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A year from now, on January 1, 2000, Thomas L. Clark plans to be somewhere other than in his Chicago home. A member of the Forest Preserve Bible Church, Clark is stocking up on food, has a hand mill for grinding grain into flour, and will decamp to the wilderness in advance of the first day of next year. That is when he, and many other Christians, believe a computer bug will trigger a major breakdown of our societal infrastructure.

Clark says he wants to be ready because he believes God does not want believers to commit "intentional suicide" should the worst occur. "I don't want to have my assets where they're unsheltered. I don't want to have 10 million people marauding through the city looking for food and angry because the government has deceived them."

About the potential computer crisis, Clark warns, "Every day I study to see if there's anything sufficient being done, and I've found nothing to convince me that we won't have one massive problem. This is going to rearrange my whole life."

It already has. Clark, a self-described "informed fundamentalist," runs a business called Y2K Prepare, and from its Internet Web site he sells food mills and offers tips on how to store food and water before the possible calamity. Sales are steady, he reports, and "there may be too great a demand to meet it all" by the end of the year. He claims one raw-grain firm is back ordered eight months on some products. On another Internet site, those convinced of a coming calamity can even buy a $7,000 survival dome.

Clark says online articles by Canadian computer consultant Peter de Jaeger and a Web site created by Reconstructionist Gary North have convinced him that a silver bullet will not arrive to solve the problem. "Everybody thinks they are ...

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January 11, 1999

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