Peter de Jager Strikes Back : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Those of us involved in the PdJ discussions of the last two days are indebted to Kevin, who has provided a link to PdJ's response to recent controversy. I'll repeat here the link Kevin has provided us: As Kevin points out, Gary North has simply presented PdJ's statement with no spin.

PdJ offers this statement as a clarification because he says he was misquoted in a recent article. Following are excerpts from this clarification:

"In the sense that everyone is aware of the technical problem and that most people are working on it to the best of their ability, albeit late etc. etc. ...the problem is being taken care of."

"In the sense that we have several hundred ways of solving the problem (all we have to do is apply them) the problem has been 'solved'."

Well, these quotations illustrate the problem I've always had with PdJ. Admirable effort does not equate to admirably intelligent effort.

"Several hundred ways of solving the problem": Not nearly that many unless you want to count the many ways of blowing smoke (see Terry's interesting contribution to yesterday's thread) but we do have technical alternatives, and the choice is extremely important.

For example, it has been argued that for the date expansion approach, with its enormous testing requirements, work on application systems should have finished last fall. The rest of the time, including all this year, should be devoted to testing. Application systems working together is an area giving people nightmares.

So how many date expansion efforts are making this schedule? It is no good making a heroic effort using a technical approach where time has run out

-- Peter Errington (, February 04, 1999


Peter de Jager is truly a master at "verbal tapdancing". He also, according to North's site, stated:

Will we suffer failures, glitches, bankruptcies etc. etc. because of
Y2K? of course we will... but will the banking system collapse? NO.
Will we lose telecommunications around the world? NO. Will we
suffer blackouts right across America for weeks at a time? NO. How
can I say that, because these organizations have solved enough of the
problems to avoid these scenarios.

Funny, I have real tough time understanding the concept that if you work real hard and throw lots of money at a problem, then somehow the worst aspects of the problem are solved. Especially with realtime networked computer systems (e.g., banking), where everything has to work, not just 80% or 90% etc.

-- Jack (, February 04, 1999.

Peter, Thanks for update.

-- Watchful (, February 04, 1999.


You know, I almost wish I hadn't read this. Like many of you, I initially became aware of this problem because of Petey De's great work. He approached the problem in a well reasoned fashion, and called for a rational response. If he changed his mind, then I feel he still has enough credibility that I should at least listen to the facts he presents. This current statement, however, is pathetic. He's now waffling in classic style, using lingual gymnastics the likes of which would make Slick himself proud. Having a way to "solve" a problem is nowhere near saying the problem is solved. We have several hundred ways of solving world hunger, but nobody is claiming world hunger is solved. Come on Pete....we're worth more than that....don't destroy the good work you've done.

-- abcdGoldfish (, February 04, 1999.

Thanks, Jack for the clip. Also note: it's easy to look reasonable when you set up a strawman. Will all telecommunications around the world go down? Will the entire US grid go down for weeks at a time? Overlooking for a moment that de Jager doesn't actually know the answer to those questions, these are softball issues.

Try this: is there a > 10% chance that some regions of the US will be without power for one to two weeks due to Y2K? That the US as a whole will experience dirty power for six months to a year?

Or ....

Is there a > 10% chance that there will be oil-supply shortages leading to doubling of fuel prices? Is there a >10% chance that we will be unable to receive a reliable stream of consumer goods manufactured in Asia for six months or more?

Or ....

Is there a > 10% chance that some major international banks will fail? Is there a > 10% chance that the market will drop 40% in late 1999 or early 2000?

Or ....

Is there a > 10% chance Hussein will invade Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in January, 2000 to exploit a chaos vacuum?

Or .... ???

Point: de Jager is not technically astute. He is an awesome marketer. Marketing (telling stories) is a vital profession in our economy as it stands. de Jager realized early that Y2K was a vital story. Give him credit. He has made big bucks telling that story. Fine, I'm a capitalist too.

But he continues to structure his new story, even this "denial", to fit what he perceives the new marketing reality to be. He is spinning the positive because the establishment politico-business boys that are writing him the 1M a year checks want it so ("Peter, you've got to call off the troops, they're going to cause a run on the banks and then we'll be in a worse mess. Okay, old boy?")

People might think this is flaming de Jager. It isn't. I've been in that game. This is exactly how it works, unless you want to surrender the checks ("We can't count on de Jager anymore, he's a flake.")

He's actually given us the clue in this own text: it's no longer necessary to say that Y2K is a serious problem. Yawn. Yawn. Yawn again. This is news? Another strawman.

But what is necessary is to warn the boys that they aren't going to be ready in time and that the potential consequences remain perilous. But that means the public will be hearing that message, you see and it ain't 1997 anymore, JQP might actually DO SOMETHING about it ........

-- BigDog (, February 04, 1999.

.... oh, and one last teensie-weenie thing ....

Some number of flesh and blood human beings (10,000? 100,000? 1,000,000?) will blow off serious preparation by appealing to de Jager ("de Jager has been in this from the beginning. If he says things are going to be okay ....."). If Y2K blows up, some of these people will die because they didn't prepare.

