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Betting on Y2K Disasters 95

Doug Muth writes "According to this article in Wired News, there is a company that is taking bets on which disasters will occur when Y2K comes around. Think a commercial airliner will go down? That's 300-1 odds. Think armageddon will occur? That's 1,000,000-1 odds, though even if you win, I think collecting on that bet would be a bit pointless."
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Betting on Y2K Disasters

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  • Oh, arms sales _within_ the US. And the bet is only open via phone ("please ask for a supervisor").

    Still could be worth a tenner, seems pretty badly worded to me, they should've gone for "up 50% over last years' sales". There's also a dodgy looking "YES -200/1" as opposed to the others with "YES +1000/1" or similar. Gives the impression there's something I don't know going on. Apart from the obvious.


    Dave :)

  • How many of you are buying high-capicity weapons and stockpiling on food? Not many of you I bet.

    I've always kept some food stockpiled. Considering that earthquakes and other natural disasters still seem to happen, it's kinda stupid not to.
    As for guns, I have what I have always had. Having 50 guns as opposed to maybe 3 isn't going to up your odds of survival in any kind of situation.

    The people I think are funny are the ones paying $200+ for "y2k survival kits" containing items you could by in nearly any sporting goods store for a fraction of the cost.

  • The odds are negated on that one, so you're actually betting against firearms sales increasing. That would seem to me to be a bit of a losing proposition.

    Personally, I'm sticking five hundred bucks on a utility failure. It's worth it just for the entertainment value.
  • Odds that a win95/98 box crashes: 1-1.000.000 - You get a dollar for each million you bet :)

  • So, despite the way you flippantly dismiss the bank reaction of "it's not that big a problem", that is the correct reaction to have. It clearly is important that the banking system survive Y2k (which it will, as demonstrated above), but any one bank is no big deal. A couple people would lose their jobs, some paperwork would ensue and that would be the end. A Y2k-failed airplane, OTOH, would be a disaster.

    I beg to differ. The banking system is in no way garaunteed to survive the coming panic. All it takes is a a large chunk of paniced population removing their cash from the bank to collapse the system. I know I won't have any cash in the bank, just because I don't trust people not to panic and riot. There are plenty of scenarios that could result in the a run on the banks... I wouldn't be so complacent if I were you.

  • are rare.

    Fear my wrath, please, fear my wrath?
  • I remember a statistic quoted on Michael Moore's TV show...

    "72% of Americans believe that if Jesus were to return today, we'd be in a lot of trouble"
  • Airlines can *require* execs to fly on 1/1/00, but, as these execs have a very good idea of the likelihood of surviving the flight, it is very unlikely that they would take a non-negligible risk of death over the risk of losing their job. Who are they kidding? This is just a ploy to reassure the masses. (It's unlikely the public would even find out if these execs didn't fly. It could easily be a corporate cover-up.)
  • "I know I won't have any cash in the bank, just because I don't trust people not to panic and riot."

    Obviously this makes you part of the problem. I'm sure you are aware of that. What you may not be clear on is exactly how stupid your plan is. Let's follow the logic. One of four outcomes are possible:

    1) Everybody removes their money from the bank. Outcome: economic chaos and the money is worthless.

    2) Nobody removes their money from the bank. Outcome: economic stability.

    3) Everybody EXCEPT YOU removes their money from the bank. Outcome: same economic chaos, including for you since the money is worthless.

    4) Nobody EXCEPT YOU removes their money from the bank. Outcome: economic stability for everyone, possible minor repurcussions for you (early withdrawl fees, account re-open costs, mocking and taunting etc).

    The best outcome is 2, the worst is 1 or 3. 4 is intermediary. In any case, the global outcome is the same as the local outcome. Let me rephrase and repeat that: Whatever happens to everyone else, economically speaking, will also happen to you. In still other words, it mostly doesn't matter if you take your money out or leave it in. And the extent to which it does matter it is slightly weighted towards leaving your money in (outcome 4). So leaving it in is the best strategy. Which further means most people should do it and we will avoid economic chaos. What we have here is a graphic representation of Hofstadter's solution to the Prisoner's Dilemna.
  • Yea, but even without a computer glitch, 300:1 doesn't sound that unreasonable. Thats about one per year. Plus I'm sure they've given themselves a very wide profit margin.

