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Ides of March, p1

The title was appropriate when drafted, as it is now subjected to the fluidity of a dynamic calendar, it shall stay. The gross negligence of the journalism profession is categorically well-documented, so to say that any one particular incident is the proverbial tipping point is rather unnecessary. So rather than castigate them further than their systemic ineptitude is so richly deserving of, I would prefer instead to point out more pressing issues indirectly raised in wake of their obfuscation.

Civil disaster management policies tend to accentuate terminology such as management, mitigation, recovery, an so forth. Implicit in this is psychological conditioning projecting a consensus idealism onto the presumed responsibilities. The collective assumption is that the ‘inconvenience’ can be avoided or nullified with sufficient sandbagging of money and manpower. Little or no consideration is given to transformational or disruptive policy consideration.

The principles as promulgated by Clayton Christiansen’s Disruptive Innovation arguments appear to apply similarly to Disruptive Disruptions, in that failure to anticipate and accommodate the disruptions does in fact break the system, when otherwise the sociological or other frameworks ought to provide an implicit recovery vector.

Much could be said, and this ramble never get posted, so the topics inevitably must oblige to brevity. What should be evident now from 10+ years of epic disasters, is that traditional command and control protocols are not relevant or usable during major events, and can lag anywhere from one to five business days behind operations post-event.

Several key points not competently reported regarding the Japanese disaster:

  • TEPCO authorities clearly stated in multiple press conferences that decisions necessarily were being made by on-site staff and that Tokyo had very limited after-the-fact knowledge that the on-site staff had independently decided to conduct irrecoverable mitigation operations.
  • TEPCO also indicated that if comprehensive surveys had been made on-site, Tokyo did not have that information, and in any case would have been too old to be relevant – thus Tokyo had little to no accurate assessments about the true state of the local situation.
  • If TEPCO didn’t have that information, the US NRC most certainly did not either.

There is a principle out of all this worth curious contemplation. George Bush indicated that the comms systems on Air Force One were such that he was unable to maintain the communications he felt necessary for C2 capabilities on 911. This tracks with off-the-record statements about similar hyper-escalation ‘latencies’ further down the command chain. As such, immediate response decisions necessarily were made by on-site personnel. In the case of epic events, the short-straw responders need to be enabled to execute the critical decisions, terminally if necessary, to interdict failcascades.

Part 2 should cover response mechanisms, and Part 3 goes out on the limb.