Regarding The "Horrid Things" said on TB2K, Or How to Cultivate Intolerance.greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
TimeBomb 2000: 359,380 messages, latest on February 21, 2000
Are you seriously suggesting that the samples of extreme views and comments you and others have been posting recently, are an accurate representation of the discussions at TimeBomb 2000 over the past 2 years? Aren't you simply searching out those tidbits and misquotes to support your beliefs? The very thing you have always accused US of doing?
I suppose it's irrelevant that most of these comments being posted are responses to postings made by people whose only purpose in making the post was to inflame others.
Do you folks go to the zoo on Sunday just to poke the caged tigers with sharp sticks? Clearly some of you have pent more time reading posts around here than most of *us* have.
I'm not angry, but I am well and truly baffled as to why on earth you are here. Can't you exist without us?
Try it sometime. The hours are better.
and for the edification of all:
I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way. -Robert Frost (1874-1963) , 1935
Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us. -Justice William O. Douglas
The constitution gives every American the inalienable right to make a damn fool of himself. -John Ciardi
Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. -Voltaire (1694-1778)
We divided the world into 'us' and 'them. There is no 'them' left on our tiny planet. -Marilyn Rea
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he doesn't become a monster. -Frederick Wilhelm Nietsche
Hey, you can't fight in here! This is the war room! -Dr. Strangelove
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." (N. B.: This quote is commonly attributed to Voltaire, but it is not found in his writing.)-S. G. Tallentyre
-- Lewis (email@example.com), February 21, 2000
Good post. Using a fringe group to characterize the majority is something that Hitler did with effectiveness. Evidently the Y2k pros of this world learned the lesson well from his beloved Adolph.
-- haha (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
Pro's like a robot in it's posting hatred. Oh well.
How are you Lewis?
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
uh oh....she's back and she's being nice again....Dr. Hyde is right around the corner.....
-- unknown (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
-- h (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
You left out one of the more memorable quotes: "FREE YOUR MIND AND YOUR A$$ WILL FOLLOW" LOL
-- David Whitelaw (Dande53484@aol.com), February 21, 2000.
Are you seriously suggesting that the samples of extreme views and comments you and others have been posting recently, are an accurate representation of the discussions at TimeBomb 2000 over the past 2 years?
This is a very good question. It does appear that this is what is being suggested.
I take it, Lewis, that you disagree with this sentiment? Do you believe that these extreme views are not representative of this forum? Do you believe that most would, in fact, disagree with these extreme views? Would they, for example, disagree with the extreme statements espoused by Paul Milne?
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
Thanks, haha. And LL; well, I suppose I should thank you for the kind words, but they are a bit, er, out of context.
My point, LL, that using a constitutional right (free speech), to deny that same right to others is WRONG.
IMHO, you are doing nothing to fight "injustice". You are being deleted not because of the content of your comments, but because your posting methods are terribly disruptive. If I, or any other "old-timers" here used your methods, and ignored multiple requests to behave like a good Netizen, we would also be deleted on sight. And rightly so. the SySops, volunteers all, are struggling to maintain some sort of order here.
No one took away your voice, LL. You simply demonstrated that your voice has no place here. I think this is less a result of intolerance than it is like the voting system. Children are refused the vote.
No flowers, please.
-- Lewis (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
I am so sick of "tolerance" being the measure for all things. Tolerance is a lesser virtue. It is good to have tolerance. But there are higher virtues.......honesty, justice, mercy....when applied have tolerance wrapped in the meld. Tolerance cut away from the higher virtues, as it's own standard, is not a virtue. It is a vice and it is evil.
-- NH (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
Hi, Di. Been fine- still trying to catch up on the mountain of work postponed by the run-up.
I see you've been busy...;-) Hope you're well. Don't take it all too personally.
Hmm, I'm glad you made that observation because it ties in with haha's comment. Trying to characterize a forum as having any single point of view is unreasonable. I tend to think that the majority portion of the posts did not come from the majority portion of the participants. The largest number of posts tended to be from those at each extreme (polly/doomer). Not surprising, really, as those are the most passionate members of the community. Maybe the old 80/20 rule applies here somewhere...
In any case, I suspect that 80% watched 20% of us duke it out, all the while trying to figure out what the heck was happening. The din of batttle got a bit annoying at several times last year, and many "moderates" like myself left or went quiet.
But this was always the best place for raw data. Alot of it was nonsense, but it was worth filtering through for some startling revelations never released elsewhere. Just when I was beginning feeling confident last fall that Embedded Systems were unlikely to be a serious problem, the Dept. of Commerce issues a statement 11/22/99 that *everything* needs to be tested, obvious date or not. Oh Shit, says I.
The primary reason I grew concerned about Y2K was that most of the people telling me everything was going to be alright suffered from low credibility. (Politicians, lawyers, PR flacks, bankers..) while most of the worry was done by several respectable people without an obvious agenda (Yardeni, Yourdon, Dejaeger, Davis, Cowles and many others. You will note North is conpicuously absent from my personal list. And BTW, the idea that these folks were in it for the money is simply silly. No one got rich off Y2K.) I chose to respond to these discussions cautiously, and made moderate preparations. But with so many uncertainties, I made sure to keep my options open.
TB2K was a place to try to watch the telltales to get a sense of where the wind was coming from. People arrived and left with their pre-existing views of the world. No surprise, or harm there.
Those who portray this forum as nothing more than cult-like FUD mongering, would do well to look around. Most major media and traditional religions are far better a breeding fear, uncertainty and doubt than anyone here.
Tolerance may be un-palatable sometimes, NH, but it is one of the foundations of our justice system. Innocent until proven guilty. Tolerance is a classic case of something commonly portrayed as a black and white issue, when it is actually a very hard, grown-up set of decisions. But I agree, it's maddening sometimes what we are asked to tolerate.
