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Western Pennsylvania Mensa presents.... Yes, Mary, The Y2K Bug Really Is The End Of The World

By Chester B. Smith

Your youthful letter has allowed millions of children to more fully experience the joys of Christmas along with your own children and grandchildren. Well, its all over now baby, the end has come. No, not on January 1st, that day may well pass without much of a ripple and your remaining days are undoubtedly safe, but the end has begun.

Think about it for awhile Mary. The Y2K problem was in print about 15 years ago and no one did anything about it. Computers are us. They are the province of the smart, the intellectually gifted. Have your ever been in a class where one student did not ask all of the obvious questions? Hey, hey, what is going to happen in the year 2000 when these machines only read 99, huh, huh? Did the kid get an "A", or was that legion of students told some other fool's story about how it would be corrected in plenty of time?

We all know that every programmer knew what his program would do. After all, these are the most intelligent people in the world, the very cutting edge from all, I repeat, "ALL" over the world. Even Apple did not brag about a solution to the Y2K bug. Why?

There are two reasons but they result from one cause, intelligence. They were too intelligent. Intelligent people have two major flaws that are a direct cause of the end of the world. They can all rationalize and they have the capacity to be to the level of greed, what their intelligence is to the average level of intelligence. Take a Bill Gates. He is intelligent and he has an insatiable greed. Greed has now become the equivalent of intelligence. That bald headed ex-basketball player who talks to a cartoon canary is so rich, people buy stuff he says is good. To be a great basketball player does not have a lot in common with the development of an intelligence which qualifies a person to critically acclaim products, yet intelligent people buy his stuff.

If intelligent people think that rich is equivalent to intelligence, their pursuits will be toward accumulating riches. The rationalization is that I can do this better than others and people will listen to me, (If you are so smart, why aren't you rich?). Rather than the tortuous unthankful road to wisdom, they take the fun, time filling pursuit of riches, where the solving of pragmatic problems is so much more rewarding than understanding the consequences of their activity. Ever optimistic, the intelligent do their thing in the full expectation that they can do no wrong -- or any wrong that they do will be corrected in the fullness of time by other intelligent people who will make a buck in the effort.

Like a never ending sexual fantasy, the intelligent lead us into oblivion, an oblivion that the dumb would never be stupid enough to lead. An old story comes to mind. The American Chestnut was a magnificent tree that dominated the eastern forests. It was good lumber and I have tasted the chestnuts, which are far superior to any others. When the blight began killing off the trees in the early part of the century, a bright man started advertising for people to hurry and sell their trees for timber before the blight killed them. It worked so well that there were not enough trees left for a natural immunity to develop. A dumb person would be too smart to gamble on an improbable cure for mere profit. It would be wrong, duh. We take trees from our forests and do not provide anything to replenish the soil. Stupid people know that you can not grow crops without fertilizer, so why expect trees to perpetuate themselves without replenishment of the soil? Dumb people know the value of a forest, why don't intelligent people. I see erosion along stream banks that constantly removes dirt from the farmer's land and sends it downstream. Surely you do not have to be smart to know that the bank in its natural state did not erode and that you are going to lose a lot more land in the long run by planting too close to the bank than you would lose by just letting a bit of land stay in its natural state.

What is all this stuff about contour farming? The Chinese, Japanese, and South American Indians all knew to use terrace farming to keep the soil from washing away thousands of years ago. Our fish population is declining, wealth is being concentrated into the hands of 10% of the population and in some countries even the land from which to wreak a meager living is now owned by less than 10% of the population. GREED? Y2K? The programmers were either too meek to risk their position to avert a certain catastrophe, thinking that someone would come in and save the day, or they were so greedy that they would reap the wealth of correcting the problem regardless of the consequences. Dumb people do not have the imagination to believe that somehow, some miracle will come about. They are not stupid enough to count on miracles, remember the ARK, not a lot of people were on that boat, not even rich bald headed ex-basketball players or quadzillionare computer guys?

Can smart people be that stupid, and dumb people be that smart? Think about it, Mary. The Government only hires smart people and well, you know the result. How about the Army Corps of Engineers, smart enough to change rivers and too dumb to know why they shouldn't. One intelligent person will work to make more meaning of their life than the accumulation of a lot of material debris. They do this in recognition of the commonality of all humans. We are so alike that I can understand what you feel. This is particularly true for our children and their children. In this way the intelligent are different. The unintelligent have the ability to share the joy of the present with friends and family and to want that to endure through the ages of time.