    One the other hand, I don't remember ever hearing about banks failing in any major way.
  • It's a tax on the poor but hopeful. The only way a system of government (or insurrance/etc.) works is by taking from those who have and giving to those who have not. You can't tax the poor to give to the poor. (Well, you can, but you're an idiot.) It reminds me of all those stockholder lawsuits. (Please, I will pay you lots of money to reach into one of my pockets, extract some money, and put it into my other pocket! I pay cash!)

    But I suppose people will be morons anyway, and at least this way it's the authoritative mob and not the common mob that's running the show and taking the proceeds.

    But really, have you seen all the stupid ads on TV for the lottery these days? As if people aren't already stupid and uneducated, as if we have to encourage them further to commit mass lunacy? And funded at taxpayer's expense?

    It's a stupid, stupid world out there.
  • In this new age of near instantaneous transmission of information(except when under the slashdot effect), it is very interesting to see the weight which this betting agency places on Y2k events happening.As a true computer nerd, I get asked quite often by computer newbies what I think will happen come Y2k. Honestly, with my level of outside the home PC usage, I'm not too sure.While I know that one of my machines is Y2k compliant, the 486 in the corner is not. What I am saying is this does not mean I am more than passingly familiar with the system the electric company uses, or the airport, or the police department. Here comes CompanyX, who puts it all in perspective for me by translating technology that I am not expert in into financial terms that are much more universally understood. I mean how else do we assign importance to an event/object; Assign a monetary value to it! Isn't this extension of capitalism to be expected in this day of communication? One of the biggest adjustments our society as a whole needs to contemplate, is the way we process our information. There is a lot of new technology in this world, and for most people, there is not the time or motivation to become experts in more than a few fields. What about the rest of the world , the world in which we are not expert? We need to rely on others to gather data, and to some extent process that information for us. As with any scientific process, if the data is bad or unreliable, then the results from that point on are skewed. For the majority of us who rely on mass media for our info/processing, how often is that data skewed or incomplete?
    While I feel confident that I can point to my own weakness' in this area, I wish I had an answer. I do believe that for me, the answer is continued education, and a constant re evaluation of what I believe to be relevant/important/true. As I grow older and wiser, well...we'll see, won't we.
  • If the world does end, do I still have to pay the death tax?

    That's my 1/50 of $1.00 US
  • Not quite right... Armageddon maybe has better odds than YOU winning the lottery, but certainly has no better odds than SOMEONE winning the lottery somewhere in the world. The event of someone winning the lottery in fact has happened quite a few times in men's history; Armageddon still hasn't.
  • All Pratchett fans surely know that:

    "On Discworld, it is clearly recognized that million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten." - Science of Discworld, p. 227

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ever heard the saying, "Lotteries are a tax on people who are bad at math?" This is even better.

    I spent a long car trip with a friend trying to scheme up ways to make money off these idiots worrying needlessly about the year 2000. Most of the ideas were discarded as "too evil". Now, I wish we had a little less conscience.

    I love the reasoning of some of these people:
    "Obviously, the Creator uses a base-10 number system and He likes big round numbers. So you would really want to avoid being in, say, mobile home number 1,000,000 on 1/1/2000." (paraphrased from Dilbert)

    Our date system is arbitrary. I really doubt that aliens or the Messiah pay a whole lot of attention to it. Life is a lot less exciting than we imagine it to be sometimes.

  • Americans riot maybe once every few years and rarely cause more than property damage -- It's the Soccer (football) fans overseas that riot every freaking week and trample people to death on a monthly basis.

    Say what you will about us being violent, we try not to kill as many people while "celebrating" as our more illustrious friends elsewhere...
  • You lose...

    I just had to recompile my kernel for the 100th time, and threw my box out the window.

    Sure as shit, that f*cking thing went down!

    Please send payment to....


    Once there was a time when religion ruled the world.
  • 200-1 that more firearms are sold in the US in December 1999 than December 1998???????

    Is there any reason why this would NOT happen?

  • How many minor disruptions does it take to become
    a major disruption?


    Once there was a time when religion ruled the world.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Out of boredom, and a overly large amount of free time, I decided to make some betting odds for what I'm going to be doing come New Year's Eve.