Thank you all for your comments.
-- Lewis (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
Lewis, tolerance applied under the direction of the higher virtues is good and necessary. Tolerance with out guidance from the higher virtues, as its own standard, is evil.
-- NH (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
Why is Gary North absent from your list?
-- Carol Williams (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
Never mind, I see that you are not including North in the "respectable" group.
-- Carol Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
I think hmm's question should be directly addressed: My belief (I hope I'm right) is that the answers to her three questions are yes, yes, and yes. Especially regarding Paul Milne. I dumped heavily on him once in this forum, and figured that was enough, that I had made my viewpoint known and was not going to repeat myself every time his name came up. But I'd rather be a homeless person than have that kind of a posonous mind.
-- Peter Errington (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
"I think hmm's question should be directly addressed: My belief (I hope I'm right) is that the answers to her three questions are yes, yes, and yes. Especially regarding Paul Milne. I dumped heavily on him once in this forum, and figured that was enough, that I had made my viewpoint known and was not going to repeat myself every time his name came up. But I'd rather be a homeless person than have that kind of a posonous mind.
-- Peter Errington (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000. "
Here is a TV Box for you. Enjoy the streets!
-- justwondering (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
Tolerance is todays word for condoning aberrant behavior. Tolerance means accepting everything that was once viewed as sin.
-- Trafficjam (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
Lewis: Good post. Literate, concise, thoughtful.
Tolerance haters: Please do not forget that you, also, are tolerated.
-- Bemused (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
I really appreciate your presenting a different perspective here. Permit me to make some comments about what you've written, since my own perspective differs from yours in some important respects. And in these respects, I encourage you to enlighten me at your convenience.
[Trying to characterize a forum as having any single point of view is unreasonable.]
Largely true, but this doesn't mean there is no overall viewpoint or thrust to the preponderance of posts to that forum. While there was indeed a lot of debate, I don't believe you can seriously deny that by and large, the forum participants expected serious y2k impacts, and did what they could to support this notion. It was NOT a debunking forum in any sense.
[I tend to think that the majority portion of the posts did not come from the majority portion of the participants. The largest number of posts tended to be from those at each extreme (polly/doomer). Not surprising, really, as those are the most passionate members of the community. Maybe the old 80/20 rule applies here somewhere...]
Yes, but pessimistic posters among that vocal 20% outnumbered optimists by about 10-1. And the 80% who posted relatively little tended to fall into this same distribution. Certainly the large majority either supported the pessimists or failed to make any attempt to counter their positions or techniques -- despite the violence done to any semblance of logic.
[In any case, I suspect that 80% watched 20% of us duke it out, all the while trying to figure out what the heck was happening. The din of batttle got a bit annoying at several times last year, and many "moderates" like myself left or went quiet.]
I can't speak for lurkers who never contributed, of course. And there was certainly more heat than light much of the time. And yes, I believe a lot of reasonable people were turned off by the froth-at- the-mouth types.
[But this was always the best place for raw data. Alot of it was nonsense, but it was worth filtering through for some startling revelations never released elsewhere.]
Um. There was almost NO original raw data. Nearly all of it was plucked from some source or other external to the forum itself. There were a few original claims made, always anonymously, as to how this or that system was sure to fail. None of these could be tracked down, and all proved false. Instead, what you saw was the result of some heavy duty filtering -- a few dozen people combing all sources they could find for ANY suggestion that things might be bad, or any information that could be interpreted as bad, even though many of those interpretations were inconsistent and self serving. But I'll agree that as a single location to find as much bad news in one place as possible, the forum was topnotch. I defy you to come up with even one single "startling revelation" that ultimately proved to be a problem.
[Just when I was beginning feeling confident last fall that Embedded Systems were unlikely to be a serious problem, the Dept. of Commerce issues a statement 11/22/99 that *everything* needs to be tested, obvious date or not. Oh Shit, says I.]
And by so saying, you fell for the schtick. Can you see this yet? You confused (or equated) the vanishingly unlikely possibility that problems might exist, with the certainty that a great deal could (and probably would) fail if not examined in great detail. Kind of like in theory, we need to carefully examine EVERY rock in space because it MIGHT hit us by surprise otherwise. We are not doing this, nor do we need to. But it was the essence of the forum to find such quotes and interpret them pessimistically. And then say "Oh Shit", despite lack of any good reason to do so.
I notice that you also conveniently fail to mention that that Commerce report was commissioned to, and prepared by, a company (Century) that just happened to be in the business of testing and fixing embedded systems (for which they charged very steep prices). And Century's business wasn't doing very well.
So I ask you: In all honesty, if you read a report by a group of struggling physicians saying that everyone needs a medical checkup immediately, even if they seem to be perfectly healthy, would you say "Oh Shit, we're all about to die"? Or would you say, Hey, wait a minute -- these are doctors trying to drum up business.
[The primary reason I grew concerned about Y2K was that most of the people telling me everything was going to be alright suffered from low credibility. (Politicians, lawyers, PR flacks, bankers..) while most of the worry was done by several respectable people without an obvious agenda (Yardeni, Yourdon, Dejaeger, Davis, Cowles and many others.]
OK, let's just think about this for a moment. The credibility is in the pudding, isn't it? In hindsight, we can see that those to whom *YOU* gave low credibility were entirely accurate and correct, and those to whom *YOU* assigned "respectability" were entirely, totally wrong right down the line. Now, surely this unmistakeable pattern *ought* to get you thinking about your grounds for assessing credibility. You dismissed those who told you the truth and swallowed what the quacks were saying.
Surely in retrospect you can see agendas? Yourdon was selling books and "Get rich off the y2k craze" opportunities. DeJager made millions talking y2k on the speaking tour and with published articles. Rick Cowles spent much of the time working for TAVA, an embedded remediation house. Hamasaki was making good money selling newsletters depicting y2k as armageddon. Etc.
