Ed Yourdon On The Consequences Of Y2K

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Ed Yourdon on the effects of Y2K:

Peter de Jager has published his opinion in Scientific American..." "My opinion, as you'll see below, is substantially different."

"I believe that Y2K will be equivalent to throwing a million monkey wrenches into the "engine" of the global economy, and that it will lead to a depression similar in severity and duration to the Great Depression."

"If "recession" is equivalent to "darn," then "depression" is a hundred times worse than "damn."

"I believe it will wipe out a great deal of wealth in the stock market"

"But it does mean that we're likely to be living in an environment much like the Third World countries some of us have visited, where nothing works particularly well."

"Large companies won't finish their Y2K projects; even if they manage to finish their mission-critical projects"

"The optimists will argue, of course, that 99% of the companies will get 99% of their systems fixed; but as I've argued in many different articles and essays (including Y2K Projects: Deja Vu All Over Again), this would defy 30 years of software engineering history."

"Even if the large companies finish, the small companies won't." "Several surveys in recent months have confirmed that nearly 75% of the small businesses around the world have not yet carried out any Y2K planning or remediation; even more amazing, 40-50% don't plan to do anything until something breaks on January 1, 2000."

"There are approximately 23.5 million small businesses in the United States; even if we assume that 50% start and finish their Y2K projects successfully,there's another 50% who won't start, and therefore won't finish."

"The same is true for small towns and municipalities across the country: approximately 50% have not yet done anything, and don't plan to do anything."

"The emerging data in this area indicates that even fully-remediated and fully- tested software is likely to have an average of 450-900 defects (bugs)for every million lines of code."

"Optimists might assume that all of these bugs will be fixed within a matter of hours or days; but if the problems involve non-compliant suppliers, or non-compliant embedded systems, then it could take weeks or months to find a compliant replacement."

"Those who have warned about Y2K alarmists causing bank runs will usuallyadmit that the entire fractional reserve banking system relies on the confidence of depositors: if all of us lose confidence in the banks, and if we all demand to withdraw our money, then the banks collapse."


This is the kind of analysis that the pollyanna can not contemplate, nor ANSWER. So they plug their ears. They deceive themselves into thinking it will be analagous to a two day snowstorm.

They NEVER rebut these points. They just whine about them. The flints. The Paul Davis's. The neuhardts.

especially the neuhardts. "I don't see any evidence. Post the evidence I don't see any evidence. Post the evidence. I don't see any evidence. Post the evidence."

Then the evidence and conclusions are posted and they go back into their endless loop of whining.

Ed is more than competent in the realm of computers. His arguments are based on facts, not fantasy like myopic de jagerite's.

-- Paul Milne (fedinfo@halifax.com), February 05, 1999


...Paul, I almost wish I could get laid off right now. Big lump-sum severence and balance of 401k I could use to pay off debts and finish preparing. Almost happened late last fall. Jeez! Anyway, keep up the good work and TAKE NO PRISONERS!

-- Jeremiah Jetson (laterthan@uthink.y2k), February 05, 1999.

Thanks again Paul for your "get-to-the-point," jounalism. You truly are the voice of reason. You leave no stones unturned.

-- bardou (bardou@baloney.com), February 05, 1999.

"My Y2K Outlook: A Year of Disruptions, a Decade of Depression"


-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), February 05, 1999.

Sir : I lived through the Great Depression. Walked a mile and back to buy a man a pack of cigarettes and hoped he would give me a nickle ! People must start thinking of where they may plant a VERY large garden AND buy NON hybrid seeds NOW !! If the food AND seed processing plants go down from imbedded chips , you will have a HARD time getting a supply of the non hybrid seeds , as they make up ONLY two percent of all that are sold ! You'll have a hard time explaining to your hungry children and grandchildren how you overlooked such an important preperation for such a KNOWN DISASTER . Eagle

-- Harold E. Walker (e999eag;le@freewwweb.com), February 05, 1999.


When did Dr. Yourdon write this article? The parts of the article which are fact rather than opinion are the statistics and they seem to be out of line with what I have seen lately but I don't spend as much time researching this issue as you do. Whether or not these are current statistics there are many of us in the computing profession besides de Jager who take exeption with Dr. Yourdon's conclusions. Besides my cyber-pals, I have eyeball-to-eyeball relationships with a lot of computer professionals who have completed or nearly completed their Y2k repairs and have experienced, as I have, that comparing a Y2k project to a development project is like comparing apples to oranges.

I have read some of Yourdon's articles in computer trade journals recently and they don't seem nearly as gloomy as what you have presented here. How about providing the URL?

Regarding small businesses, you must accept that these statistics include very small businesses and many of them have so little automation that it is not important. I have alerted and counciled numerous small business owners over the past two years and most of them were able to solve their Y2k problem in a short period of time. Example, a friend of mine owns three furniture stores with PC-based point-of-sale, inventory, etc. When I alerted him about the problem in 1997 he went to his vendor and found his system was not compliant. From the time I gave him the warning until he installed all new systems from a new vendor six months elapsed.

Another friend of mine owns a company which sells large equipment to petro chemical manufacturers. He employees about 30 people. I told him that his twenty year old mini-computer based system was probably at risk. Nine months later he was running a brand new, Y2k compliant, PC based system which immediately increased the efficiency of his operation.

Before you start calling me names, let me say I am not a Polyanna and I have no quarrel with you or Dr. Yourdon. It is not hard to paint a gloomy picture of what MIGHT occur but it is also relatively easy to find scores of instances where the importance of certain data is exagerated either intentionally or innocently. Like you and like me Dr. Yourdon has a less than perfect record in predicting the future.

