[civicprep] Deception, disengaging from Peter de Jagergreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Posted to the discussion list by Terry Cottam
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I feel I've made my point with Peter de Jager. So I won't talk with him again unless I have to. I see his "function" (as Chomsky would say) as a hired lightning rod to distract us away from more important matters.
One woman wrote me: "I find myself drawing back from any movement that is based on power and control, rather than encouragement and invitation... Stay with your focus of building community resiliency, Terry. Let those who have ears to hear, hear."
I'm for that! But we must also caution people not to be lulled by media reports that Doomsday has been called off by Peter and Co (or whoever). In so doing, he is exploiting the craving of many for an end to the uncertainty around y2k. If this goes unchallenged, it may cost us more weeks of public outreach on preparedness (as was so well illustrated by the comments of that frustrated woman in Nelson BC).
Rather, we need to question authorities everywhere, especially in our own communities, where cooperation is more attainable. Accordingly, in Ottawa we are engaging our local and regional levels of government, churches, agencies and citizens groups. This is starting to bear fruit (please see our report at http://www.inode.org/y2k-archive/msg00162.html).
It just so happens we also deal with Peter's employee in Ottawa Bill Syrros. He asked me: why aren't you giving credit where it's due? We are pleased to do so, but also don't shy away from criticizing. Bill is proud of Peter's new webpage, "Promises Kept," which gives free space to self-reported claims of progress by companies, utilities and government agencies. Is this what will encourage preparedness? Why not also have a page of "promises NOT kept"?
Bill also asked me, why do you give space to "hecklers" on your website? Criticism should always be welcomed. The website in question is a bit extreme, so I will add a caution. But then so is Peter's own "Year 2000 Centre" website. Together they represent the extremes of y2k: Denial and survivalism.
Last Wednesday morning, after Peter had unleashed his fury to me on the phone, I hoped that he might, at the very least, acknowledge some problems with his article. Instead, now he has continued his attack in his rebuttal. It's "my way or the highway."
Now that I've chilled out somewhat, I understand better what this is: it's bluster. From his lofty bully pulpit Peter is hard to challenge, but we don't have to tolerate it locally.
That's the main reason I'm writing this: to highlight common tactics of deception that we can easily spot anywhere if we're watchful. Whether it's y2k or any other issue, the tactics are similar. According to the Ottawa-based Alliance for Public Accountability, there are at least four "D's" of deception: delay, denial, discrediting, and divide and conquer.
Let's take a look at Peter's rebuttal:Here's my assertion. We've avoided Global bank failures, Global power outages and Global communications collapse. These 'Doomsday Scenarios' (what was the title of my article?) have been avoided.
Peter denies potential problems before they have even come to pass. Rather than give us evidence, he states them in absolute terms. This is the "big lie" technique: repeated often enough, anything can seem true. As he says...
That's good news and needs to be stated loudly and strongly. Why? Because there are charlatans, religious extremists masquerading as technical experts and conspiracy theorists posing as computer consultants who are saying everything is going to, with 100% certainty, collapse around our heads. They're wrong and they know it. Trouble is, the media and the average Joe in the street doesn't.
Here Peter strives to discredit his critics by portraying everyone who disagrees with him as extremists. He denies any middle ground. Only a nebulous "they."
Peter has received many well-argued reponses. But as Larry Victor explains, Peter has trouble seeing beyond present power structures. See http://azstarnet.com/~nuu/INVITATION/ready_vs_compliant.htm
Here's the dilemma, do you continue to raise the alarm in a feeble attempt to make everyone work on the problem... and play into the hands of the charlatans by feeding the growing panic? Or do you recognize and accept, albeit reluctantly, that while there is still work to be done... we have avoided the doomsday scenarios? That we have indeed bypassed the worst of the technical problems and now it is time to turn your attention to the hard reality that the charlatans are scaring the population more than necessary?
More denial and discrediting. More repetition, sweeping generalizations. How is it we've bypassed the worst problems? Who are the charlatans? He doesn't say.
This is not 'spin' as some have suggested. It is merely a recognition that the worst has passed. That TEOTWAKI is unadulterated nonsense spread by those either ignorant of the issues and/or those with hidden agendas.
More denial, discrediting. More repetition, generalizations.
In addition to the fact that the worst is behind us, you also have to wrestle with the following...More denial. "It can't be done." There is no alternative.
A question for all of you... it's actually more of a challenge... since you've taken exception to what I've posted... it's one you'd better have an answer for... When you are standing before an idiot company headed by incompetent managers who have not yet started their Y2K projects... what is it you are going to say to convince them to act, that has not already been said?
Also an example of delay. We had asked Peter why he relied on self-reported progress from these companies. Here he deflects our attention from his failure to respond. I also asked him on the phone. His answer was that we do not have enough political power to pressure, for instance, Ontario Hydro (his example) to submit to an independent audit. Nor do we have the funds or the expertise for such an audit.
