An '11.5' Doomer looks at Y2K as of 2-1-2000greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
AN '11.5' DOOMER LOOKS AT Y2K, AS OF 2-1-2000
1. '11.5' - refers to the 'calamity scale' current on the websites during the last 3 years, rating how bad one thought Y2K would be, from zero = a non-event, to 10 = TEOTWAWKI (The End of The World As We Know It.) An '11.5' is "off the scale," or "pegging the meter."
2. Doomer - a 'gloom and doomer,' a pessimist about Y2K
3. Polly - a pollyanna, an optimist about Y2K
Short Bio (for the benefit of newbies.) I grew up in the Great Depression, served in WWII, did 30 years of General Medical Practice, was in the computer biz for 7 years '70s to early '80s ( hardware stuff with 5 years of assembly language programming.)
My byzantine odyssey through Y2K preps, from Jan '97 to the Rollover. If there are 300,000 (Had to pick a number. Who knows what the right one is? A million? I seriously doubt it.) of us who prepped for Y2K in the last 3 years there are at least 300,000 different motivations, stories, and interpretations of those stories. What you'll read below is one person's quite eccentric history of what we just passed through (and following the history, an even more eccentric interpretation of that history.)
In Jan '97 I was shocked by what I had just read in Gary North's hot-off-the-press Remnant Review monthly. I was thoroughly surprised by this NON-computernik's take on the technical aspects of the date coding problem. (I also was impressed by Gary's follow-on regarding Y2K's threat to the 'division of labor' issue, but as a veteran subscriber I had been long advised of the importance of that issue.) I immediately described the essence of the RR report to my at-that-time wife (of 25 years.) In a nutshell her rave was: "Are you really SERIOUS about this? You, who along with that North crackpot has been predicting the imminent crash of the stock market along with the entire American economy ANNUALLY since 1976?!! To say nothing of the prediction that AIDS would cause the implosion of our society within a few years? Not to mention that North was the guy who told you to convert your assets to precious metals -- which you lost your shirt on? And later to penny mining stocks, with the same results? I've had it with your kookiness --- that's the last time I want to hear from you about Y2K -- got it?"
So I wrote a 5-page summary of my concerns and sent it instead to my two sons. They basically ignored it. Then I called/emailed some of my kin and friends of many years, similar material. Same response (Some of my friends stopped emailing me completely, about ANY subject.) Mentioned the problem to some people in the neighborhood, and to fellow church members. Same response.
So I went about doing minimal preps, lacking a consensus on the home front, but hoping the media would soon report enough of the problem to enable our split household to join ranks on Y2K. By the Fall of '97 I was actively posting on Gary North's original web forum. That was an agonizing time. One day up ('The problem really ISN'T that bad after all.') --- the next day down ('Oh, wow, that new piece of news blackens the whole outlook all over again.')
Finally I decided to click on the csy2000 programmers' newsgroup, where I had a chance to eavesdrop in on the machinegun fire and sniper attacks going on between the optimists and the pessimists. That's where I first started reading Cory Hamasaki, Harlan Smith, and all the other regulars. It took me a while to get back into handling all the acronyms, abbreviations, and slang I used to know. But pretty soon I was following the train of reason and logic in the various back-and-forths. Here's the pattern I saw repeatedly:
A newbie would arrive on the scene, with his SILVER BULLET. He would immediately be chopped to ribbons, not by flaming, but by razorsharp programming minds pointing out the egregious errors. Impressive. After several days of following the threads I took a break, then went back for several more days. Finally I came away with THE CERTAINTY that Y2K would be a total disaster, TEOTWAWKI, no question.
That certainty -- dispelling the ambiguity -- had two salubrious effects on my state of mind and emotions. I calmed down to the point where I no longer had insomnia EVERY night -- only twice a month. The other perceived advantage was that I was able to focus much better on my preps, being able to make recommendations that were more internally consistent than many of the other posts I was reading. (For example, quite a few of us were talking about preparing for total loss of grid power for months, maybe years, and logically we were designing 12voltDC systems to drive our electronic gadgetry. But most were surprised when I mentioned to make sure to buy 12voltDC soldering irons, without which there could be no maintenance of the electronic gear.)
By late Spring '98 I must have posted 200-250 such articles, covering everything from technical explanations of the gravity of the remediation problem, to various prep recommendations, particularly in the fields of alternate energy and alternate medicine.
In the meantime, America --- it's government leaders, it's industry leaders, it's media were stonewalling us bigtime. Mostly we were greeted with: "Y2K? It's a big JOKE!" A common variation was: "Y2K? It's a giant HOAX!" If I recollect rightly de Jager, the Y2K point man from Canada, wrote an open letter to Pres. Clinton THREE times, asking him to acknowledge the problem, and wake up America to the danger. Results? Zilch.
The most important aspect of this stonewalling was that there were very few mainframe programmers using the 'joke' and 'hoax' line. It was almost always someone whose total experience/knowledge of the technical end of programming was a big fat ZERO. Where did their supreme confidence come from, if not from intimate techie knowhow? More on that later.
But there is 'wan leettle deetail' in the second sentence in the above paragraph that must not be overlooked: I said, "It was almost always [someone completely programming naive] ......" Well if the gravity of the problem was so patently obvious how come there was ANY programmer questioning it? More on that later.
Sometime later, either industry or government did finally appoint an overseer to the problem -- some executive type guy, who immediately publically pronounced (paraphrased): "American knowhow will lick this problem pronto. We'll get all those COBALT (No, this word is NOT a paraphrase, it is a direct quote!) programmers lined up and fix all the code with plenty of time to spare!" It was like someone being appointed to oversee the Detroit automotive industry's technical problems who used the words 'Fort Motor Company,' or 'Cadillut,' or maybe 'Chevrolek.' In any case can you imagine the level of confidence that faux pas instilled in us sceptics? It did nothing but confirm in our minds the swelling conviction that the management level of government and industry was clueless in the face of the greatest danger to civilization since The Black Death of the middle ages.
By now it was Summer '98 and there was beginning to appear reports that in fact government and industry were waking up -- and serious money was beginning to be spent. But how much? And how effective? It was easy for us doomers to belittle what we heard. Especially since we continued to be bombarded with mocking scorn from people totally devoid of any technical knowledge of programming's hazards. Not an isolated case, but typical, was for example a kin of mine (who had a few decades prior started out with a few thousand dollars and ended up a multi-multi-millionaire from investments in the stock market -- no lamebrain I assure you.) His first glimmer of news about Y2K came from my lips, when I broached the subject during a visit to NYC in June '98. His immediate, extremely agititated, and wide-eyed response was, "But it CAN'T happen!! It's imPOSSIBLE!!", and a few more similar outbursts, before I quickly changed the subject.
By now I had left rugged northwest Wyoming and had relocated to the South with its immensely higher odds of survival in a future I was sure would descend on all of us on 1/1/2000, at the stroke of midnight. Needless to say, my wife and I split on this issue. I began constructing a survival homestead on a farm with several other (rural) families, all the while becoming more convinced of the total disaster awaiting us. I predicted, along with other extreme doomers, that we should see big troubles starting with the fiscal rollovers of various government entities, first those of Canada, Japan, and New York on April 1, 1999; then the rest of the states on July 1, 1999; along with chaos surrounding the GPS rollover in August, 1999.
The first crack in my seamless certainty that humpty dumpty would fall to pieces starting with a major crash on 1/1/00 -- was while reading a report around March '99 by a 'doomer' programmer involved in heavy 'enterprise' Y2K remediation. He stated clearly that the fiscal new years of the various gov't entities in April and July would not cause major trouble to bubble to the surface and cause immediate chaos -- rather they would be easily handled at least till after the rollover by various simple workarounds. And when the arrival of these dates did pass with hardly a hiccup as he predicted, my convictions suffered perceptibly.