I look for more than a bump in the road but less than the Great Depression Version II. By the way, the Great Depression lasted several times as long as previous Depressions so if we have just an average, run-of-the-mill depression maybe we'll be out of it in eighteen to twenty four months. Though I am more optimistic than you are and more optimistic than I was six months age, I still think we are likely to suffer economically because of the volume and variety of service disruptions. However, I believe we will recover quickly.

Thanks for the post. You definitely keep all us dreadful optimist on our toes. My glass will remain half full at least for now.

-- Woe Is Me (wim@doom.gloom), February 05, 1999.

Gee Woe...why so glum? Weren't you on a few other threads today harping that y2k was over, or was that your brother Flint?

-- a (a@a.a), February 05, 1999.

Visit http://www.russkelly.com if you want the latest polls, and any information on where all the experts "stand" on Y2K is. According to this site, Ed hasn't budged off his original assessment.

-- ~~ (~~@~~.com), February 05, 1999.

'Good work', 'voice of reason'. Groan.

OK, lets consider some of this stuff.

23.5 million small businesses in the US. Well, this comes to somewhere between 3 and 4 people on average per small business at the most. Remediation for businesses of this size is estimated at about 3 hours and less than $1000, with very few exceptions. Impact: zilch.

Are we headed for a Great Depression? Depends on who you talk to. (Even Yourdon emphasizes that he *doesn't know* what's coming.) The fact that we're headed for something undesirable is beyond dispute. Just how undesirable is in great dispute. Yourdon expects another Great Depression? We can hope he's wrong, but at least we know how to deal with one if we get one. History has a lot to offer us here.

No question that large companies won't finish everything. What impact will this have? We can only assume the worst and prepare for it. Were those hiding in the boonies better off during the depression? In most cases no. Those who had money (and no significant debts) did best. A word to the wise. Have money set aside (*not* in banks) and don't owe on anything you can't do without (if possible). This is prudent anytime. It's mandatory now. Be prepared. Consider *anything* you can live through as an inconvenience. Pick up the pieces later.

I simply isn't true that small municipalities don't plan to do anything. It's true that they don't plan to do any remediation; they plan to react to whatever happens. Can they? How well? What problems could they have avoided by spending money they don't have? I don't know, Milne doesn't know. My prediction: For most people the consequences will be relatively insignificant. By 'relatively', I mean survival will depend on more important things.

We know the defect rates in code from experience. This rate won't change. The implication that everyone will slap untested code into production simultaneously is simply false. Remediated code is being returned to production daily, with the expected error rate. We're keeping up with these errors, and fixing them most of the time. In the case of some systems, we're postponing the Big One while we search for a more permanent fix. Will we manage them all? No, we won't. Will we manage enough? Probably, most of the time, in most cases, not all. Will the ones that bite cause problems? You bet. Can we live with these? Most of us, yes. Some of us, no.

Yourdon falls back on the 'could take weeks or months to find a compliant replacement'. This is very true. How common will this be? Yourdon doesn't know, nobody knows. What can be done in the meantime? Surely this will be widely variable, from effective quick kludges to local disasters. Anyone who purports to know how effectively specialists can respond to unknowable, unpredictable problems is trying to sell you a bridge.

Yourdon says, if we lose confidence in the banks, they'll collapse. This is true, barring government intervention (the effects of which may make things worse or better, who knows?). But this is generic: IF we lose confidence in almost anything, it's toast. Banking has relied on confidence since the renaissance. Banking serves a useful economic function, and some equivalent of banking will exist in any post-y2k world. And it will still rely on confidence. Planting crops has relied on confidence in the weather since agriculture was invented. This confidence hasn't always been rewarded -- crop failures are pretty common. But starvation is rare, and where it exists it's for political reasons, not for lack of food.

As for the Milne weirdness: what can you say? First we're told that we plug our ears. (Why are we here if our ears are plugged?) Then we're told we don't rebut these points. We do, but ignore that. Then we're told that we whine. We don't, but let's ignore that too. Then we're told that we ask for evidence. Yes, evidence is good, we all want it. But then we're back to the whining. Apparently a request for evidence is whining. But let's ignore that too. Childish attackes against selected individuals get us nowhere.

Finally, we're told that Yourdon knows what he's talking about. Yes, no question about that. When Yourdon speaks, you'd be a fool not to listen. Is Yourdon right and we're headed for another Great Depression? I don't know, nobody knows, but I'm not going to bet against it. You shouldn't either.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 05, 1999.

To woe:

"Regarding small businesses, you must accept that these statistics include very small businesses and many of them have so little automation that it is not important."

I MUST accept? You argument is BOGUS. In fact it is no argument at all. You TELL me I must accept such and such. Well the article below trashes your 'opinion' and explains that it is a common 'misconception'.


First bout of Y2K flu to hit soon

By Stan Beer

The visiting chief of a UK financial software multinational has warned of a looming millennium bug disaster which may hit many SMEs less than two months from now.

Mr Ian Stewart, group chief executive of QSP Financial Information Systems, said in Melbourne yesterday a large proportion of organisations with 50 to 1,000 staff would run into trouble when they closed their books for the current financial year.

In the UK, Canada and Japan, where the 1999-2000 financial year begins in April, companies could run into fatal problems when they tried to roll over date-riddled invoicing, credit and debit management and general ledger systems into the new year, Mr Stewart said. What happened in April could well be repeated three months later in Australia (and in much of the US) on July 1, he said. "There is a common misconception that year 2000 problems are going to hit at the end of December this year or early January 2000. "However, early April in the UK and the beginning of July in Australia, when companies do their year-end closing, are going to be interesting times for SMEs," Mr Stewart said. "Forget about planes falling from the sky; what happens if a company's financial system gets wiped?


