Who Is in Charge Here? Nobody. That's Why We're All on Our Own.greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
http://y2ktimebomb.com/PP/RC/dm9922.htm Comment: Dick Mills says that we outsiders cannot say a priori that PR flaks at power companies are telling us lies. In his article on testing, which appears on Westergaard's site (June 4), he says:
"Therefore, a utility representative may assert that, 'We have considered the testing problem and devised and executed a testing plan that we believe was warranted by the risks.' When that occurs, there is no a priori basis for any outsider to challenge the technical assertion."
He is dead wrong. I can challenge the flak's technical assertion a priori as easily as he can assert it a priori. It's all a priori until it becomes a posteriori: based on verifiable evidence. The question is: On what verifiable evidence did he make the assertion? The secondary question is this: If he's lying through his teeth in the name of the corporation, who imposes what sanctions?
His essay dealt with integrated testing. It began by stressing how crucial integrated testing is. He writes (though not in italics, which I use to identify his words):
The point is that you can never tell for sure that components that work in isolation will work together as an integrated system until you try it. In the cultures of software developers and system integrators, it is considered dumb and naOve to even hope that your software really works until it passes integrated testing. The only prudent assumption is that, "Everything that isn't tested doesn't work." The question of the day is therefore, "How can utilities claim to be Y2K ready while doing little or no integrated testing?"
I agree 100%, which is rare when I read anything by Dick Mills. I also agree with this. He says that there can be no final testing of the power grid. Here, he has his grammar correct: the word can't, although he has continuing problems with the word we.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that we can't do a full-scale end-to-end test of the power system without involving just about everyone and every electric thing on earth and in orbit. The consequences of a failed test performed on the real system may also be just as severe as an actual unplanned failure in the year 2000.
Then he begins to waffle. Again, he uses we. He means "people in charge of doing the testing."
Having said that, there are still countless numbers of penultimate integrated tests that could be performed. How do we rationally choose which to actually do and which to skip and how can we judge how much testing is enough?
Then he clears this up: "we" doesn't really mean "we."
Every proposed test has expected costs, expected benefits, and expected risks. The Y2K project manager simply has to consider these things and rank the tests in order of priority, then begin the testing plan from the highest priority and work down toward the lowest. The manager also has to balance the allocation of resources between testing and training and drills.
The project manager "simply has to consider these things." He does? In a pig's eye. Maybe he ought to, but he doesn't have to. He does what senior managers tell him to do, under budget constraints imposed by them. He knows that his job is on the line if he brings bad y2k news to his boss before all of his peers bring bad news to their bosses. The key to career survival is to guess when your peers will bring the bad news to their bosses. I can guess: in the final 90 days of 1999.
He goes on:
Last week, I said that training and drills can be more cost effective than testing. I stand by that statement.
Well, then, what we -- you and I -- need is independently verified evidence that the 7,800 power companies in the U.S. are running comprehensive y2k training programs for all of their employees, training programs that have been certified by specialists in the industry as being sufficient to meet the post-2000 requirements.
There is no such evidence. There are no such industry-wide plans, manuals, and programs. There is no agency with the authority to get all the companies to do this. State public utility commissions have been unable to get more than 50% of utilities even to reply to questionaires.
Now here's the part that industry critics won't like. The public and outsiders cannot possibly hope to know the thickness of the lines in the actual testing tree of the utilities in an interconnected grid. They are too numerous and too technical and too subjective to be understood by anyone who isn't immersed in the details full time. Therefore, a utility representative may assert that, "We have considered the testing problem and devised and executed a testing plan that we believe was warranted by the risks." When that occurs, there is no a priori basis for any outsider to challenge the technical assertion. If you have the chance, you can audit the assertion that they considered and ranked the risks, but no outsider is in a position to challenge their technical judgment of the relative risks and priorities.
This ended his essay. Here is my response:
A utility representative may assert any old thing his employers have told him to tell the uncomprehending press. What some PR flak says in the name of management is worth zip unless he and his company are at immediate legal risk for deceiving the public. Let's see what the state's public utility commission does. Let's see if it sends in a team of y2k specialists in the power industry to verify what the PR flak has claimed. Let the PUC impose a million dollar fine on the company if what the flak has told the press isn't true. Let's see what the flaks say then.
