Monday, April 28

10 Ways We Get the Odds Wrong

Our brains are terrible at assessing modern risks. Here's how to think straight about dangers in your midst.

Is your gym locker room crawling with drug-resistant bacteria? Is the guy with the bulging backpack a suicide bomber? And what about that innocent-looking arugula: Will pesticide residue cause cancer, or do the leaves themselves harbor E. coli? But wait! Not eating enough vegetables is also potentially deadly.

These days, it seems like everything is risky, and worry itself is bad for your health. The more we learn, the less we seem to know—and if anything makes us anxious, it's uncertainty. At the same time, we're living longer, healthier lives. So why does it feel like even the lettuce is out to get us? Click the title above to read the entire article or the links below for the specific section you are interested in.

I. We Fear Snakes, Not Cars. Risk and emotion are inseparable.

II. We Fear Spectacular, Unlikely Events. Fear skews risk analysis in predictable ways.

III. We Fear Cancer But Not Heart Disease. We underestimate threats that creep up on us.

IV. No Pesticide in My Backyard—Unless I Put it There. We prefer that which (we think) we can control. Hmmm ...perhaps this explains why we fear dying of fire in a high rise building more than our own homes....

V. We Speed Up When We Put Our Seat belts On. We substitute one risk for another.

VI. Teens May Think Too Much About Risk—And Not Feel Enough. Why using your cortex isn't always smart.

VII. Why Young Men Will Never Get Good Rates on Car Insurance. The "risk thermostat" varies widely.

VIII. We Worry About Teen Marijuana Use, But Not About Teen Sports. Risk arguments cannot be divorced from values.

IX. We Love Sunlight But Fear Nuclear Power. Why "natural" risks are easier to accept.

X. We Should Fear Fear Itself. Why worrying about risk is itself risky.

Wednesday, April 2

News: Man charged with impersonating firefighter at Katrina, 9/11 disasters

News: Man charged with impersonating firefighter at Katrina, 9/11 disasters | campbell, firefighter, paramedic, people, police - "a credit card that wasn't mine to try to impress a girl that was out of my league,' Campbell said."

SANTA ANA - A Huntington Beach man was arraigned this morning on charges that he impersonated a firefighter at the scene of disasters such as the World Trade Center collapse and hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Jim Campbell, 45, pleaded not guilty in Central Justice Center to one misdemeanor count of impersonating a firefighter and to two felony counts of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Officials say that Campbell posed as a paramedic captain and helicopter pilot to gain access to disaster scenes.

Campbell said he didn't obstruct official efforts at the disaster scenes.

"I was crawling under collapsed buildings, pulling people out from under collapsed structures," Campbell said.

Campbell was arrested Sept. 7, 2007, after a search of his home that capped a two-month investigation.

"This is a guy who lived out his life as a firefighter; he was completely obsessed with the idea," Deputy District Attorney Andre Manssourian said at the time. "He had turned his home literally into a shrine to the fantasy of him as a fireman, including fake letters of commendation he had made."

Campbell's lawyer pointed to a shooting by a retired Anaheim police officer Monday for a comparison.

"Here's a man that's been retired from the Anaheim police force for 31 years who identifies himself as a police officer and shoots someone and it's OK because he's a member of the club," Scott Well said. "But my client is out saving lives and rescuing people and he's being prosecuted."

Campbell owns a company called Frontline Safety Products, which sells firefighting equipment and offers CPR courses. The news of his arrest "has all but destroyed his business," Well said.

"He led people to believe in his sales pitches by fraudulently representing himself as a firefighter," Manssourian said at the time of Campbell's arrest. Manssourian left the arraignment Wednesday without commenting.

Campbell didn't lie when he called himself a firefighter, Wells said, pointing to his training in various aspects of firefighting and his volunteer work.

"He can say, 'I'm a firefighter,'" Well said. "That doesn't mean he works for the Orange County Fire Authority or LAFD. There's a tradition of volunteer firefighters that's being lost."

Campbell used to be a paramedic in Arizona, but lost his license after a 1987 conviction for stealing a credit card.

He moved to California in 1995 to work as a paramedic again, but was fired in 1997 for not disclosing his felony arrest record, officials said.

"We're all put on earth to do one thing and this is what I was put here to do," Campbell said.

Campbell said he's always wanted to be a firefighter. He started out in that direction with a job as a lifeguard when he was 14, he said, but the felony conviction kept him from going further.

"I spent money on a credit card that wasn't mine to try to impress a girl that was out of my league," Campbell said.

WWE Wrestling Fireworks Mishap. 45 people injured!

Orlando, FL -- In Florida, a pyrotechnic show goes wrong during Sunday night's Wrestlemania event.

The fireworks begin to blast and then you see a big ball of fire. Chaos erupts in the stands and people start to run.

The Orlando Fire Department said a cable carrying fireworks malfunctioned, dropped onto the crowd, leaving 45 fans with minor burns.

WWE apologized for what happened.

The fire department says WWE followed the proper procedures.

For more info on this story click here.

For home video of the accident click here.

Fire Safety Deadline Looms For Older Cruise Ships

2010 SOLAS Deadline Looms For Older Ships - Cruises - Cruise Critic
For some of cruising's older ships, 2010 is a watershed that could see them sent off to the breakers' yard. That's because on October 1, 2010, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) will require all ships of 167 signatory states making international voyages -- including virtually every country where cruise ships are registered -- to comply with the latest fire safety requirements. This means that for the first time, the latest regulations will apply even to the oldest ships as the grandfather clauses protecting them will not longer apply. If your favorite ship was built before 1980, its future beyond that date could be in question.

The New Rules

Among the major points in the latest rules are requirements that there be two means of egress from all atrium levels; low-level lighting systems; installation of smoke detectors, sprinklers, fire detectors and fire alarm systems in all accommodations and service areas; and fireproof enclosures around all stairways. Most of these rules went into effect by October 1, 2005, which means all ships in service today already comply. But full compliance with the latest SOLAS regulations won't be required until 2010, when all ships regardless of age will be required to be free of almost all combustible materials in their construction. Many ships built before 1980, and especially those built before the 1970's, were constructed under older rules that allowed combustible materials. Replacing all the combustible materials in these ships may be prohibitively expensive, and owners may choose to scrap them instead and take the opportunity to replace them with more modern ships that more easily comply with today's stringent safety standards.

The complete set of regulations is highly complex and has produced a high level of safety on today's cruise ships. Even so, there have been occasional unforeseen accidents such as combustible mooring lines aboard the Carnival Ecstasy catching fire in 1998, and the far more serious outdoor balcony fire onboard the Star Princess in 2006. Both Carnival and Princess responded immediately by substituting fire retardant and fireproof materials fleetwide, actions that went beyond the existing SOLAS convention. Eventually, further SOLAS amendments will probably require that similar steps be taken by all operators, but in the meantime most major cruise lines have adopted the changes without waiting for the regulators to catch up.

Click the link above for the rest of the story!