Sturm und drang : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

I didn't really thnk my observations about Reuben and Heller would generate this much sturm und drang. After reflecting on the dialogue, I want to make a few observations.

In one of the old threads, Steve Heller talks about needing machinists to "rebuild society." How does a bright, successful software author move to thinking we are going to plummet into the 18th century? Personally, I don't think most people wake up one morning and start building an alternative power supply system or stocking nitrogen containers of nonhybrid seeds.

In general, I think most of the "doomers" had a predisposition, a certain lack of faith in modern society. Along with this, many seemed to have a fascination with the skills and tools required for a self sufficient lifestyle. How would we survive an economic or social meltdown? It is a very interesting question (and the subject of some great fiction).

Most of us have probably wondered how we would fare in such extreme circumstances, but few have actually moved beyond idle speculation into active preparation. Heller wants to dismiss his Y2K preps as simple prudence. Sorry, but I'm not buying it. Scouting the horizon for a machinist in the event one needs to rebuild civilization via steam engines goes WAY beyond prudence.

Few "doomers" have admitted what I suspect; the preparation gig was intellectually stimulating, exciting and satisfying. Something in Y2K preparation resonated within some people. Perhaps our modern society lacks some of the primal elements that made "preps" against a hard deadline so compelling... a theory I floated during an earlier discussion of Stan Faryna.

In my opinion, Heller (and others) calcified into a fixed position on Y2K. By the end of 1999, it was hard to find a single credible source seriously worried about rollover. I don't think simple prudence explains the "doomer" fixation on preps... and I find the deeper explanations far more interesting (and human).

On a related subject, I took a fair amount of heat last year for my "arrogance." In retrospect, I was pretty overbearing in my opinion on Y2K. This is not to say I thought I was smarter than "doomers," but I thought the available data better supported my position.

On the other side of the fence, it was fairly common for the "doomers" to wonder out loud about why the "pollies" were so stupid. We didn't get it or didn't want to get it. I always chuckled at the accusation of arrogance from those who spoke about GIs and DGIs.

When any argument devolves into my resume is longer than yours, we are not talking about the issue. A first year doctoral student may have the right answer... and a Nobel Prize winner may be wrong. It is not the accomplishments that determine correctness, but the objective inquiry.

The recent chest-beating about accomplishments touches upon a larger philosophy of life. It is an American fixation to measure one's life by externalities. What kind of car do you drive? What does your spouse look like? How large is your house? How many degrees do you have? How much money do you make?

With all due respect, I doubt any of us will be remembered by history. Heller's book on C++ will have no more long-term relevance than a 18th century manual on cotton gin repair. This is not a criticism, Steve, but a simple observation.

Unlike some, I don't worry overmuch about this. I enjoy a wonderful, modest life in a free society. I have a small job I do fairly well. Rather than fret about a place in history, I enjoy life and try to give more than I receive. When asked recently about the most "important" thing I had done since high school, I fluctuated between my military service and working with emotionally-disturbed adolescents for a few years. Not the stuff of an impressive resume, but we all march to the beat of our own drummer.

To tie these loose threads together, I think some of the ennui of modern life is the failure of material possessions to satisfy our deeper longings. Y2K preparation gave a relevance to life some people do not experience. It promised the chance of a new society where skills and contributions might be more fairly valued. It teased the hopeful with a brave new world. It teased us with the idea we might have accomplishments and make a difference.

The irony is, we already do.

-- Ken Decker (, June 26, 2000


I agree, anti-christ will need technology-to spread his message. 1 of his names is PRINCE OF THE AIR[WAVES]. I,M GLAD I WON,T BE HERE,WHEN HE MAKES HIS DEBUT.

-- al-d. (, June 26, 2000.

I have an 18th century manual on cotton gin repair! I took it to the Antiques Roadshow and they told me it is worth $24,000 - $30,000!!!

-- Eli Whitney's Great Great Great Grandaughter (dat ain't no @ cotton-pickin. chump change), June 26, 2000.

Congratulations Eli! Sounds like holding on to old items are worthwhile. Unfortunately I throw away everything if I don't use it within five years. Funny I find a need the moment it's at the dump.

Ken, "a certain lack of faith in modern society" Some may have had this attitude while others I believe actually desired a fall of society. They were so unhappy with their lives that they looked forward to having "the upper edge" with the possible downfall.

