Thursday, March 31, 2011

So what?

Seems like we've been at war for a long time... World War II drifted into the Cold War and more recently War on Terror, War on Drugs, War on Poverty. Frankly it sounds more like a 'War on Commonsense' (oops, damn those renegade thought bubble).   Next we'll have a war on tsunami's.  Actually, it looks like we're almost there. Google reports 1,110 hits on "war on tsunamis" so it must be real.  We've got 20,800 hits for "war on heart disease" so that's not a bad thing but even that pales against the 8,530,000 hits that Google took 0.13 seconds to bring up when I searched for "war on terror".  

It's good to see that the essentially useless Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) is about to be replaced.  Steve Martin's assessment of the HSAS is probably more charitable than I or most of my security colleagues when he says: "The warnings were so vague that nobody could usefully do anything about them. The only possible purpose in issuing the warnings was to be able to say, 'I told you so' in the event of a terrorist attack. Well, that's the charitable interpretation. There are various less-charitable interpretations that are more to do with terrifying people. Surely that's the aim of terrorists though? Why would government authorities want to help them?"  Why indeed?  But that's for another section of the book.

Meanwhile, we're not sure yet what will replace HSAS but as of 30MAR11, the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) "... is currently in a 90 day implementation period that began on January 27, 2011 – until the end of the implementation period, the existing HSAS will remain in effect".

I'd applaud that change if I knew what was actually going to replace it but apparently it "will more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the public, government agencies, first responders, airports and other transportation hubs, and the private sector."  Can't wait.  In the meantime, here's my suggestion for a real world threat advisory system.  Not to ignore the seriousness of terrorism to it's victims but frankly unless you live in the Middle East (which is a whole different ball game from anywhere else in the world) suicide and bathtub accidents kill more people than wannabe terrorists.
risk management
Real World Risk Advisory System (Note: If not living in America this may or may not apply to you)
I also quite like the way the CDC prepares some of it's mortality information (or at least the level of detail they go to) but this table particularly caught my eye.

Some telling statistics there. If you click on the graphic or follow the link, you'll find unintentional injuries (slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents, etc) is the leading cause of death in America for most of our life. It's not the biggest cause of death however. As we get older cancer (malignant neoplasms) gets more and more of us but with a current life expectancy of 79 years, most Americans are going to go down fighting with heart disease.  No votes in a "war on heart disease" that needs lifestyle changes - or is there?  It would certainly get my vote.


  1. Hi Julian.
    You quoted my blog... that's nice. But you attributed the quote to Michael Mittag and not to me. Michael does the cartoons but the text is written by me.
    Steve Martin

  2. Hi Steve,

    Sorry about that. Have rectified that error.