Now sometime during the summer of '99 de Jager made his big swing from heavy pessimist to lively optimist. All the doomers chorused: "He's a fraud; he's an opportunist; he's a (fill in the blanks.)" I joined the chorus ..... but I'll bet it had an effect on my convictions.
But balancing that out was what I considered (and still regard highly) as a watershed report: the summer '99 IEEE letter to the U.S. Congress. It warned not only of the difficulty of remediation, but significantly, of the much longer, CHRONIC risks associated with our complex, technology-based civilization.
Now at least several times during this period, I read posts by optimist programmers to the effect that "in fact the codes have been fixed ... because it turned out that fixing the date problem did not carry the same risks as writing NEW code from scratch; THAT kind of code, writing 100k LOC (lines of code), and multiples of that -- was what usually caused the notorious slipped deadlines after slipped deadlines and the costly budget overruns. Fixing discrete date errors in code already debugged and running production, was a much simpler problem -- the main challenge was finding the date code .... once found it was essentially a no-brainer. And even with all the undocumented 'patches,' missing source code, code written in arcane/obsolete languages -- finding the date codes turned out to be tedious, but not that much of a challenge." ......... I and all the other doomers did not believe them. We called them 'clueless,' and other less flattering adjectives.
Also, Cory was reporting that inexplicably, the programmer salary/wage rates although somewhat elevated --- were not ballooning through the ceiling as he and the rest of the doomer corps had predicted. Nor did the predicted catastrophic across-the-board scarcity of programmers turn out to be the case, although the market did tighten. Various doomer explanations were attempted, but basically we ignored those reports.
The next shift in my predictions developed around the increasing confusion surrounding the 'embedded chip' problem -- radically conflicting reports and appraisals from both sides of the aisle. But by late Fall 1999 I had accepted the likelihood that the embeddeds would not cause the immediate and total crash of the electric power grid. However, my readings still left me with the conviction that Oil Would Be The Big One, and would eventually topple the power grid: with no diesel the railroad locos couldn't carry the coal to the generator plants. Same doomer scenario -- with the modification that the crash would be at first slow, and then rapidly build into total destruction of the infrastructure. Of course all the while I felt that 'big iron'/'enterprise' computing troubles would within several weeks of rollover, certainly by the end of January 2000, end in the destruction of America's corporate lifeline. Besides, of one voice with the other extreme doomers, I predicted that what would happen overseas (except for Canada, England, and Australia) was a complete no-brainer: total immediate chaos starting 1/1/00.
To give you a better idea of how extreme a doomer I was let me rate the degree of 'doomerdom' of Cory Hamasaki, Gary North, and Infomagic during those last few months of '99:
I easily crossed off Cory because his personal survival plan depended mainly on a mere 'bugout' strategy -- that to me was a FOF ('fix on failure') strategy, which he so strongly condemned in the programming sphere.
Gary was a polly compared to me -- because he predicted that there would be a 'Remnant' (of Christians) that would prevail post-chaos to rebuild a beautiful world where righteousness would reign over evil. It smacked way too much of Utopianism (the Humanist's version of which he was always quick to criticize, and rightly of course.) I was convinced that society would be in such a shambles, without electricity, that we would regress to no later than the late 1700s, at best. The plans for his remnant community could never have fit into that scenario.
And Infomagic? Well, I felt he was closest to my position, but still a polly by comparison. His failing was that he was squirreling away hoards of gold and silver -- as a survival tool. My take was that in the future (as outlined in the previous paragraph) there wouldn't be enough social fabric, enough of a stable marketplace, to make it practical or safe to trade precious metals in public. He was being way too optimistic about such a scenario.
So finally New Year's Eve arrived and my new wife of almost a year and I invited all our neighbors on our hilltop, Silver Ridge, to a combination housewarming/pep rally. I made a brief announcement where I told everybody in no uncertain terms that I expected the worst to happen, not the best, and that we had food, medical supplies, alternate energy equipment, well water and rainwater, wood and coal, and ham radio communications, and that we would share it with all till we ran out. I told them I didn't think the rollover would be a problem re electricity here in North America, but the overseas problem and the enterprise problem would begin catching up with us by the middle/end of January, and the oil problem would eventually topple the grid. I made no further allusion to Y2K for the rest of the evening (and no one else brought it up either.) We had a warm, very sociable gathering, with lots of good southern cooking. Very enjoyable evening. The lights stayed on in Alabama.
AN INTERPRETATION OF HISTORY -- LAYERS OF AN ONION
[CAVEAT: The following is a set of doomer:polly comparisons. They are exaggerations, caricatures, stick figures, over-simplifications. You probably won't recognize yourself in them, because no humans are that one-sided/ mono-featured. Instead we are all a complexity of often contrasting and contradictory traits and tendencies. Nevertheless I believe, somehow, the "Layers" point to a basic truth about the differences in how we perceive and handle reality. At this juncture let me cut/paste a modified quote from that donut addict, Cory Hamasaki:
"Caution, these are not for the faint of heart. Do not take the ('Layers') or yourself too seriously. If you do not have a sense of humor, turn back now."]
Layers 1 through 5. 1) "Wait -- it's not over till the fat lady sings" OR "The 'workarounds,' the 'windowing, ' the switching to manual operations, the shutting down operations over the rollover, the lying to the public ---- will gradually come apart at the seams, and over the years we'll pay the price in increasing infrastructure and administrative chaos." .......... But I said it would all start falling apart by the middle/end of January 2000.
2) "NObody knew how bad it would be." ........... But I said I KNEW it was going to be a catastrophe.
3) "It would have been TERRIBLE if the remediation hadn't been done." ........... But I said it would NOT get done.
4) "The way January has gone surprised everybody, even Koskinen." ............. However Kosky didn't say it would be a total DISASTER by now --- and I did.
5) "It wasn't really that bad to start with." ........... But I said: "I agree 'it WASN'T really that bad' -- it was a gazillion times worse than bad!"
Summary to date: Up till now I have been about 99% WRONG. In case I haven't made myself clear that word is spelled 'W' - 'R' - 'O' - 'N' - 'G.'
Layer 6. My guess is approximately 299,000,000 of the 300,000,000 Americans were 'pollies': those who believed "Y2K is no big deal," "I assume those in charge of fixing the problem will do so," "Bill Gates will fix it", "It's a big hoax designed simply to sell more remediation software, consulting jobs, guns, ammo, food, solar panels, and water barrels", "Y2K? Huh? Whuzzat?"
Another summary: all this multitude were about 99% RIGHT.
Layer 7. [This is the first layer where we actually smell the onion.] PERSONALITY PROFILES - I
There are about 299 million pollies in America. Do they run our country? Do they 'get the job done,' day-to-day? Do they have the patience to do routine, non-creative labor? Do they oil the intricate machinery of our modern, complex civilization? My answer is a resounding "YES!"
There might be 1 million doomers in America. (OK, I don't really know. Maybe 300,000? Maybe 100,000?) If they were given the reins of government, of industry, if they made the day-to-day decisions our society depends on for its existence given their propensity to impatience, eccentricity, dwelling on the unusual, eschewing repetitive labor -- would our nation disintegrate into panic stricken, mania-driven pandemonium and anarchy? My answer is a resounding "YES!"
Layer 8. PERSONALITY PROFILES - II
Do the pollies get nervous when something new appears on the horizon they've never seen before? To get over their nervousness do they turn for reassurance to 'experts in the field,' particularly those with degrees after their name, or positions of power and prestige in government, management, politics, the media, and don't forget professional sports and the entertainment world? A resounding "YES!"
Do doomers have a natural proclivity for 'thinking outside the box'? Are they intrigued by the odd, the unexplained, the atypical, the anomaly? Is it relatively easy for them to see what The Emporer With No Clothes is actually wearing? Another resounding "YES!"
