the computers, chain them to the programmers, and dump the whole mess into the ocean. Unfortunately, that would not only be a violation of the Clean Water Act, but would leave us in big trouble.

      It seems that computer programs are full of "bugs," so named because that's what many software engineers look like. And the worst bug is the Y2K, which, if left unaddressed, could result in the following calamities:

      Bill Clinton might be constitutionally eligible to run for a third term.

      Chevy might bring back the Vega.

      Airlines might accidentally install seats large enough for people to sit in.

      Due to a crash in their phone systems, you could call a bank and wind up talking to a person instead of a recording.

      Duluth, Minnesota.

      The White House might start charging drug dealers the wrong rate for a night in the Lincoln Bedroom.

      As the ball drops on New Year's Eve in Times Square in New York, it might get stuck, meaning Dick Clark would be on television forever.

      Kenneth Starr would lose all of his data and have to start his investigation over from scratch.

      Your VCR would stop blinking MIDNIGHT MIDNIGHT MIDNIGHT and start blinking NOON NOON NOON.

      Tony Orlando might decide the time is right for a comeback.

      If you are one of those people who have trouble adjusting to Daylight Savings Time, imagine the headaches you'll have to endure when we start the 1900's all over again! (If we do that, I vote this time no disco.)

      Probably the worst fear people have about Y2K is that the banks will lose all of their data and no one will be able to get money out. To prevent this, some experts are recommending withdrawing large amounts of cash and stuffing your mattress with it, which sounds to me like a pretty good way to guarantee a back ache. Here's a better idea: withdraw your money, and send it to me. I promise I won't lose it to the Y2K bug. (I can't promise about the MasterCard and Visa bug, but better the bug you know than the one you don't, I always say. Well okay, I never actually have said that before.)

      If you'd rather send a check, make it out to "Rich Column Writer, Inc."


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Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 1998
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