But important insights lie in how you might have known this ahead of time. WHY did you personally decide to assign high credibility to the quacks, and low credibility to the organizations who told it like it was? This propensity on your part cannot help but predispose you to look favorably on those who shared your biases and prejudices.
I'll admit one of the important things that led me to expect relatively little was that those saying things would be OK were legally liable, and therefore facing Big Problems if they were wrong. While those on your list giving dire warnings faced no such consequences -- and stood to be hurt financially if they told the truth.
I wonder (and you might ask yourself) -- has your trust in "politicians, lawyers, PR flacks and bankers" gone up any in light of the excellent information they gave you? Or do you still distrust them on general principles? Do you, even now, assign more credibility to those who say what you prefer to hear?
[And BTW, the idea that these folks were in it for the money is simply silly.]
But true, silly or not.
[No one got rich off Y2K.]
But not for lack of trying. I think they took a calculated risk, expecting y2k problems to be much worse and show up sooner than was actually the case. They hoped to ride a wave that never materialized. But you cannot honestly claim that a gambler who bet on the wrong horse was *therefore* not trying to win. And those people on your "respectable" list just flat bet on the wrong horse. And rooted for it all the way to the finish line.
[I chose to respond to these discussions cautiously, and made moderate preparations. But with so many uncertainties, I made sure to keep my options open.]
Eminently sensible. I made substantial preparations. I spent thousands of dollars on things I otherwise wouldn't have spent it on. I did make a good faith effort to keep to a minimum any expenses that would be white elephants, useless if y2k wasn't serious. And those expenses only totaled $100 or so. I don't regret spending the money. Indeed, I'm really very happy I spent most of it, y2k notwithstanding.
But I'm not going to claim (as many do) that because my preparations were either harmless or potentially useful, therefore I was right expecting big problems. I began preparing about 3 years ahead of time, when things looked bleak and nobody knew what to expect. I did essentially no preparation the last 6-9 months, when it was becoming obvious not much would go wrong. By now, blaming y2k for *anything* affecting our lives is simply not supportable. It didn't happen, simple as that. Being prepared in general is a good practice, but the condition of being prepared, per se, doesn't mean that *therefore* people were right in predicting that y2k itself would require those preparations. It did not.
[TB2K was a place to try to watch the telltales to get a sense of where the wind was coming from. People arrived and left with their pre-existing views of the world. No surprise, or harm there.]
No, probably not. But as for telltales, that's a joke. TB2K was the place to go to see the most outrageous and dishonest case possible being created for Big Problems. The specialty was selective interpretation of carefully selected "evidence", vehement rejection of those "non-credible" sources you rejected (who told the truth), demands that anyone who saw things differently to GO AWAY!, vicious personal insults heaped on any optimist, etc. etc. etc. In the real world, the y2k wind was, is and always has been flat calm. TB2K put their telltale in front of a fan blowing their own hot air, and claimed that THEREFORE there was a howling storm outside.
[Those who portray this forum as nothing more than cult-like FUD mongering, would do well to look around. Most major media and traditional religions are far better a breeding fear, uncertainty and doubt than anyone here.]
Lewis, you should know better than this. Really. You are spouting the normal conspiracy orientation. In the first place, the major media are pretty damn accurate, despite some mistakes and some biases nowhere near as flagrant as TB2K. In the second place, even if you DID identify someone worse, that doesn't mean TB2K wasn't bad. This is yet another trick of disinformation. It's like claiming that my shit doesn't stink because I think yours stinks worse. Not valid logic.
I don't know how *you* define cult-like FUD mongering, maybe you can propose some definition that doesn't fit TB2K like a glove? I admit I can't.
[Tolerance may be un-palatable sometimes, NH, but it is one of the foundations of our justice system. Innocent until proven guilty. Tolerance is a classic case of something commonly portrayed as a black and white issue, when it is actually a very hard, grown-up set of decisions. But I agree, it's maddening sometimes what we are asked to tolerate.]
Well, personally I never felt I was intolerant. I never told anyone to go away. I tried to present reasonable counterbalances to extreme viewpoints. I was glad to participate, and exasperated with some of the frothing debunkies who kept calling MIT trying to close the forum down.
But there are two fundamental approaches to resolving intractable uncertainty. One is to evaluate all the available information you can find, as carefully and openly as you can, and arrive at an inherently changeable probability curve. Then keep honing that curve as new information becomes available, or as the reliability of existing information is better defined.
The other way is to pick some certain and definite position, and defend it by forcing everything to fit that it's possible to force, rejecting all else for any reason or none, and attacking any unbeliever, even if the unbeliever is reality itself.
I'm not saying that everyone on TB2K fell into this second group, only that those who approach things that way came to "own" the discourse and set the tone -- especially after Yourdon anointed sysops who think this way.
If you don't agree, I request that you go back into the archives and look at the reactions to "Norm". Remember Norm? He posted many articles full of good news, never added any editorial comment of his own, and was personally attacked by many every time he did so. He was finally driven away by the threat (by the sysops) to publish his IP address and real name. Good news was VERY emphatically NOT WELCOME.
And this wasn't cult-like FUD? This was a useful barometer of what y2k was likely to bring? This was a valuable source of raw data? Give me a break.
However, I must say the one redeeming feature of y2k is that when the results came in, it wasn't just a landslide, it was unanimous. Reality very very rarely delivers such a clear and unambiguous decision. Even the most stridently optimist posters were sincerely astounded. In all the world, there has been NOT ONE SINGLE significant proven y2k impact, of ANY KIND. Absolutely amazing.
Now, under such circumstances you might confidently expect some extensive discussion about how the large majority on TB2K managed to get it so completely, totally and inarguable wrong. Not just a little wrong, not even mostly wrong. Totally wrong. The answer lies in at least 2000 of the posts I made to that forum, if anyone cares to read or remember.
