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Y2K: Y Should U Kare?

Y2K: Y Should U Kare?

You shouldn't unless you were one of the thousands of workers who spent millions of person-hours over the last few years sweating the millennium bug out of your company's systems. If that was you, congratulations; you've made this last new year slightly more memorable than Hands Across America Day. Now it's time for any food-hoarding doomsayers to get busy: You've got a lot of stockpiled chips and salsa to get rid of.

Numerous companies and government officials have now had time to credit costly Armageddon-avoidance measures for saving the country during the 2000 rollover. Lights stayed on; escalators didn't stall; and whatever device keeps Dick Clark functioning didn't even short circuit. And, they say, what was learned from these efforts will come in handy during the countdown to the next imminent apocalypse, whatever and whenever that might be.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (A Y2K-compliant agency as, come to think of it, aren't we all?) the domestic electricity, gas and oil industries spent about $5 billion on Y2K remediation and rapid response systems. "The fact the fire department didn't have to put out many fires this weekend doesn't mean we shouldn't have a fire department," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "I believe the American people are happy and positively surprised that things are going so well."

Well, probably not. But at least we're not dealing with a microwave popcorn famine or shortage of clean, dry underwear. Now, one can only hope all the Y2K fixes won't prevent a Y3K crisis. Who are we to deny our distant descendants the thrill of a computer meltdown on what will doubtless be a truly machine-run planet?

Joe Fisher, Houston

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