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1998-05-07 17:55:20


Monitoring the Titanic: The Games Bureaucrats Play


Whenever a government agency contemplates a problem -- long, long before it can suggest a solution -- its employees begin to gather information. They begin to monitor. After enough years in government, government employees come to believe that if you monitor a problem long enough, it will go away. Because most problems in life go away on their own, given enough time, the bureaucrat comes to believe in a cause-and-effect relationship between monitoring and success. Or at least he pretends to. You don't get paid for doing nothing (officially); you can get paid by monitoring.

Keep looking for the word "monitor" in relation to y2k. That word is a tip-off that nothing has previously been done, little is being done, and not much will be done. (Synonyms: study, consult, investigate, research, quantify, weigh.)

Any official who is talking about the need to monitor y2k deserves to be considered as a potential member of the Lighttoller Society. I received this from well-informed reader Paul Slish.

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2nd Officer Charles Lighttoller was in charge of loading the lifeboats on the port side. There was a crew stairwell just forward of the first set of four lifeboats on the port side. He regularly ran up to it, and observed how fast the water was rising up the various staircases. This gave him a guage of how much time the "Titanic" had left before foundering. Of course, his monitoring didn't alter the time of the sinking by one second.

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