Off the Back

"Wait, wait, WAIT!You didn't throw out all that freeze-dried food from last year, did you? How about the bomb shelter -- did you fill it in?I hope not, because the real Y2K is on its way. Yes, one year after the world celebrated the turn of the millennium, it is time for all of us to wake up and come out of the delusion we've been living in for the past 361 days. It's time to pay up.January 1, 2000 was not the first day of the millennium. January 1, 2001 is.Oh, yes, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw tried in their own smug ways to remind us last New Year's Eve that the start of the third millennium A.D. was still a full year away. Technically, 2000 was actually part of the 20th century, part of the second millennium. Bundled in their special outdoor reporting coats as they stood in Times Square, all the big network news anchors told us we would have to be stupid not to see this. After all, if 2000 was the start of the millennium, there would have had to have been a year 0. Now that would be crazy talk.But the second that big ball dropped in New York, crazy talk became fact. For the past year, news agencies, computers, digital watches, psychics, calendar makers, and everybody with a self-help book have conveniently forgotten fact and have pushed the fake 2000 millennium changeover. Why not? It has been the ultimate marketing tool. People like big numbers with lots of zeroes. Believe it or not, the number 2000 has sold more NEW FOR THE MILLENNIUM gizmos than Tiger Woods' distracted-looking tee-shot mug.Unfortunately, it is time for a comeuppance. We are going to pay for our intellectual laxity. Starting on the afternoon of Jan. 2 (the first school day of the new year), millions of children are going rush home to announce that their teachers told them the millennium actually started the day before, not on Jan. 1, 2000. They will remind their parents of that fact over and over again during the coming year every time there is a household dispute over who is smartest -- the kids or the parents.Well, you couldn't figure out when the millennium started, so why should I believe you now, will be the response every time some kid's mother tells him or her to eat Brussels sprouts because they are full of vitamins. And if that is not bad enough, Rather and Brokaw will be back on the tube on Dec. 31 in their warm jackets in Times Square armed with news features about how the American people have gone along with the mass delusion that they have been living in a new millennium for the past year. And just before that big ball drops again, they will remind us one last, smug-faced time how stupid we've been.And then we'll all wish we hadn't filled in the Y2K bomb shelter, because it would be nice to crawl into a hole at that point. "

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