I May Regret This But...

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Truly, I felt badly about the "angst" created by my last post, either among the people who read it, or the forum administrators who had to deal with the fallout. I know it wasn't pretty.

Said post was:


Accordingly, while I will remain most careful from now on, with regard to alluding on this forum to news items which--in my estimation--have not yet escaped into the "public domain"--whatever that is eventually determined to be, according to WWW standards--I am now offering you on this "open" forum a bit of my own writing: i.e., a preview of Chapter Four.

Considering the fact that I kill flies only when absolutely necessary, one might rightfully consider this to be a "hair shirt," or some other penance for having offended anyone to the point of eliciting the type of responses that appeared on the aforementioned thread.

As you know, many people have signed up for "alerts" to the next chapter posting of the "TP Chronicles." Here, you will see a portion of said chapter first.

It's raw, to be certain, but every word is also copyright protected, so make no mistake about that [grin]. That does not diminish the possibility, however, that while some of you may be tempted to come after me with a virtual flyswatter I may have a bigger one in my closet. [grin].

Blessings to all of you, as usual.

:) ___

Here we go. I will try my best to format this in a way that is easily read. I may fail, if for no other reason that this text may be too long for one continuous post. Regardless:

________ Chapter Four:

Squirrels as Terrorists and other Convoluted Conspiracies.... ________

"A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on."

William S. Burroughs American Beat Generation Writer (1914-1997) ____

"What's the difference between a terrorist and a Year 2000 program officer? You can negotiate with a terrorist."

Ina Kamenz - Vice President of Marriott International ___

"We're 99% done. So? If your heart stops for 15 minutes, 1% of the day, you're still dead. "

Cory Hamasaki Software Engineering, Enterprise Systems Consultant November 11, 1999 ______ Chapter Four:

Squirrels as Terrorists and other Convoluted Conspiracies....

On the eve of the year 3000, journalists and historians may look back in wonder at the antics of those of us who were not only alive in 1999, but lived a large part of that year at our keyboards. Why? One astonishing statistic tells the story: during the seven years preceding the arrival of the year 2000, the number of sites on the Worldwide Web increased from just 50 sites to 50 million sites. Considering the very large number of those sites dedicated to dispensing information about Y2k, it should come as no surprise if the Y2k story is one day remembered as the first big Cyber Event in human history. This was a story about computers, that unfolded by way of computers. Humans might have almost been considered minor players in the plot line, had we not had the most to lose. As 1999 progressed, our millennial fears were fed by the exponential growth of apparently credible online sources warning us there might be bona fide reasons to fear not only the fallout of Y2k--including accidental nuclear missile launches, water system failures, nuclear plant meltdowns, fatal chemical plant explosions, oil refinery shutdowns, pipeline failures, bank runs, stock market crashes, etc., -- but also the impact of solar flares and potential attacks by conventional and cyber terrorists. Is it any wonder that most of us stayed home on New Years Eve, 1999? Consider this news blast from the past:

U.S. Girds for Feared Y2K Violence


WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - U.S. officials are preparing for the possibility that the much-heralded Year 2000 computer bogy may turn out to be the least of their problems on New Year's weekend overshadowed by political, cult or racial violence. As officials grow more confident that U.S. infrastructure will emerge relatively glitch-free, they appear increasingly concerned about those who might try to wind up the century with a kind of bloody exclamation point. The chairman of a Senate panel that studied the Year 2000 technology challenge, Robert Bennett, said the United States and its allies should be on guard for both physical and computer-generated attacks timed to coincide with the new year. We think there may be terrorist groups planning to ride in on the Y2K wave,'' the Utah Republican, who receives intelligence briefings, told Reuters. There is the potential for these groups to commit acts that may be mistakenly attributed to Y2K.

Looming large in the collective doomer subconscious was the worst potential target imaginable in the Y2k Terrorist Hit Parade: A collection of electricity generating plants, transmission lines and transformers loosely nick-named the grid. The notion that an entire nation could be blacked out as a result of Y2k, terrorism or anything else short of global thermonuclear warfare was initially, for many people, an idea beyond comprehension. Much of humanity have never even heard of such a thing called a power grid, let alone the fact that those who generated the electricity transmitted within it were interdependent, routinely buying and selling power like shoppers at a high voltage swap meet. What wasnt hard to understand however, was what might happen to our lives during a widespread or lengthy power outage in the middle of winter. For people dependent on electricity to power life-sustaining medical devices, the potential impact of a Y2k lights out scenario was particularly dreadful. It gave the rest of us the willies as well. Ill never forget a discussion I had with a friend on this subject in early 1999. I dont know why, she said, but the idea of losing electricity bothers me more than anything else. I told her that many people felt the same way, and in my own opinion, it had something to do with wolves or other predators. You mean Bill Gates? she questioned with a crooked smile. No, I replied with a laugh. What I mean is that when man first harnessed the power of fire, it meant light and heat. The light kept the fanged carnivores away, and the heat allowed families to move north to hunt big hairy mammals, or whatever passed for dinner in those days. It seems natural wed have an instinctive fear of the dark. Of course the ongoing question in 1999 centered on whether we had reason to fear the worst. Would our homes really be transformed en masse into large, unheated tents? And if they were, how long might we expect to endure dark, cold, winter nights--silent with the potential exception of breaking glass from much-feared looters? Despite the Pollytheistic argument that Y2k was over in 1998, the first month of the last year of the century treated us to one of the most significant mainstream media articles in the history of Y2k Doomerism. Anyone fervently searching for reasons to dismiss the potential for infrastructure failures as hype would not have found it reassuring.