Layer 9. PERSONALITY PROFILES - III
Do pollies tend to be good at production work, reliable, steady, stable, trusting souls? "YES!"
Do doomers tend to be poor followers, quirky, irritating, doubting, unharmonious curmudgeons? "YES!"
Layer 10. PERSONALITY PROFILES - III
Did the typical polly, on April 13th, 1912, believe the 'unsinkable ship' was unsinkable, and therefore could not sink the next day? A very resounding "YES!"
Was the typical doomer of that day more inclined to question the invincibility of the Titanic? This one's a little tricky, as follows. Apparently during the early 1900s' eternal optimism (a continuation of the Gay Nineties) there weren't any pollies -- the voice of doomerism was almost non-existent. Heaven had already arrived, permanently, on Earth -- so what was to 'doom' about? (until the rude arrival of WWI.) So I'll substitute one of our latterday doomers. If an expert told him "Not to worry, the Titanic CAN'T sink!" -- would he raise a sceptical eyebrow or two? A very resounding "YES!"
Did the typical polly on December sixth, 1941 -- the day before Pearl Harbor -- believe that 'America was an invincible fortress -- protected by two gigantic oceans -- from any act of military aggression? No one can touch us."? (BTW, this was the official posture of the very popular 'America First Party,' a heavy political player in those days.) Again an overwhelming "YES!"
Was the typical doomer much more worried about the intent of the Axis powers on that day before "The Day Of Infamy"? I'll GUARANTEE the answer to that one -- I was one of those doomers, and I knew it was only a matter of time before we'd be in WWII (but maybe too late to eventually beat 'The Axis Powers.')
Layer 11. PERSONALITY PROFILES - IV
Does the polly perform very well as long as he does not meet a 'border crossing,' 'phase change,' or 'paradigm shift'? YOUBETCHA!
Will the polly likely trip and stumble at the border crossing, the phase change, the paradigm shift? JUST ABOUT GUARANTEED!
Will the doomer sooner than not, likely drop the natural human disbelief of the unusual, when confronted with any of the above? YOUBETCHA!
Is the doomer not only less resistant to these scenarios, but actually more likely to anticipate them, to the point where his anticipation will likely cause him to habitually misjudge the timing element? JUST ABOUT GUARANTEED!
Layer 12. PERSONALITY PROFILES -V
Regarding his predictions "batting average" -- is the polly likely have many more 'hits' than 'misses' in life, since border crossings are rare, and the land between the borders is almost everywhere? YOU GOT IT!
Is the doomer likely doomed to spend his life with zillions more 'misses' than 'hits,' simply because border crossings are rare, and between the borders is almost everywhere? YOU GOT IT!
Layer 13. PERSONALITY PROFILES - VI
Is Life really fair to us doomers -- because we are 'set up,' statistically, to be mostly losers? NOPE.
Isn't Life supposed to be 'fair'? NOPE.
Now that we doomers know all the above --- can't we avoid getting caught up in concerns about: oil shortages, stock market (especially 'bubble.com') crashes, AIDs, comet/earth collisions, epidemic of major earthquakes, major polar shift catastrophes, invasions by outer space aliens, epidemic of major volcanic eruptions, solar storms, bio-chem warfare, NWO totalitarianism, 'terminator' genetic designs of the megacartel ag biz, chemtrail conspiracies, population explosion effects, the drug-crazed violent crimes epidemic, Mafia takeover of the world, gang warfare destruction of urban sanity and safety, Sino-Russian collusion to take over the world, loss of water aquifers, massive air/water/food pollution, widespread nuclear powerplant accidents, WWIII, nuclear bomb suitcase terrorist attacks, Mark of the Beast, The Coming Ice Age, the imminent biblical 'Trials and Tribulation,' the 100 Mid-east women located in our major cities -- each carrying a population-decimating vial of deadly 'military' anthrax in their vaginal cavity and ready to enter Heaven with a supreme suicidal act, Global Warming, Black Helicopters, corrupt politicians, ECHELON, the abortion epidemic, the divorce epidemic, the disintegration of our society's morality, AND, THE Iceberg: delayed Y2K catastrophes? (Did I leave anything out?)
Well ------ I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I'M REALLY NOT VERY GOOD AT AVOIDING THESE BEARTRAPS. (Shucks, I'll bet you were hoping for a Hollywood Happy Ending. Just shows to go ya -- once a doomer, always a doomer.)
----Bill, doomed to Doomdom, but enjoying every moment of it. You say there's another Catastrophe just around the corner? Hey, you wouldn't disappoint me now, would ya?
-- William J. Schenker, MD (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000
Thank you, doctor. That does pretty much cover it.
-- Will (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
You have my standing ovation, sir. Your piece was excellent ! Thanks.
-- Robert (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Did your wife stick around after rollover?
-- Imso (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
Good post, Bill. I'm still not letting go of my preps, though. I guess that makes me an inveterate "doomer", like you.
-- Steve Heller (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
William- I literally laughed tears, so hard that I was aching- because I identify so much with your writing! It was great, looking at oneself with such - loving- humor, and realizing there are others out there who dance to the same tunes... Swissrose
-- Swissrose (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
Lol. That was GREAT, Bill....best bedtime story I've read in quite a while.
-- Anita (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Thanks for your report. Keep your powder dry, 'cause it ain't over yet (but won't become too bad).
Oh, another catastrophe?? Depends on who you listen to. :) How about a reeealy big Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the sun, causing the interior of the Earth to twist a little, letting the crust slide around for a while.
-- Dean -- from (almost) Duh Moyn (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
That was as good and honest a piece on both the motivations and MO of both sides of the Y2K issue I've ever read. Thanks for all the work and thought that went into the essay and lets hope both pollies and doomers read it - several times.
-- Jim Cooke (JJCooke@yahoo.com), February 02, 2000.
William- WOW! You have a very busy brain. Do you remember how people refered to the 80's as th "me" generation, and the 90's as the "we" generation. Well, it seems like the vast majority are mentally stuck in the Reagan-Gordon Gecko hayday, while we moved on. I feel very lucky to have my eyes open, and to think independantly. Even at the expense of being wrong. Pollys will say "maybe next time you'll listen". My answer is I always listened, I just reached a different conclusion.
-- Gia (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Hey, Alabama is not a bad place to be in, hard times or good, we care about people all people. We get a bad name, from people who have never known us, but we are not bad we care. I was raised, in the back hills, didn't know about trouble with races until I was in my teens. I still can't understand it, all people are just about the same. It doesn't matter what race, religion,country your come from, your are people with thoughts of your own. People are what they are, Just like you and me.
-- ET (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
I think you just about summed up my thoughts and others opinions of me. If there is room in Doomdom for one more by chance could I get a one way ticket please.
Best wishes Best luck Poacher.
-- Poacher. (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Doc, you and Greybear should talk. he'll think you are a polly.
-- Chuck, a night driver (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
One of my all-time top ten Y2K-related posts! Thanks Bill!
One of your points I would argue with:
"I was W-R-O-N-G"
Your statement was wholly incorrect. You were not wrong at all. The best way I could explain my position on this is to have you consider the following analogy:
You walk down a dark alley in the slums and buy a bag of cocaine off of some thug. Five minutes later, the cops have you in custody. The "cocaine" tested positive for powdered sugar. You end up being charged, convicted, and sentenced as if you bought real dope. Why? Because what you did was "wrong" even though it turned out to be "right". (one has the right to buy powdered sugar)
So, doctor, you may live the rest of your remaining years gloriously aware that you made not ONE SINGLE MISSTEP over the last 3 years. And that the pollies will FOREVER be wrong, regardless of whether or not it was real cocaine or powdered sugar in da bag.
Enormous -- fellow "11.5 doomer" who would do it all over again and change nothing.
