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Jan 29, 1999

G. Michael Reid looks at computer bug

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If you use a computer then you may want to pay keen attention to G. Michael Reid’s Last Word tonight as he examines the real or imagined threat of a computer bug that could put your world in a tailspin.

“Time marches along its ceaseless course, and considering the pace at which it is moving one might be convince that it was doing the quickstep. Seems like just yesterday, we were skittishly preparing for Christmas and now here we are, already putting the finishing touches on January. How time flies and at this rate before we know it, it will be time for another auld lang syne. Of course this time, as Fred Sanford would say, it will be the big one.

December 31st, 1999 will be a moment of momentous significance. When the clock strikes midnight on that night, we will come to not only the end of a year, but the end of a decade, the end of a century and the end of a millennium all rolled into one. According to some, the end of the world even.

Now for the longest, the year two thousand has been the subject of much speculation and apprehension on both the spiritual and the material planes. Spiritually, sages have long been fingering the year two thousand, as the exact date of the rapture. According to evangelists, it is then that the curtain shall fall and that the roll up yonder will be called. History reveals of course, that similar warnings of doomsday’s imminence circulated around the end of the previous thousand years. Of course, circa 999 which was a good eight centuries before the age of enlightenment, the prophets of doom had a much easier time convincing people that the Archangel Michael would be arriving to out-duel the devil. Today, of course, you can talk about Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson or even Michael Tyson . . . but this archangel guy, can he dance, can he dunk, can he bite, I mean punch?

It seems that this millennium around, people are perceiving the problems of the material realm as those that are much more real. The biggest concern has not to do with Revelations or Genesis, but with the phylogenesis of a metaphorical doom bug known as Y2K. It lurks ominously in our computer systems, poised to pounce at just the appointed moment: midnight December 31st.

Now if you read any of the popular newsmagazines or listen to any of the people in the computer field, you will be convinced that on January 1st, 2000, the sky will be falling. We hear warnings about elevators crashing to the floor, planes falling from the sky and pacemakers stopping in mid-pace. Also expected to be affected, will be the major utilities of electricity and power, both hydroelectric and nuclear. The thought of that alone, gives legitimate reason for concern. Banking and telecommunications will also be prime targets of this indignant and malignant mathematical glitch known widely as the millennium bug. Maybe we could try some Raid, Baygon or maybe Flit.

The truth is of course, that this whole mad delirium might very well be just a trumped up dilemma concocted by a few colleagues of Bill Gates to make profit. Rumor has it that right here in Belize, B.T.L. has already shelled out some 12 million dollars in an effort to get Y2K compliant. And I’m thinking why didn’t I pay attention in computer class.

The biggest problem with this whole Y2K enigma of course, is that it strikes at the very core of the most basic of human emotions. Fear, and namely fear of the unknown. No one knows for sure what will happen on December 31st. Some experts are afraid that what will actually cause the worse damage, will be neither a computer rupture nor a spiritual rapture but in fact, unfounded panic that might lead to a frenzy of fear based selling of stocks. This would then send the world markets reeling and could very likely trigger a worldwide recession. This in turn could trigger rioting, looting and wholesale bedlam.

As this mystical date of two zero, zero, zero draws nearer, we can expect more hype and more anxiety. We can look for Hollywood to jump on the bandwagon soon and to begin releasing doomsday movies hand over fist. We can probably also expect to see a crescendo of evangelist, surrealist and Jehovah Witness all intent on making straight the way of the Lord.

As for me, I first of all believe that the Y2K bug is all hype. Yea there are 40 billion computers, but why can’t each department fix its own problem; it’s not like we will be standing in lines somewhere. And hey, if little B.T.L. can fix their problem, what’s up with the giants of Sprint and AT&T.

Now apart from the doomsday bug and those who bug us about doomsday, there are those who think that there is a natural cycle to things. Fruits blossom and become ripe, the sun rises and climax and seasons change and are reborn. Man himself makes a complete round from the womb to the tomb. Could it be that even Mother Nature or maybe civilization, is given a span of life? And could that span be two milleniums? We’ll soon find out, won’t we? It seems to me then, that the best thing that we can do is to prepare ourselves on both the spiritual and material planes. On the material plane, we must make sure that our individual computers are Y2K compliant and then on the spiritual plane, make sure that our individual souls are non-defiant. After that, all that will be left to do, is to party like it’s 1999.

With the Last Word, G. Michael Reid.”

The opinions expressed on the Last Word are those of G. Michael Reid and not necessarily those of Channel Five. Comments are welcome.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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