Long essay -- The Marching Morons revisited

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Apologies to Cyril Kornbluth, but he's dead so hopefully he won't mind my borrowing his title.

After some thought (wait for laughter to die down), it seems to me that one of the fundamental concerns that underlay the fears many had of grave y2k impacts was a sense that we are losing proximate control over our lives. Economists can talk about "division of labor" and we can nod hazily, but what does this really mean to us?

We know how to turn on our TV sets and change channels, but few of us understand exactly how all the electronics work, and few understand the nature and limits of the electromagnetic spectrum, and these might not be the same people. What does your remote control actually DO when you press the buttons, and how?

Not long ago, nearly any literate person could beceome a shadetree mechanic if their car broke down. Get the shop manual, crawl into the engine bay to stand next to the engine, and start wrenching. Today, even the professional mechanics are recipe-followers rather than chefs. Plug something you don't understand into a diagnostic system you don't understand, and *trust* what it tells you. There's no longer any room in the engine bay, it's cram-packed full of *something* everywhere, mysterious and inaccessible to all but a few.

We know computerization is endemic. We can now buy microwave ovens that connect themselves to the internet or somewhere and "learn" the settings for what we're heating. We have some gasoline pumps that "know" who you are and somehow bill you automatically. More and more of us never even see a paycheck or pay standard bills. Computers do all this for us. Sure it's convenient, but it means some nameless people somewhere have pretty direct control over some pretty important aspects of our lives, and we don't. And not one of *them* knows every detail of the system.

The evolution of our physical and administrative structures has been evolving at a frenetic rate. The good news has been an explosion of what we call "productivity". In practice, this means we have both many more and much better options for just about everything, within a price range affordable to most of us. Often these advances seem transparent, since we learn fast. Today we see something new and think Hey, that's neat. Tomorrow we take it for granted. We don't really *expect* the President to do his own grocery shopping, yet we laugh at him when he's impressed by checkout systems that know the current minute-by-minute price of everything, validate your credit card in seconds, and you're on your way. Hey, we got used to this system yesterday, so today it's old hat. He's "out of touch" with the common man!

The bad news is, we are utterly helpless when "the computer is down" or something breaks. Our automated systems do not augment prior systems, they *replace* them. It's a ratchet effect, and there is no going backwards. It may or may not be true that small glitches can ripple through our systems causing global systemic problems, but how can we KNOW this? And if it IS true, we are painfully aware how helpless we become. It's like we are climbing a ladder where with each rung we reach, the lower rung is removed, recreated into the latest and greatest "feature" of our Brave New World, and replaced as the next step up. As a result, the only way down is a long fall all the way to the ground. And that ground is getting disturbingly further and further below us.

And since we don't understand HOW our current rung works, we must instead *trust* it with blind faith. When one "expert" tells us y2k (or the current market, or whatever) is No Big Deal, and another claims it IS, we have no useful basis for picking one over the other. We can examine credentials, but we lack the knowledge necessary to judge those credentials. If we're determined enough, we can try to learn the details of the underlying processes, but doing so adequately requires months or years of training and education -- for EACH phenomenon we wish to understand. The generalist is dead, because life is too short for this.

As Kornbluth's story made chillingly clear, this situation is ripe for the con artist. The con artist may or may not know that he's promoting a falsehood, but that is not relevant. Instead, he knows that YOU don't know, and that you're insecure about it, and that you want something solid to believe in. If the con artist seems to have credentials, and is clever enough to pick a subject about which there is sufficient confusion and insecurity, and can build what appears to be a convincing case, YOU can't know his motivations. You can choose to trust him or not, but for the vast majority of us this choice is uninformed and arbitrary. A potentially life-or-death crapshoot. Scary.

As James Burke concluded in his "Connections" series, the rate of changes has come to exceed the normal human capacity to cope. We have come to live in a world of magic, under the profound influences of spells we cannot understand, cast by people we'll never know, for reasons too diffuse and multifarious to come to grips with.

For some of us, the best way to deal with this is to simplify our world beyond all recognition, into imaginary visions of Good and Evil, and substitute easy slogans and reflexive attacks for increasingly unreachable comprehension of the impenetrable complexities. For some, life is an exhausting battle against endless confusion, fighting hopelessly against the tide of these complexities. And I think that for the majority, it's just daily acceptance of how things work, learning each change as necessary and trying to reach goals before they become obsolete. The *simplest* way to deal with ignornace is to pretend you don't have it, because you do not know what you do not know.

Welcome to the 21st century.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 06, 2000


Either that wasn't as long as you thought, or it was so well done that *I* was sorry when it ended.

Thanks, Flint.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 06, 2000.

Flint, this is so true. You have explained in a nutshell why I, a normally fearless person, bought into all this Y2K crap. I never was a died in the wool doomer, but I was insecure enough to want to not be caught without adequate preparations until those faceless, IT people could get us up and running again.

I bought Yourdon's book because he did not seem to have an ax to grind. He didn't have a religious agenda, or political agenda, nor was he selling dehydrated food, camo, or water. I never considered the profit motive. True he may not have known he was promoting a falsehood, but that is *irrelevant*. He did know that most of us didn't know squat about computers (even though I worked on some of the first that came out), and he knew that we were insecure and needed something to believe in. It never occurred to me that he was wrong, despite you and others doing naysaying. Fear can hear!!

OK I bought into the hysteria, and the old forum certainly was full enough of doomers to make you worry. The people who pooh poohed me were less informed about the problem than I was, so I certainly didn't believe them. What did they know??

Here's just one little example of what you were talking about that has nothing to do with Y2K. I turned on my oven one day, when my husband was out of town, and it wouldn't work. He wasn't there to fix it, so I called a repairman. The man came out, plugged in my stove light which was unplugged and charge me $25.00. The stove worked fine. I had unplugged the thing to use an extra appliance and it never occurred to me that it was all connected to a computer and unplugging the light affected the oven. Expensive lesson. My new stove isn't like that. Live and learn.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), March 06, 2000.

That was profound, Flint.

-- Miss (missidentified@hotmail.com), March 06, 2000.

Very impressive essay.

My own strategy for coping with these hectic changes has been two-pronged. I try as best I can to simplify my life and possessions down to where I have a fighting chance to understand my daily surroundings, and I try to learn as much as I can about how the world works.

I see magical thinking on the rise all around me and a faith in experts, unsupported by knowledge. I refuse to go that route. Perhaps that is why I became a technical writer. My job is to clarify what is complex.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), March 06, 2000.

Rather than start a new thread, I will repost this from one who has more literary style than I. He expresses my views. I would be interested in your comments, as the old forum scarcely noticed his post.

by Dave Walton

There is an incident that is reputed to have occurred at the close of WWII that is attributable to Winston Churchill. It seems he was attending a social gathering of the "upper crust" near London in celebration of the conclusion of the war. Known for his fondness of good spirits, he was apparently pretty well in touch with that reality to which many of us occasionally pay homage, when an older and rather "stuffy" dowager approached him. Upon getting close enough to notice such things, she disapprovingly remarked, "My dear Mr. Churchill, you are disgustingly drunk!" Gazing at her through only dimly lit eyes he promptly replied, "And you madam are alarmingly ugly! The important difference is that in the morning I shall be sober!"

An important difference indeed. A difference that metaphorically at least, I will attempt to demonstrate is entirely relevant to the outcome of Y2K - relevant to many of the Pollies and Doomers, that in the past, as well as in the present, participate in this forum. It is, after all, the "morning after" the Y2K rollover, and sufficient time has now elapsed to "sleep off" the effects of the prior evenings "binge." We must now face the reality from which we became distracted, and with which we will once again have to deal - however severe our Y2K "hangover."

Speaking as someone who believed that Y2K offered the potential for significant problems - to be made potentially grave by what I expected to be the political response to them, I posted my first article in April of 1999 in which I had offered my forecast for "The Coming 8 Months." Many of the expectations I articulated in that article turned out to be remarkably wrong.

As the remainder of 1999 unfolded, I continued to believe that there would be possible significant disruptions - although late in the year I began to have doubts. Nonetheless, my family and I followed our plan and awaited the rollover at our rural acreage in Northern Georgia with several like-minded friends. It is safe to say we were drunk with anticipation. When not only nothing happened, but virtually all of my expectations having to do with the stock market, commodity prices, availability of goods/services, etc., remained reasonably normal as well, I was forced to conclude that I had totally mis-judged the issue. I also had to conclude that I wrongly accepted its alleged intractability. Finally, because of these first two errors, I incorrectly forecast its potential disruptive societal consequences.

Pass me a generous helping of crow. I earned it. Though it is not a food that I would eagerly choose to eat, it is, nonetheless, one that upon determining I must eat it, I will do so with the purpose of providing my mind with obviously needed nourishment. For in this context, "eating crow" can be one of the most healthful foods one can digest.

Yes ultimately, who was right and who was wrong is indeed important. For in matters of immediate life and death, there can be no disagreement with those that demonstrate they foresee reality with the greater of clarity. CPR, Y2K Pro, Hoff, Flint, Mr. Decker, together with a number of others that have been labeled as "Pollies" were indeed "right." North, Milne, A, myself, BigDog, and an even greater number of "Doomers" were thankfully wrong. But when you go down the list of those proved right or wrong, in my mind there exists issues of far greater significance than simply who was right and who was wrong. There are spiritual brethren on both sides of the Y2K issue. Just as there were those in agreement on the outcome of Y2K, that are as alien to each other as one might imagine.

In the 20th and 21st centuries in America, matters of immediate life and death, whether caused by the simple frailties of life itself, or the malevolent machinations of politics, is now the exception not the rule. Because of this the "end" judgment of who was right and who was wrong, is most often less important than the method used to arrive at that determination. As a practical matter, the means justifies the ends, with far greater security of benefit than the reverse. For in the means is the method. In the method is the efficacy. For how one arrives at ones conclusions not only serves as the means to discover what is "right," but it also becomes the process for the correction of error. The reverse, the notion that the end justifies the means, is only in rare instances of value. For embodied in it is the justification for literally anything.

Speaking for myself, in spite of the economic glory in which we currently find ourselves, I believe that our nation - the nation that is the spiritual and actual manifestation of Aristotle, Jefferson, and Rand, is in serious trouble. In my judgment we are but one economic crisis away from political - if not actual Armageddon. With respect to Y2K, it was therefore easy for me to conclude that Y2K was very possibly the technical/economic problem that it was claimed to be, and that it would result in the political disaster consistent with my expectations. Where my thinking was in error was in my lack of appreciation for the commitment and ability of free people with a wealth of resources at their disposal to correct known problem(s) of a technical nature. I have little doubt that as I write this essay there are Y2K induced problems occurring much in the manner predicted. However, I have come to realize that they are being dealt with by those that simply take them in stride and either correct them or find a creative "work around," while they assure our productive capacities remain intact. Capitalism (read freedom) truly brings out our best in this regard.