-- Enormous (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
When Russia invaded Afganistan I immediately (that morning) bought our young son a down coat and went from there to the grocery store for a case of soap and one of T-paper. I was sure we would be at war within a week.
In the fall of '98 I bought my husband two (2) down coats and more soap and T-paper. I knew y2k was coming.
In the fall of '99 we sold the home I had grown up in and removed the contents. Including 68 rolls of T-paper and over a hundred bars of soap. Even my parents knew something was coming.
I figure it's is the blood. I have no intention of using the soap and T-paper from my parent's. Doesn't take up much space in the attic and you just can't tell when you might need it. Chuckle.
-- Pam (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
Thank you for the article.(gulp)
I didn't realize how far over to "doomdom" I actually have "gone".
Taking a Keirsey personality profile showed I was a "Rational" with an eNTp variant.
(The 'test' is at Link, "The Keirsey Temperament Sorter II" is the one to select.)
I wonder, do doomer/polly types also fall into segregated temperaments as well?
-- Possible Impact (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Greybear is a doomer? [Am I just out of touch?] This would be the same Greybear who...if I ever really grow Texas taste-buds...will give me lessons on Bar-B'Q sauce?
-- Anita (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
How in the world did I expect anyone to believe me...me.. just a name on a forum that no one knows in real life... When there was so much out there saying the opposite of what I wrote.
Maybe if there had been a few "me's" in government, in management, in churches, writing hundreds of webpages-that knew understood what I did then people would have believed differently, or at least had the option to enough "real" information to decide differently if they chose to. Why did it come to the point that it was said so many times that it was believed to be fact, when in thruth it was not? The people in authority that did the talking didn't even know for sure, they only knew what they had been told.
The web was filled with sites that parroted each other with negitive information, even those who were supposed to know, the IEEE and IEE, the CPSR.
How did this happen, why wasn't there more information available showing, explaining in understandable terms why it would not be bad? How was anyone who was worried suppose to make the correct evaluation when the information to make that evaluation was not available? Why were so many preaching the worse when they did not have the knowledge necessary to make any evaluation in the first place? What drove them to do so? Because everyone else did?
I have a mail-list where I posted information about embedded for a year or two, I'm changing it to ask "Where did things go so right and why we didn't know it?". If anyone is interested in joining in on trying to figure it all out, let me know and you can join.
There will not be any flame wars or profanity, but all ideas are welcome.
-- Cherri (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Doc, that was Great! I still think we're overdue to join the world in an economic meltdown. It's just that Y2K was not the trigger I thought it would be. Maybe it will be oil. I have simply "updated." I changed the name of my folder of survival and preparedness sites, from "Y2K" to "Preparedness." Now I'm prepared, whatever the date. ;-)
Lane, still keeping that positive mindset.
-- Lane Dexter (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
Bill -- Excellent.
Now, about the timing of the disasters we forsee: Do I still have time to put some money into the stock market before it tanks? :o) And if so, what percentage of cash on hand?
-- A (A@AisA.com), February 02, 2000.
What a great read! Even Anita liked it (ROTFLMAO:o)
A couple of points though, the first indication that Y2K would not be a real problem was the Euro conversion. Also one of the turning points of Y2K was John Koskinen. I don't think that there is any one person that changed the face of Y2K more than John. He should deserve honorable mention in the tale.
He may have been like an alien but like ET it is time for him to go home.
PS I would put this beside "Tom's Take" for personal commetary, I am sure the CSY2K crew would understand.
-- Brian (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Pam, you made me laugh. I guess i must have a bit of doomer (i do happen to be ENFJ (all of them off the scale)) because when World News said two winters ago that millions were going to die because of it being a horrible winter--i went to my local nursery and picked up two $12 stacks of wood. just wanted to be safe. I think I still have it.
-- tt (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
Hey Doc, about those personality profiles...... I have also wondered if people of certain profiles have a predisposition to accept spiritual matters more readily than those who are grounded in the five senses. You know...concrete, rational, "i have to see it to believe it" versus the big picture intuitors? My friend calls me "metaphysically codependent" while I call her "metaphysically challenged".
-- tt (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Bill, this is a fantastic essay- a real keeper! I'm going to print it off and send to a family member, who is another doomer!
May I recommend to you that you check out Don McAlvany's site and read a synopsis of his latest newsletter....http://www.mcalvany.com/janspecialreport.htm
I subscribe to his newsletter, and believe me, for us certified doomers, Don will always give us something to be worried about! He's an expert at digging up huge concerns. He's the greatest!
-- Jo Ann (MaJo@Michiana.com), February 02, 2000.
You have doomers pegged. I want to thank you for adding "the 100 Mid-east women located in our major cities -- each carrying a population-decimating vial of deadly 'military' anthrax in their vaginal cavity and ready to enter Heaven with a supreme suicidal act" to my list of horrors...
The reason I didn't believe anyone who said y2k wouldn't be much of a problem is because so many corporations and government entities are caught and admitted to be lying.
-- helen (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
thanx, bill, great post. it explains a lot (about me, to me).
i also have to thank gia who summed it up in one sentence - being an independent thnker is worth being wrong most of the time.
-- Cowardly Lion (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Thanks, Bill. Your acumen is showing again.
In our defense, I must say that at least we erred on the side of prudence. And, just possibly, some of the noise we made helped put the spurs to the remediation effort. Yeah, thats it; if it wouldn't've been for us, it would've been TEOTWAKI!
As for your list: Don't forget nearby stars emitting the dreaded "Gamma Ray Burst, the most powerful phenomenon seen in the universe, could cause catastrophic extinctions on planets hundreds if not thousands of light-years away." Nat'nl Geogrphic, Jan 2000, pp40.
In the imortal words of that great social philosopher, Rosanne Rosannadanna: If it's not something, it's something else.
-- Pinkrock (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
One reason life is unfair to doomers--pollies enjoy a freer, richer immediate experience and yet will be the first to knock on the doomers' doors when/if doom comes, to ask them to share the preps. Few pollies, I suspect, will say, "Well; I was wrong, so I'll just go die now" when disaster strikes. NO SIRREEE!! Speaking for me, I'll be looking for your bunker and knockin' on the door.
-- Imso (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
I wonder, do doomer/polly types also fall into segregated temperaments as well?
Yes, at least for "doomers"; NTs seem to be vastly overrepresented among "doomers" compared to the proportion of NTs in the population. There is a thread on this topic.
-- Steve Heller (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
As a low level doomer, your confessional was highly entertaining. It struck chords left and right. Now that Y2K is essentially over we can concentrate on something else, over population being my all time favorite since I was a teenager. Over population will always over shadow every other doomer scenario (except a nuclear holocaust which only a true madman could start).
Your thesis helped me to be a little more introspective on my own doomer tendencies. Thanks!!
-- Guy Daley (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Dr. Bill....we won't let you down! I should've thought to mention that Don McAlvany also has a weekly audio report on how he sees geopolitical events.....a fabulous fix for us doomers! Just tune in to www.mcalvany.com- he has a menu of different selections, incl. a daily update on the news (sans his commentary), and a place to click to listen to his intelligence reports (not the same as his newsletter.) You won't be disappointed, trust me!
Maybe I should mention that occasionally, the weekly audios come out a little late; not to worry....sometimes two or three weeks' worth all appear at once. They're definitely worthwhile listening!
-- Jo Ann (MaJo@Michiana.com), February 02, 2000.
y2k pro...skewed perception once again.
Rubbish. This is about personal responsibility. The fact that Bill and his first wife split up is about diverging convictions on a very basic level. They were essentially mismatched from the beginning. The worst of a situation will always bring out the bottom line issues in a marriage.
Like all of the other millions of people who did not, could not and would not believe that y2k could have been a big problem, the bottom line is that they got lucky. Plain and simple. His wife had no real knowledge that y2k would not produce big problems. She simply refused to believe that there could be any. There were damn few of these people who actually and truly knew there would be no problems, based on hands on knowledge and expertise.
