Let's Talk 2000

"The heartbeat of 2000 A.D. from cyberspace"

March 1, 1999, Volume 5, Issue 3, a monthly bulletin

Topics covered in this issue:

The Millennium Doctor Speaks
News from the Field:
Talk from the Forum:
New Millennial Sites:
Contact Information

The Millennium Doctor Speaks:
"Taking the pulse of 2000 A.D."

This has been a busy month for the millennium. On Talk 2000, we have discussed everything from millennial violence, anti-semitism to societal evolution. The big news this month comes from the White House Millennium Council. As our lead feature announces, they have unveiled their Millennium Communities program. Be sure to visit their web site. Our mayor just turned in the application for our millennial season.

Our second feature is a book announcement of _Rescuing the Future_ by Zia Sardar. Sardar is perhaps the leading Muslim futurist and cultural critic, based in London. The present millennium, according to Sardar represents 1,000 years of Western will to power, dominance and self-expression. Sardar wonders why anyone should pay tribute to a long era of exploitation, domination and bigotry. Far from being a finger waging, anti-west puritan, Sardar and the essays he had gathered from leading futurists are worth reading if you care about the creation of a humane and shared future.

On other fronts, it seems the countdown to the year 2001 is coming into view now. Beyond the pedantic argument that the calendrical millennium begins on January 1, 2001, it seems that people are looking at the whole year 2000 as cause for preparation and commemoration of the third millennium. There maybe, after all, life after the Y2K computer crisis!

If you enjoy this bulletin, please forward it onto a friend and encourage them to subscribe. We would like to boost our circulation this month by 20%.

News from the Field:
"Here is the latest news on year 2000 efforts."

MILLENNIUM COMMUNITIES PROGRAM UNVEILED
Washington, D.C. -- In an address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 29th, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton called on the mayors and other leaders to harness the millennial spirit as a force for positive change in every community across the country.

"This program gives us an opportunity to unite our communities through local projects that preserve our historical and cultural legacy and prepare citizens -- particularly youth -- for the 21st century," the First Lady said.

The Millennium Communities Program is a national noncompetitive program designed to recognize communities that undertake projects and activities that are consistent with the national theme, "Honor the Past - Imagine the Future." The program is a partnership of the White House Millennium Council, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Towns and Townships, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with support from BellSouth Corporation, a national corporate sponsor.

Designated Millennium Communities will be awarded use of the national millennium logo and motto to identify community projects and events as part of the national millennium observance. They will be able to register their projects and events on a Millennium Communities web site designed by BellSouth Corporation to allow the sharing of ideas and will also be honored by recognition events and designation ceremonies www.millenniumcommunities.org. A Millennium Communities Handbook has also been developed.

Cities, counties, towns, townships and tribal governments/villages are eligible for the Millennium Community designation. Elected officials are asked to apply on behalf of their community to their respective associations.

The White House Millennium Council was established by President Clinton and the First Lady in August 1997 to use the widespread interest in the millennium as a force for positive change and to unite citizens behind projects that preserve our historical and cultural legacy, celebrate American achievement, and increase participation in civic life. National program initiatives underway include Save America's Treasures, Millennium Trails, and the Mars Millennium Project. The White House Millennium Council also sponsors Millennium Evenings at the White House, a series of lectures and cultural showcases that highlight creativity and inventiveness through ideas, art and scientific discovery. For more information, contact the White House Millennium Council, 708 Jackson Place, NW, Washington, DC 20503, 202-456-2000 or visit www.Millennium.whitehouse.gov

THE FUTURE IS BEING COLONIZED...
According to Zia Sardar, the future is the last frontier where non-western societies are still free - free to imagine and envision desirable futures based on their own worldviews, cultures and traditions. Yet 'futures studies' has abandoned its goal of exploring such diverse and alternative futures.

Its over-emphasis on forecasting and prediction, its over-preoccupation with technology and its neglect of non-western cultures and concerns have all transformed it into an instrument for the colonization of the future. The future is being colonized by a single, dominant but myopic vision that is incapable of seeing outside the framework of western thought and action.

These are the primary contentions of the latest volume in the forward-looking international book series Adamantine Studies on the 21st Century -- Rescuing All Our Futures: The Future of Futures Studies edited by Ziauddin Sardar, Praegar Publishers, 280 pages, ISBN 0 7449 0167 7.

Sardar is an internationally renowned writer, futurist and cultural critic. Author of some thirty books, he is Editor of "Futures" journal and has been actively involved in the futures movement for over two decades.

The authors whose essays appear in this book explore the critical question of whether the postmodern present - where distances shrink rapidly, spaces collapse, and nothing remains permanent - has grid-locked us into a single, monolithic future.

