Y2K or Bust

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Will the dawning of the year 2000 - just a few days away, mind you - bring harmony or discord? If you believe the consumer press and the people who have turned their basements into Y2K bomb shelters, you'll be expecting something like that Nike commercial where the guy's running through the streets the morning of Jan. 1, 2000, as all mayhem breaks loose around him.

People on the other side of the fence - those who know that life as we know it will continue for at least a few more years - however, are antsy about how the new year will affect the more touchy economy. Watching the business news these past few weeks, you'll have noticed a stock market feeding frenzy over the e-Christmas retailing season. Even DM News' monthly Portfolio column in last week's issue charted quite a jump over the previous month in DM stock prices. Although we're sure the IT professionals of the world have done their jobs eradicating the Y2K computer bug, there is a psychological worry that it all might come tumbling down. Yes, the Internet will take the economy into a new millennium, but the bubble has to start leaking sometime.

It's a pity to see Internet companies get all the attention, though, as many traditional catalogers have put up some of the best e-commerce sites out there and they're expected to dominate the online world for several years to come.

Access for the Chosen Few

How could the Supreme Court revive a California law that gives people with a "scholarly, journalistic, political or governmental purpose" access to arrest records yet deny marketers from the same information? The state's attempted justification - to protect the privacy of victims and arrestees - makes no sense, as Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in their dissension. Instead of getting an individual solicitation from a lawyer or an insurance company, the court says it's better to print the person's name and address in the newspaper for everyone to see. Oh, that's much better.

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