what would it take to get you to believe it is o.k.?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The doomsayers say,"Politicians, IT people, programmers,(the ones that say everything wil be o.k., that is) etc. are lying!" The other side says that doomsayers are lying. The doomsayers say that when a newspaper says that y2k will be "no big deal", don't believe them-their lying-but will hold up copies of newspapers that predict trouble as being truthful. Sometimes I wonder if y2k denial *can* go full-circle. Or at least begin to reside half-way between the two extremes. Because I wonder-*if* the problem was completely solved, what would I have to read or hear before I would believe it? It reminds me of a brain teaser I heard once that went something along these lines: You are lost in the forest and you've come to a fork in the road. There are two men standing there. One always lies, and the other always tells the truth. You do not know who lies or tells the truth. You have only one question that you can ask. What would you ask and to whom?

-- madeline (runner@bcpl.net), October 17, 1998


I'd do eenie-meenie-miinie-moe, and ask to whomever: Is your bank Y2K compliant? If the guy said No, then I would know that I could depend on him to tell the truth; Yes, would mean I would need to get directions from the other guy.

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), October 17, 1998.

Madeline- I think the only thing that matters is how much will be fixed in time and how well will it hold up post-y2k. The opinions and media reports have no bearing on this, being based mostly on hearsay and spin... At this point, nothing could influence my plans much. Expect the worst and prepare for it, but don't leave yourself hanging if it doesn't turn out too bad. That means do the prep, but keep it to yourself (except for those you rely on).


-- Bertin Opus (third@hotmail.com), October 17, 1998.

Bertin, Thanks for your input. May I ask where you like to go to get updates-or do you? I am striving to remain balanced. I know that individual preparation is a personel thing, but do you agree with moving to a less populated area? What do you think of the fact that at the end of 999, people were also expecting catastrophes to happen? My personel opinion on that is, if the computers were fine, I wouldn't be worried about the new millinium, the same way that if the computers were going to crash in 1983, I would have been very worried back then for the obvious reasons.

-- madeline (runner@bcpl.net), October 17, 1998.

Madeline, just be calm and listen to mind and not your emotions. Just about everyone who knows Y2K is going to be a problem suffers to some extent from 'fight or flight syndrome' where you tend to be nervous because you have a problem you can do nothing to solve. Shucks, I get nervous myself sometimes. But logic tells me many people are working on Y2K, and though every problem inside the US will not be fixed by the deadline for that particular problem - enough will be fixed to get us by. We may well have a recession due to foreign problems - I have lived through a couple and had more than my share of hard times but they haven't killed me yet. So the logical thing to do is to prepare as if you lived out in the country and were expecting several really bad blizzards with power outages and so on this winter. You know it will probably happen, so what do you do? Insulate your pipes, get candles, lanterns and a couple kerosene heaters - maybe build a shed outside to hold food if it is cold and the power is out. Keep extra food supplies, batteries and a battery operated shortwave receiver, maybe even a couple game boys for the kids. And pick up extra blankets and stop at the second hand bookstore and buy some of those novels you always wanted to read at half price - you might have time to get to them by candlelight - doesn't that sound romantic? And while we are on that subject - every major blizzard results in a wave of births about 9 months later according to the local hospital - so unless you want a bigger family you should prepare in that area as well. Of course this leads to the feminine products you should know about better than I - and that leads to water for bathing and drinking - which leads back to food and we have completed the circle. Preparing your finances for a possible recession is harder - if you can find a financial advisor who is Y2K knowledgable and take his advice perhaps you could share it. Anyhow, those are my thoughts on the matter.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), October 17, 1998.

Take a look at the following link and then see what you think:




-- Pastor Chris (chrisbr@ptinet.net), October 17, 1998.

Paul davis Wrote:

"But logic tells me many people are working on Y2K, and though every problem inside the US will not be fixed by the deadline for that particular problem - enough will be fixed to get us by.'

Davis says that 'logic' tells him that enough is being done. Perhaps he can share the syllogism from which he derives this.

There is none. Logic tells him NOTHING at all. He merely does not want to face the facts. 'Many' people working on it has nothing whatsoever to do with a successful remediation. The 'many people working on it' blather is one of the most childish of the denial attempts. It allows then to refuse to discuss the issues. The issues being that there is no one on the face of the earth that is compliant, most countries are 18 to 24 months behind us, etc etc. Do you hear them addressing those things? Nope. They always rely on nothing more than rhetoric. "I think we will get through." That is utterly insufficient. But it is enough for them to delude themselves.

75% of small to medium sized businesses have not even started yet. Most big businesses did not even get rolling till this year, yet some big businesses have beeen working on it for over 5 years and are still nowhere near being done.

Anyone who says that we will manage to get by is blowing smoke based upon nothing more than unsubstantiated 'feelings.'

The next time you hear someone say it, ASK them for the FACTS which support that position. There will be NONE. Only vague references to people working hard and assurances backed by nothing at all.

-- Paul Milne (fedinfo@halifax.com), October 18, 1998.

Mr. Milne,

"Anyone who says that we will manage to get by is blowing smoke based upon nothing more than unsubstantiated 'feelings.' "

Oh excuse me...I guess you already went forward in time to 01/01/2000 saw what happened and came back to tell us. Hence your "facts".

"The next time you hear someone say it, ASK them for the FACTS which support that position. There will be NONE. Only vague references to people working hard and assurances backed by nothing at all. "

And what FACTS do you have to support your postion? All you have is vague speculation on the part of some "experts".

