Are you anticipating a non-catastrophe? Then I want to hear from you. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Okay, I'm getting tired and fuzzy with all of the bad news. I remain very pessimistic about the impact of Y2K on many levels. I claim to base my assumptions of what is to come as a result of reading about failures, lies about successes (SSI and FAA), about lack of across-the-board compliance in all industries, about statements and assumptions made by Cowles, Yourdon, Yardeni, A. Simpson, the new senate report, the old senate hearings, Senators Dodd and Bennett, Cori H. and so on and so forth.

Now, what I would like to know is for posters who think this is not going to be a huge and devastating problem, what sources are you going by to establish your opinions? I would ask that you keep your posts limited to specific sources, and not assumptions based on personal feelings with no backing. I would ask that flamers keep a lid on it. I want to be directed to positive experiences and positions from authoritative sources who are proving that it is not going to be that bad. Thank you in advance for your responses.

-- Bumble Bee (, February 26, 1999


BB, your premise is flawed. A negative cannot be "proven". In fact, nothing can be "proven" outside closed abstract systems (science and math). Even in physics, there is only "evidence" for hypotheses, no proof. Now, suppose you asked me "Show me the evidence that aliens will not land tomorrow and eat us the way we eat our fellow creatures (animals)." I cannot do it. It may happen. But you are the one who needs to show ME evidence that it will happen.

So far, a great deal of quality evidence has been adduced, indicating that y2k will cause substantial economic disruption. However, given the failure of spike dates so far, and the fact that many people are working on correcting the problem, I think the burden of proof is on the gloomers to show concrete evidence that the electrical grid will fail, substantially or completely, over very wide areas. This is evidence is not yet persuasive to me. If that premise can be established conclusively, then I agree with Gary North that the fall of western civilization is entailed as an ineluctable consequence.

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), February 26, 1999.

In the above response, the phrase "science and math" should read "logic and math".

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), February 26, 1999.

BB, Yes, I anticipate no nationwide catastrophe in the US; but there is enough evidence of a possible catastrophe that my rational thoughts force me to prepare. Therefore, I feel rather foolish when I stroll up to the checkout clerk with several dozen cans of tuna and Dinty Moore, but, hey, she rings me up and I willingly pay the bill. It's my sense that this is the situation of the large majority of GI's. I have a very strong feeling that next February I'm going to be eating a lot of rice and canned soup for lunch while sitting in front of the tube watching a bunch of total morons get rich while the stock market climbs to 15,000 without me in tow. We've all got our own demons and I guess fear of starvation is one of mine.

Am I missing the point of your question? Are you looking for those who see absolutely no possibility of catastrophe?

-- Puddintame (, February 26, 1999.

Bumble Bee, since I am a doom&gloomer, please forgive me for "crashing" your thread requesting input from the pollyannas. However, Blue Himalayan's comment regarding "burden of proof" touches on something that I posted only yesterday, so I'd like to submit it (with slight editing, since it was specific to the thread that I had posted on). Regarding where to put the burden of proof:

In a criminal trial, we put the burden of proof beyond a reasonable
doubt on the prosecution, because we recognize that incarceration or
even death of the defendant might be the result, and we want to
minimize the possibility of having an innocent person erroneously
convicted. I think that it is a fair statement to say that our
life-sustaining systems (such as electric utilties) clearly have
life-and-death ramifications to our society, and that it is
therefore prudent to require that these institutions prove that
they have taken proper measures to fix the Y2K problem. Somehow, the
approach of, "Well, we didn't see any reason to worry about Y2K,
because nobody could ever prove that it would be a problem",
just does not cut it when contrasted to the penalty of being wrong.

-- Jack (, February 26, 1999.

Hey P'Tame:

If I have to spend all of 2000 eating Dinty Moore and Spam, while my DGI bro-in-law laughs in my face as the 15,000 Dow makes him a millionaire, I'll be praising Jesus for sparing our society such devastation.

The alternative, eating Dinty Moore and Spam while clutching the Mossberg 12-gauge and peering out the window to see if that last roving gang has reorganized for a counter attack, is infinitely worse. Even being able to say "I told you so," to my bro-in-law as I hand him his daily ration of Dinty, won't make it worthwhile.

I my book, the fear of starvation is not a demon.

-- rick blaine (, February 26, 1999.

I suggest that you'll believe what you want as evidence in "lies about successes". AT&T stated on their web site that they completed remediation of 98% of their systems as of Dec 98. You could believe it or not. What positive experiences or authoritative sources would be acceptable to you? What do you think $650 billion will do for Y2K? You don't think that any progress is being made with this kind of budget? I believe that these dollars are going towards fixing the Y2K problem. You make your preparations however you see fit and no amount of proof will force you to do otherwise.

-- Lucy (, February 26, 1999.

Lucy, I actually feel pretty good about AT&T based on their representations which I belive are accurate. Now if they can just figure out how to force crude oil through those fiber optic lines . . .

-- Puddintame (, February 26, 1999.

And how they'll handle the load if MCI or Sprint traffic has to be re-routed over AT&T's lines. Heck, just having to re-route the Cuba traffic while we get Fidel calmed down has messed up dial-tone in some areas. Think what it'll be like if one of Telco's "major laggards" can't cope...

-- Mac (, February 26, 1999.

Jack: Yes, there are 2 distinct questions here.

