Y2K Debate - early history & recent turn

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The Y2K Debate --- It's Early History and Recent Turn


Just recently getting back to the GI vs DGI (Gloomers vs Pollys) debate after an absence of 10 months (busy with my preps, including relocating twice, each time further into the Deep South) I find a significant shift in the dialogue. I think a description of the early days may give us a better background to judge what's happening in the forums nowadays. I'm calling 'early' the period January 1997 through July 1998 (The reader may have a different time frame.) And I'm tracking the period on the basis of Internet activity (y2k websites.)

The beginning of the period was characterized mainly by silence. By mid-summer the sparks were beginning to fly. The main GI players seemed to be deJager, Gary North, and Cory Hamasaki -- supported by a considerable body of geek supporters. There was a plethora of DGI jocks. Here's what I remember as the dialogs' essentials:

1) The GIs were describing chaos ahead in broad strokes (altho significantly, Cory was a cautionary optimist [by my GI standards,] a patriot, 'an enabler,' a 'motivator --- "Boys, if we work hard we can LICK this devil.")

2) At regular intervals a DGI would appear on the scene. These were essentially of two general types. The first category was making general statements centering around the lack of precedent for this type of problem -- how could the GIs be so confident in their predictions? The GIs would then pounce on him (and occasionally her), using as a basis for their attack: PAST performance regarding NON-y2k track records, such as large software projects rarely coming in on time or within budget, and often as not, not coming in at all -- the project ending up in the junk heap. (All of that kind of talk rang a resounding bell --- resonated with all I had witnessed [1st, 2nd, or 3d hand] in the San Francisco Bay Area in the '70s.) I don't recollect ANY DGI giving a credible response disproving that type of argument, if he'd had extensive enterprise programming experience.

The second type of DGI kicked open the saloon door, brought his six shooter to his hip, and fired his SILVER BULLET. Man, you should have been there to see the blood all over the floor -- as the GIs dismembered him limb from limb, leading to a mercifully quick death, on a PURE TECHNICAL basis. The Bullets were so embarrassingly inept it took only a flick of a syntactical finger to dismiss them.

3. The third factor centered around the awareness level of four population cohorts:

a) The Man In The Street: "Y2K? Whazzat?"

b) The Corporate Executives: "Y2K? Whazzat?" An alternate response, among the more articulate was, "Y2K? No probLEMo! ---- My CIO has all those bases covered, believe me."

c) The Government Executives & Legislature: "Y2K? Whazzat?" An alternate response, among the more articulate was, "Y2k? No probLEMo! ---- If warranted we'll form a committee to investigate it, maybe in 1998."

A subheading under this category is reserved for our CEO, the esteemed parser of the English language: Billy Jeff. (I myself have never been called Billy Jim in my life, till I moved down South -- I like it.) His response to an open letter written to him by de Jager in '97 was: "___________." A second letter to him by de Jager later resulted in this response: "____________."

d) The Golden Idol of our culture, The Media: "Y2K? Call us back when it's at least a blip on the Neilsen charts."

********************************************** Some of us were looking for HARD FACTS demonstrating real progress among industry and government entities. All we got were giant cowpies, along with a lot of methane gas. **********************************************

What did all this do to the Paranoia Index of us GIs?

Well, it made it easy for us to CONFIRM OUR NATURAL SCEPTICISM, SUSPICION, AND CONVICTION that we are a nation of ostriches with all our heads stuck in the sand (at best -- but more likely stuck in an even darker cavity.)

It enabled me for one, to give up searching comp.software.year-2000 every day to read the latest daisy count: y2k will be catastrophic, y2k won't be catastrophic, etc., etc. I was able to get off the roller coaster. And with the CONVICTION that we were headed for an InfoMagic 'Final Solution' -- I was able to focus on my preps with an intensity and single-mindedness that shocked people around me.



I got back online a couple weeks ago. Why? I had a lull in my construction schedule for a week or two and thought I'd ck into the Net. Tried the y2k.entrewave.com forum, which used to be the denizen of the heavy-duty GIs. Nothing going on there.

Then I hit Ed Yourdon's site, which I always disliked in the past because the software for it is so godawful (compared to y2k.entrewave.com).


What has appeared on the horizon for the first time are an increasing number of reports from corporate and government sources, mentioning actual numbers, percents, dates, locations, entity names, people with real names. Yes, the BCF ("Bill Clinton Factor"), regarding the veracity of the public statements, still has to be considered. But I'll tell you, for a skeptic at least as far right as InfoMagic, I find it's time to ponder, time to give serious ear to the DGI's.

