Ramblings: Mr. Decker and I Beg to Differ

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Optimism and Pessimism

I see things somewhat differently than Mr. Decker. Perhaps, I am a pessimist. There is good and bad news enough to support the optimist (I equate this with what Mr. Decker, tongue in cheek, defines as a realist) and pessimist without additional insight or intuition. The optimists and pessimists are practical creatures. They get it. They are two sides of the same coin. Maybe, this is the middle ground. Outside of this so-called middle ground are those who are looking at Y2K in a very different way and those who serve these people as a chorus (and sometimes, a comical chorus at that).

Outside the middle ground, those who are not just seeing Y2K are "looking" at Y2K. They are searching for something that is beyond what can be easily seen. They are looking beyond the facts- whether they are optimistic or pessimistic. Whatever their intuitions, their intuitions are neither necessarily wrong nor unworthy of further consideration. This is true, though. It is harder for these people to agree across the fence because the arguments they have to make are beyond the good and bad news and the humble few facts.

While Mr. Decker is an optimist and I, a pessimist, it's obvious that our judgement and imagination tends toward our opposite directions of intuition. Perhaps, we find ourselves better anchored in the middle ground in our reading and interacting with the other side. In other words, we beg to differ. By becoming familiar with the other viewpoint and its arguments, we may, indeed, satisfy a real concern for our own individual vulnerability to error and erroneous conclusions. And, yet, we shall also ask ourselves if this balancing act is more beneficial than our intuitions. I see both sides of this struggle in myself as well as Mr. Decker's recent and infamous post.

For those that are"looking" beyond the good news and the bad news, the few facts that are known to us all must be unsatisfying. But facts are as much invited, as they are demanded for sake of their sincere-most concern for error. The burden of proof, however, requires immense resources, which even the brightest individuals can not muster alone, or the few soul mates that truly share their powerful intuitions. As Fred seems to complain in one of his books, it's lonely on the mountain top. Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor is also lonely his whole being yearns passionately for Christ even as he boldly rejects and defies his Lord.

Bringing the Trojan Horse into the City

The steam is still building on Y2K. The complexity of the problem is having expected difficulties in being communicated to the public, but Y2K is being communicated more and more. Perhaps, too slowly. Dilbert is just one interesting example. The KIA ads, if interesting, will raise more questions. The power of suggestion is such that the increasing mention of Y2K may very well begin to haunt the consciousness of those people who don't get it. What will happen, then?

People will ask questions, they'll search the web, and they'll start talking about it. At first, they'll roll their eyes and laugh at themselves, but inside they'll be intently interested. They will get a little nervous. I think it is just a matter of WHEN... when popular culture and cultural leaders obsess over Y2K, whether over problems to be expected or over those who are debating how things will turn out. At first, they'll roll their eyes. Later, they will eat out of cans.

That's how the Trojan horse thing works. Quietly sneaking fears may very well unloose the gates in the night. Outside those gates, waits a fearsome army. So long as fear is not met in the plain, we shall see it sneaking into the public consciousness like seeds of discontent. If these seeds should grow and become the nightmares and demons that they promise to be, we will face very real challenges to our freedom, our democracy, and our way of life-if not to our survival.

Our leaders and the captains of industry have retreated from the Plain. They man the high walls. This is where we would like to be watching them (however, nervously) face the problem in the Plain. By our hearths, we listen to the bragging and bemoanment of those who stood arm to arm against the enemy. Generals, captains, and soldiers tell a different story. Some are confident, some, terrified. The good news and the bad news goes from friend to friend and house to house. Exaggerations quickly overcome truth.

What Is Truth?

There is some encouragement out there that things aren't going to be bad as some had first thought. The complexity of Y2K, however, does not lend itself to seemingly hasty assurances and/or warnings (whatever the source)... just as communicating the problem in the first place has been so incredibly difficult. The bad news is as unreliable as the good news and vice versa. The only thing we know for certain is that we don't have enough information. We are in a crisis of efficacy.

Very little will satisfy the conditions required changing our minds and fixing our very will to another purpose. We want to see credentials. At the same time, the credentials don't mean much to us. We want the honest truth, but we don't really know if anyone is honest enough to give us the plain facts, good or bad. Who do you believe? What is their motive behind their statements? Do their statements coincide with their clarity or lack thereof?

