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Some doomsayers starting to muffle earlier Y2K alarms
BY ASHLEY DUNN Los Angeles Times
After two years of doom-and-gloom pronouncements about the year 2000 problem, a growing cadre of Y2K experts has begun to recast its predictions of potential calamity into a tamer vision of the millennium bug.
This month, Canadian speaker and computer consultant Peter de Jager, one of the earliest and most vocal Y2K pessimists, published an article on his Web site titled Doomsday Avoided a play on his first article on the topic, written six years ago and titled Doomsday 2000.
We've finally broken the back of the Y2K problem, Mr. de Jager wrote. Most if not all companies are working on this issue. They are fixing, or have fixed, their systems. They have examined, or are examining, their embedded system problems. We are, for the most part, no longer ignoring Y2K.
"Progress has been made' Edward Yardeni, chief economist for the investment banking firm Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and one of the most persistent drumbeaters on the Y2K issue, recently revised his estimate for a long global recession due to the glitch from a 70 percent chance to 45 percent.
I've toned down the message partly because progress has been made, Mr. Yardeni said.
Although it is unlikely that Jan. 1, 2000, will be an information-age blackout, it is still entirely possible that serious problems are looming.
But Messrs. Yardeni and de Jager are among the most prominent exam ples of what has become a discernible turn in the mood surrounding the Y2K problem. The alarms, at least in the United States, have begun to subside, replaced with a parade of repair statistics.
The problem is a simple technical issue that stems from the long tradition in computer programming of abbreviating years to two digits. In 2000, computers could become confused 00 could mean either 2000 or 1900.
Still some concerns The progress in repairs and the increased flow of information has not turned the year 2000 into a love fest. There are still glaring weak spots in the repair effort.
Even as federal Y2K czar John Koskinen was reassuring the public of the government's progress, a congressional report was giving a failing grade to such critical agencies as the Federal Aviation Administration and the State Department. Both agencies promise to be ready well before the new year.
And a report by a special Senate committee last month said the health-care industry was significantly lagging. Because of limited resources and lack of awareness, rural and inner-city hospitals have particularly high Y2K risk exposure, the report said.
-- Norm (NWO@hotmail.com), March 13, 1999
Norm; This article is very poorly researched and contains fallacies. See prior threads. Yardeni is still at 70%. www.yardeni.com Misinformation abounds. Go to sources and verify, verify and verify. Thanks for the good intent of your post. Keep well, Watchful
-- Watchful (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 13, 1999.
Also see this thread...
"Ed Yardeni still at 70%"
-- Kevin (email@example.com), March 13, 1999.
I wonder where the LA Times got that quote from Yardeni about toning it down because progress has been made? Especially when it seems he hasn't toned it down at all?
Do you suppose the LA Times made it up? Or took it out of context from some unrelated topic? Or has Yardeni really toned something down? Something doesn't smell right here. My guess is this statement is not a quote.
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 13, 1999.
Here are a few links on the evolution of Peter de Jager's thinking.
Interview with the BBC:
THE NET: Is this the first time we've seen a problem of this scale come along, well obviously the Year 2000 only comes along once but have we come across a similar situation or is it going to be much worse than we're ever seen before?
PETER DE JAGER: We've never had anything like this. This is totally brand new. We've never had a system-wide failure. The closest we can come to events like that might be blackouts. In fact one of the things that got me into this and got me fired up about it was a show `Connections' by James Burke. The first instalment was an exposi of the great blackout on the Eastern Seaboard and all of that happened because of one single power switch that did what it was supposed to do but had a very unexpected consequence. Well the Year 2000 is power switching, it's calculations, day calculations, millions upon millions of them in programmes all over the world that are all set to fail on a particular time, that's the only thing that is even close to this type of problem.
Peter de Jager's open letter to President Clinton, dated November 17, 1998:
If this report is not accurate, then action must be taken by you to correct it. It describes a totally unacceptable situation. As it is reported, it raises unnecessary concern, uncertainty and even fear. Three emotions no political party should be fostering as it heads into an election year.
Either way, action, real action, not soothing words and platitudes, is required at the highest levels either to correct an unacceptable situation or to correct the notion that your administrators are incapable of executing their mandated mission statements.
Canadian newspaper paper article dated November 22, 1998 with info on de Jager's preparation plans:
Seated in the shadow of the towering Mormon temple near his Brampton home, de Jager smiles at the irony.
The Mormon church teaches its faithful to stockpile food - a practice that has become vogue among the growing ranks of Y2K survivalists, who are buying cabins in the woods and withdrawing their life savings from banks.
De Jager, a father of two teens, scoffs at such ``overreaction.'' He bought a cottage north of Orangeville recently, but it had nothing to do with Y2K, he insists.
Still, he does plan to stock up on groceries and supplies, keep a generator in his home and cash handy in case bank doors stay closed.
The "Doomsday Avoided" article:
by Peter de Jager
"We've finally broken the back of the Y2K problem." I've been making that statement now for about 6 months. Naturally, it has generated some interest and a handful of e-mail. The comments range from polite requests for me to state, in my own words, what exactly I mean by 'broken the back of Y2K' to the outraged rants from folks intent on selling the world panic, gold coins and plots of otherwise worthless real estate. Naturally, any good news about Y2K spoils the fun and intentions of those trying to incite panic and runs on the bank.
And here's an editorial from Michael Hyatt's Y2K site on de Jager's changing position:
Paul Revere Does "About Face"
Evidently, Mr. de Jager is distorting the situation to get the maximum amount of repair work done. This is certainly a noble goal, but history has shown that whenever we play games with the truth, unexpected negative consequences often occur.
by Bill Dunn
March 8, 1999
One of the most prominent personalities in the world of Y2K is Peter de Jager (rhymes with "logger"; pronounced "yogger"). Mr. de Jager is a Canadian programming expert who has been warning about the Millennium Bug problem since the early 1990s.
Although many in the computer industry were aware of the Y2K threat going back to the 1960s, de Jager is credited with bringing the issue to many peoples attention with his ComputerWorld article in September, 1993, titled, "Doomsday 2000."
Heres the Catch-22, according to my theory: to encourage programmers to keep working hard and achieve that 90 percent mark, de Jager has to tell them there will not be severe problems. Otherwise, theyll stop working, quit their jobs, move out of the cities, and far less repair work will get done. But de Jager knows full well that a 90- plus percent success rate will still cause serious disruptions in the economy and societyjust a heck of a lot less than 70 percent.
In his mind, I believe, he is distorting the situation to get the maximum amount of repair work done. This is certainly a noble goal, but history has shown that whenever we play games with the truth, unexpected negative consequences often occur. If de Jager is now down- playing the risks of Y2K to motivate programmers, his new public stance may be causing corporate management to relax at the very time strong leadership is needed.
If my theory is correct, de Jagers sudden about-face has been prompted by good intentions. But you would think that after all the years of learning the hard way, people would realize that mom had it right: "Honesty is the best policy."
-- Kevin (email@example.com), March 13, 1999.
Hamasaki says Yardeni is more gloomy than he is in some ways. From Cory on c.s.y2k 3/12:
Hmmmm, some misconceptions here. Dr. Eddie "Yes, I used to program in S/370 assembly language, it's fun." Yardeni takes a position that is more doomer than mine, in some ways. I've been reconciling his articles with Bruce Webster's stance and others and have discovered some interesting facts.
These will be in the next WRP [#114]. It's turning out to be a larger project than I anticipated.
-- a (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 14, 1999.