No Need To Worry Says Readers Digest : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

According to a reprint in my Readers Digest today taken from Miami Herald Tropic,alarmists are just serving up a big helping of baloney.There were a few serious lines but most of it was pablum as was a front story yesterday in our county daily which listed how well the county is doing. Neither made any mention of doing individual or even group preparation. Well, good, my mind is at rest and I can sleep well tonight without worry---better make another trip for groceries tho first.

-- Sue (, November 18, 1998


This is the sad sorry-assed article.......

Zero Hour Where will we be when the computers strike 00? By John Dorschner From Miami Herald Tropic

As the clock strikes midnight on Friday, December 31, 1999, passenger planes suddenly plummet to the ground. High-rise elevators get stuck in the basement. The electricity goes off. Hospitals suffer so many malfunctions that thousands die. Others die as their pacemakers go haywire.

Over the next several days, civilization keeps crumbling. On Monday, January 3, 2000, ATM machines refuse to give money. The IRS can't collect taxes or send refunds. Factory assembly lines shut down. Grocery stores run out of supplies. Hungry people riot. Nuclear plants start melting down.

Could a computer glitch in the year 2000 cause the end of the world as we know it? Or are alarmists just serving up a big helping of baloney?

Experts call it "the Y2K problem"--Y for year and 2K for two "kilo," or two thousand. Basically, while trying to save costs, the geniuses who put the world on microchips were a bit shortsighted. Whenever a computer program called for the date, programmers coded the year using only two digits: 61 for 1961 and so on -- right on up to 1999, which is coded as 99.

Oops. What happens in 2000? Unless changed, computers may mistake "00" for 1900 -- and go nuts trying to deal with the plunge into the past.

"In January 2000, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and a dozen other cities could resemble Beirut," warned Ed Yourdon, a veteran software consultant and author of Time Bomb 2000. He has moved to rural New Mexico, where he has fireplaces for heat and solar panels for electricity.

In a survey of 283 professionals who work on the Y2K problem, 84 percent thought the situation would at least cause a drop of 20 percent or more in the stock market. Ed Yardeni, a stock-market strategist, believes that there's a "70-percent chance" the computer problem will trigger worldwide recession. "A lot of countries are toast," he told USA Today earlier this year.

But David Starr, chief information officer for the Knight Ridder publishing company, thinks Y2K has been twisted into a millennial horror story. "This is the most over-hyped technology thing in my whole career," he says.

REVENGE OF THE NERDS. Back in the 1980s, it began dawning on programmers that the two-digit-based systems might still be around at the turn of the century. Among the first to deal with the problem were government agencies. But in corporate America, the computer nerds faced a challenge: how do you persuade a chief executive to shell out a hundred million bucks to fix a problem he can't see? The answer: scare the hell out of him.

Listen to Alan Bramblett, computer guru at Baptist Health Systems of South Florida: "I like it when I hear people screaming the sky is falling. If it weren't for the extremists, maybe nobody would be listening."

Today organizations are spending a ton of money to fix a two-digit bit of software. The federal government estimates it will pay $5.4 billion to correct its Y2K problems. General Motors says it's going to spend as much as $500 million; Citibank $650 million.

That pales beside the overall cost of up to $600 billion worldwide predicted by GartnerGroup, an international consulting firm.

GartnerGroup could stand to make a lot of money from Y2K fears: with more than 11,000 clients around the world, it is a leading consultant on Y2K issues.

But Gartner, saying Y2K represents only a small percentage of its business, denies it is exploiting the situation. Its Y2K research director, Lou Marcoccio, says its figures are based on data from clients, including 87 governments, 78 large U.S. companies and worldwide polling by 11 universities.

TICKTOCK, DOOMSDAY CLOCK? Others argue that the more closely each Y2K doomsday scenario is examined, the less likely doom seems.

What about people dropping dead because their pacemakers go berserk? "That doesn't make sense," says a spokesperson for St. Jude Medical, Inc., a major manufacturer of pacemakers. Pacemakers have a timing device -- but it doesn't care about the month, much less the year.

Then there's electricity. According to a Reuters report, Sherry Burns, a CIA computer specialist, has warned the agency's U.S. employees to put extra blankets on their beds because the electricity might go off. But Virginia Power, which serves the suburbs where many CIA employees live, fully expects to provide electricity on January 1, 2000. "The CIA may be overstating its case on this," a spokesman says.

Now to banks. They're crucial because their computers measure money over time (certificates of deposit, mortgage payments, etc.). Ed Yourdon calculates that because 15 percent of software projects are generally late, of the more than 10,000 banks approximately 1500 "won't finish their remediation work."