Don't get me wrong, I am preparing just in case, but Doomers have no more solid footing than the middle of the roaders or the Pollyannas.

here is a question for you...why do you care? You already ran for the hills. Some of us choose to stay here and fight and hopefully rebuild society if the worst does happen, you on the other hand will be in the hills not dependant on anyone for anything. Good for you. Some of us don't have the money to do what you did no matter if we sold everything we owned.


-- Rick Tansun (ricktansun@hotmail.com), October 18, 1998.

Hi Paul, didn't expect to hear from you here.

To Madeline, 'what would it take to convince me?

First: The copper triangle up and running on Wednesday, Jan 05, 2000. Power up and reliable in the wires, computers up and running, and controls (the programs in them for banking, financial controls, and satellites) also running reliably (or at least no worse than they are now..). 8<)

Second: The iron triangle also up and running on Wednesday, Jan 05 2000. This means power and heat to the users (includes electric power, as before, but also natural gas, steam, coal and their distribution or transportation), water and sewage up in each location, and transporation nationally (requires trucks, ships or barges, and trains, planes and automobiles and but also gasoline distribution, billing, farm and warehouses, etc.)

My question at the fork in the road? "Do you know what is going to happen at the beginning of year 2000?"

The liar is the one who says "Yes".

Or Clinton, if he is present, but doesn't say anything at all.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (cook.r@csaatl.com), October 18, 1998.

What would it take for me to believe that it will be OK?

Simple: a silver bullet that will fix every computer and every embedded system in the world, followed by end-to-end testing of all the computers and systems in the world, plus an end to the current international economic crisis, as well as the passing of the Leonoid meteor showers and Solar peak 23 with no damage to the infrastructure.

We may get one or two of those, but not all, and I don't believe that Y2K fixes will be one of them.

We get to the real testing part of this, beginning 2000-01-01, not before.

So, it will take until then for me to answer the question. In the meantime I do the best I can. Which means that I try to prepare to the extent that the end result won't bother me physically.

'Logic' doesn't tell me that we'll be OK. It tells me that we're in deep trouble, and I'd better use the resources I have to prepare for that trouble. This is enhanced by the actions of our government: entire departments have 'intentionally misled' (lied to)congressional sub-committees, and the "art" of misleading is practiced from the highest level on down. Because of their track record, trusting them is no longer recommended as a means of survival. It is enhanced by the global extent of the problem that was pointed out by Paul Milne. (And, yes, Rick, the global extent of Y2K _is_ a fact.) The global economy plays in, too, as we appear to be in the middle of an economic meltdown that can well lead corporations to push Y2K efforts to the back burner (if they aren't already).

-- rocky (rknolls@hotmail.com), October 18, 1998.

Paul Milnes post seems well said to me. Does this mean that he is not the verbal Anti-Christ Ive been lead to believe he is?

Here is what logic tells me, a regular guy with no programming, and little computer experience (Got my first PC about 6-mos. ago) I do, however, have the capacity to observe and to think for myself. In any highly complex and interrelated system, a few minor problems are not a big deal. Once the failure rate passes a threshold (The more complex the system, the lower the threshold) things start to break down in an exponential manner. Minor failures start to stack up on top of one another faster than they can be dealt with, and the system fails as a whole. As related to Y2K, I dont know where this magical mark is, and I dont think anyone else does either. Up to a certain point, the Pollyanna outcome is likely, after that point the Doomer outcome is likely. I personally do not see much room for a middle ground.

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it." - Yogi Berra

BTW, in order to convince me all is well, dont worry about it? Ill believe it when I see it.

-- Uncle Deedah (oncebitten@twiceshy.com), October 18, 1998.

I read a little article on one of the web sites (sorry, don't remember any specifics) in which one "expert" stated that remediation that used to take 12 months can now be performed in one month. Assuming he wasn't lying, to what was he referring? And if he is lying, no one will ever believe us. Sometimes it feels like we're going backwards.

-- margie mason (mar3mike@aol.com), October 18, 1998.

Perhaps everyone should note that the Gartner Group is rating domestic problems such as power loss, food shortages, water shortages, telephone interruptions, etc., as ISOLATED and MINOR. (Sheesh, I hate to use all CAPS, but no one seems to want to acknowledge something that isn't screaming doomsday.) That's for the USA only. Parts of the rest of the world are in deep trouble, and that will affect our economy, no doubt. This was the rating from an industry that's been tracking this problem for months, and was presented to Congress on October 7. The Gartner Group makes the very strong case that we have to act now to develop contingency planning.

Make of it what you will.

-- Barclay (barclay@landmark.com), October 18, 1998.

Madeline brought up a good point:

"What do you think of the fact that at the end of 999, people were also expecting catastrophes to happen? My personel opinion on that is, if the computers were fine, I wouldn't be worried about the new millinium, the same way that if the computers were going to crash in 1983, I would have been very worried back then for the obvious reasons."

I truely believe that if the broken code didn't fall smack on the millenium, there would not be so much denial and arguing back and forth between "pollyannas" and "doomsayers". The code would have gotten fixed much faster in 1983. The fact that it fall on the same date as Apocalypse is predicted turns off a lot of people to listen to reason.

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), October 18, 1998.

What would it take for me to believe that the likely outcome would be okay.

By 7/1/99

1: 90% of the utilities in the country have publicized the details of their remediation and testing efforts, including full-scale, off grid , end to end plant testing of representative plants within their company. Part of the reason for so much paranoia is the utter secrecy of the current efforts. All that is coming out is PR spin. Give me the technical details!!!

2: IRS and HCFA spell out their contingency plans in plain English. I will take it as a given that their current fuction will be severely degraded.

3: The telecommunications industry have demonstrated large scale Time Machine tests successfully and they have a contingency plan for their embedded problems.

4: The majority of the Fortune 500 have demonstrated their readiness. (notice I didn't say compliant, just that they actually have the resources in place to handle problems.