Question (1): should we be prepared to the utmost of our knowledge and ability, the answer is obviously yes, for anything: depression, war, y2k, earthquake, tornado, civil breakdown, alien invasion, job loss.

Question (2), trying to prognosticate from an intellectual point of view on the specific likely outcome of y2k, is just an exercise, but within the terms of that exercise, the burden of 'proof' is on those who assert that things will collapse, just as the burden of proof is on the prosecutor to prove the defendant "did it". The system is innocent until 'proven' guilty. (By the way *pant* *pant*, there's no proof of anything outside logic and mathematics, which are closed formal systems!!!)Unless you use proof in the sloppy informal sense meaning just 'evidence', in which case say 'evidence'.

The only place where (1) intersects with (2) is in the issue of TIMING, but to that we can say, covering all the eventualities mentioned in (1), that an earthquake (etc.) could happen even sooner than y2k, so even if you are a y2k polly, get prepared yesterday.

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), February 26, 1999.

Blue, I can't disagree with anyone who advocates preparation, but quite frankly I suspect that quite a few people are not going to because they feel that Y2K problems have not been "proven" sufficiently to them.

Although I personally think that the amount of proof that Y2K is going to be TEOTWAWKI is staggering, maybe the best way to think of Y2K is like this: a bomb threat. I mean, when some nut calls in a bomb threat to a public building, the building is cleared and the existence of the bomb is "disproved" (or found and defused!). So, if it helps, consider Y2K like this, and prepare!!

-- Jack (, February 26, 1999.

Someone in an earlier thread mentioned one of the Navy's test modes, termed a "smoke test." It works like this: you take the piece of equipment, the machine, the weapon, whatever is in doubt, and operate it. If you see smoke it failed the test.

We will be executing a massive and complex "smoke test" next year. Till then certainty will not exist. The technical gentlemen who designed the first hydrogen bomb were not certain that it would not ignite the ocean and destroy the world. The military gentlemen in charge accepted that risk (or denied it).

So far, so good.

-- Tom Carey (, February 26, 1999.


I think you might be barking up the wrong tree. This isn't so much a question of the burden of proof, as it is the standard of proof.

If company X says they're ready, they can't possibly prove it. Even if they had no bugs at all, the best they could do would be to search for bugs forever without finding any. And this *still* isn't proof they have none.

We have a similar problem with test results. The number of possible, different, and applicable tests approaches infinity. No matter how many different tests were performed, there is still no guarantee that the next different test won't uncover something unpleasant.

Even if a system has worked fine for years, there are still those who froth at the mouth with hatred -- look at the fractional reserve system, the taxation system, etc. and the reactions to it we've seen here. So even if a system *doesn't* fail in the next few years, there will still be those who claim that isn't good enough.

One of my bellwethers for weeding out nutballs here is, anyone whose opinion of some aspect of y2k doesn't change a bit in the face of clear, obvious, knowledgeable testimony from those directly involved that aspect, can safely be ignored. Most of us have a lot of conflicting information and are looking for answers. Those who already have the answers and are looking to make all information fit those answers really don't contribute anything.

To BB: Consider that the demand for remediation programmers never got very high, and is now diminishing. Salaries didn't get bid up despite Hamasaki's predictions. y2k-remediation shops never did very well, and now they're dying off. It's entirely plausible from the 10Q reports that many (maybe most) organizations overbudgeted for y2k, and don't need to spend it all. Even if we heavily discount all the happyface compliance reports, it's useful to follow the money.

I notice that a few large organizations are serving notice on the laggards: fix it or else. There have even been a few switches in suppliers based at least in part on noncompliance. You can safely bet this will light a few fires under a lot of smaller companies.

As for the government, we can only be thankful that we really don't need most of what the government does. A lot of it is nice, yes, but not a necessity.

-- Flint (, February 26, 1999.

Flint, I haven't been following this issue on the net long enough to know the deep background about what others predicted earlier, but I can easily see how a prediction of a wage squeeze could turn out incorrect when the rest of the world is either unaware of the problem or is content with a fix on failure strategy. That would throw the demand side of the equation out of kilter. Furthermore, I've seen some very interesting posts in the last couple of weeks indicating that job-shops are contracting out labor of pathetic quality while some heavy hitters are sitting by the phone waiting for some to pick up their contract. I'm not at all an insider, so these posts may be rank fiction for all I know, but if they are true, theat would affect the supply side as well and really bode for a nasty train wreck next winter. If you are correct about the low demand for remediators, I hope that's reflective of a solved problem and not a deferred problem or a bungled solution.

-- Puddintame (, February 26, 1999.


I'm convinced it's a combination of things. I think some organizations (especially large ones and government) underestimated the task, but most overestimated it. And of course it might still turn out to be worse than the overestimators thought, who knows?

Some organizations have been trying to slide by on the cheap, others have bit the bullet and hired the best. The overall lack of demand hides the fact that a few wizards have made a killing. And the refusal of many organizations to pay more than what they consider the going rate (government has strict pay grades requirements be damned, the private sector knows that salaries ratchet up and can't be ratcheted down) plays a role here too.

The big picture for programmers is that the demand isn't and never was really there. The big picture for organizations seems to be a very wide range of real projected compliance, from all (a good percentage), to close enough (the large majority) to not close enough (a minority in the private sector, the norm in government).

How all of this will play out is anybody's guess. I'm guessing it won't be pretty, but it won't be catastrophic either. We'll see.

-- Flint (, February 27, 1999.

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