Never Never Land : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Three Questions rolled into one: What constitutes TEOTWAWKI?

What lies between TEOTWAWKI and TEOTW?

At what point (Cory Hamasaki 103, 106, etc.,) does it become moot?

My two cents:

When we read TEOTWAWKI stuff like Infomagic's post in 103, and then a few weeks later see references to the upcoming Cory 106 that will make Infomagic's post in 103 look pollyanna, I have to wonder. Will we see in a few weeks after 106 something like why 106 was pollyanna? Where does it end, or does it? Seems like we may have many degrees of TEOTWAWKI. What is your definition? Does a TEOTWAWKI scale exist: an analog to the Diane scale or the WDCY2K scale? I mean, what the hell are we talking about anyway. How much "room" is there between Infomagic's 103, the upcoming 106, and TEOTW. Why not just go from TEOTWAWKI to TEOTW and be done with it. After a certain point, it is moot.

In other words, we reach a point of no return (in these discussions) where things are so bad that one must ask: What is the point of discussing something even worse? At this point is what I will call Never-Never Land. We will Never be able to deal with something "worse", since we will Never even be able to deal with something that is "less bad" than "worse." Problems will happen quickly, but panic may be quicker still. It seems to me that this is where at least some of the discussion is headed, and in the near future.

After reading the Infomagic post in Cory 103, I came away thinking that if he is anywhere near correct, the only thing we could do, from a preparation standpoint, is to become as self-sufficient as possible, and do this on a local/community wide basis. This makes sense to me even if we are thinking a '4' or '5'. Lone individuals/families may not survive. But this also leads me to think, OK, well if that is the case, what will the next response level be to an even more dire scenario than Cory 103? I do not think there is one. Do you? Am I missing something here? Doesn't "worse" than Infomagic's post in Cory 103 become moot at this point?

Part of the issue here is that we humans try to categorize things, even if they defy categorization. Perhaps it is part of human nature. The various scales of Y2K impact are an example of these attempts. We want to understand. We want to "get our arms around it". We want to categorize and define. We try. Sometimes we can't. Too many unknowns. Too many variables. Still, we try. This post is my attempt to think out loud about this whole thing. I would like your help and thoughts. Perhaps I am way off base with the way I am thinking.

Assume for the sake of discussion that TEOTW is something like most (or all) life being wiped out - actual extinction, and that TEOTWAWKI means something less: like Mad Max, Road Warrior, Lucifers Hammer. How would you answer the three questions in the beginning of this post, or do you think this does not even matter?

-- Rob Michaels (, January 03, 1999


Forum Logic: If you aren't able to bug out, your earth life is over in the first half of 2000.

Speculation, discussion, and scenarios are interesting, intellectually stimulating, sometimes even funny.

But actually living through it? Horrors. It's already moot for me. I'm enjoying my last year. I'll be very happy if Y2K is a bump quickly smoothed over. If not ... It's been nice knowing all of you; the Internet is a blast; I'll be most curious and eager to meet and greet some of you on the other side.

Imagining, sharing and writing about TEOTWAWKI is bearable; the reality will not be. May God protect us and take us out of here with minimal suffering.

Ashton & Leska in Cascadia, who got Paul Milne's message the first time

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

-- Leska (, January 03, 1999.

#1, I didn't think the "infomagic is a pollyanna" article was really any more dire than InfoMagic. It just happened to focus on agriculture, actually the whole essay was little more than elaborate window dressing around 2 concrete numbers that the author stumbled on (ratio of farmers to eaters, then and now). Seems to me that Gina has already written this up.

#2, I don't honestly believe there's anywhere to "bug out" to. If you believe in y2k, you'll have some apparent bug out choices, but when you factor in Joel Skousen's ideas about the next 10 years, your list will dwindle practically to nothing. Bottom line: there are too many people on this earth. It has to go down, hard or easy, sooner or later.