This brings me back to my meal. The question I leave for those of us that have earned our share of the feast is this: When we look down the list of those that would be called "Doomers" - those that have been proven unalterably wrong, with whom would you be pleased to be sharing this meal? Conversely, who would you not wish to be at your table, because you know that in spite of their grudging acceptance of the menu, they would realize little if any mental nourishment from the experience.

Perhaps more importantly, who of those that were labeled as "Pollies" would you be proud to offer a well-deserved gourmet meal - one not of crow but of the finest of delicacies? Conversely, who of those Pollies, even though they were "right" would you be equally reluctant to invite to sit at your table? For when you answer the question, you will be doing so with the knowledge that in the morning, there will be a list of both Pollies and Doomers, in spite of their apparent insight or error, that will once again be sober. With equal certainty there will also be a list that will remain endlessly ugly.

One can eat crow and become better for having done so. One can also chew and swallow it while they cast a hateful and envious glance at those, who having been proven right, do not have to partake. The same can be said for the opposite camp where crow is not on the menu - where the nourishment comes from the reaffirming bounty of having been right. In this camp one may also devour the fruits of their justified bounty, but remain just as mal-nourished as they always were..

With respect,

-- Dave Walden (wprop@concentric.net ), February 11, 2000

-- Tommy Rogers (Been there@Just a Thought.com), March 06, 2000.

Good one, Flint.

You're even better when you're not writing in response to someone's prodding. Never apologise for the length of a cogent article. I agree with something you (?) said on another thread on another forum, far far away: Writing too tersely can encourage misunderstanding. (I learned that first hand---many times.) Each reader brings his own interpretation of reality to the discussion. The writer is responsible for getting everyone on the same page. If that takes explanitory rhetoric, well.... That was still fewer than 1000 words.

I clip and send few original essays from this board. That is one.


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." --- Arthur C. Clarke

-- (Hallyx@aol.com), March 06, 2000.

Profound? Impressive? I guess if you never graduated from high school you might think so!

The real "marching moron" on this thread is Flint, trying to feed his ego again with this pretentious and presumptuos essay of mediocre concepts.

-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), March 06, 2000.

I miss Dave Walden, Tommy. Have you seen him ANYWHERE?

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 06, 2000.

Flint, one of the reasons we trust the new processes is the fact they are introduced incrementally. New processes tend to be layered on the old, with the incremental change being small.

This usual mode is why my current occupation is so, umm, challenging. Implementing SAP is not an incremental change, and can affect virtually every process within a business. We attempt to make this incremental by implementing module by module, but that severely limits the potential of the product.

These incremental changes can make the original function almost indecipherable. I can't count the number of times that I've written a fairly straightforward, well-defined program, that over time, through layered modifications and enhancements, becomes indecipherable as a whole.

We trust it, because it continues to perform its function. Each subsequent modification is made for a particular, finite purpose, and can be tested. The whole can be regression tested, to ensure it is still giving the desired results. But to attempt to describe and decipher the functioning as a whole is nearly impossible.

It is for this reason that I made such a point of Yourdon and other's use of Development Metrics, and why I feel that was the basis of the hype and exaggeration. To take these layered systems, and attempt to describe and understand fully the interconnections and processes, would indeed have been an almost impossible task.

But that wasn't Y2k remediation. The processes fit and worked together already; the individual pieces had to be modified, but they could for the most part be merely regression tested, to ensure they still worked together. This process is entirely different than new development, where every piece is new, and every piece can potentially fail.

So I guess I disagree with your ladder analogy somewhat. But certainly, the ability to "trust" things outside your immediate scope of control was probably an almost defining difference between "pollies" and "doomers".

-- Hoff (hoff_meister@my-deja.com), March 06, 2000.


Far I as can discern, this was Dave's last post before abandoning the Titanic!


-- Tommy Rogers (Been there@Just a Thought.com), March 06, 2000.

Some years ago, I restored a 1952 Chevy pickup. As Flint aptly notes, it was possible for a shade tree mechanic to muddle through most repairs with a shop manual and some degree of patience. I finished the project with some sense of accomplishment and perhaps a bit of mastery. There is some comfort of knowing the merits of the 235 "straight six" engine versus the older 216 with "dippers."

Last year on Time Bomb 2000, I heard a constant longing for greater simplicity. Witness the response to Bonnie Camp's writings.

On reflection, I think we romanticize simpler times. Growing up in rural Montana was mostly hard work. I have dug fence holes by hand. Personally, a good tractor with an auger is much easier, and the fence looks exactly the same. There are countless other examples of how we have created complex tools to make our easier and more enjoyable. Our complex tools generate many benefits... but we do lose a sense of mastery over our environment.

On the positive side, we have learned to trust others to provide our goods and services. I cannot overstate how the efficiencies of division of labor have enhanced our lives. At the very least, it saves me having to perform my own emergency appendectomy. (chuckle)

There are times when this trust will be misused. Con men and hucksters and even automobile mechanics will use our ignorance to exploit us. This is the price of a free market economy... but there are checks and balances.

Gary North may profit from doom, but the free flow of information limits his ability to exploit the wary. After 20 years of bad predictions, at least some individuals will have learned not to subscribe to Remnant Review. The rest have gathered on Ed Yourdon's "password-protected" forum.

The genie is out of the bottle. Our lives are hectic, complex and often confused. And I imagine most generations during the past few centuries have felt much the same. Now, I must go and enjoy the fruits of our complex universe... a cup of fresh coffee, imported from some distant land.

-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), March 06, 2000.


My attention span grows weak. Thanks for a post under 10,000 words.

I am trying to remember when I first became seriously aware of y2k. I think it was in Dec 1998. Some guy on TV was schlepping a book. Gradually I stumbled on different y2k Internet sites including Gary and some of the communitarians like Cassandra. I didn't find TB2000 until June 1999.

By that time I was pretty FUDded and was very glad to find real human beings that were also concerned. No one I knew in person was doing a thing, or at least they didn't say so. Confounding my particular situation is that I live alone in a wheelchair. Suddenly it was so obvious how vulnerable I was, how vulnerable we all are, how plugged in to services, utilities, convenient retail sources. Confounding further was the deadline deal. I didn't feel I had the time, much less the expertise to research the y2k issue technically. There seemed to be plenty of alarmists with better technical backgrounds than myself. So I tended to be alarmed when Cory was alarmed.

At the same time I never bought totally in. Gary North was obviously a crank. Hyatt was a smarmy huckster. But TB2000 had many compelling posts and it also came to serve as a virtual community. But I kept looking for good news--I would scan Debunkers looking for something to cheer me up. Too often, when I looked, I would see mostly rude, insulting elitist posts by cpr, condescending smirky crap from Andy Ray and toilet talk from Mr Polly.

Stephen Poole was encouraging but the inexorable date grew ever close and there was the continual drumbeat of negative scenarios. So what else to do but SOMETHING? I didn't panic and run to a bunker, but I did buy soime canned heat (I live in the Midwest), 100 gallons of bottled water, canned food and other miscellany. I did all this by October. About then it seemed more and more like nothing much would happen. There was no general mobilization and I'm sure there would have been if the elites had been sufficiently alarmed.

So here we are. It is past, thank God. I still have no strong feeling as to whether we were truly at risk. Was the remediation necessary? It does seem that the embedded chip thing was never a real threat. But who knew

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), March 06, 2000.

Boy, all the pompous asses are out today... Flint, Hoff, Decker.. I feel so honored to be in your prescence! Shall I get down on thy knees my highnesses? :-)

-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), March 06, 2000.


Do you still contend that the MD80 crash off California was 90% likely do to a y2k problem?

-- (nemesis@awol.com), March 06, 2000.


Well, uh, no. You make a good point, but miss mine.

Your profession, the sum total of many years of experience, places you at the heart of knowledge of y2k as a *technical* issue. You knew firsthand exactly what it was and what it was not, and why. And obviously you argued what you know cogently enough so that Dave Walden's Believer faction dares not be exposed to you. Mazel tov.

But the ladder analogy was intended much more generally. You should be aware that those incremental steps aren't created with magic spells, they represent the sum total of the efforts of many specialists, each of whom *fully* understands the principles behind their own splinter of each rung. As you understand yours. And I don't accept that unlayering your onion would be "nearly impossible", just cost-prohibitive, and still requiring very specialized skill.

But when you're ill and the doctor makes a diagnosis and gives you a prescription, do you seriously propose to duplicate enough of his experience to validate his diagnosis, and duplicate enough of the experience of the pharmacological researcher to understand the exact biology of the prescription? When your lawyer gives an opinion, do you propose to study ALL of the relevant case law your lawyer knows, and duplicate his knowledge of the leanings of the judges he's spent years learning? Do you drive a car not knowing the metallurgy, chemistry, and microcode involved? And I'm sure you can extend such a list to your heart's content, specialization being what it is.

So how can the doctor, lawyer, pharmacologist, metallurgist (much less hairdresser or checkout clerk) judge the quality of what you've written? Sure, it *sounds* convincing. But Yourdon wrote at considerable length (and persuasively -- he's a professional author) saying something very different. NOW we can see you were correct and Yourdon wrong, but how were we to know THEN? WE don't have your depth of precisely appropriate experience. You'd be in the same position if the debate had been purely embedded. You aren't going to learn that world overnight, so you'd have to pick almost by flipping a coin, or deciding which side were supported by the more persuasive wordsmith.

Yes we can guess at motives, but I stand as a shining example of what happens when you try to explain your motives. The Believers place such statements into false contexts, enough so that it's dangerous even for those with nothing to hide. Those with ulterior motives SURE won't EVER own up to WHY they've taken a given position.

Finally, as Ken amplifies, things are more complex and require more specialization. And as Lars points out, how much *could* a person have known from firsthand experience? I'm a programmer, but I didn't feel I could generalize very far from my own experience. I've admitted repeatedly that *most* of my opinion was based on (1) the self-evident dishonesty with which I saw the doomer case being built; and (2) the LACK of all of the very many manifest signs we'd have been surrounded by had such worries been factually based. This is indirect reasoning, which is often chancy. YOU knew better, but who are YOU?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 06, 2000.