And your expectation would be incorrect -- nobody is interested in anything resembling a learning process. Not whatsoever! Some claim y2k is still coming, some claim it really happened but TPTB are keeping it a secret, and the majority simply vanished without comment.
Many have tried to deflect -- My preparations may be useful someday, therefore I wasn't wrong about y2k! Or, the hateful people ("politicians, lawyers...") who got it right are still hateful, therefore I wasn't wrong about y2k! And many just change the subject and start ranting about just any of the various devils that haunt their souls, and y2k is no longer mentioned.
This all fits perfectly, right down the line, with the descriptions in the book When Prophecy Fails. For y2k ultimately became a religious issue on TB2K -- that second group I described indeed came to dominate. And tolerance is NOT a virtue for the religious. Tolerance is the enemy of doctrine. You're seeing it in action, on the Biffy forum as well as TB2K. The rational people have breathed a sigh of relief and moved on with their lives. The Devout continue to rave.
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
Hi, Lewis. Hi, Flint.
Lewis: This tolerance/intolerance subject has already been beat to death in another thread, so I won't go into much here except to suggest that I would have thought that this forum consisted solely of those who were in agreement with the most vociferous posters had I not visited the chat room that Bok set up. I met many enjoyable folks in that chat room and we could exchange thoughts in seconds.
Flint enjoys debate more than I do. [I think we can agree on that one, right, Flint?] I'll go one step further and suggest that Flint is WILLING to debate articles of FAITH. I'm a coward in this respect. As soon as I see that hard facts have been replaced with faith, I back down on a discourse. I don't want to get involved with topics that play with belief systems, as these belief systems bore to the core of folks. Once logic has been replaced by emotion, there is no ROOM to debate [in my mind] without stepping on lifelong belief systems.
Y2k NEVER should have been about belief systems. It was a technical problem. It became entangled with politics, religion, and OTHER belief systems to the point where only the vociferous minority was involved in the discussions.
-- Anita (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
Forum: Gary North is a Big Fat Idiot Forum
Re: The irony of "DGI" (Ken Decker)
Re: Still a tempest in a teapot (Ken Decker)
Date: Feb 19, 22:48
From: Flint < firstname.lastname@example.org >
What reasonable participants? None of these fora exist to discover the truth, they exist to create and promulgate one. Admit it, your underlying motivation was the same as mine -- to kick the anthill and watch the reactions. And you also recognized that reasonable analysis was the most effective boot to kick with. The CPR screaming attacks, for all they preached a different doctrine, were not qualitatively different from the TB2K approach in general.
But hell, you and I chimed in at least partially to feel superior in our own idiosyncratic way. It was fun. Surely we harbored no delusions of making converts.
-- (email@example.com), February 21, 2000.
From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California
Flint, talking to Lewis, said: I notice that you also conveniently fail to mention that that Commerce report was commissioned to, and prepared by, a company (Century) that just happened to be in the business of testing and fixing embedded ...
I think it is unfair and rude to say he "conveniently fail[ed] to mention" something. He may have forgotten or been unaware of who authored that report. I vaguely recall skimming it, but most of what I remember from that incident is how the report was received by the administration. Koskinen, who had admitted that the single most important focus of his job was to prevent public panic, after reviewing the report, reacted by saying something on the order of "Oh, SHIT!" We may not have known what to make of the report, but we did know what to make of Koskinen's reaction.
Flint again: The credibility is in the pudding, isn't it? In hindsight, we can see that ...those to whom *YOU* assigned "respectability" were entirely, totally wrong right down the line.
It is not true that the credibility of the warners rested upon whether or not the rollover would be negotiated without significant disruptions. What I took from my readings and passed along in my own way was that there was a possibility of significant disruptions. The proof I needed that disruptions certainly were possible was to see major corporations spending billions of dollars trying to fix the problem. No matter how history finally paints the overall success or failure of Y2K remediation efforts, to me it will always be true that there was a possibility of disruptions, and that personal contingency planning was therefore warranted.
-- Dancr (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2000.
What a wonderful set of comments! Flint, yours particularly deserves a considered response but I'm in back to back meetings most of the day (starting in 4 minutes :(
I'll post later on this thread.
-- Lewis (email@example.com), February 22, 2000.
Flint -- excellent, well thought out post.
-- E.H. Porter (firstname.lastname@example.org it), February 22, 2000.
Had you chosen to highlight the sentence *following* the one you did, your entire point would be lost. Kinda selective there, aren't we?
There seems to be an overall lack of forthrightness as to why we post. We ought to know we can't change the world, and are very unlikely to change anyone's mind. I think people here had various motivations for posting. I tried to be as objective and reasonable as I could, just to see what kind of feedback I got. If there was some rational discussion, great. If all I solicited was kneejerk thought- free attacks (like yours) then I could at least laugh at you. You certainly deserve it.
I think others fell into several categories:
1) Those sincerely trying to spread the warning. I don't believe it ever crossed their minds even to *allow* the idea that the warning wasn't required. And in TB2K, that effort was without question preaching to the choir. Why not try to warn a wider world of those who either weren't aware of y2k or weren't guaranteed to agree already?
2) Those who just wanted a warm and fuzzy environment, surrounded by people who agreed with them. I believe some people really were uncertain about y2k impacts, but preferred to phrase their input to maximize agreement. In other words, agreement was the *purpose* of posting. For some, feeling like they're part of the in-group is most important, regardless of the nominal position of that group.
3) Those who were delighted to find an audience far enough out on the alienated fringe so as not to outright laugh at their delusions. When your ideas are not just wrong but plain weird, it's not easy to find an appreciative audience. There's a bunch of people living in fantasyland out there.
