Snow Day

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.

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2 Responses to Snow Day

  1. DaD says:

    I per­son­al­ly think the fore­casts should be con­ser­v­a­tive; that way any yahoos and cow­boys who decide to ven­ture forth should be allowed to Dar­win them­selves out of the gene pool — thus improv­ing the human race for all of us.

    • dgilbert says:

      I would­n’t dis­agree per se, but it’s gen­er­al­ly not the case that peo­ple sus­cep­ti­ble to “dar­win­ing” require addi­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties… it’s been my obser­va­tion that they make their own.

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