From: (Adam Cadmon)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: Mediocre Arcana
Date: Tue, 01 Dec 1998 13:02:10 GMT
Organization: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Glendale
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Boulder Information Service archives, excerpts from "The Decline And
Fall Of The American Empire" by Daniel Levi

A lot of people were predicting that the 2080's would be the decade in
which the last of the crude oil would be pumped from the Earth.
Politicians, oil merchants, and others depending on this resource
ridiculed these predictions until 2040, when the last of the crude oil
was pumped from the Earth.

The sudden quadrupling of the population brought about an increase in
oil consumption more than 20 times what had been previously predicted.
The politicians got busy trying to implement programs designed to use
new resources, find more efficient ways of mining for oil, and save the
collective figurative butts of the industrial complexes around the
world.  But it was too little, too late.

In 2043, responding to increasing demands for oil without corresponding
compensation from the Federal Government, the state of Alaska finally
did what its non-native population had been threatening to do for the
past 70 years: it seceded from the Union.  Before the U.S. military
could invade the new republic and start the Second Civil War, the
Siberian Peninsular Cooperative loaned the Alaskan government the
equivalent of two billion dollars in various forms of "humanitarian"
aid, including dozens of Red Army surplus military hardware and fifteen
ICBMs that the Siberians where saving in case company from the Kremlin
came over uninvited....

The fact that the United States even lasted that long was in no way
related to oil reserves.  Near the end of the 20th century, a large
concerted effort was underway to solve what was called the "Year 2000"
problem.  Simply put, computers and software designed in the 1970's and
1980's were still in operation, but had not been designed to handle any
date past 1999--most systems kept track of the last two digits of the
year, and rolling over to 00 was screwing up the dating systems
something fierce.  People turning 65 at the turn of the century were
in danger of losing their eligibility for benefits under the now-defunct
Social Security Administration, based on the fact that the systems
responsible for paying those benefits thought they were actually
negative 35 years old.

It wasn't as if anyone was in any great danger of being paid from the
Social Security fund, either, but that's another chapter.

Near the end of the century, the United States had almost all of its
commerical, military, and government systems reconfigured to handle
dates past 2000.  But a couple of years before that, rumours had
surfaced that the Europeans weren't taking the problem seriously, and
that the Asians were reluctant to devote the time and resources
necessary to correct the problem.  So someone from what was then the
state of Colorado released a virus to attack those systems and force
them into compliance.  If I remember correctly, the virus attached
itself to non-Y2K-compliant programs, monitored callouts to the system
clock, and corrected the date accordingly.  The virus used so many
resources within the computer itself that it slowed clock times down
to about half-normal, effectively eliminating the computer's usefulness.

It was dubbed the "Year 2000 Virus", or the "Y2V Problem".  The virus
only attacked systems designed or configured to work in areas outside
of the U.S.  It got so bad in Europe their only recourse was universal
re-installation.  But most systems couldn't do that because their
original operators had either left their respective companies or jobs,
or had died.  There were lots of emergency software and hardware
purchases from American companies, which led to the big computer
industry boom that nearly saved the country.  It also led to the fall
of the EC and what the Chinese so eloquently referred to as "the Year
of the Black Dragon".

Again, all this had nothing to do with oil, except for the fact that
when the consortium known as OPEC (Oil Producing Economies) announced
its dissolution in 2042, because of its strong revenues in computer-
related industries the United States managed to outlive the end of mass
crude oil production for another three years....

In 2046, following the Alaskan example, three states in the northwestern
continental U.S. formed the Washidagon Co-Prosperity Sphere; a few of
the southeastern states "yo-yoed" back and forth between secession and
rejoining the Union; and Minnesota applied for entrance into Canada as a
new province.  (The latter request was declined by the Canadian
Parliament in a rare unanimous decision.)

In the summer of 2050, oil prices broke the 100-dollar-a-gallon line at
the gas pump level.  Heating oil prices on the commodities markets
continued to sky-rocket.  Despite the high prices consumers were still
willing to shell out money to keep their cars running and their homes
heated.  The United States, along with most of the other nations of the
world, had become so dependant on crude oil to sustain their ways of
life that any alternative to motorized transport was now unthinkable.

In 2060, Congress enacted a set of oil-rationing laws to save what
little they had left.  Automobile manufacturers strained for the first
half of the century to build cars more fuel-efficient than ever before.
But by the end of the century, oil was only being burned to keep the
government running; everyone else had to reconvert to electric heating
or wood-burning stoves, and walk to work.  One by one, the states fell
away from the Union, and an impotent government allowed them to go.  In
2080, the President of the United States called for the remaining loyal
states to re-affirm their allegience to the Federal government; only
fifteen did so.

While the United States government struggled to hold on to what was left
of its identity, the other 36 states combined were rapidly turning into
the deep constipated anus of North America--not that this term hasn't
been applied before to describe what used to be the United States....

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