Get two intelligent people together and they bend the concept of intelligence back on itself and they begin to live in a world of rationalization where everything takes place in a perfect future into which they somehow stay the toll of time to reach. What I am saying Mary is that the intelligent live in an unreal conceptualization of life in an unreal world and by doing so, they have condemned the real world to pay for their brief fling at being accepted.

Yes, Mary, if 2000 years ago, the very intelligent had the ability to use up just 1/10th of 1% of a vital natural resource per year, we would have only lasted 1000 years. If they had only used 1/2 of 1/10 of 1% of that vital resource per year we would be looking at the end of life rather than a Y2K bug. Can anybody but the most intelligent doubt that we are using some portion of some vital resource each year? When will we feel the pinch? When we waste food here, it keeps the food price high enough that some child starves somewhere. When we have 10% less of that wasted vital resource, will the deprivation be found first in the poorest countries? If we reduce the quality of living to bare survival there, disease will develop and that disease will come over here.

But Mary, our lives are already ruled by the, self serving, for profit, medical/legal professions and sadly, they too are very intelligent people. The eons of evolution built our chromosomes, gene by gene. The DNA strings have nonsense codes built into them. Nonsense in that the very intelligent do not know what they are for, so we slip genes into that ancient code without understanding that the nonsense codes prevent some deadly disease from entering the system. We genetically engineer to save one person's life while placing all human life at risk. Dumb people would be too smart for that. Can anybody but the most intelligent believe they can safely change in 50 years what a million years of evolution created?

Mary, those will not be three 000s on January 1st, they will be three eyes, two of the eyes will be the eyes we use to judge the world, the third eye will judge us.

# # #

It is good to hear from you so soon, Mary. You ask if I consider you to be one of the smart dumb people or one of he dumb smart people because you do not know exactly what I mean by being so smart that a person becomes dumb. If you are too smart, you begin to think that you are unique and not really a part of the human herd. Yes, Mary we are a herd species and that is an often overlooked basis of our society.

When a person is too intelligent, they either embrace all humanity for their allegiance or finding that broad of a family concept overwhelming, they bond with their avocation. Not many opt for humanity when the profit is in vocation. How else would you explain what the Army "Corpse" of Engineers has done to our waterways or what the PA. Game Commission has done to our wildlife? That concept may help to explain the twisted logic of the very intelligent. A newspaper article about a recent study by a Harvard University Professor reported about the number of medical errors occurring in teaching hospitals. One researcher estimated that one million patients nationwide are injured by errors during hospital treatment each year and that 120,000 die as a result. Only 43,000 people die from automobile accidents each year. The moral is that almost anybody can get a driver's license but the medical profession considers you too stupid to take control of your own medical destiny where they accidentally kill you at three times the rate of someone driving a car.

It has long been known that old dead trees provide a good starting place for seedlings. Mary, I know you have seen little trees growing from the stumps of long dead trees. In fact they call them nursery trees. A smart person and a dumb person walking in the woods would readily observe the little trees growing from the rotting members of their older, same species relatives, and ponder the reason for this to occur. The smart person would immediately realize that this would be a great opportunity to market these old hulks as starter soil and make big bucks. A dumb person would fear that a smart person would take all these sources of incubation from the woods and endanger a species, so he would stay silent and remain poor and we all know that if you were smart you would be rich.

Both the smart person and the dumb person would soon realize that not only do these nursery logs provide same species nutrients, but there are no competing plants found growing there. The smart person would soon realize that there is a possibility of isolating a brand new herbicide from the rotting logs and he/she would get rich from the discovery. The dumb person would think about the present practice by the Federal, State, and private foresters to cut sufficient trees to change the nature of the forest to allow much more sunlight to reach the ground. Then they spray Roundup and Oust herbicides to kill off all the competing plants so that the seedlings can grow unimpeded. From the ground to about 15 feet, it is an eerie deathscape without life in any form. At the same time, the same foresters wonder what happened to all the native plants they had to put on the endangered or threatened lists. They are smart enough to know how to grow faster trees but not smart enough to know that their practice is killing native species. If they were smart enough to know this, they would lose money from their timber activities. So, the dumb person would stay silent, fearing that the misuse of any herbicide discovered in the nursery trees would further eliminate the diversity of our forests - still poor and dumb. Do not look to science for help. Most scientists would never have the time or inclination to ponder that rotting mass of cellulose. They were placed in the competition for academic achievement at a young age in a process that wrings out the ability for independent thought, leaving a sterilized intelligence, void of non-academic experience, capable only of parroting what was force read. From grade school to high school to college to graduate school and then back to college to teach or research. They can discover the poison but the cure is someone else's field, someone else's problem.

