Rebuttal to Ratcliffe critique now posted : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

You may have seen Jennifer's rebuttal to Mitch Ratcliffe that was uploaded yesterday. I finally got around to finishing my own rebuttal, and it's now uploaded on my web site. You can find it at

Link to Ed Yourdon's article


-- Ed Yourdon (, February 27, 1999


both rebuttals were excellent! you must have both been pretty mad at him, your remarks don't usually sizzle like that.

-- jocelyne slough (, February 27, 1999.


Thanks (to Jennifer too). Keep up the fire,


(who is also not an economist, doesn't even play one on TV, but is more scared of the Bear than the Bug)

-- Lee P. Lapin (, February 27, 1999.


I must confess that I only skimmed the article, as it is rather lengthy. I will give it more attention later.

I am impressed, however, at your ability to attack. Subtle, and with tongue firmly in cheek.

Your points were well-argued, and the data is clearly on your side in this unique debate.

Thanks again for your expertise, your foresight, your way with words, and this forum. Let's all hope that you are wrong. If you are right, as I fear you are, your warnings have been an invaluable part of my waking up to the Y2K threat, and taking action. By preparing for the worst, I can greet the unknown future with more serenity.

Oh, and a big thanks to Jennifer, also.

-- Steve Hartsman (, February 27, 1999.

Thanks for two great rebuttals, from someone who believes the main question is, "at what point does y2k overwhelm our ability to manage failures?" I've seen some threads on this forum where most views about fiscal year rollovers seem to be that there won't be much immediately visible evidence of a problem. If that view is correct, I hope we'll view those rollovers positively but with a lot of caution. After all, Ed's example of a company that expects only 3% of its y2k problems to occur prior to 1-1-2000 would suggest that we'd better hope and pray that '99 is smooth. If Ratcliffe and the media use a smooth April as proof of anything, our attempts to promote preparedness will be that much more difficult.

-- Bill Byars (, February 27, 1999.

Thanks for the heads up, Ed!


See also threads with comments ...

Paging Ed Yourdon: Any Planned Rebuttal to ZNet's Critique of Your Depression Scenario? 000XfB

Jennifer Yourdon responds to the ZDNET editorial 000Xr8

-- Diane J. Squire (, February 27, 1999.

Great job, both of you.

We all owe you both a lot of thanks for the y2k heads-up, the book, this forum, radio apperances etc.


-- Andy (, February 27, 1999.

Good job! I just think it's sad that both of you had to spend so much time responding to someone who works for a site that seems primarily designed to generate controversy, rather than information.

Arlin Adams

-- Arlin H. Adams (, February 27, 1999.

Thank you both, Ed and Jennifer Yourdon.

Both of your rebuttals were superbly written. I enjoyed reading them both and selfishly have to admit (realising the considerable amount of time that must have been put into writing them) that they have provided me with even more insight than I had before. Every little bit helps at this point.

I came upon your forum and awareness of your book through my own actions in wishing to learn more about this problem. I have found your book, 'Time Bomb 2000', your writings on the subject, and especially this forum invaluable resources for my quest.

I, like some others, have choosen to take this problem seriously enough to find out as much about it as I can to try and ascertain the necessary actions that I feel necessary to take. Any actions that this family has choosen to take have been given careful consideration and not hastily rushed into. This is a family that up until the beginning of this year has never given any consideration to, never mind having any extra provisions for even a few days. We just have never felt it necessary. Where we live the most we have ever endured by way of a calamity has been the loss of electricity due to a snow- storm or ice-storm for a few days which we have never felt of as being life threatening, just more of an inconvenience. Even when we have been aware of an impending storm we have never ever felt the need or choosen to rush out to the grocery store and stock up on TP, etc. Quite frankly it has always been the last thing that I wished to do; so I just didn't and have always managed to get by without. The reason why I am writing this is because I now find myself going against habit and feeling that this time I do need to sit up and take notice and that some preparation is in order.

I have to be honest and say that I have no idea what is going to happen. I do know that I sincerely hope that we do come through this fairly unscathed. However, should we not! Any actions that we have choosen to undertake to help us weather the storm perceived I know deep down we shall in large part have you firstly, and secondly, others on this forum in large part to thank.