But more important, it's time to get the bead on ACTUAL CASE HISTORIES. Now it's no longer good enough for me to hear my favorite GIs repeating our mantra: "It's all going down -- man the lifeboats -- make peace with Your Maker!"

What I need to know is such things as:

1) Enterprise projects: What will Cory find out when he digs into that $30k error at the MD bank?

2) Embedded projects: What will happen next at Texaco's remediation center, as described in that wonderful WIRED editorial posted here this week?

The above two examples may be portents of a significant re-calibration of the TimeBomb2000's trajectory and eventual target.

Yes, the above two examples are the kinds of reporting that may eventually make Paul Davis/Hoff/Stephen have to eat crow.

But the outcome may also make us major league GIs eat the bird instead.

Wow, what am I saying? How could I betray the cause, me a card-carrying doomer of the 32nd degree? Well, here's what I consider the most important line in this post:

Beware, Pollys, AND BEWARE DOOMERS -- if you (and we) don't keep moving you (and we) may develop crippling arthritis of the intellect -- and end up calcified staglamites in the Cave of Mistaken Causes.

Bill -- trying-to-keep-from-stiffening-up -- Schenker

-- William J. Schenker, MD (wjs@linkfast.net), April 29, 1999


Please pardon my ignorance here. I've just begun tuning into this forum. Please tell me what GI and DGI stand for. Thanks

-- Newbie (wont@divulge.it), April 29, 1999.

gi means get and dgi means don't get it

-- supernoobie (hopingi@got.itt), April 29, 1999.

gi means get it and dgi means don't get it

-- supernoobie (hopingi@got.itt), April 29, 1999.

Welcome back Billy Jeff,

To Newbie: Get It, Don't Get It

I also used to be at Infomagic, have begun to see that while that scenario(sp?) might play out in some cities it will probably not happen every where. Notice I still qualify answers with those weasel words. Anything can happen but the worst now seems less likely than before.

So where do I see things going at this late date?

1. Bank runs: No matter what the banks say there are enough people who will take the money and run that the runs will happen. Some banks will fold many will not.

2. Shortages of many items: Fuel still seems most likely but how long is anyones guess at this time. Other items are harder to see as it remains to be seen which suppliers and therefore which businesses will go down.

3. Massive unemployment: See businesses folding above. How long this will last is again hard to see. There will be many entrepeneurs that will jump to fill the needs. But how fast without cash from closed banks to loan? (See the ripples?)

4. Not everyone will lose electricity. Many will and in some areas it will be down for weeks. (Again weasel words) If many equals 80% this will be devastating to economy and social order. If many equals 20% this will not be as important as other areas with power (and water the two are nearly synonomous(sp?) can help those without.

Not to specific but certainly less than infomagic. I still do not regret the preps after all my milage may vary and I could be in the wrong place.


-- LM (latemarch@usa.net), April 29, 1999.

Nice post Dr.Billy Jim,

At your age and with your level of awareness you can certainly lend a steady hand here. Just reach over now and then and nudge the wheel in the proper direction. We sometimes let this big ole ship get away from us, what with worrying about some *maybe* icebergs ahead. Are you working up a list of barter items for your services "down there" in case of economic embarrassment? A chicken for a broken wrist, and stuff like that? Throw some oil on these troubled waters from time to time.

-- Gordon (gpconnolly@aol.com), April 29, 1999.


Listen, Bucko, I'm still enuf of an InfoMagic-type that I'm not planning on no barter banter --- for a long time now I have based my plans on a post-y2k population density so thin that people will have to walk 100 miles to find a meeting place with enuf buyers/sellers to make barter dynamics doable. And when they get there no one's gonna have enuf surplus widgets to play his end of the barter --- just the act of putting it all in his bicycle basket & then juggling his way down the country road for hours to get to the 'Town Square' (haruumph!) will be an unsurmountable obstacle for your typical EndTimes Entrepreneur. Howzat for pessimism?!

On a lighter note, in my first year out of interneship -- 1957 -- I was covering house calls for the Drs. Rosenberg in Forest Hills, Queens, NY. The older brother reminded me on a number of occasions getting paid for his house calls in the early '30s, in Noo Yawk City, IN CHICKENS!

Finally, y2k will be no time to SELL my services -- that's a good way to get kilt, fast. So I'm developing a ham radio post-y2k network (on the HF bands) to exchange (barter) crucial info. Get your ham ticket & tune into the fun.

