drwex (drwex) wrote,
drwex
drwex

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Various Commentaries

Helpfully arranged by topic. We cut because we care.


I can't avoid commenting on this, much as I'd like to. I'm no expert on bombs, but I am an expert on analyzing systems and human responses to technology. Here's the problem:

Boston officials overreacted and now that they're in a hole they're failing the first rule "Stop digging!" They look stupid and are acting more stupid, with the active complicity of the sensationalist popular media.

Yes, it's true that things with batteries and wires could be bombs. Dear lord don't let these people into a Radio Shack please. Yes, it's true that bomb squads get paid not to have senses of humor and probably need to treat things as bombs once they're called in.

But... but... you cannot avoid two irreducible conclusions: either Boston's response was right and 9/10 of the world are idiots or the other cities where these devices were found responded in a reasonable and calm fashion and Boston overreacted. I don't see any other way to read this, and I think that the people who are now arguing the "90% of you are wrong" position are just totally missing the point.

Item 2: high alert states, paranoia, and false alarms are not free. I'm not talking about wasted dollars here. I'm talking about how we live our lives. If we spend our time jumping at shadows then we lower our life quality and, being fallible humans, we become LESS likely to respond to real threats. 'Boy who cried wolf' isn't just a child's tale - it's a parable about how people behave and respond to repeated stimuli. Anyone who has ever done work on situations where alarms matter (medical equipment/tests, cockpit design, manufacturing processes) knows how important it is to keep the air clean of false and distracting noise.

It's imo wrong to say "well, they had to take it seriously, that's their jobs" - that misses the whole context in which those jobs get carried out.

Those of you old enough to remember Three Mile Island should remember that those operators did in fact get the right alarms in that situation, but part of the problem was that the relevant signal was buried in so much noise that it was missed. We have a natural tendency to think that more is better, so more data collection must improve our intelligence analysis, more alerts must improve our responses to threats, and so on. In fact, the opposite is true. False positives are extremely harmful, and this one is a doozy.



Work is very stressy. Personnel shifting around here will probably turn out to have been beneficial in the long run but right now I'm trying to figure out how to deal with an environment where I make a suggestion and my grand boss responds "Yes yes!" - exclamation point and all - and then two days later I'm told that this suggestion "caused a problem." I'd like "Confusing Mixed Messages" for $1000, Alex.

I'm likely to be very spastically busy with trying to keep up at work for at least the next few weeks. With luck things will settle down. I tend to doubt it, though. I'm coming home frazzled and unsettled and unsure what to do about it.



We're still ill. I took a sick day this week partly because I was feeling draggy but mostly because L's school called saying he was running a fever and wanted him taken home. Pygment was asleep since she'd been woken up around 3:30 by L's coughing and his unwillingness to go back to sleep. Oh, and I woke myself up at 3AM for who-knows-what reason and couldn't get back to sleep.

We lost all of last weekend's fun to being ill and this coming weekend isn't looking good. L was spiking random fevers all yesterday. The doc first said ear infection and put him on antibiotics; now they say his ears are clear but maybe it's a sinus infection. I'd be tempted to throw in a "fucking doctors" comment here except I know they're doing their best and it's just a fact of growing up that sometimes kids get sick with random viruses and you kind of don't have much choice but tough it out.

Still, going on two weeks of ill health at one level or another, low on sleep and high on bad behavior is NOT making for a happy household.



L has, in addition to the obvious behavior issues that come with being a sick child, been in an extremely challenging phase. Like "I'm going to challenge my parents on everything in sight, dig in my heels at every chance, and scream like I'm being murdered when consequences are enacted." Hours of time-outs, loss of TV and computer privileges and such-like aren't having much effect. He has my brother's level of stubbornness, which is much worse than mine, if you can believe such a thing. I'm stubborn, but at least when I realize the consequences of being stubborn I'll try to de-escalate. K does the same thing. My younger brother? Not so much. He's totally a "consequences be damned" person and L is showing the same behaviors. Sigh.

It doesn't help that he's doing it when his parents are sick and low on cope and mental flexibility in general.



Diesel on Tuesday was excellent, if crowded and overwarm. Mostly because I got to have good conversations with good people even in the crowd. It helped me get over a bad case of sandpapered nerves I had acquired at work that day. I also saw a couple of faces I hadn't seen in some time.

Last week wifey and I went to see the latest Bond flick before it disappeared from the big screen; that was pretty good and much better than most recent Bond. This week we watched a DVD of Tom Yum Goong - translated into English as "The Protector." It's a Thai martial-arts flick starring Tony Jaa. I personally think it should have been called "maim a thug for elephants" - it's long on action and fights, with some impressive bits, and really short on plot. I thought Jaa was OK, but the fight choreography was second-rate. It looked fine at full speed but they kept slowing things down which really let you see how fake some of the moves were. I'm not sure if more of Jaa's movies are going to make it to the US; if they do I'll probably watch at least one or two more tos ee if he gets better.

I missed a date with the g/f this week. Between our two situations we couldn't manage to get together. Sadness.


Overall I give the past two weeks a 3 out of 10. Not precisely fired, but really not even close to average.
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