That is the consequence and burden of being a leader in our culture when a crisis is at stake. de Jager has failed that test miserably and, at bottom, deceitfully. Most of Peter's 1M this year will be blood money. Wonder how much of it will go to his own preparations and the saving of his sorry behind while the little people are cold and hungry?

-- BigDog (, February 04, 1999.

Do I prepare for emergency situations - flood, fire, earthquake? To the best of my ability, yes. Do I prepare for asteriod strikes, a dozen volanoes erupting beneath my feet, or the sudden subduction of the entire Atlantic Plate? No. These things COULD happen. Preparation to survive them would require self contained and renewable air and food supply systems, building shelters that could withstand massive pressures and temperatures - in short - a lifelong sustained effort that would have a very small chance of any real payback. They are not likely to happen. Y2K, if completely ignored, COULD have caused massive long lasting disruptions. Not likely it would have, operative word is could. Much has been fixed, much more will be fixed. Probablity of extensive disruption has been reduced - to zero? No. Exactly how much? Hard to say - this is not, and never has been, a simple yes/no - it works or it fails to function type of problem. Many devices or systems may work at reduced efficiency for a time, some may fail or require resetting to function properly. But I personally feel confident enough that I am taking no further preparations than those I have already made for any emergency.

-- Paul Davis (, February 04, 1999.

DeJager's comments confirm for me the obvious. We are now into '99 and the days of raising awareness of the Y2K problem are over. And as the "King of Awareness", DeJager needs a new platform to remain relevant. Advocating an "anti-panic" message may be a noble endeavor, but because of the vast amount of "doom and gloom" comments of DeJager on record, DeJager does not have a prayer of becoming the leader of "calm". Journalist will crusify him.

-- for real (, February 04, 1999.

Come on, Paul ----

"Do I prepare for asteriod strikes, a dozen volanoes erupting beneath my feet, or the sudden subduction of the entire Atlantic Plate? No. These things COULD happen."

More strawmen. As if.

Neither you nor I can rate the actual possibilities of long-term problems: that's prophecy. Nor can de Jager. We don't actually know whether it's .01% or 10% or ???. How can we, Paul?

I'm not auditing the results of the Fortune 5000: are you? No one is because we don't have industry metrics standards that are applied by even 5% of that group in a disciplined fashion. I don't mean that paranoically, just descriptively. In fact, we could be ahead of the Y2K curve or behind, no one knows. If that inspires confidence in you, fine, you're entitled to your opinion. But the fact remains that Y2K is almost entirely self-reported in an industry (like most, of course) where self-reporting is generally optimistic. And the few serious audits have raised alarm bells. But let's not rehash that.

Plenty of reasonable mainstream people outside this NG have predicted results at least as bad as the ones I list above. I purposely chose non-doombrood "chances" to illustrate how far de Jager has swung from the past.

My point above about de Jager remains unchallenged. Indeed, you have confirmed it by using a similar strawman approach as de Jager. I really expect better of you.

-- BigDog (, February 04, 1999.

If you put serious Y2K disruptions along the same probability lines as "asteriod strikes, a dozen volanoes erupting beneath my feet, or the sudden subduction of the entire Atlantic Plate", then clearly the amount of time and money that it takes to prepare for Y2K is completely unjustified (and shame on the Red Cross for not seeing this). If you think that Y2K disruptions are significantly more likely to happen, then preparation is completely justified. The only sure thing is: January 1, 2000 is coming, on time, and there is no way to delay it by even the slightest fraction of a second.

You pays you money and you takes you chances.

-- Jack (, February 04, 1999.

The bad news is that Peter will continue to speak at fora,etc,etc. But from now on, his commentary will be probably be somewhat less than useful.

-- dave (, February 04, 1999.

What the Red Cross recommends for emergencies is less than what I keep at all times. Not being ready for emergencies in flood and tornado country is just plain stupid. But just how bad does Y2K disruption have to get to get out of the boardroom and onto main street? If 10% of US power generation capacity went down, (and unless you think virtually every power company in the country is conspiring against you then 10% is a gross overestimate), what would happen on main street? Nothing. The man on the street would never know about it except from the evening news. Overgeneration capacity is about 20%. When was the last time you were in a brownout? If you were, and it was later than 1982 or so, then the load in your area, at that time, exceeded the transmission capability of the local lines to handle it. And I have been assured so many times by the guys who are actually working on power transmission that the maximum time to bring up the grid from a total knockout would be less than three days, that I have decided to believe them. What motive would they have to lie?

-- Paul Davis (, February 05, 1999.

Paul-y-anna Davis's posts are just getting hysterical. I can see it now, bunch of guys taking a lunch break, near an electric utility truck, Paul-y-anna comes up: "I'm a computer scientist, I want to ask you some questions about Y2K". Then its back to the Yourdon Forum with the latest assurances.

And no one is saying that there is a CONSPIRACY in the electric industry. Only that these guys are up a creek, and have no idea just how bad its going to be, becuase THEY DON'T KNOW. They started TOO LATE. "Overgeneration of electricity", "Overabundance of food supply" -- ARE YOU NUTS? Like that is going to mean ANYTHING when the juice stops flowing and transportation is shut down.

