"Honey, I was around for Y1K."
— Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., drooling 97-year-old fascist
Not that you should, like, cancel those extravagant, flying-to-New Zealand-to-be-first-across-the-line party plans or anything, but, well, um ... The new millennium is already here.
That's right, you missed it. Trouble was, nobody realized it at the time. Here's the scoop.
Our present calendar was established by a little monk called Dennis the Short (Dionysus Exeguus to the census bureau) back in the fifth century. Trouble was, he miscalculated by a few years the date of birth of the guy then called Yeshua bar Miriam, and also left out the year zero, according to Stephen Jay Gould, my authority on this and nearly all things scientific.
Later, about 1649, an Irish bishop named Jimmy Ussher determined, thanks to careful analysis of the dates in the Bible (and a couple pints of stout) that the world was created on Oct. 23, 4004 B.C. That means the third millennium began on Oct. 23, 1997, a date when, incidentally, Ussher figured the world was bound to end, or whatever. The Marlins did beat the Indians in a World Series game that day, which was quite bad enough.
However, be of good cheer. The last millennium, if nothing else, should have taught us that possession is nine-tenths of the law and that perception is reality.
So kick back, pop open a tart, and wait for your hard drive to be fried by some virus that never heard of Bishop Ussher either.
Meanwhile, take comfort in contemplating these small signs showing us what life may or may not be like in the coming thousand-year unreich.
We've met Big Brother, and he is us
Early last year, Connecticut state police were training a new dispatcher on their latest software marvel. The computerized program was designed to let the fuzz know whether anyone stopped for anything had any outstanding arrest warrants. To test it, the geek-in-training happily typed in his name and birth date ... and the computer instantly and correctly ordered his arrest on an outstanding bad check warrant. As a new-millennium Socrates might have said, arrest thyself.
Worst case of suicide we ever saw
The case for everyone being monitored, tried, judged and convicted by their own home computer got a further boost in October.
Three years before, the body of 6-year-old beauty queen, the horribly exploited JonBenet Ramsey, had been found in her parents' basement the day after Christmas. Nobody except the parents and her little brother was said to have gone into or left the home during the crucial time period. With a list of suspects that immense, it took a three-year, multimillion-dollar investigation before a grand jury was called.
Generally speaking, a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if the prosecutors want it to. But not this time. Amazingly, the grand jury was dismissed Oct. 13, with the state saying it had insufficient evidence to charge anyone in Ramsey's death.
Police work. What a difference a millennium makes.
Sex Sex Sex
Even though totally nonsexual reproduction using spores from dried fingernail clippings may be feasible by May 2004, various house actors and road companies are virtually certain to continue to play the Follies Genitalia throughout the millennium. New riffs there may be, but by and large, all data indicate we may expect mostly variations on a few time-honored themes.
Thanks to powerful supercomputers and research that has nearly unraveled the mysteries of the entire human genetic code, we can now say that sex sometimes leads to shame, embarrassment and trouble.
"I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am," Bill Clinton said profoundly just after narrowly escaping conviction for you-know-what.
"Mommy made a big mistake," said the woman whose dress, if not honor, he stained. Not that Monica is a mommy, of course; she was just explaining what she would tell her children, in the event natural selection ever allows her to add to the gene pool. Bafflingly, behavior such as theirs seemed woven into most hard drives.
War to end all wars to end all wars
Historians, not content with the calendar, are forever trying to invent artificial categories to confuse college students and make them buy their poorly written, overpriced textbooks.
Thus a number of experts declared the "short 20th century" had really begun with World War I in 1914 and ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, or the dessert course in the press tent after the Gulf War.
What everyone did agree on is that war was finally shown to be a horribly inefficient, barbaric and counterproductive way of settling human disputes. That was why the "War to End All Wars" was so popular. And indeed, World War I had just that effect, especially on America. Except for World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Operation Desert Storm and a few ritual occupations of the Caribbean, we didn't fire another shot in anger, well, except maybe in Cambodia and Lebanon and Laos, until this very blissful year.
That's when, remember, we blasted the holy federated former communist hum out of Yugoslavia (Serbia and its satellites) and Kosovo, without them as much as ruffling the collars on one of our fighter jocks' handsome flak jackets.
So for the final, remember: Firepower talks. History teachers walk. And an armed millennium is a polite millennium.
Downloading all the days
Furious with his sacrilegious and monopolistic tendencies, an angry God appeared out of a burning laser printer to confront Bill Gates, high priest and creator of Microsoft.
"Medamnit!" the Lord spoketh. "Your blasphemy has stained your entire species. Know thou that I will destroy the entire planet on Jan. 17 next, an official postal holiday."
Grinning like a gaunt Buddha, the Billster instantly convened an emergency meeting of the Microsoft board. Gazing benevolently into the nearest mirror, he began. "The Good News is that there is a God!" he said to muffled gasps. "But there is even Better News," he continueth. "For lo, thou needs not concern thyselves more with those bugs in Windows 2000."
The disciples, naturally, were joyous ... and may you be so also, all millennium hype long!