#3, I don't believe that if you don't bug out, you'll die. Considering #2 above, also a number of survivalists, such as Ragnar Benson, have written about survival under all kinds of conditions, including urban/ex-urban. People are like rats and roaches, there's always going to be some around if you look hard enough.

#4 We're all going to die anyway, hard or easy, sooner or later. From all I have read about "the other side", sounds more interesting and less painful than this Earth School of Compressed Learning

#5 Y2K isn't going to be TEOTW in any sense. You'll see, something like my Game Time: The Bug that Failed will yet appear someday for real.

Software engineering has progressed a lot from the kind of amateur stuff that Hamasaki and North constantly proffer. Systems that took decades to write and tune can be replaced in a matter of months. Software engineering has NOT been completely frozen since the 1960's, things have been learned, efficiencies have been gained.

But quite apart from y2k, I believe we Americans have been utter fools to rely to this degree on technology. The only proper role for technology should be in "background mode" to research improvements making cool low-tech items (e.g. Aladdin lamps) even more efficient and even less obtrusive.


-- Runway Cat (, January 03, 1999.

(rant on)

Simple answer to complex question(s): Do what you can, cope with what you have to, improvise, adapt, overcome. If you can't do the above, you'll die. Guess what? You're gonna die anyway. So will everyone you know and everyone they know. Nobody here gets out alive. So don't sweat that part of it. Scenarios are sorta fun and a good training aid to help plumb new situations and potential problems but scenarios never have the same impact as the real deal.

TEOTWAWKI might mean the end of hot and cold running water, room light and temperature control at the touch of a button, modern medical care, vast choices in food, travel, entertainment etc. Is this fatal? It might likely be for some poor delicate souls. But millions of people live reasonably well without such luxuries, and believe it or not they are actually happy sometimes. If you're so spoiled that lack of luxuries is more than you can bear, you need to get over it or get ready to say goodbye. You're not going to be of any use to anyone if things go to pot. If you can tough it out and help when and where you can, good on yer and get on with it. You'll likely have lots of chances to demonstrate resilience no matter what happens.

As for TEOTW, I can't see being able to do much about that, or wasting time worrying about it. If some cosmic disaster comes along then it's adios for everybody. But that doesn't mean having to abandon your humanity in the process.

What's in between? Only more nastiness, more challenges. More to do and less to do it with. But still no right reason to do wrong things, no acceptable excuses for barbarity and inhumanity. Your mission should you choose to accept it: do the best you humanly can. Find help in whatever higher power you subscribe to and put it to use.

Get some spine, people. If you're going to insist on being an invertebrate, do it quietly. Otherwise get on with what needs doing. Prepare personally first, then involve whatever community, church etc. you have in whatever preparation efforts you can motivate them to make. But it's time and past to quit worrying about limitless what- if's and get it done. The clock is ticking and the deadline won't move.

(rant off)

-- gi (, January 03, 1999.

Hi everyone! I have been lurking for a couple weeks. I "got it" right away when I stumbled on the information and began to immediately research full time on Dec. 2. I am lucky not to be working right now.

I find Rob's question very interesting and for the first time I feel ready to put in my 2 cents as well.

The easy definition of TEOTW is a scenario in which nuclear or biological weapons are released and wipe out so many human beings that humans are completely extinct. Or at least those left are reduced to cave living and unable to recreate any kind of culture or civilization for thousands of years. Very few people would want to live on in such a scenario.

I think TEOTWAWKI has a wide range of interpretations which usually depend on who the "we" refers to. For Leska and many others, if the Milne scenario actually takes place, it may as well be TEOTW. Some who find themselves faced with such a situation will commit suicide. Others who can't bring themselves to do that will struggle along the best they can until they either die or learn how to live, depending on luck and how much help they find along the way. I agree with Leska that it is easier to talk about than live. There have been wars and the fall of civilizations, many endings of "life as we know it" in our past which, for them, felt as total as what we face. This is just a global version.