The Y2K Nightmare By Robert Sam Anson Vanity Fair, January 1999

The nightmare scenario goes like this:

It is an instant past midnight, January 1, 2000, and suddenly nothing works. Not ATM.'s, which have stopped dispensing cash; not credit cards, which are being rejected; not VCRS, which now really are impossible to program. The power in some cities isn't working, either; and that means no heat, lights, or coffee in the morning, not to mention no televisions, stereos, or phones, which even in places with power-aren't working, either.

The article continued, No one will know the extent of its (Y2ks) consequences until after they occur. The one sure thing is that the wondrous machines that govern and ease our lives won't know what to do. Anson wrote that to avoid potential global catastrophe, every line and chip must be checked--a task variously likened to building the pyramids, changing all the light bulbs in Las Vegas in an afternoon, or individually polishing enough marbles to fill the Grand Canyon. Specific to electricity, Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd was quoted as stating, We're no longer at the point of asking whether or not there will be any power disruptions but now we are forced to ask how severe the disruptions are going to be. And Utah Senator Robert Bennett, while remarking he wasnt yet ready to dig a shelter in the backyard, was portrayed as frustrated by the results of his committees efforts to dig out the truth and convince people to polish those marbles until they shined like a Detroit concept car. People lie to us or they refuse to talk to us," he said. Referring to his attempts to raise awareness abroad, he was also quoted as having stated, I've met with C.E.O.'s of major foreign corporations, pleading with them to get involved with this. And I meet with blank stares.... Nobody cares. Without referring to the so-called iron triangle, a time-worn phrase used to describe the interdependent nature of electricity, telecommunications and banking--or, some would argue--our water systems, Bennett had this to say about whether wed still be able to switch on our lights. Of course the power grid is going to work, he said, during a Y2K Risk Assessment Task Force public forum. That's based on the assumption that the telephones will work, and that's based on the assumption that the power grid is up. The banking systems are going to work just fine, so long as all the telephones work and as long as there's no brown-out problem on the power side. And the health-care system is going to work just fine as long as the financial system works. It's all so interconnected, we're not going to know until we go through it whether it will really work or not. The Bennett familys Mormon background notwithstanding, perhaps it should have come as no surprise that Bennetts daughter was reported to have had a food storage area in her home, and Bennett himself admitted to having 50 gallons of water stored--just in case. From January 1999 forward, the Y2k Every-Man Pundit Brigade focused part of its efforts on gathering enough information to make an illuminated decision regarding whether or not electricity officials were fibbing about their Y2k status. In a perfect world, all power company press releases would have been perceived as true, but because many of the utilities were publicly traded, it was not illogical to assume they might be reluctant to disclose potential problems to the public at large. Mindless of any potential hidden agenda, what the media--and the general public on the Internet--received, were enthusiastically positive press releases, at least from companies who bothered to issue press releases at all. There was--of course--the occasional cloud on the broad public horizon. According to published reports from legislative proceedings in one midwest state, customers of a utility located there were encouraged to purchase generators. But the real doomer views emerged in the SEC quarterly filings by publicly traded utilities, which contained passages like this:


Based upon information to date, (utility name deleted) anticipates that abnormal operating conditions may be experienced within production, transmission, and distribution systems as a result of Year 2000 conditions. These conditions could result in temporary interruption of service to customers. Abnormal operating conditions may also be experienced in other affiliates of the Company of a magnitude not determined at this time.

Since the above company had been working on Y2k issues since 1997, this kind of prediction--with just over a year to go--was a bit troublesome. TEOTWAWKI? Well, maybe not, but the end of the world as we knew it might depend upon which part of that world was negatively changed as a result of Y2k. Certainly--for people like elderly ladies who tried to have woodburning stoves installed in their highrise condos--the end of their world via freezing to death wasnt something they were willing to risk because of some stupid computer problem. No doubt--had anyone shown them the Vanity Fair article--they were probably savvy enough to assume that anyone who thought they could polish that many marbles, had already lost theirs. Accordingly, when the Y2k Pundit Brigade first learned that utilities in North America planned to conduct two Y2k tests during 1999, the message was received as good news. Some envisioned end-to-end grid testing, spurred on by veteran computer programmer assertions that if it hasnt been tested, you have to assume it wont work. By this point, anyone who had been seriously following the Y2k story knew about the five steps toward remediation. Testing was the last step, and many, many companies claimed--in their early press releases-that they planned to complete the Y2k job in enough time to allow a full year of testing. Rightly or wrongly, Yeah, but did they test it? became the mantra of the pundit brigade. Then, reality. The Y2k observers learned that the tests were to be--more than anything else--personnel drills. Maybe not quite like Mrs. Smiths class assembling in the hallway and calmly descending the steps to the entry door of Lincoln Elementary, (then running like blazes in celebration of 10 minutes of freedom from Social Studies) but...

(To Be Continued)


-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), February 22, 2000


Ah, well.

For reasons unknown to me (quite possibly having to to with the technical vagaries of posting to this forum or the technical vagaries associated with said forum poster) the above formatting did not turn out quite as expected. (Paragraphs? Can you say paragraphs?)

Perhaps you got the drift anyway.


-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), February 22, 2000.

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