I think I finally summarized it.

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

Posters here have shared so many great letters that they've sent to their local newspapers in the effort to wake up DGIs. Lots go into some detail that I worry might cause our local sheep to glaze up. Please give me some criticism on this letter I'm going to send to my town (2500 circulation) rag... there must be a short, concise, surefire way to wake these sheep up, and keep them awake.

Dear Editor:

Six months or so ago, the President, in addressing the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem, stated that we might see interruptions in power, water, sewer and phone service at rollover time.

And recently, some Y2K test results and analysis indicate yes, there's a considerable possibility that power (and subsequently: water, sewer and phone) will temporarily go down, due to the control computers crashing. Our own power company, [insert yours here] says they cannot guarantee service because [put the reasons your company gave here].

Since Y2K has yet to make it to this editorial section, I've decided there are not two, but three types of people in this town.

People who have never heard of Y2K.

People who have heard of Y2K but think there will be absolutely no interruptions whatsoever, period, drop topic.

People who understand that, without power, you can't go to work to pick up your paycheck to cash at the bank in order to buy groceries at [your local grocery store here] since the food in your fridge ran out after three days, along with your refrigerated medications.

Here's hoping the third group knows to lay in a month's worth of food, heating fuel and necessities in the event that power is down for more than four days, and won't wait until the eleventh hour(a year from now) to compete with 100 million other households for these items! I want [your town]'s citizens to be in the third category.

[End of Proposed Article}

I realize this is pretty sophomoric, but I'm looking for shock value, not long-winded explanations of why the Year 2000 might be a problem. Any criticism? What to add/delete/change? Thanks....from a 10.

-- Lisa (finally@breakthrough.com), November 30, 1998


You may want to quote the following from Infomagic or paraphrase him.

"Of course, many of these failures will be relatively easy to fix, but others will require an effort beyond the capabilities of the business and they will not be fixed before the business itself fails (this is particularly true for small and medium businesses using packaged software). In addition, the great majority of these failures will have at least some domino effect on related customers and vendors. To make it even worse, virtually everybody will be facing these problems at about the same time, leading to a chaos in which actually fixing the problems becomes almost impossible. At the very minimum this will lead to an economic disaster, JUST FROM THE ACT OF FIXING THE SYSTEMS THEMSELVES, without even taking into account the effect of the unfixed systems, of embedded systems or of an already declining global economy."


-- MVI (vtoc@aol.com), November 30, 1998.

Ask them to find out why...

Why would our countrys government spend $600 billion and public corporations all across America begin to admit in their SEC filings how much theyre spending to fix something that is no problem. Why would the Canadian military publicly admit they are preparing for Y2K? Or the U.K. government try to downplay a leaked Scottish Home Office memo? Why would our own United States Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology Issue the following report on October 8, 1998 at http://www.house.gov/reform/gmit/y2k/ y2k_report/IIreport.htm] with an executive summary at http:// www.house.gov/reform/gmit/y2k/y2k_report/Isummary.htm, (discussed in an earlier thread) that among other things CLEARLY says:

It is now clear that a large number of Federal computer systems simply will not be prepared for January 1, 2000. At the same time, the utilities industry, the financial services industry, the telecommunications industry, vital modes of transportation, and other indispensable industrial sectors are all at risk. ...


The Year 2000 problem could result in a stunning array of technological failures. Air traffic could be delayed or even grounded; telephone service could be interrupted; breakdowns in the production and distribution of electricity could bring widespread power failures; automatic teller machines might malfunction; traffic lights could stop working; timeclocks at factories might malfunction. Government payments, including checks from the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury, and the Veterans Benefits Administration, could be interrupted; military technology, including the Global Positioning Satellite System, could malfunction. Closer to home, devices with a timing function, including microwave ovens, personal computers, video cassette recorders, and climate control systems could all falter or even shut down entirely.

Some early failures have already occurred...

...Failures such as these may be the tip of the iceberg. Solving the problem, however, is an expensive process.


The Federal Government must be sure that the most important systems at the key Federal agencies are revamped before January 1, 2000. Similar action needs to be taken by nations around the globe. By failing to address the Year 2000 problem, the United States could suffer severe disruptions in the delivery of essential governmental and private industry services. It has been suggested that this could even precipitate an economic recession.


Based on the investigation and oversight hearings conducted by the Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology, the committee finds as follows:

1. The Federal Government is Not on Track to Complete Necessary Year 2000 Preparations Before January 1, 2000


Several additional factors raise concerns about Federal Year 2000 preparations. One is that the focus has been almost exclusively on mission critical systems. The problem is that mission critical systems are only a small percentage of the total number of Federal computer systems. Many of these secondary systems are important even if not mission critical. It is unwise to ignore their Year 2000 compliance.