5: The world economy manages to hang together without severe recession until 7/99. Ditto: no major military/terrorist actions through 99.

-- R. D..Herring (drherr@erols.com), October 18, 1998.

Paul M. - since you did not seem to see the logic I thought was self evident - I will go through it a step at a time. Please do not think I am being insulting - sometimes things that seem obvious to one person are not obvious to another.

1. Power generation in the US is not a governmental monopoly, it is mostly done by private enterprize. TVA is a major supplier, but not even remotely close to a 'sole source.

2. The private companies that own the generation plants are headed by people who have been informed about Y2K problems extensively for at least 4-5 years - and were aware of Y2K quite a ways back - at least those whom I have talked with personally were aware that a problem would be coming.

3. The CEO of such an enterprize gets a large salary with enormous perks. He would like for this situation to continue into the future until retirement with a big pension.

4. Since he is not an idiot - he is aware that the company must continue doing business for these things to happen.

5. This means that (a) he will do all in his power to prevent his physical plant from being shut down more or less permanently, and (b) he will do all in his power to keep from discussing the problem publicly as this might be construed as trying to manipulate the price of company stock for his own gain. (that's sure jail time if found guilty)

6. Since he can't correct the problem himself he will order the Manager of IS to find and fix everything that could cause a problem, and to use whatever resources it takes.

Which leads me to conclude that there are a great many people working on Y2K remediation in the power industry, and by simple extension of the premise - that most or all large organizations are working on Y2K remediation - a conclusion that is supported by every scrap of information I have read no matter who has authored it. Some feel there may not be enough, others that it is just enough to squeek us through - and some feel the problem will be 99% fixed by the deadline. Being a cynic at heart, I don't think it will be 99% fixed, but I do think we will have enough done to get us through. And lets get something straight - 100% is absolutely not necessary. Period. I have worked with computers and software for many many years - and I have yet to encounter a totally bug free program. If 100.000000% accuracy was needed in all transactions at all times - then we simply could not perform those transactions - we just aren't that good at designing and building complex systems - yet. Good Grief man, are you going to tell me you never have had a check held up because of 'computer failure'.!!! I certainly have, and so have most of us. There are systems in place to deal with errors - they may or may not be overwhelmed by Y2K problems but they certainly exist - and if 99% was done I really don't feel we would see major troubles in the US - and I am not talking about anywhere else right now.

Now if you can support your argument that we are pretty much doomed with logic - I would like to see it.

And as for facts - many reports and much information has been cited here. Some sounds pretty dismal, but when you examine the sources - and discount those who are trying to sell Y2K services or something - you get pretty much the picture I started with. Jager, Yardeni - even they are saying things are looking up as more and more businesses reveal their state of readiness. Now everyone can't be lying - so why are you having such a hard time admitting thing are looking better?

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), October 18, 1998.

Paul Davis wrote;

Which leads me to conclude that there are a great many people working on Y2K remediation in the power industry, and by simple extension of the premise - that most or all large organizations are working on Y2K remediation - a conclusion that is supported by every scrap of information I have read no matter who has authored it.

Paul, do you know what a non-sequitur is? Guess not. Your conclusion does NOT follow from the premises.

All you did was regurgitate your previous statements.

It does not follow that the remediation will be successful merely because anyone at all is working on it. Your 'argument', if it can even be called that, is a form of the tired old 'free market' will correct the problems. It is childish inanity.

There are thousands and thousands working on it and they are wildly behind the eight ball. That you do not see this is a tribute to your calculated ignorance of the situation.

You do not understand that if every computer in the US was compliant, it would make no differnce. The world economy will be sunk. There might not be mayhem in the streets but there would be a depression that would make the thirties look like a day at Disney World.

And THAT would be the BEST case scenario.

In summary, I asked you for your logic. You have presented an argument where the conclusion DOES NOT follow from the premises. Your argument is invalid.

Saying that 'it stands to reason, that their self interest translates out to successful remediation is no more than wishful thinking typical of the general pollyanna psuedo-argument.

Better luck next time, amigo.

-- Paul Milne (fedinfo@halifax.com), October 18, 1998.

In summary (if I may), P.D argument: all will be well (except for scattered problems because 1.) lots of people are working on it 2.) its in managements best interest to solve the problem 3.) all programs have bugs so Y2K problems are therefore not special 4.) "doom" reports should be discounted because of hucksterism

Well, lets go one at a time. Arg #1 : What matters is code remediation, testing and performance. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS! Where I live, the local utiltiy (PECO) says it has 300 people on the project. They won't reveal the breakdown of analysts, programmers, engineers, secretaries, etc. They started in 1995. They say they have spent $25 million so far. They will not say where they stand with remediation and just give the general mantra of "plan to finish code remediation by 12/98, testing in 1999". From the public data available it is IMPOSSIBLE to make a reasoned judgement as to how they will actually perform. Their public silence is worrisome. How I FEEL about their efforts is unrelated to what will actually happen!! And how you FEEL is irrelevant as well.

ARG#2) True with some qualifications. We have had verified reports of senior management types taking an unexpected "retirement" complete with golden parachute. Also, you presume that the most senior management actually understood the gravity of the problem. In many companies, the senior management treat the IT people as witchdoctors who have to be tolerated. In fact, in many places, computer types are all a little suspect mentally (geek image).

Arg #3) Yes, all software is a little buggy. But it produces what the customer wants most of the time. Y2K is unique. It affects virtually every file, database and application program. The sum of errors results in zero function or highly erratic function across the entire spectrum of computer application. Again, Y2K is unique. The IT industry has NEVER faced a similiar problem. Yes, systems are tolerant of some given error rate. The problem is that recompiling 98% of a given organization's code will guarantee widespread problems - even if you don't change a single line of code!! (Link-libs will be different in 1998 than 1991)

Arg#4) Yeah, there are people who will make a buck off fear. So what? If nothing else, just read the congressional testimony of the past year. The GAO reports are devastating.