Thank you again Ed and Jennifer Yourdon.

-- Carol (, February 27, 1999.

Thanks Ed.

I suspect that when the dust settles, Ed Yourdon will have been essentially correct and Mitch Ratcliffe will left wanting.

Why does that thought not make me happy?

-- Arnie Rimmer (, February 27, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon's reply has been very enlightening.

What we need is for Mitch Ratcliffe to review and publish his account of the y2k status of and organization like the post office. His input would help all concerned. In fact, I hereby request that Mitch Ratcliffe show his readership how he would do a y2k status review, not of the entire country, but of that microcosm we call the United States Post Office.

The post office is a good choice for Mr. Radcliffe because it is one of those organizations that are affected by the Big Three: IT type business systems, Embedded Systems, and Systemic Interconnections throughout the government, industry and all of its own offices.

Mr. Radcliffe is a very smart person and I am sure he will do a good job and show us how well he can really assess what is happening. His economic perspective will be helpful because the USPO has a real place in the entire economy.

Perhaps this is a good place for him how people like Gary North might be overstating their postion.

So, Mitch are you up to it? We really look forward to hearing from you.

-- Steve Tomczak (, February 27, 1999.

Perhaps those that would like to see Mitch do a review of the y2k status of the Post Office could e-mail him a copy of Mr. Tomczak's request. If he received enough requests he might take the challenge.

-- Watchdog (, February 27, 1999.

My husband's just noticed that I had typed 'choosen' several times in my piece instead of 'chosen'. Too many times to just blame on a typo. I have no idea how that came about. I must just have '00' too much on my mind I guess.

-- Carol (, February 27, 1999.

Two areas were stimulating to me in your response, though perhaps tangential to the overall purpose.

First, your description of the Kafka-esque process of determining which suppliers are compliant, semi-compliant, non-compliant, etc. And then, if one makes the determination, how does one decide confidently on their replacement. This suggests to me that even thorough firms are forced to play a version of Russian Roulette with their future. Defining the "smell" criteria for compliant suppliers would seem to be an excellent candidate for one of your Computerworld articles (hint, hint).

Second, while some of us have discussed lock-down and its implications for remediation generally and the course of Y2K later this year, specifically, your comments reminded me forcefully of the remarkably little time left for actual remediation: six months, at best. Given how s .... l .... o .... w .... l .... y big organizations execute, 1999 will be effectively done even before then. Lock-down is not really "on the radar screen" for most analyses of this year, as you point out so well with respect to its potential relation to the economy. Again, I would greatly appreciate your writing an article on the nature and implications of lock-down (including the positive ones, potentially, of training for contingency execution).

I found your defense of the IT-centric approach quite germane. I don't buy too many of the paranoia scenarios about the government or Wall Street. The fact is, they really don't understand Y2K and the "systemic" aspect. Why should we be surprised? Mitch Radcliffe doesn't understand it and he is theoretically a member of our profession.

Capers Jones worked for my father-in-law at ITT in the ancient 70s when the latter was leading 3,000 employees on the big switch project and they were all pioneering metrics, OO and what would later be termed "CASE" (I'm having a bit of fun here, since you know a number of the people who came out of there). Yes, it is deja vu all over again. Your simple reminder of the obvious remains as mysterious to most people now as it was twenty-five years ago.

Finally, although I argue often for panic beginning late January 2000 (which is, uh, probably safe, to say the least), your comments remind me that I may not give sufficient weight to July 1 (or, say, August, for effects to show), should FY go nuts. On balance (and I usually hedge myself on January 2000), October seems like the explosion time, given its witching effect on the markets, the pent-up effects of FY problems, the beginning of an anxious lock-down and, of course, the nearness of 1/1/2000.

Thanks, as always, for your work.

-- BigDog (, February 27, 1999.


Thanks to you and Jennifer for rebutting Ratcliffe's trash. Too often garbage like his two-part article is left unchallenged, and becomes accepted by default.

Indeed, I'd like to thank both of you for everything that you have done. Good luck weathering the coming storm.

-- Nabi Davidson (, February 28, 1999.

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