The Dream Merchantsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
There are currently practicing, at least in internet circles, two distinct flavors of "Dream Merchants". One type is represented by Dr. Gary North, who is "selling" a dream that bears a startling likeness to a nightmare. The other type is represented by a character who goes by "CPR" and he is "selling" a dream that bears a startling resemblance to the illusions of anesthesia. The resulting phantasmagoria is not a pleasant place to find one's head. The struggle for your belief is between a stern admonition that it's all about to come unglued with endless horrifying ramifications and a stern admonition to disregard all the foolish predictions of doom; that all is well and the "Powers That Be" have things under control and there is nothing to worry about.
To question the motives of either of these two (who are only representative of respective types) would be truly an ad hominem argument and logically fallacious. Whatever their motives might be, those motives are irrelevant to the accuracy of their arguments. Their arguments are either logically sound and rest on true premises or they do not. Such is easily determined by examination.
These "Dream Merchants" also publish opinions, and not surprisingly, these opinions support their arguments. Now, it is clear that if the argument is based on opinion, its conclusion can be no more than opinion itself and if the opinion is based on the argument, the validity of the opinion depends on the accuracy of the argument.
Perhaps the single most prominent feature of the Y2K problem is the dearth of accurate and verifiable status information; about the government, about industry, about commerce, and about the actions of people. This "information void" tries to create a "data vacuum" but Nature abhors a vacuum, even here. Conjecture, supposition, opinion, outright lies and even factual data rush in to fill it. The central difficulty in dealing with this maelstrom of information is that of attempting to categorize it and sort the useful from the worthless, the real from the imagined and the accurate from the inaccurate. Given that we dwell in a society where, "Trust, But Verify" is an article of faith, we cannot rely on the simple declarative statements of those who have a conflict of interest in the matter at hand. While such a conflict is not proof of deception, millions of years of human history have endlessly demonstrated the folly of blindly trusting certain people. These include those who want your money, those who want your vote, those who want your wife (or husband), and so on and so forth.
Now it would seem simple enough to figure out who was making sense, except for the fact that human beings are extremely adept at deceiving themselves. Were it not so, salesmen would not be the highest paid members of our society. The natural inclination is to deny that which is representative of personal misfortune and accept that which represents personal gain, regardless of all other considerations. Human beings make decisions emotionally for the most part. It is a rare individual who can put aside individual concerns and act rationally in the face of personal loss or gain. The reason for this state of affairs is quite simple. At the very base of our biological programming lie two primal emotions. Both are essential to survival and both drive us equally. These are Fear and Greed.
Dr. North is a Master at producing Fear and manipulating those in whom he produces it. "CPR" is quite adept at "hooking" one's Greed and manipulating those whom he has "hooked". Either or both may have evil or altruistic motives, but both use unethical techniques to achieve their objectives.
I would suggest that your intelligent self interest is best served by neither. Nature gave you a reasoning faculty and the ability to face Fear and the strength to resist Greed. Overcoming both is essential in your personal effort to deal with Y2K. Fear will paralyze you when you can least afford paralysis and Greed will isolate you from your fellows when you most need their community. A "Dream", of either flavor, will leave you blind and ignorant in the midst of illusion.
The "Middle Ground" that Arnie Rimmer so eloquently and accurately described is a sound base from which to operate. If things turn out to be "mixed", you're already where you need to be. If they go completely bad, you're already halfway to where you need to go and if they turn out "roses", you are again halfway there.
And, of no small comfort, it is highly likely that you will find yourself associating with a better class of people there. . .
-- Hardliner (email@example.com), May 25, 1999
"The "Middle Ground" that Arnie Rimmer so eloquently and accurately described is a sound base from which to operate. If things turn out to be "mixed", you're already where you need to be. If they go completely bad, you're already halfway to where you need to go and if they turn out "roses", you are again halfway there."
Arnie's article was extremely valuable, but there is a risk, which I can't quantify but dare not ignore, that "half-way" won't get me anywhere if the risks/events turn out to be non-linear with my planning. I seem to recollect that Arnie himself is preparing TO THE MAX. That's a nit with respect to your main point, however.
Paralysis and isolation are indeed actual psychological dangers for all of us. Thanks for your post.
-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), May 25, 1999.
It hadn't occurred to me that my advice would be taken to apply to physical preps--it was not intended as such. I am preparing to the extent of my ability also.
My entire purpose was to propose a place for your "head".
-- Hardliner (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 25, 1999.
Yes, and lest you think I'm not paying attention, there are a host of other Dream Merchants out there as well. Koskinen and Slick, for instance. And those who may want to impose their Dream on us later this year and/or next (Slick again, Chinese (?), others).
I commented to Ed in a private email exchange that the tension on this forum is not incidental. It is a consequence of Y2K exposing not only code vulnerabilities but cultural vulnerabilities. This is a kind of laboratory for next year. While I would say that our "emotions" are a vitally required fight-or-flight *support*, they are also the object of all the spinning by the Dream Merchants, as you make plain.
Seeing paralysis and isolation as the poles from which we should recoil to find our own center of action is an orientation principle of great use.
