Quintessence of the Loon

Previous monthNext monthNovember 1999 - The Y2Kooks

Time is running out. If you haven't fixed the computer, the toaster and the VCR, stocked up with water, toilet paper and ammunition, updated your will, mortgage and insurance and spayed the cat you may be looking forward to a bleak 2000. Of course, if you have done all these and nothing happens you might be annoyed (but not as annoyed as the cat will be). This month, we looked at how bad things are going to be. In January 2000, we will look back and laugh. Maybe.

There was such a depth and breadth of both idiocy and opportunism about the Y2K problem that future historians will have trouble analysing the times without thinking that everyone was mad. In 1841, Charles MacKay wrote in the book "Extraordinary Popular delusions and the Madness of Crowds" about the panic at the end of the tenth century and said "A panic terror seized upon the weak, the credulous, and the guilty, who in those days formed more than nineteen-twentieths of the population." Not much has changed in the last thousand years.

Minorities added 30 November 1999
Why should majorities have all the fun and danger. This week I have found some Y2K sites which are specially targeted at minority groups and their special needs. I would have thought that when the end comes it will come for all of us at once.

I am woman, hear me roarY2K For Women - Karen Anderson
Around my place, the women are more ready than I am. That's because they control the money supply, the car, the VCR, the microwave oven and the travel arrangements. The things I am responsible for (gardening, fishing, killing spiders) still use the technology of Y1K. I am pleased to see that at least one of the millions of Y2K web sites addresses the particular needs of women. Australians have a saying: "She'll be right, mate". This site will make sure she is.

11111010000 - That's 2000 in binaryYear 2000 and the African American Community
The strange thing about this site is that it doesn't actually tell us any thing about what the title says. There appears to be nothing that relates to African Americans in any special way, or even in any way at all other than what is going to happen to everyone. This site isn't really nutty like some of the others here and the advice on it seems to be reasonable. I just can't see what it has to do with ethnicity.

Like the end of the millennium, it's gone.

A crunchy snack - is this the Millennium Bug.The Food Insects Newsletter
I don't know if this represents a true minority, at least not one in the political sense. I just like to think that there aren't that many people out there who want to eat insects. If there are, I hope they are vigorously persecuted and discriminated against. Where were these people when the Millennium Bugs were first talked about? Why weren't they eating them then and saving us from all this trouble? "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup." "Yes, sir. It's fly soup."

Y2K - The Big Guns added 24 November 1999
Something different this week - three for the price of one. It's hard to move around the Y2K maze on the 'net (or even in the real world) without coming across Gary North, Peter de Jager and Ed Yardeni. Each has his own slant on how and why the world is going to end

It's Gary!! Be afraid, be very afraid.Gary North
How anyone ever took this reconstructionalist religious archloon seriously is beyond me. He believes that all the computers are going to fail as God's way of destroying society. He has said "Call me a dreamer. Call me an optimist. ... This will decentralize the social order. That is what I have wanted all of my adult life. In my view, y2k is our deliverance." Some people are pessimistic about Y2K because they think things might go badly - North is an optimist because he knows things will go badly. To avoid having to recant when nothing happens he is predicting a long period of disruption.

Peter de JagerPeter de Jager
I heard Peter de Jager speak once and he said that time had run out and everything was going to go wrong and come 1/1/00 he wouldn't like to be in a plane, elevator, car with electronic ignition, or even a coracle because it rhymed with a software product. (I made up the bit about the coracle.) Billions of lines of program code could not be fixed and billions of embedded processors could not be located. I assume he then collected his speaking fee. You can now read how everything is going to be alright and isn't it lucky we listened to him.


Early in 2000, the domain "year2000.com" was offered for sale on eBay. There was a hot rumour that Peter de Jager had been offered $10 million for it, and we all said "He won after all". Sadly for PdJ, the bid was a fake. What will he do now? PB October 2000.

Dr Ed YardeniEd Yardeni
Dr Yardeni is an economist and probably possesses all of the predictive skills associated with members of that profession. He has been telling us that Y2K is going to be 1929 all over again, except worse (we can't even open the windows to defenestrate ourselves because our buildings all have air conditioning, which will fail anyway). He now says "I am no longer an alarmist about Y2K. I am just a skeptic now. There is no point in sounding the alarm any more with less than 90 days left to the century date change." You can now read how there is now only a 40% chance of financial system meltdown and isn't it lucky we listened to him.

