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Skeptic email list: chicken little yells Y2K

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  • Eric Krieg
    Hi, Sometimes when confronted with some irrational mass-hysteria-du-jour, the best response is one-ups-manship. Pass this anonymous rant along to people
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 26, 1998
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      Hi,

      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
      conjunctions.

      arrrgh! I got to get back to writing code for "year ignorant" control
      systems,

      Eric Krieg eric@... fax (215) 654-0651

      PS: This is a post to the slow moving "Eric Skeptic Email list" - sign on
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