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COLUMN

The End of The World as We Know It

Guest Column
Dana Spiegel

The new year has come and gone with nary a problem in sight -- unless you count the man who attempted to return a video to a rental store, only to find that it was 100 years late and that he’d be fined $90,000. For all who predicted pandemonium or the coming of the apocalypse due to Y2K problems or some ancient millennial prognostications, I have news for you, in case you haven’t noticed that you’re still alive and reading this column -- the end of the world isn’t upon us. At least, not yet.

That said, I believe that the worst is not actually over. Though most people returned to work on Jan. 3 only to find that poor programming practices did not result in weeks of vacation time, the fact remains that while the end of the century did not bring the end of humanity, the end of the millennium -- which actually comes next New Year’s, contrary to what most media outlets would have you believe -- may still bring the end of the world that some fear.

My prediction, if I may step into Nostradamus’s shoes for a moment, is that the year 2000 is actually one long, drawn-out apocalypse. We’ve been having unseasonably warm weather in the northeast for the last week, which is an indication of the fiery death that awaits us on the coming hell-on-earth. Don’t believe those who claim this meteorological event is due to global warming; such an excuse is just that: an excuse. The real end of the world will be a drawn-out, arduous event. After all, if we’re all supposed to go to hell (though some ingenious MIT hackers would say we’re already there) come Judgment Day, I would expect that whomever is going to send us there isn’t going to make Judgment Time a pleasant experience.

Why will it take all year? The obvious answer is that there so many people on earth that it’s going to take that long to figure out where they all belong. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the ‘judgment day’ philosophy, so such a reason doesn’t really work for me. It’s the ultimate compromise between those uninformed plebeians who claimed that we’re now in the next millennium and those of us (including Peter Jennings, whose 24-hour ABC marathon celebration broadcast was excessive) who know better.

Of course, this New Year’s uneventfulness begs the question: Why were there no terrorist attacks? Certainly New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the formidable NYPD believed that such a threat did exist, or else they wouldn’t have ordered 250,000 extra body bags nor lined up myriad police trucks into which they could stow used bags once the clock ticked midnight. Nor would they have sealed off all of the manhole covers in Times Square, the likely place for a terrorist attack, if they weren’t afraid of someone escaping into or away from the mob once their evil deed was done. The answer is simple: terrorists believed that someone else would do the dirty work for them. Or perhaps they were worried about Y2K bugs in their bomb electronics (though I’m sure there are instructions on how to build such a Y2K-compliant device available on the Internet). Their beliefs aren’t entirely inaccurate, though they’ll have to wait a bit longer.

What lies ahead is difficult to predict. Certainly there will be other harbingers of the coming apocalypse. Just yesterday, Elizabeth Dole announced that she would support George W. Bush as the Republican presidential nominee, and Israeli and Syrian officials are now beginning to talk face-to-face. Certainly these events are only the first of many strange occurrences that will mark this, our last year on earth. So for all of you alarmists out there, pick up your chin, because the end of the world is indeed coming, just a little later than you thought. And for those nay-sayers out there: See you in hell!

Dana Spiegel is a graduate student in Media Arts and Sciences.