They ask how do we rescue all our futures? How can we bring multiculturalism and plurality to the heart of futures studies? Distinguished contributors from a variety of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds - Ashis Nandy, Eleonora Masini, Sohail Inayatallah, Graham May, Ivana Milojevic, Susantha Goonatilake, Steve Fuller, S P Udayakumar, Anne Jenkins, Sean Cubitt, Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Richard Slaughter, Ted Fuller, Vinay Lal, Jerry Ravetz, Kirk W. Junker, Morgen Witzel and Merryl Wyn Davies - tackle this question head on and point futures studies towards new, decolonising directions. The release date of Rescuing the Future is March 31st, for purchasing information, check: www.greenwood.com/praeger.htm

THE MILLENNIUM IN THE MEDIA
"MasterCard and Preview Travel Announce Launch of the Millennium Celebration, Eight Lucky Winners and Their Guests to Celebrate New Year's Eve 1999 at the Chateau de Courcelles in Champagne Region of France," Purchase, N.Y. and San Francisco, Feb. 18, PRnewswire.

"N.Z. radio station promotes millennium baby boom," Sydney, Feb. 25 (Kyodo) -- A New Zealand radio station may spark a millennium baby boom with a competition offering 100 couples a romantic evening in an Auckland hotel timed to produce a baby on Jan. 1, 2000.

"Vatican readies microchips, Web sites for millennium pilgrims." by Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press, Vatican City-- Hurtling into the third millennium, the Vatican is promising to provide the anticipated 30 million visitors for Christianity's 2000 Jubilee with pilgrim microchip IDs, a pilgrim database and a pilgrim Web site.

"U.S. launches $37 mln Bethlehem 2000 works plan," February 24, 1999, Bethlehem, West Bank (Reuters) - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a $37 million project Wednesday to improve Bethlehem's infrastructure ahead of millennium celebrations.

"Arafat calls for unhindered access to Bethlehem, more millennium money" Associated Press, February 18, 1999, Rome. It's an unholy rivalry over some very holy turf: the Israeli-Palestinian competition for tourist dollars when the millennium hits the Holy Land.

"China scientists say millennium begins Jan 1, 2001," Beijing, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Top Chinese scientists have decided that the millennium kicks off on January 1, 2001, according to the China Daily.

Some hotels offer to rent their entire operations to corporate partygoers to welcome the millennium. Edwin McDowell. The New York Times, Feb 24, 1999 pC8(L) col 5

"For Y2K utopians, a chance to remake the system." George Johnson. The New York Times, Feb 14, 1999 s4 pWk4(L) col 1.

"Dozens of states seek protection from Y2K lawsuits," by John Kelly, Associated Press, February 27, 1999, Indianapolis-- Dozens of states are preparing for the new millennium by seeking to protect governments from being sued for problems caused by the Y2K computer bug, a legislative trend critics say gives public agencies a license to procrastinate.

"Despite pockets of panic, optimism on Y2K problem is growing." Finn Bullers and David Hayes. Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, Feb 11, 1999 pK0901

"A Colorado travel agent sold a $345 ticket last week to someone who is planning to fly Jan. 1 from Chicago to Hartford, Conn." Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service. Feb 4th was the first day travel agents could sell airline tickets for 2000 and beyond.

"Y2K bug creates a religious schism," by Finn Bullers. Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, Feb 11, 1999 pK0920.Suddenly, technology has become intertwined with theology. Some evangelical Christians think the year 2000 bug could herald the end of the world. Not all Christians are buying into digital doom, notably Steve Hewitt's Christian Computing magazine Web site, http://www.gospelcom.net/ccmag/

"Y2K Malaise Rounds Out 20th Century" (turn of century historically brings social ennui)(Brief Article) Kim Asch. Insight on the News, Feb 15, 1999 v15 i6 p40(1).

"Forget Y2K!" (examining the millennium) Timothy Foote. Smithsonian Feb 1999 v29 i11 p45(1)

"The Big Think industry mines the millennium." (intellectuals and impending millennium)(Brief Article) U.S. News & World Report Jan 25, 1999 v126 i3 p59(1)

"Milking The Millennium. (oversupply of millennium-themed entertainment" projects)(Brief Article), Entertainment Weekly Jan 22, 1999 p66(1)

Talk from the Forum:
"Here is a recap of recent conversations"

MILLENNIUM MEMOS by Michael Ronan
Talk 2000 colleague and columnist, Michael Ronan mronan@aol.com, takes a look at the lighter side of the millennium in another Millennium Memo:

In ten months, it will finally be time to ring in New Year 2000. But way too many people will be busy just wringing their hands.

