Taking two aspirin

It’s the holiday season. Everything is decorated and lit up. A steady stream of cookies, candy and cakes is crossing The Malibu Times threshold. The holiday cards are hung out for all to see, and e-mail messages are arriving with missives of holiday cheer. The Yule log is burning, the eggnog gurgling in the big stone pot. Well, maybe that’s overstating it a bit, but you get the general idea. Holiday season was in full swing, and life was good. Then it happened. Tragedy struck.

The Malibu Times caught a social disease.

It started innocently enough. Someone said, “Something’s not right,” and they were correct. Every time we tried to use it there was pain and dysfunction. Immediately the recriminations began, and then the alibis.

“It wasn’t me.” “I didn’t bring it in.” “It couldn’t be me. I always take precautions.” Everyone denied starting it, but we all knew somebody had done it. Somebody had brought a computer virus into The Malibu Times. The little, universally cheerful Macman face, in the middle of the Mac screen, had turned sad and sour looking, and the computer refused to boot.

For the better part of the first day, we all ran around in circles shouting, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” because we didn’t know what it was we had nor how we would ever get out the paper. It wasn’t until our computer repair guru told us the bad news, which was really the good news because at least now we knew what we had and began to see what we had to do. The problem is we had been passing our floppies back and forth to each other, totally unprotected. Now we were paying the price for our profligate ways.

Morale plummeted. People grew suspicious of each other. Everyone felt they were clean but no one knew who else wasn’t nor who they could trust and who might reinfect them. Then slowly, ever so slowly, we tested everyone, one at a time. We dumped every old floppy. We brought in a tough virus protector, and we made everybody use it. Slowly, we nursed ourselves back to health.


Since this is a holiday story, I’m happy to say as we go to press with this Christmas edition that our health seems to be returning, barring any relapse.

If you’re one of our advertisers, and you notice we may not be using your most recent ad, we ask you to forgive us because we were afraid to recontaminate ourselves. It’s going to take us a few more issues to get it all cleaned up.

The strangest part about it is that a computer virus is really like a public health epidemic. You begin to realize the casual things you do in the normal work day could be a problem. All those things that are almost automatic suddenly become potentially dangerous.

It’s also a crystal ball into the future. I really haven’t given much thought to planning for the Y2K problem they’re predicting will come with the millennium. Let me tell you that I am now because without computers the world stops and chaos reigns.

So I wish you all a very happy and healthy and virus-free world and a happy holiday season from Karen and myself and all of us here at The Malibu Times.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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