This is very curious because Hydro has in fact completed an independent assessment. Their y2k program director Bill Imms called me. He said he had no objections to releasing the results were it not for a clause in the contract which prohibits this. It even prohibits publicly identifying the consulting firms which conducted the assessment. How is this permitted from a Crown Corporation which allegedly serves the Ontario public?
Some messages tried to make the point "That even if we've jumped the hurdle of denial, we must jump all of them to succeed"... Fair point. But I'll say again, the denial hurdle was the tallest, clear this one and the rest is a relative non-issue.
How ironic that Peter's article has now given licence for everyone to slip back into denial, by handing the media two potent words: "Doomsday avoided."
Which brings me at last, to the most ludicrous category of messages... those that started with 'Why are you telling people to not make preparations?...' At this point I'll admit to a practically uncontrollable urge to use at least some mild profanity to describe these messages. Even worse, these assertions have been sent to various mail lists. I said practically uncontrollable... I've learned some restraint over the years.
Peter has been misunderstood. He has "earned" the right to be arrogant, to attack all his critics. Hence we appreciate all the more Peter's "restraint."
I have never said preparations are unnecessary...
He says this five times. In each case, he conveys the opposite message by again dumping on the extremists without offering solutions.
....I have said that anyone who is telling you to remove all (the key word here is 'all') your money from the banks is either ignorant of computer systems in general, Y2K in particular or is simply a charlatan.
Next he promises to inform us as to what preparations _are_ necessary. What will he say? Will he downplay any preparedness considered extreme by his clients? Will he discuss community preparedness? Unlikely because the title is "Personal Y2K Preparations." Part of "divide and conquer" is to discourage organizing and alliances, and encourage people to act quietly, in isolation.
I have always chosen to work on the biggest problem facing us, which I could have a positive impact on. Years ago that was the denial surrounding Y2K, today it is the hype. I have, and always will, speak honestly about this subject based upon the facts I have at my disposal.
Part of the Big Lie is to both claim the high ground and mix in truth with the deception. Confusion dulls the senses. How many facts or references have we seen in this letter? None are needed. Folks, Peter's word is all we need.
Similarly, when there is good news to communicate, I'll communicate it regardless of the consequences.
Yours truly Peter de Jager March 17, 1999
So there it is: Deception cannot go unchallenged. Peter, like many of us, has taken on a very big job in the public interest. As leaders, we will all have critics, and we must all strive learn from them, not cut them down.
-- Critt Jarvis (email@example.com), March 21, 1999
correction ad nauseum...
Peter who?????? I for one have never paid too much attention to him in the first place. I shall continue to buy and cross off the items on my list. We don't buy anything we can't/won't use anyway so whats the big deal? I do a lot of things in life based on my "gut feel" and it doesn't work too good when its hungry!
-- Taz (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 1999.
I bought a copy in May 1998 of Peter de Jager's book "Managing 00: Surviving the Year 2000 Computer Crisis." I'm still concerned about Y2K, regardless of what Peter is saying now, because of something he said in chapter 5, pages 79 and 80:
[Capers] Jones also validates our estimation that an enterprise starting in 1997 is likely to get through only about 80 percent of its applications; if it waits until 1999, only 30 percent. And even conceding that only 30 percent of the applications may be critical to the business of the enterprise, that 30 percent is probably attached by data to another 40 percent of the other applications that won't make the transition in time. At best, the organization will be crippled; at worst, it will no longer exist.
If universal awareness of Y2K didn't arrive until the end of 1998, it means there are going to be a lot of enterprises out there in this 30% catagory. Then there's the question of Europe and Japan, who are even further behind in their remediation than the U.S.
-- Kevin (email@example.com), March 21, 1999.
As a mental exercise, let's start with the assumption that the future hasn't come yet and we don't really know what it will bring. Let's further assume that the material on which we base our expectations is contradictory and ambiguous. Not deliberately so, but we have ample indication that all will not be rosy, and ample indication that a great deal has been done and is being done about the problem. Let's assume that this situation leaves the field open for a wide range of *honestly arrived at* interpretations and predictions.
These aren't unreasonable assumptions, I don't think. Concerned, informed and intelligent people have been arriving at a wide range of conclusions, and many of them have attached a pretty hefty doubt factor to their conclusions. So we've seen countless (anyway, I haven't counted) comments along the lines of "I think it will be very bad but I hope I'm wrong", and "I don't think it will be very bad, but I'm preparing for the worst anyway."
In light of these assumptions, let's further assume that de Jager has come to the honest and well-considered conclusion that enough work has been done to reduce the threat from actual code bugs to below the threat of public panic. Of course, he might be wrong. But we're already well past the dates when Infomagic predicted we'd be experiencing a full depression and the complete collapse of the stock market. Nobody has a hot line to the future.
