Re: Y2K once more

Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin (
Fri, 10 Apr 1998 00:05:59 +0000

> From:

> Dan Fabulich [] wrote:
> >The utilities will only go out if the banking system is in shambles...
> Or there's a bug that they can't fix because the power systems went out
> too, and they can't even run the computers long enough to find it. I don't
> expect that to happen, but if there are unexpected bugs that take down
> most of the power generation system for weeks then the rest of the economy
> is probably hosed. If there aren't, then we'll probably be OK by 2001.

Please identify a plausible y2k-related bug in a computer used in
power-grid management, which could not be worked around acceptably by
(a) disabling the process that sets the date & time to match some
central clock, and then (b) telling the computer it's Jan 1 1980.
(Recall that perfection is not required.)

As for the power to bring it up, I'll guarantee that a UPS doesn't
really care what date it is, and the large majority of
system-critical computers can run for at least 20 minutes off their
UPSes. (The network I used to administer, has doubled the number of
servers since the last time they upgraded the UPS. So today the UPS
can only power all servers for 35 minutes.) If that isn't enough,
they'll shut down the servers running financial and office
applications, and drag those UPSes over.

> >The FDIC would only stop if the government went bankrupt; which won't
> >happen, because the IRS will not go down permanently. And fortunately for
> >the banks, they're closed Jan. 1. It's a national holiday. :)
> The question is, how long does the IRS have to go down before all those
> people who've lent trillions of dollars to the Feds decide that they're
> uncreditworthy and want their money back?

Um... there is something you don't understand about federal debt.


Redeemable at a specified time and NOT BEFORE no matter how badly the
person wants to redeem them.

There are only two categories of bonds that are in any sense
exceptions to this:

(1) US Savings Bonds, which are an insignificant fraction of the
federal debt, and are 5- or 10-year bonds redeemable 6 months after
issue; and

(2) the special category of bonds that constitute federally-held
trust funds, and are redeemable upon demand -- if Congress and the
Treasury find it convenient to redeem them at that time. And the
Social Security Administration won't demand redemption for such a
trivial reason as the government being generally regarded as

The shortest-term federal bonds have a term of, if I recall
correctly, 90 days. So the average outstanding bond of the shortest
term would be redeemable in 45 days. But IRS income is normally
extremely cyclical, and there is probably little money coming in in
the first 10 days of January anyway: bonds redeemable in that period
are redeemed from funds left over from before, or funds raised by
selling new bonds. So you're looking at a bare minimum of 10 days,
and probably more than 30, before the IRS's problems actually have a
real impact.

Can that be gotten around? Sure. Take photocopies of the checks and
then go deposit the checks. When the computers are fixed, then
process the photocopies as if they were checks.
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