Lastly, PM is right. The economic devastation of the rest of the world will come home to roost. The very best scenario, as things stand right now, is a Depression late 2000.

-- R. D..Herring (drherr@erols.com), October 18, 1998.

Life is a gamble, so hedge your bets folks. Paul may be right, Gary North may be right, my "don't worry be happy" friends may be right, but the prudent man prepares. The economic times are a changing, so regardless of the y2k outcome, we all shoud evaluate our investments, living situations, etc... A woodstove, food, guns and cash help me sleep at night, and like the song says "whatever gets you through the night is alright". If some PR flaks' undocumented tales of compliance works for you, good luck.

-- Bill (bill@microsoft.com), October 18, 1998.

Why can't the denialists "get it" about The Y2K Problem: All the people working on it or who will be, all the money being spent or will be, WILL-NOT-BE-ABLE-TO-DELAY-THE-TIME-BY-ONE-NANOSECOND. It is TIME that is the primary issue (not that there are not other scarce resources, too). It is too late, period, by any measuring standard other than perhaps in the magical forest that was referenced in this thread's kick-off post.

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), October 18, 1998.

I expect that the back and forth will only get worse as time goes on.

The Pollyannas may laugh at Hope for the best, prepare for the worst but to me that is the only position that makes any sense amongst this schizophrenic back and forth. If you wait until things are PROVEN to be screwed, it will be too late to do anything about it, and YOU will be screwed.

I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Humphrey Bogart- Casablanca

-- Uncle Deedah (oncebitten@twiceshy.com), October 18, 1998.

Hi, gang. Speaking of global financial meldown, I got laid off so I won't be coming in here so often. (Do I get a booby prize?) Anyway, if I don't see any problems this January, I would be convinced that everything is fine. That's right, January of 1999.

-- Amy Leone (leoneamy@aol.com), October 18, 1998.

Guys...guys....the bottom line is this. As Amy's post clearly shows (bless you and your family, Amy), and to paraphrase Uncle Deedah, "A prident man prepares,"...for whatever uncertainties lie ahead. None of us knows the extent that Y2K will disrupt us, or for that matter how a depression/recession - which by now is widely predicted in many circles - will affect us individually. Rather than argue about it (or resort to silly insults that I don't even let my children indulge in, Mr. Milne), I believe every family should have a plan of being prepared for "bad times", from whatever corner they hail! Certainly, I think more people and businesses and all that are becoming more aware and are stepping up their efforts - I also think the time factor will prevent it all being done in time to prevent difficulties. But how dumb would we feel if Y2K DID turn out to be a bump in the road - and then a severe weather related disaster (wherever we lived) knocked out power, cut off distribution lines for food, etc, made our drinking water undrinkable, and cut off access to our electronically stored assets ANYWAY? OR if Amy's situation befell any one of us, and we had to face the prospect of feeding and caring for our families with a loss of income?

Is it more important to be "right"? Or to be warm and fed and perhaps of service to another family who is not warm and fed?

-- Melissa (financed@forbin.com), October 18, 1998.


Kudos to you. While I know my post to PM was a little over the bounds, I am tired of people on either side of this argument feeling smug in their "The Other Side Is Wrong Attitude". I think PD is a little bit more middle of the road then he even knows, but PM is SO far to the disaster side he simply can't see any good in anything that is happening.

I have ALWAYS been a nervous ninny and I prepare for EVERYTHING. I liken Y2K to the jumper cables, car jack, spare tire, flash light, phone book, food, water, tool box, knife, car phone and so on that I have had in my car since the day I was 16. To date I have only ever used the jumpers, the jack and the spare tire, but you would never catch me with the other items. I hope I will never need them, I doubt I will, but I feel better just knowing they are there.

Thank for the note of sanity Melissa.


-- Rick Tansun (ricktansun@hotmail.com), October 18, 1998.


At this point, I'm really not sure what will convince me that the shopping doesn't have to be done, etc. I think that a start MIGHT be compliance with the SEC orders, detailing precisely where many of the publicly held corporations stand on their efforts. I don't mean the $$$ and the manhours report, I mean real, honest project reports, showing plan timelines, variances, etc. being drawn up by the project librarians or project leaders.

I don't think I can believe anyone above say, Director or VP, depending on how the T/O works in the organization, due to my own experience as detailed in an archived thread.

And I really do mean 'by the project leaders....' because I can trust someone who has written a good status report. Hopefully, the required laws will be enacted which will hold the publishers harmless, and will allow this info out and not restrict it as being 'anti competitive' or something similar.

I can only hope these reports are forthcoming SOON. (Particularly before 1 April, 1999) I am, however, not ready to stop my preparations at this time, nor will I be really comfortable in stopping prep even if the reports published show readiness, due to the interconnectedness of the world systems. I really am not happy with the situation in the Orient, nor am I happy with the situation in the Hedge Fund community, nor in the general Wall Street community where the last two days of trading have spawned the question "Can the market recover too fast?"

The people who ask this clearly aren't looking at the world fundamentals I get to see, as I transport my consultants. Or they ARE and have chosen to write (shudder) pollyana-ish articles calculated to calm the natives, and keep the money in the market and not on its way out.

As far as (another thread) being a Y2K YO-YO; YUP POSTER CHILD!!

What question would I ask? Please take me the way you wish to go.


-- Chuck a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), October 18, 1998.

