Response to Milne (boring)greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
[OK, let's try to shed a little more light and a little less heat on this subject.
To begin, I'll state my orientation up front. I veiw my efforts as investigative rather than adversarial. My question is, What is most likely to happen? Milne's question appears to be (to the best of my ability to characterize it, and not intended as a straw man), 'How can I prove that things will be very bad?'
In a court of law, it's winner-take-all. Either the prosecutor must prosecute the innocent, or the defender must defend the guilty. These are their jobs under the system, and they do their honest best (most of the time). Y2k is not winner-take-all in any sense, and I don't believe that picking one side or the other and acting as an advocate for that side is an applicable or reasonable orientation. I may be wrong.
I'm not ruling out Milne's predicted future, though I consider it unlikely. I'm presenting my best understanding of the state of mind that has led Milne to make a series of predictions all of which have been way wrong. Y2k is a very hard case. Hard cases make bad law, because when there's a lot to be said for both sides and you *must* pick one, you're sure to be half-wrong whichever you pick. But we aren't required to pick one in this case (y2k). That's the wrong model to use.]
You see Donna, flint has executed the 'perfect example' of what I tried to explain to you. Let's look at his blather line by line.
[OK, I wrote it, I posted it, I'll live with it. So let's look at it.]
First, Milne takes a story entitied like 'Bank says they're ready' Then he says they're lying, because press releases are all lies.
(To begin with, this is manifestly untrue. I examine the FACTS in the story. Most stories like this one never mentiona single bank that is ready at all. They mangae to take 'assurances' from banks and then say that the banks 'say that they are ready'. 'Saying' that you are ready and being ready are two different things. As to the 'lies' part, when I catch them in a lie, I call them liars. Like when a bank says that it is ready and their SEC report shows that they have spend less than fifty percent of their proposed budget.)
[As a real-world illustration, let's take the Bank of New York. In a recent story, they announced that they had remediated and in-house-tested their critical systems, had reached (in their words) 'substantial compliance', and were starting the process of (limited, carefully monitored) interoperability tests with other banks and with government regulatory bodies. They are confident that their core systems are in shape to continue into the next century uninterrupted.
Is Bank of New York 100% compliant? Not even close. They have at least three sizeable efforts remaining: non-critical systems, end-to-end testing, and contingency planning. They have budgeted for these things, as reflected in their SEC report.
NOW, Milne says they're lying, because the SEC report shows they still have money to spend completing the process. He has found 'proof' of a lie. But are they 'ready?' Yes, they are. All else being equal (which I agree it isn't), they can indeed continue uninterrupted. Is this 'truth' because the bank won't self-destruct, or 'lies' because they aren't complete yet? Is this the right question, or should we ask how well they'll be able to perform as a bank? If we ask the wrong question, we conclude that they're lying, and we've started down a road that will lead us to a complete misunderstanding of this bank's ability to function.]
Then he claims that no bank can possibly make it.
(I If this were so, then Flint can very easily cite the post where I said it. Mischaracterizations abound. And Flint is one of the masters. There most certainly will be banks that make it. However, banking is global. The rest of the world is in dismal shape. The CSC recently made another very serious warning that if even ONE foreign exchange bank fails, it can completely bollux up the system cosying ten BILLION dollars the first week alone. Dozens and dozens of foreign exchange banks will fail. The compliance of one or two, or even a dozen large Us banks is moot. So I do not have to make ridiculous statements like 'none will make' it. On the other hand Flint is so incredibly ingratious as to play ridiculous semantic games. I can say 'none will make it' and still realize that some might. But that 'some' is so insignifigant that 'none will make it' is about the right sense of things)
[OK, Milne's point here is serious and almost reasonable. It's very true that no bank is an island, and that individual successes are likely moot if there are major, long term critical failures throughout the system. Fair enough, as far as it goes. But it doesn't go far enough to help us understand the probability, magnitude, or duration of these critical failures. It's one thing to point out that a critical failure can bring down a system -- this is true even of simple systems. It's quite another to show how real this potential is likely to become. Yes, it can happen. How much of it will happen?