No, Mary, I am not done yet. The smart and dumb person are still pondering that rotted pile of wood with the little tree sprouting from it. Both think, HEY! I anticipate your next letter Mary, I do not know anybody that thinks HEY, it is just a figure of speech, whatever that is. Both extend their reach and wonder if there is also a possibility that these splintery cadavers may harbor further secrets in the form of protection from past diseases. If mother log provided the perfect nutrient mix and perhaps the perfect herbicide mixture, why not some form of immunity?

Smart person has the compost analyzed and finds a new plant medicine and makes a fortune. Dumb person thinks that any new plant medicine found here may be just the tip of the iceberg and would probably be so over-commercialized that resistance would soon develop. However, dumb person thinks, what if these hulks could be preserved and studied further, and of course he/she remains poor and therefore dumb. Dummy sits and ponders while smart person is out hustling riches. If you found what is left of a deep forest somewhere and in that deep forest you found a nursery tree with a youngster sprouting, could that old hulk have been grown from another even more ancient? If you believe, and many of us dummies do believe that disease has been many forms of the same genetic code over the eons, could that chemical form of immunity be passed down through the ages? If that tree lived 300 years and the tree it grew from lived 300 years and the tree it grew from lived 300 years, and so on, might we have in this ancient soil the cure to some of the diseases that have swept our forests throughout history. Diseases that will appear, devastate the dominant species, mutate and seek other game, only to return in the original form when the species has recovered. A recovery probably due to the immunity gleaned from the remnants of an old nursery tree that experienced the disease the first time around. Of course with our "smart" forestry management practices, it is unlikely that the seedling will find a willing host or that the nature of the forest will remain such that the immunization process could take place.

The dumb person ponders still. What if disease originated in plants and only jumped when plant immunity threatened their survival? After all, many of our medicines come from plants, so we must have common microbial enemies. Smart person just made his/her 2nd or 100th billion while poor dumb person wonders if there is contained in this splintery pile of compost with the single green seedling, some chemical clue to one of mankind's agonizing, debilitating diseases. There is no profit in this but dumb person did not destroy the basis of future discovery for money. Dumb person did not act at some premature stage of analysis but tried to think of the greater good. Thought is like the sound of one hand clapping, it must be understood by others to become complete.

Yes, Mary, I am finally getting around to answer your question. I do believe you are one of the dumb ones. Your original letter was the first clue. You wondered if there was a Santa Claus because you questioned the opportunity for unquenchable greed in a child and you were concerned about your parents in the commerciality of modern Christmas. The smart kid would have taken the loot and ran, someday to become the head of Microsoft or some other billionaire. You were probably too dumb to make your whole life a quest for money and instead spent as much time as possible with your family. None of your children will be filthy rich, except in the resources stored in the human soul, harvested from living a life of sharing and in the participation in and the appreciation of the beauty of a world so uniquely fitted to the human race, that it is inescapable that we were the tailors of our own destiny. No Y2K programmers among your brood Mary. You are too dumb to answer the question - What can possibly be worth the destruction of even one small part of this world? I don't know either Mary. It is not money nor fame, they are meaningless in the bleakness of the Rein of the Horsemen.

You are surely dumb in the ways of the world Mary, but wise even as a child, and a person I would truly have appreciated knowing. Too bad it has to end so badly. Only humans could have evolved so great an intelligence to singularly destroy what a universal intelligence created. Worse, we destroy for such trivial reasons. The herd mentality is to follow the leader, but once leaders only survived if they were wise, not merely clever. I am not advocating the loss of Santa Clause or the arrest of progress but to define a national and international role for humanity. Sodom and Gomorra was not about sex, it was about a lifestyle of meaningless self-indulgent excess that was so pervasive within a society that the perpetrators were unaware of the self-destructive nature of their behavior.

What can better symbolize the failure of human values and aspirations than the Y2K bug? No war, no genocide, no greedy software giant, and no social or religious doctrine is involved. Y2K is just a meaningless, sterile symbol of global stupidity wreaked by our most intelligent humans. It was a problem recognized many years ago, yet we as a global society were powerless to stop it short of a crisis. And such is the nature of our planetary destruction. It has all been said long ago and many times since, but the biocide continues without hope or even the expectation of cessation of that inevitable end. Why?

Reprinted from the November and December, 1999 issues of THE PHOENIX,
the monthly newsletter of Western Pennsylvania Mensa,
Tamara Wardell, editor.   Reprinted with permission.

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