-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), May 25, 1999.
I've oftentimes wondered if I "belong" on this forum because my "head" isn't at the same place as some others here. On the other hand, I've checked out the OTHER fora mentioned here and I don't belong THERE either.
-- Anita Spooner (email@example.com), May 25, 1999.
Anita, I think that you would find a real sense of belonging in a mudwrestling rink, in a bikini, covered with oil. Just my opinion.
-- King of Spain (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 25, 1999.
King of Spain:
This is the SECOND time you've brought this up. Do you have a fetish? Just because I'm opposed to footwear in general, and just because I have NO problems working barefoot in a muddy garden does NOT mean that I'd enjoy slapping my muddy body against another's muddy body...at least I don't THINK it does. [grin]
-- Anita Spooner (email@example.com), May 26, 1999.
HARDLINER & BIGDOG: You both yet again demonstrate why this forum can be a source of great wisdom.
With freedom comes responsibility. Whether North or CPR, they both are responsible for their beliefs and what they choose to do because of them. In so doing they will thus reap the whirlwind(s) of their actions.
So too for those that listen and follow their offerings - offerings of not only such as they, but the offerings of anyone to whom they surrender their resonsibility for thinking. Make no mistake, others are invariably offering something. What that offering may be is for each of us to rigorously understand. It may be offered out of wisdom or ignorance, kindness or malice. If we fail to fully understand, first in questioning their premises, and then using our best Reason to comprehend and finally evaluating their arguments, we will then be left to accept whatever they offer, reaping our own share of their whirlwind(s).
It always comes down to repsonsibility. We cannot and should not want to escape from it.
BigDog you are indeed correct. This forum is a reflection of the larger society in which it exists. At times a chilling thought....
-- Dave Walden (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 26, 1999.
Hello again my friend.
Something you said bothered me a bit:..... "At the very base of our biological programming lie two primal emotions. Both are essential to survival and both drive us equally. These are Fear and Greed.
I found that both these have common origin and nothing that stems from this origin ever leads to the opposing force if you will.
I did an exercise once that took several days to complete. I began with the word *depression* I think, and began to look up every synonym I could find to link every synonym ect.etc. It was quite interesting to see threads leading out to everything negitive you can think of.
Then I tried the word happy, again the same system developed, only this time the threads lead to everything positive. Very binary.
So much like the binary system at its root, on or off, positive negetive, love or hate, good or evil. Call the root what you like .
The queer thing about the unintended results of the entire investigation was, NO thread on either page ever lead to a single element of the opposing principle.
NO thread of good, or love, or positive etc, every lead, via linguistic linkage to anger, or murder, or suicide, or divorce, or any other negative concept. There were literally thousands of entries on opposing pages, with no link to bridge the verbal chasm .
When I feel fear, I try to peel it, like a banana, to see what I'm afraid of. Since it hasn't happened yet, (what I feel afraid about) my fear is possibly addressable. I fear losing my job, no I fear the pain of not being able to provide for myself and my family. I fear dying, no I fear of the consequences of dying. I fear falling, no I fear the pain of landing, I fear running out of groceries, no it's the pain of being hungry that makes me afraid.
So, I guess it could be boiled down to pain vs. pleasure at the root, or I prefer to perceive it as good vs evil. I have noticed that when I read the pages with the good elements listed, I can take a tour of pleasurable rememberance. I feel a lot better.
PS I can't stay very long visiting the opposing site these days.
-- unspun@lright (email@example.com), May 26, 1999.
Big Dog wrote:
I seem to recollect that Arnie himself is preparing TO THE MAX.
When Mrs. Rimmer makes this argument, I point out that I've stopped short of the 2nd generation night vision goggles and the 40 foot self-contained underground bunker ;-)
It would be fair to say that Mrs. Rimmer and I are preparing to the best of our abilities to withstand mild to moderate disruptions in basic infrastructure. Such disruptions would hopefully be of short duration and fixed or 'worked around' by a cooperative society. We are aiming at being able to feed, water, heat and shelter ourselves for several months if need be.
When I wrote the Middle Ground essay, my goal was to address what I viewed as a harmful polarization in the all important question "Just what will happen as a result of Y2K?". On the one hand, we have Gary North who has made it clear he is hoping for TEOTWAWKI. He wants all his followers to be prepared for nothing but TEOTWAWKI. One the other hand we have the "no big problem" crowd that is actively discouraging personal and community preparation.
I find myself opposed to both extremes. Gary has his own vision of Utopia that I do not personally share. Many of the "no big problem" crowd now want special legislation passed to exempt themselves from litagation should actual Y2K-related failures occur. This also leaves me cold.
My background in software helps me to understand that not all of the software will be fixed in time. Of this, I am certain. It is one of the few things about Y2K I feel is a clear fact. It is the specific personal consequences of that fact that escapes me. But I personally believe that there is a significant risk of disruptions to primary infrastructure.
I continue to encourage other people to prepare to the best of their ability. But one of the things we must also be prepared for is the chance that we are wrong. I don't believe Gary's hard-core followers are prepared to be wrong and it's abundantly clear that the 'no big problem' crowd is not at all prepared to be wrong.