The question has never been an adversarial matter of compliance (complete success) or non-compliance (total failure). This leads to the simplistic position that banks will either succeed or they'll fail, and since they cannot all 'succeed', they therefore must 'fail'. You must pick one -- Milne gives you no other choices.
I believe the issue that really concerns us is, how much banking will the banking system be able to do at worst, and how quickly can they get how much more functionality up and limping? How bad will things be for banks, and for how long? Banking is not a yes/no issue like a lightswitch, and it's not reasonable to cram banking into this mold, it's simply required by the adversarial mindset.]
Then he claims that this is a fact.
(Since I did not make that claim it is not a fact, yet one more of Flint's straw men.
[OK, now he says "'none will make it' is about the right sense of things." He regards this as a factual statement, yet banks 'making it' is by no means a yes/no issue. You can be in less than perfect health without being dead.]
And what if ONE idi make it? Or Two? Or a dozen? Does that actually make a difference. Ids Flint vindicated as ONE banks survives and the banking system collapses. Yes, he is vindicated in his mind, but in reality, when the majority of banks around the world fail, the REALITY is that the system collapses.)
[There will be many failures. Indeed, there are every day (though nowhere near so many). But so far, no collapse. I admit I find it hard to believe that there will be no banking function in the future economy. I agree it's likely to be less sophisticated and interdependent. Is this collapse, or is this partial functionality short of collapse? The adversarial method leaves no middle ground, and the real world is *all* middle ground.]
Then he claims his position is supported by the FACTS!
[In the de Jager thread, Milne claims his conclusions are 'supported OVERWHELMINGLY by the facts.' Is he laughing at me, or at himself? We've just watched him lay the groundwork for rejecting all bank claims of compliance as essentially meaningless. This rejection is already well on the way to becoming another 'fact'. Already the initial 'bank ready' has become 'the REALITY is that the system collapses.']
Then he cites this story as one of those FACTS. Amazing.
I don't know how accurate his vision of the future may be, but I do know that his method of predicting it is fundamentally dishonest, and discredits those of us who are seriously trying to figure out what's happening.
(This is the whole point. HE does not know.
[Nobody knows. Fools might think they know. Milne's predictions so far have been way off base without exception. You'd think that sooner or later he'd figure out that his method isn't working very well. But so far, he's content to attack those who point this out. And his predictions are *still* wrong.]
I imagine that if he did enough research, one day he might know.
[This is my hope. I believe research intended to determine what's really happening is more likely to lead to knowledge, than research intended to support and justify an a priori preconception.]
Flint is not serious in the least. His starting point is that no matter what you find out, YOU CAN NEVER KNOW. He starts there and ends there, Dazed and confused.
[Milne is right. You can never predict the future with complete accuracy. With effort and research, you can often clarify the picture and tighten up the odds a bit. Gamblers can know the precise odds, and know that the odds lie with the house, and still they gamble and some of them win. Gamblers are hardly 'dazed and confused' despite the uncertainty underlying each roll or each card. You can never know.]
He says that he is 'honest'. Then I suggest that you e-mail him and ask him why he apologized publically for treating me in a manifestly 'DISHONEST' way. I answered one of his posts, line by line, and point by point. Then, he took part of one line out of my response and used it out of context. he was called on it and he apologized for his dishonesty.
[True. I was dishonest, and I apologized. I didn't need to, but I did. I do my best to be honest, and don't always succeed. I do my best to recognize when I've been in error, and to apologize when this happens. I'm not perfect. Unlike "a", I'm not embarrassed to apologize for my mistakes.
When Milne is wrong, he never admits it. When me makes unsupported accusations, he always vanishes when challenged. Sometimes when he's clearly contradicted himself, he weasels like a crooked lawyer rather than admit it. I leave it to anyone here to decide which approach is more 'honest.']