Now, let's consider some of what's being argued here:
De Jager: Here's my assertion. We've avoided Global bank failures, Global power outages and Global communications collapse. These 'Doomsday Scenarios' (what was the title of my article?) have been avoided.
Rebuttal: Peter denies potential problems before they have even come to pass. Rather than give us evidence, he states them in absolute terms. This is the "big lie" technique: repeated often enough, anything can seem true.
Now, waitaminnit here! Peter is making a prediction (at least, I interpret an assertion that only future events can prove true or false as a prediction). By definition, a prediction hasn't happened yet. Those who predict serious problems are also doing so "before they have even come to pass." These bad-news predictions are also stated in absolute terms. By this definition, anyone who makes *any* prediction is using the "big lie" technique. All we know for sure right now is that previous predictions of bad news whose 'maturity date' have passed, have been wrong without exception. Bad things haven't happened yet.
de Jager: "there are charlatans ... who are saying everything is going to, with 100% certainty, collapse around our heads.
Rebuttal: "Here Peter strives to discredit his critics by portraying everyone who disagrees with him as extremists. He denies any middle ground."
At best, this is a matter of interpretation. de Jager never says "everyone". Can we really say that de Jager denies any middle ground if he doesn't mention a middle ground? If you were to argue that things will only be moderately bad, would de Jager lump you in with the charlatans and extremists? Might it not be equally valid to say that de Jager's concern is only with the extremists here?
de Jager: "Or do you recognize and accept, albeit reluctantly, that while there is still work to be done... we have avoided the doomsday scenarios? That we have indeed bypassed the worst of the technical problems and now it is time to turn your attention to the hard reality that the charlatans are scaring the population more than necessary?"
Rebuttal: "More denial and discrediting. More repetition, sweeping generalizations. How is it we've bypassed the worst problems? Who are the charlatans? He doesn't say."
Wow. de Jager's assertion that we've fixed the worst of the problems but we're not finished yet, is a valid posture for which ample evidence exists. Yes, this posture may well turn out to be wrong. *Any* position might be wrong. The argument that "You either agree with me or you're in denial" is not an honest argument. Denying a valid argument for failure to cite voluminous data or provide a list of names is another debating stunt. Demanding impossible levels of proof is one of the rules of disinformation.
de Jager: "This is not 'spin' as some have suggested. It is merely a recognition that the worst has passed. That TEOTWAKI is unadulterated nonsense spread by those either ignorant of the issues and/or those with hidden agendas."
Rebuttal: "More denial, discrediting. More repetition, generalizations."
My verdict: de Jager is guilty here. There's simply too much evidence that the worst may not have passed, to allow a simple "recognition" that is has. On balance, one can argue that the *probability* of disaster has gone down. And it's hard to deny that some of those predicting a meltdown have hidden agendas, while others are so selective in their choice of supporting material as to be effectively ignorant. But 'unadulterated nonsense' is unsupportable today. Even if y2k passes and nobody notices, such a future is far from self- evident right now.
de Jager: "we do not have enough political power to pressure, for instance, Ontario Hydro (his example) to submit to an independent audit. Nor do we have the funds or the expertise for such an audit."
Rebuttal: "This is very curious because Hydro has in fact completed an independent assessment. Their y2k program director Bill Imms called me. He said he had no objections to releasing the results were it not for a clause in the contract which prohibits this."
Both statements can easily be true. If Ontario Hydro refuses to submit to an audit, we can't force them. They did it anyway. How is de Jager using delaying tactics here? From the standpoint of public information, what is the difference between not submitting to an audit, and keeping the results of that audit a secret? We don't know where they stand in either case. It seems that any delay here results from a contractual agreement, not from de Jager.
Sometimes I wonder if people who are aware of these audit results but cannot reveal them under non-disclosure, might be a bit more optimistic. But that's another question, not addressed here.
de Jager: "I have never said preparations are unnecessary... "
Rebuttal: "He says this five times. In each case, he conveys the opposite message by again dumping on the extremists without offering solutions."
I'm sorry, but this 'message' is strictly in the ear of the beholder. Again, I fall back on a tired analogy: Fire insurance is necessary. The probability of needing it is very small. This probability can be (and is) very precisely calculated. Is someone really conveying the message that fire insurance is unnecessary, simply by citing undeniable facts about actual fires? Is it necessary to falsely depict fires as highly likely, to get people to insure? Are we justified in lying to people out of conviction that we're doing this for their own good?
de Jager: "I have always chosen to work on the biggest problem facing us, which I could have a positive impact on. Years ago that was the denial surrounding Y2K, today it is the hype. I have, and always will, speak honestly about this subject based upon the facts I have at my disposal."