4) The generic haters. Fear and hate are closely related, and many here spent the bulk of their efforts off topic, hating government and politicians, banks, bosses, foreigners, the media, the illuminati (that the illuminati don't exist is irrelevant), capitalism, lawyers, you name it. And finding an evil conspiracy behind every accident on the ground and every contrail in the air.
Anyway, I've never been afraid to be honest, even if doing so doesn't put me in the best light. I know my weaknesses and I own up to them. Can you do the same?
"I think it is unfair and rude to say he "conveniently fail[ed] to mention" something. He may have forgotten or been unaware of who authored that report."
Yes, granted. But as I spent a year pointing out, it was *exactly* that kind of systematic omission that characterized this forum. For some reason, this was the kind of detail that *always* just seemed to be overlooked on this forum. And had the report been positive, the source of the information was *always* dwelled on at length, in order to discredit the report. Do you seriously propose that this was a consistent and long-standing coincidence? Sheesh. This particular method of introducing bias to the viewpoint presented here was tried- and-true, habitual to the point of being mechanical.
"It is not true that the credibility of the warners rested upon whether or not the rollover would be negotiated without significant disruptions."
This is more complex. Credibility, reputation, are built from results. If two people make totally opposing predictions, and one of them is absolutely right and the other is absolutely wrong, this is the stuff of which credibility is made. Lewis has made an excellent point here -- by far the most significant reason most of the TB2K posters got it so wrong, is that they chose to believe (assign credibility to) the wrong people. I've gone to some trouble trying (see above) to determine what there is about some people, that leads them to find bearers of bad news more credible. Because even when the news is great, these people simply find someone else bearing different bad news about something else and believe *them*. Why?
"to me it will always be true that there was a possibility of disruptions, and that personal contingency planning was therefore warranted."
Yes, I agree. I notice you somehow didn't quote what I wrote about my own contingency plans, which were both significant and unnecessary. I said "I spent thousands of dollars on things I otherwise wouldn't have spent it on...I don't regret spending the money." And I certainly don't have any criticism of anyone who did the same thing. Why should I?
So you are deflecting the argument here, as I also wrote (and you didn't quote). In the sense that contingencies are low probability events that can't be ruled out, they are *not* what was being argued for here. Serious y2k impacts were regarded as a *given*, and therefore preparations were considered a requirement, sure to be needed.
Those who warned had valid reasons (though many of them exaggerated those reasons for financial gain), and billions of dollars were indeed spent, a net benefit all around for many reasons (few bugs, new hardware and software, increased productivity, etc.) My point was that those on this forum chose to believe ONLY the warners, and interpreted this selective credibility into a guarantee of big problems. And they chose to reject ALL the good news, doing their best to drive away anyone who posted any. And out there in the real world, good news and those who presented it outnumbered the bad by a huge margin, all of which was disallowed here!
Naturally, the picture that emerged was not only bleak, it was hopelessly misrepresentative of the actual situation. Is it any wonder that events have demonstrated it to be so very wrong? There's a qualitative difference between saying that disruptions are certain and preparations essential, and saying disruptions are possible and preparations prudent. Before the fact, TB2K was claiming fire was unavoidable and hundreds of fire extinguishers were a minimum. After the fact, people like you are saying, well, a fire is always possible and a fire extinguisher is a good idea. Big difference. The claim now being made that these two positions are the same is self serving. It's false.
-- Flint (email@example.com), February 22, 2000.
"There's a qualitative difference between saying that disruptions are certain and preparations essential, and saying disruptions are possible and preparations prudent. Before the fact, TB2K was claiming fire was unavoidable and hundreds of fire extinguishers were a minimum."
What a bunch of your typical baloney. TB2K was always incredibly more nuanced than you were intelligent enough to grasp - but that's the irony, isn't it? You give the appearance of being "smart" without really being intelligent. Not very "pc", I'm afraid, just a fact.
You haven't learned a thing. Having fun poking the "anthill"? One of the best results of Y2K so far had been your absence? Guess your neurotic need for attention hasn't been met in real life .....
-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 22, 2000.
Shouldnt you be on the porch there little doggy? You are way out of your league running with the pack. BTW, what is the next Y2K landmark date you are in fear of? May something or another? Your credibility was questionable last year and just doesnt exist at present. FORE!
-- Sifting (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2000.
Actually, BigDog's post provides an excellent example of exactly the type of thinking Flint was referring to. Rather than refute Flint's actual arguments, BigDog simply responds with:
What a bunch of your typical baloney.
And then makes various derogatory remarks regarding Flint's intelligence. This was always the most popular way to respond to Flint, used primarily by "a", King Of Spain, and Andy, among others.
A similar technique was to respond to Flint's detailed arguments with something like "Nice try Flint. Now go back to Debunkers where you belong." And thus, with a wave of the hand, the argument was over and the doomers proved themselves the victors once again. Most of those guys are gone now, but it's nice that there are still some like BigDog still around to help illustrate exactly what Flint was talking about. Thanks BigDog!!
-- (email@example.com), February 22, 2000.
Flint you got it exactly right. I certainly don't regret some of my preps. But...I fell into the fear and insecurity trap and I feel like an utter fool.
As far as Big Dog's rebuttal, or logical answer, it's just typical Big Dog baloney, sliced thicker than usual. "Doomers proved themselves victorious once again." Yeah sure--victorious at being wrong again.
Y2K was a blip. Nothing more.
-- gilda (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2000.
Anybody who kicks an anthill to watch what the ants do is a far cry from an entemologist, especially when that person has a year's supply of ant eggs himself. Flint has also been kicking the anthill called cpr over at the Gary North is a Big Fat Idiot board. The man just likes the sight of his own words. With his admission that he likes to watch the reaction of us ants in this anthill, everything he says is suspect.
-- . (Just@another.ant), February 22, 2000.
Coming from you folks, criticism is high praise, indeed. Thanks!
-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 22, 2000.
