This post is going to ramble a bit — and bare in mind that I’m planning that at the outset. Forewarned is forearmed.
Today was a snow day for most of Southern Ontario. Some parts of the province get regular snow days, but this was a wide-ranging blizzard of a storm that affected a fair portion of the Central United States as well as parts of Canada. While the snow really wasn’t that bad here in Oshawa (we received maybe 10 cm or so) and the wind wasn’t overly crazy, the environment Canada forecast was warning of winds in excess of 70km/h which qualifies as a “near blizzard.”
My wife and I worked from home today. Having flexible employment that can allow working from home does make things easier. In the end, my wife tells me that her employer decided to close completely for the day — but that announcement would have arrived after she would have been already on the road. We made a slow cooker meal and worked in comfort — this only broken by the chore of clearing snow mid-afternoon.
The real meat of this post starts with the trotting out of the phrase “snowmageddon” by the forecasters and then the media. This was a wide-ranging and (in some areas) serious storm, but it really seems that the once domain of the bureaucrat — the cover-your-butt response — is now pervasive in society. This is the concern where news media and those consulted by it compete to ensure that no future event is under-hyped lest we (the public) be insufficiently warned about it. Are we all bureaucrats now? Is under hyping something such a career fatal crime that nobody can afford it?
We see this everywhere in society these days. Air travel is one particular disgrace. It seems that every agency is clambering to protect us only from things that have already occurred — no mater how obscure or laughable. It certainly doesn’t meant that we’re any safer in the face of an innovative attack by a terrorist; it simply means that everyone’s derriere is protected as they point out that every known attack was prevented by the system.
In a neutral system, surprise and disappointment are balanced. In a secure system, security is provided by a breadth of approaches that look for both the known an the unknown. But we’re living in a world that spends so much time looking backward that we can only comprehend something new after it’s finished happening. Occasionally things live up to the hype, but there’s very little surprise to offset the common disappointment and there’s almost no security that is actively looking for the unknown.
I suppose it’s responsibility I’m missing. A perfectly covered butt is not responsible — it tends to overreact in every dimension.
We were talking about Star Trek and in particular Patrick Stuart’s lines from Henry V recently.
WILLIAMS(played by Picard): But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make when all those legs and arms and heads chopped off in a battle shall join together at the latter day and cry all, we died at such a place.
Here Picard talks about the responsibility of the king which is echoed later in the episode regarding Picard’s own responsiblity:
PICARD: If the cause is just and honourable, they are prepared to give their lives. Are you prepared to die today, Tomalak?
In fact, one of the reasons I’m fond of the Picard character is his ability to embody the taking of responsibility that a Captain must. For all the power and authority of today’s society, I see very little responsibility.