Flint, the main problem I had with the "ladder" is that the last run doesn't disappear. And yes, I'm thinking in a technical sense. But if the turnover of systems was as fast, and change as complete, as you suggest, Y2k would not have posed such a potentially troubling problem.

However, I think you're heading back to a premise I completely agree with: that some accountability needs to take place.

You're obviously correct, that anyone listening to my arguments, compared to an Ed Yourdon, would have been hard pressed to accept mine.

The same is true of any situation. Not completely analogous, but should Alan Greenspan abruptly quit his job, move to BF Egypt, and proclaim the end is in a month, BUY GOLD NOW!, after setting up a Coin Dealership, many people would listen. What stops him is obviously his reputation, (and maybe his conscience), and the knowledge that a month from now, he would be held accountable professionally for his actions.

As well, I listen to my doctor on prescriptions, because of his degree, and after awhile, his past performance. A doctor that sets up his own prescription company would soon be held accountable.

But thus far, the internet has evolved, with no such accountability. Pseudo experts can set-up shop, then just walk away from the aftermath.

-- Hoff (hoff_meister@my-deja.com), March 06, 2000.

And, what can I say -- who can critize someone who quotes Cyril Kornbluth?

Long gone, but still one of the best and most creative SciFi writers of all times.

-- E. H. Porter (E.H. Porter@just wondering.about it), March 06, 2000.


"Do you still contend that the MD80 crash off California was 90% likely do to a y2k problem?"

No. Since they have failed to produce any reasonable explanation of how the jackscrew assembly was shredded, and continue to conceal any possibility that it could have been the result of an autopilot malfunction, I am now 100% certain.

-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), March 06, 2000.

But Hawk, they've also concealed all evidence of leprechauns and lightning strikes. Not to mention trained pigeons. THINK of all the things they've concealed. That's an awful lot of 100% chances there. Hell, they've even concealed all evidence that you yourself flew up there and held that stabilizer in place like Superman. Yet ANOTHER 100% chance.

Gotta admit, this is the first time I've ever seen anyone make any claim *completely and explicitly* on the grounds that there is NO evidence for it!

Well, back to the thread about organic brain dysfunction.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 06, 2000.

let me see if I understand this. I don't know how my remote works and cannot fix my car so I am a doomer? Is that how it worked? Flint, I have seen code by many programmers. I have expierience with government people. I would not trust what either produces to work correctly the first time. So I expected failures. Those failure could impact MY family. Anytime that happens I will do what ever I can do see to the well being of my family and my community. So I prepared. You pollies and you in particular, Flint, helped me to decide to prepare. You see, Flint, I read your posts and read the links you previded. When I did so I saw how you posted only the facts that supported your OPINION and ignored all other facts. I wanted to look at all the facts not have a polly or a doomer supply me with their chosen facts. As it is I learned a new life style that I enjoy and my wife enjoys. Being prepared.

-- Mr. Pinochle (pinochledd@aol.com), March 06, 2000.

Mr Pinochle:

As ever, I applaud your preparations. I made no secret of my own, which were both extensive and ultimately unnecessary. But I *felt* safer, and though I expected y2k to be mostly manageable, I also expected isolated, nonsystemic screwups. And for all I knew, one of them might affect me. So I did what I could, and I'm glad you did too.

Your observation about links is curious, since I deliberately provided almost none, all throughout the pre-rollover time when I posted. My purpose wasn't to *collect* information, it was to focus on *interpreting* the information others collected. Most definitely including the highly selective collecting of which you now accuse me. And even more curious, one of my constant themes was that people drew their conclusions first, and gathered data NOT as researchers searching for a "best fit", but entirely as advocates looking to support an a priori position.

And I've gone so far (several times) as to confess that my predictions were too pessimistic almost entirely because I spent so much time immersed in an "all bad news, all the time" environment, for all the effort I spent fighting misplaced advocacy.

So I find it ironic, but partly accurate, to hear myself accused of exactly what I was fighting against. Because I DID buy into the bad news a bit too much, in the final analysis, and missed the target for that very reason. The dyed-in-the-wool, preparation-is-for-dopes crowd were the ones who got it right. But I have no regrets, and my grocery bills are a LOT smaller now, and will be for a long time.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 06, 2000.

Dis be de Flint we all knew and loved.

Sentimental fools we are, -at least me - I go where that windbag goes.

Well, at least where he's not been banned.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), March 06, 2000.

Hawk and Mr. Pinocle's comments show me exactly where I went wrong.

They have closed their minds to Flint's rational because he is Flint. Because he threatens their convictions.

I've been guilty of doing the same pre-roller. I avoided Flint's posts, they were "long winded" I told myself. He's just a polly, with an ego. I did this too often, with most pollies, skimming their well formed opinions, but reading their flames and flaming back. I read carefully Yourdon, though. And Paula Gordon et al. I can say this now, but back then I wasn't aware of doing it. It's ironic isn't it? All this time I thought it was only the pollies who were in denial.

I've been hitting my forehead a lot lately, reading carefully Flint's posts.

Good thing I didn't lose my shirt over my preps. I still have some self-esteem left.

-- Ex Doomer (seeing@the.light.now), March 06, 2000.

Golly Hawk, you might want to pick the threads you jump into a LEEETAL more carefully. This is not the crowd for you to hide your mental deficiencies in. For those of us that know you so well this would not matter but think about the newbies out there that might actually be fooled into believing you can fly.

-- Ra (tion@l.1), March 06, 2000.

"But thus far, the internet has evolved, with no such accountability. Pseudo experts can set-up shop, then just walk away from the aftermath."

[sarcasm]Yeah, and where's Infomagic now btw?[/sarcasm]

-- Ex Doomer (seeing@the.light.now), March 06, 2000.

"Yeah, and where's Infomagic now btw?"

Ha! I'll bet nymphomagic's had him sleeping in the spare bedroom since January!


-- laura (ladylogic@......), March 07, 2000.

Why you folks so long winded? Been eating beans?

-- 3 legs or 4 (odddog_3@hotmail.com), March 07, 2000.

Basically, we paid our tithe at the altar of the Y2k church and took our chances. My husband and I weren't big Doomers except initially when we were scared shitless when we first found out about it about a year and half before the rollover. Not being techno/computer savvy except for the home PC, both of us tried to read and understand as much as we could to make major decisions as and if the need arose. But we both realized we didn't have enough time or money to make major lifestyle changes and with the passing of those RED FLAG days, April 1 or whatever, can't remember now, then July , then August we felt that things most likely were not going to get to TEOTWAWKI. We felt we'd be better off in familiar turf and decided not to create a personal TEOTWAWKI for ourselves by going into more debt to buy "ten acres in the boonies with a well" way the hell out there with a killer commute if a recession occurred with increased gas prices and possibly unemployment or furlough days. We'll eat some crow and feel grateful, also realizing that if someone had wanted to nuke our asses during Defense dept communications outage, we'd most likely not be eating much of anything right now. So crow it is, so be it! Life is much too sweet to let a bad taste in one's mouth ruin it.

-- Ma Kettle (mom@home.com), March 07, 2000.

Ex doomer, perhaps you didn't comprehend the full meaning of Flint's remarks on the other board about "kicking the anthill." I've known that that is the way he is all along but that was the first time he's revealed his true motivations. The fact that you still don't get it makes you appear to be an utter fool.

Ra, these guys are a bunch of pompous arrogant long-winded windbags and their intellectual level presents absolutely no challenge for me whatsoever, this is kids stuff. A large but insecure ego does not imply high intellect, they just need to get over themselves.

-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), March 07, 2000.


1964-1984, then decided to become a tool of the corporate running dogs of capitalism.

Always had "just in case" supplies. Learned that from Mom. I did ratchet up when I learned of Y2K in laye 1997. About April of 1999 I became less concerned over a systemic disruption but still apprehensive about sporadic ones. Pleasantly surprised that they did not happen.

I did run Y2k doomers and pollies thru kind of a mental filter. If a polly said it was a hoax and the problem did not exist I ignored him because I was seeing real problems and also seeing them fixed.

If a doomer also was seeing "chentrails" black helicopters, New World Order UN troops, raved about fiat currency and the Masons I ignored him. Still left a few reasonable people on both sides of the issue that were worth listening to.

Being prepared for a bad time is prudent, but fixating on the downfall of civilization 24hrs a day sure must get in the way of having a life.

-- Chief (bmc@sealret.com), March 07, 2000.

Hawk, when you wrote "Ex doomer, perhaps you didn't comprehend the full meaning of Flint's remarks on the other board about "kicking the anthill." I've known that that is the way he is all along but that was the first time he's revealed his true motivations. The fact that you still don't get it makes you appear to be an utter fool." aren't you "just kicking the anthill" on this thread? And as you've made no real comment about Flint's essay per se, doesn't that make you the fool?

-- Malcolm Taylor (taylorm@es.co.nz), March 07, 2000.

Yes Malcolm, I am kicking the anthill. Flint deserves to know what it feels like. You see, what comes around goes around. That's why he isn't allowed on the new forum, and I've got the best of both worlds. I can go have uninterrupted intelligent discussions with true intellects whenever I wish, and stop by here to do some kicking around like he use to do to me when I posted here with no protection. Payback's a bitch ain't it? q:o)

-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), March 07, 2000.

I laughed out loud at Hawk's comments. You are hardly "punishing" anyone by posting on this forum. In fact, you serve as an excellent example of what Hoffman, Flint and others faced last year. This is one of the reasons I oppose censorship. Were you gagged, one might suspect you had something of value to say. Allowing you to prattle on about subjects like the MD-80 crash allows the reasonable reader to assess your competence (or lack thereof). Visit often, Hawk, and bring your old pals.

-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), March 07, 2000.

Ken.... Ouch! :)

-- (Donna@here.now), March 07, 2000.


For me the most significant aspect of Flint's lead post, and subsequent enhancing addendums, is that he is shifting the focus from 1) a relatively localized technical problem, Y2K, and 2) a 'me against them' preoccupation in the fora -- to a set of problems that appear more chronic, unavoidable, potentially destabilizing, generalized, and intrinsic to and in lockstep with our ever forward material progress. (What other take on this issue did you expect from an '11.5' doomer?!)

Flint seems to want the General Staff to shift its focus from how to win the last war, to how to win the next one. His m.o. to accomplish this herculean feat appears to be "Let's examine not only what went right in that last war, but what went wrong -- so we don't replicate them in the future." He's of course also saying it ain't no 'by the numbers' pushover.

I'm seeing the same ladder Flint's looking at: the top rung is brand new and shiny, but as you travel back down, they get shakier and shakier, till at the very bottom they're pulverized into dust. Some vivid examples have been given so far. Here's one of mine.