Flypaper to sticky trap the turntail, vitriol, vindictive-laden DGIs.
-- liar, flip flopper, (email@example.com), February 22, 2000.
With two posts, you have generated two attacks, and provided no substance. As Hmmm points out, this was perfectly good "argument" back in the days when the Doomer Chorus could be relied on to chime in with more of the same, so you could feel safe and fuzzy.
But it seems times have changed. You may have to break down and explain some of those nuances visible only to your superior intelligence, that enabled you to predict 8-10 global catastrophe when reality requires poetic licence even to find an isolated y2k- induced hiccup. And to *stick* to your expectations in the face of a worldful of daily and obvious refutation.
I didn't attack you, I tried to raise a bit of introspection (which I need myself, I confess). I'm capable of seeing only the obvious -- that you are obviously WAY wrong, and obviously "supporting" your howling blunders solely by means of obvious personal attacks. Could you be so kind as to enlighten us? Otherwise, someone might be tempted to think I forged your posts to illustrate my points.
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2000.
"In all the world, there has been NOT ONE SINGLE significant proven y2k impact, of ANY KIND."
Flint, may I suggest you start to learn something about the world you live in?
BTW, that's "Y2K", not "y2k". Had hoped you'd be familiar enough with the topic to have learned that by now.
-- MinnesotaSmith (email@example.com), February 22, 2000.
Remember, we are all the character that we create on the BB. Now take Flint. He is basically Flint. But the Flint character has always been sprinkled with a little Elmer Gantry; a pinch of Dan Quayle and a lot of that scribe described by Herman Melville. Whatever, he is usually an interesting read.
-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), February 22, 2000.
Flint, may I suggest you start to learn something about the world you live in?
Nice try Flint. Now go back to Debunkers where you belong.
Ahhh, feels just like home, doesn't it?
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2000.
Very well, Minnie, I'll regard the list of proven impacts you just provided as definitive. Deal? Total of zero, as you provided.
Seriously, while there have been countless date bugs encountered since rollover, you've really got to stretch to find significance in any of them. There have been some 1900 dates on bills and paychecks, there have been some processing delays at schools and in government departments, things like that. None of which have been any real inconvenience even for those directly affected.
And of course (knowing TB2K) there's been a whole raft of rather desperate speculation here that some misfortune or another *might* have somehow involved a date bug somewhere, oh please, even though nobody on the ground has reported any such thing. As I wrote above, some of the loonies have been, as predicted, "seeing" y2k in everything and accusing TPTB of covering it all up. But there's no hope for those people, so why bother?
As for the lower case, that's deliberate. y2k has been lower case beyond the wildest expectations of even the likes of the most strident non-religious optimists. As spectacular a nonevent as you could dream of. Just didn't happen, sorry.
Rational people, I believe, should be asking themselves (as 'a' said when he left) just HOW they could have been so totally wrong. There is no question as to *whether* they were wrong. Minnie, you seem to be still trying to force reality to fit your preconceptions, despite a thumpingly unambiguous, global census of clear data to the contrary. And you want *me* to look at the world around me? Sorry, I'm already there. You can come out now, Minnie. It's all over. You're safe now. You can open your eyes, it won't hurt you.
-- Flint (email@example.com), February 22, 2000.
Well Flint, you must have kicked a few rocks to summon up the likes of the Big Dog and MinnesotaSmith. Im a little disappointed in BD as he always gave the impression of above average intelligence. He should be long gone from his pre-rollover shakes but looks like he cant let go. MinnesotaSmith is simply a fear for profit pimp that has no character or viable agenda.
-- Ra (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2000.
Order-Disorder Transitions in the Behavior of Ant societies
Department of Biology, Imperial College at Silwood Park, Ascot, Berks, SL5 7PY (UK).email@example.com
Systems of many interacting elements may exhibit both optimal information processing capabilities and optimal adaptive capacity when poised in a state at the boundary separating chaos from order. Ant societies, composed of interacting chaotic individuals, which can generate regular cycles in the activity of the colony, provide one of the very first examples of this phenomenon. They self-organize to attain nest densities at which the transfer of information, per capita activations and the information capacity of the colonies are maximal. At such densities, ant colonies are poised in the neighborhood of a chaos-order phase transition.
A variety of theoretical studies show that systems with many identical interacting elements exhibit complex dynamical behaviour when in the proximity of a chaos-order transition. Systems too chaotic (disordered) or too stable (ordered) may not sustain complex information processing capabilities or would be too inflexible to implement rapid adaptive changes. Instead, systems in which order and disorder coexist, display the most interesting and complex behaviours (1-10). A colony of social insects, as a collection of interacting individuals, provides the ideal platform to test this hypothesis. This is because the richness of social behaviour is fundamentally based on both the ability of the colony to exhibit complex communication mechanisms and to respond with rapid behavioural changes to the uncertainties of its environment (11-12).
A number of ant species of the genus Leptothorax have been found to exhibit short term periodic pulses of activity within their nests (13-16), a phenomenon that appears to be universal to the genus and possibly to other social genera as well. The periodic patterns in the activity, measured as bouts of movement followed by periods of quiescence, appear at the level of the whole colony since a few individuals may be inactive at the time the colony reaches its maximum peak of activity. Detailed studies of isolated L. allardycei (Mann) workers have shown that individuals activate spontaneously and their patterns of activation exhibit deterministic chaos (15). This unpredictabiliness in the behaviour of individuals fades out when the interactions are permitted. Groups of two, five and seven individuals do not show periodic behaviour while intact colonies do (whole colonies contain typically less than 100 individuals). This suggests the existence of a phase transition in which ant societies may go from a disordered chaotic state into an ordered periodic state simply as a function of the density of nestmates, hence the frequency of interactions.