A crucial component of Year 2000 remediation is the exchange of data between organizations. Fixing internal systems simply is not enough. Federal agencies have data exchange partners throughout society including other Federal agencies, State and local governments, and private and non-profit organizations. These data exchanges must be tested through cooperative effort. Current indications are that the Federal agencies lag badly in this area.

[Highlight: A crucial component of Year 2000 remediation is the exchange of data.]


2. Some State and Local Governments are Lagging in Year 2000 Repairs and in Many Cases Lack Reliable Information on Their Year 2000 Status.

While the data on Federal systems reflects a somewhat gloomy picture, at least overall data exist. The same cannot be said for the status of State and local entities. Subcommittee hearings found that there is limited aggregated data for Year 2000 activity at the State and local levels.

From the data that are available, States and cities are at varying degrees of readiness. Many smaller municipalities are stuck in the awareness stagestill trying to understand the problem. Large cities have made more progress in converting their systems but have not fully assessed embedded systems, identified exchange partners, or developed contingency plans. Also, some States and larger cities are concentrating on outreach efforts with institutions (universities, private entities), while many smaller governments are left to struggle on their own.


3. The Year 2000 Status of Basic Infrastructure Services, Including Electricity, Telecommunications, and Water, is Largely Unknown.

No one knows the overall extent of our nation-wide vulnerability to Year 2000 risks, or the extent of our readiness. No assessment across private and public sectors has been undertaken.


Inadequate attention to the Year 2000 problem by electrical utilities is seen as the cause for "potentially major catastrophes," writes a representative of large electrical users. Major industrial power users are "concerned" and "dismayed" that "electrical utilities lag behind other industries" in preparing their computers for the next millennium. The lack of action in the past is most likely to lead to very high costs when the Y2K problem is dealt with on an emergency basis.


4. Embedded Microchips are Difficult to Find, Difficult to Test, and Can Lead to Unforeseen Failures

Although initially the Year 2000 problem was understood mainly in terms of softwareoperating systems, databases, and other programsthe vulnerability of embedded chips has been widely publicized. There are between 25 and 40 billion such chips in use around the world. Many of them are hard to access, encased in products or equipment. Some are simply invisible: the owners and operators of the equipment do not know that it depends on embedded chips, or at least do not know which functions depend on the chips.

Organizations addressing the Year 2000 problem generally understand the embedded chip aspect and are working diligently on it. Based on subcommittee hearings and investigation, however, it appears that the sheer number and relative inaccessibility of embedded chips will overwhelm these efforts. The result will be failureoften unforeseen...


5. Strong Leadership from Senior Management is Necessary to Address the Year 2000 Problem

The key to success is support from senior level management. Awareness of the Year 2000 problem among the technology experts at an organization is meaningless if those experts do not have the backing and direction of senior management. Year 2000 repairs deliver no new benefit to an organization. Management tends to see the repairs as a burden to be delayed for as long as possible. This is in part because of the persistent belief that someone will invent a silver bullet to fix the problem. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. Instead, management must bite the bulletdevoting considerable resources to the repair effort. Inevitably, this means taking support away from other projects. Senior management must make hard choices, but the process begins with recognizing there is a problem and, if it is to be solved, organized action must occur in a timely way.

For too long, Federal management has been in denial about the Year 2000 problem.


The current evidence points to considerable Year 2000 failure unless the rate of progress throughout society improves considerably. In too many sectors, there is simply no reliable information about Year 2000 vulnerability. We cannot head into the new millennium unprepared. It is time for the President to declare that the Year 2000 problem is a National Priority. If sufficient progress is not made by an intermediate deadline, he may even need to escalate the Year 2000 problem to a National Emergency.

The point of calling for such urgency is not to trigger panic, but in fact to avoid panic. If this problem does not receive the attention it demands during the next six to nine months, and if we allow the date change to approach without knowing our vulnerability, panic will be the inevitable result. The only way to avoid this is to act now. The President must sound the alarm and address to the Nation now in order to avoid panic later.


The Year 2000 problem must not be allowed to spark a national crisis. Good measures of Year 2000 readiness will be both a technological and psychological antidote to panic.


5. Citizens Should Demand Information on Year 2000 Readiness from their State and Local Governments, their Utility Companies, and Other Organizations upon which they are Dependent.

