12.0422 Y1K crisis

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Fri, 12 Feb 1999 21:39:07 +0000 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 422.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 21:28:50 +0000
From: "David L. Gants" <dgants@english.uga.edu>
Subject: Y1K (fwd)

>> From: BaRaK <bz32@columbia.edu>

>Canterbury, England. A.D. 999.
>An atmosphere close to panic prevails today throughout Europe as the
>millennial year 1000 approaches, bringing with it the so-called "Y1K Bug,"
>a menace which, until recently, hardly anyone had ever heard of. Prophets
>of doom are warning that the entire fabric of Western Civilization, based
>as it now is upon monastic computations, could collapse, and that there is
>simply not enough time left to fix the problem.
>Just how did this disaster-in-the-making ever arise? Why did no one
>anticipate that a change from a three-digit to a four-digit year would
>throw into total disarray all liturgical chants and all metrical verse in
>which any date is mentioned? Every formulaic hymn, prayer, ceremony and
>incantation dealing with dated events will have to be re-written to
>accommodate three extra syllables. All tabular chronologies with
>>three-space year columns, maintained for generations by scribes using
>carefully hand-ruled lines on vellum sheets, will now have to be converted
>to four-space columns, at enormous cost. In the meantime, the validity of
>every official event, from baptisms to burials, from confirmations to
>coronations, may be called into question.
>"We should have seen it coming ," says Brother Cedric of St. Michael's
>Abbey, here in Canterbury. "What worries me most is that 'THOUSAND'
>contains the word 'THOU,' which occurs in nearly all our prayers, and of
>course always refers to God. Using it now in the name of the year will seem
>almost blasphemous, and is bound to cause terrible confusion. Of course, we
>could always use Latin, but that might be even worse -- The Latin word for
>'Thousand' is 'Mille' - which is >the same as the Latin for 'mile.' We
>won't know whether we're talking about time or distance!"
>Stonemasons are already reported threatening to demand a proportional pay
>increase for having to carve an extra numeral in all dates on tombstones,
>cornerstones and monuments. Together with its inevitable ripple effects,
>this alone could plunge the hitherto-stable medieval economy into chaos..
>A conference of clerics has been called at Winchester to discuss the entire
>>issue, but doomsayers are convinced that the matter is now one of personal
>survival. Many families, in expectation of the worst, are stocking up on
>holy water and indulgences.

Humanist Discussion Group
Information at <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>