When computer techs (I worked in that field myself for a decade) speak of TEOTWAWKI in the USA, this could mean more along the lines of no TV, no grocery stores, no refridgerators. In other words, being forced to operate in the 18th century with few tools and little knowledge and a 20th century population to feed. This is a very threatening, difficult, impossible for many, scenario to face. Some may be just as unwilling to dig a well or sit on an outhouse toilet as to be a Road Warrior. Many in denial simply can't accept that fate, even if given the tools and knowledge.

This is why many who are trying to raise awareness get the blank stare. It is watching someone get it for a moment and look into a future of returning to the land in some form. They just balk. And then they quickly don't get it again. I think anybody who feels that way about it WTSHTF will be much less likely to survive.

That is when I realized that most people were going to stay in denial to the bitter end. I expect there will be those who sit in front of the television waiting for the power to come back until they die. For them, it is TEOTW.

So I guess these terms depend on who you are talking about and who is saying them. I find them very useful terms of reference even though they can have many meanings. In fact, it allows the discussion of various scenarios. When computer geeks who have followed and created the discussion terms for years talk about it, we have to realize that this is immersed in the competitive sparring that goes on in the industry as to who is more intelligent and who is higher on the credibility ladder because of their experience or feats in the trenches. This has to be factored in when watching these debates. Who is the Pollyanna and whose "TEOTWAWKI" is the baddest can sometimes be a matter of clashing egos as making sense of the situation. I admit to having been touched with the arrogance that often goes with the territory of being in control of the awesome powers of computers that create our culture. I became disillusioned by it all and left the field. So that is my bias I guess.

I think there is also fear on the part of someone who sees a more serious scenario that the more "Pollyanna" views will keep people from preparing properly and therefore lead many people to die. You can see that North is going to great lengths to try to save the lives of those who will listen. And all of us feel frustration with the DWG in our lives and in society at large. No one else in my household believes me yet and I don't think they will.

My personal scenario is not TEOTW. I see TEOTWAKI as North does, a total collapse of the old way. Most will not survive or want to survive it. For this reason, I also agree with North in that I don't think very many people will get it. It is just too big of a change for most to make. If it was just a physical adjustment, one could prepare. But it is also an emotional and psychological adjustment that most people are simply incapable of making. And if people can't even think about it, then they will not be able to live it. For them, it is TEOTW even though for me, it isn't. I realized that it is the nature of a change this huge that only a few pioneers will want to try to go through this transition and seed the next civilization. I am one of them. I may not make it, but I really want to try.

Thanks for listening and for all your thoughtful comments. Lora

-- Lora Ereshan (, January 03, 1999.


Rofl at people sitting at their tvs waiting for the powere to come on. So silly, but has alot of truth in it.

-- lcconnor (, January 03, 1999.

Execllent, exellent post and thread. You are absolutely right about two big issues. TEOTWAWKI isn't TEOTW, the emphasis is on *AWKI*. In someone isn't able or willing to adapt to the coming changes then they will probably just pull the covers up over their heads on 1/1/00 and be found frozen there months later by recovery crews. (I really do expect that in some northern cities, people will go that way.)

The people who are in barely survivable locales with any sort of will to adapt and make it are going to have an even chance at making it, fully prepared or not. If they chose to do nothing they have no chance.

In fact there are probably some people with marvelous preparations, that if anything goes wrong will not make it because they are not prepared to cope and adapt, only to have enough equipment and fuel to carry on in a "1999 mode" for as long as their electrical generators, solar panels and wind turbines keep making the juice. If they can't adapt to what happens "when not if" their system fails then they have only delayed their fate, not avoided it. If the worst happens, then those who can adapt will thrive. Otherwise it's pure Darwin in action.

As far as Gary North, Paul Milne, Infomagic, even Ed Yourdon being doomers. I agree, if that's what it takes to get someone's attention then use that angle. You aren't going to get someone to pay attention and take action if you trumpet the other end of the scale. Tell someone that this is bad and it may cost them their life and you'll get the attention of most people, the sane ones at least.