Bill did what most of us did, and that is decide to take personal responsibility for his own welfare, should there be problems in the future. His wife chose not to.
-- OR (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
A most enjoyable read, Dr. Schenker. Thank you! For myself, the y2k prepping actually brought the survivalist part of my personality to the top, and for me, that's the long term plus of this y2k thingy. I think Kurt Saxon might agree!
-- Ma Kettle (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
-- Ma Kettle (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
Thank you, sir.Excellent post. Should be required reading for all on this forum. We may never meet but we are kindred spirits.
-- Mr. Pinochle (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Another Dr. Schenker beaut!
Living in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, we're still aware of the Mega EarthQuake hazard. Being hospice caregivers, we're still aware of the potential for illness taking out the soul-body connection, and can imagine a viral epidemic causing wide-spread discomfort before the authorities get a handle on it.
But aside from that, we're back to our happy content easeful life, "0" on the Angst Scale, thrilled that we're Prepped Now, modestly, within our simple means.
Never so thankful, joyous, elated, dancing on air!
-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
Wow! Glad I'm not the only one. I've always been very calm in emergencies, I think because I'm always expecting them. Other people find it odd. Oh well, it's a big world, I guess there is room for all kinds of people.
I hope my memory is half as good when I'm your age, that was an amazing blow-by-blow.
-- Amy Leone (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
I would be proud to stand up and be counted as a fellow doomer along with you. Your essay is fabulous. I can relate to every conern you wrestled with, personally having aquired a hugh stash of food, medications, 167 Acres of remote rural property, and various and sundry other "off the grid" survival type devices. I have no regrets and plan to remain in a state of preparedness. Since I live in an area prone to earthquakes and wild land fires, my preps bring a sense of peace which makes for a better night's sleep.
-- Sharon L (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
WOW! I really apPRECiate (or, as I'm trying to learn to speak Rebel: 'appreciATE') all the energetic responses. It's heartwarming to know that so many others have gone through/are going through the same mental/emotional gyrations ---- isn't the human condition SO intriguing, challenging, exciting, frustrating -- all at the same time! I've responded in my heart to all of you who have said "Me, too!", but will only post back to those who have left something 'in the air' so to speak. (BTW, I even appreciate most of the polly posts too.)
IMSO (Response #1:)
Hey, to get a "Thank you, Doc ---- I think" from an arch polly like you is a true compliment. Re the wife 'sticking around after rollover,' yes, Jean's still with me. What we have between us is really NOT to do with Y2K doomer vs polly. As a matter of fact I'd classify her as, rationally speaking, a "class 2-3" doomer. But emotionally she's right in there with you, a "class 10" polly: even though she grew up as a sharecropper's daughter (no electricity until 1945!) she really doesn't want to think about the possibility of going back to that. So, all we've got going for each other is that we're great friends, know how to really kick up 'a fuss' with each (that's Southern for having a spat,) and really respect each other's differences. I'm curious, IMSO -- did you figure the wife was only along for the ride (me as her protector if Y2K did cause a bunch of hardships), and when the rollover turned out to be an apparent bust would go find someone more 'normal'? (I'm serious, and this is a serious question.)
As I mentioned in our private email, I spent a year in Switzerland (med school in '50 in Bern) and am wondering if I can practice my 'Schwyzer Dootch' with you. If so ------ "widrg|geli mit'n'and", signed -- Willi.
DEANO FROM DEMOINESO:
Yeah, that 'CME' scenario could really turn me on if I'm not careful.
Hey, to add to my private email to you, in this part of 'Bama they've hung the moniker on me: 'hi-tech redneck.' LOVE it.
Plenty of room for another doomer. Matter of fact we've got all those 'concentration camps' scattered around the country (you know, the ones with the 'blue signs' pointing to them.) So far they're ALL empty!
There ain't NObody more doomer than I -- tell Greybear to take a flying leap.
Tipped off to Kiersey's work by Steve Heller. Will definitely follow up.
Your's is one of the most intriguing posts of all so far -- 'cause you've been at the top of my 'dumb polly flamers list' for so long. I must say I now appreciate a good bit of what you've felt in your heart all along -- which I didn't even consider. However, lest I give up ALL my doomer credentials, I still condemn you to a fate worse than death for saying (paraphrased): "The code is NOT broken, because computer programming is not 'code' --- code is only something like Morse Code." But in the final analysis I'm glad I've got to know you better today. We're probably friends, after all.
Hello, Lane Dexter! (Lane and I were among the stalwarts of the old Gary North forum) Glad to hear from you again, and to see your still peddling that asinine bromo, "Keep a positive mindset." As an arch doomer those words of advice will FOREVER fall on fallow ground in my garden. Unfortunately, my new eternal optimist wife has taken over for you -- so I hear that maddening chant many times every day. Whew!
Now here's the post I've been WAITING for -- a guy actually wanting my prediction of what lies in the future, in spite of having read about my 100% misfires re 'the stock market and the economy will tank THIS year, no question' -- annually since 1976. So here's (my VERY expensive) advice:
Yes, you still have time to put some money into the market before it tanks. How much time? Oh, I'd say anywhere from a couple weeks more to six months from now. (Now howzat for a 'tight bracket?') As for the % on hand to risk it depends on how you've earmarked that cash. If you call it "just money I plan on spending at South Tahoe during my ski trip to Heavenly" then I'd say you'll get more excitement spec'ing on bubble.com than you will schussing Gunbarrel on the hill (Does Heavenly still have a run named that? Used to be a ski instructor at Squaw.) But your big decision (and danger) is not -- knowing when to ENTER the market but when to QUIT, especially if you make a little 'free' money at the beginning. If that happens you will undoubtedly lose your rear end, along with the rest of America.
Yeah, we all thought the Euro conversion would decimate the entire continent in one swell foop. And yes, we slammed Kosky mercilessly. By contrast his ability to avoid tit-for-tat, and stay civil to all who were badgering him -- puts him way up the scale in my estimation. And speaking of civility it was that characteristic of the people as much as anything else that had me almost ready to apply for 'landed emigrant' status after living in BC for a year in '92 (downhill ski race training at Blackcomb.) Wife of that period hated Canada which was the main reason we didn't follow through (also I couldn't handle English Canada's maddening noblesse to/of Quebec.) But, hey, maybe we'll all end up in that new nation being considered (BC, WA, ID, MT, OR.) That'd be a gas, eh?
You're speaking my language. I did a little thread (or maybe only a post) on rational vs non-linear last year. It's a big one in my consciousness. May address it again in a new thread later. Keep the faith!
Don't get me started on THAT trip again, for goodness sake! Used to be a subscriber to McAlvany. Barely survived between arrivals of his newsletter. Tnx, but no tnx --- I've taken the cure, and my 12 steps counselor tells me as long as I don't read someone else's copy, I'll be able to stay on the wagon forever. Don't you DARE send me an issue!
PINKROCK, ON THE THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN:
"Gamma Ray Burst?" --- yeah, NOW you're talkin' --- I'm foaming at the mouth already. Rosanne Rosannadanna? -- she never succumbed to ovarian CA as far as I'm concerned --- she lives forever!
IMSO (Response #2:)
Hey, that IS a good post of yours! Tnx for the honesty. Yeah, my preps included various firearms (called "far'ms" down here), plus 3 night vision scopes, and three laser beam targeters. In the last few days before rollover, not being able to handle my increasing paranoia, I made that public announcement to my neighbors, effectively saying 'What's mine is yours -- don't bother taking it by force.' What would I do if an 'outsider' came up to the door (after getting through the fence, and the IR detectors)? Don't really know. Maybe I'd shoot first and ask questions later. Probably not --- I'd just let you in, and then resent you for the rest of our lives. Or, possibly, I might eventually mature enough (probably not till I'm 85) to accept you with full grace. Life's a gas, ain't it!
