Infomagic??greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
I keep seeing references to "infomagic" as, apparently, the epitome of worst case scenarios. Can someone explain the origin of this term, or suggest a link where I might become enlightened?
-- Ed (email@example.com), November 11, 1999
"Infomagic has a compellingly accurate grasp of history. Here is a sample of the future he envisions:
>This is something that's never happened before. There has never been a civilization that's been so dependent on automation, on a single point of failure.
I'm not so sure it hasn't happened before, although on a smaller scale. Many civilizations have come to a sudden end without being conquered by some outside force -- the Anasazi and Mayans in America and, within our own lineage, the Roman Empire.
Indeed I think that the collapse of the Roman Empire displays many similarities to our situation today. Y2K is only _one_ of the factors leading to our destruction, just as it's historical equivalent was only one factor in the fall of the Roman Empire. Back then, that equivalent factor was the inability of the ruling group to maintain administrative control over the empire as it grew beyond the size which could be managed with their available tools. This bears a chilling resemblance to the situation we can expect after the inevitable failure of a large portion of our administrative "tools" in the first month of 2000. The main (and frightening) difference is that our tools will fail much faster and much, much harder.
But this is not the only factor. Economically, the Romans experienced a currency and debt crisis similar to, but smaller and simpler than that we face today. They debased and inflated their "money" just as we have done with our fiat currencies (only ours is worse and more dishonest). They ran up vast public and private debts which grew so large that they could no longer be serviced in the event of a significant economic downturn. Nowhere near as big a debt as ours, of course, because they lacked the mathematical skills to invent derivatives and they had no plastics to stamp into credit cards.
Militarily, the Roman Empire was unbeatable by any other force on earth, just like America and the Western Allies today. But, like us, they ruled over a vast "world" which stretched the limits of their economic and administrative abilities beyond their capacity to maintain control (and they didn't even have to deal with the logistical nightmares of Y2K). They could deal with any single upstart easily, just as we did with Madman Insane. But in the end they had to deal with multiple uprisings throughout their world, until they lost the logistical and manpower capacity to deal with them all at the same time. Like them, after New Year's Evil, we will die the death of a thousand cuts from all of the little brushfire wars already smoldering all over the planet.
Politically, the Romans governed to appease the short term appetites of the increasingly ignorant and idle masses -- instead of taking on the hard work and responsibility of building a real future for their children. Scared of angering the "citizens" who kept them in power, the last emperors bribed them with shallow entertainments like the public baths, spectacular "games" of "sport" to amuse them, and government funded "arts" to convince the "intelligentsia" how big their brains were. Isn't this what _both_ political wings have done for the last 70 years -- bribing and appeasing the increasingly ignorant and idle masses who elect them with short term "benefits" to be paid for by excessive and destructive taxes on the true producers of their wealth? With impossible to deliver promises of easy and comfortable retirement to be paid for by someone else, sometime in the future, with money that doesn't exist?
Spiritually, they lost faith in the gods for whom they had built their empire and they lost the moral foundations (limited though they were) which had given them their strength and greatness. They swung their moral compass instead toward the immediate self and began to worship government itself, even calling their emperors "gods". Today, far too many have lost faith in the one true, living and loving God who has given us everything that we have. How many now believe instead in the Beast of Government, accepting the Mark of Social inSecurity, of the Welfare Drug and of Affirmative Hate? How many women have deserted their duty to their families and husbands, in favor of the "freedom" of servitude to someone else, falsely believing that government will take better care of their children than they or their husbands? How many spineless men have allowed and even encouraged this to happen?
Morally, the last emperors were truly vile and evil men, placing their perverted peccadillos and personal power before the true responsibilities of their office. Nero fiddled while Rome burned without the leadership it needed. Today, Clinton fiddles with himself in a sordid back room while the whole world begins to burn in a global economic and technological meltdown. Instead of providing the leadership we need, he is more interested in being worshipped for his "legacy" and in satisfying his insane lust for power over the lives of others. Like Nero and Caligula, our (mis)leader is a mentally deranged pervert whose personal behavior is so disgusting we cannot even talk of it in front of our children. And like the Romans we have only ourselves to blame. Our leaders reflect ourselves and our own moral values.
