Charlie Suisman’s invaluable Manhattan Users Guide alerted me to a story in the New York Times that I missed while out of the country. Charlie sums it up better than I can:
Just when you think about the Times that maybe there’s a dance in the old dame yet, they go and do something simply inexplicable, even despicable. On New Year’s Day, the Times gave a platform to climate change denier Denis Dutton, who conflates Nostradamus, ‘evil aliens’, and global warming in his editorial. Any more of that crap and the Times, after its eventual demise, won’t even be missed as fish wrap.
Here’s the beginning of the Times Op/Ed:
Christchurch, New Zealand
IT seems so distant, 1999. Bill Clinton had survived impeachment, his popularity hardly dented, Sept. 11 was just another date and music fans were enjoying a young singer named Britney Spears.
But there was a particular unease in the air. The so-called Y2K problem, the inability of computers to read dates beyond 1999 threatened to turn Jan. 1, 2000 into a nightmare. The issue had first been noticed by programmers in the 1950s, but had been ignored. As the turn of the century loomed, though, it seemed that humankind faced a litany of horrors.
Haywire navigation controls might cause aircraft to fall from the skies. Electricity grids, water systems and telephone networks would be knocked out, while nuclear power plants would be subject to meltdown. Savings and pension accounts would be wiped out in a general bank failure. A cascade of breakdowns in communication and commerce would create vast shortages of food and medicine, which would, in turn, produce riots, lawlessness and social collapse. Even worse, ICBMs might rise from their silos unbidden, spreading death across the globe.
Y2K problems would not be limited to mainframe computers that governed the information systems of the modern world, but were going to affect millions of tiny computer chips found everywhere. Thanks to these wonky microprocessors, elevators would die, G.P.S. devices would stop working and dishwashers would dry the food onto the plates before trying to rinse it off. Even ordinary cars might spontaneously accelerate to fatal, uncontrollable speeds, with brakes failing to respond…
[remainder of the Times Op/Ed]
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