And they say that other generation was "The Greatest."
Harrumph! I beg your pardon!
That other generation only had to deal with fascism, nazism, and Japanese imperialism. Do you know how many apocalypses I have seen and had to handle in my sixty years? Why it's, uh . . . well . . . at least . . . well, it's a helluva lot, that's how many! I don't have enough fingers and toes to count them all.
Here are a few, and just a few, of the many apocalypses I have encountered and overcome. One of my earliest memories of an impending apocalypse was the strontium 90 (90Sr) crisis of the late 1950s and early 1960s. We were all getting massive doses of 90Sr in our milk and water because of above ground nuclear testing; our teeth and hair were going to fall out; we were all going to end up looking like a cross of James Carville, Alan Cranston, and Pete Postlethwaite. I managed to survive. And I haven't even mentioned how I handled and survived the constant threat of nuclear war for some forty or fifity years: I spent my early youth diving under school desks in anticipation of Soviet nukes. Those desks were very well built back then as evidenced by the fact that I survived (or maybe it was because . . . nah, it was the desks). Then we were told that pollution was going to kill us all; we would have to survive a massive global cooling caused by the particles in the air blocking the sunlight. Then, in no particular order, I had to deal with race riots, SARS, AIDS, anthrax, and global warming. All of them were going to destroy us all! I have handled them all--don't worry about those any more.
My favorite all-time panic, however, wasn't any of those. I loved, absolutely loved the Y2K panic. It was my favorite--did I mention that? You remember that crisis right? As the calendar clicked over from 1999 to 2000 all of modern civilization would come to a halt. The presence of "00" was going to prove too much, just way too much for our poor computerized society. Our machines would crash! Our robot slaves would collapse or go berserk! The only solution was massive government spending! All those FORTRAN developers were yanked out of their rest homes and brought back to fix this disaster.
I remember being in the State Department and the panic was palpable. State, along with all sorts of other government agencies, got millions from Congress to help us deal with the dreaded "00" apocalypse. That crisis cost me my New Year's party for 1999-2000. I was forced to work that night along with others monitoring the collapse of Western society. There was no "party like it is 1999" for me. We had big charts with "red," "yellow," and "green" columns for different stages of preparedness for different aspects of society. We had spent millions developing these charts, and we had to be up all night ensuring that our money had been well-spent. I spent that night in the Embassy in Panama, monitoring the impending collapse of the Canal--this despite assurances from the engineers that the Canal operated on late 19th century technology and that back then engineers did not fear "00" or any other numbers.
The evening was a bust. The sun rose on the year 2000. The birds sang. The ocean waves waved. We had nothing to report back to anxious Washington DC--assuming DC had survived that horrid and dangerous night. We had to report something. So being the Diplomad, I reported as though it were April 1. I had noticed that my car had gathered an exceptional amount of dust overnight; I attributed it to the horrors of "00." I also noted that the omelets at a local five star hotel had been overdone--"00," obviously. And so on. I rediscovered that DC has no sense of humor. The anxious apocalypse watchers did not appreciate levity, or a reminder of the millions they had spent on nonsense.
You know, on second thought, despite having declared Y2K my favorite panic, I might be in the process of changing my mind. The Great Sequester Panic of 2013 is rapidly moving up the charts. It seems that because the government cuts a tiny percentage from its projected growth in spending, it's all over for us. I never realized how we all lived on the razor's edge! A slightly less robust growth in deficit spending means that my children will be eating fish loaded with mercury, airplanes will be flying without air traffic controllers, every illegal alien ever detained will have to be released, the US military will have to stand down, McDonald's will be serving donkey burgers, all children will get left behind, seniors will fight for scraps of offal, and on and on and on. This all goes to show how incredibly efficient the government is; it can do all these things with about $82 billion! Without that sum, all must come to a halt. Never mind the other $3 plus trillion--I guess those don't count.
Yes, I am going to enjoy this panic. I can handle it.