Y2K: Eclipse in the Left Field

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This is quite a nice financial site with lots of interesting links. A very toothy comment on Y2K.


Y2K: Eclipse in the Left Field

This page has been away for a week, and yours truly travelled to Salcombe in South Devon on August 11th to see the total eclipse (which coincidentally arrived on my wedding anniversary). No-one could fail to be awed at the power of nature at the time of totality, when through cloud-covered skies, the big dimmer switch in the sky faded down the sun to darkness, then back up again in the space of a few minutes. This spectacle was denied to those outside the zone of totality, since even a sliver of sun is much brighter.

Getting to South Devon on the 11th proved to be pretty straightforward, as many people had staggered their journeys and the demand was less than expected. The financial preparations for Y2K have certain parallels. My feeling is that Y2K will prove to be mostly benign, with most people in the developed nations suffering only minor annoyances, nothing that will dent the budget very much, but a significant fraction of businesses and communities will suffer significant problems, which they will overcome after a determined struggle, some serious hardship, perhaps evoking memories in older folk of wartime privations or natural disasters.

There will, inevitably, be those who, maybe because of their own lack of preparation, or because of factors outside their own control or comprehension experience total loss, bankruptcy, even fatalities. Last Wednesday had a salutary lesson: Within 20 minutes of the end of totality, most people started their journey home and the roads were gridlocked for several hours. A journey that took 2 hours to get in now took an unexpected 5 and a half hours to get out. I don't recall any of the planning advice considering this point. As far as Y2K is concerned, whether you have prepared a bolt hole with survival stores, emergency power, defences etc. or are happy to "trust to the authorities", remember that the most serious problems are likely to come "out of left field" [one should not, of course, forget the psychological impact of fear of the unknown which is likely to play its part before the event itself].

I noticed that Harrods is opening its Christmas department this month (August). I have long suspected that Y2K shortages are likely to grow on a similar timescale to this since once people start thinking about getting in their Christmas supplies, it is a small step to thinking "What about 2000?"


It will get worse before it gets better...


-- helium (heliumavid@yahoo.com), August 17, 1999

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