I've always hated working on cars. Hate to get black under my fingernails. Like things more elegant. Like things small, compact, and non smelly. So when searching for a hobby to take my mind off a profession I disliked, I went back to one of my first loves, electronics (first exposure: 1934.) Here's my metaphor.

Until the early '70s any Joe Sixpack could troubleshoot and repair about 90% of his home TV troubles, by pulling all the tubes, taking them down to the corner drugstore's handy economical tubetester, testing them out one by one, and then replacing the defective one from the very liberal selection of fresh tubes stored in the locked cabinet below.

By contrast, from the mid '70s on, he would have had to get hold of the paperwork, check the signal paths using a 'scope to narrow down the section, then use a VTVM checking the voltages -- to localize which transistor he was going to have to solder loose and replace.

Was that doable by Joe? Sure, all he had to do was enroll full-time at his local JC, and get his AA in EE. After his first few courses in basic electronics he'd be educated enough to realize how low on the technical totem pole he really still was. Then he could take a TV repair course or two. At this point he probably figured he could handle anything that came his way. So he'd purchase a 5Mhz scope and a decent VTVM -- and go for the kill. Only then did he realize the difference between academic knowledge and what it takes to actually repair whatever comes in to the repair bench. Many moons later he would have achieved the speed of repair he once had with his tube TV. (Meantime he would have been fired from his day job, his wife would have left him and taken the kids. Of course now he had plenty of time to get up to snuff on the latest upgrade in the technology: interfacing to and repairing VCRs.)

Thanks, Flint, for a great post. I see it's forward projection as intersecting with my upcoming 'Round Three,' Tom Friedman's 'The Lexus and the Olive Tree,' and those people looking at the complexity vs mental capacity issue as we move towards Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.


-- William J. Schenker, MD (wjs@linkfast.net), March 07, 2000.


Your reply to me was most civil. That is what I do not understand about you. Your first post on this thread was typical polly/doomer ( both do it ). Character bashing, which is usually the method of argument used by the intellectually bankrupt. On TB2000 I saw that used mostly by pollies and I don't even read posts where I recognized the author.

You posted a link to a gov report about, I think, water & sewer companies. May have been by the organization for water comps. I went to it and you had chosen the few positive facts from the report. Most of the report read like an advertisment on why to prep.

Flint, you will be closer to what you want to be if you don't stoop to this senseless character bashing. You are intelligent enough to not need it. Truth is all.

-- Mr. Pinochle (pinochledd@aol.com), March 07, 2000.

All I can say is "wow". I never keep up with the "players", so I don't know/care who's who from the historic board, but I gotta say it's great to see uncensored analysis passing by my monitor!

Gotta admit, this is the first time I've ever seen anyone make any claim *completely and explicitly* on the grounds that there is NO evidence for it!

lotta that going around these days Flint - thanks!

-- (doomerstomper@usa.net), March 07, 2000.


I think what I love most about your posts is how they take me down memory lane. I held the mirror in front of the T.V. while my dad "fiddled" in the back. Of course he WAS an electrician, so we had our OWN tube tester...or was it a voltage meter...or did it have something to do with transistors? It didn't matter to me because *I* was the only little girl who had a metal doll-house with switches on the patio so that I could turn lights on in each room when the doll entered.

As the years went by, dad could no longer fix the T.V., and he was looking to ME for information on things....which leads me to introduce another thought into the pot on advancing technology and perhaps another reason why technology scares some folks.

Flint brought up "fixing your car" and you brought up "not wanting to get dirty". Traditionally, many of these "dirty" jobs required a certain amount of physical strength and were pretty much reserved for the male gender. There were certainly exceptions, but one typically didn't think of a "grease monkey" as female.

A few years ago I was jogging with a neighbor. She and I found that 5 miles could easily be done with stimulating conversation playing a role. Daughter #2 had recently stated that she was thinking of becoming a car mechanic, and not knowing much about cars myself, I thought this was setting the bar kindof low for a kid who was whizzing through high-school math classes. My neighbor said, "Are you kidding? She can make big bucks at this. Do you know how many women feel they're being ripped off by car mechanics?" Still thinking in the "old school" ways, I commented that she simply didn't have the STRENGTH to pull motors out of cars or turn bolts, etc. I KNEW other women were in this field, but they didn't have the small bone structure of MY family genes. My neighbor said, "That's nonsense. The majority of car repair will be done by computer. She won't NEED STRENGTH."

Here we are several years later and that daughter IS taking an automobile repair class in college. She's the only female in her class, but she's enjoying the learning experience. She doesn't know yet what her concentration will be, but she's learning something she didn't know before and that IS what life's all about.

So...the thought I'm throwing into the technology FEAR pot is: How many men fear technology because the structural differences of male/female will no longer apply?

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 07, 2000.


"...one of the fundamental concerns that underlay the fears many had of grave y2k impacts was a sense that we are losing proximate control over our lives. "

One trait that many folks seemd to have had in common was that we are members of the "sandwich generation", having elderly parents and youngsters venturing out into the world. The awareness of vulnerabilities, and and desire to have control over uncontrollable elements made the burden of weighing information in a rational manner a difficult task.


I've seen several instances of late where even your example of a doctor's 'conflict of interest' is no longer a black and white issue. A top flight occular specialist recently prescribed vitamins for my Mother, not over the counter -- but through a marketing outfit with which he was affiliated. When we persued this issue with the physician who recommended him, we were told it happens all the time.

-- flora (***@__._), March 07, 2000.


Ain't Nostalgia Lane fun! Oh, those days trying to balance the mirror in front of the tube so I'd get the angle right while poking into the innards in back (I only occasionally could enlist a passerby to tilt the mirror for me.)

So...the thought I'm throwing into the technology FEAR pot is: How many men fear technology because the structural differences of male/female will no longer apply?

Answer: not many, Anita. But that's only because most men have other things on their mind, like sports, beer, and 'nekkid wimmin.' (And also why most can't stay with Flint's longer-than-sound-bites classic posts.)


-- William J. Schenker, MD (wjs@linkfast.net), March 07, 2000.

Mr. Pinochle:

Well, you got me going back through this thread trying to relate what you write to what I am reading. You speak of "senseless character bashing", and said my first post illustrated this.

Now on further examination, I find that my first post was the original essay, in which I can't find any bashing of anyone. Nor does anyone else. Can you point it out?

My second post was a response to Hoff's reply, and I can't see any character bashing in that one either.

Between these posts was one by Hawk. Hawk's post addressed NONE of the ideas my essay raised, but he did manage to call me a moron, pretentious, presumptuous, and implied I and others never graduated from high school! If you are so very sensitive about character bashing, I find it highly curious that you didn't seem to notice this post.

In my next post, I admit I laughed at Hawk. In my defense, I firmly believe that anyone who considers his notions "proved" on the very *grounds* that there is NO supporting evidence for them, *deserves* to be laughed at. If you disagree, we must agree to disagree about this. Also, you will note that I was mocking the *quality of his argument*, rather than his character as a person.

Now, a little further down, we find Hawk attacking me again based on a deliberate misrepresentation of a post I made on another forum. While he's at it, he calls ex-doomer an "utter fool". He goes on to call me pompous, arrogant, long-winded (this one is certainly accurate), insecure, and of childish intellect. Somehow, your concern about "senseless character bashing" seems to have somehow failed to notice *this* post as well! Coincidence? TWO coincidences?

And a bit *further* down, we find yet another Hawk post where he gloats that he can be (and IS) here just to attack, while I am not permitted to say anything on his "intellectually stimulating" forum! Somehow, your delicate sensibilities missed THIS ONE TOO! Amazing.

So forgive me if I find your reading to be, umm, a bit selective?


As for the water and sewer post, you're right. That was indeed one of the very very few posts where I linked to anything. You are also quite correct that I was guilty of "doomerism" (or my view of it) in failing to describe the overall gist of that article. And if you read further through that thread (I will assume you did, but forgot), you will find that I willingly conceded that it contained material of justifiable concern, and that my depiction was a mischaracterization.

And again, permit me to notice that you have chosen to generalize about my posts based on one of the least representative and most unusual posts I ever made. Uhh, selective again?

Of course, in retrospect, you can see that I excerpted a summary from that material, and the summary proved correct. Even though a strong case can be made that the details in the material, by themselves, were at best very weak support for that summary.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 07, 2000.

Thanks for the post, Flint.

All progress brings with it a set of pros and cons. Nothing new, technologically brings the perfect solution. There is always a trade- off. Increased productivity is wonderful, but in my business the art of human relations has been severly affected by electronic communications of all kinds.

We can still choose to live our lives manually-I for one do not pay my bills electronically, and I still seek second opinions on all technical problems, car repairs included.

We always have choices; If I were to live in an entirely manual world I would soon fall behind a world in which the majority of the people have chosen to embrace technology. My parents still live in that more or less manual world.

As far a Y2K, I did extensive research, and could come to no logical conclusion as to the severity of the risk. In the end, I decided to go with my gut instinct, and instinct I continue to develope through various spiritual practices. My instinct told me there was not going to be a collapse of society-I had a month of preps in case I was wrong, but overall I did not feel there was enough evidence of HOW EXACTLY computers would fail, and in what cases.

The point of my response is we would all do well to trust our inner voices, develope our intuition, and make decisions a combination of this and the facts, however incomplete, of the case presented.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), March 07, 2000.

Hey Flint, remember when you said this?...

"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."

Rather arrogant and condescending attitude, don't you think. I wonder what kind of popmpous windbag egomaniac would say things like that about all of the people participating in this forum.

Glad you find it "fun" to feel "superior" over everyone else, but please don't kick us too hard, we're just dumb little ants compared to mental giants like yourself!

-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), March 07, 2000.

Flint, Instead of character bashing the word irony would better fit. The problem is that the unusual stands out and is remembered. You have the ability to win arguments with the facts you know but you use debating strategies instead. I personally am tired of what went on in the old TB2000. My opinion is that most of the problems were caused by our infamous pollies. Doomers responded but the pollies went beyond the pale.

Perhaps irony but it sounded more like belittling. Making small. A debating tactic to win points with an audiance. There are intelligent people on both sides and in some of them on both sides there is no forgivness. All of them don't seem to realize the damage caused and seem unable to understand that the connotations of the words they use are insulting to the other side. You, Flint, I think you do know when you do that and you do it on purpose to win symbolic points with the readers.

Doing so is insulting to serious readers of the thread. Not that this particular thread is very serious.

-- Mr. Pinochle (pinochledd@aol.com), March 07, 2000.

