Sunday, July 27, 2014

Y2K! Y2K!

Being a packrat has its occasional windfalls and discoveries. Going through some long-buried file folders with labels “Story Ideas” and “Work Leads,”  I’ve excavated some fun things.

There’s the April 1999 review of “The Year 2000 Checklist for Homes and Businesses,” described as "a 175-page step-by-step guide to how to protect your family, home, and small business for the Year 2000 computer glitch.”

Y2K – remember?

Advertised as NOT a panic book, it addresses the reassuring subjects of “How much water do you need every day to stay alive?” and “How can I protect myself without the police?”

It was published by a Florida company called Figureit which, not surprisingly,  I haven’t been able to locate lately.

The review presents Figureit’s timeline for the events expected to unfold. It starts with some obscure computer programming mistakes discovered in 1970, which the book says foreshadowed the later situation. Two full, detailed pages later (still in the review) the climax: New Year’s Eve 1999, when “drunken partygoers will wonder why lights have gone out and the 911 system is down, and looting and rioting may begin.” Martial law will be declared.

I don’t know how many books they may have sold at $26.95, shipping and handling included. It’s hard to recapture the spirit of that time, so it’s hard to judge the intent. Was it cynical exploitation of a popular concern? Or genuine help for what the authors thought would be a massive crisis? You have to remember there was talk of airplanes falling out of the sky,

For myself, I didn’t take any particular precautions because, not having discovered the book in time, I didn’t know any precautions to take. I went with the flow, assuming the technical guys would figure things out – pretty much what happened – or I would go down with the rest of the society.

I wonder what the next big scare will be. The Internet running out of “content”? Not likely, but I’m standing by to render aid just in case.