Amy, I am so sorry about your job. Please stay in touch as much as you can. I will believe everything is OK when we all meet at Uncle Deedah's house for the big party!

-- Gayla Dunbar (privacy@please.com), October 19, 1998.

Me an' my big mouth! ROFL

"What a maroon"

Bugs Bunny

-- Uncle Deedah (oncebitten@twiceshy.com), October 19, 1998.

Paul Davis wrote:

Now everyone can't be lying - so why are you having such a hard time admitting thing are looking better?

Some people have so much invested in Y2k being TEOTWAWKI, and have made themselves so obnoxious in the cause, that anything short of a meltdown would be the disaster. I wouldn't want to be Paul Milne if everyone's still renting videos and getting delivery from Domino's on January 15, 2000.

-- N (no@flames.com), October 19, 1998.

Either you are not reading my posts carefully, or you are ignoring them. I have carefully stated twice that my arguments did not apply anywhere but the US - because I have personal knowledge only of the conditions in the US.

The blanket statement that the US MUST have a recession/depression if the rest of the world has problems is not borne out by history - the biggest economic disaster in the history of Europe and Asia was WWII - we had a boom. That is a historical fact - go quarrel with the muse of history or some such if you have problems with it. I am not stating we will have great times if everyone else has problems - I am just pointing out that history does not support an inevitable depression if Europe and Asia have troubles. Economic forecasts are almost invariably wrong - anyones guess is as good as anyone elses.

Your statement that my logic is faulty is interesting - I have had it checked by several (rather overeducated) people and they and I would be interested in an explanation of just where the logical flaw is. Perhaps you do not understand the conclusion - which is - many people have been put to work on the Y2K problem. Just checked with some other guys in my office - we haven't had a conversation with another professional for some time without Y2K coming up - 25% is a way low figure - really everyone in the field is working on something or other either affected by or influenced by Y2K issues.

You seem convinced that all of us in the CS industry are complete idiots or morons - this really is not the case. I don't think every Y2K problem is going to be fixed by its due date - I just think from experience and research that enough will be that we will have fairly reliable power, water and shipping over most of this country. This is what is absolutely necessary - and I am pretty damned confident we will have it.

You don't seem to realize the size of the disaster we would have if power and shipping over the US was completely stopped for 90 days or so. My own guess is that at least three fourths of the population of the US would die. Everyone in the power industry is aware of this - disaster scenarios are played out fairly often to try to prepare for major problems in case of war or terrorist action. They are just not going to ignore a major potential problem. And the idea that the top brass doesn't know about the problems just won't hold water - not with requests for information about their state of readiness coming from all side, including requests from the NERC, the Pentagon, the National Guard, various governors, senators and the general public. Stupid would not cover it - you'd have to be dead to ignore all that and say you had no plan because it wasn't a problem!

Now some of you guys seem to have a lot of emotional capital invested in the idea that the US is going down. Well if so, I'm sorry, but I don't feel the facts bear out the idea of the entire US infrastructure going to hell because of Y2K. Problems we will have - but they are going to be manageable.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), October 19, 1998.

Whether things will be "o.k." depends on your definition of it. I guess there are "pollyannas" out there, but I don't see it in the posts of people being accused of being pollyannas here. What I see is a difference of opinion on the severity of the impact of the Y2K problem.

The more important question for personal preparation is what level of preparation is necessary. Is survival-level prepartion necessary? Selling everything you own, buying a gun, buying 2 years worth of food , etc. still seems a bit extreme for me.

-- Buddy Y. (buddy@bellatlantic.net), October 19, 1998.

Paul: Unfortunately, "half is better than none" does not apply very well to Y2K -- thats live in the Interdependent Lane. You seem to be under the illusion that there exists some kind of direct linear relationship between "% of systems fixed" and "% of services available". Surely the concept of "single point of failure" is familiar, certainly Y2K will bring down many of these, even under the best of circumstances. So, regardless of % of systems fixed, the % of services available could effectively be near zero! (Yes, even here in the United States of America!!!!) Buddy: Extreme problems sometimes require extreme solutions.

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), October 19, 1998.

Actually I believe it is a curve approaching an asymptote. In other words - if only 30% of the grid was functional then much less than 30% of the US would have power - if 80% is funtional then more than 80% will have power. Savvy?

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), October 19, 1998.

There is an interesting analysis of just this issue located at:

http:// www.albany.net/~dmills/scurves.htm

-- anon (anon@anon.com), October 19, 1998.

The danger of widespread use of weapons of mass destruction is now greater than any time in history, and America has no civil defense program. In fact, it is highly likely that, for political reasons and for reasons of cost-effectiveness, the "survivalist" movement has been prompted and promoted covertly for the purpose of creating a de facto civil defense contingent. Think about it: the "survivors" would, in the event of a massive kill, not be herds of arguably useless citizens who were herded into school basements; they would be highly motivated, self-equipped and trained people. People who had the courage to contemplate the reality of our predicament and the willingness to survive in the aftermath. The effectiveness of this approach fits the darwinian/malthusian economics of the people who make such decisions. Am I paranoid? Takes one to know one.

Stockpiling food, fuel and ammo is not "extreme." Stockpiling gallons of anthrax, botulin and VX (not to menton nukes) is extreme - and every country on earth is doing it - or trying to. Get your nose out of the butt of the sheep in front of you, and grow up.


-- E. Coli (nunayo@beeswax.com), October 19, 1998.

Suppose everyone graduates on 1/1/2000 with a Y2K compliance grade in the low to mid 90s, but nobody aces the test when time is called. What will the shape of the curve be then? (After all, in the case of electricity, 30% or 80% grid functionality surely must be assuming some number of 100% Y2K compliant utilities [or utilities that are somehow supplying via manual based contingencies].)