And there is MORE in this article, Woe.....

Small to medium sized businesses are THE BACKBONE of our economy.

What does he say about this?

"Small and mid-sized companies are in deep trouble and many will stopworking."

Are they aware of what they ned to do?

"He said the lack of awareness about the Y2K issue in many SMEs was disturbing: "You talk to some of these companies about the year 2000 problemand it's troubling to see the glazed expressions you receive."

Laugably, the pollyannas have maintained that these 'little' guys can make dowithout computers. What does he have to say about this?

"Mr Stewart said any claims that some SMEs could operate without computerswere nonsense.

"SMEs have the same type of cash-flow requirements as largecorporations and if they can't do their invoicing and maintain their debtors'files, how are they going to operate? It is inconceivable today for anorganisation of any reasonable size to operate without computers."

Nonsense is right. Most small business have not even started. Do they havetime to do anything?

"Mr Stewart said it was already far too late for many SMEs to implement even apartial fix of their financial systems."

That's right. Too freaking late. Why?

"It's far too late to go through a business process re-engineering and implementing a full-blown ERP system from someone like SAP," he said. "Ittakes QSP 90 days to implement a basic system of mission-critical corefinancials."

The bottom line is this. NOT ENOUGH HAS BEEN DONE. He says it is FAR TOO LATE.Even in the US. And the rest of the world is light years behind.So you just keep ignoring the evidence and sit on you asees and think it isgoing to be a two day snowstorm and magically everything will get fixed. Oh, look! There's the Seventh Cavalry coming over the hill! Horray!

What guys like you, WOE, ignore is that even if a smal business does not need a computer it is uterrly dependent upon those who **DO**

GET IT YET? Now I have refuted your claim. I have provided EVIDENCE that what you asserted that I MUST accept is NOT true. All you had was mere rhetoric that I MUST accept a bogus proposition.

Your turn.

Provide EVIDENCE, like I did for you.

-- Paul Milne (fedinfo@halifax.com), February 05, 1999.

I have to agree that the whole Y2K thing gets curiouser and curiouser.

Everyone on the pollyana patrol seems to be in a state of denial or there is a distinct undercurrent of "newspeak". A "bump in the road," "a small pimple on the butt of commerce". Yet no one can coherently refute the fact that we are in a global economy that is so intertwined that this event has to have significant impact.

Who cares if "You are Compliant" are all your suppliers, are the the suppliers for the local "Y2K Ready" power plant, how are we all doing on imbedded systems. We have a "universe" that is "wired" and interconnected to such a degree that to a business large or small that ignores this fact is cooked.

Lets, not get into the "self fulfilling prophesy" aspect of the problems. Banks, Uncle Sam, The Fed. whoever, lets information out in drips and drabs, and then they complain of "possible panic". Even so called experts like PdJ dance around lately like they really don't want to be the "trigger".

Well, I believe that we have set the stage stage for some real social, economic, and political problems fueled by a lack of leadership at the top. The "top" being any captain of industry, goverment official, or respected authority.

I am not a computer"code head", just someone who has looked at the situation and is reminded of the farmer who sold dried rabbit dropping to city people as "smart pill", one city dweller tasted them and said, Hey, This tastes like rabbit terd! The farmer said, "SEE your getting smarter all ready." Too bad more people are buying those smart pills.

-- Archimedes (robin@icubed.com), February 06, 1999.

Even if we make the obviously false assumption that every man, woman and child in the US is working for a small business, we come up with 10 employees per business (at Milne's own number of 23.5 million small US businesses). The real number is closer to 2 or 3 people on average.

Where does Milne come up with his EVIDENCE? Well, he quotes some Australian (not US, but what the hell, any port in a storm) citing businesses of 50-1000 employees. If every man, woman and child in the US is employed by the private sector, this places the US population at between 1.2 billion (low estimate) to 2.35 trillion people. Does Milne even begin to question his assumptions? Of course not. That would require *thinking*, too much to ask.

Now, back to Stan Beer (by the way, who is Stan Beer? Milne doesn't say)

The millenium bug 'may hit' SME's two months from now. Yes, it may. So may a meteor. So, how do we know? Well, Beer says that Mr. Ian Stewart, group chief executive of QSP Financial Information Systems (what's that? Do they sell something? Milne doesn't say) says they 'would run into trouble if they closed their books today'. How does Stewart know? No comment. Why would they close their books today? No comment. What sort of trouble would they encounter? No comment. Why would they have this trouble? No comment. Where does Stewart get his information? No comment. Facts, anyone?

Stewart does predict big problems to begin showing up in April. This is useful, since in less than two months we should have a MAJOR indication of what we're facing. I wonder what Milne will say then?

Oh yes, don't forget that these 1.2 billion to 2.3 trillion Australians in the US economy are our BACKBONE (How did we ever miss this?)

After Stewart finishes talking about SME's (50-1000 employees) Milne immediately resumes talking about small businesses (1-4 people), as though these were the same thing! Milne says the 1-4 category mostly hasn't started. This is true. He implies that this applies to the 50- 1000 type. This is utterly unsupported.

Stewart says the 50-1000 category that hasn't started is in trouble. This is reasonable. Milne misapplies this to the 1-4 category. This is stupid. What else is new?