All this chatter about a priori is a smoke screen. There are 7800 companies on which we depend for our lives. My a priori is as good as some flak's self-serving a priori is. He knows as little about engineering as I do. He is being paid to spin the press, and the press spins the public. A priori, I can say nothing meaningful about engineering in a particular company. So what? I sure can say this: there is no evidence that the industry has run integrated tests, nor has it developed full-scale contingency plans, nor has it funded such plans. Perhaps Mr. Mills can provide such evidence in a forthcoming column. Then again, perhaps not.
I don't have to know a thing about engineering, embedded chips, or the rest of it. Let me see the contingency plan manual and the budget figures on how much has been spent training staff. Until this information is turned over to the state public utilities commissions and the press by most of the 7,800 companies, I will continue to buy more solar panels.
The PUC's have defected on y2k. They have neither the brains nor the backbone to start imposing million-dollar fines on noncompliant companies that do not show evidence that they have funded comprehensive y2k contingency plans. Y2K will become the best example (a posteriori) in history that the regulatory agencies are mainly tools of the big players in an industry to keep out competitors. The economists have known this for 40 years. The public will learn next January. (If you doubt me, read Gabriel Kolko's history of the origins of regulation in the U.S., The Triumph of Conservatism . It's an old story.)
-- Gary North (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 1999
Gary could you please help with this.
Large scale y2k failure = meltdown probability 1-10
Small scale y2k failure = recession 1-10
No y2k failure = normality 1-10
Accidental mistake 1-10
deliberate mistake 1-10
-- Graham hyslop (Bob@ghoward-oxley.demon.co.uk), June 05, 1999.
Outstanding! This commentary explains very well the implications of accepting, at face value, happy-face reports -- even by well acknowledged experts such as Dick Mills -- without any real evidence to back them up.
-- King of Spain (email@example.com), June 05, 1999.
Gary, thanks for the insightful analysis. I believe the days of the FLAKS and SPINNERS are numbered. It is becoming obvious on this forum that they are struggling.
-- Ray (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 1999.
Outstanding! This commentary explains very well the implications of accepting, at face value,
happy-faceGARY'S reports -- even by well acknowledgedSELF APPOINTED experts such as Dick MillsKING OF S***M -- without any real evidence to back them up.
-- King of Sp
ain**M (email@example.com), June 05, 1999.
Thanks for staightening that out. I thought it was fishy how an historioan coud be an "expert" on computer problems, when he doesn't even know how to buy a y2k compliant computer...or was that "know how to use the testing device"?
That's what you get when take advice from people who have they eye on your wallet.
-- Super Troll (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 1999.
Graham, 10, 0, 0, 10, 0.
-- garyproxy (email@example.com), June 05, 1999.
I have observed the enormous amount of energy expended upon arguing about the status of y2k remediation and the extent of the problem and its consequences. Much of this is due to the unfathomnable breadth and depth of interelationships in complex systems and the absence of veracity placed in official and corporate statements. Some like the challenge of trying to sort it all out with "logic" until their intellectual "model" of reality is as comfortable to them as possible. But there is no certainty and this can become an attempt to untie the Gordian Knot.
In my work, we try to anticipate and plan for regulatory impact so that we can lessen the blow by preparing over time. I have been wrong as to my assessment before, but usually it is on timing and not consequences.
To use an analogy, y2k is like discovering that an asteroid may be on a collision course with earth. You begin preparation based on the knowledge and potential for impact you have at a certain point in time. The farther it is from impact, the greater the speculation due to the uncertainty of the damage it may cause. Trajectory calculations may be off, or the asteroid may be deflected or shatter in its journey.
If one is of a preparatory bendt, at a certain point, one has to "go with" the knowledge they have at the time and commit to preparation in order to mitigate impact in time. The knowledge of the likelihood of impact and its consequences will change as the problem moves closer. Emphasis in preparations should change to reflect that new knowledge, but in the context of human nature may, be "colored" by the understanding leading to the original decision to commit to preparation.
I have committed to preparation. The problem is so large and so complex that it still remains an enormous uncertainty in my mind, so I prepare for the worst. The debate still rages on and I follow it to see if I can become more certain, but have found little satisfaction in what I hear. A half of a century of life experiences have taught me that the rug can be pulled out from under you and suddenly your life has changed dramatically. Because of my commitment I favor the side of the debate that will reinforce motivation to act.
With so little time left, I am keeping my head down and focussing on the solutions and less on the problem. I will pause and look over my shoulder, but I still see the asteroid approaching and feel the urgency. Debate becomes a luxury of energy expended that could be focussed on changing my real situation to absorb impact.
