The Other Y2K Problem – Fiction

The Other Y2K Problem

by Jeff Chapman
illustration by Michael Corcoran

Stables. Their very name is synonymous with steadiness, constancy, immutability. Since time immemorial, stables have existed in the exact same form in which they exist today: a dirt floor covered with hay, surrounded by wooden walls, sheltered by a wooden roof, and perhaps a couple of posts to tie horses to.

Speaking to world leaders at a recent special meeting of the UN to address the stable problem, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: “In our fast-paced world of spy satellites and nuclear armaments, where nothing remains the same from one day to the next, stables have clearly got to get with it… [T]he idea of humanity travelling in flying cars, living inside bubble-domed cities, and subduing hostile aliens from across the galaxy when our ‘civilization’ is still festooned with these prehistoric relics is absurd. The time for change is now!”

With the new millennium nipping at our heels, economists and world leaders are finally waking up to the fact that the horse lodging industry is lagging about 4,000 years behind where it should be. Here is a brief look at some of the programs nations are undertaking to bring their stables up to speed for Y2K.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: MegaHorse Towers

Two gleaming, glass 170-storey towers, each topped with a 100-foot steel spire that threatens to pierce the heavens, are the latest additions to Kuala Lumpur’s impressive skyline. When completed in late 1999, the $430-billion twin MegaHorse Towers will be the tallest structures ever erected. One tower is designed to hold the hay, while the other tower holds the horses. The Horse Tower can accommodate up to 70,000 horses in comfort, and up to 650,000 horses in a pinch.

“For our design philosophy, we went back to the most basic, fundamental principle of the horse lodging industry: Hay is for horses,” says Singapore-born lead architect Raymond Ho. “It’s a no-brainer, really, but it’s a principle that I think a lot of people in the industry have willfully neglected over the years. It’s not about ego, it’s about hay. We’re confident that if we fill the Hay Tower with enough hay, the horses will come.”

“At least that’s what we’re hoping!” adds partner Cesar Pelli with a wry chuckle.

It’s what all of Malaysia is hoping.

Calgary, Canada: The CyberStable

Located on the 14th floor of Calgary’s McLean Building, directly connected to Calgary’s LRT system, Canada’s CyberStable bills itself as the world’s only iStable.

“The ‘i’ can stand for intelligent, or for Internet, whichever – basically it just means that our stable kicks ass!” exclaims project leader Randy Phillips. “The stable has two separate, permanent T3 connections to the Internet, as well as our own in-stable intranet. Users around the world can log on to our site and view live videofeeds of their horses in our stable, or view statistics on the amount of fibre-optic hay on the floor, broken down by horse and by hour, or even link to the status of the water in the trough (temperature, quantity, viscosity). Furthermore, each horse is provided with its own ThinkPad, an email account, and up to 100 megs of web space for the duration of its stay. No other stable can touch that.”

For more information, visit

Moscow, Russia: Stabilov-17

Time and time again, history has shown that if no one is paying to stable their horses, the stableowner doesn’t buy bread, meaning the baker doesn’t buy shoes, meaning the cobbler doesn’t buy a car, and so on. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian economy has been all but crippled by a lack of horses. Now, the Kremlin has taken steps to turn that all around by retrofitting Moscow’s last remaining stable for space flight and launching it into orbit around Earth. While Stabilov-17 does not meet the U.N.-mandated Stable Y2K specifications, being constructed primarily of wood, dirt and hay, it is undoubtedly an ambitious project.

Explains Minister of Stables and World Domination Erno Smolnikov, “The future of human race is in space. When in space, we shall need spot to tie up horses. Stabilov-17 will be only choice, and so, Mother Russia will control all the horse in space.

“We will take Mars, comrade, make no mistake.”

Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany: Das Pferdenplatz

The coming of the new millennium signifies two major changes for the Europeans: the economic and political unification of the 15 nations of the European Union, and the construction of the Eurostable, Das Pferdenplatz.

The German design, which only narrowly beat out the Italian proposal for Stabillismo Supremo and the French-backed Cheval! Cheval!, is a shiny green plastic cylinder in the heart of Frankfurt’s CBD. The outside is decorated with a plethora of incomprehensible red, black, and white icons featuring silhouettes of horses jumping through windows, horses standing on one another’s backs, and, for some reason, a housewife chasing what appears to be a dog with a chain of sausages trailing from its mouth.

After paying the 14-euro admission fee, visitors are ushered inside the cylinder, where a cluster of horses dressed in quaint, colourful costumes stands tied to a yellow and red plastic pole in the middle of the room. The horses eat from bales of chocolate and drink wine from a trough. Tinny oompah music blares over speakers while a fat, red-faced policeman drives around the stable in a little, three-wheeled blue car alternately blowing his whistle and bellowing “Berühren Sie nicht die Pferde! Berühren Sie nicht die Pferde!”

At 12 noon each day, the horses are equipped with rifles and made to go to war.

Asked to explain the concept behind Das Pferdenplatz, chief engineer Helmut Vandergilberhender replied only, “I have no idea.”