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The New Millennium Arrived with a Whimper, Not a Big Bang
The Bug That Didn't Bite
Except Some Pocketbooks; Also, Our 1999 Bulletin on Bulletins
PHOENIX, New Year's Day 2000 The power is on. City tap water is flowing. Airplanes are flying. Cash registers are ringing. ATMs are handing out cash. TV and radio stations are broadcasting. The Internet is humming. Birds are chirping...
In short, the feared Y2K Big Bang turned out to be a whimper. The only news story in the Valley of the Sun on this first day of the New Millennium is that Jan. 1 marks the 100th consecutive day without rain. That's how deep one has to scrape on New Year's Day to come up with a worthy news item in Phoenix.
So we get on the phone and call our friends from around the U.S. and the world. Another bit of good news: The dial tone is also on. Then we connect Australia, Russia, England, China, Serbia Different cities, different countries, different continents - same story: The Y2K bug is AWOL.
The dreaded Millennium Bug that didn't bite. Except some people's pocketbooks. And egos. No wonder the first day of the Third Millennium (at least according to computer calendars - see the NOTE at the end) also brought out some apologists among the government Y2K bugbusters who defended the $100 billion to $600 which the U.S. has spent on defanging the Millennium Bug.
As for the private Y2K doomsayers, don't hold your breath expecting an apology from them. The shysters, or benevolent fools, take your pick, are probably too busy counting the money they took from millions of gullible victims. And waiting for the banks to open on Monday, so they could deposit the winnings of their con.
As we said in a May 20, 1998 editorial, "Debunking the Y2K and C2O FUD":
"Scams like that are as old as America. Or mankind. In their late 1990s edition, they are being foisted as the Y2K syndrome. Or FUD... Or whatever... So beware of the Y2K, C2O, CIA, IBM, NSA or other three-letter acronyms."
Whereupon we added:
" Our primary motivation in writing on the Y2K subject was to warn people who are not close to the computer industry not to fall for fear-mongering of self-serving gloom and doom 'prophets.' And to approach the Y2K problem with prudence, not panic."
Well, you should have seen a ton of e-mail protests which landed in our e-mail box following the publication of the preceding editorial! And not only from the relative ignoramuses when it comes to computers. One of these days, we may add some of them to our Memorial to the Immemorial Fool.
Meanwhile, they reminded of three quotes attributed to three great minds from the Second Millennium:
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
(Albert Einstein )
"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."
"All truth passes through three stages . First, it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident."
To the three great thinkers of the Second Millennium, we say "thank you!" - on this first day of the Third Millennium.
Thanks to visionaries like these, we have held fast to our convictions, and have resisted the urge to bolt and join the madding crowds. We hope that those of you who have joined us in refusing to join the Y2K hysteria, will also join us in offering our thanks to Messieurs Einstein, Gray and Schopenhauer.
How Much Did We Spend?
And how much money did this writer and his family spend on Y2K precautions and preparations, some of our friends and (wider) family asked? (since they knew we were in the information technology business).
Not one red cent!
Not one cent on one jug of water. Not one cent on one extra can of food. Not one cent on one extra tank of gas. Not one cent for one extra wad of cash
Here's, for example, an excerpt from our pre-Y2K correspondence with a friend from France, about whom we were worried because of the two powerful wind storms in late December (which caused a heck of a lot more trouble than the Y2K bug):
"Glad to hear it - that you got off so lightly scarred by the bad storm. Guess this was your 'Y2K warm-up?' Hope the 'Big Bang' is kinder to you...
As for ourselves, we have not spent a red cent (as they say here in the U.S.) on any of the Y2K gizmos. When my hairdresser asked me the other day if we were at least going to do something about our fresh water supply, I replied: 'No!'
'But everybody says we should have at least 3-5 day's supplies on hand,' she pleaded wistfully.
'The fools and shysters say that. Our dogs have survived on chlorinated pool water for several decades now. And I fail to see why we would need to spend money and contribute to the Evian company's shareholders' welfare if we can just mimic our dogs.' (of course, the comment wasn't meant as permanent dietary recommendation; only a dire emergency solution which was preferable to spending money on something which is God-given, such as water. Rainwater would have also done for the same purpose).
I think she got the message, however reluctantly. For, in the next breath, she told me about 'some real weird customers we have around here.' Who are 'buying up guns and ammo supplies,' she added.
'Well, it takes all kinds,' I tried to put her at ease. 'I would buy a gun and ammo if I intended to protect myself from someone who wanted to shoot me, not just because a clock's long arm goes past the 12-hour sign. That's deja vu stuff. It happens twice a day every day. If I were to buy that many guns, I wouldn't know what to do with them.'
I am not sure who she thought in the end was more weird - myself or that gun freak.J
Anyway, Happy New Year!"
And we have certainly not spent any money on drastic ideas, such as changing one's lifestyle, which were being recommended in early 1998, for example, by some self-serving doomsayers, such as Jim Lord, for example (see "Debunking the Y2K and C2O FUD"). And which were being lapped up by gullible audiences.