    Odds I'll be on my box stockpiling pr0n cuz i cant get a date: 2:1

    Odds I'll be overcome with desperation and ask for a date with some 300 pound dominatrix named Bertha: 10:1

    Odds I'll be drunk, having fun, and getting it on with some supermodel-esque goddess like everyone else: 999,999,999,999,999:1

    Come to think of it, Armageddon is looking pretty good :)

  • Why not bet on something going down, then crack it at new years. Everyone will assume it was a y2k bug and you win the bet, with no further investigation..
  • I don't think bank or other financial systems will die of y2k causes either. The killer will be the media suggesting that everyone withdraw cash/fill up their gas tanks/stock up on supplies. Panic, not mm/dd/yy, will cause the problems and possibly another 1929 as everyone dumps their stocks a month before new year's.
  • Compared to most lotteries, 1,000,000 : 1 odds are actually pretty good. I'm still not going to bet on armageddon though. =)

    - Ted Mao

  • Firearm stockpiling: 200-1 that more firearms are sold in the US in December 1999 than December 1998.

    They're kidding, right? Surely it's likely that firearms sales would increase?

    • Firearm manufacturers, like any other profitable company, like seeing increased sales growth on an annual basis; and
    • The brisk trade in many different classes of goods perceived as being of assistance in averting a Y2K meltdown (such as agricultural implements, canned goods, grain and so forth)

    I thought it would be very likely that firearm sales would increase, as those who are prepared for Y2K take steps to defend themselves and their property from panicky ill-prepared hordes.

    I would estimate the odds of firearms sales growth without Y2K at 60%, and the odds of firearms being perceived as vital to Y2K preparations by ill-informed people at 50%. Combine the two, and you get a figure at 80%, or almost certain.

    I think the 200-1 is good odds, and that's where I would place my money.

    Now if I only had some money....
  • Seems like I have noticed to much on actual betting on the Net...Is there that much of it going on? Should be the perfect environment for it, and would make it a lot easier. Are there any plans to open an E-commerce site allowing you to bet with credit cards, on say your favorite sports or presidential elections, or whether or not Hillary where's a wig? Like seems reasonable.
  • by UM_Maverick ( 16890 ) on Monday September 27, 1999 @04:16AM (#1657321) Homepage
    I'll give 50 to 1 odds that someone makes a submission to slashdot on Jan. 1, 2000, with the title "First Article! I'm l33t!!" :)
  • I'd thought I'd seen it all when I heard that weather was being played on the stock market... now when I go to vegas, I'm going to see a big odds display with a wad of disasters and thier chances of happening.

    Jimmy the Greek would have loved this.

    -- (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • What I would like to see is a bet on what percentage of Windows computers will go down on Jan. 1, 2000. While I know there would have to be quite a bit of padding for the normal millions of crashes, it would still be interesting to see if the number of total crashes increases in any noticeable degree.

    To go further on this point, I wonder which operating system will whether the year 2000 the best? I'm not sure how exactly you could measure this, but it certainly seems to be an intersting question. Perhaps even a good Slashdot poll on which OS is most (or least (though that might be a foregone conclusion)) reliable.

    Just food for thought.

  • The one I want to see is 'Ten or more doomsday cults cease to exist as of Jan 1.' But I'd only get 5-1 odds or somesuch. - dom
    - dom
  • by einstein ( 10761 ) on Monday September 27, 1999 @04:26AM (#1657325) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure Jesus would be REAL happy to hear that people are gambling over his return.

    I'm sure they could cast lots over his clothes too...oh wait... been done. nevermind
  • Odds an NT or 98 box will go down 1:1
    Odds a Linux box will go down, well that's impossible.


  • by SmileyBen ( 56580 ) on Monday September 27, 1999 @04:27AM (#1657327) Homepage
    There's a 1,000,000 to 1 chance of Armageddon? Am I the only one that thinks it worrying that apparently Armageddon at the turn of the millennium has better odds than winning the lottery?????
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Monday September 27, 1999 @04:21AM (#1657328)
    They give 1000:1 to a bank failure, and a 300:1 for a airline going down on Y2K. Correct me if I'm wrong but:
    • The FAA traffic monitor system runs on a different clock than the typical mm/dd/yy, or the unix 32-bit clock (and I though that it's turnover was due before the end of this year, or about this time next year), such that Y2K should not affect these.
    • Most airlines are requiring their Y2K-readiness exec to fly on Jan 1, 2000, prompting these execs to make absolutely sure that they're ready.
    Sure, ther will bound to be problems with the air*PORT* system, with schedules going bonkers, lost luggage, and that stuff, but I doubt this will cause the loss of life. If anything, I'd give an airplane crash 10,000:1 odds, and move the bank failure to about 10:1 odds. The banks don't directly have anyone lives in their hands, and many of the smaller bank chains have been slow to implement Y2K as 'it's not that big a problem'.