And if the truth will set us free, why is it that we urgently and passionately avoid the truth about ourselves? Can you handle the truth? Will the truth devastate everything you believed to be true and good and beautiful? But, if we believe that we are agents of truth, why do we hide behind anonymous nicknames and bad email addresses? What are we hiding and what are we hiding from? If we do not know who speaks the truth, will we believe that what was spoken is true?

Pilate asks Christ"What is Truth?" We turn away from Truth, yet we demand that others speak the truth to us yet we do not believe that they are telling us the truth, because we know (and all too well) that we, ourselves, are untruthful. Therefore, we demand the facts, we search them out. Some search for the facts with scientific intensity. Yet the facts are not enough. So we demand a consensus of the facts and this is the means by which we hope to satisfy our yearning for Truth. In fact, our arguments reach beyond Y2K.

Humble Opinions and Tongue in Cheek

Among the pessimists, preparations will continue and at a speed determined by how much money they have for Y2k preparations and how much time they feel they have to shop around. They'll read up on gardening and maybe do a little more gardening this year. Some will go out and buy a shotgun (with fond memories of their fathers and grandfathers taking them on childhood hunting trips). Others will really get involved in community action groups or local government and help increase public awareness of the possible problems associated with Y2K.

The intuitive pessimists who have not finished their preparations will also continue their preparations at full steam. Some will be moving out of the cities. Others will be improving upon their fixed positions. Like the pessimists, some will be adding to their armory and others will be involved in the community action groups and local government. Of course, they will have bountiful gardens and be working on a root cellar, drilling a well, installing solar panel arrays, etc. Pessimists will pester them for know-how and ideas, but a humble Pessimist will be overwhelmingly grateful and appreciative (and this will be some pleasurable reward).

Optimists will consider starting a modest collection on antique Aladdin lamps (an allacite tall Lincoln from the 30s, perhaps). They'll check over their camping and hunting gear and get what's needed (without any thought of Y2K, of course), get in a few cords of wood (it's cheaper in the summer, you know), and make sure that the pantry is stocked with plenty of good eats (there are real winter storms, to prepare for). They may do a little gardening (they do every year or, at least, they meant to do it every year) because it is very satisfying to eat what you grow.

Intuitive optimists: Some will continue to make and lose money in the Stock Market without regard for Y2K correction. Others will do the same old same old. Some of the chorus line may even graduate from High School this summer. If they have cool friends, they will have a great time and go to really cool parties. Those that don't have cool friends, will continue and redouble their attempts to interrupt the conversations going on in Ed Yourdon's discussion forum. In an unusual (if not self dishonest) effort to feel better about themselves, they will be somewhat satisfied (not truly satisfied) in not being a doomer.

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (info@giglobal.com), May 06, 1999


This is why I look forward to a good cigar with Stan Faryna.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), May 06, 1999.

Interesting post Stan. I wonder if people can handle the truth. You are an animal and you will live and then die. Two things that are certian in life (and taxes). Do your best at the living part and don't stress out on the last act of life. Y2K is a measure of time. And time is a precious thing.

-- Brian (imager@ampsc.com), May 06, 1999.

Mr. Decker

Since I have the pleasure of your company on this thread let me point out how disappointed (on your post to the FBI forum) I am. You have posted good material which can help folk. But red herrings such as living in isolated conditions and having a sniper attack will draw responces from most people. But why would someone even bother trying to get in a isolated area and attack folks with minimal resources in the first place is beyond me. They (well trained folk) would be going after fuel and what not in the cities.

Y2K is a real problem. People could die. The Water, Health, overseas, S&MEs, local and state (provincal) govs. and other issues are beyond the scope of individual understanding I believe. If you and others of your mindset find it funny to badger people that are conserned and want to help then you should do it somewhere else. Preparing is the name of the game and questioning the seriousness of the situation is going to confuse the young mother that is interested in the safety of her family in anywhere, any country in the world. I worry about those in the cold areas in the world that might lose power FOR WHAT EVER REASON. If they have been told that the power is secure then they will not learn what is needed to survive such a challange. They might die.

