Sunday, February 25, 2007

On Avoiding Future (Possible) Events

Gentle reader,

The more I hear about how unsecure Russia's nuclear materials are, the more it worries me.

How hard would it be for a terrorist organization to get hold of some of this material and make a crude nuclear device? I am guessing that with enough effort, it would be possible. Apparently, about 30 lbs of materials would be enough for a good-sized bomb. That is about the size of a bag of kitty litter. In other words, such a device would be very portable.

For some reason (politics and bureaucracy?) I don't see the US government doing very much about this problem. There is a private organization (with money provided by Ted Turner and Warren Buffett) that is setting an example and trying to clean up some of the spurious nuclear material. It is a good start. But the question is: can the cleanup be done quickly and effectively enough? My money is on "No". Sometime in the next 50 years or so, a nuclear terrorist strike on a major US city seems fairly likely. If you accept this premise, what should you do?

Here are some suggestions:

1) If you live in a major US city, move. Leave the city far behind if you can. If not, go far out to the suburbs, preferably the North, West or South, to try to avoid the fallout (in the US, the wind normally blows east).
2) If you live in the US and can leave the country, consider doing so. Where should you go? Go to a neutral country like Switzerland, or a small out-of-the-way country like Denmark or Sweden. Note: England is probably not the best choice, particularly near London.
3) I honestly cannot think of another good option unless you are very rich and powerful enough to influence the government of a major country that can do something about this. If so, please help... Or, you (we?) could organize many people and try to get the US or UK government to address this problem in a more urgent and effective fashion.

Some of the information used in this article was based on the following (very good) NY Times article: The Stuff Sam Nunn’s Nightmares Are Made Of

With that not-so-cheery thought, on to the quote for today !

"Politicians and diapers must be changed regularly, and for the same reason."

Until the next time, gentle reader, I remain,

Your friend,

-Buford Twain

Friday, February 23, 2007

"We work hard but also know how to have fun!" Puh-Lease.

Gentle reader,

Why do many corporations make the following claim (or a similar one) on their web site:

"We work hard but also know how to have fun!"

Dear marketing manager who is responsible for the corporate web site,

Come on. Please stop making broad, sweeping and generally inaccurate generalizations.

Unless you are actively involved in brain-washing, many of your employees do not fit that description.

Some of them work hard. Some of them don't. Some of them actively avoid working. Some of them have too much on their minds at the moment to focus on work. Maybe they are going through a divorce. Maybe someone close to them is dying or seriously ill.

Some of them will indeed know how to have fun. Others will be as dull and lifeless as a piece of pasta that has been boiled into submission.

Instead, why not say something like this:
"We have a collection of people who are trying hard to get by in life.
Our employees have their own share of problems, just like anyone else.
Some of them are happy. Some of them are sad.
Some of them work hard and enjoy what they do. Some of them would rather be somewhere else.
Some of them dread the alarm clock on weekdays, and take all of their vacation at the first possible opportunity.
Yes, they are all human, just like you."

Honesty in corporate communications? Heaven Forbid!

And so on to today's quote:

"When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you
believe that you will be able to converse well with
this person into your old age? Everything else in
marriage is transitory."

Until the next time, gentle reader, I remain,

Your friend,

Buford Twain

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Don't forget the possibility that you may die BEFORE you retire

Gentle reader,

You know how those well-meaning people are always telling you to save as much as you can for retirement (including at times, myself!).

Well, there is one thing that they almost always fail to mention.

The fact is that a good number of people won't make it, or will die shortly after they retire.

How many? What are your odds? Good questions. I can tell you this. I am 41 years old and already I have lost one close friend who died in his mid 30's.

Over 40,000 Americans are going to die this year from car accidents.

Money and success only go so far, and not very far at all when you are in a pine box six feet underground. Or cremated, or whatever.

When you reach 40, your odds of dying each year are somewhere around 1 in 200, I believe.
So between the ages of 40 and 60, assuming that the odds don't go up, you have a 1 in 10 chance of dying. Those odds don't sound too great, do they? Even if you make it, there is also a reasonable chance that you will have some terrible disease, or be crippled and unable to really enjoy the remainder of your life.

"Buford, you depressing old fool, what is your point?" you are probably asking by now, and I apologize for being long-winded.

My friends, my point is this: You had damn well make the most of your life and enjoy it while you have it. Or, as I am told the Bulgarians say, "You better wear your new clothes".

Sure, put some money away for retirement. More importantly, perhaps, make sure you have 6 months or more of expenses put away in case you lose your job.

However, I advise against putting EVERYTHING away for retirement. The sad fact is, many of us just won't make it that far. Which brings us to today's quote:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."
-Ferris Bueller

On that note, I will end this entry, but rest assured that I remain,

Your friend,

Buford Twain