But bank regulators dispute Yourdon's dire prediction. Last September the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported that only 23 of the 6,190 institutions it regulates were making unsatisfactory progress, and they still had 15 months to catch up. Other regulators report similar findings.

What if the stock exchanges malfunction? Gregor Bailar at the National Association of Securities Dealers says the Nasdaq exchange is actually "a bit ahead of schedule," and other stock exchanges fully expect to be ready for Y2K.

THINGS THAT GO BUMP. "I'm constantly amazed," says Peter Kowalchuk of Otis Elevator, "at the attention being paid to things that can fall." Kowalchuk says that, unless fixed, some elevators might return to the first floor and reset themselves, causing passengers to wait longer for service. Of course, if there were an overall power failure, elevators would stop operating. But even Gartner's experts predict that power "will continue mostly uninterrupted."

What about airplanes? The Federal Aviation Administration was slow to react to Y2K, but it has been racing to catch up. The agency's programmers have plowed through 23 million lines of code. The FAA says it should be ready by June 30, 1999.

And nuclear meltdown? "The way nuclear plants are designed," says Dennis Klinger of Florida Power & Light Company, "the worst thing that would happen is it would shut down." To be extra careful, federal regulators say they will shut down nuclear plants that don't have their computers fixed by mid-1999.

GETTING WITH THE PROGRAMMERS. Yourdon and others say the predictions of completing Y2K work on time are based in part on a false assumption. One problem: a world-wide shortage of programmers.

Many U.S. companies, though, say they're not having trouble. Some are doing the work with existing staff; others are hiring without a problem. but if the United States is doing fine, say the alarmists, we could still be dragged into chaos because the rest of the world is way behind us.

Again, GartnerGroup's estimates are gloomy: 23 percent of businesses and government agencies haven't even started work on Y2K, based on surveys with 15,000 companies in 87 countries. "We are very concerned," says Mohamed Muhsin, the World Bank's Y2K point man. "Most countries appear to be waking up to the issue only now."

Ahmad Kamal, head of the United Nations' Y2K task force, is also concerned. "Everybody will have to be compliant," he says, "because the danger of not being compliant is too great."

SMUG AS A BUG? Depending on your viewpoint, those who down-play Y2K are either reassuring or suspiciously smug.

But even GartnerGroup's Lou Marcoccio agrees that a lot of bad information is around. The consulting company says "the United States is in pretty good shape" U.S. infrastructure and critical services face the "potential for relatively minor problems and some inconveniences." And while he believes some industry segments will have trouble, Marcoccio says the idea that the United States is going to grind to a halt is "garbage."

So what could fail? We won't have to wait until January 1, 2000, to find out. Airlines sell tickets up to a year in advance, and customers can start booking for 2000 next month. Different computer systems throughout the world have to link up, and that will be a test of how well the converted systems are working together. Soon after, the corporate-government fiscal years start kicking in.

"When the time comes," says Stanford University's Avron Barr, "you'll know what broke."


-- Andy (, November 18, 1998.

Ah yes, glasshopper, but then it will be too freakin' late! Spot the brain cell!!!

And of course you *WON'T* know what's broke, because the nature of the systemic meltdown will ensure that you can't find out.

But you will notice the silence, for a while at least.

Then the fan (humour me...) will distribute the shit in all directions.

To paraphrase the undertaker in "Dad's Army", "we're doomed, doomed I tell ye!"

-- Andy (, November 18, 1998.

This could have been very effective, a very important beginning.

It will, instead, actually prevent many (possibly millions worldwide) from even beginning to prepare. They will instead have to be "unconvinced" bout these false __assumptions__; then convinced there will be problems that "mother" government can't prevent, then have to be convinced to begin to take the initiative to begin to prepare.

This one hurt.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, November 18, 1998.

The scary thing is that a lot of people I know take any objective information (as opposed to subjective opinions) in Reader's Digest as gospel.

2 years from today: we're all in our survivalist retreats, maybe with friends. Maybe some of us are trying to expand over the community. The cities are burnt-out disaster areas controlled by gangs who rule over starving people. "Damn it, I shouldn't have believed all that stuff about it not being major!" "Believed it?? I WROTE IT!" Biff.


-- Leo (, November 18, 1998.

You know, some day you folks scare me more than the computer problem

-- someone (, November 18, 1998.

I hope that the sheeple of the world bleave this article written in the readers digest. this will help them go back to sleep,and make them feel warm and secure , it will help so that they are not out there compeating for the food and supplies prior to the down fall. I give the ones who have not prepaired for this three months It will kill off most of the ones who have been laughing at me for the last two years.

was it raining when moses built the ark?


-- Ron (, November 18, 1998.