Perhaps this is why the chasm between the "pollys" and the "doomers" has widened and the debate more visceral.
-- marsh (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 1999.
Has Gary North ever posted to this forum before? If so, I've not seen it. Can it be verified that he, in fact, is the one who posted this? If so, and that is a new development, why now?
-- RUOK (RUOK@yesiam.com), June 05, 1999.
Perhaps someone knows Gary's e-mail address and can ask him to confirm this post. I thought he had an AOL address.
I for one would love to see a full-blown test during the summer, rather than winter. A little to early to try that I guess...
I hope Mr. Cook responds to this. <:)=
-- Sysman (email@example.com), June 05, 1999.
1. Yes, Gary has posted here before.
2. Why ask someone else? If you'd go to North's forum you'd find the article posted. Do a little research yourself.
3. Doesn't matter whether North posted it or someone else simply copied it. It still is an article.
-- I'm not (Gary@North.com), June 05, 1999.
As a matter of fact, I *did* do a little research myself, and already knew that this article is on Mr. North's forum. Thank you so much for your helpful advice. Sorry to disagree with you, but it does matter to me if someone other than Gary North posted his article here on the Yourdon forum. I strongly object to anyone posting under another person's identity, no matter their motive. You are correct that it is still an article, and I would concur that it is one of value and interest to this forum. Doesn't change my opinion about fraudulent use of another's name. If this really is Gary North, I would still be interested to know why he cross-posted his article here.
Thanks. I am sending an e-mail to the address used here.
-- RUOK (RUOK@yesiam.com), June 05, 1999.
RUOK, maybe it has something to do with the date *JUNE 1999*. This one simple fact, removes so very MUCH of the arguement...with the only exception being fault tolerence. Now let's factor in the current state of completions of remediations and then ask about the testing of such and then examine the plethora of verification (hmmmmm) of all of the above. What is the fault tolerence of the USA? NOW....we'll throw in the International condition.....is it getting warm in here? I believe the time of argueing over whether or not this is the color "yellow" OR "lemon" OR "buttercup", is fast coming to a close. This is a fixed deadline. It has not been met by any government or industry. Other countries will not make it in time and MY country is extremely questionable. This is one of the few forums available, for people to find the truth. It would be criminal if they didn't find it when they arrive.
-- Will continue (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 1999.
For pollys, time is NEVER a factor. Be it 1998 or 1999, January or June or November, it never matters. There is always a NEW deadline for Y2K compliance to meet (the old one got missed, of course, but that is always considered irrelevant), the unverified self-reporting by utilities always reports that everything is on-track and is accepted without question. But TIME is a factor. It is running out. This game will end in less than seven months.
-- King of Spain (email@example.com), June 05, 1999.
Remember that Yourdon said the game would end last April 1. Gartner is saying only 8% of problems will happen in the close vicinity of rollover itself. Hamasaki has said several times that the *real* problems would surface later in 2000, like at end of quarter and even end of year processing.
On the near side, many here have confidently predicted that the Big One will precede rollover, either due to bank runs or other panic activities, or short-term lookaheads (very common) or as a backlash of some kind against government blunders.
Finally, remember that all pessimistic predictions so far have been wrong. Still want to stick to your date? The nice thing about picking a date *ought* to be that once that date passes uneventfully, the predictor should admit error. Never happens. Disaster dates are simply pushed back as surely as completion deadlines.
-- Flint (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 1999.
RUOK, yes Gary North has posted here before. In fact, several times. It's been quite a while, though, and I don't believe he has ever initiated a thread.
-- Gayla Dunbar (email@example.com), June 05, 1999.
Geeeese Flint. Today's *date* really gets your feathers flying. I post the *date* as an indication of the pitifully short amount of time left. NOT as a *prediction* date of "the doom of mankind". What's wrong with you? Are you worn down? Try the Wal-Mart brand of vitamins...they work wonders. Go to bed.
-- Will continue (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 1999.
I am glad to see you posting here under your own name. Judging from the quotes from this forum on your site I expect you must have been doing a lot of lurking here or have been posting under one of the psuedonyms.
I really am glad to see you posting here and look foward to future discourse and enlightenment. This site and www.garynorth.com have been my two daily feeds on Y2K information for last 18 months.
Thanks for your incredible effort.
-- Bill P (email@example.com), June 05, 1999.