Finally, the Romans had this teensy, weensy, little technological problem. If there was one technology without which the Roman Empire could never have existed, it would have to be large scale, public plumbing. Without it, and the attendant water supply and sewage disposal systems, they could never have built and sustained the first city state with a population greater than a million. Without an extensive local irrigation system, they could never have fed such a population, and without such a large population they could never have built such an empire. Their little problem was lead poisoning, which led to brain damage and, eventually, reduced their ability to maintain their civilization. Technically, it would have been _so_ easy to replace the lead with copper, but those pipes, pots and pans were simply _everywhere_ and there just weren't enough plumbers to fix the problem before the year zero zero . . .
The result will inevitably be a reduction in carrying capacity. In this case, a reduction in the ability to "carry" goods and people from one place to another. This, of course, will lead to shortages of food and other key items, and to a reduction in economic activity, in direct proportion to the fraction of capacity which is lost.
But in a larger sense, "carrying capacity" is a biological term which refers to the ability of a given habitat to sustain and support a particular population. A few years back, here in Arizona, the greenie meanies managed to impose a ban on the hunting of deer on the Kaibab Plateau (famous for it's trophy Mule deer). For years before, the number of deer had been kept fairly precisely at the carrying capacity of the habitat by means of controlled hunting just before the onset of winter and the lowered availability of food. The very first year of the ban, the Kaibab herd went into winter with a population far greater than the carrying capacity. A few months later, in the very depth of winter, the result was a cruel death by starvation for thousands of these beautiful deer as they competed for an almost non-existent food supply, consumed too early by the larger population. Even the early, stronger survivors were weakened to the point that they could not survive the worst of the winter. More than two-thirds died in that first winter, and next spring the herd was less than one third of the normal carrying capacity. It took _years_ for the herd to recover from this single event.
The human race lives in a habitat which not only includes but is for its greatest part completely dependent on computer based technology. This includes (but is not limited to) our entire social, financial, medical, industrial, transportation, hydro, energy, communications and agricultural base. Take away even a small part of that technology, and the carrying capacity of the global habitat for human beings will be greatly reduced. Go back to pre-computer days, as some have suggested, and the carrying capacity will be decimated. But the number of people who die will not be merely equal to the difference in the present and the post 00 carrying capacities. Like the Kaibab deer, the early survivors will be weakened to the point that they will not able to rebuild the "habitat", and many of them will also die, later, of starvation, disease, conflict and just plain cold.
But we have it even worse than the Kaibab deer. The regrowth of their habitat did not depend on their own actions. Ours does. With a lower population we will be less able to address problems which we cannot handle even now with the present population, a fully functional infrastructure and a vibrant economy. In addition, after the fall, more of our strength and resources will have to be devoted just to the act of staying alive (something we haven't really had to do for a long time). Inevitably, the world's population will continue to drop. It will enter a "deflationary spiral" much like the present Asian economies. Like them, there is no longer _anything_ we can do to prevent this, or to rapidly recover. We've left it too late.
Something similar, but far less drastic, happened to the Roman Empire and it's descendant the Holy Roman Empire of Europe. After the initial collapse, the survivors were even less able to maintain the infrastructure of the old empire. So it deteriorated even further, the carrying capacity was reduced further, and ever fewer survivors had it ever tougher year by year. They entered a deflationary population and technology spiral which continued right up until after the Black Plague, the death of half of Europe and, finally, the Renaissance.
This is why I have consistently predicted the loss of at least half to two-thirds of the world's population and a very, very, long period for recovery. Our problems are far more serious, far more immediate, and our fall will be faster and deeper than that of the Roman Empire. We may not even survive. Any of us.
And a thousand years thereafter.
Five miles from where I spent my early childhood in England are the ruins of an old Roman fort, built two thousand years ago to guard the mouth of the largest local river. It was a long way for a nine year old boy to pedal a bike, but I went there many times to explore and to imagine. In particular, I would go there every Easter when, according to legend, the old Roman town would magically come alive again.
More than one Good Friday evening I spent there, listening for and almost hearing the ancient sounds, looking for and almost seeing two thousand year old ghosts from a long dead civilization. I think about it often now, as I try to prepare my community for long term survival.
Get a sense of history, Pollyanna. It's coming soon to a city near you. "
-- here's a quote (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 1999.
Look through the WRP's, 92, 103, 107 or something like that.
Look for Charlotte's Web, Infomagic.
-- Tom Beckner (email@example.com), November 11, 1999.
Cory Hamasaki's WRPs.
WRP # 100, 103, 106, 107.