I remember reading your response, but can't find it now. The censors really DO censor you -- I hadn't detected that till now --- don't read TB2K as carefully as I did many months ago. Anyway, the response by 'OR' jogged my memory of the content, so I'll be answering you (in my response to OR below.)
I couldn't have made a better to response to Y2KPRO than your's --- took the words right out of my mouth. Can embellish on it a little.
We were married 25 years. Really was an odd match, as all of our friends noted. She was comfortable with the conventional, didn't want to ruffle the waters with bringing conflict to the surface. I was/am extremely UNcomfortable with the conventional -- have always been. But I ALSO was/am non-confrontational --if Y2K hadn't showed up I would have stayed for the rest of my life in a marriage where neither of us were any longer talking about anything of substance.
I did not/DO not believe in divorce. Asked for a reconciliation shortly before I left for the South, offering to give up the survival scenario --- which she accepted. The next day I said, "Just let me put up my ham radio station so I can help other people out with their preps; and let's sink another well, since our present well brings up 'pizen water' --- kills crops in 3 days, stock in 5, and humans in 7 -- that's why we're trucking in potable water at $65/week." At that she flipped and said, "Go! --- I can't take it any longer."
Y2KPRO, you appear to interpret reality as narrowly and compulsively as we extreme doomers did on the other side. None of us in either extreme camp ever learned anything from the other, prior to the rollover. I'm now learning some things (hard to do) from you pollies. Care to do the same from us?
Yeah, got to know Kurt Saxon pretty well, but only AFTER an aborted visit to him. Planned to stop by his homestead on my tour of Arkansas in early '98, shopping for a Y2K hideaway in the South. However, I was afraid to drive up the road to his house when I finally got there --- took his detractors too seriously when they said he was dangerous. As I later got to know him (multiple fone calls and correspondence interchange) I realized he talked big, barked loud, but wouldn't have bitten a soul. (That reminds me of my experiences with the John Birchers. During my earlier, liberal years, I considered them all arch criminal neo-Nazi ex-KKKers. Turns out later, when I became a conservative, and visited their meetings, and worked with one of them in the '88 presidential campaign -- that most of them are creme puffs, old retired farmers and small biz people and such like --- who were allergic to violence on a PERSONAL level -- altho they 'talked tough' about on a global level. The key word to describe them, and Kurt, on a personal level, was 'gentle.' What a surprise.)
Re Robert Henlein, again we agree. But of course Henlein was of gigantic stature -- one of the truly great persons of our time. Wrote 'fiction' so more people would attune to his message, which latter was near or at the zenith of those voiced in the late, lamented 20th Century.
Again, tnx to everybody,
-- William J. Schenker, MD (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
Bill -- You started a great thread.
Re my asking your advice, was tongue in cheek as you picked up on, I think. As a fellow doomer, I seem to be as often wrong as you -- at least in timing. We tend to be too early, sometimes thirty years so. :o) Your opinion seems to be the same as mine about the stock market. Now does that mean (contrary to our opinion) that it will boom, instead, continuing on to 30,000?
I can't count on either boom/bust, much less any timing estimate. So, here's what I suggest: Don't try to prophesize market direction. Let the state of the market TELL you what to do. So, get "How to Make $1,000,000 in the Stock Market Automatically" by Rober Lichello. (see Amazon.com to order.)
Then for more details, a big fan of Lichello has a website with more details and elaborations.
If you want to hedge the method based on your own predictions of impending meltdown, you may want to use 1/3 stocks, 2/3 cash as your initial allocation instead of 50-50 or 2/3-1/3. (This initial allocation decision is discussed briefly in the book and on the web site mentioned above.)
-- A (A@AisA.com), February 02, 2000.
Gruezi Willi- Freut mi das Si Schwyzertuetsch choend! Han Ine-n-au ae privaati e-mail gschickt! Swissrose.
-- Swissrose (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
Dr. Schenker, don't let your guard down. When Wall Street falls, it will pull down the economy very fast, and no one will be laughing. Many grown men will be publicly crying when they realize their immense stock wealth has gone *POOF*. Hard times are coming to America, and there will be no escape from the severe judgments for those who are unprepared.
-- dinosaur (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
I've vouch for that "COBALT" talk. Had someone come up to me at our Y2k booth at a local gathering and proudly tell me he'd gotten some fancy COBALT programmers in for his business.
-- Firemouse (email@example.com), February 02, 2000.
CALLING GUY DALEY -- you could find a REAL ISSUE rather than the overpopulation myth to which you can dedicate your life. come one. that is total BS. did you know that when God wiped out the earth at the time of the flood, there were approximately 5 billion people???? hmmmm...... aren't we at 6 billion supposedly now? there is plenty of room. plenty of resources. the globalists need an excuse to kill people and to help us accept killing people and limiting the reproduction of people they consider inferior and expendable. socialists. communists. nazis.
why not do something useful for people that already exist and need help??? adopt a child in a foreign country. feed a family. help a homeless person find a life and meaning. they are already alive and overpopulation didn't set them adrift--greed did, sin did, corruption did but you could make a difference here and now to turn around their situations and also create a ripple effect.
-- tt (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 02, 2000.
tt -- Then we're 1 billion overdue for another wipeout. Just like at least 4000 on the DOW overdue for a "correction". :o)
-- A (A@AisA.com), February 03, 2000.
tt: Didn't I mention this before: Feed a starving child -- sure so it can grow up to breed five or ten more starving children.
-- A (A@AisA.com), February 03, 2000.
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ADDENDUM TO MY ORIGINAL POST
Y2KPRO responded to one of the answers, soon after my initial post. I recollect reading it, and Y2KPRO's rebuttal. The rebuttal (and the post being rebutted) disappeared, according to the TB2K censorship policy -- which BTW, this post of mine is NOT about.
In this case however the dialog between Y2KPRO and his target provides an opportunity for me to underscore what I consider an important issue, that I only glancingly addressed on the thread-opening post. So I'm taking the liberty of cut/pasting the dialog -- I would have been unable but for Phil's software -- it automatically forwarded Y2KPRO's post to me, which has the essential info. Here it is.
The 'Target' of Y2KPRO's wrath (I can't quite remember who it is now, but it is one of our regular 'doomer corps,' someone we all respect) posted:
"Like all of the other millions of people who did not, could not and would not believe that y2k could have been a big problem, the bottom line is that they got lucky"
"Total doomer nonsense - you clearly have learned nothing from the humiliation of being dead-wrong. The vast majority of those doing remediation were telling you that nothing would go wrong. Paranoid Y2krackpots insisted otherwise. When you turn out to be dead wrong (again)you say we got 'lucky'. T'is to laugh..."
Here's Target's contention, somewhat popular among us doomers, and one that I hadn't really given much thought to -- until I started thinking hard while writing my opening post: It was mere chance that Y2K turned out to be a non-event (so far, any way.) In other words, it could just as easily have turned out catastrophic. Something like a flip of a coin. A roll of the dice. A turn of the roulette wheel.
I can not buy that argument. Too many things went RIGHT, for it to have been chance. And a significant number of Y2K remediators during the last 6 months of '99 SAID it would. We ignored them. Furthermore we scorned and ridiculed them. I remember myself clearly doing both EVERY time I read a remediator's optimistic report.
Now I have an anecdote to relate, acknowledging that anecdotes are only 'anecdotal' -- not 'statistical' so 'it's not worth listening to, right'? Well, I've ALWAYS listened to anecdotal data -- that's what listening to a patient's story is all about; it 's how I practiced medicine, and I saved some lives and a lot of grief doing it over 30 years.