-- King of Spain (, February 05, 1999.

I'm here to support Paul Davis, and to state to this forum that we also have downgraded our Y2K preparations to the same level we'd need in a natural disaster. We're not DGI's; my husband works for a software consulting company whose main client is one of the largest long distance carriers in the United States. (He can also corroborate the remediation experiences of Troll Maria.)

I'm more afraid of those who would engender panic to serve their own Y2K hidden agendas than I am of the aftereffects and obviously, a large cleanup effort.

I think that the allegation that Peter DeJaeger is making "blood money" is laughable. How many self-styled "Y2K experts" are making pronouncements in the national media about an event nobody can predict, and using that opportunity to sell products? Why is their money any cleaner? If these "experts" truly believe that this is TEOTWAWKI, how in any good conscience can they sell people ten years' worth of dehydrated food, for instance, or two years of a newsletter when it will only (supposedly,) be delivered for the next eleven months?

I believe that more people will end up dead and injured as a result of panic, rioting and civil unrest during the last week of December, 1999, than of any problem associated with the rollover on 1/1/00.


-- Julie Benjamin (, February 06, 1999.

Any of you interested in Peter de Jager's preparation plans? This is a quote from the November 22, 1998 issue of the Toronto Star: 01_FI-DEJAGER22.html

Seated in the shadow of the towering Morman temple near his Brampton home, de Jager smiles at the irony.

The Morman church teaches its faithful to stockpile food - a practice that has become vogue among the growing ranks of Y2K survivalists, who are buying cabins in the woods and withdrawing their life savings from banks.

De Jager, a father of two teens, scoffs at such "overreaction." He bought a cottage north of Orangeville recently, but it had nothing to do with Y2K, he insists.

Still, he does plan to stock up on groceries and supplies, keep a generator in his home and cash handy in case bank doors stay closed.

-- Kevin (, February 06, 1999.

Julie --- Many people, you may be one of them, will reduce preparations because of de Jager's statements. Since de Jager has offered no evidence for his change of mind (opinions, yes, but no evidence on his site of successful remediation adequate to his new opinion), my statement about the quality of his money stands.

Yes, he may be right next year. You may be right. I may be right. We can argue that all day. What we can't argue is that the only credible ground for de Jager to change his opinion is reported evidence. Where is it?

-- BigDog (, February 06, 1999.

Big Dog:

You know perfectly well that we have no shortage of claims that "we'll be ready in time." Even the IRS and FAA are making this claim. Maybe you are bemoaning the lack of *credible* evidence? In that case, we need a standard of credibility, and we don't have anything like that.

Did you read Arnold Trembley's latest report? They (Mastercard) submitted their tested code to IV&V, and salted it with numerous deliberate y2k errors. They picked the only IV&V outfit (out of four) that found all those introduced errors. So even IV&V has a credibility problem.

I don't really expect a lot of reports to say "well, our testing showed an awful lot of problems, but at least we're testing." I don't expect any agreement on how close is close enough, even after the fact.

-- Flint (, February 06, 1999.

Speaking of the IRS...

In this article by Reuters from October 23, 1998, the IRS said that all their key systems would be Y2K compliant by January, 1999.,4,27886,00.html?

-- Kevin (, February 06, 1999.

Flint ---- the rules of the game (yes, I know it is mainly a game, but I didn't make up the rules) are declaring "Y2K compliance" or "Y2K readiness." At least those declarations provide something with minimal opportunity for decent public scrutiny. It may well be that vast numbers of entities come in under the deadline at the last minute.

But I fail to see any interim source of evidence (indeed, slipped schedules is negative, no matter how it is spun) that de Jager HIMSELF uses to justify his turnabout. It's mainly, "I'm glad we got people to admit it was serious and start working," and "By golly, I know we aren't going to have a disaster."

On other threads, I have taken Social Security self-reported declaration as "good enough for now." I'm prepared to do that with the airlines (maybe in four weeks or so) and many others. I'm not paranoid. So, I'm not demanding a credible set of evidence that is so idealistic that it will never happen by definition.

I stand by my statements on this thread unless you can explain my error better? In fact, I'd like you to say, "Big Dog, you're the best!" Sorry, just kidding.

-- BigDog (, February 06, 1999.

Big Dog:

Maybe you are the best. I don't really disagree very strongly with anything you write. I expect public declarations of optimistic predictions masking death marches behind the scenes, right up to the bitter end. Maybe even a spate of "we're compliant now" declarations toward the end of the year if these are seen as conferring a competetive advantage. I think in two or three months we'll know a lot more.

I notice Yourdon's latest essay describes expectations eerily similar to the ones I posted earlier. I know these are ballpark visions, but it seems the ballpark is getting smaller and no prettier.

I hope de Jager comes forth with good, documented support for his current position. If he really has this information, he could take a giant step toward averting the panic he fears by releasing it.

-- Flint (, February 06, 1999.

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