y2k = face on mars . . . Not!

Doug Platt (dplatt@voicenet.com)
Thu, 09 Apr 1998 16:05:49 -0700

Looks like its time for me to jump in.

After many months of y2k research and thought, I loudly and arrogantly
proclaim myself uniquely qualified among extropians to mouth off re y2k.
Sort of.

First off, if you follow the url about Gary North, Hal Finney recently
posted, you'll find that he does NOT believe in an impending second
coming or revelations predicted apocalypse. In fact, he chides
christians who rather than attempting to solve social problems, just
ignore them and say that jesus is coming. While I am wary of the
religiosity of sources, his brand of christianity is much less annoying
to me than the millenialists who he is accused of belonging to. One
poster accused North of outright fabrication on his web site. If you
check it out, you'll see that the heart of his site is LINKS to other
sources, many of them with very different views than his, plus editorial
comment on the sources. I would like to see one specific lie brought to
light as an example.

Another concern was the nature of the posters on certain y2k forums. Try
comp.software.year-2000. A large number of very experienced mainframe
and other programmers, many working on y2k issues, post there.
Admittedly, you also get Paul Milne, a non programmer who paints some of
the scariest post y2k scenarios, and is annoyingly christian (though
again, not of the millenialist variety).

And Hal also took a cheap shot at Ed Yourdon. Check out his
bio(somewhere on www.yourdon.com) and you'll see he has quite the
reputation to risk. Is he supposed to work for free? For a view from
someone with a great deal of credibility in the markets and finance, who
also has y's r's d's and an n in his name, check out Ed Yardeni's y2k
links on his site www.yardeni.com. He is the chief economist of nyc
investment firm Deutsche Morgan Greunfell.

Read the links at garynorth.com regarding the IRS, and you'll see that
they're not even in the ballpark for having any kind of meaningful fix
in time.

And the fed printing up lots of cash to keep the banks from having to
close, will only work till 01/03/2000 at best.

Can someone please find an example of one fortune 2000 company that is
even claiming to be fixed. Or one government above the county level.
Tenessee is 70-80 percent done, but they started before almost every
state - around 1990, I think, and most are still not actually fixing
code. How about one major utility or telco? How bout any organization
with over 20 million lines of code to fix.

The electric utility industry looks to be screwed. Check out what Rick
Cowles, the head of Digital's y2k utilities section, has to say at

And let's not forget the y2k errors found in nuclear weapons, admitted
to recently by Clinton's newly appointed y2k czar, John Koskinen. He
said something to the effect that while there is a small chance that
they may actually accidentaly fire, they are more likely to fail safe.
But even that destabilizes the balance of terror. Now, the world's
nuclear powers have to wonder whether theirs and others' missiles now
have a "best if used by date" on them of 01/01/2000.

About resetting clocks to 1972, that is a clever fix for a very small
number of systems. Most embeddeds have no way for the user to change the
date, and dos/windows machines can't handle dates before 1980.

Interesting assertion: One third of business software source code is

Interesting assertion 2: The embedded situation may be twice the size of
the mainframe y2k problem, but awareness and planning is about where it
was for mainframes 2 years ago.

That's enough for now.

Doug Platt