It is possible to show the existence of such phase transitions by means of simple computer models that capture the essence of the biology and behaviour of Leptothorax colonies (17-20). In such models, ants are represented as mobile objects in two dimensional lattices where they interact with their immediate neighbours and modify their activity status as a result of these interactions. The activity level of each individual ant is considered to be a continuous variable in the interval [0,1] and its value is determined according to a discrete equation:
(1) [figure at site]
where Sit is the activity level of the ith-ant at time t, g is a positive constant referred as the gain and k is the number of ants in the nine-cells square centered at the ith-ant. Notice that minimum and maximum values for k are zero and eight. When k = 0 the ith-ant is regarded as locally isolated. The value of k for a given ant may change from one time step to other as the ants move away or come close to each other.
An ant is considered active and mobile as long as its activity level is greater than zero, otherwise it is considered motionless. An ant is inactive when Sit reaches a predefined threshold value, in this paper zero was regarded as equal to 10-16 as discussed in (17). Active ants move randomly to neighbouring empty cells. Ants become active in two ways: isolated ants activate spontaneously with a probability pa or can be activated when touched by an already active ant (induced activations). Following an activation, the ant's activity level is assigned with a positive value (labelled as sa , the spontaneous activity level). Depending on the value of the gain g, ants may stay active over a finite number of time steps or remain active permanently. All parameters in the model have a direct biological interpretation; g is the degree of excitability of each individual, pa is the spontaneous activation probability and sa is the level of activity reached after an activation.
Leptothoracine ants spend a considerable proportion of their time inside the nest, in a state of quiescence and this proportion may be up to 50% or as high as 75% of the total time budget (13, 21-22). Further, experimental evidence shows that colonies of Leptothorax ants can achieve the same average level of activity with different individual probabilities of activation and inactivation (23). Hence, pa was set to 0.01, which is in the range of reported values. Regarding the other parameters, sa was set to 10-6 and g was varied from 0.005 to 0.5. The combination of parameters used, was always consistent with the 50-75% inactivity time-budget.
For each value of g in the range mentioned, the average number of per-capita spontaneous activations (C) was calculated and so the average number of per-capita induced activations (A) and the average colony basic information capacity (H) given by the classical Shannon entropy:
(2) [figure at site]
where N is the total nest population and pi is the probability of finding a number i of active ants, in a given time.
The average number of per-capita spontaneous activations decays monotonically as the lattice density increases due to the rise in the number of interactions (figure 1a). The number of induced activations behaves in a different way: A does not increase monotonically but instead it shows a peak at a given density (figure 1b). The entropy H shows a maximum peak, at exactly the same density as A, indicating that the system is on the chaos-order phase transition (figure 1c).
An interpretation of this phenomenon can be formulated in the following terms. When an ant nest is below that special density dc , the number of ants is not sufficiently large to generate long-range correlated behaviour through interactions. The colony is too dilute and every ant behaves (on average) as if isolated. As the number of ants increases, the increases in A and H are linear due to the lack of correlated behaviour between individual ants (social behaviour, as such, is absent). However, when the nest reaches the density dc , correlated behaviour percolates through the colony and at this point the number of activations due to interactions is maximal (from here on, the colony is truly a society composed of socially interacting nestmates and not merely a collection of isolated individuals). The maximum in the entropy corresponds to the density at which the nest reaches its highest diversity of activity states and it pinpoints the frontier separating order from chaos. As the nest density is further increased, the number of ants becomes sufficiently large to facilitate and support the existence of long-range correlated behaviour that manifests itself as coherent collective oscillations in the number of active ants. Under such circumstances the colony dynamics moves into the region of spatiotemporal order. The addition of more ants beyond dc causes A and H to decrease. The entropy decreases in a non-linear way because the diversity of activity states decreases as the result of correlations induced by the coherent coupling of the ants, i.e. the probability of finding all ants active or all ants inactive becomes higher (the behaviour of the colony becomes more predictable). The decrease in the number of induced activations suggests that the existence of a maximum peak, at such a density dc, is a signal of an optimal state.
The maximum peaks of both A and H do not match at the same density dc for all values of the parameter g (figure 2). Since g represents the excitability of the ants, it determines the length of the time interval during which they are active. For small values of g ( 0.02 or less), the modelled ants tend to flip-flop their activity status so quickly that the system never shows collective oscillations, that is, never goes into an ordered phase (17), instead it shows spiky dynamics. As g increases to approximately 0.035, the periodic oscillations appear at a density dc of about 0.32 , and the maximum peaks of A and H start to coincide. When g is increased further than 0.3, the period of time during which the ants are active is so large that interactions cause them to stay active all the time and again there are no collective oscillations. The value of dc that correspond to such value of g is approximately 0.12. This gives the range of densities dc (0.12, 0.32) centered at around dc = 0.2 at which Leptothorax colonies may be expected to lie.
Franks and colleagues (24) have presented experimental evidence showing that L. (Myrafant) tubero-interruptus (F.) ants self-organize to build nests of sizes determined only by the colony's own requirements and that the size can be tuned accordingly. Workers allocate themselves a nearly constant area so that the nest size is proportional to the population size. A very simple analyses of their published data shows that those ants build nest cavities with an area, such that the nest density is kept almost constant with an average value of 0.180.04 and an approximate range of 0.11 to 0.27. These results are in excellent agreement with the values predicted by the model.
Further evidence of self-organization towards the transition zone separating disorder from order can be given by means of the spectral analysis of real and modelled Leptothorax colonies. Power spectra where frequencies (f ) scale as power laws provide the fingerprints to very interesting dynamical behaviours. In particular, when such scaling relationship is given by P(f) f a , where a = -1, it is said that the system shows 1/f dynamics. Such systems have, at least, one of the following features (25-29): i) individual elements switch between two, or more, states with a characteristic relaxation time t; the case of the so-called random activated processes. ii) Dynamical evolution towards a critical states is possible where this state may be at a phase transition, characterized by spatiotemporal fluctuations that are self-similar or scale-invariant (fractal structures). Some of these features can be observed in Leptothorax colonies. As mentioned above, individual ants tend to switch between activity states and remain for a certain period of time in each, resembling a random activated process. On the other hand, The colony can self-organise towards an attractor, represented by a constant nest density where this attractor is in the region of the transition from chaos into order.
