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1998-03-21 01:05:08


Yourdon: The Problem Is Systemic -- the Asian Flu Analogy



This long article gets the idea across: the y2k problem is systemic.

What if the flu could be cured by injecting every freckle of every person? Technically, this could be done. (Or could it? Life has noise -- mistakes.)

If you read it carefully, you will see that no workable answer is suggested.

* * * * * * *

And there's a bigger problem lurking in the background: we can't afford to ignore the rest of the world -- and it's becoming increasingly evident that Europe is lagging far behind in its Y2K inoculation flu plans (because it's dealing with something called the Eurocurrency flu), Asia is suffering from the Indonesian flu, and Latin America has decided the whole thing is silly.  So we run the risk that even if every American is inoculated, we might still suffer from the consequences of a flu epidemic overseas.  In fact, even if we close our borders completely, we run the indirect risk of economic disaster because our trading partners might die of the flu, and thus no longer be able to import or export goods and services from/to our country.

But, hey!  Why make such a big fuss out of this?  We've never had a flu like this before (except the Black Plague and a few other epidemics we conveniently forget about), so how bad could it be?  Where's the proof that millions will die? Doesn't all of this sound rather hysterical and alarmist?  And there's still plenty of time ... even though it's ticking away one day at a time, thus throwing the inoculations-per-doctor-per-day calculations out of whack with every day that we continue to procrastinate.

Bottom line: how serious could the problem be if we can describe the solution so easily? Merely find every citizen, convince him or her to spend a thousand bucks on preventive medicine, convince all the doctors to focus on this problem, tell them to scan each patient's body carefully for freckles, inject the vaccine oh-so-carefully into the center of each freckle, and voila! the problem is solved.  We can probably look forward to a speech from the President any day now, in which he tells us that he "want[s] to assure the American people that the federal government, in cooperation with state and local government and the private sector, is taking steps to prevent any interruption in government services..."


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