Well said Mr. Pinochle.

Flint may think that he is intellectually superior, but that is only because he is emotionally bankrupt and has no qualms about intentionally trying to make others appear stupid, even though it isn't necessary to make his point.

-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), March 07, 2000.

Flint ... has no qualms about intentionally trying to make others appear stupid...

And, thanks to the likes of you, he doesn't have to try very hard!

-- My Full Name (My@email.address), March 07, 2000.

"I wonder what kind of popmpous windbag egomaniac would say things like that about all of the people participating in this forum. - hawk"

just yesterday:

"Profound? Impressive? I guess if you never graduated from high school you might think so! - hawk"

what kind of popmpous windbag egomaniac would say things like that about all of the people participating in this forum?

-- IRONy MAN (marvel@comic.book), March 07, 2000.


FutureShock, you said, "The point of my response is we would all do well to trust our inner voices, develope our intuition, and make decisions a combination of this and the facts, however incomplete, of the case presented."

Respectfully, sir or madam, that is not the way to make a decision. If you continue to do that, you will keep making the same kinds of mistake you made with y2k.

When you need to make a decision, the best - most logical - way is to ask someone you know and trust. Short of that, you need to research sources that have been reviewed by their peers, or you need to ask someone actually involved in the area that you're interested in.

I was confused about the severity of y2k until I talked to my uncle about oil, and the y2k representative of Palo Verde Nuclear station. My gut was telling me an 8, and their information lowered it to a 3. There was a LOT of conflicting evidence that I read and heard about, but when you look someone straight in the eye and they tell you, "this is not going to be a problem!" it's time to listen.

Maybe you didn't have the opportunity to sit in on your cities meetings like I did. But, if you're reflective enough to wonder how your judgment was off, you might want to think about why you didn't contact your local electric company, or phone company, or whoever. If you're like me, you were out spending bucks because you knew it was going to be the worst thing that could ever happen, because part of your "intuition" said it would. Right? But, if you listened to real live people, and some of the debunkers, you would have saved yourself a world of hurt.

Fortunately, we all come to our own understanding, in our own time.


-- laura (lady@........), March 07, 2000.

It is futil to argue with someone who is projecting on others their shortcomings. The motivation to see one's own shortcomings must come from within.

-- Armchair Psychologist (h@d.to.give.my.2.cents), March 07, 2000.


There is absolutely nothing "profound" about Flint's self-important observations, and those who applaud him are just playing into his little anthill games, making him feel superior. Smart ants team up and attack when kicked, and can bury a man alive when they work together.

-- Hawk (flyin@high.again), March 07, 2000.

It must be the weather. I'm "hearing" static and the topic of the thread seems to have been lost in the NOISE.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 07, 2000.

When one "expert" tells us y2k (or the current market, or whatever) is No Big Deal, and another claims it IS, we have no useful basis for picking one over the other. We can examine credentials, but we lack the knowledge necessary to judge those credentials. If we're determined enough, we can try to learn the details of the underlying processes, but doing so adequately requires months or years of training and education -- for EACH phenomenon we wish to understand.

This ignores the vast middle ground between the two extremes of blind trust and acquiring specialized knowledge. For example, discerning that an argument's conclusion doesn't follow from its premises is often possible without more than the vaguest familiarity with the subject. One can also look for a difference in the thoroughness with which each side addresses the points raised by the other.

Putting faith in credentials would be my last resort. A credential may be a good indication that a whole bunch of people agree, but it doesn't mean that more than a few of them have critically analyzed what they were taught.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), March 07, 2000.

Mr. "P,"

I find your recollection, much as Flint finds your reading... selective. There were a handful of disruptive "Pollies" on the old forum... individuals who basically contributed nothing to the Y2K discussion save baiting doomsayers. After a year on the forum, I only a few names come to mind. On the other hand, there were a great many "doomers" who contributed nothing save vicious attacks on anyone who opposed the forum dogma (Hawk included). As a rule, Flint, Hoff and others were calm, reasonable and informative. The response from pessimists was often quite the opposite.

I know Flint and do not find him a mean spirited individual. The original post on this thread is an excellent example of his thinking. I am not sure an individual like Hawk is capable of an intelligent response... so instead, the thread devolves into a discussion of personalities rather than a discussion of ideas.

Even if you have good reason to dislike Flint, you muddy the waters by making him the issue. The greater issue is how we, as a species, respond to the complexity we have created. If Lucifer himself started this thread, it would still be an interesting topic of discussion.

Ideas separate the thinkers from the thoughtless. On this forum, it differentiates between those who can write... and those who can simply type. We spend a great deal of time debating "who" and not enough time on "what."

-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), March 07, 2000.

Adding to the static:

Laura-I am a bit confused by your response to me. I bought a months worth of preps over a 4 month period-About $300. I do not see how this was a "world of hurt".

I appreciate your input, but everyone's gut is different. We are all at various stages of spiritual development, and we all have our own level of inspiration-I did much research on Y2k and di speak to people in the field. That is why I planned for a 1 or 2.

Just trying to understand your response.

-- FutureShock (Gray@matter.think), March 07, 2000.

I'm sorry, FutureShock,

I clearly misunderstood you. I'm sorry I made you come back and explain that.

Is there anything I can do to make this up to you? (Make you a special html symbol? Edit a letter? Do some research? It's the least I can do since I wasted your time.)




-- (lady@.......), March 07, 2000.

Making decisions in the absence of personally verifiable information has been a bane of human circumstnce since the advent of agriculture (and the division of labor). As aspiring Renaissance man, Bill Shenker, reminded me, there was a time (perhaps as recently as the 19th) century when a single individual could have at least passing familiarity with all aspects of human arts and technology---well, Western anyway. That still doesn't suggest that two brilliant people won't come to different conclusions based on the same input.

For a person such as that, living in a time when he would have to rely on the experience and knowledge of others must be frightening. Further discomfiture arises with the understanding that even the experts don't know...enough. (Second epistemological level: Ya gotta know what you don't know). Logic may be a worthy concept, but without all the data and a means to assess its accuracy and evaluate it, it becomes a case of GIGO or GMGO (Garbage Missing, Garbage Out). And let's not even complicate this by questioning motivations.

Some people feel that a consistant, pragmatic or functional worldview can help to fill the gaps and to inform a decision. It certainly can save a lot of time and trouble not drawing probability equations every time one has a decision to make. But, after my first experience with fundamentalist thinking (courtesy of TB2K), I'm not willing to strongly support that viewpoint. "People don't ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts." ---Robert Keith Leavitt

One does the best he can? Yuk! I'd hate for it to come down to that. That's why (off-topic churlishness, notwithstanding) I think this is one of the more enlightening threads around here.


"Invest yourself in the quality of the discourse, but not the outcome."---Richard Reese

-- (Hallyx@aol.com), March 07, 2000.


During your year on the forum you may have read every posting, I did not. I gave my opinion about the posts I read, not the ones I didn't read. If that makes me selective, then so be it. Question: Am I selective in my opinion or in what I read?

I wish I could do more for the "species" but I am afraid that doing what I can to insure me and my family (and who ever else I can) survive is the best I can do. But when ever you guys decide what is best for the species let me know. Only no spamming, ok?

You find that Flint is not mean spirited and Hawk incapable of an intelligent response. That is your opinion and to be honest I could care less what your opinion is concerning two people I have never met.

I am certain you meant to say "even if I disagree with Flint" and not "even is I dislike Flint". How could I "dislike" Flint when I have never met the person? But that has been one of my points, choice of words and the connotations of the words chosen. We each choose what words we use. Some have the advantage of large vocabularies. By their posting thee shall know their spirit.

The person with the larger vocabulary probably can recognize when the other person has a more limited choice of words. He then has two choices: reply to the words used or reply to what is meant by the words. Of course questions can be asked if not sure of the meaning. Now the person with the larger vocabulary has an advantage in any argument becasue he has a larger number of words to use. He can choose words that add to the discussion or choose words that inflame the other person.

When a person has the volcabulary to have that choice and has the intellect to recognize the more limited vocabulary of the other person, then he is the one who determines the emotional content of the thread. Naturally this ignores the non-serious participants and trolls. SO, when I see a person with the vocabulary and the intellect using both in a way that causes ill feeling I wonder why. Bad mood day? Or mean spirited?

I make careless posts and thoughtless posts. But I seldon make hurtful, insulting posts. That is a conscious decision of mine based on my moral system. And this post is too damn long.

-- Mr. Pinochle (pinochledd@aol.com), March 07, 2000.

Mr. Pinochle has just pointed out the very reason I began attacking the likes of Flint and Decker 18 months ago. My feelings about their polished, condescending and arrogant communications actually had little to do with which side of the Y2K fence we operated from. I see they continue to wallow in the act of literary masturbation.

Certainly Gilda would have elaborated upon her various reasons for having been duped and manipulated into Y2K concerns, but she had to excuse herself in order to blow Flint's ass from her left nostril.

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.

Ah Will, ever the smooth talker you are to be sure. Been abusin them animals of yours again have we? Ya need ta break yourself of that before they git cha.

-- Ra (tion@l.1), March 08, 2000.

HAHAA. Thar ain't been a critter born that could get the better of me my friend! Just hopped over for a peek at the good old 'uncensored' Beavis and Butthead reunion. Feels good to stretch my venomous tentacles...

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.


I for one hope you continue to participate here. Thats what makes this place so lively and interesting. You are a formidable opponent in debate and keep everyone on his or her toes.

-- Ra (tion@l.1), March 08, 2000.

Ah, anti-intellectualism and Will continue rear their ugly heads...

Mr. Pinochle,

It seems you are more concerned with the words used than the content contained in them. That you feel hurt or insulted by those who use the vocabulary they have to get their point across says a lot more about you than it does them.

Surely you don't want to reduce the conversation here to the lowest common denominator level, do you? I mean, just take a look at...

Will continue,

Thanks so much for your admission that you've been "attacking" Flint and Decker for a year and a half. I love it!

BTW, good, polished "literary masturbation" can hardly be described as condescending. They would need to speak at *your* level to condescend.

-- RC (randyxpher@aol.com), March 08, 2000.

Will continue,

You said, "she had to excuse herself in order to blow Flint's ass from her left nostril."

That wasn't very nice was it? Have you calmed down enough now to apologize to her?

You owe gilda an apology, please.


-- laura (Ladylogic@aol.com), March 08, 2000.