The spectral analyses of real and modelled population of active ants yielded well defined power laws with the exponent a very near to a 1/f frequency distribution. The analysis of a Leptothorax acervorum colony in which no periodic activity was detected (suggesting that this colony was into its disordered phase) gave a power spectrum with an exponent of -1.02 (Fig 3a). The frequency distribution of a modelled colony with a density 20% less than that required for the system to be in the region of periodic pulses had an exponent equal to -1.07 (Fig 3b). Further simulations with a variety of parameter values gave similar well defined power laws in those regions where a phase transition was expected.
The foregoing results provide strong evidence for self-organization towards the frontier separating chaos from order in natural systems. Further, these results are consistent with the argument put forward (1-10) that systems exhibiting such phenomena may be capable of very complex collective behaviour, developed and operating near optimal states. The highly ordered and structured organization of insect societies exists to a great extent because of their ability to communicate and store information regarding the state of the colony and the environment (the availability, quantity and quality of food sources, the presence of intruders and predators and many other factors that require coherent collective decision-making and action). Self-organization towards an optimal density might improve the efficiency of information transmission and the speed and plasticity at which the colony, as a whole, responds and adapts to the challenges of a fluctuating environment.
The picture that emerges from the above line of thought is highly dynamical. The existence of an optimal density in the nests of ants does not mean that this is a rigid and inflexible system, quite the opposite. In fact, the number of ants within a nest is highly variable: workers leave the nest to forage, to perform nest-maintenance, to patrol, etc. This means that the density fluctuates over time and that the proximity to an order-disorder phase transition also varies. The dynamics of an ant society undergo chaos-biassed periods when the density of workers inside the nest is low and more ordered periods when the density is beyond that value. This may help to explain, with the aid of more elaborate experimental studies, how the richness, complexity and diversity of social behaviour may flourish when societies are at, or near to, optimal dynamical states.
-- (Just@Charley's.Ant), February 22, 2000.
Neat stuff, thanks. Can you include the referenced figures too?
Now that his market has evaporated, why do you suppose Minnie does not change his tune? Do you suppose it's just reflex by now? I wonder what he actually *thinks* about y2k now? For that matter, I wonder what BD thinks as well. As you point out, he's indicated some capability in the past to reflect rather than just attack. A shame if that ability's been lost.
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 22, 2000.
From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California
Flint said: TB2K was claiming fire was unavoidable and hundreds of fire extinguishers were a minimum. After the fact, people like you are saying, well, a fire is always possible and a fire extinguisher is a good idea. Big difference. The claim now being made that these two positions are the same is self serving. It's false.
There may have been a few people who claimed that serious disruptions were a certainty, but they certainly were not "the voice of TB2K" nor even a majority. Occasional surveys throughout the past two and a half years consistently portrayed a group with a wide variety of expectations about the future, and if we had any mantra it was "Nobody knows!"
-- Dancr (email@example.com), February 23, 2000.
Ants date back 92-Million-Years
A team of researchers from the American Museum of Natural History announced recently the discovery of the oldest fossil ants ever found. The extremely rare 92-million-year-old ants are preserved in amber from a location in New Jersey that has produced some of the world's most important amber-encased fossils. The new specimens are 50 million years older than the most ancient fossils that were previously clearly recognized as ants; the find thus proves unequivocally the existence of ants back into the Age of the Dinosaurs. The new specimens have important implications for understanding both the origin of ants and their rise to a position of ecological dominance in the world today.
The new ant specimens are of particular consequence because they show the presence of a "metapleural gland," which is the distinguishing anatomical feature of ants and is a key to their ability to live in colonies underground or in rotting trees. This gland, found above the hind legs, secretes a substance that functions as an antibiotic and prevents bacteria and fungi from invading the ants' nests and infecting the members of the colony. The development of this gland is believed to be associated with the evolution of the ants' social system, which has been a key factor in their tremendous ecological dominance. Ants are so successful that they represent up to 25% of the total animal biomass in Amazonia; even in New York City's Central Park they are, by weight, the most common creature.
The new specimens comprise three worker and four male ants. One of the workers is a complete, well-preserved specimen from the group known as Sphecomyrma freyi, a primitive kind of ant. This insect was first described in 1967 by renowned entomologist E.O. Wilson and his colleagues, but because no metapleural gland was clearly visible, it was uncertain at that time whether it was truly an ant. The new fossil ant in amber resolves the debate over the identity of this ancient insect. Of the remaining fossil ants, two of the males are a new species of Baikuris (which previously had only been found in Siberian amber), a third male is from an undetermined genus, and the fourth male may be a Sphecomyrma freyi and would therefore be the first known male of this group. The two other workers represent a new genus that is much more advanced than Sphecomyrma, and is related to a group of ants, the subfamily Ponerinae, that are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical areas today. (Most of these ants today are known for their powerful stings.)
The discovery of both primitive and more advanced fossil ants in 92-million-year-old amber shows that the major lineages of ants arose before the great extinction at the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years ago. A reasonable estimate would place the origin of ants in the Lower Cretaceous at about 130 million years ago.
Ant fossils from the Cretaceous Period are extremely rare, but those from the subsequent Tertiary are quite abundant, indicating that the great radiation of ants did not begin until the close of the Cretaceous -- a time that also marked the end of the Age of the Dinosaurs. The tantalizing question of what, in addition to their sociality, led to the unparalleled success of ants after this Period is still open.
-- (Auntie@molo.gist), February 23, 2000.