Let's face it. There are those among us who can read the sky and see the storm warnings. Most who can tell are battening down the hatches and getting ready for a big storm. Some who know better are foolhardy enough to risk the storm for whatever their purposes. And those who can't read the sky, if they're smart are taking notice of what is said and done and are following the example of preparing.

To paraphrase Paul Milne and others, it's the millions upon millions who won't do anything until the thunder and lightning start that are going to be the problem for those who are ready.

Check six!


-- wildweasel (, January 03, 1999.

RC wrote:

"Software engineering has progressed a lot from the kind of amateur stuff that Hamasaki and North constantly proffer. Systems that took decades to write and tune can be replaced in a matter of months. Software engineering has NOT been completely frozen since the 1960's, things have been learned, efficiencies have been gained.

Thats a fairly clueless statement. Programs are still designed and written in virtually the same way as they were in 1965. Oh, there are lots of fancy GUI toys and relational databases with an attached query language, but, at its heart, it is still the same process. If anything, there has been a progressive 'dumbing down' of programming skills in favor of various canned processes. Thats a fancy way of saying that many of the nubie JAVA programmers are far less skilled overall than the old fogies who came before them. Data manipulation is as much an art as a science. The term 'engineering' implies a rigid, must do protocol which insures maximum efficiency. Simply doesn't happen in the programming world. Do you really think you could take a major banks databases, scrap them and the code, and replace them in months? Name one installation that has done that anywhere in the world.

-- RD. ->H (, January 03, 1999.

Important point: y2k may not be TEOTW, but for those who have not prepared and come to grips with their fears, it will damn sure feel like it, and may indeed be. And of course, different areas will experience y2k more severely than others, probably by an order of magnitude or so. Its hard to say who will come out on top, but I'm guessing NYC won't.

I agree with RD on the efficiency issue. Sure, its a breeze nowadays to construct a VB GUI and a large database server, but don't let the magnitude of the interconnectedness issue fool you. Primarily because of it, we have been in a spiral of diminishing returns on the technology front for some time now. Its taking more energy to maintain the systems, not less, like yesterday's experts expected (remember the promise of the "paperless office" about 6000 forests ago?).

In the next 11 months and three weeks, people in corporate America and the government are going to be engaged in the wildest ride of their lives as they simultaneously try to accomplish a mathematically impossible feat while at the same time reassuring the public that enough will be completed to "muddle through". Nobody knows exactly what "muddle" entails, but we're going to find out VERY soon.

The bottom line is to use the remaining time the best you can to prepare, physically and spiritually. If you are still a pollyanna, or are too undecided to act, it may already be too late.

-- a (a@a.a), January 03, 1999.

Excellent thread Rob,

A couple of points.

I posted a .9 on the Infomagic scale - a 1.0 being an extinction level event (ELE), or TEOTW a la "On The Beach".

The reason I posted a .9 instead of a .75 or so was my gut feeling that there will be military adrenaline flowing as we approach and enter the millennium, with a host of potential flash points worldwide, and various factions having old scores to settle. We have never lived in more dangerous times, in this regard.

My other major concern is the unthinkable - the "Poisonfire" scenario, where, due to malicious intent, or incompetence (electrical power going down permanently therefore leaving these facilities without their containment systems up to full speed), a range of biologically engineered germs and virae are released into the environment.

Of course the Clintons and others of their ilk worldwide will survive in their underground bunkers and nuclear submarines, so it will not be a 1.0 unless the Poisonfire scenario plays out to the hilt, preventing the troglodytes from emerging again.

The one advantage we all have who take this seriously is our head start in the acceptance phase we must all go through. I've pretty much got all my mental issues behind me now, my spiritual side has kicked in and helped me immensely and I can now focus on the practicalities that need to be taken care of.

What will happen is still anybody's guess - what is for sure is that it will not be a bump in the road. Far far from it.