This is the essence of Flint. He mischaracterizes what I say, uses it out of context and then calls another a liar. )
[In attempting to condense a thought process into a few words, of course I run the risk of mischaracterization. That's why I'm responding in detail here.
You don't have to read too many of Milne's many thousands of posts to see this thought process in action. He refers often to 'winnning', to 'prevailing', to arguments 'standing or falling'. He goes to great lengths to separate all the material about y2k into 'facts' and 'lies'. He equates noncompliance with failure, and failure with collapse. He equates disagreement with his techniques, to disagreement about his conclusions. And you either agree entirely with all he says and why he says it, or you become a 'butthead', an 'idiot', a 'moron', and so on. He has repeated stated flat out that the world is either black or white, and conclusions are either right or wrong. The adversarial mindset illustrated in all its dubious glory.
The only time Milne sees ambiguity, can be found in the very few attempts he's made to justify some of his errors. Suddenly, his world becomes complex and multifaceted indeed, and different interpretations suddenly appear as if by magic. But nobody else is *ever* accorded this privilege.]
((Flint has been a ceasless defender of all those who give 'assurance' never backed up by ANY facts whatsoever.
[In reality, I don't reject assurances as false by definition. I attempt to decipher what these assurances are likely to mean, and assign varying degrees of doubt. Again, Milne cannot see the difference between doubt and denial. In his black and white world, you either accept assurances, or you reject them. Those are the only choices he can see, so the assurances must be forced to fit one choice or the other -- truth or lies. This is not analysis, nor is it realistic, nor does it lead to a clearer understanding of what's actually happening.]
As long as someone 'assures' you they are on track, that is good enough for Flint. It has to be. He lives in a highly populated area and refuses to move out. He has to PRAY that he will, be safe because his actions will not assure it.
[Milne has actually conceded that his preparations are not an absolute guarantee of safety against every possible eventuality. He's simply as safe as he can make himself, based on his expectations of what will happen. What he's saying here is that my preparations differ, therefore they're wrong. I believe Paul has overreacted once again. If time proves me right, can you picture him admitting it? If I'm wrong, I'll admit it (if I survive to do so, of course.)]
[OK, I've put down where I stand as clearly as I can. If you think I'm wrong and willing to discuss it, I'm willing to listen and change my mind if I agree with you. If you just enjoy flaming me instead, that's your privilege.
I can't control the future. I can prepare. My personal preparations are fairly extensive, and constantly growing. I'm satisfied with them. Like most of us, I'm anxious about what the future might bring, and I read all I can trying to guess what's most likely, what's worst and best case, and how to fit my preparations to my best estimate of the worst case I'll likely be able to withstand. I believe this is best done by trying to understand what the available material actually means, rather than trying to force it all to fit some pre-set meaning. For what it's worth.]
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 1999
"I'm presenting my best understanding of the state of mind of mind that has led Milne to make a series of predictions all of which have been way wrong."
Who cares? My understanding of Y2K does not depend on what Paul Milne, Gary North or any other particular individual thinks.
The bottom line is this: far too many businesses and utilities waited until 1998 to start their Y2K work. This is what motivates me to prepare for Y2K.
-- Kevin (email@example.com), January 19, 1999.
After three days of readin about Y2K I can unequiviccly say my bag boy prefers plastic to paper.
-- Gomer Pile (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 1999.
You were right. Boring.
-- Steve Hartsman (email@example.com), January 19, 1999.
Milne's a jerk. He's also too full of himself to be full of shit.
Flint, why be nice? Milne flames everyone who doesn't agree with him 100%, so why don't you just flame his stinkin' ass right back?
-- I hate Milne (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 19, 1999.
He IS a jerk. As a fellow alerter, I've always respected what he's doing, but that thing he whipped out on Declan on the NJ thread was too much for me. Talk about ad hominem (sp?) attacks...must be an Aries.
-- Lisa (email@example.com), January 19, 1999.