A new virus crisis

The looming start of 2021 brings with it new risks for the nation’s population, according to The Bug’s in-house investment and financial advice columnist. But luckily he has a plan to fix it.

Dear Morrie

This isn’t a question about finance or investments as such but I don’t know who else I can ask. The COVID-19 or coronavirus is obviously the big event that shaped 2020, and I was wondering if you saw any major issue that was on the horizon and which may have an impact just as devastating. What do you see as the big threat to Australians and others in the world for 2021?

Looking Forward, Redcliffe, Qld

Dear Looking Forward

I’m glad you asked me this because as the few hours left of 2020 tick away we should all be aware of the need to act swiftly and decisively against a virus that poses an immediate threat to our nation’s economic health and our own futures.

Now I’m not talking about the coronavirus which, as you noted, took up so much of our collective attention, time, and effort for most of the past year.

I’m talking about is the sort of computer glitch or virus that we haven’t seen for more than 20 years.

You might recall back at the end of the 1990s we faced the threat of the Y2K bug, otherwise known as the year 2000 or millennium bug. No connection to this fine publication by the way.

The Y2K problem arose because the eggheads who invented IT years before didn’t think far enough ahead. They designed computer systems that showed the day, month, and year as sequence of double digits. For instance the 12 June 1988 was “120688”.

But they used only the last two digits of a year not the full four and they never thought about the year 2000 and the abbreviation “00” which many highly paid IT consultants claimed might not be recognised by a computer.

These well remunerated consultants suggested the whole world might come to a grinding halt as computers shut down at the stroke of midnight on 31 December 1999 just as the clock ticked over to 010100.

These consultants reaped squillions across the globe to head off the imminent disaster that could have befallen us all if every computer system in the world wasn’t adjusted.

Well, when I say every computer in the world, there were a few countries that didn’t lift a finger to change any of their IT systems and they all sailed through unscathed. Put it down to sheer good luck, the consultants said.

But I believe that the coming new year will bring with it a similar emergency and we all need to act right now.

My analysis shows that all computers may again be at risk unless their owners take remeidal action.

The year 2021 itself is the root cause of the threat because if you multiply its individual digits you get zero – the same figure that caused the Y2K problems.

Rest assured I know what I’m talking about. I know a fair bit about IT because my old man, Morrie Bezzle Senior, was a pioneer in the field. In the 1950s and ‘60s he imported from Shanghai some of the first computers sold in Australia. (main picture)

He made a motza flogging the devices at a couple of hundred quid each to Aussies, especially small business operators who he convinced needed to get in on the ground floor of the IT revolution.

It’s those same small business owners who are again in the firing line with the advent of the new Y-2-1-K virus. But luckily I have a plan of attack to save them.

I will be offering a service to remotely analyse any computer system in the country – for a price of course; I’m not a charity.

I can check any system anywhere in the nation or the world for that matter and in return I’ll declare whether it’s safe or not and send its owner an official certificate for them to display in their office, retail outlet, or other workplace that tells clients and visitors that all the computers on the premises are totally secure and safe.

Now I admit this will take a fair bit of dosh. So I’m asking concerned Aussies like your good self to kick in to get my plan off the ground.

If you want to help, just send a donation — one or two Ks at the bare minimum — to my new fund and I’ll get things moving at my end and get those official certificates printed and ready for distribution.

Send a cheque to me via The Bug and make it out to Computers All Safe Here.

Bugger it, to save your time and mine, just make it out to CASH.

I’ll be in touch.


Morrie Bezzle is CEO of Megabite All You Can Eat Family Restaurants (in liquidation), chair of Flash Drive Naked Limousine Party Services, and road manager of the National Broad Band All-Female Musical Ensemble.