Friday, February 1, 2013

Often and lightly, the snow I shovel

 I have shoveled snow twice today, and expect at least one more round before bedtime, I'm feeling aware of the risks of snow shoveling such as wrenched backs and heart attacks.  In my case, frequent shoveling of light two-inch layers of fresh fluffiness is much less risky for my health than waiting for a six-inch layer to form and congeal with the setting of the sun.  Besides frequent prompt visits to the drive way, I rely on a shovel with a bent handle that makes it a lot easier to push snow or lift it.

 This reminds me of Jared Diamond's essay in the New York Times in which he explores misplaced anxiety. He draws attention to "the importance of being attentive to hazards that carry a low risk each time but are encountered frequently."   Such as, falling in the shower, or a the risk of a tree toppling on one's tent.
Diamond pointed out he doesn't stop taking showers, he's just careful about how he goes about it.

Aren't there more applications?

In the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the designers of the nuclear plant gave it a 25 year operating life, and that meant it would have been unlikely to have been damaged by a 100-year earthquake or tsunami.  But the operators of the plant keep it going for 40 years, increasing the likelihood that the plant might eventually be damaged.

Something might only happen infrequently, but give it enough time, and that event becomes nearly inevitable!!

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