Rebuttal: "Part of the Big Lie is to both claim the high ground and mix in truth with the deception. Confusion dulls the senses. How many facts or references have we seen in this letter? None are needed. Folks, Peter's word is all we need."
OK, who's doing the spinning here? Assume that as remediation progresses, there is some point at which the danger from panic exceeds the danger from code bugs. This assumption doesn't seem unreasonable to me. NOw, the question is, have we reached that point yet? Why not give de Jager the benefit of all the real doubt y2k engenders? de Jager honestly believes we have reached this point, based on his interpretation of the situation. He honestly believes that he is now fighting against the greatest danger we all face. No, this doesn't make him *right*. But it doesn't make him dishonest either. You will notice that the only 'fact' supplied in rebuttal is that Ontario Hydro has been independently audited! Why does de Jager have to supply facts, and the rebuttal does not?
Finally, it might be useful to understand who is making this argument against de Jager. Why, it's Coalition 2000 Civic Preparedness. Terry Cottam (apparently) sees de Jager "as a hired lightning rod to distract us away from more important matters." Hired by whom? Cottam doesn't say, this is just a smear. But in a good cause, you understand!
And what are Cottam's 'more important matters'? "If this goes unchallenged, it may cost us more weeks of public outreach on preparedness." De Jager is making Cottam's work harder! And how is de Jager 'challenged'? By accusing him of denial, delay, repetitions, generalizations, and Big Lies! All without *any* countering evidence presented.
So OK, here we have two set agendas, and they conflict. Both sides believe they're right and neither will budge. As Cottam writes, "As leaders, we will all have critics, and we must all strive learn from them, not cut them down."
So you be the judge. Is Cottam following his own advice?
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 1999.
I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not sure anymore.
-- Miss Brooks (email@example.com), March 21, 1999.
Thank you for posting Terry's analysis.
Very informative insights here.
-- Watchful (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 1999.
Flint: For me, the fact that the vast majority of 'data' that we have is self-reported, is deeply disturbing. Top corporate management understand and act on the fact that perceptions are equally, if not more, important that actual performance. Billions are spent annually developing and maintaining 'corporate image'. This is neither good nor bad, it's simply the way things are in our culture. Loss of confidence can indeed sink the ship. Any CEO that doesn't fully understand this is not long for this world.
When I evaluate the body of evidence for the 'current state of remediation' in light of the paragraph above, I conclude that the majority of corporate statements made are most likely over-optimistic.
The problem with 'Doomday Avoided' is that it tends to blow the 'all clear' whistle for the masses, thus continuing to erode the middle ground.
Let me take our local power company, Alliant Energy as an example. They got a late start and underestimated the size of the task. I have seen a few of their internal memos (and even posted one of them here - see Alliant Energy: Memo To Employees On Y2K). I speak to some of their employees. I remain convinced that Alliant is taking the problem seriously, working as hard as they can to ensure that they will have their internal systems ready, and that they have serious doubts as to how successful they will be. They fully realize that they are not an island unto themselves and are seriously concerned about their interconnectedness. They are also fairly small fishes in the electric food chain.
But their recent public statements have been much more optimistic. At a recent Y2K community meeting I attended, a company representative pointed to upcoming April 9th 'nationwide Y2K drill' as proof that Alliant was going to be fully prepared for Y2K. If you've read the details of the April 9 exercise, you know that the purpose of the drill is little more than to have 'a successful story for publication'.
So I would argue that while Alliant is doing what they can at this point, it also makes sense for the rest of us served by this utility to be prepared for the possibility that electrical disruptions will occur either because Alliant did not complete their own remediation or that external factors beyond the direct control of Alliant resulted in disruptions.
In the end, it comes down to Pascal's Wager, and de Jager's 'Doomsday Avoided' does little but reinforce the current bipolarization of the Y2K issues.
-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), March 21, 1999.
-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), March 21, 1999.
One of the biggest preparation challenges I see right now, is Y2K complacency, Flint. And the tendency of the newsmedia, et. al. to extrapolate all is rosy because an established Y2K leader said so.
It means they tend NOT to continue with investigative journalism. Just reading the recent Senate and House testimony (not just the Senate Report) is globally convincing enough that the Y2K ride is just beginning. Not ending.
It aint over until we clear 2001, IMHO.
Also, worth considering, is the local impact of a global recession versus a global depression. Because, frankly, thats where I think were headed. For lots of reasons beyond Y2K.
Remember the Bell Curve? A certain percentage will always be laggards. Those are the effects from a 1,000 Y2K cuts that have the economic slash potential.
Just prepare for changes. Thats a given.
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), March 21, 1999.
You raise good points worth discussing. I'll try to address them as they deserve. We may be talking past one another a bit, but the subject is important enough to bring this to light.
"Flint: For me, the fact that the vast majority of 'data' that we have is self-reported, is deeply disturbing."