And as usual, Milne finishes up this mishmosh of misinformation with his usual barrage of insults and claims of EVIDENCE! He apparently feels that this forum is not yet sophisticated enough to see through these diatribes.

Is it any wonder that csy2k is now ignoring him?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 06, 1999.

Flint: as usual, you make a good point every now and then, usually around 1% of the time. But keep up the good work - as you say, somebody's gotta do it.

Your approach to debunking Milne's "myths" reminds me of Johnny Cochran (damn, even the spell checker recognizes that one!) and his defense of the indefensible mountain of overwhelming evidence: taken one at a time, none of the prosecutions claims seemed convincing enough. But taken in toto, the "preponderance of evidence" left little doubt in most people's minds. The writing was "on the wall" so to speak.

-- a (a@a.a), February 06, 1999.

And BTW "flint-boy", as Papa Milne refers to you, the only ignoring of Milne I see on c.s.y2k is by the usual gang of moron pollyannas that have ridiculed him from the beginning. Or are newcomers like Kari and Gary your idea of y2k brain surgeons?

-- a (a@a.a), February 06, 1999.


If I can find a lever long enough, will you lift me the hell out of here?

-- Uncle Deedah (oncebitten@twiceshy.com), February 06, 1999.

Uncle Doodah- Sorry its way too deep, no lever is big enough! Watch it or you will get hit by flying rhetoric.


-- Archemides (robin@icubed.com), February 06, 1999.


When you cut out the parts of Yourdon's article that suited your purposes you used the quote that 75% of small businesses have not begun their Y2k project. The 23 million small businesses include many with little or no automation. My plumber has a small business which employees a dozen or so people and employs zero computers. His business is one of those 75% which have done nothing about Y2k. What I am trying to tell you is that 75% of 23 million proves nothing because it might be made up almost entirely of business with LESS than 50 employees and with little or no internal automation.

Regarding the quotes from the software salesman. They were mostly opinions. What percentage is "a large proportion"? Come on Paul, you know that's not evidence!

I know lots of small business owners who have not done enough but most of the ones I know are small enough that they still have time and most of them are starting to take the issue seriously. On the other hand virtually every local business I know of with more than 50 employees is working on Y2k. Will they all get everything fixed? No. Will most of them fix enough to survive? I think so, but I'm no prophet.

I was not too far from your position a year ago. One reason I have moved from doom and gloomer to muddlethrougher is that there appears to have been considerably more progress than I expected. Think about this now before you answer - in your opinion is the situation as bleak today as you would have projected a year ago or have you also seen more progress than you expected? Is your current expectation merely the depression that Yourdon predicts or do you anticipate societal meltdown? If we have societal meltdown, do you think anyone can be adequately prepared for that?

-- Woe Is Me (wim@doom.gloom), February 06, 1999.

'a'-boy (is this permitted), you raise an excellent point. According to polls (I have serious doubts about polls, but maybe you don't), over 90% of whites disagreed with the O.J. verdict, and over 90% of blacks agreed with it. This says a bit about bias, yes? Cochran knew his audience and his job. Maybe Milne does too?

Also, I agree that Milne still gets a rise from newcomers who have yet to parse out what has been called the 'Milne AI' and realize its severe limitations. They'll learn as we all have (except you, apparently, since you still seem to get a charge out of insulting people. You wouldn't program for government by any chance, would you? Even Yourdon said that the incompetence of government programmers is exceeded only by their apathy.)

I'm willing to change my mind at any time, and indeed I have over time and after a *lot* of study. I find real evidence backed by real analysis very convincing. Unsupported assertions, shallow rhetoric and personal insults only convince the feeble minded. If you want to make converts, you need more than what you've produced so far. Your tactics make you your own worst enemy. The time has really come for you to grow up and face the ambiguous, unpredictable world head-on. I know you can do this, as surely as I know Milne never can nor will. This forum could use another serious, substantive voice, not another schoolyeard bully. We need evaluation, and you can do it. Why play to the lowest common denominator when lives are at stake? Are you really that young?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 06, 1999.

WOE Before you do this on "small businesses" remember that Major League Baseball qualifies as a small to medium business in a LARGE number of stats books.


(Or so some of my brokers, and consultants were saying the other day)

-- Chuck, night driver (rienzoo@en.com), February 06, 1999.

I don't quite understand why Mr. Milne gets to crow over the Yourdon essay, as though it somehow validates his MUCH more extreme view of billions dying and complete societal meltdown and descent into savage anarchy. They are really very different scenarios. Seems to me gloomers get to claim too broad an area of the target as a bullseye. Keep prepping for earthquakes and nuclear war, though.


-- Runway Cat (Runway_Cat@hotmail.com), February 06, 1999.

Just reviewed Yourdon's article again. Sure seems to make sense.

My only fault is that he does not really address the social implications of his position, but I can understand that.

I think he has "nailed" it, in stating that the Y2K event will act as the "straw" in this economy. The Asian, Russian, Latin American crisis coupled with this event will be bad. Stock market P/E multiples are in the stratosphere, yet the money keeps pouring in. The market drops and eveyone "bids it up". Most people thinks it just can not end.

I think when the "paper wealth" is gone, people will come down off their "Market High" and look for someone to blame. In the 30's we had Huey Long and yes Hitler, Stalin, and Franco. Potential social meltdown, you bet. Losse of civil liberties you bet. Can a person prepare only to a point.

Everyone is so wrapped up in"lines of code" that they fail to step back and say,"How will all of this affect the world economy". Yourden is right market are affect as much by attitude as anything, people believe the market will go higher and higher, what happens when it declines.