A couple weeks ago I had a phone conversation with a neat guy -- quiet, steady, non-dramatic, non-judgmental, the typical gentleman (that I meet so often now that I'm a citizen of The South.) He had been referred to me by a mutual acquaintance. We talked extensively about his purchasing my steam engine/alternator system. I no longer wanted it, because it requires one person to standby at all times, watching the 'sight tube,' to prevent a boiler explosion -- the Achille's heel of all such systems. But this fellow's hobby is steam engines, steam engines, steam engines. It had no Achille's heel for him. So neither of us had any axe to grind -- just two Joes talking about mechanical gadgets ("Hey, you can take my house, take my truck, take my wife, take my dog -- but don't you TOUCH my machine!")
By and by we got to talking about ourselves. I asked him what kind of work he does. Lo and behold he was one of BellSouth's Y2K systems coordinators and systems troubleshooters(!!!!!) Man, what an opportunity for straight-from-the-horse's-mouth info that I could consider reliable. He just did not come across as a guy even capable of a 'spin.' So I asked him how it all went. Here's his story (paraphrased):
"Oh boy, was it ever hard, harrowing work. We put in the hours, day and night, plenty of times 7 days a week. Hardly got to see my wife and kids for long, long stretches. But you know what? After all the searching we did, we really couldn't come up with very many instances where the code would have caused bigtime trouble. And the bad code we did find was easy to fix. We kept looking for the overwhelming problems. But we couldn't find them. Nevertheless, we worked our butts off anyway --- we just were not going to take any chances of missing anything important. As I look back it was giant overkill. But we didn't know for sure until we got all done with our remediation that that was what we had done (massive overkill.)"
Now, I'm giving the paraphrase much more emotion than he came across with --- it's just my way of talking (about ANYTHING.) He on the other hand related all the above in a slow, quiet, calm, Southern drawl (I'm still enamoured of the Southern drawl --- just LOVE to hear it; I don't believe I'll ever tire of it!)
There must be loads more stories like this that could be told for Y2K to have come off as cleanly as it has (-- so far; I'm still waiting to see what EOM, EOQ, and EOY brings. Also whether oil, railroads, airlines show growing problems.) Now I must pose this question to myself (and to y'all): how many of these stories did we hear BEFORE the rollover? I mean stories from codeheads actually doing the remediation?
Which brings me to the second part of my analysis, The Pro's scathing response to Target. Pro says 'the vast majority.' I can't buy that. At all. Csy2000 newsgroup ran regular surveys of the codeheads thru the last 2 years before rollover. I believe the DC group did likewise. We had plenty of our own resident geeks on TB2K giving us reports. I never saw a 'vast majority' in the numbers. In the early days, true, the doomers were in the minority in the polls. But as time marched on, the shift to doomerdom continued. Towards the end, if I recollect, the curve DID rise less steeply than we extreme doomers had anticipated -- but no way did it reverse to 'the vast majority.'
Summary. So here we have one of the several ironies of Y2K, and of our beloved TB2K: one of the arch polly flamers of all time, Y2KPRO, is the trigger to significantly sharpen our focus on what went RIGHT about Y2K remediation. And why.
The only other thing to add is: wouldn't it be nice if Y2KPRO having been given some respect here, by us acknowledging he pointed out the weakness in the 'luck' explanation for Y2K's benignity (so far) --- wouldn't it be nice if Pro could come down off the flagpole, and join the rest of us down here for a little schmoozing, now that a lot of the heat is off The Great Debate? It must be mighty uncomfortable up there 24/7. Hey, Pro, whadya say? Say 'Hello.' Let's be friends? (Pro, you're still persona non grata on the Forum so they may delete anything you say at this point. But if you private email me, I'll stick up for ya.)
-- William J. Schenker, MD (email@example.com), February 03, 2000.
I loved your piece. Brilliant insight. Reminds me about the quote, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans".
This experience has taught me that a good dose of humility will work wonders in the long run ... for everyone concerned.
Back in '92 I was one of several presenters at a commodity trading workshop. On the last day, three of us traded a stock market index real time. There was a short term bull, a short term bear, and me, an intermediate term bull. Before the day was over, both the short term bear and bull were each stopped out for a loss. However, I was still in the game when we left for the airport to return home.Unfortunately, before I could declare victory, I too was stopped out with a loss larger than that of the two short term traders put together.
Y2k ain't over yet. In the end, I wouldn't be surprised if we find that NOBODY had Y2k figured out, and we'll all look about as foolish as I and my trading friends did.
-- Dr. Roger Altman (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 03, 2000.
"Which brings me to the second part of my analysis, The Pro's scathing response to Target. Pro says 'the vast majority.' I can't buy that. At all. Csy2000 newsgroup ran regular surveys of the codeheads thru the last 2 years before rollover. I believe the DC group did likewise. We had plenty of our own resident geeks on TB2K giving us reports. I never saw a 'vast majority' in the numbers. In the early days, true, the doomers were in the minority in the polls. But as time marched on, the shift to doomerdom continued. Towards the end, if I recollect, the curve DID rise less steeply than we extreme doomers had anticipated -- but no way did it reverse to 'the vast majority.'"
Randy sez: I would say the 'vast majority' you're looking for are those codeheads who never came here or to CSY2K or Debunky, and who never quit their jobs and headed for the hills, because they never thought Y2K would be that big a deal. From what I could see, the pollies who stuck out the debate to the bitter end in these environs were, to a man/woman, concerned about the effects of Y2K fear, not the effects of Y2k itself - by definition, a very small subset of the pollyworld population.
BTW Bill, your original post here is one of the very best things I've ever read on this board - I actually printed it out for my little Y2K file. Thank you very much for writing it.
Randy Christopher - the other RC
-- RC (email@example.com), February 03, 2000.
Bill, I admire your courage and honesty.
I kept investments in the digital market, across the end, but also had a reserve of gold coins, which my family has maintained since the 30's and in which our founding fathers believed. My father, an MD, was one of the receiving medical team for the survivors of the Bataan Death March, as well as a depression upbringing. Daughter, my sister, killed in freak auto accident, but survived for months until staph in the hospital got her, actually probably merciful. Dad was called up for the Korean War and then abruptly released. Life is uncertain, look at history. We were raised to be survivors, which was not necessarily comfortable.
I am in Search and Rescue in Wyoming today, and sometimes mention those who are looking for a place to die, for whom we do body searches. They have no matches, etc, another layer of clothing, or knowledge, etc. when out in the remote country. Pollies, I supose.
I have lived through (1) an oil industry depression in West Texas caused by OPEC and (2) a Savings and Loan bust created in Washington by regulators and Congress. I remember (3) looking for a job in 1982 when gold went to $850 and interest rates were 18%, due to govt financial mismanagement. Govt is dangerous to one's welfare and govt was my biggest fear.
Always, have Plan B, but also a Plan A to the Plan B, in other words the worst may not happen (Plan A), and the worst may happen (Plan B). I have taught my children to always carry survival stuff in the mountains, Be Prepared. However, this is different from living in Plan B thinking.
However, as a Christian, I can't help but wonder how God intends to deal with the self-worship of this nation and its killing of 35,000,000 children, who could have grown up to pay social security taxes and to staff our military without sending women into combat.
Alfred Hill, CPA
-- Alfred Hill, CPA (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 03, 2000.
Great post, as usual.
You may recall some of our first exchanges in July of 97 (excuse me 1997)about the writings and newsletter's of Gary North, Howard Ruff et al. We discussed how they were always doomers and that GN may have cried wolf once too often but we were sure he was right this time, but we still had that little speck of doubt becuse we had been through it before. You are correct in that some of us will always be doomers. That is our nature. We are still correct in much of our logic, just wrong in our timing. The problem with timing is that you can be right but you may live a lifetime and when it turns out that you were right it's after you are dead.
