7. THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM
7.1. THE YEAR 2000 AND THE COMPUTER APOCALYPSE
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… the disgusting prophetic circus, the year 2000 truly had a destructive potential, but not due to divine wrath, but because of technology. The most serious and widespread scarecrow of the year 2000 was Y2K or the “Millennium Bug.” In essence, Y2K was defined as the inability of computers to make a valid transition from the year 1999 to the year 2000. In mathematics, the number 1,000 is sometimes represented by the letter “K” (for example 3,000 = 3K, 5,000 = 5K) from the prefix “kilo,” which is derived from the (Romanized) Greek word chilioi (“thousand”). So, the name “Y2K” is an abbreviation of the English expression “Year 2000.”
The Millennium Bug was not an invention of prophets or religious fanatics; it was a fact. In the 1970s, when the computer industry was at the beginning, virtual memory was very expensive. So, programmers had to use different solutions to save virtual space. One of these solutions was to mark the years only with the last two digits of the total of four. For example, 72 was used instead of 1972, or 84 was used instead of 1984. The computer determined the year only according to the last two digits, adding 19 automatically as a standard prefix. The problem was that the last two digits of the years 2000 and 1900 are identical: 00 and 00. Hence, on January 1, 2000, at 00:00, some computers could interpret the time as being the year 1900, others as 2000, and others to give error and to crash. Computer errors can cause important losses for individuals and companies, fatal accidents, interrupted communications or panic.
The Millennium Bug represented a danger, but it was far from the image promoted by the speculators eager to sell their apocalyptic products. In 1998 Julian Gregori said that Y2K would cause the collapse of civilization, a good thing, in his opinion, given the moral degradation of mankind.1380 Shaunti Feldhahn offered survival tips such as gathering supplies, arming or withdrawing money from accounts and keeping them in the house.1381 Karen Anderson launched a guide for the common American women who wanted to know how to protect their family during the collapse without sacrificing their femininity.1382 The self-entitled prophetess Linda Newkirk wrote on her virtual domain that God had revealed her that in 1998 the United States would be attacked by its own allies, by Russia, China, or the Arab League, resulting in a global catastrophe. In 1999 the failed prophecies were deleted and immediately replaced with prophecies about Y2K and the devastating effects that would follow. Similarly, Gary North declared on his virtual domain that “the domino effect will create ever-increasing institutional noise and confusion throughout January and beyond. Your check will not be in the mail.”1383 And Bob and Joan Rutz from Kingston, both retired, built the Prayer Lake community, in Northwest Arkansas, hoping that after the disaster around 100 families would gather there to live a simple life of gardening, with kerosene lamps and water from springs and water wells.1384
Y2K was a blessing for conspiracy theorists, who saw it as a weapon meant to destroy the civilization in order to make room for the New World Order.1385 There was also a famous modern legend that in Brussels was a supercomputer called the “Beast.” This was the brain of the operations of the evil empire of the European Union and it had the purpose to keep track of every single man and financial operation in the world.1386 The Y2K phenomenon became a combination between the science fiction franchise Terminator and the Christian apocalypse. And numerology came to strengthen this idea. Calculated through one of Michael Stifel’s methods (A = 6, B = 12, C = 18, D= 24 and so on), the word COMPUTER = 666. Due to these aspects, in 1998 Ted Hall and C. L. Smith blamed the computers for being materializations of evil and, naturally, offered for sale a survival guide for Christians.1387
Most computers had been replaced or updated before January 1, 2000. Problems occurred indeed, but only a few were major: in Great Britain some cash machines began to reject credit cards; in Toronto, Canada, the central system of administration of hospitals crashed, but it was quickly replaced while an auxiliary system was used; minor problems occurred at seven nuclear power plants in the United States; or a weather map at a television in France indicated the year 19100.1388
Another real threat around the year 2000 came from people themselves. After the bloody events of the Davidians and Aum, American authorities feared that religious fanatics might try to cause the end of the world through anti-social actions. In 1999 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched Project Megiddo in order to identify and watch the potentially dangerous cults.1389 The originator of the project, the director Louis Freeh, warned that apocalyptic groups might prepare for the anticipated Armageddon or they might want to generate certain shocking social effects through robberies, actions of terrorism or mass suicides. And, if we take into consideration a declaration of the extremist group Christian Identity,1390 Freeh’s concerns seemed fully justified:
We are going to build the Kingdom of our God on this continent [America] if we have to turn it into a Bosnia first! Death may find you in front of your one-eyed church of Satan or in the filthy bingo parlors where you worship your devil god, but be sure that you will not escape the consuming fire that is the real baptism of the Holy Ghost, The God of Racial Israel.1391
Fortunately, none of these fears materialized until January 1, 2000. Nevertheless, the authorities remained in alert because the eventual disappointment had the potential to generate acts of violence as well. Failed prophecies from the end of the millennium could have caused violent schisms, inner conflicts, forced conversions, or they could have been interpreted as a divine incentive to personally cause a global purge.
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