    I'll still be getting a written proof of my account status in early Dec, though my bank has promised Y2K complience.

  • It would crack me up if their server didn't survive y2k. :)

    But seriously, there is too much betting and gambling everywhere. The Montreal casino brings in something in the range of 300 million dollars a year (or is it per quarter?) to the government that runs it. Gambling's primary purpose is as a 'voluntary tax' in places where its government run, or just pure profit to privately owned gambling areas. They know you have little chance of winning. Lottery is a huge gamble that every week pulls in millions for nearly every government that runs it. The bigger the jack pot, the more suckers that put their money in.

    Put a loony (canadian dollar) in a bottle every morning. After a while you'll have one the lottery, because you'll have hundreds of dollars in loonies stocked up.

    Otherwise you're just throwing that money out.

    As for gambling on problems at y2k? Aliens landing? Armageddon? Heheheheh. You realise people will just look at the odds and hedge their bets?
    Who's that /. reader who's sig jokes about the number of suckers born each minute? :)
  • Yeah...the mob was making too much money so big brother decided it should take over. At least mob money went back into the community...heh
  • It might be a sure thing, but at 1-1,000,000 odds that the world WON'T end, you wouldn't make all that much money in the process. If Bill Gates were to bet his entire net worth on the world not ending, he could only make less than $90,000 on the deal.
  • Armageddeon: 1,000,000-1 that the world will end on 1 January 2000.

    This looks like the best bet to me. If you bet that it WONT end, you win. If you lose, and the world DOES end, you don't have the pay the bastards back :)
  • I'm hedging my bets on CP/M :)
    VIC-20 takes 2nd
    TI-99/4a takes 3rd
    iirc none of those systems were date dependant - so they actually _will_ survive :)
  • Roughly 2/3 of the world will hit midnight
    before I get to celebrate. If lots of problems
    pop up, will Americans start to lose it before
    midnight our time?

    Ever notice how American cities have riots
    after the local team wins the championship?
  • Gambling's primary purpose is as a 'voluntary tax' in places where its government run

    Government-controlled gambling is just a special tax for people that can't do simple math..

    Nick Moraitakis

  • Sample bet: 100/1 (shouldn't that be 2000/1) that a bank will fail on Jan 1, 2000 because of Y2k problems.

    Ways to get around it
    a) It wasn't a Y2K problem, it was "human error" etc
    b) It wasn't a "failure", just a delay

    Or a funny way of doing it:
    c) "It didn't fail on Jan 1, 2000, it reported the failure on Jan 1, 1900, so it doesn't count!"

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'll put $5 on that if you'll agree to the following two conditions: 1. The poster cannot be an Annonymous Coward. 2. You cannot be the poster. - Theo faelan(AT)crosswinds(DOT)net
  • Did anyone else notice that they think aliens are twice as likely to land on the Millennium dome than in Washington on Jan 1st? Trust me, that part of Greenwich is a total dump -- I wouldn't want to go there! Picture the scene:

    Alien captain: Navigator, land us in the prime spot on Earth

    Alien navigator: How about Washington, Sir, the centre of power in the developed world?

    Alien captain: No, actually, I was thinking about that large dome thing built on that wasteground near the Blackwall tunnel -- you know, the one with all the nasty fumes from the nearby industrial works.

    Alien navigator: Righty ho, Sir. Beginning our descent now...

  • Yes--because Bill Klinton will sign the following Executive Orders on 11/30/99:

    - all firearms sales will be banned (to save the children!)
    - all portly brunettes will be interned (pun intended) at a Washington D.C. education center
    - he will cancel all elections and declare himself King of the World!!!

  • I myself live on an army base here in Texas. I will be at a New Years Eve party here on base. So no matter what happens I think the MPs around here will keep the general public from the nearby city from causing a great deal of trouble here on post. I will be calmly sipping my champagne come Jan 1 , 2000 and wondering how many people went to see the creator because of their sheer stupidity. Although I wish I had made the product I saw advertised this morning the Y2K compliant candle. Now that's playing on people's fears.
  • Think armageddon will occur? That's 1,000,000-1 odds, though even if you win, I think collecting on that bet would be a bit pointless.

    You don't place that bet to win, you place it so you can tell your friends "I told you so." and have the bet ticket to prove it. What if armageddon came, and no one believed you when you said "I knew it!"?