Me too. The problem with self-reporting is pretty clear. I recognize that it's at least in part an effort at perception management. But I also recognize that the foot soldiers have the details. Even if we had enough independent verifiers to go around (and we're way short), these verifiers don't have the intimate knowledge of the code or the specific operations that the organizations themselves have.
If you buy a Ford, you at some point are taking it on faith that Ford knows what they're doing. And where would you get experts to evaluate your Ford - from General Motors?
"When I evaluate the body of evidence for the 'current state of remediation' in light of the paragraph above, I conclude that the majority of corporate statements made are most likely over- optimistic."
I tend to agree with this conclusion. Fred Brooks wrote (in The Mythical Man Month) that all software projects are on schedule until at most three weeks before the deadline, even if they're years behind! On the other hand, a lot of that body of evidence contains serious warnings of shortfalls. What is the basis for these warnings? Most of it comes from those actually doing the work also.
"The problem with 'Doomday Avoided' is that it tends to blow the 'all clear' whistle for the masses, thus continuing to erode the middle ground."
Yes, it probably does. I suppose the most fertile ground his words fall on, are those who don't want to know about problems or are too busy to worry about them. Whether these people can be reached in time for them to do suitable preparations, and whether de Jager is making this more difficult, is a genuine concern.
I'm willing, though, to accept at face value de Jager's claim that panic now represents the greatest danger we face. Maybe I should reword that -- *I* don't think it's the greatest danger we face, but I can understand and accept why de Jager might think so. And maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I detect an implication that de Jager should be muzzled (or at least discredited by whatever means works) because his opinion is too dangerous to let stand.
This reminds me of that free speech trial some political dissident went through in China recently. His defense was that the Chinese constitution guaranteed free speech (which it does, amazingly enough). The court ruled that this constitutional guarantee only applied to 'approved' speech. The defendent was free to say only what the government decided he was free to say.
"I remain convinced that Alliant is taking the problem seriously, working as hard as they can to ensure that they will have their internal systems ready, and that they have serious doubts as to how successful they will be. They fully realize that they are not an island unto themselves and are seriously concerned about their interconnectedness. They are also fairly small fishes in the electric food chain."
Here's where we really get to the nuts and bolts that I personally find most meaningful. To me, a great deal depends on what fails and how. Details matter. As Heinlein wrote, "we know one horse will run faster than another, but *which one*?"
In the short term (72 hours?) the physical ability to generate and distribute power is critical. NERC says this part of the total effort has been handled. Numerous other sources agree. In the medium term, (perhaps the first 90 days) we're concerned with business systems and externalities -- can the utility properly handle billing, payroll, inventory, etc.? Can suppliers of fuel do the supplying? My take is that most of the effort going in (in terms of remediation dollars right now) fall into this category. Finally, in the longer term (60 days to a year), we're dealing with safety, maintenance, communications and monitoring systems. Again, my take is that these systems will end up accounting for most of the expense, but these are secondary on the heirarchy. If you can't generate power, does it really matter if you can't monitor it?
If Alliant has serious doubts that they'll be ready, it makes a *big difference* to the customers, exactly where those doubts lie. *What* won't be ready, and what will this really mean?
"But their recent public statements have been much more optimistic."
This raises the same point, I think. If I know what problems I'll still have at rollover, and I know these problems won't make any material difference to the customers, am I justified in making optimistic statements? Would the customers be better informed if I went into detail (that only experts could understand) about the problematic systems, and their likely effect on internal operations? Or would I be generating unnecessary worry and fomenting seriously misguided perceptions? Arnie, what would *you* do in their shoes?
"At a recent Y2K community meeting I attended, a company representative pointed to upcoming April 9th 'nationwide Y2K drill' as proof that Alliant was going to be fully prepared for Y2K. If you've read the details of the April 9 exercise, you know that the purpose of the drill is little more than to have 'a successful story for publication'. "
Well, I've posted extensively here about that drill. And I seriously question whether you have represented this person correctly. These drills (April and September 9) are elements of contingency planning. If the drills are successful, the utilities will be fully prepared to deal with *one aspect* of future problems. These drills are for practice and training. Practice and training are Good Things, but have nothing to do with demonstrating compliance. To give NERC more credit than they appear to deserve, these drills (if properly described) should raise public confidence that the utilities are better prepared to deal with problems in the unlikely event that problems actually arise. These drills *do not* in any way show that actual problems have been solved. But properly understood, the drills are more than mere PR stunts.
"So I would argue that while Alliant is doing what they can at this point, it also makes sense for the rest of us served by this utility to be prepared for the possibility that electrical disruptions will occur either because Alliant did not complete their own remediation or that external factors beyond the direct control of Alliant resulted in disruptions."
Good idea. I'm doing the same.
"In the end, it comes down to Pascal's Wager, and de Jager's 'Doomsday Avoided' does little but reinforce the current bipolarization of the Y2K issues."
