"El Numero": The aftermath of "Y2K"

On January 1, 1999, we received the following e-mail from the future, dated July 3, 2000:


Greetings from the future. (I'm serious, look at the date on which this e-mail was sent--it's now the year 2000, or "hundred-score", as some of us like to call it).

Here are a few things that have happened as a result of the "Y2K bug":

1) We figured out how to send e-mail back into the past. Since the e-mail servers think that the year is 1900, they deliver the e-mail before it was sent. In order to have the messages delivered on a particular date, we added a new message header called "Deliver-On:". That's why you didn't receive this message till now.

2) Using the name "Y2K" went out of fashion, and we now usually refer to the bug as "El Numero".

3) Traffic courts are backlogged till the year 2013 with speeding cases where the defendants are claiming the "El Numero" defense. The gist of the defense is that the non-El Numero compliant microprocessors in their cruise control systems are at fault. Congress is working on legislation to settle with the automobile industry for $4.3 billion. The money would go to seed a lottery fund. People with speeding tickets who have cruise control in their cars could buy a lottery ticket for $1. If they win, the fund pays their fine. Any money left over would pay for scholarships for aspiring drivers ed teachers and microprocessor designers.

4) Some computer systems did indeed malfunction because they used the year "1900" in calculations rather than "2000". But a much larger problem was caused by all the computers that crashed with divide-by-zero errors when they used the year "00". This problem caused a major pileup on the information superhighway when approximately 3.2 billion "Happy New Millennium" e-mails crashed on the onramps, blocking all internet traffic for nearly a month in most places. Fortunately, a way was found to recycle all the scrap data that otherwise would have had landfills around the world overflowing. A fortuitous side-effect is that this same technique is being used to recycle junk e-mail, or "spam".

5) When computer systems at a zoo (which will go unnamed to protect them from animal rights activists) failed, they had 100 monkeys type on 100 computers for 100 days to see if they would happen upon a fix for the bug. Amazingly, after 99 monkeys ... uh, "working" in the same room had destroyed all of the data on their computers, the 100th monkey, who was "working" in the administrators office, happened on the command to format his hard-drive. The zoo's computer systems were a total loss, but advocates of the "100th monkey" theory were ecstatic.

6) Non-Christian religious orders worldwide declared the El Numero bug a curse from God, and advocated adoption of their calendars to avoid similar problems in the future.

7) Nuclear disarmament received a much needed shot in the arm when 83% of the US and Soviet atomic arsenals exploded in their silos. Fortunately, the staff that maintained the bombs were out of town for the holidays. Both democrats and republicans took credit for preserving the bombs that didn't explode.

8) Equatorial Guinea, with it's low per-capita ownership of computers, was spared most of the problems caused by the bug, and appears poised to become a major world power.

9) On December 31, 1999, a noted psychic proclaimed "I sense the coming of great pain." The next day, she hit her thumb with a hammer. She holds to her claim that what she foresaw was the "Great E-Mail Pileup", but skepticism abounds.

10) 142,000 gallons of milk were found to be spoiled inside the cows when the company that owned them stamped the expiration date "1/07/00" on their milk cartons. The cartons were found to be "El Numero" compliant, but the cows thought the year was 1900, and had to be upgraded.

Antone Roundy

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