  • The Artist Formerly Known As Prince realizes the futility of a career entirely based on "1999", goes insane, burns down World Trade Center in Minneapolis, gets bodyslammed by Gov. Ventura

    HEY! I live up here! And I can tell you right now Ventura isn't going to body slam the Artist for writing '1999'. I will.


  • ...I wouldn't make bets with those whose job it is to fix Y2K bugs. They could just bet on their failure, win the bets and leave the systems f-cked up as before.

  • well, you do have to know what you're doing first. The thing isn't jackass proof
  • It's also not usable by anyone other than
    kernel hacking geeks...

    So either you can attempt to bend people like
    me (15 years computer experience) to your evil
    ways, or you can improve the damn operating
    system so that someone without your superior
    level of expertise can run it.

    Either way, I win.


    P.S. My original post was meant to be humorous.
    I guess it wasn't "jackass proof."

    Once there was a time when religion ruled the world.
  • Basically automated? What friggin Linux are
    *you* installing? I've tried RedHat, debian,
    and slackware, and none of those are even close
    to being automated.



    Once there was a time when religion ruled the world.
  • Basically automated? What friggin Linux are
    *you* installing? I've tried RedHat, debian,
    and slackware, and none of those are even close
    to being automated.


    Besides, you're missing my point. If I -- someone
    with 15 years of experience with computers, and
    4 years of programming experience -- am having a
    hard time with Linux, you can imagine the problems
    that your average user is having.

    If you'd rather sit around and just crack jokes
    about how automated the process is, that's fine.
    But it won't make Linux any easier to install.


    Once there was a time when religion ruled the world.
  • Don't worry ... lottery is about 5,000,000:1, but being struck by lightning in your life is about 300,000:1 chance.
    So you'll be struck by lightning 16 times before you win the lottery, but only 3 times before armageddon. :)
  • This is just another example of people trying to take advantage of others due to a problem that happens "rarely". In fact, if we do it right, the next date problem will be Y10K. Since the ozone layer's opening up, we'll be all dead by then.

    How many of you are buying high-capicity weapons and stockpiling on food? Not many of you I bet.
  • My guess is that is about the odds they might give on an airline going down on any given day. If you went with 10,000 to 1 odds, that would mean that you expect one airplane to go down in 27 years. If the odds are even 300 to 1 I think that is saying a lot for how safe these people are betting the airlines will be on Jan 1.
  • by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Monday September 27, 1999 @04:42AM (#1657358)
    Banks running Unix crash: 10,000:1

    Banks running NT crash: 10:1

    Microsoft blames the crash on time's "exceptional and in-depth knowledge of date manipulation on NT workstations": 5:1

    Odds of Armageddon on Jan. 1st: 1,000,000:1

    Odds of finding one sober person when the Armageddon comes: 1,000,000,000:1

    "There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

  • The couple who are betting that their twins due on 01/01/2000 will be born in different centuries may run into problems claiming their bet. As no doubt the majority of slashdotters will know, the 20th century doesn't actually officially [] end until 31 December 2000. Most people are quite rightly saying "soddit, it's a big change in the calendar, we're going to get pissed anyway", but if this came to a legal challenge it might be quite interesting. The bookies would have been well advised to seek legal advice as to just when the accepted end of the century will officially be.

    Although the type of "oh, the millenium doesn't finish until 01/01/2001" pedantry generally irritates me intensely (look, we're all going to get very drunk whatever, OK, pedant? If you really want to you can stay at home and sulk, just don't expect everyone else to join in) in this case it could be quite interesting if the law became involved.

    More information on this tricky topic can be found at the US Naval Observatory [], or alternatively from Douglas Adams [], who explains things much better than I could.

  • Well, if the armageddon truly does come on January 1st, I'm assuming that more than likely the winner nor the betting firm will be around to cash in on the prize. =)
  • Actually, the FAA system runs on an IBM S/370 machine with software written in the 1960s. An effort to re-write the whole system was scrapped after 10 years and tens of millions of $. An article in Computerworld described the system as so antiquated that the wires literally crackled from age.

    If re-writing the system was so difficult, I wouldn't be surprised if fixing it for Y2K wasn't carried out successfully. See, the people who issue these compliance statements are lawyers or MBA biz execs. Typically, they have no clue about what OS, software, etc. constitutes the system and what exactly the problems are.