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), October 19, 1998.

Mr. Milne:

You are an a*s. I have yet to see you post something that wasn't at least borderline abusive. Well, you are either an a*s or you have a far greater intellect than the rest of us and can't deal with we idiots. By the way, I believe the IQ level required for that type of attitude was established at above 150 in this forum.

As far as I can tell, you see the proverbial glass as half-empty, approximately 211 degrees F. and full of urine. Middle-of-the-roaders will actually read and process what you type if you do not use the forum in attempt to abuse people. Much of your output is well thought out and makes since, but it reeks of venom. This forum was a kinder, gentler forum before I noticed your posts. Please go and give way to a friendlier individual.

Best of luck.

-- Jabba (jabba@thehut.com), October 19, 1998.

Jabba, Milne is correct, and you have shown yourself to be not only more abusive than he, but have done so with a post that is devoid of content. Address the issue. I share Milne's outrage at an attempt to minimize the impact of Y2k, especially in the context of a media blackout/disinformation campaign that will result in the loss of uncountable lives. We are indeed "wildly behind the 8-ball" in terms of remediation, and have been decieved about it; the results will be horrific, and to insist otherwise without a substantive argument is either naive or irresponsible.


-- E. Coli (nunayo@beeswax.com), October 19, 1998.

I don't find P Milne's post particularly rude or insensitive. He's giving his point of view and your giving yours. Like "uncle" said in anther post, we can't post and read here and have our "cyber-feelings" hurt cause there is disagreement. I think argument/debates always gets a little heated now and then. Just mho...

-- Okum (ws000@aol.com), October 19, 1998.

Jack, every project of this type has parts listed as (to put it as simply as possible) do first and do last. The critical parts needed for generation of power and billing come first. I will bet anything you want that in most cases pollution controls will come last. They are complicated power hogs, and are greatly hated by most utilities. Moreover, they will often be the hardest piece of equipment to check for compliance - as they are often later add-ons to the generating facility. In many cases plants built in the 40's and updated in the 70's have scrubbers built in the 90's. Guess which parts are most dependant on computers.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), October 19, 1998.

Perhaps you guys are correct. After reveiwing Milne's post I realized that I read more into it than was there - I was possibly inferring things from his post with a pre-concieved opinion. Please note that I did not criticize Milne's message, just his method of delivery. What he says is as accurate as any other poster because it is pure opinion. Pure logic does dictate to assume systems such as this won't work until they can be proven to work. I have simply seen enough of the negative posts to taint my glasses and that is wrong. I apologize to you Mr. Milne on that point.

My message is to the large portion of the posters. There are many people in the middle of the road lurking on this forum such as myself. Continually, any individual who posts something questioning the validity of such negative thinking is soundly beaten about the head and shoulders. Some even deserve it. The reason given is a lack of evidence. The negative thinkers have that same lack of evidence. I was reading Dick Mills' article last week regarding the power situation. He seems to heading in the direction that there are going to be problems, but they are problems that can be overcome. I tend to think that we will see times that have not been seen in this country since pre-WWII, with or without y2k. But, eventually, we will work our way out of the mess and it will be a part of our history. I think everyone on this forum agrees that some level of preparation is prudent. We simply differ on the level of preparation.

Again, I apologize for showing my a*s in this thread. Good luck to all.

-- jabba (jabba@thehut.com), October 19, 1998.

Paul, as I understand your latest post, all you are really saying is that some systems (like power generation) would be considered "mission critical", whereas other systems (e.g., pollution control) would not be. Thats fine, as I am using the term "Y2K compliance", I am more than happy to have it just apply to the mission critical systems -- in fact, at this late date, how could anyone do otherwise? But my point is that THESE systems, come Judgement Day (when Y2K hits), need to be 100% there -- not less than that, because there really is no room for "slack" in the computer realm. Today, this day, October 19, 1998, no electric utility can claim 100% Y2K compliance for their mission critical systems, regardless of whether they are big or small, or whether they started early or late. That leads me to worry that a very significant number will not be READY in time, perhaps enough to make electric power "gone but not forgotten".

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), October 19, 1998.

The way these things work in the real world, Jack, is somewhat different than you or I might wish it would be. You can't get funding for a project whose date of usefulness is too far in the future. Thats why we don't have everything fixed and ready right now. Virtually everyone in the IS field was aware at least fifteen years ago that Y2K would bring problems. It wasn't fixed then because the bean counters could not justify the expense against time. So the problem was allowed to grow until we reached a point where the projected time of the completion of the fix gives a safety margin for problems - and then the project can be funded and started. The trouble with that is that project lag is not very predictable! So I would be very surprised to hear of more that a few who have completed all Y2K repair and testing at THIS time. You will start to hear a lot of reports of completion starting about next April - and growing steadily after that. And some will have started late or will run into problems. If they run past their critical times - they had better have the most necessary systems ready to go - thus the decisions for which systems get fixed first. You can blame this last minute rush to fix things on the Harvard Business School Method of Accounting - they calculate the cost of everything against some fictional fixed rate of return on the money you could have used for something else. According to that sort of reasoning you can never have any project that does not generate quick returns and if it runs longer than 20 years or so forget it, as putting your money in the bank will generate a higher return! No Panama Canal - forget railroads - if our forefathers had done things this way we would be in the caves.