# 106 is about why Infomagic is a Pollyanna.
-- sweetolebob (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 1999.
infomagic is a foaming at the mouth doomer,so much so that he makes gary north sound like deano.cory's weather reports have some choice rants by infomagic. He dropped off the scene a while ago.
-- zoobie (email@example.com), November 11, 1999.
Infomagic's favorite saying: "I could be wrong...it could be worse."
(Warning label: Only for the strong minded.)
-- mar (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 1999.
When did Infomagic write his screed and where is he now?
-- (email@example.com), November 11, 1999.
We all want to know!
-- infomagic seeker (Brightyfirstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 1999.
Y2K is the lead plumbing of modern civilization...
maybe.... or it is simply the catalyst...
-- The Dog (DesertDog@-sand.com), November 11, 1999.
Cory Hamasaki's DC Y2K Weather Report V2, # 44
"November 3, 1998 - 423 days to go." WRP100
Draft $2.50 Cover Price.
(c) 1997, 1998 Cory Hamasaki - I grant permission to distribute and reproduce this newsletter as long as this entire document is reproduced in its entirety.
You may optionally quote an individual article but you should include this header down to the tearline or provide a link to the header. I do not grant permission to a commercial publisher to reprint this in print media.--------------------tearline
WRP100 is rated R.
Analysis------------ Infomagic ---------------------
SET RECOVERY ON
PART 1: CHARLOTTE'S WEB
In the mainframe editor that many programmers use to edit their source code, the command "SET RECOVERY ON" causes the editor to save partial updates so that, in the highly unlikely event of a mainframe crash, the work the programmer has done will not be lost.
Pollyannas don't use this command much because they know that mainframes are so reliable they never fail. Of course, pollyannas occasionally lose hours of work that has to be done all over again. Pollyannas also say that Y2K isn't a big problem and our economy is so robust and our programmers are just so brilliant that we can easily fix any problems that are left.
They are dead wrong, as you will be if you believe them.
Our modern, technological, civilization has all of the strengths and all of the weaknesses of Charlotte's web. It is strong enough to support the weight of the spider and to hold it's prey. It is strong enough that one or two broken strands can be easily repaired and the web can last for years. But break enough strands and the entire web instantly collapses, beyond any possible repair.
The strands of the web are the myriad interconnections between each of the "nodes" of our civilization. We, ourselves, are the nodes, as are business and non-profit organizations and government agencies (webs within webs, if you will). Some of the nodes are computer systems with Y2K problems which will _not_ be fixed before they fail, taking all of their connected strands with them.
In fact, some of the nodes have already failed (e.g. the credit card and POS terminals which failed in 1997 and _still_ have not been completely fixed almost two years later).
Others will fail in surprising ways next January and still others will fail, randomly, throughout 1999. More and more strands will fail the closer we get to New Year's Evil. It is a dangerous blunder of epic proportions to believe that we have _any_ of 1999 for more remediation and testing.
So far, we have been able to fix the broken strands, because they are few and we, the programmers, are many. But at some point, the number of failures will exceed the number of programmers, and the strands will be permanently broken. Inexorably, the failures _will_ continue and they _will_ propagate to the rest of the web, like a run in a nylon stocking.
I have a nasty feeling this will happen quite some time before the great phalanx of failures on New Year's Evil itself. Even, perhaps, as early as January 1999.
To understand why the entire web will fail, we must consider a number of factors. First, look at the consequences of a major system failure. I remember an incident when a small group of programmers attempted to extort millions from a large european business, Unilever, by stealing the current copies of their master files and destroying all the backups.
(One of the group was my successor as Systems Programmer at another company).
They were lucky and got their files back, thanks to police intervention.
Others have not been so lucky.
Statistically, when a medium/large organization has a major loss of IT capability, 50% declare bankruptcy within a month and fully 90% declare bankruptcy within a year.
Essentially, a major IT failure means the end of the business, even under the ideal conditions of a fully functional economy, with readily available capital to borrow for recovery.
Many Y2K failures will be limited in scope to just the few strands with which they are connected but some will, indeed, cause the total failure and collapse of the business itself.
This in turn will cause more, and more significant, failures elsewhere in the web. One of the big three auto manufacturers has more than 60,000 supppliers, of whom more than 12,000 are considered "critical".
If just 5% or _600_ of these critical suppliers go out of business, so does the auto manufacturer and most of the other 56,400 suppliers.
And if you think you can resurrect 600 data systems, or replace them with manual systems in time to stop the larger failure then, quite frankly, you are nuts!
