Clearing Paul Davis' Name : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

On another thread, Chris, our very own French-Canadian vixen, made the suggestion that we "clear" Paul Davis' name, with the unwritten assumption (as I understood it) that the "Pollyanna" label was attached to it and should not be so attached.

Now, I would have to say, after reading this forum for some time now, that the label is so attached. I can't begin to count how many times I've heard it used openly to describe Paul or even how many times it has been an unwritten assumption in someone's post.

Correct me if I'm wrong here (and I'm sure someone will if I am) but wasn't Pollyanna a clueless child? Didn't she have extremely limited experience at life and the trusting innocence of youth as liabilities (or assets, depending on your viewpoint)?

If you've been here awhile, you've seen me tell Paul quite plainly that he's full of horshradish or that his argument simply doesn't hang together logically, and I stand by what I've said to him. But, a clueless child? I think not. My father was fond of saying that, "there only ever was one perfect man, and they nailed him to a cross!" Leaving the yeas and/or nays of religious argument out of it, the point is that we've all most certainly been full of horseradish on one occasion or another (or more likely, on numerous such occasions) and we've all posed arguments that would have more properly seen duty as Monty Python scripts than serious attempts to resolve the issue at hand.

When you publicly evaluate another man's thinking and/or conclusions, you of necessity reveal your own thought processes. If in so doing, you attack the points that you perceive as weak, and ignore the ones you see as strong, even if you're right, you reveal yourself as biased. I submit that impartiality is far more conducive to finding the truth. I submit that in our attempts to get at the "truth" about Y2K we cannot afford to "shoot ourselves in the collective foot" by verbally "piling on" when someone voices an unpopular or opposite view. If memory serves me, it was Ann Fisher who dropped the gem that truth is not subject to voting.

What are we looking for here? Could it be that a cyber-scapegoat for our own fears and insecurities is the object? Are we (any or all of us) so afraid of anything that we cannot let another be heard without immediately being drowned in a sea of denigration as opposed to a bathing in the waters of reasonable debate and questioning?

A simple examination of Paul's postings here will clearly reveal a picture of an intelligent and educated man who has unique life experiences to share. Furthermore, this man is calm, even tempered and courteous, even in the face of rude and vulgar criticism. Yes, his conclusions often are at odds with those of the majority and I frequently disagree with him myself, but none of us has a lock on truth or a crystal ball. Pshannon has dropped another gem for us, to the effect that whatever happens, it will be unexpected. How utterly foolish will we all feel if even a few of Paul's views turn out to be what eventually comes to pass?

Two more points, then I'm done.

What kind of intestinal fortitude and what kind of caring for his fellow man do you suppose Paul must have to keep on coming back for more? Why do you suppose he does that?

And finally, I submit it's not Paul's name that needs to be cleared. Let's just call them "cobwebs" and let everyone figure out for themselves where they are and what needs to happen to them.

-- Hardliner (, January 22, 1999



Good comments. I always think of Paul Davis and the flashing "It Can't Be Fixed" Y2K message as synonymous. Definitely NOT a polyanna, and I frequently disagree with him.

Remember, Shift Happens.

BTW, I'm still a Y2K optimist and into creating at least a "5" or better (if possible).

Diane *Create Community, Prepare 2 Share, Be Y2K Aware*

-- Diane J. Squire (, January 22, 1999.

Thanks for the kind words Hardliner. You too Diane. I must admit to having become somewhat frazzled the last few weeks - and am very tired of the 'Pollyanna' label. Which does not fit anyway. I was looking at a 4 or thereabouts - with the new compliance statements I am now down to about a 3.5. A lot of those with the 'Pollyanna' label are actually farther down the scale than I am - would you believe CPR expects a 6 to 7? And he gets called a 'Pollyanna', and worse, every day on c.s.y2k. Still, we each have our own experiences in life, and different educational experiences as well. Of course we will have different opinions.

I do get tired of flimsy evidence being considered automatically correct - just because you agree with what it says. Someone actually emailed me that there were 300 billion chips vulnerable to Y2K problems that needed to be checked. That would be about 50 per living human. A moments thought has to convince you that is impossible - but I have seen similar things tossed around all over the net. I suppose the real reason I stick with this is because I just can't stand to see so much misinformation go through unchallenged.

Thanks again for the kind words.


-- Paul Davis (, January 22, 1999.

Paul Davis does not need his name cleared, as far as I can see it has never been blemished. Paul's posts have always been a model that optimists, doom&gloomers, and everyone else should strive to rise up to -- well thought out, clear and concise, etc. I especially have always liked the way that Paul is always meticulous in showing exactly what his assumptions are, and what his conclusions are. The fact that I almost always disagree with what he says is irrelevant. Likewise, I think that Paul is a real gentleman and very courteous, but like anyone else can get pushed over the edge if flamed. I am glad that Paul is here, he keeps us doom&gloomers constantly on our toes, re-evaluating what we think, etc.

