Well done, LB! This is the minion who suggested the idea to you via email. You really kicked it up to the next level by accurately pointing out that a dedicated effort to discredit is not necessary when the central premise of your thinking is that anyone who disagrees with you is a threat. If that is the case, and you’re holding the reins of power, then you will put mechanisms in place to automatically marginalize anyone who poses a threat to your power. Thus, never attribute to a conspiracy what can be explained by greed, avarice, the willful blindness that comes from constantly believing your own lies, and an unbridled lust for power.
“Never rationalize with irrational people … Ignore them or shoot them.”
Yep, that’s the conclusion that I and others who worked on Y2K and warned people about the fragility of the system it threatened have reached. I learned that one the hard way – I was booted out of my church (which put out posters proclaiming that they were “J2K [i.e., “Jesus2K”] Compliant”) and that people therefore had no need to make any preparations for even a slight disturbance (as the Christian-based Joseph Project suggested ever-so-gently). No, they tacitly advanced the notion that American Christians were special and would never see those sorts of problems. I asked my pastor why he believed that American Christians should be exempt from experiencing the sort of hardships that most of the Church, throughout most of the world, throughout most of the past 2,000 years has had to endure. He stared at me in silence.
Oh, and my wife left me, too. She said she was tired of living with a doomsayer.
Now, please note that I never felt or said to anyone that Y2K was going to be the end of the world. None of us knew how this unprecedented event would play out. We simply extrapolated from the data we had to the scope of the potential that existed and got very frightened. Not because of the PCs and mainframes out there (though that was bad enough) but because of the billions of embedded processor chips out there which were susceptible to failure at the rollover, even though they had no explicit date function built into them. The rule of thumb was “If it costs more than $100 and it draws power from a wall outlet it has a microprocessor in it that is at risk.” Computerworld called those embedded controllers “the unseen guardians of our lives” as they controlled everything from sewage valves to vents atop power station smokestacks. (There were instances of failures of both of those devices during testing, by the way, which never made it to the public news outlets.)
Since you alluded to those sorts of juicy details that never made it to public view – details whose inference into what would happen should they occur on a wide scale on 1/1/2000 might panic the sheep – let me offer one in detail as thanks for taking on my proffered idea, and for your amusement and that of other minions.
I was assisting with Y2K remediation at the company I worked at in the late 1990’s. It was a pretty good sized multi-national company with substantial revenues and about 1,000 employees – that’s as specific as I’ll get.
The IT department had been busy remediating PCs and servers and in late 1999 they thought they had things pretty well done and wanted to do a rollover test. (This is where you set the date on your servers to 1/1/2000 and see what happens to all of the PCs and other devices that sync to it - hopefully, nothing). I advised them to do this on a weekend but they scoffed at that. Their staff had been working overtime for months and just wanted the effort to be over with. Besides, they had tested the PCs and other date-sensitive devices on the network individually and fixed any issues that came up.
I asked them if they had tested the network switches and routes as well. No, they said – those don’t have date functions in them so why should they? I warned them that this was unwise based on the reports I had heard from other testers. I advised that that they should at least schedule the test for a weekend in case anything happened. On weekends we were essentially closed and not shipping product so the impact would be minimal. They ignored the warning and did their test on a weekday morning.
As soon as they advanced the date the entire print server network in the company went down and would not come back up. No one could print an invoice or Certificate of Compliance sheet (one was shipped with each unit we sold) or any other piece of hardcopy that is needed to keep a business operating. Nothing was shipped for revenue that day and hundreds of people sat around for eight hours getting paid to do nothing as they waited for the network to come back up so they could do their jobs.
A few days later the IT manager sheepishly admitted to me that the problem was traced to a network switch that was not supposed to be date-sensitive. Once they isolated the problem to that specific switch a Y2k-compliant replacement had to be flown in from the manufacturer that day (an IT guy drove fifty miles down to the Denver airport to pick it up and hand-carry it back to the plant). The network was not brought back up later that night after everyone went home.
He told me that the manufacturer told him that we were lucky that they had a unit in stock to send us. Others were experiencing the same issue and placing the same panicked calls for immediate replacement, and their inventory was getting pretty thin. The IT manager wondered aloud what would have happened if this had occurred at the rollover and every business using this very common model of network switch was hit with the same failure at the same time. They’d be making the same panicked calls to the manufacturer to get one of the few available replacements in stock. And what if the manufacturer had also been hit with similar problems and was itself shut down, unable to manufacture more units to ship out? Hmmm…you can envision as we did how that sort of problem could feed on itself until the entire system gridlocked.