Beast of the Month - February 1999
Y2K, Millennium Bug Madness
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
Boy Scouts Motto
As people celebrated the New Year last month, there was a strange feeling in the air that made the celebration a tad bittersweet. The feeling was of ambivalence, confusion and, yes, fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the future. Fear that, one year from now, on January 1, 2000, the celebration will not be so joyous.
Nothing unites people better than fear. Maybe that is why stories involving the alleged impending crisis thanks to the year 2000 have graced the covers of diverse alternative news sources ranging from Patriot magazine The Free American to Progressive political primer The Los Angeles Free Press. Last month, militia and patriot hero Bill Cooper's Harvest Trust Organization warned of an attempt to declare martial law over the supposed Y2Khaos that is developing, sometime between the middle of 1999 to the first quarter of 2000. Meanwhile, the Biotic Baking Brigade, a group of leftist subversives who use pies as their weapon, declared their next major target to be the computer and chip manufacturers who have created the impending crisis by their negligence.
Perhaps now would be a good time to take a step back and describe precisely what the Y2K bug is in the first place. The official story goes something like this: when the first computer codes were designed, space to store the code was a real commodity. That being the case, instead of entering the full year in the code for storing date information, the last two digits were used (for example, the year 1999 was listed as "99".) The idea was that by the time the year 2000 rolled around, this little problem would be solved. Unfortunately, reality hasn't turned out that way, and now there are all these date codes hidden everywhere, and not just in computers: electronic equipment, power grids, and defense systems are all hooked into a system with this glitch in it, which conceivably could wreak havoc over the coming months.
There are some that question this official story. For one, Anthony J. Hilder, the entertaining and showboating conservative conspiracy theorist, has insisted that the Y2K bug problems are not an "accident", but rather by design. The Y2K bug, he insists (and claims to have inside sources who verify this), is an Illuminati plot to create order out of chaos, to cause such a social frenzy that people would practically be begging for a police state to protect them from the violent anarchy that will erupt, using the year 2000 as a symbolically significant date to initiate the ritual. If that is true, the Illuminati certainly appears to be partly there, as already, the coming of the year 2000 is perhaps the most awaited moment in history, even surpassing the anticipation for the next Star Wars film.
The anticipation is due to one major fact: no one really knows exactly what is going to happen on January 1, 2000. The nightmarish chaos and shutdown of civilization that some predict is not an implausible scenario. It is the unknown X factor that seems to fuel the Y2K frenzy, and it certainly isn't helped by insincere-sounding denials by authorities (Bill Klinton has insisted that Social Security is Y2K compliant, but knowing his fidelity to the truth, this shouldn't be believed), nor the fact that whenever there is a major test for a computer system, systems tend to crash.
Of course, there are others who argue that the Y2K hysteria is a Phantom Menace, a bogeyman to keep the masses occupied in a state of paranoia that will not deliver the doom it promises. There may be something to this, as the Y2K madness has been heavily promoted by those associated with the Pentagon and other organizations that profit handsomely off of exploiting panic.
Case in point is Gary North. Mr. North, perhaps the most well-known "expert" on the Y2K phenomenon, has become the chief doomsayer of the coming millennium, his warnings appearing on his website as well as the popular radio program of Art Bell. Often times, it isn't wise to confuse the messenger for the message, and there are some who insist that North is still an excellent researcher. However, the reality is that North's "expertise" is non-existent: on his own site, he readily admits "I'm not a programmer. My Ph.D. is in history." So technologically speaking, he is talking way over his head. As for his "expertise" as a historian, what kind of historian is he? It turns out that North is a "Christian" theocrat who wants to install a state that uses Old Testament law enforcement such as stoning people to death for a wide range of crimes (in addition to such contemporary capital crimes as rape, kidnapping, and murder), including apostasy (abandonment of the faith), heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, "sodomy or homosexuality," incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, "unchastity before marriage" and having abortions (as well as those who advised them to abort their children.)