As the tedious job of Y2K de-bugging chugs along in 1999, it will become increasingly clear that our computer systems will not provide tragedy, but only possible inconveniences. But the mythology of the Y2K disaster is well out of the bag. Over-reaction, not computers, poses the threat.

Like moths drawn to a candle, lots of folks are hypnotized by scary New Year's scenarios. Countless organizations fan the flame. Clearly, people have gloomy Y2K predispositions not based on reason, but rather on deeply held attitudes about modern life itself. If you already find society an overly technical and unwieldy place, you're likely to be stockpiling canned goods next fall. For pessimists, 1999 is the year of the national pout. For some, Y2K even represents some sort of well-deserved divine retribution. A modern Gomorrah. For others, it's a golden opportunity to sell stuff to a huge new market - the dysfunctionally worried.

It's the old "is the glass half-empty or half-full?" question gone haywire. For more and more of us, the glass is not only half-empty, but fully embedded with microchips that will kill us all!

In the good name of "preparedness," thousands of sources paint dark pictures of our future. From local cable TV to the world wide web, worried people make their cases. They range from desperate to just plain silly.

I felt naughty doing so, but I recently visited a just-for-women Y2K crisis web site. It's designed exclusively to meet the "special emotional needs of women," as we face the coming chaos. The site's creator, therapist Karen Anderson, says "Most of the current Y2K web sites are written by men," and that's not good.

She says men are too preoccupied with fixing computer problems. "Y2KWomen.com doesn't deal with the technical side of the Y2K problem; my goal is to focus on the practical side," she says. Hence, she has written some pricey how-to- survive-the-crisis books, like The Busy Woman's Y2K Guide: How to Keep Your Pets Safe. No kidding. Here^s a sample survival tidbit from this $25 volume: No matter how desperate things get next January, don't feed your ferrets dog food....it's just not good for them.

The site specializes in tips on food hoarding from the gal's perspective. Also offered is a recipe exchange. (You know you're living in an affluent society when a survival crisis web site offers the recipe for sugar-free Rice Krispy treats....perhaps divine retribution is in order).

Just hours after this cyber foray, I switched media and did a little cable TV surfing. I came across coverage of a small local group discussing the emotional stages of grieving and loss. They spoke of denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. At first, I figured I was watching a therapy session on handling the death of a loved one. But no, it was a forum on how to face the Y2K crisis.

Gads....If nothing else, in 1999 we've mastered the art of fretting. Those not buying in to the specter of the coming crisis were classified as "in denial."

I feel so out-of-the-loop on this. No anger, no depression. When it comes to impending Y2K doom, this can only mean one thing: I'm in denial. This earnest meeting did help me crystallize a minor wish I hold for next millennium: I pray that use of the creepy phrase "in denial" fades from our lexicon. Small groups huddle, determine the truth, and then deem the rest of us "in denial." These days, each of us is in denial of somebody else's just cause or favorite disease.

Apparently, the Bible, too, brings bad Y2K news. I'm told that the computer problems of next January actually kicks off a bible-scripted period of chaos. That's right, we're not just dealing with embedded chips here, we're talking The Tribulation. Why try to avoid it by over stocking cans of Dinty Moore beef stew?

But if you look hard enough there is calm and reason out there.

I also found Gloucester Fire Chief Barry McKay on cable TV. It was an important reminder that long before the notion of Y2K disaster was even a glint in a survivalist's eye, people like Chief McKay were well versed in emergency preparedness. After all, he does it for a living. The Chief did not seem overly excited by dire Y2K scenarios as opposed to, say, earthquakes, floods and major snow storms.

For many, disaster planning is a new and exciting one-year fetish. McKay and other emergency preparedness experts have been studying these things for years. He referred not only to the volumes of emergency preparedness plans already in existence, but to things like human ingenuity and common sense. These fine human traits do not impress alarmists, but they do get us through tough times.

Chief McKay was presented with a hypothetical problem: So what do we do if we turn the switch and there is no electricity on January 1? He responded with welcome simplicity. How about playing a board game, he suggested.

Advice well taken. A little Parchisi, and a bit less Armageddon, may get us through 01-01-00.

Y2K AND MICHELANGELO VIRUS SCARE OF 1982
Year Zero promoter and computer programmer Alan Dechert ADechert@compuserve.com comments on the Millennium Bug and the virus scare of 1992:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" -- Franklin Roosevelt. Over the past couple of years I have stated here and in other fora that the so-called Millennium Bug (year 2000 computer problem) has been overblown. While a real problem does exit, it will be fairly thoroughly resolved and--in the context of every day calamities on this earth--the impact of any actual Y2K computer failures will be trivial.