This Jim Lord, a former federal government employee, who had written a book on the Y2K doomsday, moved to Arizona from the Washington area, implying that he practiced what he preached.
But when we saw who attended his Phoenix May 1998 lecture (besides yours truly and the person who invited him), it was mostly some well-to-do, silver-hair or balding retirees. So this (Jim) Lord (not to be confused with the Lord who said long ago that "love of money is the root of all evil"), seems to have actually followed the money to the Valley of the Sun, while preaching a Y2K change in lifestyle. Which is what we also pointed out in that May 1998 editorial:
"See ya on Jan. 1, Y2K - by which time the C2O may have replaced the FUD. Or not... Either way, Jim will not be the name of the Lord."
Nor was this "computer guru" the only Y2K doomsayer. Look at what the self-professed "Y2K expert," Gary North, for example, said at his Web site, in a Home Page he said he had removed on Oct. 20, 1999:
"We've got a problem. It may be the biggest problem that the modern world has ever faced. I think it is. At 12 midnight on January 1, 2000 (a Saturday morning), most of the world's mainframe computers will either shut down or begin spewing out bad data. Most of the world's desktop computers will also start spewing out bad data.
Tens of millions -- possibly hundreds of millions -- of pre-programmed computer chips will begin to shut down the systems they automatically control.
This will create a nightmare for every area of life, in every region of the industrialized world.
It's called the year 2000 problem. It's also called the millennium bug, y2k, and (misspelled), the millenium time bomb. Millennium or millenium: it doesn't matter how we spell it; this bomb isn't going away."
Well, North at least got one thing right in the above diatribe. January 1, 2000 is a Saturday. North then adds in his Links and Forums section:
"It took me from early 1992 until late 1996 to come to grips emotionally with the Year 2000 Problem. You had better be a lot faster on the uptake than I was. We're running out of time. I don't mean that society is running out of time to fix this problem. Society has already run out of time for that. There are not enough programmers to fix it. The technical problems cannot be fixed on a system-wide basis.
The Millennium Bug will hit in 2000, no matter what those in authority decide to do now. As a system, the world economy is now beyond the point of no return.
So, when I say 'we,' I mean you and I as individuals. We are running out of time as individuals to evade the falling dominoes.
I maintain that the y2k problem is systemic. It cannot be fixed. The interconnections are too many. A noncompliant computer will spread bad data and re-corrupt a compliant computer."
Ever seen a more dramatic sound of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt)? Even the Big Blue's CEOs of the 1970s and 1980s, whose company's practices gave birth to the term FUD, might have been proud. Not since those IBM antitrust decades has so much BS been dispensed in so few lines!
Yet some of our readers regarded Gary North as some sort of a demi-God, judging by their correspondence and defense of his doomsaying. Which is a sad example of how easily even well educated people can be manipulated in a dumbed-down, over-hyped society.
There is a sucker born every minute. And that the Y2K escapade is merely a reminder of it. On this first day of the year of the Lord 2000.
But whether the U.S. Y2K price tag was $100 billion, as some estimate, or $600 billion on the upside, it has certainly produced some tangible benefits, and not only to the doomsayers. Computer and IT services companies also benefited. As did the consumers.
Virtually every major system in has been checked out. Older ones have been chucked and replaced. This wouldn't have happened under normal circumstances, when most programmers are up to their necks in alligators.
So the world is a lot safer and better today, thanks to the Millennium Bug, including all the hype which came with it.
Annex's Bulletin on Bulletins
On to more mundane matters
In 1999, Annex Research published 36 Annex Bulletins totaling 249 pages, 87 tables and 196 charts or images.
About 31% of them were devoted to corporate and financial analyses the same percentage as in 1998 (see Annex Bulletin 99-01, Jan. 1, 1999).
But only 11% of our 1999 reports delved on technology issues, once the mantra of the industrial era, accounting more than half of our analyses in the 1980s, for example.
By contrast, 58% of the Annex Bulletins were devoted to services, software or other global economic and IT industry trends. That's up from 51% the year before, and up from only 24% five years ago (1994).
The preceding statistics mirror the turbulent times when one millennium flows into another; and when one (industrial) era gives way to another (information).
Happy bargain hunting!
NOTE: January 1, 2000 is actually NOT the first day of the Third Millennium, except for computer calendars. The end of the Second Millennium and the beginning of the Third will be reached on January 1, 2001. This date is based on the now globally recognized Gregorian calendar, the initial epoch of which was established by the sixth-century scholar Dionysius Exiguus, who was compiling a table of dates of Easter. Rather than starting with the year zero, years in this calendar begin with the date January 1, 1 Anno Domini (AD). Consequently, the next millennium does not begin until January 1, 2001 AD.
Editor: Bob Djurdjevic
5110 North 40th Street, Phoenix, Arizona
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