No matter what you think might happen, that article still sucked.

However, I do think it is a sign that the dialog is moving into the mainstream.

-- Buddy (DC) (, November 18, 1998.

Reader's Digest just wants to protect their own interest. If they reported to their readers that there was in fact a problem in solving the y2k problems... there wouldn't be any need for their readers to renew their old subscriptions.

Texas Terri

-- Texas Terri (, November 18, 1998.

In the past, Readers Digest had some spooky connections with the US government.

-- Ken D. (, November 18, 1998.

This is irresponsible 'journalism' that results in one step forwards, two steps back for any of us who are trying to help folks get it. What's next... T.V. Guide? What a blown opportunity.

-- Robert Michaels (, November 18, 1998.

Yes, Buddy, but getting Y2K into the mainstream is worthless -- worse than worthless -- if it is sending the wrong message. ("Oh yeah, I read all about Y2K, everything's going to be fine, 'cause thats what Reader's Digest and all the other responsible rags are saying.")

-- Jack (, November 18, 1998.

Ah what the heck, only old people subscribe to the Digest anyhoot, except maybe in doctor's offices u see it often. I used to sell subscriptions to the RD, and beleive me only old folks read it . Just ask uncle deedah.

-- cra z (, November 18, 1998.

Mongo/Ron said, "was it raining when moses built the ark?"

ROFL!!! Sorry, Mongo, but Moses didn't build an ark. I know what you meant, but it really was funny!

-- Gayla Dunbar (, November 18, 1998.

so who the hell reads readers digest anymore?

-- ed (, November 18, 1998.

My younger brother, really!

-- Uncle Deedah (, November 18, 1998.

On the bright side, maybe Reader's Digest won't be around in 2000.

Or, what would happen to their CIO if one year subscriptions started failing in 1999?

-- Kevin (, November 18, 1998.

Your 65 year old Grandma in Tampa read Readers Digest, but she also reads the Weekly World News. Who gives a rats a**! Make up your mind and prepare. Provide information to your friends and family. Forget about anyone who bases their future on a Readers Digest article. They deserve what they will get. The masses are always the last to know, and the first to suffer. Watch the "C" people (CEO,CIO,CFO,etc..) when they start to bail out, the battle is over.

-- Bill (, November 19, 1998.

Hey Bill - they've already started to bail!!! Ask the Walton Feed people for example - Beverly Hills? Yeah, so what's new?

-- Andy (, November 19, 1998.

No, it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark. A kind old lady gave me a subscription to Reader's Digest, however I never seem to find the time to read it and it just stacks up each month. Articles like the one in Reader's Digest just add to the confusion of many people trying to decide what to believe and what to do or not do. I think people who are hearing about y2k just want the truth so badly, but they don't know just who IS telling the truth. I am concerned for everyone, especially the elderly! Blondie

-- Blondie Marie (, November 19, 1998.

Why are you all surprised? Reader's Digest has been know for years as the American Isvestia. . .

-- Hardliner (, November 19, 1998.


-- Blondie Marie (, November 19, 1998.

NO! NO! NO! Hardliner, you mean PRAVDA . After all, to quote a great story by RAH "Pravda means Truth".


-- Chuck a Night Driver (, November 19, 1998.

"If they reported to their readers that there was in fact a problem in solving the y2k problems... there wouldn't be any need for their readers to renew their old subscriptions." --- Texas Terri

BINGO. The most terse and to-the-point description of our biggest problem. There's your bottom line, kids. Thanks, Terri.


"I made some studies, and reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it. I can take it in small doses, but as a lifestyle, I found it too confining. It was just too needful; it expected me to be there for it ALL the time, and with all I have to do, I had to let something go." ---Trudy the Bag Lady (In Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe)

-- Hallyx (, November 19, 1998.

Well thats a load off my mind!

-- Richard Dale (, November 19, 1998.

RE: reliability of RD

When I was young and trusting, I wrote a piece for RD -- the kind they love -- about a young woman who was just out of the hospital....she saw a pickup overturn and catch fire, ran out of her house (jumped a fence) and rescued the poor guy inside by dragging him out through a broken window. Saved the unconcsious guy's life, got burned a little.

Anyway, the story was set to run in RD. Editor called and expressed concern that the guy "wasn't conscious". "Didn't he say anything?" ed wanted to know. Well, no -- he was knocked out.

"Are you sure? Because the higher ups would prefer it if the rescuer and the guy could exchange some words."

EXCUSE ME? The guy was dead to the world...maybe he mumbled a few things....

Gist of this longwinded tale is that they never ran the piece. Editor said, several times, "too bad the guy didn't say anything..."

I always felt that if I managed to come up with a little inventive conversation, that $5000 would have been mine....

