Writer of "The Crash of '99" just now "gets it"

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Newsweek's cover story for October 12, 1998 was "The Crash of '99" by Robert J. Samuelson. It covered all the reasons why there could be a recession or worse in 1999, except for one--Y2K.

It looks as if Robert J. Samuelson now "gets it". I saw a Newsweek story on the net today by him called "Self-Inflicted Cyber Wound?" The second line explaining this story is, "If the Y2K bug bites us, we'll deserve it. We could have prepared in time--and didn't."

Here's the link:


Even more interesting, the article points out that events similar to Y2K were predicted by a writer in the 1950's who said that technical and non-technical people would become isolated from each other and not communicate about these kinds of events.

Now that I think about it, the point Samuelson is trying to make is the same one the writer of "The Machine Stops" did in 1909. The Newsweek article also explains why econmists don't factor Y2K into economic forecasts--it's not an issue they've dealt with before, and they don't know how to quantify the effects of Y2K.

Excellent article! It's worth checking out.

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), December 08, 1998


Note that another author wrote about Y2K 4000 years ago (Tower of Babel in Genesis, first book of the Bible). Man, trying to reach godlike proportions, was stymied when God inflicted him with the inability to communicate. This was the vision I had when I first "got it". *Very* powerful image.

Note also that 1999 contains an upside-down 666, referenced in Revelation, the last book of the Bible.

-- a (a@a.a), December 08, 1998.

Mr. A, Those are some thought provoking points to ponder.

-- More Dinty Moore (Not @this time.com), December 08, 1998.

I don't believe Y2K and the outcome of it you can pin on God. We need to stop blaming the higher powers for own own demise. The Y2K bug is here because the computer master minds didn't prepare, it's simple as that.

-- bardou (bardou@baloney.com), December 08, 1998.

Kevin: I'm surprised Samuelson didn't mention y2k in the Newsweek article (didn't see it myself, I let the sub lapse), because he wrote a surprising mea culpa about y2k in his Washington Post column back last spring, calling it the most important story of the decade that the media had completely missed. I used it to try to persuade my wife, a hardcore DWGI, about the potential problems. Maybe he's one of those who think it's a hard and fast 1/1/2000 problem.

-- jdclark (yankeejdc@aol.com), December 08, 1998.

Very good article, except for one paragraph. His optimistic mis-representation of Yardeni's report on the 402 company disclosures, and the government. Yardeni was anything but optimistic about that, and the government's latest report card is bleaker than the first.

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), December 08, 1998.

What the hell is DWGI? TIA

-- Jimmy Bagga Doughnuts (jim1bets@worldnet.att.net), December 08, 1998.

DWGI stands for "Don't Want To Get IT"

Y'know, the type of folks who plug their ears and go "LALALALALALA...I CAN'T HEAR YOUUUUUUUU..."

-- Tim (pixmo@pixelquest.com), December 08, 1998.

ROFL Tim!!! You made me spill my coffee on the keyboard!

Now that I have this indelible picture of DWGI's, how am I supposed to keep a straight face when trying to get through to them?


-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), December 08, 1998.

Kevin, good post. Except what is at that link is a newer story, dated December 14, 1998, by the same author -- Self-Inflicted Cyber Wound? By Robert J. Samuelson.

Read it too.

You may want to e-mail a copy of the Newsweek Business Section article to your local newspapers investigative journalists. -- Diane

Also to comment on this article:

Newsweek Magazine Web-site, December 14, 1998 Issue http://www.newsweek.com/nw-srv/printed/us/bz/sa0124_1.htm Self-Inflicted Cyber Wound?

If the Y2K bug bites us, we'll deserve it. We could have prepared in time--and didn't. By Robert J. Samuelson

The Newsweek Web-site Contact us page is at:


Newsweek.com Editorial questions and comments WebEditors@newsweek.com

U.S. Edition Letters to the Editor for the U.S. print edition Letters@newsweek.com

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 08, 1998.

JDClark: read the post more carefully. Samuelson's entire article (meaning the current one) is entirely about Y2K. The earlier mea culpa, combined with this one, suggests he is a writer to watch on this issue.


-- Scott Johnson (scojo@yahoo.com), December 08, 1998.

To a@a.a

Don't even go there!

First of all, you're asking us to believe that a God who created our brains and expects us to use them gets pissed off when we start to use them too much.

Secondly, your analogy is backasswards.....

In the story about the Tower of Babel, the alleged problem was that they "all spoke the same language".

Y2K is opposite. If all computers "spoke the same language" and God decided to screw them up because this was a bad thing in his eyes, then your analogy would be correct.

However, the opposite problem is true. We are in this mess because our computers don't speak the same language. It's because we have dozens of ways of expressing a date field and because we have hundreds of computer languages and because they don't all communicate properly that we have a problem.

Our problem today is that we all speak different languages, and that our computers do also. Calling that a good thing is the root of racism and prejudice.

And then the bit about flipping the '999' to get '666'. Give me a break...........

I don't want to be too harsh as I used to follow that strange and bizarre way of looking at things in years past. However, thank God I came to my senses..............

Yeah.......on the a=6, b=12, c=18, etc. scale, the word "computer" equals 666. So does the name "Kissinger". Of course, so do about 10,000 names in the Chicago telephone directory.

Yup......and I guess that also 'proves' that Wayne Gretzky is evil too huh....I mean after all, his number 99 can be flipped to a 66. Add another 6 behind it which is how many Stanley Cup finals he has played in, and you get 666.

