mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hindsight is 20/20...

This may be one of my least coherent posts. Or possibly my most coherent. See, I've had a really long weekend. It's move-in weekend at the college I work at, and I - as someone who is hoping to buy a house in a market where housing prices are going up 25% a year - need the money, so I signed up to work all 3 days. I've spent 8 hours a day the last 4 days telling college kids to reboot their computers, renew their IP addresses, and throw their computers out the window. So I've decided to deal with this stress the way that any mature adult who graduated from a college ranked #2 on the Princeton Review's list for "most beer" would - by having a couple beers.

Which wouldn't be a big deal, except I've pretty much stopped drinking. See, I've been trying to lose some weight, and beer is basically empty calories. Plus, drinking beer always makes me want to eat deep-fried salty snacks, making things worse. But it's been such a long weekend that I've decided to make an exception - and since I pretty much havne't had more than one beer at a time for the last 8 months or so, a couple beers is enough to get me slightly muddled. Fuckin' lightweight that I am.

But I've been thinking about this whole Hurricane Katrina situation, and there seems to be a whole lot of finger pointing by people on both sides. As an evil conservative who gets his instructions directly from Karl Rove, I of course side with Bush. But seriously, I think many bloggers, like Goldstein have done a great job of pointing out that at least some of the blame lies not with Bush, but with the mayor and governor of Lousinana. They made decisions that, if made differently, may have saved additional lives - had evacuations been ordered earlier, had buses been used to evacuate, had the feds been asked to be involved earlier.

But the fact is, any finger-pointing that's done - be it at Bush or at local governments - is after the fact. It's hindsight. It's 20/20. It's the luxury of being able to look at what actually happened, see the errors, and see exactly what changes could have been made. And Monday morning quaterbacking is easy, because you have perfect information, something that the people who actually made the decisions BEFORE the hurricane struck didn't have.

So for the time being, I'm going to cut both Bush and the locals some slack. Yes, their decisions cost people their lives. But it's difficult to say that most people, given the same situation, wouldn't make the same decison. And I think it's wrong to hold people overly accountable for outcomes that were influenced by something totally out of their control - by that most unpredictable of things, the weather. You know, the thing that everyone complains about but nobody does anything about.

If I look back at my own life, I can see decisions that, in hindsight, were wrong. Becoming an Information Systems major months before the .com crash wasn't, in hindsight, a great idea. But I thought it was at the time, acting on the information that I had. What if I'd asked that girl out? What if I hadn't waited as long as I have to start dieting and exersizing? What if I'd started a blog before blogs were cool? But all these regrets are looking back at decisions with the perfect information I have now, in hindsight, after the event. That's not the information or conditions that existed at the time of the decision, and I can't hold myself accountable for not taking into account information that I didn't have at the time.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Mad Anthony's lost attempts at scoring are important compared to the loss of life in the wake of Katrina. But I think, when we look at our own lives and decisions examined after the fact, we can see that making decisions based on information we don't have at the time we have to make the decision is difficult, if not impossible.

I'd like to believe that the events in the wake of Katrina were part of some master plan, that this is the way that God wanted it. I'm religious enough to think it may be a possibility, but not religious enough to be convinced of it.

And I'm not saying that we shouldn't look at the mistakes that were made pre and post Katrina, and make sure that we don't repeat them - that the next time a CAT 5 hurricane is about to hit a city that Federal troops aren't mobilized before it hits and that local governments use every possible resource to evacuate the city well in advance, even if it looks like the threat may not come to pass. But when we look at the decisions that were made at the federal, state, and local level, we should also realize that people were acting with the knowledge that was avaialble at the time - with knowledge of what MIGHT happen, but not what WOULD happen - and look at their decisions with the info they actually had available, not with what we know now.

And now I've got to finish my water and go to bed and sober up.


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