When I got here in late spring '98, Flint was all gentleman, with everyone. He debated his views with great care not to attack anyone's character. But there were no constant personal attacks on him from the "doomer" crowd back then either (heck, there were no "polly" and "doomer" factions then.)The forum evolved (devolved?) over time, more and more people coming on, and the intellectual content of this forum in general declined as well. I'm NOT saying the new people coming on were less intelligent or able to debate as intellectually as the previous participants. I'm saying that people started to flame with abandon, giving into emotions, and became intellectually lazy. I've never expected Flint to be a super-human and never make a snide remark in return to a flame. I believe many people held him to standards above their own. Much in the same way that people expected Ed Yourdon never to respond condescendingly to attacks on his character.

Flint has a well developed vocabulary and mastery of written English. That can be an ego-buster for those of us who aren't as talented. I know it frustrates me when I grasp an idea or concept, but can't communicate it in writing as clearly as it is in my head. This frustration is ten fold when I'm attempting a debate with someone like Flint. It is easier for me to dismiss Flint as arrogant or with an over-inflated ego than to work harder at expressing myself more clearly, or even to think more critically.

Flint is often criticized because his posts are long. Well, if you take the time to think about it, and read the posts, they are long precisely because he doesn't cut corners and assume we'll understand his main idea with 3 or 4 short sentences. He communicates clearly.

Now I must end this post here, it's taken me too much effort already, my brain hurts.

-- Chris (!@#$@pond.com), March 08, 2000.

off, please.

-- laura (Lady@screwed up html .again), March 08, 2000.

(Sorry, Chris)

When I got here in late spring '98, Flint was all gentleman, with everyone. He debated his views with great care not to attack anyone's character. But there were no constant personal attacks on him from the "doomer" crowd back then either (heck, there were no "polly" and "doomer" factions then.)The forum evolved (devolved?) over time, more and more people coming on, and the intellectual content of this forum in general declined as well. I'm NOT saying the new people coming on were less intelligent or able to debate as intellectually as the previous participants. I'm saying that people started to flame with abandon, giving into emotions, and became intellectually lazy. I've never expected Flint to be a super-human and never make a snide remark in return to a flame. I believe many people held him to standards above their own. Much in the same way that people expected Ed Yourdon never to respond condescendingly to attacks on his character.

Flint has a well developed vocabulary and mastery of written English. That can be an ego-buster for those of us who aren't as talented. I know it frustrates me when I grasp an idea or concept, but can't communicate it in writing as clearly as it is in my head. This frustration is ten fold when I'm attempting a debate with someone like Flint. It is easier for me to dismiss Flint as arrogant or with an over-inflated ego than to work harder at expressing myself more clearly, or even to think more critically.

Flint is often criticized because his posts are long. Well, if you take the time to think about it, and read the posts, they are long precisely because he doesn't cut corners and assume we'll understand his main idea with 3 or 4 short sentences. He communicates clearly.

Now I must end this post here, it's taken me too much effort already, my brain hurts.

-- laura (Lady@reposting for.Chris), March 08, 2000.


There is no way we'll forgive you for what you did to this forum even if you apologize. You're certifiable.

-- (not@very.nice), March 08, 2000.

Mr. "P,"

"By their posting thee shall know their spirit."

So what does the posting of "Hawk" or "Will Continue" tell you about their spirit? Here are two individuals who have, to my knowledge, never contributed an original thought to the Y2K debate. Their high water mark has been mindless personal attacks on the Y2K optimists.

You seem to feel Flint has some oligation, some noblesse oblige, to those who do not share his vocabulary or intellect. If Flint were picking on innocent bystanders, I might agree. His contempt, however, is reserved for those who have attacked him.

I support Flint and I find these same individuals deserving of his contempt. This has nothing to do with education or vocabulary. You'll not find an instance where Flint (or I) mocked a person's education, or corrected mistakes in spelling or grammar. On the other hand, I refuse to "dumb down" my posts because some people object to my use of language. I am not responsible for their insecurities or anti-intellectual bias.

If you actually look around, you'll find that Flint and I have been helpful and courteous... to those who have extended the same courtesy to us. I count among my online "friends" many individuals from the "doomer" side and contributed posts on a wide variety of subjects including modest preparation for Y2K.

The people who were truly interested in Y2K appreciated the diverse perspectives of the old forum. They also knew individuals like Flint thought the issue was important enough to warrant mature discussion. The puerile attacks of Will Continue (and others) annoyed the people on both sides.

-- Ken Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), March 08, 2000.

I don't understand all the fuss. If someone uses a word of which I don't know the meaning, I look it up. Where *I* fall short is not noting the pronunciation at the same time. For years I read books that used the word panacea. I knew what it meant [because I'd looked it up], but when I heard it IRL I nearly fell over laughing. They said pan uh see uh, and I'd been thinking pan ay shu. Same thing happened with anemone. an em oh knee....not anna moan. ANYWAY, how DO we improve our vocabulary if we don't read or listen to words that weren't in our vocabulary before?

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 08, 2000.

Communication comes in many forms and varied styles RC. Flint and Decker prefer insulting people with a high gloss, strained and twisted style, brimming with well designed and intricate culminations intended to convey flagrant insolence. Their ability to warmly wrap their covert impudence must be acknowledged as masterful, even by a person like myself who finds them to be extremely boorish and highly vexing. This has IMHO always invited unsolicited feedback from the likes of lower life forms who are far less versed, by any means possible in order to 'call them on their number', so to speak.

I prefer getting to the bottom line without all the fanfare and literary glitter. This enables participants to form their own conclusions having never felt massaged with aromatic snake oil. While there are many who enjoy the anesthetizing style of a flintdecker, I'm quite certain they would admit their occasional gratification for injections of sporadic honesty.

In other words RC, kiss my ass.

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.

uh... no.

-- RC (randyxpher@aol.com), March 08, 2000.

Well, then, kiss mine, RC.

Killer analysis, WC.

Oh, and I can link countless posts where Decker pronounces participants as unfit for debate.

What we've tried to get across for years is

TB was not established for the purpose of encouraging participants to use one's vain, narcissistic prose as an intellectual 2x4.

(which Decker never got through his fat head)

Flint contributed some nice technical analysis - but towards the end could not suppress his repugnance at we barbarians at the gate... but couldn't bring himself to leave.

Now he needs us - classic co-depenency here to help him slowly leave the whole Y2K topic behind.

I'm not bitchin, it's a fascinating symbiosis - but one should be aware that his motives are not entirely to teach: he is using us to exorcise the Y2K demon that he's ashamed to have ever taken in.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), March 08, 2000.

Alright WC and Lisa, let me cut to the quick and bypass the gloss.

How do you REALLY feel? Does the fact that Ken and Flint so far have been proven right (more or less), more so than those of us who were SURE something terrible in our lives would happen post roll-over, got your shorts in a twist?

Can't admit reality to yourselves still?

(Isn't this kind of communication from me just as infuriating? Want to pick a fight now? I don't. I want to move on and grow up.)

-- Chris (!@#$@pond.com), March 08, 2000.


Rather than offering another one of the plethora of disingenuous apologies being dealt out on this, the 'uncensored' forum, I shall choose to offer the following advice:

consider changing your handle from 'Lady Logic' to 'Bitch Bewildered'.

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.

No, Chris, it's not that.

It's still not about right vs. wrong.

The beef is about the their schizophrenic "we detest the mongrels but we can't stay out of their lives, and we'll whine all day if they won't 'let us in'".

The seemingly respective reasons : Sadism, for Ken; nostalgia for Flint.

Simply sick of enabling them, for free.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), March 08, 2000.

How infantile of you Chris to lower yourself to suggesting this is all about who's 'right' and who's 'wrong. For me *personally* it is far more about character and principle. Obviously we have many willing to overlook the absence of such in order to continue participating in an ego building brainfest. It is a reflection of so many shortcomings in our American society and the primary reason we have had a bloodsucking tick sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office for eight years. Far easier to abandon one's principles if there is 'something in it for me', eh? So what is it you are so desperately in need of that would have you defending forum parasites?

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.


I think your analysis is largely accurate. I still do have questions about how people got it so wrong, why I wasn't as close as I'd have preferred, why as little went wrong as it actually did, etc. I don't think I'm ashamed of having been concerned, but I readily confess I found (and still find) y2k interesting for more than purely abstract reasons. You don't spend the time and effort I did if you don't *care* (despite what the censored forum chooses to claim they believe), and you don't just walk away from people you've come to know so well without a second thought.

Beyond that (and *also* despite what some claim), I truly enjoy trading ideas (and sometimes barbs) with a disparate group of intelligent and entertaining people. My interests are as wide-ranging as anyone else's, so I look forward to discussions on a variety of topics, far beyond "all bad news, all the time" carping. And of course, I always filter my opinions through my sense that there are costs and tradeoffs to everything in life, and efficiencies are both real and relative. After all, I'm an engineer!

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 08, 2000.


Talking to WC and Lisa is pointless. People with an ounce of intelligence know who to read and who to ignore.


-- laura (Ladylogic@......), March 08, 2000.

[faints dead away]

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), March 08, 2000.

I suppose that's LL's way of sticking out her tongue and wagging her fingers from her ears. LOL

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.

I suppose that's LL's way of sticking out her tongue and wagging her fingers from her ears. LOL

Good response Flint.

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.

Wait: I should clarify that I was attempting to explain the overall sentiment of the anti-Decker/Flint crowd, not profess my opinion.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), March 08, 2000.

No, Lisa.

Go back and read the Flintgate threads. You'll find that a lot, dare I say a majority, of your doomer friends valued the contributions of Flint/Decker/Hoff et al. and didn't share your revulsion at how they expressed themselves. Ask yourself why that is.

Like I said to Mr. P, it says a lot more about you than it does about them.

-- RC (randyxpher@aol.com), March 08, 2000.


Why would I feel hurt? My feelings are mine and I don't broadcast them. At least not intentionally. Being insulted is a personal decision not a feeling. And if I choose to be insulted that is my choice and should not affect you or anyone else unless you want to understand my reasoning for the decision.

I said a person can choose to reply to the words used or reply to what is meant by the words. One requires thought and possible asking questions. The other requires a knee jerk reaction. Responding without a knee jerk attact takes some thought and maturity. Or I could add "something you lack". Without that addition I am responding. With it I am attacking you as a person. My posts don't have that type of personal attacks.


where has Flint said he holds some individuals in contempt? I missed that. What do I think of Hawk and Will continue's spirit? Young, bresh, easily angered at times, emotional. I also find they both post from viewpoints somewhat different from mine and I can learn from their postings. No, you are not responcible for their insecurities or anti-intellectual bias. Where did that thought come from? Where did anyone suggest anyone should "dumb down" their posts? Ther are times when it seems that you read a post and reply based on if the psot was written by a doomer or a polly. Attack or defend.

