Sunday, December 27, 2009

On A Long Enough Timeline...

My family is still enjoying the fruits of Y2K. Even though we ran through the last of the cotton swabs a couple years back, there is still a roll of duct tape out in our garage that represents the last of the cache that was left to us by our friends after the world failed to come to an end ten years ago. It seems patently ridiculous now to imagine that the fabric of our society would be torn apart by a couple of decimal places, but way back when, that was the conventional wisdom. I wonder if all those companies that hired all those programmers to "debug" their dates in the weeks and hours leading up to the turn of the century feel as if they got their money's worth. I remember, as our school's computer guy, being asked by a number of nervous teachers just what to expect when the clock struck midnight on December 31, 1999. I told them not to expect much. Not because I couldn't imagine any sort of cataclysm, but I didn't want anyone to profit from a simple oversight. And the reality was that there were plenty of clever people working on the problem two years in advance, and fears of a power grid collapsing or plague of genetically mutated frogs never came to pass.
It's a little like the recession. For better or worse, certain things like the United States' economy is just too big to fail. It sags mightily in the middle, and things fall off of it only to be glued on or wedged back into place at some later convenience. Armageddon is just too hard to pull off all at once. The disintegration of our middle class and the steady erosion of our polar ice caps are happening quickly enough, from a galactic perspective. The thing is, we're such clever monkeys that we tend to have just enough time to create a work-around or patch as we lurch from one near-collapse to another: the indomitable human spirit. That and a few rolls of duct tape.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's the "Unix Millennium" in 2038 we need to worry about.