-- Jack (, January 22, 1999.

As long as I am out of the Pollyanna camp now, Davis is a class "A" asshole. Worse than Milne. At least Milne posts facts. Davis makes every possible weepy excuse for every faulty program. Pollyanna not only fits like a glove, he is quintessential.

-- Flint (, January 22, 1999.

Just for the record:

In the story, Pollyanna was not really a "clueless child". She was an orphaned child of missionaries and was sent to live in a Midwestern town under the guardianship of an aunt who was cold, domineering, and just an all-round lousy candidate for parenthood. The whole point of this simple children's story is that Pollyanna's unfailing optimism and deep and abiding faith in God had a profound impact on the people in the town, including her aunt.

It's certainly easy to view someone with this rather "unwordly" attitude as "clueless", but the story shows that sometimes the world is improved simply by someone modeling the higher ideals in their lives. No matter what went wrong, Pollyanna refused to let it dim her spirits. The story was not intended to be a detailed examination of the human condition, but just a simple, uplifting tale of one little girl's effect on some folks who needed to be reminded of the "better angels of their natures".

Not to say that I agree with people who insist that Y2K is going to be just fine, no impact, all is well. I do not - in fact, I'm seen as a "doomer" by almost everyone I know. So be it. I have to say that I get extremely frustrated when people won't "do the math" or face the fact that there is an ever-increasing likelihood of some very serious Y2K-related troubles Real Soon Now.

It does occur to me, however, that anyone who is helping people prepare or who is taking steps to possibly risk their own safety and assist others in their communities in the event of some serious system failures could also be seen as a kind of "pollyanna". May we all be so "clueless".

Now, Paul Davis, about those Federal government remediation completion percentages... 8-}]

-- Mac (, January 22, 1999.

Excuse for faulty programs? Moi? As many times as I have cussed out the endless patch, patch and more patches routine the software companies have foisted on us? Someone hasn't read any of my posts. And I really don't think that is Flint.

-- Paul Davis (, January 22, 1999.

I think Paul's cool. I stay in the twilight zone about the whole thing and need to consider all sides. I know I lurk more than post, but I need it all.

-- margie mason (, January 22, 1999.

Anyone else notice the odor?

Or spot the lack of attention to detail of the TROLL who posted in Flint's name?

A few days ago, referring to Milne, Flint said,

Then he claims that this is a fact.

Then he claims his position is supported by the FACTS!

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.

-- Flint (, January 18, 1999.

Here's our TROLL'S sign-off:

-- Flint (, January 22, 1999.

FWIF, my judgment is that we have been visited by an odious TROLL, and a clumsy, stupid and careless one at that!

-- Hardliner (, January 22, 1999.


Thanks for the analysis of the story (I'm quite sincere. I have never read it, only reviews, and yours confirmed the others.)

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the meaning and usage of the term "clueless". I submit that nearly all children, by virtue of being children, are clueless about most things. While it is certainly possible to cite exceptions, I should think that they would prove the rule rather than the opposite. Although I view the term "clueless child" as somewhat redundant, I used it for emphasis and stand by it.

As for optimism, although I expect the worst, I hope for something better and I have complete confidence that I will not only see the other side of the year 2000, but that I will prosper and find myself, at some point down the road, in a world that I will like far more than the one I now inhabit. That sounds a lot like your description of that little girl to me. . .

Optimism, however, and my "clues" as to the technological nature and fragility of our society are not mutually exclusive. I suspect that that is the case with Paul as well, although for different reasons and because of different conclusions.

I am optimistic in the extreme in the personal sense, yet I am just as pessimistic in the opposite extreme about the survival of our technological house of cards. Does that make me a Pollyanna? Or a Doom & Gloomer? Or both?

-- Hardliner (, January 22, 1999.

Reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite SF writers:

"Pessimist by policy, optimist by temperament -- it is possible to be both. How? By never taking any unnecessary chances and by minimising risks you can't avoid. This permits you to play out the game happily, untroubled by the certainty of the outcome."

-- Robert Heinlein, "Time Enough For Love"

People are marvelous, but also deeply flawed. Plan accordingly.

-- Mac (, January 22, 1999.

Lets all hug and be a great big happy family now.

I especially need one, I was flamed by one of my heroes *snif*

Vixen doesn't fit, I'm not intentionaly malicious, only impatient (with myself mostly, as I can't express my thoughts as well as so many) and I've been exposed to Milne too long. It's ALL MILNE'S FAULT!

-- Chris (, January 22, 1999.