I do not know exactly what will happen. But I believe that the risk of serious disruptions is significant enough to warrant positive action on my part to prepare as best I can. We are prepared to be wrong, however.
If Y2K turns out to be a BITR (bump in the road), I'll not blame Ed Yourdon, Robert Bennett, Gary North or Paul Milne. The decision to prepare was my own and no one elses. Indeed, I pray Y2K is a bust - I've got a lot of other things I'd like to get back to.
On the other hand, if it turns out that several months worth of food, water, heat and shelter were not enough, I will know that I did the very best job of preparing that I possibly could. And that was the point of the Middle Ground essay - that doing the very best we can do does not always guarantee success but it at least gives us a fighting chance and it is a much better choice than either ignoring the risk or giving up entirely.
Fear will paralyze you when you can least afford paralysis and Greed will isolate you from your fellows when you most need their community.
Excellent point. Both extremes do little to address the real risks we face.
-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), May 26, 1999.
Always a pleasure, Hardliner...
A few years back Iwas playing golf with a young Naval Aviator. He was about 30 (typical for an O-3 LT and also typically full of himself). He had played the course once a week for the past year. The tenth hole has a meandering cart path that is about fifty yards from the green and a couple of large crows lived in the pine trees next to the cart path. It was the perfect location to be a crow. They would wait for a group to walk to the green, then swoop down and check out the cart for packages of crackers, a hotdog or something edible left in the cart.
The young Lieutenant started whooping and hollering at the crows from the center of the green as the birds flew off with a hotdog he had bought at the turn. He threw his hat on the ground as he whined "The damn crows got my food...Again!!"
I had to turn away.
We are so predictable and someof us never learn. If things do go sour soon, will we learn anything from it? Will the "Age of Reason" dawn? Our track record isn't very good.
Will we be lucky? Perhaps luck is when preparation meets opportunity...
-- PNG (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 26, 1999.
Anita- Wow!! Tell me more about what you wouldn't -- or don't think you wouldn't -- want to do!! And be sure to mention lots of mud, and post it real slow....
-- King of Spain (email@example.com), May 26, 1999.
Unspun, that's funny, my synonym dictionary can chain from 'good' to 'bad' easiliy as follows:
-- Blue Himalayan (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 26, 1999.
PNG's question as to whether or not we will ever learn to avoid making the same mistake over and over reminded me of this story. I suspect that some of you have already seen it, but for those who haven't--Here is the story of "Bill".
There once was a COBOL programmer named Bill. After years of being taken for granted and treated as a technological dinosaur by all the relational database modelers, client/server programmers and website developers, Bill was finally getting some respect. After separating from the Air Force, he'd become a private consultant specializing in Year 2000 conversions. He was working short-term assignments for prestige companies, traveling all over the world on different assignments, and making more money than he'd ever dreamed of.
He was working 70 and 80 and even 90 hour weeks, but it was worth it. Soon he could retire.
Several years of this relentless, mind-numbing work had taken its toll on Bill. He had problems sleeping and began having anxiety dreams about the Year 2000. It had reached a point where even the thought of the year 2000 made him nearly violent. He must have suffered some sort of breakdown, because all he could think about was how he could avoid the year 2000 and all that came with it.
Bill decided to contact a company that specialized in cryogenics. He made a deal to have himself frozen until March 15th, 2000. This was a very expensive, totally automated process. He was thrilled. The next thing he would know is he'd wake up in the year 2000; after the New Year celebrations and computer debacles; after the leap day. Nothing else to worry about except getting on with his life.
He was put into his cryogenic receptacle, the technicians set the revive date, he was given injections to slow his heartbeat to a bare minimum, and that was that.
The next thing that Bill saw was an enormous and very modern room filled with excited people. They were all shouting "I can't believe it!", "It's a miracle", and "He's alive!". There were cameras (unlike any he'd ever seen) and equipment that looked like it came out of a science fiction movie.
A spokesman for the group stepped forward. Bill couldn't contain his enthusiasm. "It is over?" he asked. "Is 2000 already here? Are all the millennial parties and promotions and crises all over and done with?"
The spokesman explained that 2000 had gone, but that there had been a problem with the programming of the timer on Bill's cryogenic receptacle - it hadn't been year 2000 compliant, and it was now March 15th of 2099, not 2000. But the spokesman told Bill that he shouldn't get excited as someone important wanted to speak to him.
Suddenly a wall-sized projection screen displayed the image of the Prime Minister of Earth.
He told Bill not to be upset, that this was a wonderful time to be alive, that there was world peace and no more starvation, that the space program had been reinstated and there were colonies on the moon and on Mars. Technology had advanced to such a degree that everyone had virtual reality interfaces which allowed them to contact anyone else on the planet, or to watch any entertainment, or to hear any music recorded anywhere.
"That sounds terrific," said Bill. "But I'm curious. Why does everybody seem so interested in me?"
"Well," said the Prime Minister. "2100 is just around the corner, and it says in your files that you know COBOL".
-- Hardliner (email@example.com), May 26, 1999.