The failure of a handful of small suppliers _will_, _inevitably_, bring down _all_ of the major auto manufacturers, destroying all of their nodes and all of their strands in the web.
And this is only one industry, critical though it is.
The web might be able to survive one or two such failures, but not any more.
At this point, we are no longer talking just about software failures, we are talking about larger, macro-economic failures throughout the web.
Supplier dependencies exist _between_ industries, as well as within them.
For example, all industries depend to a certain extent on ball bearings, most of which are produced in Brazil -- a country far behind the power curve on Y2K and _already_ on the verge of economic collapse as a result of other factors.
Another "supplier" upon which _all_ of the other nodes are dependent is the banking and finance industry, which brings me neatly to the next point I want to make.
Y2K is only _one_ of the disasters facing the real-life world wide web and, perhaps, one of the _least_ significant. Many parts of the world are already in deep economic trouble. Japan has been in a _depression_ for two years and is now entering an ominous deflationary spiral.
Other parts of Asia are in even more trouble (particularly Malaysia, North and South Korea and China, but all the rest, as well).
The Russian economy has effectively ceased to exist, and millions are about to die as their problems are passed on to their German neighbors and financial backers.
Brazil and South America are next and _their_ neighbor and backer is US (United States).
On top of all this we have a grossly overvalued stock market and, of course, that little problem of "derivatives" and the exposure of all of the major banks to hedge funds like LTCM.
And _none_ of the bailouts are working. Billions from the IMF, and the Russian Ruble continues to crumble. Billions lent to LTCM, and they are _still_ in trouble. Drop Japanese interest rates to 1/2% and there's still no "interest" in buying from the consumer.
Do you know _why_ we in the US had our last 1/2% drop so soon after the first? Well-informed rumor has it that the request to Greenspan came from the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco, home of one of the nation's best known banks.
Apparently, if the discount rate wasn't lowered, they couldn't stay in business . . . But don't single them out just because of their name.
In Japan, nine of the ten largest banks are, basically, insolvent. They don't have the reserves to do business in Japan, let alone on an international basis (although in Japan it is "tolerated").
Believe it or not, many of our own US banks are equally deep in the doo-doo. And if you _really_ want, I could talk about their Y2K projects . . .
Now, the bulls (pollyannas) will tell you it just isn't so. They will tell you that lowering already low interest rates is a "good thing" and will stimulate dropping economic activity (which isn't happening).
The bears (doombrood) say that they won't invest when the return is so low, and they'll put their money somewhere safe to weather the storm (which really _is_ happening). The bulls shout that _this_ company promises they _will_ be Y2K compliant and therefore everything is going to be OK in _all_ of the other companies and, sigh, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE IT!
The bears ask "where is the independant proof"? and point to the flat out lies from supposedly honest organizations such as the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Defense, the IRS and the major banks.
For the moment the bulls are winning, psychologically. And that is the most important to them because they have no true foundation in reality.
It is so easy to convince the idle masses that everything is hunky- dory as long as they can't see what is really happening to them (and most of them won't until it is far, far too late).
This is why the stock market is so ridiculously over valued and why it has gained so much since the drops of September, based upon _nothing_ but the superficial optimism of the bulls and their utter disregard of reality.
But, at some point very soon, the "bull-shit" stops and the "bear- facts" will be known.
At this point the stock market bubble will burst. I have predicted that this would happen in the October/November time frame, and I stand by my words.
Shortly after the November elections, I expect some outside trigger event, probably the devaluation of the Brazilian Real, and the collapse of their economy. This will be so close to home, and it's effect on US banks so great, that the bear-fact will be readily apparent even to the bulls -- the global economy really _is_ in deep trouble and none of the economic gimmicks are going to work.
However, the market will not just crash as it did in 1929. Trading stop measures put into place since then will prevent a massive drop all in one day. Rather, there will be a series of major drops over a period of several days or even weeks. I expect a two to three thousand point drop in the DJIA by the end of November, with continued declines throughout December and early January. It will not be a happy holiday season for many.
Doors _will_ close and jobs _will_ be lost, and the general sense of depression will weigh heavily on many.
Then, in January '99, we will see a sharp rise in the number of software failures attributable directly to Y2K. Many will fail because they hit data event horizons one year into the future, in 2000 itself. Others because they hit the year-99 special handling boundary (which includes, but is not limited to, treating "99" as "end-of-file").