My ancestors survived the famine in Ireland, so perhaps Mr. Darwin is giving me a helping hand once more - I don't want to disappoint him, or them.

Mentally I'm *READY* - the first test has been passed.

Regards, Andy

-- Andy (, January 03, 1999.

RD. ->H , maybe you are correct, it is perhaps clueless to think that software engineering has made methodological and practical progress. Where I work, I notice the programmers today are VASTLY more efficient, productive, professional, and ego-less than they were when I entered the software engineering field in the late 1970's. Tools, even for working on legacy/older systems are better. Understanding of fundamental issues is better. Availability of practical knowledge in the form of reference works is better. But from what you say, I guess I'm generalizing from too small a sample.

I sure remember in the 1970's how proud (and arrogant!) professional software engineers were when after slaving and debugging for weeks they got some dumbass generic thing like a sort routine or something to work. Not anymore, now they understand reusability, modularity, humility, etc. Nobody uses GOTO's. Debuggers at all levels are incredibly slick. Software is more complicated, but it also does a great deal more.

But as I said, I'm clinically schizophrenic, probably we ARE all going to die in y2k, as expected. I'm actually such a nut that I believe software is in the incipient phases of being a new parasitic life form, one that is crafty enough that it will not allow its human caretakers to kill themselves off too early in the game. Clueless, indeed!

Cheers, -RC

-- Runway Cat (, January 03, 1999.

Thanks for the thoughtful posts gang. There is a lot here for me to digest and the wheels are still turning in my head on all this.

A special thanks to you, Lora, for your first post. It was great.

-- Rob Michaels (, January 03, 1999.

Runway - I've worked in the computer industry as an "engineer" for 17 years.

Yes - the tools are better. But guess what? That slick debugger is meaningless on a Univac 90/60 or other "legacy" system.

Also - I started programming at the tail-end of the expensive memory world. My first system had 16K of memory for the OS, and my program. Only one "H-L" register to PUSH & POP my data etc.

I did *lots* of special things to squeeze my projects down to nothing. And more importantly - my data down to nothing. Couldn't just pack it, though - the packing routine might take too much space.

Today, my last project on Windows, the application was 900K! I have a library for internal database operations that by itself is 230K. I * never* pack the data to its smallest size. As a matter of fact, I * add* fields and identifiers to the data so I can recover from crashes and examine them within a debugger.

The two skill sets are completely different. Not to say the remediators can't do it - but it's not trivial. You'll not replace an otherwise working program with another one in "months" without bringing the whole organization to a halt - many times.

Let's not minimize the differences between the types of "engineering" required then & now.

Just a thought,


-- Jolly. Prez (, January 03, 1999.

I guess it was unavoidable for this thread to wander, but I didn't expect it to get into the trade-offs and history of engineering! Since we are there now however, here are two cents:

The challenges associated with programming 20 years ago really haven't changed. The ways in which we get programs to work, and screw things up, is what has changed. Would you prefer to have bad code in some assembly language sub-routine running on an IBM 360 or some procedural language RDBMS bug or PERL/JAVA script errors? Yes, we have learned many things and grown with the technologies in each generation, but the bottom line is that programmers are still programmers. We still take short cuts, still name variables after our dog, still have to meet that stupid management without a clue deadline, and still have to make our code work. The tools and methodologies have changed. We have gone from punch cards, character based, hierarchical storage to where we are now, but still have all of the same old challenges when you come down to it, they just look a little prettier. Just my opinion.

Posts about the original questions asked on this thread are still welcome, Rob.

-- Rob Michaels (, January 03, 1999.

TEOTW, The end of the world? Global thermonuclear war? Game over. Moot point. Were all waking and walking on the other side.

TEOTWAWKI, The end of the world as we know it. Completely individual. Seems like we may have many degrees of TEOTWAWKI.