As noted above, there are at least two significant barriers to effective Year 2000 remediation: (1) Management denialthe reluctance of senior management to recognize the Year 2000 problem and make the hard choices necessary to solve it; and (2) fear of legal liabilitywhich can have the effect of stifling the kind of disclosure and exchange of information necessary to solve the problem. These barriers to serious Year 2000 efforts must be broken down. Perhaps the most effective means of doing so is public pressure. Profit-making organizations respond to pressure from consumers; political institutions respond to pressure from constituents; non-profit organizations respond to their donors and public opinion as well.


...Furthermore, the Year 2000 problem raises the specter of widespread panic. There has been talk of customers withdrawing their money out of banks, stockpiling weapons, and taking other steps that could be more dangerous than the technological failure itself. One of the best antidotes to this panic is information. People need to speak directly with their banks, utility companies, and other organizations whose failure would have drastic consequences. They need to assure themselves that the fixes will be made. They need to knowbased on direct contactthat there is no reason to panic. And they need to know what reasonable steps should be taken to prepare as January 1, 2000 approaches...

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), November 30, 1998.

Printed. Sent. Lets see what happens.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), November 30, 1998.

Lisa, I've read a lot of summaries. Most of them are 20 pages. As you said,

"Lots go into some detail that I worry might cause our local sheep to glaze up."

I like a mint glaze, mind you, but........ :-)

It's really hard to boil Y2K down to a sound bit. That's why the networks have had a hard time, and it's why a lot of magazines and newspapers haven't done a good job with it.

I think yours is good. Start with it and then you can work in the 20 pages -- in 20 follow on letters or columns.

-- rocky (rknolls@hotmail.com), November 30, 1998.

rocky, good point. It's not just one letter or e-mail, it's making Y2K correspondence a way of life and persistently knocking, repeatedly, at the media door.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), November 30, 1998.

Many must be thinking, but few will say:
The more people realize what's coming down, the harder it will be for me to finish my own preparations.

My darker angel suggests that this thought may be a factor in the reluctance of government and most major media to address this proactively, as was done so effectively this year in the All Monica, All The Time campaign. Congr. Horn, Sen. Bennett and others to the contrary notwithstanding. These folks get no press, except on C-Span.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), December 01, 1998.

Tom, you're right, I think... people don't believe that there is enough time to manufacture all the food and supplies by Y2K in order to have every household stocked up, and some on this forum-- hell, maybe MOST on this forum?--- have written the DGIs off. (see "not enough lifeboats" thread - if you can stomach it)

So let's just get down, right here, right now. How many people should survive Y2K in this country? What's a sustainable number? 100 million? 20 million? 250 thousand?

Who? Jews? Catholics? Capricorns? Leos? Texans? Who deserves to live? Who's gonna die first, and for whom will that be "a good thing"?

Texas will rule: that's who Darwin's got the big money on. I swear today I'm going to make sure this letter gets to EVERY small town in this state. I am so infuriated. And I've been dealing with this since February.

Abandoning their fellow Americans!! God save their souls.

-- Lisa (broken@heart.com), December 01, 1998.

Lisa -- maybe the massive interest in the movie, Titanic, indicated some sort of subliminal awareness of the Y2K situation to come. The wrecking of the Titanic surely is an appropriate metaphor here. So many parallels:

The ship is the most advanced and luxurious ever built. Everyone has utter confidence in its stability and safety. "unsinkable!". The wealthy passengers partying in luxury, unaware of what's in store. Steerage passengers equally unaware, but wrapped up in their immediate concerns. The ship's offficers smugly certain all is well. Too few lifeboats aboard for all the passengers,inadequate drill in their use. Warnings of ice ahead received from Rappahannock, Caronia, Noordam, Baltic, Amerika, and Californian. Warning of pack ice and bergs from Mesaba overlooked in press of passenger radio traffic. Captain leaves the bridge. Final message from Californian, stuck in pack ice, is rejected by Titanic's radioman. After the collision the captain is wakened and goes to the bridge. Initial hearings on the disaster recommend design changes and additional lifeboats. Recently analysis shows that the wrought iron used to make the rivets joining the hull plates was adulterated with slag, making them brittle.

Wish I could draw some righteous moral here, but no luck. Looks like we got to dance with them that brung us.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), December 01, 1998.


My mind keeps going back to "Titanic" as well. We hit the iceburg in 1997, which was the last year the typical company could start their Y2K project and get it finished in time.

The ship is sinking, but most people don't know it yet. There are no lines at the lifeboats.

I have asked myself if the movie and Y2K have a connection. It is possible. I do hope that "Deep Impact" and "Independence Day" aren't premonitions, too!

The interesting thing about the Titanic is that there was an author who wrote a novel in 1898 about an "unsinkable" luxury liner that sunk, and that had many, many parallels to what would happen with the Titanic 14 years later.

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), December 02, 1998.

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