    As for the airline execs flying on Jan 1, 2000. I know a programmer at American Airlines who chuckled and said there was no way he would fly. Airlines don't handle the scheduling and path determination of flights - collision prevention is done by the FAA (read above.)

    Keep in mind that the FAA system doesn't have to schedule 2 planes flying opposite each other - simply having a non-working or disabled system can cause a crash. In today's news - a pilot went down the wrong runway and crashed into a construction zone. I would hate to imagine what would happen if the central system went down and you had 100s of planes flying around without any guidance.

  • I bet that a lot of people are going to run around in the streets like headless chickens [], waiting for an apocalypse that doesn't happen (they don't even realize the Julian calendar is fundamentally screwed up, and 2000 isn't even 2000). The rest will have something that doesn't work (I already know my neat 4-head stereo VCR from 1992 won't handle Y2K, meaning I'll have to stop all my advance taping - oh, wait, in 7 years of owning it I have yet to tape anything - never mind!). There will be a few minor glitches, I'm sure - but I think for the most part the world will just keep on chugging along.

    Me? I work for an insurance company, and I'm in charge of the desktop remediation. We've tested, and tested, and tested - and at this point every known element in our network is A-OK. I'm sure some user goofed up a spreadsheet date function or something, but we'll find out on Monday and deal with it then. The mainframe was fixes a year and a half ago. We already have a generator - it's tested, too. Ergo, I'm not worried.

    Maybe I should go take some of those bets...

    - -Josh Turiel
  • by meersan ( 26609 ) on Monday September 27, 1999 @04:57AM (#1657364) Homepage
    Top 10 Y2K Disasters

    10) IRS doesn't manage to complete remediation efforts. On second thought...

    9) IRS manages to complete remediation efforts

    8) Hotels booked solid, Antichrist's family forced to sleep in a manger

    7) The election of anyone currently running for the presidency of the United States

    6) Electrical power fails on Jan 2cd when survivalists simultaneously switch off their kerosene generators

    5) The Artist Formerly Known As Prince realizes the futility of a career entirely based on "1999", goes insane, burns down World Trade Center in Minneapolis, gets bodyslammed by Gov. Ventura

    4) Rising mound of Y2K memorabilia towers over United States, topples, raises sea level 2 feet when it falls into the Pacific, drowns Antarctic penguins and Tokyo

    3) Feuding geeks arguing over merits of KDE/Gnome/EMACS/vi/GTK/Motif/GNU/Linux/*BSD/blah/b leh inadvertently trip button marked 'Doomsday Device', unable to blame End of World on Bill Gates

    2) God certifies the Universe Y2K-compliant, inadvertently forgets nearby meteor storm, is sued by rampaging trial lawyers, points out Acts of Me exemption clause

    1) Entire planet shuts down when Jan 1st is declared World Hangover Day

  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Monday September 27, 1999 @04:57AM (#1657365) Homepage Journal
    Looks like I'm going to make some money. They're taking a US firearms sales increase at 200-1 odds. US firearms sales are already up a few percentage points over last year. Even if December sales are relativly static, I'm sure the last rush of nuts will pull up December sales.
    And at those odds, it's better than the RH IPO.
  • You forgot:

    9.5: thousands of useless mainframe programmers, suddenly unemployed again, cause riots in major cities.

    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • First, the disclaimer: I am a programmer working at a bank. I don't work on the mainframe, but I have been involved with Y2k testing and remediation.

    . The FDIC has sent competent examiners to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb, so I can guarantee that our particular chances of failure are NOT as high as 10%.

    But let's interpret your 10:1 odds as "1 bank in 10 will fail" rather than "every bank has a 10% chance of failing". Even this is implausible. What with recent mergers and acquisitions most banks are medium to large (mine is medium). The larger the bank, the more the scrutiny and the less the chance of failure. My bank is fine and large banks are even more fine.

    How about a third interpretation: "There is a 10% chance that, somewhere in the US, a bank will fail on 1/1/2000". So what? Bank failures happen all the time--that's why we have FDIC insurance. As long as you put less than 100,000 in each of your accounts, you will get reimbursed by the gov't. Furthermore, given all the above, that bank will probably be small and therefore affect very few people.

    So, despite the way you flippantly dismiss the bank reaction of "it's not that big a problem", that is the correct reaction to have. It clearly is important that the banking system survive Y2k (which it will, as demonstrated above), but any one bank is no big deal. A couple people would lose their jobs, some paperwork would ensue and that would be the end. A Y2k-failed airplane, OTOH, would be a disaster.
  • That's either a self-fulfilling prophesy or a self-negating prophesy, depending upon whether those who read the above suggestion think it is funny or not. If even 0.001 percent of /. readers think it is funny then the server will be buried with submissions.