That's a tough call. On balance, I distrust 'monopolarization' even more. We all take out various forms of insurance, from paid policies to buckling our seatbelts to looking both ways before crossing deserted streets. These are sensible precautions against unlikely events. I don't entirely accept Koskinen's concern that our economy cannot adapt to universal efforts at preparation. Already we see clear evidence of changes in stocking patterns in stores, likely in response to those preparing now.
My main arguments are: (1) de Jager is entirely within his rights to state his opinions, as we are to disagree; (2) that de Jager's opinion is not properly countered by smear tactics; and (3) that Pascal's Wager can properly be made without any deliberate attempt to bias the results.
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 1999.
There's a story that I have heard attributed to Winston Churchill in which he asks a woman if she will sleep with him for a million pounds.
"Of course!", she replied.
"Well then, how about 5 quid?", he continued.
"What do you think I am?", she indignantly asked.
"Madam, we've already established what you are. We are now simply haggling over price," was his comeback.
In exactly the same way, de Jager's remarks to the effect that he's been blowing the "Doomsday Avoided" horn for "about 6 months" when he in fact published a letter to the president of the US in which he stated at some considerable length just the opposite and did so within the 6 months at issue clearly establishes "what he is" in my mind. Everything he says after that is questionable, at best.
George Orwell exposed an ugly fact about Winston in 1984 when Winston asked that they, "do it to her! Don't do it to me", as he faced his worst fear, rats. I have no idea what de Jager's worst fear might be, but I would bet a very great deal that the PsTB have found out and confronted him with it.
My "BS Detector", which has served me exceedingly well so far in this life, is screaming. . .
-- Hardliner (email@example.com), March 21, 1999.
Good reading Critt. Interesting stuff.
Has anybody ever figured out where de Jager got that "enemy of the people" concept (other than the obvious Stalinist USSR) of people withdrawing money from the bank? I find that one particularily humorous in light of what has happened recently to people's bank account purchasing power in places such as Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia, etc., all WITHOUT the loving embraces of Y2K.
-- Ken Seger (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 1999.
There is also a sideline factor, that people keep forgetting about (Flint, etc.).
Suppose we DO make it through Y2K in reasonable yet stumble bumbling shape. Assume the national electric grid "would" stay up or at least could be limited to inconvenient blackouts and brownouts. Fine.
Y2K aside, it is quite clear the military, et. al. are specifically preparing for infrastructure "malfunction" and cyber-terrorist activities which "they" expect to coincide with the 2000 rollover. In other words, they expect some of the potential problems to be "helped along." (Piled higher and deeper).
Pretty nasty stuff, but it wouldn't surprise me. Especially when we see so much news and behind-the-scenes info linking the two events.
Discouraging preparations, by ANYONE (de Jager, Koskinen, etc.), with so many other "unexpected" situations brewing, is just plain stupid, IMHO.
Gotta take a looksee with a wide-angle lens.
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), March 21, 1999.
On March 7, 1998, de Jager made the following statements to Industry Canada
"Just because we're working on this does not guarantee that we're going to get it done on time. When we talk about focusing on mission- critical, it means to the exclusion of everything else."
"This is where the esteemed gentlemen in here and I part ways. They have a deadline of April 1, 1999. I think that it's April Fool's Day, not by intent. The reality is that we differ 100% here. We differ totally. The final deadline for completing this project must be by the time we next see Christmas trees, December of this year. Any deadlines in 1999 are totally unacceptable. And they are totally unacceptable because most systems start failing on January 1, 1999."
"To have deadlines for safe delivery in 1999 is wrong. What happens then is that the systems start failing, and as they fail...they are operational systems. You must fix an operational system when it fails, so you will end up taking the very best people you have working on the conversion project and putting them on operational problems, thereby further delaying the 1999 deadlines, and you will go into a negative spiral of delays. December 1998 is the absolute final deadline for getting this thing done, and unfortunately this is the one area where we disagree to the point of non-compromise."
"Many of the things that the task force is doing, getting letters out to business leaders and the rest, are exactly what's needed. What is needed, though, is an added level of credibility, as I've said. There wouldn't be any harm in enticing our media to start dealing with this thing from a serious perspective. I know we have a free press. I know they're entitled to say what they want. But at the same time, you have the money to buy your own advertising space if you wish to send out a message, full-page ads."
"The problem is real. It's not hype. There are risks. That message has not been communicated by people who matter. If it came from the Government of Canada, it would not only have an impact here, but it would have an impact worldwide."
"I agree to disagree, I guess. My belief, though, is that on January 1 all systems, even systems that start their cycle on April 1, will start looking out into the future. It's my concern that these one- year event horizonsthat's what they're calledwhere a system looks out to the future one year...if it can't handle a 00 date on January 1, 1999, it will fail.