I have stated this here and in articles I have written for publication on the Internet and in print. I have been quoted on this in Computerworld, the Chicago Tribune and other print media.

I remain convinced on this. However, while the public has nothing to worry about from Y2K computer failures, there is still some danger due to the hysteria over this over-hyped issue. Recently, I stated that I feel the media clamor over this issue will die down over the next few months. I hope I'm right about this. Announcements like the SSA (Social Security) have made (they are Millennium Bug free) will have a calming effect. We need to hear a lot more of this.

I also recently reviewed the chronology of another computer scare of a few years ago. Some of the facts about the Michelangelo virus scare parallel the current Y2K scare. Some of these facts are encouraging and some not-so-encouraging.

Here are some similarities:
- Like Y2K, the problem really did exist
- Like Y2K, it had a built-in deadline (March 6, 1992)
- Like Y2K, the depth and breadth of the problem was vastly overstated, overblown, over-hyped
- Like Y2K, the media bought into the hype.
- Like Y2K, wild guesses (about the extent of the problem) from people of some authority were repeated so many times that these guesses were eventually presented as facts that few bothered to question.
- Like Y2K, many experts said that the problem was over-stated but the media paid little or no attention to them
- Like Y2K, the experts that got the most play in the media just happened to have a vested interest in seeing the problem gain media exposure.

You may remember that the virus was supposed to cause widespread disruption while destroying data on "millions" of hard drives.

There is, of course, a big difference between the Y2K computer issue and the Michelangelo virus: Y2K is a bigger problem affecting computers from tiny embedded sytems and PCs, to mainframes (Michelangelo was a PC-only problem).

The timeline for Y2K is much longer--the hype began in about 1993 and continues, while the whole Michelangelo fiasco lasted less than 3 months. The hype is bigger too partly due to the fact that the trigger-date for Y2K already has built-in meanings while the Michelangelo trigger-date was relatively arbitrary. Despite these important differences, I think some of the same mechanisms are involved and it is worth looking at what happened back then.

The bad news about the Michelangelo scare is that the crescendo built until the very day it was supposed to strike. The media dropped it only after the deadline passed and nothing happened. There was no sign of remorse and no retractions for their moronic blatherings. The media perhaps reviewed their profits from the increased viewership and the antivirus software companies added up their profits. Then they set about to find their next meal.

Incredibly, some said the over-hype was good. See http://kumite.com/myths/opinion/michtime.htm for details

... while NCSA's [National Computer Security Association] Charles
Rutstein may have called Michelangelo "overhyped, without question,"
he praised it in a public message to one of John McAfee's employees.
"It really doesn't matter that much any more [how many had the
virus].
I think we can all give McAfee Associates...a round of applause...
Regardless of the amount of hype, if it helped to save one critical
machine at, say, a hospital, I feel that the hype is justified." --3/6/92

If you replace "Michelangelo" with "Y2K" and replace "McAfee" (anti-virus company) with your favorite Millennium Bug hypester, this statement could serve as a template for many on 01/01/00.

Jay Gary and others (okay, me too) have bemoaned the fact that the Millennium Bug is stealing the limelight from the "millennium communities." This is not the only problem with the over-hype. Unlike the Michelangelo scare, the Millennium Bug carries the potential of a very damaging panic.

We will all do well--wherever we can--to help allay public fears of the Millennium Bug. At the same time, we need to give the media something better to feed upon.

New Millennial Sites:
"Here are new sites in cyberspace"

MILLENNIUM COMMUNITIES HANDBOOK: "Calling all U.S. Communities"
The handbook of the White House Millennium Council explains the application process for Millennium Communities, includes project ideas, and offers publicity strategies and more tips on getting started in your community. Available to download in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf file 1.45 mb)
http://www.millenniumcommunities.org/millcomm/mill_become_reference.html

INSTITUTE FOR THE FUTURE: "Annual Ten-Year Forecast"
The nonprofit, Menlo Park, Calif.-based Institute for the Future offers a taste of its 20th annual "Ten-Year Forecast," including the U.S. economy will post annual growth of 2.5 percent over the next decade.
http://www.iftf.org

JUBILEE 2000: "Cinjub--Catholic Holy Year Archives"
The archives for the "cinjub" Jubilee 2000 discussion list, moderated by Father Richard Gant, are now viewable:
http://www.cin.org/cinjub/digjub.html

Contact Information:
"Your link to the third millennium"

Talk 2000 Forum Home Page: http://www.talk2000.org

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Editor: talk2000@rmi.net
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
author, The Star of 2000
1-800-636-MAGI Phone
Publication keywords: millennium, media, events, usenet
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