And you comment on whether a position is defensible or not. Or which side of the boiled egg to eat from. At least you post your E address.

Personally I feel you should say you are sorry to the forum.

-- Brian (imager@ampsc.com), May 06, 1999.

...and time is quickly running out. We will not be debating what will happen much longer. The focus will shift to what, if anything, we can do about what happened.

A bump in the road, and the Dow at 15,000 in 2002?

A crisis of work-arounds, with the resulting loss of productivity and a major dose of economic shock?

Or falling dominoes and a government desparately attempting to keep its cities under control and its citizens alive?

Time stops for no man. We shall soon see.

-- Doug (Doug@work.now), May 06, 1999.

Mr. Decker,

In previous threads you have asked for examples of petroleum production products that will fail. Does this qualify?

"For example, when Phillips Petroleum ran year 2000 simulation tests on an oil and gas platform in the North Sea in Fall 1997, they found that an essential system for detecting harmful gases such as hydrogen sulfide failed"

Leon Kappelman the Year 2000 Problem: Ethical Implications

Now, I know this is old news. So old, in fact, that I assumed it had been debunked since it was never mentioned in the thread. Can you comment on this?

-- Goombah (goombah@aol.com), May 06, 1999.

Or maybe that was Poole? So sorry.

-- Goombah (goombah@aol.com), May 06, 1999.


I must regard that as good news. Although things sometimes fail under simulation and not in reality (and all too often vice versa, believe me!), it's still good to identify possible vulnerabilities as quickly as possible.

Of course, I am assuming that known serious risks are being addressed. Why spend the time and effort searching for potential problems if you don't intend to fix them when you find them?

On the other hand, the request that someone provide the name, rank and serial number of a device that *will* fail is rather silly. If we had that information, we'd act on it. There is quite a long list of documented cases of devices that *would have* failed if not corrected. The fact that such a list exists isn't proof that anything will fail, but it *is* enough to make one nervous.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), May 06, 1999.

STAN: Yet another reason why I will continue to read and at times, relish this forum! Interesting partition of "optimist" and "pessimist."

Remember: The one great thing about being a pessimist is that all or your surprises are favorable!

BRIAN: Yes indeed we shall all "know", in what has now become a relatively short period of time, what Y2K shall bring. The important question for each of us however, in terms of the remainder of our lives subsequent to Y2K, is what will our response to reality be when we must reconcile the reality that unfolds versus that which we believed would arise.

Will we be disappointed, or smug, and in so being, what will that say about our values? If we are smug, because something approaching our worst imagined scenario, one replete with widespread human depravation and misery, descends upon us all, what might serve as justification for being smug, what might that say about the person feeling such emotions?

Or if one finds ones self disappointed that there is but a "bump in the road", because the asphalt of the road has apparently been freshly and skillfully repaired, what will that emotion then indicate to those so feeling? The windows to ones soul are to be found in the emotions they experience - their reactions to reality as they determine it to be. Y2K will provide everyone that reads this forum with an opportunity to either learn and grow, or failing to seize that opportunity, using some unique rationalization, the tendency of which is so common to us all, continue to selectively postpone their "reconciliation: with reality. I say this because the reality of it will come to pass and life will then go on, in some fashion, perhaps with renewed fervor.

It happens to the best and worst of us. When I was 20 years old, having figured out how the world and all the people on it functioned, I ran head long into the fact that who and what I believed myself to be, was in fact someone who, when being ruthlessly honest with myself, I must hold in contempt. My resolution of such a contradiction is a closely held secret that I share with only those to whom reason, honesty, honor, and trust are of the highest of values.

Y2K shall offer to the introspective among us, just such an opportunity. This will be especially true for those that post with venom, hostility, and rancor, when in seeming defense of their "knowledge," they lash out at someone "not like them."

So Brian yes, we shall soon see..............

-- Dave Walden (wprop@concentric.net), May 06, 1999.


Well, I guess we agree that failures have/will/would have occur/red. The questions is, as always, will they all be found and fixed, and if not, how much failure can we stand.

However, this thread seems to be more about pessimism/optimism, so if you dont reply, I wont be offended.

