Pandemic IV: Blue Screens of Death

Published: 2020-06-20
Tagged: thoughts pandemic

This post is a branch of Pandemic I: The Game has Changed.

Back in the late 90's and early 00's, Windows computers would often freeze and show a BSOD–a Blue Screen of Death. It meant that an unrecoverable error had happened. The only way forward was to press and hold the restart button. Of course, all your work was lost. That's where the "Death" part of the name comes from. They could appear any time. While you were playing a game, chatting, writing an email, or doing your monthly budgets. The most infuriating cases happened when a program was writing to disk like when you were saving a game or saving an important document. Upon restarting the system, which took a solid 2 minute back then, the file and all the work that went into were gone or corrupted.

BSODs don't happen that often any more. I can tell because my relatives stopped complaining about them. Probably had something to do with consumer pressure. A computer isn't very useful if it's reliable only 99% of the time.

In my earlier post, I wrote "When reality hit us, we began to shed all the little lies that have accumulated around us over the years." We've discovered that our image of the public institution of the Police was different from the truth. It turned out that its reliability was below the expected threshold. It was functioning in a degraded state, providing only part of what it should. Worse, it had been operating this way for some time. The feedback loops that were supposed to keep it in a good state failed or were removed. No good.

Most people didn't even know this was the state of reality. Unless you frequented r/bad_cop_no_donut, you couldn't see the problem. Even if you filter out the numerous low quality, incomplete news stories from the subreddit you still can see that something's wrong.

Institutions, like all other groups of people, decay. Without constant uneasy vigilance, all systems drift into an unhealthy state.

How can we fix them? How do we know which ones need urgent care?


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