It seems that Dr Yardeni has removed all mention of Y2K from his web site except for a 1997 piece where he noticed it was coming. Was this done because there is no problem now or because he doesn't want to be reminded of his predictions?
PB 28 May 2000

A couple of years later, and all is forgiven. Or is that forgotten? No mention of Y2K at all now.
PB 5 November 2002

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the windY2KChaos The Y2K Survival Site - Joseph Foreman added 16 November 1999
This person doesn't know what is going to happen, and believes that trying to predict the future is blasphemy because the Bible says you can't know when the end is going to come. He then goes on to say that you should be prepared, be really prepared for the coming cataclysm. Then he says that he doesn't want to be like Gary North who reckons the world is going to end because the Bible says it will and the computers are how it's going to happen. Then he tells us how bad the computer problem is going to be and how this will make the Bible prophecies come true, except that you can't predict when the prophecies are going to come true because you just can't do that because it would be second-guessing God and so be a sort of blasphemy. But you should be prepared for when there is no power in January 2000. Then he quotes Gary North again. And why is he suddenly talking about abortion?

Are you confused? I prefer my Y2K prophets to either tell me we are all going to hell in the dark or that nothing is going to happen at all. This person would want to bet on both sides in a football match to make sure he backed a winner, except he would argue with himself until the game was over and it was too late to bet. And I still can't figure out why he thinks that "6 foot x 6 foot pictures of dead babies" is a useful analogy when talking about Y2K scenarios.

The clock ticked on after 31 December 1999. This site did not. PB October 2000

Loon of the Month

The Loon of the Month awards goes to Jace Crouch and Mike Echlin because they epitomised the peculiar madness of the computer industry. A couple of ancient computers of a kind no longer used show some signs of their age, and this could cause panic that everything is going to crash and burn around us. It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.
Your computer will not fail if you do not turn it on.Time and Date Instabilities in the Year 2000 - Jace Crouch and Mike Echlin added 9 November 1999
Ignoring the experience of hundreds of millions of personal computer users, Jace and Mike have observed for the first time that sometimes you don't always get what you want when you turn your computer on. Unlike all other machines and appliances which work perfectly all the time, some computers have intermittent faults. Sometimes these faults are in the computer's clock. Next year is 2000. Therefore, intermittent clock failures must be caused by the electronics distorting time. They have even seen 286 and 386 computers with faulty communication and printer ports! Heavens! Twelve-year-old computers with occasional faults! Intel should be ashamed. (You may think the 286 is no longer relevant, but remember that these machines can run MacOS9 just as easily as they can run Windows 2000. Which is not at all.)

Jace and Mike call this phenomenon "The Crouch-Echlin Effect" and say that it is caused by "Time Dilation", which is apparently a stretching of space and/or time. They call this "TD" for short. I suspect that relativity is working and what we are really seeing is "Brain Shrinkage". It certainly sounds like BS to me.

macinTOSH added 9 November 1999

Here's somehing a bit different - someone got here without even having a web page. I felt I just had to share this cheap and quick fix for the Y2K problem with personal computers.

It's good to see Australia on the map.Millennium Ark - Stan and Holly Deyo added 4 November 1999
I just had to put this one in because Stan and Holly have moved to Australia. This site has the lot - newage, spiritualism, religion, computer meltdown, conspiracy, drygoods, guns, prophecy, ... This is the all-purpose, omnibus Y2K site and Stan predicted it all in his many well-researched books (which, of course, you can buy from the site). There is no excuse for not being ready for the coming catastrophe, whether it be the collapse of world society through the fulfilment of prophecy, or the disappearance of loved ones who are called to heaven, or not being able to make coffee in January because your kettle is not Y2K-compliant.

Handy for the Sydney-Hobart yacht race.Stan and Holly have a nice page listing all the things they know about their new home. If by some strange and unforeseen set of circumstances things are still working next year, they will be able to turn this into a nice resource for all the millions of tourists going to Australia for the Olympics.

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