Mom and Pop markets are just as likely to be impacted a General Motors. They may not need a computer but they use the bank, need products delivered, nedd to pay vendors and on and on. If the economy heads south I will bet the little guy is less able to tolerate the downturn than big multinationals.


-- Archimedes (robin@icubed.com), February 06, 1999.

Cat: as Cory noted on c.s.y2k, follow the moving van: Ed bugged out to the damn desert, Paul just slipped into the VA sticks.

Flint: Soon we may reach middle ground, son, but I'm not holding my breath. But a question:

Based on your other posts, you are obviously preparing to the hilt. Why then to you insist on trying to view things in the best possible light, when you yourself are frightened enough to be running for cover? Do you not see the danger in stressing your extreme optimism in front of this forum's newer members, especially in light of the current media/govt slant? Why do the doomers have to be guilty until proven innocent?

-- a (a@a.a), February 06, 1999.

HMMM, food for though there, Little a, though on the Chittum analysis, Milne's now in the safer location.... On the Skousen analysis they're probably both toast.


-- Runway Cat (Runway_Cat@hotmail.com), February 06, 1999.

Re: small business,

Has anyone considered how many small business' are sole propriater? these comprize a Large percentage of small business in my state. part of the "doing no remediation" in regards to Y2K. cuz we don't need to.

As for Milne's blather...

is all he EVER has to say!

(hey, Paul...if I send you $125, do I get a lil orphan annie decoder ring with my secret papers?...)


-- Knothead Ken (woodywoodbutcher@hotmail.com), February 06, 1999.

Ed's take on the potential effects of Y2K remind me a lot of Jo Anne Slaven's scenario. You can see that at:


January 1-10 ... blackout time

Janaury 11-31 ... *major* annoyance time

February 1 to May 31 ... depression time

June 1 to September 30 ... "cautiously hopeful" time

October 1 to Lord-knows-when ... Serious Shortage time (and a continuation of depression time)

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), February 06, 1999.

Christian prophets are rising up foretelling a coming doom. Ezekiel 7 and Isaiah 29 are passages that show why God allows a nation to fall. This isn't acceptable in most circles, even the church. Most of my people don't want to hear about y2k. I was in James Kennedy's church two weeks ago. He 'gets it' on y2k and a coming depression and 75% of his people are opposed to his message. In response to that he set up a y2k taskforce.

If you are not a Christian then you need the cold hard facts. So do Christians, but we also have the Holy Spirit who, "will show us things to come."

I affirm what Ed Yourdon has said. I believe he is correct. It affirms what I sense the Spirit saying to me. What Ed said about the financial markets has not been dealt with here. WHEN THE MARKETS CATCH ON, THERE WILL BE A RUN FOR THE SUPPLIES. Thursday, Ecuador announced it was on the verge of collapse. He who hesitates is lost. What thou doest do quickly.

These words are not meant to convince the yet unconvinced. If you have been on this forum and you don't think there is going to be a problem this post certainly isn't going to move you to go to Sam's. It is meant for procrastinators, those in the stage after denial. IT IS ACTION TIME FOLKS.

Pastor Bob

-- B Brown (peace2u@bellatlantic.net), February 06, 1999.

Every so often I re-read the survival literature I've accumulated. In, LUcifer's Hammer the build-up takes about half of the book.

During the other nights skimming of LH, I saw the passage where Sharps and Forrester are gathering the crew at JPL immediately after hammerstrike.

Forrester is amazed that their janitor acted on the conversations he overheard among the scientists over the months fthey were discussing the varying probabilities of impact. (the probs kept getting smaller)

Anyway, the janitor has his family and all their gear loaded in their station wagon out in the parking lot, figuring just in case the comet hits he wants to be ready. NOne of the scientists were ready!

I see these GI:DWGI threads as analogous to the plot set up in Lucifer's Hammer. The janitor had enough brains to act on the information he had.

les hogan "The waiting is the hardest part." Tom Petty

-- les hogan (hogan@hoganassoc.com), February 06, 1999.

Flint and Co. - you all make me laugh - you just cannot grasp the big picture can you?

This topic is rehashed constantly, evidently to no avail.

Facts are facts - try and interprate these facts logically.

There will be a HARD correction - have any of you guys ever travelled out of your own state, ever worked abroad, ever experienced other cultures???

If you had, and used your brains half way properly, you would realise that we are all facing potential calamity - it's just a question of degree.

Remember 1973 - the oil embargo??? We pay a pittance for oil in the USA compared to the rest of the world - Joes 6 pack will not be impressed when his gas guzzler is permanently parked in his driveway. And to add insult to injury everything else has gone to hell too.

Get real you guys - use your imagination fer 'cryin out loud!


Two digits. One mechanism. The smallest mistake.

"The conveniences and comforts of humanity in general will be linked up by one mechanism, which will produce comforts and conveniences beyond human imagination. But the smallest mistake will bring the whole mechanism to a certain collapse. In this way the end of the world will be brought about."

Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, 1922 (Sufi Prophet)

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), February 06, 1999.

Maybe the following quote from Woe illustrates much of the problem here:

"Is your current expectation merely the depression that Yourdon predicts or do you anticipate societal meltdown?

Somehow, as I interpret Woe and others, unless Y2K will result in total destruction of the world -- societal meltdown, back to the caves -- then we don't have a serious problem. A depression becomes "merely" a depression.

Merely? Woe, have you ever lived in a home near a railroad track that runs to California, and counted the men dropping off trains, going from house to house, willing to do a days work for a meal, looking for any job that would let them send money back to their families, begging, in total despair?

