Thursday, March 17, 2011

NOT a movie review.

Serendipitously, given Saturday's post, NPR did a bit last night about the "Black Swan" theory.  In effect, the "one off", the worst case scenario.  In a tiny way, this is sort of what I do (risk mngt/claims). What's our best day in court?  What's our worst?  We don't reserve for the one off, the runaway jury, but certain venues do have a higher "x-factor" (read:  likeliness of whackitude).  In Fight Club, Edward Norton investigated freak accidents, evaluated the risk of it happening again, the cost of settling those claims, and compared that number to the cost of recalling an entire fleet of cars.  This represented his life as Soulless Bureaucrat*.
    *It's also on my listed of recommended cinema for newbies.  Am I Edward, before the bruises & without Brad Pitt?  Horror!  

But that is how the world works. In the course of my career, one expert joked that it IS possible to design a perfectly safe car. But it would be so expensive no one could afford to drive it. No one would die in car crashes because everyone would be walking.  [They'd perish instead by slipping on the the ice, succumbing to heat stroke, or getting thrown off their horse.]

My sister, doctoral candidate extraordinaire, when prodded into commenting on recent events since earthquakes are her thing, said that buildings simply aren't made to withstand a 30' wall of water.  I suggested a guest post but she's busy contemplating dessert, oops, her dissertation, or some such.  I asked my brother to weigh in too since he's in (a different corner of) the same field.  The stronger you build a building, the further afield you go in designing for the multitude of potential one offs, the more expensive it gets (also,  apparently, the fewer windows).  Those are not abstract numbers.  Those are dollars coming out of the builder's bottom line which, in theory, limits Christmas bonuses, cost-of-living-adjustments, & employer contributions to health care.... Is there a sweet spot spot in the middle?  My brother made a case for building codes, professional certification, etc... e.g. government regulation (Something also applicable to Edward Norton's job, above.  Also something the grumpy people on the east coast might keep in mind as they rail against big brother.)

Speaking of abstract figures, I just saw the number of missing or (presumed?) dead in Japan is now 16,000.
Sixteen thousand people.
I cannot get my head around that number.  I know the numbers from the Indonesian tsunami were ~15 times that but those don't make any more or less sense. 

In the lead in to the NPR piece, Robert Siegel said that we all know [such things] can happen, "but we don't plan our daily lives around that possibility.  So how do we incorporate the possibility of events that could be as disastrous as they are unlikely?"

You don't. 

Right?  You just don't.  You LIVE your life. 

Maya's comment on Saturday was that despite (or because of?) the tough stuff, she's actually more optimistic now.  I don't think anyone would ever describe me as a ray of sunshine ...(sorry, break for hysterical laughter)... but I couldn't agree more.  I don't really do the unicorns & rainbows here but, because of the one offs - past and future - you appreciate the days that whatever gods may be give you and try to make the most of them. 

So you go and visit Gigi for a day.
[Lookit that smooooothhh transition!]

And you play with Daddy's hat while he's gone

Love, personified...and literally (the sign thereof!)

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