Back to the subject - there are so many wrong assumptions floating around this forum about the IS field that sometimes I feel like pulling all my hair out. Just for example - no one seems to want to admit that most small businesses use commercial software as a very high percentage of their total IS investment. Assuming the software is not an orphan - most every commercial house is issuing patches and fixes for Y2K even as we speak. Check out http://support.microsoft.com and search for Y2K patches if you want to see a flock of them. And most other places are producing just as many. These patches fix many or most Y2K problems for a lot of businesses - and I haven't heard them mentioned here as solutions even once! A great deal of the custom accounting and point of sale software for small businesses is written in languages that make it fairly easy to check and repair - and you don't hear that mentioned either! Dbase, Foxpro, Clarion and Oracle - all can be altered much much much more easily than 1970's databases built and accessed by dozens or hundreds of COBOL modules. Now if someone just decides to ignore the problem - or get incompetent help - they are in trouble. But that is always true. The problem in medium sized business is more complex - they often use AS400 machines with custom programs and don't even have a compiler or source code (let me keep that for you) for the program. They either take a chance or replace the whole thing! Each situation is unique in the medium sized business world - and in a lot of cases they don't like what they are hearing. But my main concern is power, water and food. If I have that I figure I can get through most anything. And right now things don't look all that bad to me from that standpoint.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), October 20, 1998.

Paul- Thanks for your usual detailed, well-thought out response. I am in complete agreement that Y2K essentially has been viewed by our corporate management types as something that could indeed be put off, since it clearly would not affect anyone's "bottom line" until circa 2000. And, implicit in this tried-and-true management approach, is the assumption that, if needed, the date by which the project HAS to be completed can always be delayed if need be, even though it may cost more money, impact other planned projects, etc., etc. This management approach's implicit assumption will not work with Y2K, the deadlines (including deadlines for fiscal year 2000, for instance) cannot be extended -- not for any amount of money, not for any number of people suddenly assigned to the project. IT IS TOO LATE.

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), October 20, 1998.

Where did I receive information to FIRST accept and believe that there is a such a thing called the Y2K crisis? On the Internet, four months ago (June).

What would it take for me to believe that everything is now o.k.? Simple: See a a literal deluge of material on the Internet that everything is now o.k. See Y2K forums such as this begin a dramatic turn-around showing that everything will be o.k.

Someone out there in the cyberworld pointed me to just one web site to begin my search for information about Y2K. I found out (quickly) that there are many more places on the web to search this issue. So, again, show me the (overwhelming) evidence on the Internet to the contrary, and I will study the material, just as I did four months ago when I first heard of Y2k. Then I might begin to see that everything will be o.k. Are there such web sites? I haven't found them, though I admit I haven't recently looked.

-- JoeB (jbabinsky@theriver.com), October 21, 1998.

No one knows for certian. You can flip a coin and know it will be heads or tails. With this problem we could have millions of outcomes. Citibank could be ok and your local bank is not. The US power grid up, the rest of the world lights out. Six months worth of extra food costs about $600. for a family of four. If you spend $400 more on wood, water storage, emergency supplies, etc, you have $1,000 "invested" in preperations. You can always eat the food and burn the wood.

Paul Milne: Keep the posts coming. Some Pollyannas need to be pushed along. I enjoy the extreme viewpoint. As a "6", I like to hear from a "10" once and awhile.

-- Bill (bill@microsoft.com), October 21, 1998.

Paul M, I'm glad you came to visit us in Yourdon's forum. Clearly you are a thinker whereas some of us aren't (like me). Thanks everyone for the well wishes - I think what my situation reminds us of is that we all need ways to increase our personal effectiveness. The corporation isn't going to take care of any of us, in fact the corporation may be dying. We need to learn how to communicate effectively, organize our time and our space to get maximum benefit, change a tire, grow food, anything that increases our effectiveness. Don't focus your training on what helps the corporation, they may not be there tommorrow.

-- Amy Leone (leoneamy@aol.com), October 21, 1998.

Amy....like you the hours have been cut, no layoff, thank God., I have read through this thread and I will state my view, I believe alot of people like us lil folks who dont have much have a very difficult time when we see Paul, Gary, and others whom do have enough to move from the city and go to a "safe" place. It hurts. We do our best, work hard and so forth but simply put, there was not enough time and now hours cut, etc we can only do what we can to prepare. It disheartens me to see all these attacks on just about all of these threads. I am at the point of wondering, Is there somewhere where we can respect each other? I sure hope so. This to me, is just a taste of pre y2k, if the survival folks cant respect, God help us all. We should ALL respect each other, be opened minded and try not to offend each other, THE day is fast approaching when we shall miss each other and wish we did. Stop the name calling it is just plain childish.

-- sensible (sense@aol.com), October 21, 1998.

Madeline: After alllll this discourse, might I give you my very non- technical take on preparedness for "whatever" happens? I was thinking the other day as my husband and I were shopping for camping stoves, writing the dates on the canned foods, bottling water, stockpiling blankets, "What the HECK are we doing?" I see nothing but happy people, sunny skies, etc and think, "Are we crazy?" Then I realized something that day....50 years ago it was not unusual at ALL for every household to have serious emergency supplies, ok lets go back even 60-70 years ago. Back then, you couldn't just go to the mega-store in the middle of the night for whatever the hell you wanted. Things are soooo easy now, we live in SUCH a cushy society, we now normally have no need for emergency supplies. But hey, it's probably *always* a good idea to be prepared for disasters, natural and unnatural, big and small. I think of it as insurance for my family now, Y2K or NO Y2K. I know of several families that don't even have matches or a single flashlight in their home. Not one fire extinguisher and no first aid supplies beyond the cartoon-covered Band-Aids in their medicine cabinet. If nothing happens on 12/31/99 (which I doubt) then YEAH!!! I will be very happy! But hey if it does, we'll be ready.

Just my take Kellie

-- K. Heckert (bill_n_kellie91@hotmail.com), October 21, 1998.