    Of course, whether or not one is first is dependent upon your interpretation of your timezone time and of how well /. time code is working by then.

  • The only counter-argument that I can think of (and it's pretty lame) is that gin prices will go up in December '99 too. (Oops, I typoed "gin" when I meant "gun", but I won't correct it because I'm probably right about it. :-)

    Have a Sloppy day!
  • want to bet that nothing's going to happen but dissapointed that the odds would afford you little reward if you win? Call up the Art Bell show and send him a link to the site... He'll get more doomsdayer's than they could handle. Watch that 300:1 switch around to 1:300.
  • I was about to post this. 200-1, when we have Kosovo, East Timor.. seems a pretty safe bet to me. Where's Mr Visa?

    Dave :)

  • I work for an airline. As such I've been neck deep in the issue. The planes are fine. The aircraft manufacture has guarenteed them. About the only company we've delt with that has.
    Most airlines work in mutiple time zones. Therefore the systems work in UTC and have some of the most sophisticated date handling routines I've seen. Many airlines have been accepting reservations from the year 2000 for over 200 days now. In our reservation system you don't even type in the year.
    The critical behind-the-scenes systems of any airline are the Crew Scheduling and Aircraft Maintenance systems. For an airline to continue to operate, the airline must be sure that the crew members don't exceed their flying time limits or violate rest requirements and aircraft parts that have to be replaced after a specific amount of flying time are replaced. An airline can put up with almost any kind of failure but these systems.
    I quite fond of a quote from the FAA chairman. I don't remember it word for word, so to paraphrase, "I don't think we'll have any problems from Y2K, but since our system break down so often if we do have a Y2K problem, the air traffic controlers are used to it."
    For those wondering, I'd climb on an aircraft on Jan 1, 2000.
  • I'm not necessarily speaking about midair crashes. What if the airplane gas tanks are y2k-deficient, such that while flying over the date change, they suddenly purge any gas in the systems, and the plane plumits?

    Basically, two systems at work here: the FAA, and the airlines themselves. It seems like a double hazard, but I think both are sufficiently ahead or out of the game that neither should be as probable as power outages or bank failures.

  • Ever notice how American cities have riots after the local team wins the championship?

    One word: "Football" (or soccer for us Americans)

    While there are many things you can laugh at us for, our sports fans are sedate compared to some countries in Europe and South America I could mention.
    If you want to insult us, our government is the best target :)

    "Why am I doing this? My Karma is too high"

  • They give 1000:1 to a bank failure, and a 300:1 for a airline going down on Y2K.

    Yeah, well, one of the bookies they interviewed is also giving 100:1 that the President announces that the moon landings were faked. Since they presumably don't take bets on the other side, this is undoubtedly their way of "favoring the house". That is, I wouldn't take these numbers as indicative of any sort of real estimate of what is likely to happen when the calendar rolls over.

    Most airlines are requiring their Y2K-readiness exec to fly on Jan 1, 2000, prompting these execs to make absolutely sure that they're ready.

    I remember reading that the government of China made an announcement to that effect, but somehow I don't think chinese airlines constitute "most" of the airlines in the world. However, that does bring up an interesting point vis a vis these wagers. Most of them are worded such that only a single incidence is needed for the claim to pay off. If the bookies made their odds estimates with countries like the US, Canada, and Britain in mind and they didn't specifically exclude other, less prepared countries, then they could be in real trouble if a plane goes down or a bank fails in some obscure corner of the world.

    I'll still be getting a written proof of my account status in early Dec,though my bank has promised Y2K compliance.

    It's hard to see how Y2K could screw up existing bank balances. A more likely scenario is that interest calculations and the like go haywire, but even these, it would seem, are going to be the sort of error that would instantly fail a reality check.

    Maybe I'm just an optimist (or maybe I just don't have that much money to lose), but about the extent of the extraordinary steps I'm taking regarding my finances is keeping my bank statements (which I usually throw away as soon as I balance my chekbook) for the next few months. I guess I have to lump myself in with the crowd that feels that the Y2K charlatans that feed on public hysteria over the unknown are worse than the actual bug will ever be.


If you suspect a man, don't employ him.