Sometimes when confronted with some irrational mass-hysteria-du-jour, the
best response is one-ups-manship. Pass this anonymous rant along to people
stockpiling cash, food, generators and guns for the coming computer burp:
"Experts warned today of a new and deadly threat to our
beleaguered civilisation: the 100GB bug. As most people
know, McDonald's restaurant signs show the number of
hamburgers the giant chain has sold. That number now
stands at 99 billion burgers, or 99 Gigaburgers (GB).
"Within months or even weeks, that number will roll
over to 100GB. McDonald's signs, however, were designed
years ago, when the prospect of selling one hundred
billion hamburgers seemed unthinkably remote. So the
signs have only two decimal places. This means that,
after the sale of the 100 billionth burger, McDonald's
signs will read '00 Billion Burgers Sold'.
"This, experts predict, will convince the public that,
in over thirty years, no McDonald's hamburgers have
ever in fact been sold, causing a complete collapse of
consumer confidence in McDonald's products. The ensuing
catastrophic drop in sales is seen as almost certain to
force the company into bankruptcy. This, in turn, will
push the teetering American economy over the brink,
which, finally, will complete the total devastation of
the global economy, ending civilisation as we know it
and forcing us all to live on beetles."
As a computer guy who seems to be a magnet for irrational people, I am
always rendering a rational response to Y2K hysteria. I try to explain that
people with boring lives thrive on disaster excitement. I've worked on many
critical control systems which all have no reason to even know what year it
is. If there is a systemic pandemic year storage problem - we will at least
have a preview of it when the year 99 comes. Because many programmers used the
high range of simple numbers to stand for an error code (heck, I've done that
sort of thing). Even if a few ill prepared companies go under - that would be
a good thing from a darwinian point of view. I'd like to see more non
adapting incompetent companies fold. Even when Y2K eschatology falls flat, the
next hot doomsday fear mongering will come from those who claim a planetary
conjunction in May of 2000 will . . . . [add disaster list here]. People
promoting that panic won't tell you that nothing happened on previous
arrrgh! I got to get back to writing code for "year ignorant" control
Eric Krieg eric@...
fax (215) 654-0651
PS: This is a post to the slow moving "Eric Skeptic Email list" - sign on
If I'm sending you too much stuff reply back with the words "shut up, already"
in the subject line.