-- goombah (goombah@aol.com), May 06, 1999.

It wasn't me on petroleum well heads.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), May 06, 1999.


You are entirely right. People may die. There may be misery. If not in the U.S., terrible things are very likely to happen elsewhere. I have friends overseas who continue to believe that Y2K is either strictly an American problem or strictly an American lie to export programmers, software, etc. They are all well educated and quite accomplished. One or two are even captains of industry in their own countries. In fact, several no longer have the patience to discuss the Y2K topic with me.

State side, my company provides communications and design services to high level executives at some of the more elite consulting companies. Only a few months ago, quite a few of these guys had no idea what Y2K was about. "Y2K? What's that!" These are the "know how" and "can do" people that are buddy buddy with the CEOs of the Fortune 500. Most of them still don't get it. Chuck pointed this out some posts back.

I agreed quietly with Chuck... nodded my head at the monitor. In fact, I continue to wonder very seriously who is getting it and who can get it fixed in the States? I like what I am hearing from Koskinen, NERC, GAO, etc., but I do wonder about the disconnect between the top level people not getting it and the reports that say that someone gets it and someone is getting it fixed. It's quite possibly a real miracle.


I agree. Time is running out. Is there time left for me to be a card carrying doomer? I mailed in my application a month ago, but the Post Office returned it the other day for insufficient postage. (grin)


I think it was Poole that wanted to know about the petroleum systems.


Are you a pessimist or an optimist?! (g) Are you related to Mr. Spock?

Dave Walden

I hope to see more of your writing soon. Also an interesting question, you pose. Reconciliation with reality... I like that phrase and idea. I also was once under the powerful influence of mistaken arrogances-- especially just out of college. Some of my old professors didn't help. They called me, "Dante." But God beat me down to size with a hammer. I call this "a reconciliation with reality of the Stanley kind." (grin)

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (info@giglobal.com), May 06, 1999.

David, i understand EXACTLY what you are saying about the internal reconciliation. In 1975, just a few months after my marriage, I closely and critically looked back at what I had been in 1971 and 1972. After dealing with the bodily function results of the close look, I set about detailing the differences, and examined where these might have come from. I can only conclude that I had "grown up". Some day when you and I are sitting next to a couple of Guinesses, we should discuss the differences between then and now (I know it'll take SEVERAL Guinesses, for me).


PS I have FINALLY, in the last couple of years forgiven my self and accepted that the foibles of youth are to be examined but lightly, accepted in love, and not spoken of again, between the combattants.

-- chuck, a Night Driver (rienzoo@en.com), May 07, 1999.

CHUCK: Stan's post that began this thread is full of wonderful tid-bits. I mention Stan because being a newbie to this forum (heck any forum - I consider myself a virgin newbie!)I have found that the initial article tends to trigger all manner of thoughts and responses. Consequently, regardless of the theme or particular points made be the author that starts the thread, it seemingly may lead anywhere!

I mention the above because I read one of your responses on another thread that I am no longer able to find - I believe because of what I mentioned above. Its theme was an attempt by you to put into proper perspective those rabidly harsh opinions, assessments, accusations, and criticisms, that all too frequently appear on this forum. (perhaps it occurs on other forums as well) It may have involved the recent criticisms directed at Mr. Decker. I am not sure.

Vitriol, whether couched in elegant or crude terms, has the same affect. It serves as both a distraction and a form of intimidation. It can also be very discouraging to whom it is directed against - particularly if they are at a point in their lives where they are questioning their self-esteem............

I meant to tell you that I thought that post that I have attempted to describe was a truely superb article!

You pilot an awesome rig.

-- Dave Walden (wprop@concentric.net), May 07, 1999.


"Will we be disappointed, or smug, and in so being, what will that say about our values? If we are smug, because something approaching our worst imagined scenario, one replete with widespread human depravation and misery, descends upon us all, what might serve as justification for being smug, what might that say about the person feeling such emotions? "

I can't say I know anyone who would feel smug about a worst case scenario.

If the pollys are correct and it is a 1 or 2 they will be entitled to feel smug and we will all breath a collective sigh of relief and I will be the first to eat crow.

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), May 07, 1999.

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