Will continue,

Beautiful post and a beautiful response by RC. Loved both.


How to pronounce words? Many times I have used words I had read and never heard and been laughed at in a fun way by friends. I have a hard time understanding those funny marks in the dictionary that are supposed to tell me how to pronounce the word. My spelling isn't really good either. Read, read, read and volcabulary will improve. Understanding the connotation of words? Observe how people are affected by words.


Nice analysis. This is an interesting and mostly civil thread.

-- Mr. Pinochle (pinochledd@aol.com), March 08, 2000.

"The seemingly respective reasons : Sadism, for Ken; nostalgia for Flint."

Lisa, that's infering motives on people from your own *emotional* perceptions. Now that Flint and Ken have an opportunity to explain their past and present motivations for their involvement in this forum, we're left with the choice to take it at their words or reject it. Just as before. *I* choose to read into their expressed motives no sinister or psychotic ones, because when I refer back to what they've said over the years (not the barbs and condescion only, but the IMPORTANT MESSAGES), it all now suddenly makes sense to me. Yes, duh. Now that I'm free(er) from clouding emotional fears.

WC, I don't know how to say this to you tactfully so you'd get my point. You're accusing me of lowering myself and make this a "right vs wrong" issue, when I was in fact lowering myself to your level and trying to make the point that "intellectual gloss" has its place. The "right vs. wrong" issue was my vehicle to demonstrate that point.

-- Chris (!@#$@pond.com), March 08, 2000.

I respectfully disagree with your analysis, RC. Or did you conduct a survey or take a poll of the thousands of lurkers as well? I have always considered myself to be the voice of many timid and well grounded individuals who were too reserved to express their inner voice. Our culture suffers from a fear of conflict which is precisely why everyone wants someone else to 'fix' injustice on their behalf. In short...no balls.

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.

"Wait: I should clarify that I was attempting to explain the overall sentiment of the anti-Decker/Flint crowd, not profess my opinion." --Lisa

Then my response to you above should not be directed at you but at the "overall sentiment of the anti-Decker/Flint" crowd.

I wrote my reply before seeing your clarification.

-- Chris (!@#$@pond.com), March 08, 2000.

Hey, RC, I said I was attempting to explain the anti- Decker/Flint sentiment. Trying to extend the 'it's not what you say, it's how you say it' adage to describe the relationship.

Here, I'll dig up some thread a year ago on an old diBunki incarnation where I hold 'Flint's take' up as most likely to come to pass.

It'll take a while.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), March 08, 2000.

Don't bother answering my question, Chris. Your last post clarifies the fact that you seek agreement for your puffed up, pompous personality. You're in the right place for that.


-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.

Lisa and Will Continue

You two remind me of Louie the Lizard, constantly bitching about the attractive and articulate Ferret getting all of the attention and accolades. Ive been reading your dark days of doom crap for many months and you just dont hack it anymore. It appears that you both are suffering from a massive inferiority complex and bashing those of proven intellect will only worsen your condition. However, I would hope that you stick around here and remind us that the meme still lives if only in the small minds of a few.

-- Sifting (through@the.rubble), March 08, 2000.

Mr. Pinocle, you said "Responding without a knee jerk attact takes some thought and maturity. Or I could add "something you lack"...

and "What do I think of Hawk and Will continue's spirit? Young, bresh, easily angered at times, emotional."

You could put me into this category also, although not so young anymore. I realize my own shortcomings in social interactions (my background and upbringing has a lot to do with that, but also my temperament.) I never cease to try to improve myself though, and it's a constent uphill battle. IMO, you've demonstrated fine example of tact at work in your previous reply and its value in communication and debates.

This thread risks turning into a support-group for the socialy impaired ;-)

-- Chris (!@#$@pond.com), March 08, 2000.

Mr. P

"Why would I feel hurt? My feelings are mine and I don't broadcast them."

You used the words "hurtful and insulting" in an earlier post. I took that to be an indication of your feelings. If I'm wrong, I apologize.

"Being insulted is a personal decision not a feeling. And if I choose to be insulted that is my choice and should not affect you or anyone else unless you want to understand my reasoning for the decision."

I aboslutely agree that taking insult is a personal decision. And I think that the whole latter part of this thread has been an attempt to understand your reasoning for the decision. You earlier referred to Flint's original post here as "character bashing" - I just can't see it that way. I really feel like I have no frame of reference to even judge what you're saying at this point.

"I said a person can choose to reply to the words used or reply to what is meant by the words."

Depends on how accurately you divine that "true" meaning. It's possible to read all kinds of things that aren't there into almost any statement. See the entire history of TB2000...


Disagreement noted. I've done no poll. I don't know how the lurkers feel, and neither do you. I'm just pointing out that many people on both sides of the debate have read Flint/Decker posts without being insulted. Like Mr. P sez, it's a personal decision. That doesn't make it the truth.


The "No, Lisa" was a response to you ass-kiss invitation. When the responses are flying as fast as they are now, it's easy to get confused.

But the answer is still no.

-- RC (randyxpher@aol.com), March 08, 2000.

Just remember, RC...I asked first.


-- Will continue (farming@home.com), March 08, 2000.

Chris, Don't,we all have our shortcomungs, especially in socail interactions? My father had a bad temper so every time I dispayed a temper I got badly beaten to teach me to control it. Being 5,6,7 years old I learned to control all emotion in an attempt to keep him from getting mad at me. At that age it is hard to differentiate emotions into acceptable or not. So I am thouhgt of as a kind of cold person.


Character bashing was extreme and I changed it to irony or belittling. How to "divine true meaning"? Ask questions as I said and read the entire post before answering. That is unless yuour memory is as poor as mine.

-- Mr. Pinochle (pinochledd@aol.com), March 08, 2000.

I dunno about 'Marching Morons'...but this thread looks like its full of 'typing morons'...

-- (@ .), March 08, 2000.


Thank you for your opine. I prefer to think of myself as a somewhat unsuccessful, pompous buffoon. But I hope I can make my style more understandable to you if you desire to stay around.

-- Mr. Pinochle (pinochledd@aol.com), March 08, 2000.

Mr. P

Sorry. I forgot that you softened up to "belittling". My memory ain't so good either.

But I refer back to your first post on this thread. Apparently you read the entire post and got this:

"let me see if I understand this. I don't know how my remote works and cannot fix my car so I am a doomer? Is that how it worked?"

...as being the "true meaning" of it. This is so far from my reading of it that, like I said earlier, I can't relate.

I'm not a doomer, yet I don't know how my remote works and I can't fix my car. Maybe Flint knows how to fix his car, but I ain't letting him mess with my remote.

The point of the essay was that none of us, doomer or polly, republican or democrat, scientist or ditch digger, can keep up with the pace of technological progress anymore. The way we come to terms with that fact is the issue. There IS a polly vs. doomer aspect there - do you blindly trust the technology, or blindly distrust it.

Kinda belittles us both, don't you think?

-- RC (randyxpher@aol.com), March 08, 2000.

Well, I blindly trust my car, but I know *exactly* how my remote works, at both ends, right down to the IR bitstreams. One of those few things in my world that isn't magical.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 08, 2000.


Thanks for the "panacea" anecdote. It took 20 years for me to realize that the spoken "poe-poe-ree" and the written "potpourri" were the same word. Whenever I read it, I pronounced it "potpory". This forum is a grand potpourri.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), March 08, 2000.

The early French explorers asked the natives what they called the area being explored. The natives replied that their term for it was eee-en-wah. So the French wrote it down, phonetically, and forevermore the place has been Illinois.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 08, 2000.

Well, we've moved quite a bit off the topic of this thread, but I'll toss in a few more comments on this bizarre language we use. I thought about saying something to Pieter the other day when I read that folks were now burning gas in their automobiles. [You can imagine the fantasies I had regarding what they were burning before.] When he explained that gas and petrol were two separate things, I thought about how many definitions WE have for gas. My mom has a lot of problems with flatulence. She told me that all the old folks at her facility have the same problem. She also had two broken hips, has a pin in one leg, etc. and uses a walker to get around. Up until recently, she had only ONE speed in walking: VERY fast. It was as though she felt that if she slowed down she'd FALL down. One day my brother and I watched as she almost ran down the hall at her facility. Of course we could hear her rear engine along the way. My brother looked at me and said, "It sure seems to propel her."

On to phonics: All three of my kids shared the same 3rd grade teacher in school. He was a really nice old guy and we debated regularly the value of phonics. He believed in phonics and I didn't. My oldest daughter acquired the bad speller gene from her father. It IS a genetic function, Mr. P. Spelling has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence. It has to do with the ability to see a word in your head. Of course a dictionary comes in handy, but bad spellers can't even look up a word. Who would think to look under neph instead of nef for nephew, for instance. They make special dictionaries for folks with this problem.

My favorite example of the uselessness of phonics, however, is the example that only in the English language could ghoti spell fish... gh like in enough, o like in women, and ti like in nation.

Flint: I lived in ee-en-wah most of my life and some locals STILL don't realize the s is silent....more phonics at work...much like potpourri.

-- Anita (notgiving@anymore.thingee), March 08, 2000.

Anita...your "static" remark seemed to be sadly overlooked. You were so right.

Too bad this degenerated into a mudslinging contest. Wouldn't this be a boring place if we all thought alike and all expressed ourselves in similar styles? Admit it, on some level you love to hate the ones you are disagreeing with. Could we please try to keep the rancor out of the debates? At least so it doesn't take prominence over issues?

I don't see this forum as 'belonging' to any particular philosophy, personality, religion, or political persuasion. So argue away, but don't let trolls disrupt the analysis and discussion of issues. If you skim over the thread, you will easily see when and how that seemed to happen. I suggest that ignoring that kind of poster would be the most annoying response of all.

PS...I don't mean to homogenize or filter your unique personalities, and style of commentary. Viva la difference!

-- Mumsie (shezdremn@aol.com), March 08, 2000.


The way I understood Flints' original post was a lack of understanding of our technology might be reason to be a doomer. Lack of control of our lives due to technology. After reflecting on it I can see where that could be so for some. I replied only for myself and the idea has absolutely no relation to me and why I prepared.

My experience with code written by many coneheads, the inner workings of a large corporation and the efficiency of our gov were what scared me. I honestly did not believe all three would do the job correctly. No way! But it seems they did a good job.

