No hard evidence that Y2k will NOT be bad : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I have been reading the questions and answers in this forum over the past few weeks, and it seems to me that we as a whole are getting somewhat more polarized in our responses. As this crisis grows closer by the second, the "gloom and doomers" and the "Pollyannas" seem to be getting more insistent, and sometimes belligerent and even ugly and sarcastic, in promoting and/or defending their respective views. Look, I understand, and I am with all of you on this! I read the more optimistic answers, and I feel a little relieved, and then I read the more pessimistic ones, and I feel the concern again. Now I am a basically optimistic person, and I would love to come across some hard evidence that y2k will NOT be a problem. However, after reading the Yourdon's book, and several others, and searching out all the websites I can find that are related to this problem, and after perusing the latest news articles and bulletins from all over the world (on, for example), and noting all the problems related to past computer failures of varying degrees, and especially making careful note of the fact that y2k problems are ALREADY OCCURING, some of which have made the news and some of which have not (because to report them could start a panic), and finally giving careful thought to the logical outcome of the failure of even 10% of the computers and say 5% of the embedded systems in the world, given the fact that we are now a global community in so many ways, I cannot, however hard I try and want to, reach any other conclusion that Y2k will be bad, and perhaps, catastrophic. On page 316 of Time Bomb 2000, the Yourdons mention the term "iron triangle," a term first used by their colleague Steve Heller. The iron triangle refers to the three components undergirding modern society: banking, the electric power grid, and the telecommunications network. "If any component of the iron triangle fails in a Year-2000 collapse, the other two are likely to fail quickly too. And if the iron triangle goes down, most of what we refer to as 'modern society' goes down with it." Please, anyone, please convince me, show me hard evidence that Y2k will not cause major disruptions in, if not the complete collapse of any or two or ALL of these components. Remember that even if 1,000 computer systems are compliant, one single non-compliant system can corrupt them. If this is not correct, please let me know, because from what I am finding out in my research is that the non-compliant systems outside the U.S. can corrupt our systems even if every one of ours is compliant (and, of course, given the fact of "too little, too late," they will NOT be). Of course I cannot predict the future precisely--no one can. But we can make valid assumptions based on the evidence we see and hear all around us. Look at the news that is NOT related to Y2k, for example. Last year's UPS strike affected a lot of businesses to varying degrees very quickly. Can we make assumptions about SYSTEMIC Y2k failures in the telecommunications component very probably leading to systemic business failures on a level not seen since the Great Depression, and maybe not ever seen before? Someone please show me how y2k problems will NOT be pervasive and severe when they will affect ALL systems to some degree, compliant or not, and in the news today we can see that strikes at only two GM plants have all but paralyzed GM production in the U.S.? The levels of interdependency between the various sectors of our society will all be brought to light in this crisis: many are unforseeable. I wish that I could believe that Y2k will NOT be bad--I honestly do not enjoy having my overactive imagination torturing me with all of the "what if" scenarios that could hurt my loved ones, myself, all of you out there. But if we are going to be ready for Y2k (and perhaps it will be so bad we really cannot adequately prepare--who knows--can you convince me otherwise--if so, please do!) we cannot bury our heads in the proverbial sand and hope against hope that someone will come up with a "silver bullet" to fix the problem. Listen to the computer software experts like Ed Yourdon--there is absolutely no chance of that happening given the complexity and magnitude of the problem, and the precious little time left. One more question: why do some of us, myself included, have such trouble dealing with the fact that y2k could bring about "the end of the world as we know it?" Give me the reasons why we should be spared hardship and suffering on the level of the citizens of the former Soviet Union during World War II and the Stalinist "Reign of Terror," for example. What is to keep us from suffering as much as Europe did during the Black Plague of the 14th century? We in this country have been blessed with more peace and prosperity, relatively speaking, than any other nation in the history of the world. Just because a lot of us have lived our entire lives in the comforts of post WWII America does not mean we can assume that this way of life will continue indefinitely. We have not even had full-scale war on our soil since the Civil War! Most of us have never gone to bed hungry; very few of us have ever been deprived of our power and water for more than a few weeks. Why are we so confident that "surely, Y2k will NOT be the end of the world as we know it?" Give me some solid, logical, factual evidence that y2k will not bring down our entire fragile "system of systems." I would dearly love to go to sleep tonight convinced that y2k will not be "that bad."

-- Justin Sturz (, July 11, 1998


Justin, Your observations and questions are 'right on the mark'. I first became aware of Y2K about a year ago and, ever since, have tried in vain to be 'reasonably assured' that my initial alarm was misplaced and that this 'Y2K Thing' simply can't happen. I am a 60-year-young grandfather, and the farthest thing from my mind a year ago was the thought of selling our beautiful home near San Diego and moving. But, after a year of intensive study, reading, and, most importantly, thinking, our home is on the market, and we are leaving California as quickly as possible. Our decision was difficult, to say the least. Like some of you have experienced, the reaction of friends, neighbors, and loved ones was mixed, but, in the final analysis, each of us must do what we believe in our hearts to be the right thing. Like you, Justin, I continually hope and pray that the worst will not befall us, and I read and most-appreciate contrary opinions (without vitriol), but, so far no evidence has been presented that I am willing to bet my life and the lives of loved ones upon. I would far rather be 'embarrassed' if Y2K is a 'dud', than amongst 17 million starving people if it isn't. My choice.