"Now, understand, there are systems that won't fail. And I have not had the opportunity to look at the specific code of the systems that are being discussed, so there's no guarantee that I'm right. But if I were a betting person, I'd sure want my systems complete and in production on December (1998), not January (1999).
"It's not just myself either. This is the recommendation made by organizations such as the Gartner Group that was mentioned earlier as well as by any other consultants in the industry. We're all pleading with people to have their deadlines on December 1998."
What has changed for Mr. de Jager?
As one small sample, Jennifer McNeill of Cyber Systems in Calgary had this to say to Industry Canada on March 24, 1998.
"Given the pervasiveness of embedded technology and the size of the problem, the one cautionary point to be emphasized is do not delay. The specialized expertise in this field will disappear from the market first before other areas of year 2000 expertise, and we already know that ***inventories from some devices such as programmable logic controllers will not meet the demand. There cannot be enough devices manufactured between now and the year 2000 to solve the problem."***
Somewhere in the midst of all of this the truth lies. Best to err on the side of caution.
-- Rachel Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 1999.
de Jager: Here's my assertion. We've avoided Global bank failures, Global power outages and Global communications collapse. These 'Doomsday Scenarios' (what was the title of my article?) have been avoided.
Flint: Now, waitaminnit here! Peter is making a prediction
Assertion, n. 1. the act of asserting 2. something asserted; a positive declaration or averment; affirmation
Prediction, n. to foretell; to prophesy; to prognosticate
de Jager's words speak for themselves. He is not predicting (foretelling, prophesying, prognosticating) that we have "Broken the Back of Y2k". He is asserting (positively declaring, averting) that this is true. To positively declare anything, one had best be well-armed with independently verifiable facts, and de Jager is not. Or, does it depend on what your definition of "is" is?
-- Wanda (email@example.com), March 21, 1999.
Wanda, I think you're picking nits here. I wrote:
"I interpret an assertion that only future events can prove true or false as a prediction"
I notice you carefully omitted this. Did you read it. Did you *want* to read it? I went to some trouble to justify what I wrote, and you ignored it. Why?
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 21, 1999.
Is Peter de Jager changing into Peter Pan?
-- dinosaur (email@example.com), March 21, 1999.
WAS tHE De oF JAgER WRoNG BEFoER?????? IS iT Him OF THe incorrECT NoW????? LIeS????? COeRCIoNS???? PROpheTIC Now oR OF tHEN?????? LieS NoW FoR SAkES OF MoNEY OR thEN FoR SaKES of fAME?????? lIEs thEN FOr thE SAKes OF MONeY????? TRutH Now fOr thE SAKes oF JACKassEDnesS????? LIes nOW For thE SToPpinG OF THreATS SUbtlE?????? THe raNTiNGS of WeLL paYing fOr An IDIot?????? POWers GREaT SAy HUsh nOw jACKAss or eLsE?????? Now WHEre DOes thIS JACkass go??????? HoW DOes diETer SToP ThE POundINg OF DIEtEr's hEAd?????? SToP HiM Now!!!! DIEtEr's BRAin iS LEakINg!!!!! HeLp fOR DIEtER PLeaSE???????
NIEN!!!!! ZEre ISt PAIN FOr deiTer ONly!!!!! TIme aLOne caN HEAL The paINs!!!!!! IDIot!!!! Woe ISt DIetER, Und De WElT!!!!!
-- Dieter (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 22, 1999.
Flint, Exactly. You may interpret "assertion" to mean whatever you like, regardless of how Webster's Unabridged defines it. It is Mr. de Jager who says he asserts (not predicts). He goes on to say that we have broken the back of Y2k, Doomsday Scenarios have been avoided. These are declarative statements, not predictive statements, and de Jager has used the word "assert" correctly. Why redefine the English language?
I happen to agree with you that the ultimate impact of Y2k is unknown. It is Mr. de Jager who does not agree with you. He says he knows. Further, he tells you that if you do not recognize and accept that doomsday scenarios are unadulterated nonsense you are either ignorant or have a hidden agenda. I will leave it to you to choose which of those two labels best suit someone who does not share de Jager's certainty. He allows no other alternative.
-- Wanda (email@example.com), March 22, 1999.
Flint, Wanda has you pinned to the mat on this one...
-- a (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 22, 1999.
Peter de Jager is a big fat idiot!
DIetER for president in 2000!
-- King of Spain (email@example.com), March 22, 1999.
Wanda -- beautifully put. In all major respects. d\e Jager is certain of the outcome. Hardly anyone else is. Flint's devotion to de Jager's reputation is inexplicable.
-- Tom Carey (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 22, 1999.
OK, I'll go along with you. De Jager has expressed an opinion with which you disagree. Fine. Let's look at it, and maybe your handy dictionary can clear up some of the confusion.