With these facts considered, it is apparent that North has a major philosophical interest in promoting a panic: further, all his hysteria-mongering has done wonders to promote his newsletter and financial investments. And, naturally, his paranoid blarings have also done wonders for Art Bell, a man who's mission appears to be to air War of the Worlds on a nightly basis. Considering this is the leading trumpet for Y2K, much of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
Further, as both Libertarians and Marxists would argue, there is too much money and power invested in the current social and economic system to abandon it, which is what the Y2K doomsday scenarios seem to envision. Without a real profit motive, the Y2K conspiracy theory collapses, as a conspiracy only happens if someone benefits from it.
Maybe so. Then again, there long have been plans in design to declare martial law in this country and to put dissidents in concentration camps, the most notorious example being the Oliver North wet dream Rex-84 during the Reagan years. These plans never disappeared, and the current form is now called "Klinton Koncentration Kamps" in Patriot circles. While these plans have never been enacted, there certainly is a significant sector of the military-intelligence establishment that would enjoy to see that happen, and these people may just have enough power to get what they wish.
In any case, authorities are already using the Y2K panic to justify curtailment of civil liberties. For one, attempts have been made to restrict individuals rights to withdraw their own money from banks (a "Know Your Customer" concept pushed by the FDIC), a gross violation of civil liberties that the Libertarian Party has been battling. Which leads to another possibility: that the Y2Khaos will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, that by being so concerned about it and trying to avoid a social meltdown it becomes a reality. Just as Oedipus Rex is the tale of people's attempt to avoid their fate only leading to it, that may be what we have in store for us.
Whatever. In the meantime, there are certain dates of note in preparation of the year 2000 and its effects on computers. If these warning dates, cause major problems, we may very well be in trouble:
March 31, 1999: President's council on Y2K expects repair completion to critical computers in all federal agencies. Non-compliance reports are a bad sign.
April 1, 1999: Fiscal Year rollover for Japan, Canada, UK, and New York.
April 9, 1999: Day 99 of the year, leaving a possible four number string of nines (see September 9th.)
May 1, 1999 National Guard in all 50 states to train with FEMA for a communications blackout simulation exercise.
July 1, 1999 All 104 US Nuclear Power Plants report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as to Y2K compliance status. This may be the point to shut down non-compliant power plants, which could cause a rise in energy prices. Also, California and most other states do fiscal year rollovers.
August 22, 1999: Global Positioning System (GPS) may no longer function. The GPS is used to synchronize powerplant on the power grid.
September 9, 1999: Date is 9-9-99. The number 99 often represents "end-of-run" in computer code, or to "dump data." This date (and April 9th) may cause timebomb codes to go off.
And then, of course, there is January 1, 2000 itself.
So what will happen over the coming year? Good question. We at The Konformist don't pretend to know: to be fair, when as respected of a physicist as Dr. Michio Kaku warns of possible problems with nuclear power plants, our ears perk up. Still, one can't help think of the last major alleged sign of an impending apocalyptic doom: Hale-Bopp, the last major comet of the millennium. When it came, reports were made of an alleged "companion" object to the comet (the "companion" turned out to be non-existent.) Nonetheless, soon after these reports, Art Bell (in his most Orson Welles-ian of moments) had Major Ed "Head Games" Dames of Psi-Tech on his show, making "predictions" using "remote viewing", warning of mass deaths caused by the alien UFO traveling with the comet releasing deadly toxins. Or something like that. Needless to say, none of this happened, but there was an important event linked to Hale-Bopp in any case: the 39 deaths of members of the Heaven's Gate cult in Rancho Santa Fe. Oedipus Rex lives.
So, whether Y2K is a mere hype and hysteria, a deliverer of Ragnarok, or something in between, it will be causing a lot of psychic damage over the coming months, which makes it a nasty behemoth to look out for as we party like it's 1999.
In any case, we salute Y2K, and all those behind it, as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work!!!
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