-- Giles Kavanagh (, July 11, 1998.

I just hope that the people who are knowingly exagerating this problem will carefully read the thoughtful posts of Justin and Giles and get a feel for the kind of pain you are causing people with your unsubstantiated promotion of the end of the world scenario regarding Year 2000. Will the real spiritual advisor of this forum please stand up?

-- Oscar Swischne (, July 12, 1998.

Oscar, why is it that you care if I or anyone else makes preparations for what "COULD" be a serious situation. If I am wrong, so what!


-- j (, July 12, 1998.


My husband and I feel your pain and concerns, and we agree with you 100%. No one could have said it better. It's one of the best that I have read so far! P.S. We sat out by our garden with the birds taking a bath and the deer eating near by while I read it to him! It was soothing and butt clenching at the same time!

-- Barb-Douglas (, July 12, 1998.

Re the concern about bank failures raised in the original question. Banks tradionally operate very close to the edge financially and it doesn't take much to close one down. Surely you remember all the Savings and Loan failures a few years back that the government had to bail out. My opinion is that banks, in particular, do not have the money or resources to apply to this problem. Even if Social Security is issuing checks, it won't do much good if the bank is closed. Someone (was it Ed) complained that there is no oversight to make sure that the important things were being addressed. I think that of more interest than whether GM is ready is whether the banks are ready.

-- Amy Leone (, July 13, 1998.

Hi Justin,

I don't have any proof that our "system of systems" won't collapse into a heap of rubble. I also have many of the same mood swings you report. Some days my gut reaction is that it just can't be that bad. Other days I feel like I'm staring into an abyss and the ground under my feet is crumbling.

My personal belief, which I can't prove, is that the truth is somewhere in the middle. It will be bad, but the worst will be over within a few months. This will be followed by a lengthy period of rebuilding. Banks may (and probably will) suffer failures, the power may go out, and the phones will likely be unreliable for a while. With time, these problems will be resolved. At first there will be lots of jury rigging going on - some of which will lead to new problems. Eventually, the systems will become stable enough so that the luxory of permanent repairs will be possible. I actually think that in the long run (I'm talking years here), we'll end up with systems which are both more flexible and more robust.

It's those initial few months that have me worried. Some people will be cold and hungry. Some will have no money. Those with money may find that it isn't any use. There may well be serious public health problems. If enough people and communities are prepared to help, it should be possible to minimize the suffering and to help the unprepared get through the worst of it. For me, that's the key to surviving this catastrophy - WE HAVE TO CONVINCE PEOPLE TO PREPARE!

Which brings me back to your (and my) desire to believe that Y2k will not be that bad. Everyone has that desire. We all want to believe our leaders when they say that Y2k will just be a "bump in the road." We all hope that some company in Massachusetts, or some kid in New Zealand will produce a Silver Bullet and allow us to sidestep the problem. Most people are both intellectually and physically lazy (I know I am) and they don't want to hear about some theoretical future problem which might require them to get up and do some work. They need to learn enough about the problem to realize that it is real, not theory. They need to be educated, but it has to be done in a way which will not turn them off or scare them into inaction.

Those who talk about the collapse of civilization, the second great depression, or "the end of the world as we know it", might be right, I don't have a crystal ball and I can't predict what will happen. However, if predictions of this nature are causing people to do nothing, either because they think nothing can be done, or because they believe the whole thing is crazy, I wish the predictors would just shut up for a while. There is a great deal which can be done, particularly at the community level. The worst is a lot more likely to happen if we all start saying "what's the use" and giving up in despair.

Will there be problems? Absolutely! Is it the end of the world? I sure hope not and I sure don't intend to behave like it is.


-- Ed Perrault (, July 13, 1998.

Giles: well said

-- Rick Reilly (, July 14, 1998.

Thank you for this post. Sometimes I feel like people I talk to think I'm crazy. I do think things will be very bad, and I live in a small community outside a small city. It took me 2 months to convince my husband that the year 2000 could be a serious problem. We are slowly preparing for the "worst" and hoping for the "best." I had lunch with a friend yesterday, and we decided that we felt like we were in a B grade sci-fi movie. Whatever! Her idea of preparation was buying a few C rations, gas for the grill, and extra charcoal. I think she will soon change her mind. The biggest problem will be to convince people in places like where I live that this issue is relevant to them and they, at least, need to research and prepare according to what conclusions they make. Thanks again for the post.

-- Kitty Burkheimer (, July 17, 1998.

Ha ha! See?! Nothing bad happened...bunch of pansies!!!

-- Minnie Mouse (, March 13, 2005.

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