De Jager now believes that *current* remediation levels have reached the point where (1) 'doomsday' (whatever that is) has been prevented; and (2) the danger from 'panic' (whatever that means) exceeds the danger from actual code bugs.
Now, I'll say upfront here that I disagree with point (2). I don't think we've reached that point, and seriously doubt that we'll ever reach that point. Of course I might be wrong, but I don't see what *I* call panic really happening unless the impact of the residual bugs justifies it -- and at that time, it's hard to distinguish 'panic' from a rational response to genuine difficulties.
Point (1) is more difficult, because 'doomsday' seems awful vague to me. As a standard of reference, take Yourdon's expectations -- screwups and failures for a year, depression for a decade. Is this 'doomsday'? Or let's take Yardeni's estimate and double it - a 6% decline in real GDP. Is that 'doomsday'? Was the Great Depression 'doomsday'? Or is de Jager focusing on the more far-out scenarios -- half the world's population dying, and the remainder reverting to 1850's technology (or much earlier) and subsisting for generations among the increasingly mysterious detritus of a lost golden age?
Taking another tack, what are the worst effects 'panic' might reasonably cause? It might force bank closings, it might create severe temporary shortages of food and other supplies, it might lead to local riots as people fight over limiteed supplies. What else? And how sustainable would these panics be if the code bugs really weren't much of a problem and the shortages were replenished within a few days and the banking system clearly remained functional?
It seems pretty clear to me that 'panic' wouldn't amount to much nor last very long if there were no clear and continuing force to drive it (although it would in the short term cause real dislocations and be very hard and maybe fatal for a few while it ran its course).
If this is the case, de Jager must feel that we have *right now* pretty well eliminated almost all of what used to be genuine killer bugs. That if rollover happened tomorrow, the difficulties we'd face would be less serious, and more temporary, than the worst effects of panic.
Now, what might lead de Jager to draw this remarkable conclusion? I can't read his mind, so I have to guess. Here are some factors that might (or might not) bear on de Jager's opinion:
(1) Not very much of our computerization is really critical to our economy. We can get along pretty damn well without it. (My reaction: Bzzzzt! Not hardly).
(2) Remaining serious bugs can be effectively handled through FOF. (My reaction: Bzzzzt!)
(3) Reports of real progress (there are many) are more credible than reports of real problems. (My reaction: doubtful)
(4) Actual testing is now showing that the impact of residual bugs is pretty trivial. (My reaction: based on what?)
(5) Residual bugs might make life hell on Earth for those tasked with handling them, but limited external impacts, combined with the natural economic resiliancy, will prevent any long chains of toppling dominoes. (My reaction: very likely. This is Yourdon's scenario).
Now, wandering a bit further afield (get out your dictionary now!), could it be that De Jager is not saying that we're ready enough *as we stand* to get through rollover without much of a bump? Perhaps he's simply satisfied that enough has been done *now* so that in the time remaining, we will reduce the bug-problem level to below the panic-problem level? Perhaps he recognizes that a soothing message requires a lead time to sink in, and so must be started somewhat before it's justified by the actual situation on the ground?
In either case, I personally think de Jager is wrong, and that what I consider the preponderance of material, weighted as I think appropriate, fails to justify de Jager's position. But this is strictly my opinion. I'd prefer if de Jager supported his position in a bit more depth. He has written that his informal contacts (and he has a lot of these) tell him that lawyers or corporate conservatism prevent declarations of actual compliance, forcing them to publicly substitute generic assurances for (possibly) enforceable guarantees.
Finally, I believe it's sensible to prepare for more than you expect to happen. If you think a Yourdon-level or worse event is only a 10% chance, this is far more than sufficient reason to prepare.
There seems to be a sentiment here that even if de Jager is sincere, he's being *irresponsible* because his current position discourages people from preparing. We distrust the government because they often *lie* to achieve their purposes. But we castigate de Jager for failing to say what he believes is untrue, because he isn't helping achieve *our* purposes. We even consider ourselves so obviously right that the only way any informed person can disagree is if he's been bought off! I'm very uncomfortable with this. I think people should make well-informed decisions even if we don't like them, rather than make *misinformed* decisions that conform with *our* opinions.
PS to Tom Carey: Yes, I will continue to defend de Jager's right to express what I consider a stupid opinion. Can't you understand that it's possible to be wrong *without* being a paid hireling of an evil conspiracy? Can't you understand that we can learn nothing from the errors of others, if we make no effort to learn what led them to those errors? Can't you think of any better way to respond to different opinions, than to attack the reputations of those who hold them? If you are incapable of understanding any of this, then I will remain inexplicable to you.
Oh yes, to quote Andy: "Nothing's gonna change what is going to happen worldwide. It's a done deal." Are you telling me Andy is *uncertain*?
-- Flint (email@example.com), March 22, 1999.