I am quite the procrastinator. The year 2000 has come and gone but I am just now reading the definitive book on preparing for this potential global threat known as Y2K. Better late than never! Do you remember the night of January 31, 1999? When the clock struck midnight, pacemakers stopped working, planes dropped out of the sky, nuclear weapons fired on their own and wiped out large portions of the world, machines rebelled against humans, the apocalypse begun, and we are fending for our lives in a post-apocalyptic world roving from abandoned city to abandoned city fending of zombie hordes while searching for rapidly dwindling resources. Ah, those were the days! Okay, none of this stuff really happened. However, I remember the time when the so-called Millennium Bug filled the nightly news with fear-laden stories about what will happen to the world because some computers only had two spaces to represent the year. Thus it would reset to 00, freak out, and crash, with hilarity ensuing. Apparently the only things to freak out and crash with hilarious results were the panicky people who bought into this crap.
Reading this book is funny today, but before 2000, people were taking this issue seriously. After all, this book retailed for $24.95 in 1998 and was once a New York Times Bestseller (My copy says so on the cover). I paid just a dollar for it last year, so I got it at quite the bargain. Besides, since all of our computers recognize years in 4 digits, it is never too early to prepare for the year 10,000. Imagine the chaos that will occur on December 31, 9999, when spaceships will drop out of the sky and service robots go awry a la Maximum Overdrive. Or maybe the computers will see the date as January 1, AD 0, and start taxing people in Roman Denarius. But I digress.
The whole point of this is to point out our absurdity in dealing with perceived crises in this country. Think about how many crises we've had since then, such as swine flu. The great epidemic didn't happen. A few people got sick and died, but a few was far short of the millions predicted.
Sex offenses are viewed in the same way. We look at the rare heartbreaking tragedies as anything but the rare tragedies they are. John Walsh once testified before Congress our country is "littered with mutilated, decapitated, raped, and strangled children." The media replays these stories night after night, and terms like "epidemic" are used to describe the prevalence. Laws have been passed and enforced according to the fear we have experienced. Fear ebbs and flows. There was a similar panic after World War 2, followed by a swing of the pendulum in the other direction, but now we have swung back to the panic of the post WW2 era. What will it wake to wake people up to the truth? Or should we just shrink back to out Y2K bunkers. Yeah, I know some of you built them. I think I'll take my chances and stay out of the bunkers.