It’s just after 6 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, on Dec. 31, and the first Y2K failures are occurring in Auckland, New Zealand. Fortunately, that city is not experiencing widespread power outages, so television news reporters can bypass their generators and transmit their reports via satellite. The first reports of passengers trapped in elevators won’t come in from Sydney, Australia, for more than another two hours.

So far, the problems seem minor and widespread. No planes are falling out of the sky, and the precautions by those who emptied their bank accounts and fled to the country with rifles ready now seem extreme. But just like Oct. 1, when the federal government had a few glitches at the start of its new fiscal year, it appears that enough things will go wrong that Y2K will not be a total nonevent.

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