TEOTWAWKI was never understood by those in the mainstream and the Polly's. I made a post, back in 97, on the original GN forum about how the depression was TEOTWAWKI to my parents, yet I was grown and married before I realized that they had lived in boom times just as we are today because I was born during the depression.
I have no regrets on my preps as they will always be put to use at one time or another.
For those that may not be aware, I was probably the biggest influence for Bill becoming a "Southerner." Noo Yawk City just ain't no way to live, but to each his own.
-- Joe Stout (email@example.com), February 04, 2000.
Tnx much for responding to the thread and for the bouquets re the lead post. Now let's look at the rest of your answer, the issues of whether 'the vast majority' of remediation codeheads "never thought that Y2K would be that big a deal", and closely related, if they were not worried, where they were hanging out?. I think these two issues have not been dealt with on TB2K or other Doomer forums in a thorough-going manner, and you have fortunately brought them center stage, where they now need to be examined.
Your contention is that 'the vast majority' were really 'the silent majority' -- they were all around us --- but they were were not writing letters to the editors, calling up friends and family, haranguing their church leaders, forming committees, calling their congressman, coming to community awareness meetings, and certainly not pointlessly spending time posting on Y2K forums.
Now if I had heard this 37 days ago, I would have said, "Well, if they're silent -- how did you hear from them?" But 37 days later the thought comes to mind (I'm assuming you're a codehead yourself): Randy probably heard them, and probably knows a lot of them, from professional meetings and conventions, industry meetings and conferences, private email and snailmail, and social get-togethers and athletic get-togethers. And, if he's alert and has his ear to the ground, he could probably pick up this kind of info on a regional level too. (National level also? I haven't got a read on that.)
So first thing, Randy, you've got to let me know if you were in fact in the thick of the Y2K remediation. If you were I would say you've probably cracked a considerable part of the nut that has caused us doomers such great anguish so far (always of course assuming the fat lady has done most of her singing already, and there will not be big bombs down the road.)
What's so important about that conclusion? Simply this: the bewilderment, the lack of something 'to pin it on,' is a hard thing for humans to take. (I include Doomers in the human category.) It feels good to have a rational explanation. A lot better than to settle for, "Well it had to be LUCK -- the pollies just got LUCKY." I feel very uneasy carrying the burden of that kind of explanation around with me for the rest of my life.
Now back to 37 days ago, I would have bet money on the vast majority of geeks working their tails off 24/7, squirreled away in their cubicles, subsisting on Burger King and Coke while going bug-eyed before their CRTs, sweating out the deadline. 37 days later, I'm strongly considering that at least a preponderance was mostly or all finished with the major remediation, and probably had been for some months (3? 6?) But even now it's hard for me to accept the modifier 'vast' as the operand here. For now I'll settle for 'preponderance.'
But hey, I'm being kind of ridiculous here: How can I get that accurate a gauge on the numbers, to start mincing words? But hey #2, Randy -- how can you get such precision with your numbers?
So, I stillcan't let go of the 'preponderance' modifier. Especially in light of the testimonies of our 'Sysman' and others of his current experience level. Also, the scattered anecdotal geekhead reports coming in post-Y2K, the 'Something's happened in our biz, and we've got troubles' thingies. (So who am I to judge that Sysman and the like and the anecdotal reports are in fact genuine and not fabrications? Well I guess I'll just have to make the claim that I've spent enough wee hours in front of the tube debugging code to recognize genuine stories from the ersatz. But I realize I haven't/can't given you the evidence for that.)
Now just to cover all bases, Randy, what if you were not in the thick of the Y2K remediation activity? In that unlikely event then I'd have to discount your take on 'the vast majority.' Say it isn't so, Randy. Otherwise I'm back to NOT BEING REALLY SURE WHAT DIDN'THAPPEN WITH Y2K. Somebody -- quick -- pass me the Prozac!!
-- William J. Schenker, MD (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 07, 2000.
I must confess your E-mail address tickles me. All my life I've heard folks say that X-mas was "taking Christ out of Christmas", but never before have I seen someone use X in their name as you did.
In answer to your question to Randy, I HAVE worked on remediation, but the work in that arena for large systems in the U.S. was either completed or contracted out to someone else about 3 years ago FOR THE MOST. I say FOR THE MOST, because I do know one person who had a two- month gig last summer on Y2k. It was a rewrite of one of those systems that had been sent overseas and returned incorrect.
Where were these people on the internet? They were on the technology fora FOR THE MOST. I do know one Y2k contractor who spent her internet time on a CAT forum [because she has two cats], and there WAS the old boss who spent his time on more...um...Let's just say that I knocked and turned my back when I entered his office so he could quickly clear his screen. I wouldn't have had any interest in following Y2k on the net myself had six or so of us not branched off a technology forum to establish a Y2k forum where remediation information could be shared with others like us working on the problem. THAT forum, as well as the newsgroup CSY2k went downhill after non-techs came in [mostly having heard of impending disaster from folks like Gary North.] Of course by that time, the information on remediation had already been shared, so there was no need for folks with experience in remediation to stay around except to say, "Huh?"
Why did we think it wouldn't be bad? Well, we'd seen remediation completed successfully at firms where we worked. As I said to/about Sysman in the "Sysman's Predictions on Y2k" thread, the techs who thought Y2k would be bad seemed to be folks who had been at one firm for a long time or folks who weren't on remediation teams, or folks who were working on the remediations from hell. Since I've been contracting for 10 years, I have worked at MANY firms. Of COURSE we all network. How do you think we get our next contracts? I only know ONE contractor who had remediation work in 1999 and she works on small/medium systems. I had to laugh when she asked if I'd been "sucked into Y2k work yet." Large systems were for the most done long before 1999.
I visited with this woman in fall of 1998, Bill, and she said, "So do you still think the world will end in the year 2000?" I asked why she thought I ever did. She then said, "Well, don't you look at Y2k on the internet anymore?" See how quickly the "doomer"/"polly" label can be applied simply by association?
All of the above has been stated previously, however, Bill. It simply wasn't accepted as TRUTH, and STILL isn't.
-- Anita (email@example.com), February 07, 2000.
Don't know if I have time to give this the response it deserves, but here goes:
Yes, I am a codehead, and was involved in Y2K remediation, and my experience was much like Anita's - our main remediation effort ended in August '98, with a few "aisle 3 cleanups" since then. As Anita mentioned, computer folks are big-time personal networkers, and I know of NOONE who was involved in Y2K work past April '99. The image of burnt-out coders living on Jolt cola and Ho-Hos for the entire month of December existed only in very small companies, if it existed at all.
But looking for an "accurate gauge on the numbers", as you put it, is only gonna drive you crazy. Like everyone else, I could only guess at the numbers based on my own experience. I spoke to probably a hundred or so of my peers regarding Y2K - I knew only ONE full-blown doomer. More importantly, I knew of maybe FOUR who were conerned to the point of keeping an eye out for info from the Net, and I was the only one who ever actually posted anywhere. And I was far from being a regular on this board, but I did post the above info on this board last year, for what it's worth.
Ask yourself why, in relation to the big picture, there were so few of those "anecdotal reports", genuine or not. This doesn't necessarily tell the whole story, but it's a key piece of the puzzle.
I went with the X as a reaction to my official work email addys, which always wind up being RCHRIST3 or something like that. I catch a lot of flak for it...
-- RC (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 07, 2000.
1) Reporting in with my 'Kiersey Rating' (not to be confused with my 'Kinsey Rating'): I'm an eNFj -- Idealist/Teacher, just what I figured I was.
2) Keep tuned for 11.5's Second Round -- should be fun.
-- William J. Schenker, MD (email@example.com), February 09, 2000.
'Round Two' is up and running. Go to link. If the hotlink doesn't work, go to "New Messages." After a week or so it'll drop out of that area and come back here ("Awareness/General") somewhere.
-- William J. Schenker, MD (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 26, 2000.