I remember stories about thsse days, Woe, and they weren't pleasant stories. My father made a grave decision in 1928 ...... he quit the job he had as a civil engineer for a large bridge building firm and went to work for the US Geological Survey. He was a 1920s GI. Half the pay, but come 1930 he had a job and the bridge building firm was bankrupt. Who knows, maybe some of the people who came knocking at my father's door used to work for that company.

Merely? Oh, that's not the end of the world, is it? But it is the end of the world as we know it -- a world of full employment, of rising stock prices, of new yuppie toys being marketed every week, of vacations on the beaches or the ski slopes. What percentage of the population hit the beach in the '30s?

Merely? Woe, have you ever stood in a soup kitchen line, being reduced to begging for scraps, wondering how your family, now thousands of miles away, were making out......hoping that the little money you'd been able to leave them would tide them over until you got work? Have you ever known that hopelessness? That despair?

Merely? ................. Merely? What an extremely poor choice of words.

Woe, it's very sad that you are reduced to using terms like "merely a depression" as tools in a verbal war. I hope, and pray, that you don't really consider a "mere depression" something to be looked forward to, and that your fingers typed without input from your brain.

Merely a depression? In the 1930's we were a totally different society than we are now. Government influence on our lives hadn't begun......the depression of the '30s was the reason given for the beginning of that 'benevolent care.' Do you not realize that a depression now would simply be an excuse for further expansion of that attitude? Do you ignore the warning signs that indicate that tightened government control is a real possibility?

Merely a depression? The last depression required a major world war in order for the US economy to recover to the point it had been before the crash of 1929. All signs indicate that the coming crash will be worse. [Elliott Wave Theory indicates a downturn of one higher order of magnitude, for example.] Someone indicated that depressions aren't too bad, that we know how to manage a depression. Yeah, right, just throw another world war and kill off another ten or twenty or one hundred million people. That's management of a depression.

Merely a depresssion -- merely another global war so that we might recover -- merely another few hundred million killed -- merely total government control of our lives?

That may be worse than anything Milne ever envisioned.

-- De (dealton@concentric.net), February 06, 1999.

De --- you are so right. A worldwide depression = TEOTW-AWKI.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 06, 1999.

De: you hit the nail on the head. Pollys like Davis and Woe use this reasoning: what is the chance of the end of the world occurring? Very small. Therefore, it must be gonna be OK!

I feel sorry for them. Their tiny minds are in overdrive as they desperately cling to the hope that all will be well. A few days to fix the problems. Back in the Lexus and heading to the seafood restaurant with the family by February 00. Each little story of "good news" reinflates their ego as they somehow think this small drop in the bucket is indicative of the big picture.

As Milne says, won't be long now.

-- a (a@a.a), February 06, 1999.


Nice work but you were barking up the wrong tree. I was MERELY pointing out that Yourdon's position seems to be quite a distance removed from Milnes. But I guess I should have been clearer.

I am still on the path and don't claim to know what the outcome will be but I don't mind taking a few minutes from time to time to point out the Y2k hyperbole for what it is. Sorry if your feelings were hurt by your perception of what I said.

Now here's a fact you won't like. Most of my peers are expecting results far less damaging than you so-called GI's. But what do we know? We just happen to be leading the repair efforts. I guess all the really smart people are drawing their conclusions based on the opinions of butchers, bakers and candle stick makers.

Regarding the growth of government in ours lives, I too am bothered by that but it will continue with or without Y2k as long as folks are willing to use the tax system to steal from their neighbors in the name of wealth redistribution. That is a topic for another forum.

Now, if no one elses answers that bullshit thread about people being dead on their W-2 forms then I'll get to it later. You won't like the answer because the W-2 screw-up had absolutely nothing to do with Y2k and the evidence is readily available.

"The object of opening the mind as of opening the mouth is to close it again on something solid." G. K. Chesterton

-- Woe Is Me (wim@doom.gloom), February 06, 1999.

Since I've been alive, the highest the unemployment rate ever got was near 10% in 1982-83. In 1932-33 the unemployment rate was 25%.

Another depression would definitely be the end of the world AS I'VE KNOWN IT. What does a depression mean? For many farmers who could grow their own food in the 1930's, it meant being able to eat, but not having the money to buy a new pair of shoes.

That's a depression.

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), February 06, 1999.

Great post De.

What differences will there be from the 30's depression and the one just ahead?

Here are a couple of my suggestions:

1) In the first one the world had the skills to live off the land. 2) In the first one the way people treated one another was different, a different ethics and morality existed. 3) Christianity was uncontested except by atheistic secular humanism. 4) While their were ethnic groups, there was nothing like the diversity that is in the U.S. today. 5) There are terrorists waiting to take advantage of our weakness. 6) We now live in a welfare state. 7) Drugs have made people today paranoid and crazy. 8) People trusted in the government. 9) The population was much smaller. 10) The U.S. was not as interconnected with other nations as it it today and dependent on foreign imports.

All of this will make for a much worse depression than the one in the 30's.

Pastor Bob

-- B Brown (peace2u@bellatlantic.net), February 06, 1999.

There ya go, that's it. This is my next reply to Nicoli:

"Oh don't worry about those people who are starving, they're merely hungry"

-- Uncle Deedah (oncebitten@twiceshy.com), February 06, 1999.


Had to respond to your comment. You imply that because you and your cohorts are fixing company Woe's y2k problem, and think all is well, this translates universally.

I hear this all the time from geeks: Our company's OK. Therefore, y2k will be a blip.