Most of these early failures will be among the tardier members of the pack, including federal, state and local government agencies. Especially hard hit will be those who didn't think they had a problem or who decided to "fix on failure". But some will be among banks who think they have "remediated" their software and still have "all of 1999 to test".
One thing I can guarantee is that _all_ of these failures will be unxpected, just like the POS credit card failures, and they will take a great deal of highly skilled effort to track down and fix.
We may have enough good programmers to fix most of these early problems but some will undoubtedly cause business failures or interrupt critical public services. This will be the trigger of the second barrel and the noise will wake the sleeping giant.
Finally, John Q. Public will sniff, smell the coffee, and suddenly realize that there really _is_ a Y2K problem. This is when the bank runs will start and prices for survival items will go up.
We will also see something that has never happened before -- runs on the mutual funds which have fueled the growing market bubble. Unlike banks, there are no government guarantees for these investments and there are no procedures in place to limit withdrawals. Therefore, liquidity must come from the fire-sale of stocks held by the funds.
Effectively, the small investors will be wiped out overnight, just as they were in 1929.
The market will experience a secondary crash, the largest ever seen.
This is the climate in which we will have to find and fix the _rest_ of the Y2K problems. A global depression reducing the cash flow of those businesses trying to remediate, limiting the amount which can be spent on Y2K. Tax base reductions limiting the resources which government can spend on their _own_ problems, let alone those of others.
A programmer pool, already too small, further reduced by those who have to work on the early failures (and the _continuing_ failures throughout 1999). A banking and finance structure already so badly weakened that it can do little or nothing to help.
A general public on the verge of panic and in fear of their lives as well as their jobs.
Then, in January 2000, it all gets worse . . .
It is the end of Charlotte's web and the beginning of a downward spiral in population, technology and business (I will expand on this in the next article).
There is _nothing_ we can do to avert this problem. We might have been able to fix the computer problem if we had ignored the pollyannas and started on a massive, co-ordinated effort five years ago.
We might have fixed the economic problem if we had ignored the bulls and taken the necessary economic steps five years ago.
But we did neither, and now they are both combining, feeding on each other, to give us the biggest, deepest, disaster in human history (with the possible exception of Noah's flood).
It is too late to fix Charlotte's web.
It is too late even to place backup strands in the most important places.
It is time to SET RECOVERY ON.
We must now make plans and preparations to ensure our own personal survival and to pass on as much of our technology as we can to our children.
Perhaps, then, some future generation can rebuild what we are about to lose. Perhaps, even, they will learn from our mistakes.
But we can only SET RECOVERY ON if we plan for the very worst we can imagine (short of the extinction of the human race).
To this end, the next article in this series will discuss just how bad I think it is going to get, how deep we are going to fall. The rest will deal with practical plans for survival, methods of passing on our technology, and suggestions for making social life easier after reaching the bottom.
_______________Copyright (C) 1998, email@example.com
Silly Wabbit that I am, why am I not reassured even though we have passed the event dateline posted above?
Are we not beginning to hear faint rumblings of some more "oopsies"? I hope that the boy is dead a$$ wrong with his series, but I still can't find where he palmed the ace as it were. I hate it when that happens.
50 days and the TG meter is running.
Beenie weenies anyone?
-- sweetolebob (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 1999.
So far, Infomagic has created entertaining fiction. An excellent illustration of the misinterpretation of history. For his scenario to come anywhere near true, we'd have to be in the midst of the collapse today. I think Infomagic realized that, because after enough of his predictions turned out just the opposite, he faded back into the woodwork. Still, his writing does a fine job of blending imagination with misunderstanding.
-- Flint (email@example.com), November 11, 1999.
I don't know what will happen when I flip a coin, but I know it won't explode. This subtle distinction of knowledge is beyond Milne's grasp. --
Again, the total lack of ability to recognize the current status of affairs, and a limpid attempt to rationalize it away with unrational parody. Again he refuses to accept the stakes.
We know there is a gun, and we know it has a high probability of causing extensive harm if detonated in close proximity to ones cerebral cortex, with trajectory anomalous to said cortex. We also know that there are at least some ballistic projectile(s) chambered in the magazine. What percentage of vacancy, as yet unknown. But occupancy is at least 14.28 %, and at most 100% So probablimatically, we can assume, that given first chair in our slugfest, #1 will more likely than not survive. We can also agree that given enough turns, at least some will perish, and there is a high probability that given human nature, at least 1 will survive. Our Man Fluke, would have us believe that there may or may not be a gun, but even if there is, it won't *ever* fire, but even if it does, it won't be fatal, but if it is, it most likely will be someone else.