I enjoy your posts, Gordon -- a breath of fresh air.

Chicken Willie

-- William J. Schenker, MD (wjs@linkfast.net), April 29, 1999.

Yup, yup,

That's what I had in mind. A steady hand, a steely eye, and strong gut level instinct. The ship is on a better course already. I was getting real worried when I would sometimes see the coast on the port side, sometimes on the starboard side. I knew it shouldn't be going round like that, but, well, too many indians and not enough chiefs I guess. Bicycles, huh? Hmmm. How about a moped? Gas if you got it, otherwise just pedal away. Seen them doing that a lot in Holland and they all had a happy look on their faces!

-- Gordon (gpconnolly@aol.com), April 29, 1999.

Hey, Dr. Billy Jeff!

-- ben (benalurker@usa.net), April 29, 1999.

Hey, Dr. Billy Jeff! Great to have you with us. I remember you from the ORIGINAL GN forums and always enjoyed your input. By the way, did you move farther south than Tenn.? That's where you were last I heard, with ????, can't recall his name - another "senior moment" has occurred. Anyway, keep up the posting. Hope you are settled for good! God bless, ben

-- ben (benalurker@usa.net), April 29, 1999.

Chickens have always been a common barter item or used as a form of payment..Once upon a time doctors made house calls and were sometimes paid with chickens. In the 50's deep in the heart of Texas (near La Grange) there was a farm called the chicken ranch. There were chickens in the front yard. Some locals would trade chickens for the services of the ranch. I was a traveling salesman in the area at the time. The movie (with burt and dolly) was based on a lot of fact along with lots of hollywood type fiction.

-- rb (phxbanks@webtv.net), April 29, 1999.

TNX for the history. Some of us GI but didn't participate until Fall 1998, so this is "news" (errrr "olds"). It helps to see the current plethora of flurries in a matrix of past fusses. Mrs Driver and I keep bouncing from IM to oh, about a 5.5 and back. Kinda depends on the day, available cash, and who has bounced what off of us. though we BOTH seem to be taking the prep level to the same high number, without the true EXPECTATION of a true IM scenario. Someday we really need to start a thread that attempts to get the difference between what we TRULY expect, what we think MIGHT happen (with SWAG Probabilities on both), and how far our preps will take us in either (ooops, there may be more than 2) ANY scenario. [Memo to self: Start your thoughts on this, immediately AFTER kitty kitter changing and garden attention, this weekend. Ignore the piles in the corners, you don't need to find the chairs again for at least another month!]

Bill I do enjoy your attempts at keeping us intelectually honest, though I am hard pressed to see how you maintain a semblance of reasonable BP. LOLOL

Chuck, d N D

-- chuck, a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), April 29, 1999.

I was first introduced to Y2K by Yourdon's book in March, 1998. I focused on the broad financial prospects, and concentrated on making sure that my financial situation was not exposed to risk.

In the fall of 1998, I started shifting my concern to the infrastructure (electric, water, natural gas, telephones, etc.). I have been doing major preperation.

My preperation has been done on the basis that I would be doing stuff for lots of people (friends, neighbors, members of my congregation).

I am located in Madison, WI. As best I can tell, the local utilities are in the top 5% of preperation. So I do think that there is a good chance the lights will stay on. But there is always the risk they forgot something ...

I look at 3 scenereos:

1) No utility failures. All money spent on "pure utility preps" is wasted. Still there are massive financial problems with y2k, and the vast majority of my preps are useful. I just don't have to crap in a plastic bucket. I predict under this scenereo, food will be much more expensive. Many will be out of a job. Having big piles of food, and being willing to make big pots of soup/stew every night for those who need it will be useful and welcome.

2) No utility failures in Madison, but failures in Chicago and Detroit. In that case, we accept a few dozen refugee in our home (by invitation only). We have the space and most of the supplies.

3) Utility failures in Madison. We accept local refugees. The new wood stove will come in handy. Those in Detroit and Chicago are on their own. All I ask is that enough of the guests can haul water, do the dishes, run the water filter, and dump the crap to keep things running. I do not want to do that for 30 people.

My main image for y2k is that enough of us who have prepared help out a lot more who have not. While we will be busy (see above), I predict lots of adults, freed of their usual adult responsibilities sitting around a room taking turns explaining what they always resented about their parents and other fun topics. Hey we can get through this if we all pull together. Some of us might even enjoy ourselves without having to resort to some sort of Mad Max fantasy.

-- David Holladay (davidh@brailleplanet.org), April 30, 1999.

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