Big picture. Amazing how even intelligent folks miss the forest for the trees.

-- Steve Hartsman (hartsman@ticon.net), February 06, 1999.

Thank you, Paul Milne.

Don't let those in denial of the forthcoming disaster persuade you to stop posting what shall surely happen. Amen to Pastor Bob's postings. Amen to those who lived through the Great Depression. My Grandmother is the ONLY one in my family who recognizes that our nation may go kaput. Last week my mother told me she plans on taking out some money by October. I asked her why she wouldn't do it now. She said it was too early. Then she asked me if I had withdrawn some funds. I grew silent. (You know what I did, don't you?) I don't want her to panic, only realize that she must prepare. My brother is a strong Christian, but he doesn't think our economy shall be wrecked. He smirks at me. Guess what? I won't give up! I'm working on him. I perceive his wife will fully awake first since her maternal instincts will kick in for their three sons.


-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), February 06, 1999.


The big picture is composed of uncountable little pictures all added together. From our perspective, the big picture is speculation and creative storytelling. The little pictures are real, but too small to permit valid extrapolations. Woe knows this, he's not missing the obvious. In a case like this, we all do the best we can with whatever is in our power to deal with, and we hope.

"I hear this all the time from geeks: Our company's OK. Therefore, y2k will be a blip. "

I hear this all the time too. Usually it goes: We're in good shape, we're satisfied that our key customers and vendors are in good shape, and *not one* of us is willing to say so publicly for fear of many unknowns. Something might come up that we missed. We might get blamed for something we couldn't control. Something we considered noncritical might turn out to be a lot more important than we thought. Whatever. Best to keep fixing, keep testing, and keep quiet.

"Big picture. Amazing how even intelligent folks miss the forest for the trees. "

Yes, but as the number of trees dwindles, the forest changes character. At some critical point, it isn't a forest anymore. Hearing individual, informal success stories "all the time" is surely a positive sign. It changes the big picture little by little.

As Yogi Berra might have said, Even if everyone is OK, it won't matter because nobody else is!

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), February 06, 1999.


I like the way you put things. It strikes an approving note.

Ken, THANK YOU for the baby picture of Milne! It made my day! How friggin' hilarious, and apt!

"a", you really are a disappointment all right---at first you seemed intelligent, but now you just appear to be rooting around in the ground cover.

-- Frances (Frances2@pencil.com), February 06, 1999.


Based on my 25 years of IT experience, the one item, though anecdotal, that gives me some hope about Y2K is what Flint raises ("we know we're okay, but can't speak for others"). The growing chorus of those voices, while it isn't evidence, does pass my "smell test" for "how things really are in IT." It's "the way the shops operate."

That said, I'm sure Yourdon knows how to smell that too.

Point: you don't have to be a pollyanna to expect LOTS and LOTS of good Y2K news this year. After all, a bunch of stuff will be fixed: the remediation money ain't all going down the drain. A big bunch of stuff. Heck, let's take at face value that 80% of U.S. mission-critical systems WILL be fixed. That's a LOT of a LOT of stuff.

Sadly, and ominously though, the facts remain (no matter how we finesse and qualify them):

1. Slipped schedules, which are nearly universal, are a highly reliable historic IT predictor of eventual systems failure even for systems that were/are released (e.g., claimed compliant/ready).

2. Reduction or elimination of acceptance testing plans, which many entities publicly acknowledge will be the case, especially when interfaces between industries/systems is the ballgame, is another highly reliable IT failure predictor.

3. Restriction of the remediation effort, due to 1 above, to mission-critical systems, with numerous world government acknowledgements ALREADY that < 100% will be remediated, given the additional likelihood of the failure of many non-mission critical systems, can be reasonably construed as a predictor of coming failure.

4. Explicit decisions (at least if the surveys are correct) by tens of millions of SMEs worldwide to fix-on-failure is (surely those of us in IT will agree) a stupid "bet the business" decision and poses an obvious threat to the supply chain.

5. Embedded systems remain a wild card threat. Only a tiny percentage breaking in the wrong places (oil rigs under the ocean, weapons systems, large-scale manufacturing) could multiply problems 1-4 above beyond the ability of the infrastructure to cope.

I know that we all tend to get tense and flame or semi-flame one another, but I honestly (honestly) can't see how any of these five facts can be seriously questioned?

That is, Yourdon's specific prediction of 'x' years of depression can be reasonably questioned. He acknowledges that himself. But how can these facts and their clear peril be denied?

I have to wonder sometimes whether people aren't trying to damp down preparation. Anything to prevent that canard, "panic."

.... And please don't tell me lots of stuff is being fixed. I ACCEPT THAT. It doesn't change the picture TODAY.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 06, 1999.

italics off.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 06, 1999.

Very good summary Big Dog.

That is the essence of why both poly's and gloom&doom can both be right - until the event happens, no one knows, and everyone on earth (whether they know of the potential troubles or not) must face the future based on the way he or she has decided it will play itself out.

So, if Flint choses to prepare for 2-3-4 weeks of irritating inconveniences, or I chose to prepare for 4 weeks of severe intermittent collapse, followed by a slow intermittent recovery of services, we've got to make that decision based on the evidence at hand.

My question to those attacking us for preparing is: what will you do if you are wrong? What will you do if the rosy scenario you are so willing to assume will happen turns black? Are you willing to concede that failure - of some unknown period - might occur? What makes you so willing to gamble that nothing will happen that you hazard your family in an effort to denigrate those who chose to hedge their bets towards a possible difficult future?