Sick of blathering pollies!
-- Michael (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 1999.
Oh, by the way Flint, how far is "so far"?
Also, when is it time for a pollie pupa to leave the chrysalis, when it is TOO LATE!!
-- Michael (email@example.com), November 11, 1999.
Yep. Got to agree with Flint. If just 1/4 of Infomagics' '99 predictions had come to pass, there would be a sound basis for thinking it will be a '10' by mid 2000.
But just about none of them have. My interpretation is that there will be serious problems, maybe the worst depression modern man has experienced, but not TEOTWAWKI. He does write well though....
-- Asking (Asking@a question.com), November 11, 1999.
Why should you be the only one allowed to blather? Could this be because your assessment of the odds isn't in the right ballpark? Ah, never mind. Intelligent minds don't care.
But for your information, Infomagic's predictions have been ludicrous. We were supposed to have a market crash dwarfing the 1929- 1933 crash last year. We were supposed to have riots starting the dieback last summer (which would be in full swing today). Computerization was supposed to have vanished by today. So while we cannot predict the future in detail, we can see the outlines. Infomagic could not. Attacking me won't change this. Why do you *think* Infomagic doesn't show his face anymore?
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 1999.
keep clinging to those "missed dates" boys... it's all you've got
-- matt (email@example.com), November 11, 1999.
Nope, Flint is right on this one. Info DID make predictions and did it on paper. Pretty dangerous stuff. For a better look at possibilities, try Tom's Take, referred to somewhere in the archives. He's got a somewhat more rational expectation and he has options for actions.
and YES info is a GOOD read, though aparently off the mark temporally.
For another cautionary read hunt up Johnstone's BREAKDOWN.
-- jes an ol footballer (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 12, 1999.
There is a big difference between making a prediction based on what you assume will be people's reaction to their belief about something, versus the result of broken code that will not get fixed. All that it takes to keep the Stock Market going is for enough people to believe that all is well. Obviously, Infomagic (and numerous others) assumed that by this time, Joe Sixpack would be shaking in his boots about Y2K. Note that, in fact, this could have VERY WELL BEEN THE CASE had the Navy Report exposed by Jim Lord back in August been treated differently by the press.
But broken code is an entirely different ball game, folks. It could not care less WHAT you think.
-- King of Spain (email@example.com), November 12, 1999.
Some people are saying nothing will happen because nothing has happend yet.
Things are happening but they are individual incidents not severly impacting other systems. Because the media has been quiet, Joe Six-pack who doesn't own a computer has not the foggiest notion of whats going on outside his job or local environment.
Something to remember. There are TWO separate things here.
One is the computer codes and embedded chips.
The other is peoples reactions to the problems.
On the 1 to 10 scale, 1 = nothing much, 10=TEOTWAWKI doom, the computer trouble might only be a 2 or 3 but if the sheeple stampede they could turn it into an 8 or worse.
An excellent quote comes from the science fiction novel "Space Viking" by H. Beam Piper. "It takes an awful lot of people, working together at an awful lot of jobs, to keep a civilization running. Smash the installations and kill the top technicians and scientists and the masses don't know how to rebuild. Kill off enough of the masses and even if the physical plant and the know-how is left, there's nobody to do all the work. I've seen planets that decivilized both ways."
If you can find it, read "The day the machines stopped" by Christopher Anvil.
Woody the bookworm
-- woody (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 12, 1999.
Or you could try, "The Machine Stops," by E.M. Forster. http://www.idbsu.edu/comm/cm161/download/machine.htm link
-- harl (email@example.com), November 12, 1999.
Dude, that's hitting below the belt - 'makes gary north sound like deano' ?????
What did I ever do to you????? :)
-- Deano (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 12, 1999.
"They entered a deflationary population and technology spiral which continued right up until after the Black Plague, the death of half of Europe and, finally, the Renaissance. "
Just finished a fine book on the Middle Ages, and this wasn't the case. The Medieval world had recovered from the fall of Rome and had built up a flourishing economy by the 12th century, and it was this prosperity which made the Renaissance possible. The worst outbreak of the Plague was actually in the 1450's which roughly co-incides with the beginning of the Renaissance.
-- Forrest Covington (email@example.com), November 12, 1999.