Right on Paul Davis! You are a voice of reason and rational thinking. Don't be afraid to keep speaking up. You're in the trenches working on this thing, and the rest of us are mostly armchair philosophers and tourists who have become recently obsessed with firearms.

About Paul Milne. I used to visit the comp.year.2000 newsgroup. This was only a couple of months ago. Before Milne became well known, he posted some of the most abusive, foul-mouthed, and perverted language I've ever read. I grew used to seeing his posts and passing over them because they were really, incredibly, I-kid-you-not abusive and mean. I refused to open them and read them because they turned my stomach. I'm not a pollyanna, but I don't need to hear that kind of language.

Because he was generally perceived as an idiot and a raving lunatic, people began to talk about him. A lot of talk on the newsgroup was about how to get rid of him. But no one could censor him, of course, and he goes on ranting and raving.

Now that he has some notoriety, his language is much more measured and careful. He is glad that his profanity and foul language brought him a little bit of fame. But come year 2000, he will be eating crow, because he's so far off the deep end. I can't wait to laugh at him then.

By the way, no one disputes what he wants to say. It's the way he treats other people that's so vicious, demoralizaing, and uncivilized. There isn't an ounce of decency in this man, and if you had visited that newsgroup when he was in the heyday of his attacks and hateful bating, you'd agree.

-- Suzy (Suzy@redhot.com), October 22, 1998.

Well, Suzy, you're welcome to your opinion of Paul Milne and his image on csy2k. But, in all honesty, I've heard worse language by other posters in that forum as well as in other venues --- and certainly in daily life. I don't remember ONE epithet used by Mr. Milne that I have not heard on broadcast television or radio. Not saying much for the media is it?

Y2K is going to require a much thicker skin, I'm afraid. As they say, "This is Usenet. Wear a cup."


"You must not be so easilly offended. It makes life unnecessarily unpleasant for you." --- Isaac Asimov

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), October 22, 1998.

If someone reverts to bad language, abuse etc (I haven't read his stuff though), it usually means they've lost the argument, they consequently act like two year olds who've lost their rattles. It doesn't bother me, what was Kipling's quotation

"when you can keep your head when everyone else is losing theirs, you'll be a man my son".

-- Richard Dale (rdale@figroup.co.uk), October 22, 1998.

Regardless of anyone's "history" of posting on other forums, or even this one for that matter, I'd like to think that everyone is entitled to express their opinion, hopefully in a non-abusive and well thought out manner. I think that Paul Davis and Paul Milne are to both be commended for well researched and thought out opinions. As it happens, I personally agree mostly with Paul M., and disagree almost completely with Paul D., but that is not the point. The point is that everyone should try to match the interaction that the two Pauls had on this thread.

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), October 22, 1998.

Nonono, Richard. It's, "If you can keep your head, while all around you are losing theirs', you don't understand the situation."


"Non calentarum, largum vivirum" (Take it easy. Live longer.)

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), October 22, 1998.


Do I possess a sensitive mind? Yes. And I thank god for it. The mind can be polluted with garbage, just as a stream can be polluted. My mind is not "pure," but it's fairly balanced, and I choose not to pollute it with other people's profanity.

It's the coarse, rubberized, and thick sensitivities of our recent media culture that has led us to believe that it is all right to abuse, to condemn, to verbally attack and assault people. Hey, you say, just get with it, this is the culture, you have to be able to take it. I'm saying that I don't buy into your macho take on discourse. Angry abusive language is not all right. I'll say it again. It's not acceptable. It's a descent into the maelstrom of uncivility. You, by brushing off Milne's indency, by chiding a higher standard, are contributing to the decline of civility.

I have been reading this newsgroup since mid-summer, and it's taken a nastier turn lately, but doesn't remotely, even remotely, compare to the sorts of things Milne wrote in his heydey of rage. Please point out some examples, if you are so inclined, and I shall compare them.

Everyone has the right to post on this forum. No one should have the right to verbally abuse and attack others on this forum. That's my opinion, and I will stick to it for the sake of civility, culture, and human decency.

-- Suzy (Suzy@redhot.com), October 22, 1998.


While I empathize and largely agree with your stated position, I personally believe that you need to back off a step or two and observe that position from the perspective that Y2K may well (and in my opinion will) result in a "descent into the maelstrom of uncivility".

-- Hardliner (searcher@internet.com), October 22, 1998.

Thanks to everyone who responded! Someone made the comment that when they see volumes of Internet info coming out saying that everything will be o.k., that they would be inclined to believe that it will be o.k.. I wonder if for some people(not anyone on this forum of course), if it is a ride that they don't want to stop. I mean the people that are making money on this deal?

-- madeline (runner@bcpl.net), October 22, 1998.

And just who would that be, Madeline? The stockbrokers, bankers and financiers who are telling you everything's OK so they can ride their investments to the very end? The politicians who want to keep their cushy jobs and petty power? The agency bureuacrats who assure you that all is well, so they can keep their fat paychecks and perks? The corporate executives who lie to you to keep their obscene salaries and maintain their stock options?

Surely you're not referring to the few authors who are making a couple of grand trying to warn people that "something wicked this way comes." Nah. I'm sure you don't mean the bulk-food and survival equipment companies who are trying to make a few bucks by making your preparation easier.

I'm sorry if that seems a little abrupt. But I never did like that argument and certainly never expected to see it this late in the game.


"If you make people think they're thinking they'll love you; but if you really make them think they'll hate you."---Don Marquis

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), October 24, 1998.

I have got to stop posting at 5 am. In rereading my response, I came to see that that might be misinferred as having been directed AT Madeline, as if I were countering her argument. That was not my intent. Apologies beforehand if that's the way it sounded.


-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), October 24, 1998.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