It is my contention that many of the lately attacking Troll's (deliberately aided by the government and media) are deliberately hiding the truth from taxpayers based on their fear of a banking panic. Poly's - NOT the same as trolls - who examine the same issues but come to a different opinion (prophecy) I feel are not willing to concede the brittle nature of (1) the supply side chain of few sources and many interdependencies between supplier and consumer (2) the inability of most consumers to fend for themselves without handouts from the government or theft from others - if infrastructure troubles hit hard for more a two-three days (and they may panic if the infrastructure fails for a few hours and they have not prepared. (3) the inability of major industries to recover in a timely manner (chemical, petroleum, gasoline, shipping, trucking, warehousing, sales, and computers to recover until electrical system distribution is stable.

Poly's will continue to see massive amounts of "good news" - we all will - because even worst case scenarios "predict" up to 80% compliance. There will be massive amounts of good news - like that one utility group in the Northwest that might be okay (down to the substation level - where manual intervention will be required - or the plants in Sweden (Norway ?) running ahead in 2000 already.

Good - great even, the power outages in those two areas may be brief. (Gotta to drive the substation and reset it again! See ya in three hours, hope nothing else breaks until I get back. )

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), February 07, 1999.

Mr. Milne,

I never once said I didn't see evidence. However, fifteen times (now sixteen) I said I never saw any of yours. What's more, I'll keep saying it until either you present some or quit railing about other's failure to present some. I abhor hypocrisy, and you sir are loaded with it.

-- Paul Neuhardt (neuhardt@ultranet.com), February 07, 1999.

Mr. Milne, you siad

"Ed is more than competent in the realm of computers. His arguments are based on facts, not fantasy like myopic de jagerite's."

Interesting comments on Ed's competence and the source of his arguments. On what are basing this assesment? It couldn't possibly be that you are willing to consider him an expert in a field where you are not. After all, when I came out and said that I couldn't be an expert in the electircal power industry and I would consider the opinions of two people who were (Roleigh Martin and Dick Mills), you jumped all over me and dismissed both Martin and Mills as fools. The strange part is, when you read the postings on Ed's site and the publications he edits, he relies heavily on the work of both Mills and Martin when assesing the electric industry. In fact, the Martin article I quoted appeared in an issue of The Cutter IT Journal with a special theme on Y2K. All the articles in that publication (including mine, BTW) were personally solicited by Ed.

How is it that you can describe Ed as competent when he so obviously relies on sources of onformation you consider incompetent? Do you not see the obvious contradiction?

-- Paul Neuhardt (neuhardt@ultranet.com), February 07, 1999.

Mr. Milne,

I have a lot of respect for Ed. I don't agree with him all of the time, but I have a lot of respect for him. When I began learning how to program 19 years ago, Ed was already a legend. He still is.

HOWEVER, it would be unwise to follow simply because Ed leads. Ask him how the mass exodous of jobs to India he predicted in one book turned out. Ask him how the CASE methods and industry he championed for years worked out (Answer: it didn't.). Ask him how many people he finds actually using the Coad/Yourdon Object Oriented Analaysis and Desgin methods he co-created. Not many, I'll wager.

Ed is a person just like the rest of us. He has unique experience and insight, but he also makes mistakes. Listen to him, but don't follow just because he speaks. And make no mistake about it, Ed is presenting his opinions in that article. He says so himself, and it is clear that this is what he is doing. Why, he even uses the phrase you hate so much, "nobody *knows* what will happen." So don't hold Ed up as a beacon of the obvious word of Y2K. He is working through this just liek the rest of us: read, analyze, opine and refine.

-- Paul Neuhardt (neuhardt@ultranet.com), February 07, 1999.

Ed was not a legend when he wrote what he did. Only those who did not know their head from a hole in the ground thought so. Simply because, like him, they could not understand how to do what they were there to do. Simply it was too small for their small brains to understand so it had to be wrong. Meanwhile those those who could did and managed to make life easy for for all those who couldn't and sit and still complain. Those who could are still doing it while those who couldn't still sit and complain. You hear of so many who have problems, yet what about those big international companies who have no Y2k problems and never did? Could it be that not every programmer like Ed was too stupid to realise twenty-thirty years ago that using two digit years was rather an ignorant thing to do? Kind of odd don't you think, that those who are doing the most screaming are those who screwed up in the first place? And those of us who were smart enough to realise decades ago not to make the two digit year mistake are the ones sitting in our warm little home watching others panic? Maybe we know something you don't know. Like it will not be as big a problem as some would have you think. That the majority of problems have been caused by those brilliant IT's in the last decade or so who just did not get it.

-- Miss Mona L. (brains@the first.place), February 08, 1999.


Who are some of "those big international companies who have no Y2k problems and never did"?

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), February 08, 1999.

Miss Mona:

If they do not need any of the 900 odd billion estimated to date, so much the better. More likely, they need it - don't know it because they haven't looked for trouble yet, and so haven't found it.

Now, that doesn't mean the trouble isn't there, isn't critical, and can't be solved. Just that any company or government that hasn't looked will of course not find anything. Until they shut down.

Because, as stated before, no company, no CEO, no CIO, no president of any firm worldwide who has finished a Y2K project through testing has said - "Our Y2K effort was not needed. It was a waste of money. We should have done something else. We should have raised my salary. We should have increased after tax profits, or declared a dividend, or ...."

The majority of the publicists who claim it will be nothing, who decry those who are trying to prepare, are people connected to or paid by the liberal governments of the US and UK who are now desperately afraid of the panic they have caused by lying about and failing to solve the problem.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), February 08, 1999.

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