-- Maria (, June 26, 2000.

Well even if you are a vending-machine repairman Ken, you sound like one the smartest vending-machine repairmen in the universe.

-- Kissing up to Ken (as@phony.asDecker), June 26, 2000.

I would say you pretty much "nailed" Ken. Oh well... back to boring, hum-drum life in the 21st. Century.

-- JoseMiami (, June 26, 2000.

For the record, I am not a vending machine repair person... although I sure it is an honest trade. Of course, that was one of the points of my original post. Our choice of occupation does not define us. Choosing to work a manual trade does not mean one is less intelligent or literate than the next person. Credentials do not guarantee one is not a fool. It's good to know my little Greek chorus is still singing its collective heart out.

-- Ken Decker (, June 26, 2000.

"intelectually stimulating and satisfying." You're getting close.

Still, didn't think I'd miss the burried whimper did you?

-- Carlos (, June 27, 2000.

"Credentials do not guarantee one is not a fool."

One of the few times that I agree with you, Ken. I was just saying tonight, that I've hired several people in the past, with a degree, that turned out to be complete morons.

I consider myself lucky to have found a job as a second shift computer operator, while I was still in high school. When I graduated, I was promoted to a programmer trainee. I don't like to brag, but today I'm considered an expert, by people like IBM that I used to work for, in assembly language programming, on both the IBM 3x0 mainframe, and the Intel x86 micro. While I never did go to college, I have taught college classes in assembly language, thanks to my old high school teacher.

Just goes to show you, never judge a book by it's cover...


-- Sysman (, June 27, 2000.


If I had known you were reading, I would have used a phrase you are more familiar with. Some people "got their rocks off" on Y2K preparation. And what's this obsession about me and whining? You're like a piano with one working key. Find a new criticism. Keep the act fresh.

-- Ken Decker (, June 27, 2000.


"Some people "got their rocks off" on Y2K preparation."

I confess I was one of them, Ken. In summer of 1998 I went to a store, dusted off a 5-gallon gas can and put it in my cart. I paid $10.00 for it. Later, I went to another store and found 5-gallon gas cans sold for $5.00 [with a 1-gallon can taped to the side.] I bought that one as well. They're both sitting empty in the garage right now.

Although familiar with ACCESS, I never found a reason to use it at home. I set up a database for purchases and documented date, price, category, product, etc. I'd never known what things SHOULD cost before. I checked expiration dates for the first time in my life. Do you realize how many food stuffs on store shelves have already expired? You'd think they'd push the stuff soon-to-expire to the front of the shelf to sell it faster, but I didn't see that. I even learned how to interpret expiration dates on canned goods that were encoded.

I still reference a hardcopy of that database.

-- Anita (, June 27, 2000.


I think you are on the right track but you forgot an important component: EGO.

Ive recommended the book Voodoo Science before. But it isnt only because I think a number of people are techno-illiterate. The author makes the point, particularly in regard to Pons, Fleishman and Cold Fusion that what probably started out as an innocent miscalculation built up into much more. By calling news-conferences, testifying before the Senate, etc the discovers put a lot of their ego on the line. If they had discussed it with colleagues who were physicists (they were chemists) or submitted it to a professional journal their errors would have been less public. He makes other examples in the book.

Y2K is/was similar. In 1995 a large amount of speculation might have been OK. No one really did know much about the possible ramifications, though even then going back to steam engines was a bit much. The real crux came when the doomsters put forward several critical dates to watch. The dates came and went with nothing much happening. The much heralded Jo-Anne Effect never effected anything. But instead of reevaluating their original stands (with the possible exception of Cowles) the cries of cover-up began. They joined with Ms. Squires answer to everything: It wasnt Y2K yet. After it was Y2K the cry became: Y2K isnt over yet. So the trigger dates, which were supposed to portend impending doom, became a never mind. And ignore that man behind the curtain.

The more public and the more certain the pronouncements became the tougher it became to pull back from them.

-- The Engineer (, June 27, 2000.

"I think some of the ennui of modern life is the failure of material possessions to satisfy our deeper longings."

Good point Ken. There was a terrific thread on the old bomb discussing the future called something like 'Brave New World or 1984?' It's a shame that you came to the forum after it had morphed into World Wide Wrestling's Pollies vs Doomers, I think you would have added and received more value and substance from it before it degenerated.

-- flora (***@__._), June 27, 2000.

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