And I still wonder how many other writers, perhaps more desperate for funds that I was (and I was REAL desperate), can "remember" the details RD REALLY wants....

Anita Evangelista

-- Anita Evangelista (, November 19, 1998.

I swear, it's like there's one article that keeps getting passed around from publication to publication, like the proverbial Christmas Fruitcake. "Planes are going to fall from the sky. Elevators will get stuck..." They change the wrapping a little, so we don't notice that it's the same cake from last year, and they think they're fooling us. Do these people get paid by the word to plagarize others?

Journalism, like government, civility and creativity are dead in this society. Hope the iteration of civilization is a bit wiser...

-- pshannon (, November 19, 1998.

ooops - "Hope the NEXT iteration of civilization is a bit wiser..."

-- pshannon (, November 19, 1998.

Okay, lets step back a little and see this, in context, as a Yin- Yang, tug-of-war.

Disinformation is a way of life for a good many so-called powerful organizations? So is Truth for others. Have you noticed however hard one group trys to keep the lid on a story, it usually blows off, despite their best efforts? Y2K is no different. Come January, no matter how hard they try, the lid will start lifting. For the about 70% calm down, no problem disinformation articles/reports floating out there now, I still see about 30%, calling/leaking the truth as they see it. I suspect that the truth teller investigative journalists will rise in popularity once people, reporters included, really get what is at stake here. Early next year, I suspect the article and TV show ratio will be about 50-50% and then the percentage will tip on the side of Truth, preparation and creating community. Panic just does not work, for anyone. Calm preparation does. Facing a challenge does.

Remember Y2K information meltdown is a work in process, and not fixed. Only the end point is fixed in time. Events will shift. It happens.


-- Diane J. Squire (, November 19, 1998.

I'm sorry, but I gotta do this:

Once again, Diane, in your honest and endearing attempt to back up your perspective on this situation, you casually bandy about that word "truth" in a dangerous way. (IMHO)

I believe you should remove that word from your Y2K vocabulary. No-one has a lock on the "truth." While it appears to me, from your writings, that you and I are on the same side of the fench, I would NEVER EVER tell anyone else that my perspective represents the "truth" or that something like that Reader's Digest trash is NOT the "truth."

That is one of the biggest problems with this issue. There are very few people willing to say that nobody can say for sure how it will shake out. Ed Yourdon is one of the few. Read his crystal ball piece. You say - "Disinformation is a way of life for a good many so-called powerful organizations?" How do you know that that author and his/ her editors don't believe wholeheartedly that every word of what they printed wasn't the "truth?" Etc. I could go on, but it really comes down to -

Nobody knows for sure, nobody knows...

-- pshannon (, November 19, 1998.

That quote from "David Starr" seemed oddly familiar. Now I remember:

Wednesday, June 24, 1998

Russ Kelly's Y2K Report Exclusive!


Unreported or under reported by the press, David Starr, former CIO of Readers Digest, and widely quoted as saying that the year 2000 problem was not a very big deal, and was mostly a story put out by contractors and others with product to sell, is no longer CIO of Readers Digest. According to sources at Readers Digest, Starr's leaving occured over the Memorial day week-end. No replacement has been named.

Now there's a great source, eh? The former CIO of RD who has consistently gone on record with complete "denial" for months. Sheesh.

We currently subscribe to RD and have done so for years. My kids have used the Word Power section to build their vocabularies and we've enjoyed many of the articles and stories. None of us read it for hard news.

And yes, I agree, this was a major missed opportunity, but what would you expect from the former employer of a CIO who's in serious denial?

-- Mac (, November 19, 1998.

Sorry pshannon. I should say "Today's Truth, is something different tomorrow." It shifts like the wind as well, because that is what happens when living within uncertainty. Truth is also a "work in process."

I fallback to knowing that information can be used to either "control" or "empower." That's a "fixed" truth.


-- Diane J. Squire (, November 19, 1998.

Phew! What a relief to see these postings, was beginning to think the regulars had abandoned the forum, or perhaps had been "de jagerised".

-- Richard Dale (, November 20, 1998.

So David Starr isn't CIO for Readers Digest anymore. Anyone know why? Could two-year subscriptions have started failing?

-- Kevin (, November 20, 1998.

My local electric utility put out a rather cheerful account of its Y2K preparations, stating that it is working hard and that everything is so good that a local bank decided not to buy a generator as backup in case there's problems. Why am I not reassured? Maybe because they were just too darn optimistic...even if they've been working on it since 1994 as they say, they'll just be getting around to replacing software in late summer next year.

More candles, more wood, more lamp oil.....

-- Karen Cook (, November 20, 1998.

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