One other goad to prepare was an opportunity to buy some nice camping and survival toys for a "good" reason. So we are eating a lot of our preps and I have some toys I wouldn't have had. Pretty good deal for me. Plus I met many nice and/or interesting people here. Almost like a second family. Warts and all.

-- Mr. Pinochle (pinochledd@aol.com), March 08, 2000.

This is rather late in the debate but I thought Id add a few comments.

To a large extent I agree with Flint. But not quite. To use his Shade Tree Mechanic analogy the science and the technology of the internal combustion engine hasnt changed since the old days. However the amount of extra or added technology coupled to the basic engine has. You can still work on your car but the expense of the tools, especially the computer diagnostics is almost prohibitive for someone wanting to do the work as a hobby. The engine still has pistons, crankshafts, cams, timing belts (or chains), etc. Carburetors have mostly gone the away but most of the basics are still there. The physics still applies.

One of Gary Norths mistakes was thinking that computers were in everything. A lot of his classic comments were about how nothing could be run manually anymore. I remember reading posts stating that the Rail Roads had removed all of the manual switches and everything was automatic. One small problem was it simply wasnt true. To use the car analogy again. A lot of the computer control on a modern engine is for pollution control and gas mileage. But they are set so if the computer fails the car will still run. Not well and it wont pass any pollution inspection but it will get you home.

The mistake that North and the others made was assuming that they DID comprehend how the technology was being used, even if they didnt understand it all. They were wrong.

As Ive written before they assumed that because they understood X and X was complicated they understood Y because Y was complicated and they understood complicated things.

All you have to do is to read Hawks posts to see this mind set at work.

-- The Engineer (spcengineer@yahoo.com), March 09, 2000.

So you are saying that I've been mis pronouncing "meester pee-no-chill"'s name this whole time? Damn DARN!

Now if you would continue "meester en-ghen-ear"....

-- middlegrounder (standing@the.middle), March 09, 2000.

Seriously, I follow The Engineers thinking on this. But I want to take it a step further.

The FUD promoters were in a different class than those who got suckered into y2kfear because they "didn't understand technology"

Gary North and Ed Yourdon knew exactly what they were doing by promoting worst case scenarios. They were trying to line their pockets. So were many others. They tried to accomplish this by playing on the "fear" of technology that Flint writes about in the starter post to this thread. People don't undstand technology and are therefor frightened of it. Just look at the number of posters to the various y2k forums that are having to ask "how do you cut or paste?" "how do I turn cookies off?" "How can I test my computer to know if it is okay for y2k?" etc.

Many of the people who claim "thousands of hours" of research on y2k, really did nothing more than read soundbites. It is equivelant to logging in to a medical discussion board, reading thousands of posts and then thinking you can diagnose illnesses. No way can that happen. At BEST you learn enough to be DANGEROUS. Someone may listen to you because you "sound" like you know what you are talking about.

I place myself somewhat in that category. I have a technology background, and I thought I could see the potential for problems.

BUT...because I have an understanding of technology, I was able to instantly discount the likes of North, Infomagic, and the rest of the hard-core "doomers". I also thought I could forget about the "pollys" that said nothing was going to happen because it was all a hoax. The truth is some y2k problems did occur, but nowhere near the massive scale that many predicted. The lack of problems, I believe, is because the problem was hyped from the start; and that the potential for problems was NEVER as high as some thought (myself included).

Perhaps I only know enough to be "dangerous". If I had known more before the date change, I might have been squarely in the hated "polly" camp. This whole episode has caused me to re-think the importance of the impact of technology on our lives, and ask the question, "Are computerized systems really that entwined in our daily living?"

-- middlegrounder (standing@the.middle), March 09, 2000.


You said, ""Are computerized systems really that entwined in our daily living?"

I asked myself that same question the beginning of last December:


I think most of us at this forum are panicked because WE use computers, and our lives may have to change. Fear of the future and the unknown can be debilitating, but we have to remember there are a lot of people who dont depend on computers. That is why so many people are not preparing! The guy who operates a backhoe doesnt give a damn about Y2K...neither does my mother. Chances are, most housewives and laborers have never touched a computer.

I was also wondering about it about a month ago, so I went out and started talking to people who own small businesses and it seems to me, that overwhelmingly, most of them don't use computers. (Bear in mind, however -- I didn't do a random sample of 384 people, so this was not a quantative study.)

Interestingly to me, I found that hairdressers, barbers, liquor store owners ice cream stores, dry cleaners, etc., et., all send their work to bookeepers. They said the equipment they use in their stores aren't computerized -- I guess it's the kind of equipment that everyone used when I was a kid. (Electric, but not computer.)

So, the question still stands, "Are computerized systems really entwined in our daily living?" I think the short answer is yes, in my life and your life; but not for the majority of the people in the world.


-- laura (ladylogic@......), March 10, 2000.

Close Middle Grounder.

I was also aluding to the idea that while they may not have understood or even feared technology they THOUGHT they understood HOW technology was used. Or, better yet, they THOUGHT they understood how widespread and intertwined it was in society in general and certain industries specificly. They didn't.

-- The Engineer (spcengineer@yahoo.com), March 10, 2000.


I came back to this thread again, rather late (couldn't stand the smoke and heat of the mid-section) and appreciated the general thrust of your post. Two points of departure however:

1) The engine still has pistons, crankshafts, cams, timing belts (or chains), etc. Carburetors have mostly gone the away but most of the basics are still there. The physics still applies.

If I were Flint I'd reply, "Yes, that's the level of automotive technology NOW. But the mumbles I hear from Detroit is that R&D is cooking up stuff that won't have ANY of those do-jiggies you're talking about under the hood. It sounded real Buck Rogers-like."

2)I remember reading posts stating that the Rail Roads had removed all of the manual switches and everything was automatic. One small problem was it simply wasnt true.

I've been a railroad buff since 1934. What I observed, walking the tracks of the big 'classification yards' throughout the nation, down through the '70s to '90s, taking fotos and drinking in the atmosphere I so loved, was that the labyrinthine bundles of control rods (some as long as a hundred feet) interconnecting the 'turnouts' (switches) with the elevated switchtowers -- were gone. Along with the towermen who knew which levers went to which switchrods (They were dead or retired.)

Now here's the interesting wrinkle. Many of we RR buffs were into 'restoration.' My group ended up restoring our entire town depot, trackage around it, and a steam loco into full operating condition, along with three coach cars. We turned it into a tourist RR attraction, with an actual schedule. A highlight for me was pulling Conductor duties on the maiden voyage.

We were always into our pipedreams: maybe someday America will come to its senses and return to steam (modernized, using turbines) power with all its practical advantages. Based on that we did a lot of research into the logistics of restoring classification yards. That's when we dug up the facts: the builders of the old manual rods/linkages/levers -- were long gone, either out of the business or in completely unrelated ones. Since the source of a lot of our RR lore were the old-time towermen themselves they also made it clear that to re-build the old system would require building a whole new training system for replacement personnel.

The first time I saw another version of "the RRs present no Y2K problem," by Stephen Poole -- that reverting back to manual systems was no big deal -- I ran the above information by him. (I also mentioned the official NYNH&H RR Engineering Dep't., year 1935, blueprints I had spread out in front of me, outlining the maze of control rods that made up the track switching system at Cedar Hill, the main classification yard in New Haven, CT.) He was a gentleman and said he stood corrected.

But that incorrect claim and the apology was an unfortunate one for me: it 'validated' my already-established grossly-in-error conviction that every polly claim was fiction and the obverse, that every claim Gary North was publishing was the gospel truth. (Not that I would have converted to a polly -- I became an '11.5' Doomer by Fall '97.)

So bringing it back to today I assume you were/are not in the RR business, so I would suspect the divergence of our stories arises from the fact that altho the classification yard switches were long ago computerized, the switches along the railroad corridors themselves never were -- it would be pointless to computerize standalone switches, at every spur and every siding, along the hundreds of thousands of rail lines webbed across the nation.

How can we relate this back to Flint's thinking that started this whole thread? My answer is: the truth about Y2K (and every other question we have about our ever-more-complex technocracy) was/is dependent upon two factors:

1) the correct application of logic

2) and that logic be based on correct information.

We need the 'two to tango' -- no matter in which camp our allegiance lies.

Glad to see you back, Engineer,


-- William J. Schenker, MD (wjs@linkfast.net), March 11, 2000.


I think you are making a common mistake in assuming that because things change, they change totally. The days of the Model T are long gone. Im not old enough to remember hand cranking autos, though my mother does. I can remember when cars had starter buttons. You had to turn the ignition switch and then press on the starter button. Im not old enough to driven one of these cars but I remember them. The modern ignition system where you put the key in and when you turn it, the starter turns the motor was first patented by Chrysler in 1949.

Now you might say because you can no longer hand crank an auto that its not manual anymore. Ditto with the switches on Rail Roads. True the stuff from 1935 is all gone. But that doesnt mean that it is still impossible to operate without a computer.

The bottom line is that electronic parts fail for all sorts of reasons; to hot, to cold, to damp, poor quality control, etc. So if something is critical you have to have some type of backup. It may not be purely manual (i.e. like a the starter crank for a car) but it is still not absolutely computer dependant.

It is possible that all of the statements from the Rail Roads were all lies, or that they didnt know their systems as well as they thought. But I doubt it.

An education isnt how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. Its being able to differentiate between what you know and what you dont. -Anatole France

-- The Engineer (spcengineer@yahoo.com), March 13, 2000.

Dear Flint,

   Well said.
   The strangest part of this entire debate was interacting with people who believed they understood the nature and scope of the problem because they were "on the internet." I am still stunned by the reaction true thinkers draw (as demonstrated by the wisdom of Hawk and others above...) when they challenge the illogical tenets of the (now historically) failed meme. People such as yourself, Hoff, Decker, and others regularly refuted the "arguments" of doomers, only to be met with such witticisms as "Yeah, but you don't KNOW, do you!" Admittedly, it is tough to stymie the prose of the "blissful"...

Vindicated Regards,
Andy Ray

-- Andy Ray (andyman633@hotmail.com), March 13, 2000.

I think my examples were poorly chosen, and are being taken with too narrow a focus. Yes, the fundamentals of the internal combustion engine might be the same, but cars caused and support suburbia, which is a new thing not easily reversible. Computers enable social security, which in turn shapes economics and politics in important ways not easily reversible. And WalMart is a phenomenon of both, and couldn't survive without either -- nor could the decent quality and excellent prices WalMart represents.

John Varley illustrates this beautifully with a story about an STL ship crewman fighting desperately, and ultimately unsuccessfully, to find some way NOT to lose touch with humanity.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 13, 2000.

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