greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Apparently in response to one of my prior posts, I have received a rather harsh and critical e-mail from someone that believes "the end is near."

Instead of ignoring the hostile and rancorous mail I sometimes receive (as I normally make it a practice to do) I shall respond - but only in a manner that I feel is productive.

I am about to leave Colorado for the holidays and coming festivities, and will not be posting any more essays until some time next year.

To Mr./Ms./Mrs. "X," whoever you may be. The post below was one I wrote sometime this past summer. It was addressed to both Stan Faryna and Ken Decker, two people whose work on this forum speaks loudly and in my judgment, proudly, for the immense potential value this forum provides to those wise enough to utilize it.

It should however, address your points, though I am certain not your prejudices


MR DECKER: As usual I am immensely "moved" by the insights and the clarity with which you express them.

One of the most insidious shortcomings of being human, and although I am speaking personally, I have nonetheless observed this almost universally, is our incessant proclivity to "drop context." We endlessly, each of us, on seemingly any issue, ignore some immensely significant aspect of reality, while focusing on another aspect that more directly reflects our interests, our values, or in a more dire vein, our prejudices.

The knowledge that the earth was round was reasoned and confirmed prior to the time of Christ. Yet that knowledge, together with much of what had been achieved up to that period in human history, was subsequently ignored, destroyed, "lost" or otherwise rendered meaningless for over a thousand years. The decline and "fall" of Rome, following the decline and fall of Athenian Greece, took with them that which had taken thousands of years to achieve. To those that think they will/can be prepared for anything on the order of a "10," I can only say good luck. I respectfully submit "you know not what you presume."

STAN: Mr. Decker's point about "communities rising from the ashes of a fallen civilization" is, in my judgment, poignantly accurate. Communities, like nations, cannot easily be designed or planned from the top down. They must evolve from the bottom up. Our own wonderful country is an exception - perhaps history will show but a temporary one, wherein you could argue it was created from the top down. To dramatize how difficult this is to accomplish, think of what compromises our founding fathers - even with their incredible level of intellect and vision, had to adopt to "create America." They had to ignore the fact that the individual rights that Jefferson so eloquently articulates in the Declaration, would not be granted to some of us, in order to obtain the approval of all of us, to form the new "community." That particular compromise and "acceptance" resulted in 4 years of carnage, over 600,000 lives lost and untold misery and suffering (not to mention the suffering of those denied those very rights) before the "community" might continue its course.

Less dramatic, though equally instructive are the infamous Pilgrims. They were a community that was organized "from the top down." While we were taught about their escape from persecution in England, their perilous journey to the New World, and their landing at Plymouth Rock, we were not taught that they nearly perished because of their "community plan." They were saved by discarding their 'top down" organization (clearly Socialist) and, together with significant help from the local Indians, a portion of their numbers managed to avoid starvation.

I started this post with a point about "dropping context." Those that see a "10" and having planned for it find themselves calmly/satisfyingly even eagerly - with a sense of coming "adventure," awaiting its onset, are, in my judgment, dropping context. They envision countless scenarios, wherein they and those they love (if any) are "holed up," removed from the chaos and destruction into which the remainder of 'non-prepared" humanity has fallen, utilizing elements of the productive heritage of several generations of a free civilization, as they maintain their lives and values against both a dwindling self-destroying mankind, and ultimately against an unrelenting unremorseful Nature. While I am continually impressed with the obvious capabilities of many of those that post on this forum, I nonetheless have a suggestion.

I suggest you intensely focus on the first half-hour of "Saving Private Ryan." I suggest this not necessarily because it is combat, not because it involves carnage and destruction, and not because it might be said to relate to conditions into which society shall (not might or could) fall in the event of a "10." I suggest it because of the dominance of chaos and the element of sheer luck in the determining of who survives and who does not. When even the organized chaos of war leads to a set of circumstances that places those thousands of men in landing craft headed for that beach, then in my judgment, to a probability approaching 100%, the survival of any one soldier is clearly dramatized as being a product of pure chance. Again, in my judgment, such would be the circumstance of even the most comprehensively prepared in the event of a "10."

What is important to remember about the Dark Ages is that the primary value for most of humanity, the value that when in doubt renders all other values inconsequential, was the pursuit of physical survival. Should "10" be the number, then as the unimaginable chaos and destruction gives way to the cyclical and nauseating stench of disease and death, which in turn gives way to the savagery of force substituting for trade, which then leads to defense consuming production (meager though both may be), then those things making life worth living for the pitiful small numbers that remain, will become meager beyond the unrelenting need to "survive." Centuries after the knowledge that the earth is as round as the moon, has once again been ignored, destroyed, "lost" or otherwise rendered meaningless, only then will communities once again rise from the ashes as Mr. Decker suggests.

I am not suggesting that those that believe it to be prudent to prepare for such things should not do so. I am suggesting that speaking for myself, I cannot fathom a "10" - nor do I wish to. To those that can and do you have my acknowledgment, and in some cases my respect - though in no circumstance do you have my sympathy. Should you be correct you will need all you can imagine and substantially more.

Those that have read some of my few posts know that I have made substantial preparations. Once again, for the record, I have done so because of what in my judgment is potentially severe economic disruptions - the cause of which may be Y2K or a number of other causal events. Should they lead to a "10" I admit to being woefully unprepared - both physically and emotionally. I leave it to those that I know and love to determine if that lack of preparation is because of weakness, foolishness, or incompetence.

To Mr. Decker, BigDog, Stan, Flint, Diane, Poole, Hardliner, Cheryl, and many others whose words I have come to respect on this forum, and who only rarely or occasionally (as does myself) lapse into the substitution of venom for vision or ridicule for reason, I look forward to your continued words/work. ----------------------------------------------------------------------

In closing for 1999, Spock's words seem appropriate. Live long and Prosper..

With respect,

-- Dave Walden (wprop@concentric.net), December 17, 1999



Thanks for a wise and classy post. Best wishes.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), December 17, 1999.


I've always enjoyed your essays. I wish you the best in the New Year and the years ahead.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.com), December 17, 1999.

Precepts are everything when writing an essay or making any lasting point that advances civilization. I think that top-down or down-top is not as powerful in the course of human events as inside-out. "In a man's heart one determines his course, but God directs his steps". (paraphrased Proverbs 16:9). Let freedom ring in the new year.

Happy New Year!

-- John Galt (wwjd@fish.net), December 17, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