Right on! One of the things that I find so remarkable about this forum is that so very many of us have "sat at the feet of the master (RAH)" and have been so influenced in our values and have modeled our thought processes after his. Paul Davis is every bit the RAH disciple as any of us. All I can figure is that he has a hold of the elelphant's trunk and the rest of us have a hold of the tail!

-- Hardliner (, January 22, 1999.

Do I sense a lessening of tensions here? Maybe now we can actually discuss the issues from all points of view without being ridiculed? Oh, I forgot, Milne's hanging out here now. Well, there's always hope.

-- not the flint troll (.@...), January 22, 1999.


That was no flame! "Vixen" as in female fox, as in "foxy lady": an extremely appealing woman. . .

-- Hardliner (, January 22, 1999.

I had never considered Paul Davis to be a Pollyanna. Recently, his messages have went in that direction, but only (I believe) to try to balance out Paul Milne.

Paul Davis and Paul Milne are both valuable to this forum. There is such a thing as disagreeing without being disagreeable. Let's talk more about events and maybe even (gasp!) ideas, and less about people.

-- Kevin (, January 22, 1999.

Hardliner -

Very nice recovery, man! "I was... uhhh... calling you foxy!" You are soooo smooooth... 8-}]

Yeah, RAH is a fave. Still have his obituary from the LA Times bookmarking a copy of Robinson's "Rah! Rah! RAH!"...

Occurs to me that we have to be careful with the slang around this forum. We got folks from all over the place. I can just see the reaction if our mate Leo were to mention going outside to "light up a fag." Not pretty...

Chris -

Biiiiig group hug! *whew* Much better. Now, gotta get some more shelves built...

-- Mac (, January 22, 1999.


Fifty years ago, I may well have considered myself very clever for forging someone's name to a flatulant post. At that age, of course, attention to detail was as foreign to me as it currently is to those who believe Milne posts facts.

Paul Davis understands better than anyone else here that it's the details that matter. We must ultimately deal with what goes wrong, and we cannot debug woolly guesstimates of possible compliance percentages. That's why I read and think about everything he writes. I'm grateful that he takes the time to contribute here despite the sad increase in the jerk quotient.

-- Flint (, January 22, 1999.

Thank you Hardliner, I feel a bit better. I had to scrape my heart off the floor, but it humbled me and it is good.

Mac, Hardliner is smooth indeed, but not in the sense you mean. He's my heroe because he is honest, and solid, and has a lot of wisdom to share. I trust him. So if he wants to remain a heroe, he meant what he said. I looked up vixen: 1. a female fox 2. a quarrelsome or shrewish, or malicious woman. (In other words, a clever bi***) I've been called both definitions many times. But I'm not malicious. In fact, it's just a shield I developed to protect my sensitive innards. It's a wild and dangerous world, this internet.

-- Chris (, January 22, 1999.

Chris & Mac,

I'm afraid that I can't take credit for any kind of recovery since all I did was try to correct a misunderstanding. I do however accept the blame for not knowing better in the first place. That's not the first time I've been the victim of cross-cultural idioms.

Before a trip to Caracas some years ago, I bought a Spanish-English dictionary in an attempt to keep me out of serious trouble. After the flight and customs and taxi ride through tropical heat, my suit was a wreck and I decided to avail myself of the hotel's overnight cleaning and pressing service. The laundry slip was in Espanol as you might imagine, so I dug out my pocket dictionary to cope with it. Everything seemed OK except that the slip listed only jacket and trousers and this suit had a vest. I thought, "No problemo!" and looked up "vest" and wrote it in on the slip. I also convinced my running mate who was sharing the suite to do the same as he had a vest also.

Early the next morning, we opened the door to the knock of two delicious Latin maidens who immediately burst out laughing. They handed us our freshly cleaned and pressed suits, with vests, refused any sort of a tip and retreated down the hallway amid much absolutely mystifying mirth.

Much later in the day, we found ourselves in Cerveceria Lara, puzzling over the laughter with our local contact. He asked to see the laundry list which my partner produced from his receipt pouch. Our contact immediately burst into hysterical laughter. What we hadn't taken into account was that the dictionary was Spanish-English, not Spanish-American. The English call an undershirt a vest and a vest a waistcoat. So, we had sent our camisetas (which translates as undershirt, feminine gender and was the local idiom for brassiere) to be dry-cleaned. For the rest of our visit, we were asked to show our camisetas or asked what color they were, etc. It was all in good natured teasing, but ever since, I've been careful to check where a dictionary was published before using it.

I guess I'd best come clean and admit that "vibes" do travel well in cyberspace and that I do find Chris to be a very appealing woman. I'll even go so far as to bet that she's a "Stone Fox". (Chris, here's a hint; it is not a doglike animal carved from rock)

-- Hardliner (, January 22, 1999.

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