The mistake we are making is applying the various scales of Y2K impact as a 5 or a 10 globally. As Robert Cook once said, All TEOTWAWKI is local. A well-prepared community of 2,000 people in a remote part of the country may experience a 5 as can a well-prepared sub-urban community of 40,000, or an urban population of 1 million. The challenges are different, and similar. Everything is basic, just more of it. An un-prepared major metropolitan city like Los Angeles may experience a 10, similar to the L.A. Riots, while an outlying community like Thousand Oaks about 40-50 miles away, at low preparedness could experience a 4. Who knows?

We can speculate that martial law may be declared, especially in the big cities. Especially if unprepared. How does that change an areas Y2K impact? Depends on how people act and re-act. Do we trust our government to save us? Not hardly. Do we think they could help us? Yes, some of us do. (Doesnt mean we wouldnt watch em closely). Overt assistance is better than covert operations for the bulk of the population. (Remember, there are still the extreme, extremists out there too during Y2K. Nasty bugs). Can we turn the situation around and save ourselves and those around us? Yes, maybe and in some cases no.

Whether or not Infomagic is correct, the wisest thing we could do, from a preparation standpoint, is to become as self-sufficient as possible, and do this on a local/community wide basis. If nothing else works, all you have is where you are, and those around you. Period. You may not even have the option of leaving. Sort of like being on the Titanic and having it sink next to a desert island. Is there water, food, shelter, warmth, sanitation, botanical medicine, etc., etc.? What kind of attitude are the passengers carrying with them in addition to their personal baggage, skills and abilities?

As someone pointed out recently in an e-mail, remember London during the WWII blitzkrieg? They had BOMBS dropping nightly, and still they dug themselves out on a daily basis. Compared to WWII, weve got it easy with Y2K. Look recently at life continuing during the daytime in Iraq with bombs dropping nightly.

Y2K is just life changing, not necessarily life ending, in many, many ways. Y2K doesnt have to be meltdown. Depends on what we choose to do, or not to do. That IS the question.


-- Diane J. Squire (, January 04, 1999.

Many of you know that I buy the notion that it can be very different based on where a person is, how much they and the people around them have prepared, etc., to some extent Robert hit it on the head. It also seems that you can try and match prep to expectations but it doesn't matter since the only thing we can do is prepare to the max as I posted many times, regardless of how dire the posts, articles, and opinions are and will probably increasingly become.

Someone that says '9' is called a pollyanna by others, as an example. I was becoming annoyed at what I saw to be the increase of "can you top the last pollyanna" stuff, where the first "pollyanna" was a '9', the second a '10', the third somewhere between 10 and TEOTW, in Never Never Land.

My first thoughts about TEOTWAWKI were too narrowly focused in that I tended to think of this from mostly an overall impact perspective, which has validity, but not so much from the "all TEOTWAWKI is local" aspect which is also valid. Some of what got me thinking about this subject had to do with the idea of when the "can you top the last pollyanna" discussion becomes moot. It is already, and has been. I just didn't know it fully until now.

-- Rob Michaels (, January 04, 1999.

Someone wrote: " If someone isn't able or willing to adapt to the coming changes then they will probably just pull the covers up over their heads on 1/1/00 and be found frozen there months later by recovery crews. (I really do expect that in some northern cities, people will go that way.) " This happened here, right here near to home, last January during the ice storm. The power was off for 5 days for us, and up to a half month for others. People died. Some died because they ran generators in their house, some died from using kerosene heaters without ventilation, some from fires. Some died from exposure. Not many died but there *were* deaths. One was a utility guy trying to fix the power. One older couple was found in their bed weeks afterward. This was two weeks of no-power. Imagine what it will be like if the power stays out longer. People will die. We are having a major storm today. I look out my window and see snow, snow and snow. And this on top of ice from yesterday! Arghghgh. Glad I have my firewood, filled gas bottles and kerosene lamps. Not to mention the beans LOL. We can eat, stay warm and have light. What else is there? :-) Well, back to my 500+ messages this morning in email....yikes. Bobbi

-- Bobbi (, January 04, 1999.

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