Onion Guide to Risk Management

It is no laughing matter, but The Onion does its best to make fun of risk management. They do an amazingly thorough job pulling up the best habits of reporters in the mainstream press — drama, statistics as well as potential remedies are duly noted:

In addition to increasing public awareness of deaths caused by falling down a laundry chute and severing the spinal cord, Baron suggested several direct precautionary measures. These include keeping a hamper full of extra pillows at the bottom of laundry chutes at all times, placing large, easy-to-read warning placards around chute openings, and moving to a house without a laundry chute.

“Until someone comes up with a safer means of conveying dirty laundry from the top floor of a house to its basement, this is the reality we have to live with,” Baron said.

Cute. Watch out FOX News, The Onion is cutting in on your territory here.

I can’t wait for the book.

Iraq and Western oil companies in discussions

The Washington Post story on the state of Iraqi oil has an interesting pair of paragraphs:

A higher-profile role for Western companies in Iraq’s oil industry is likely to revive speculation that the Iraq war was motivated by a desire to tap into reserves that were controlled by foreigners until the 1960s, when the industry was nationalized. The belief is widespread in the Arab world.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday said the U.S. government played no role in securing the deals. She called the impending contracts a sign that security gains are attracting foreign investment in Iraq.

If I read that correctly, Rice is speaking out of both sides of her mouth at the same time. Impressive. US security gains are attracting deals, while deals are not attracted by US security gains. In other words, better security is not required for developments that require better security, and therefore better security should be given credit while it has nothing to do with progress. Good luck easing concerns with that reasoning. She should have just said “the U.S. government played no role in security gains”.

Senator opposes sale of Budweiser (manuf) to foreigners

This is a classic Onion comment:

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has vowed to stop the sale of Budweiser manufacturer Anheuser-Busch to Belgian-Brazilian company ImBev. What do you think?

“Might I suggest that Sen. McCaskill actually try drinking a Budweiser before making any rash decisions? That’s what I usually do.”

Heh, too clever. Apparently she has already done that.

What’s the brew-ha ha over the sale of this company to a foreign one? I think first they should consider admitting formally to the original Budweiser manufacturer in Europe that they stole the name…then we can talk about the risk of European ownership.

Americans fail math test on fuel consumption

Reuters reports on a novel concept — adopting a measure of consumption that people could easily understand for fuel:

When presented with a series of car choices in which fuel efficiency was defined in miles per gallon, the students could not easily identify the choice that would result in the greatest gains in fuel efficiency, he said.

People had a much easier time when fuel efficiency was expressed in gallons per 100 miles. In that case, a car that gets 18 miles per gallon uses 5.5 gallons of gas per 100 miles, and a car that gets 28 miles per gallon uses just 3.6 gallons per 100 miles. With gasoline prices over $4 a gallon, that’s a difference of about $8 per 100 miles.

“If we just turn everything around, you can see where are the large savings in gallons of gas,” Larrick said in a telephone interview. The idea is not new. Many other countries, especially in Europe, already use a standard that compares gas used per trip.

Uh-oh. Does he realize that comparing the US to Europe is likely to create discontent among those in America who refuse to acknowledge progress can happen anywhere else in the world?

To translate miles per gallon into gallons per 10,000, Larrick said people can simply divide 10,000 by miles per gallon. Cars with the highest miles per gallon are always the most fuel efficient, he said. It is when people are trying to replace a car that they may be misled.

That’s how he became interested in this problem.

“We were trying to decide whether to get rid of a minivan and go for a station wagon versus getting rid of a sedan and going for a really high-mileage hybrid car,” Larrick said.

“We realized in the end we were better off trading in the minivan and only gaining 10 miles per gallon then we would be trying to swap out the sedan for a highly efficient car.”

Excellent article. The fact that it highlights a real measure instead of searching for the most effective marketing campaign or the creation of feelings about better consumption…it’s practically un-American.