Besides 1999 is a contrived number anyhow. Christ was actually born in 4BC which makes it more accurately the year 2003. Of course, who's to say the years should be measured from his birth......shouldn't it be from his death or perhaps measured from the time he started his ministry?

You can 'prove' anything you want to with numbers.

-- Craig (craig@ccinet.ab.ca), December 08, 1998.

Scott: I did read it carefully. I was referring to the earlier Newsweek story: Oct. 12 Crash of 99. I was surprised that Samuelson left out mention of y2k in that article given his even earlier mea culpa last spring. In other words, he got it eight-nine months ago, but didn't mention it two months ago. Curious compartmentalization in his thinking, IMO.

-- jdclark (yankeejdc@aol.com), December 08, 1998.

Three Babs

Babel n. 1. In the Old Testament, the site of a tower reaching to heaven whose construction was interrupted by the confusion of tongues. 2. babel. a. A confusion of sounds or voices. b. A scene of noise and confusion.

1. The tower of Babel was an example of technological ambition and industry impaired by semantic ambiguity and duplicity. 2a. similar to the unmoderated discussion forums. 2b. similar to the post-y2k world. (now starting to play out in the infrastructure near you).

Babylon n. A city or place of great luxury, and often corruption.

This is the part of the world at risk of technical failures. Aboriginal cultures which do not use 20th century technology are not so much at risk.

Babble v-intr. 1. To utter a meaningless confusion of words or sounds. 2. To talk foolishly or idly; chatter. ... n. 1. Inarticulate or meaningless talk or sounds. 2. Foolish or idle talk; prattle.

This is what sometimes shows up in an open discussion, it is analogous to channel noise.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), December 08, 1998.

To Craig, et al,

There are many similarities between the Tower of Babel Problem and the Y2K Problem. It's all about the need for standards in technology and communication. The Y2k problem arises from the incomplete representation used for encoding dates. The problem of multiple date formats is compounded by the multiplicity of languages in which they are operated by.

Also there is more than just coincidental significance of the similarity of the numbers 999 and 666. I can confidently assert this after many years of esoteric study of symbol systems and representation models. The same areas of study have also shown that words with similar sounds or spellings also are related in unexpected ways, in other words, the lexical and phonetic similarity indicates a sematic relatedness. We are surrounded and immersed in metaphors, it only remains to decode them.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), December 08, 1998.

From the Congressional Record of May 11, 1998 - Senate Floor: Senator Bob Bennett (Chairman Year 2000 Committee) closing remarks:

I close with this observation about the importance of this entire issue. One of the experts with whom I have been in contact since I assumed this new chairmanship said to me, `The one thing we know for sure about this is that nobody has ever done it before. We have no historical precedent to guide us, to tell us how to handle this and what we can expect.' And, of course, he was accurate. Of course, that is a true summation of where we are.

Yet when I made that comment to another friend of mine, he said something that I think summarizes exactly the challenge we are facing. He said, `No, Bob, that is not true. We have a historic example. I said, `What is it?' He said, `the Tower of Babel.' He said, `The people got together and decided they were going to build a tower to heaven, and God didn't like it, so he fixed it so they could not talk to each other and that ended it.' He said, `That is the paradigm of what we are dealing with here, Y2K.' We are facing the possibility that after January 1 we cannot talk to each other because the world is all wired by computers, and if, indeed, that turns out to be the case, as was the case in Genesis, that will end it.

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@net.com), December 08, 1998.

uh, Craig, you're just about as wrong as one can be in a single post....from Genesis KJV:

10:5And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

They were building a tower, aspiring to reach hevan and become godlike;

10:6And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

Sounds like global connectivity to me (can you say World Wide Web?)

10:7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

From Websters: con7found 1 a. archaic : to bring to ruin : DESTROY. Self-explanatory.

Craig, computers use the same language to communicate and have done so pretty much since they were invented. It's called 10base2, otherwise known as ones and zeros. People, on the other hand, use different languages or protocols, to talk to each other, and to formulate their thoughts to computers (COBOL, FORTRAN, TCP, ASCII, RS-232, etc).

You have a few things to learn. For one, don't assume that you can open a book in the library and find the meaning of life. What texts there are on the subject, like the Bible, are mainly allegorical. Don't look for the answer in science books either (unless you're talking about microtubules, *then* you're close).

Also, don't try to be so anthropomorphic about God. God is a concept, one that must be learned on a personal basis, regardless of what your preacher might tell you.

And finally, just because you cannot find meaning in something, don't assume that there is no meaning there. Just because some people have hoaxed flying saucers does not mean that the UFO phenomenon is not real and unexplained. It may not be aliens. It may not even be optical illusions. It is probably *something else*. *And it may be different things to different people.*

Life is full of synchronicities. It is the Internet of the natural world. You too will start to wonder about the upside down 666 "coincidence" when TS begins THTF next year. And you will also wonder about Babel. And Babylon. And your belief system in general.

-- a (a@a.a), December 08, 1998.

I think the Tower of Babel and the Titanic are analogies very relevant to Y2K. On some level, they may be even more than just analogies.

Y2K is the ultimate example of short-sightedness, or if you prefer, spiritual blindness--the sleeple. What's the old quote..."Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it."

The "Self-Inflicted Cyber Wound?" article points out the short- sightedness that got us into the Y2K mess that we're in now.


-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), December 09, 1998.

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