Business continuity: Why getting hit by a bus is better than winning the lottery

At my work, like in every good business, we develop plans to deal with various risks. One of the risks we plan for is the sudden unavailability of a staff member, leaving both a knowledge gap and a shortage of hands available to work. My go-to expression for this is “what if X was hit by a bus?”. However, I am often chastised for this and encouraged to frame it in a more positive way, the classic being “what if X won the lottery?”

I’ve given this some thought, and pessimistic though it is, I have two good reasons why it is better to plan for someone to be hit by a bus than win the lottery.

The first reason is: Statistics. Although “hit by a bus” is fairly specific, it is really just a stand-in for any accident that claims the life of the staff member. “Winning the lottery” is also fairly specific, but there are not many other positive events that it can stand in for. Having a baby? Sure, but you get at least a few months warning. A new job? You get at least 4 weeks warning for that, more if you work in a good environment. Inheriting an enormous fortune? Yeah right, might as well rely on the lottery. All of these things give you at least some buffer time for knowledge transfer and to get started on hiring a replacement.

But getting hit by a bus? Or a car? Or a heart attack in the middle of the night? Those are things that actually happen. How many people do you know that have won enough money on the lottery to quit overnight? And how many people of working age do you know that have died unexpectedly? I hope the answer is “no” to the last one, but I bet it isn’t.

But this alone is not enough reason to worry about your staff getting hit by a bus. No, the real reason is this:

When a colleague dies, people get sad.

A sad worker is not a productive worker. And guess who gets saddest? The people closest to your ex-employee. These of course are usually their closest team members. Who also happen to be the people most likely to be able to do what your discorporated corpse used to do. If you haven’t planned well, your business could be in serious trouble.

So don’t be the person watching your business fall apart as half your workforce mope around crying and attending funerals, and the only thing filling Worm-Food’s seat is dust. Plan for the actual worst cases, not for the wholesome Disney-fied ones that will never ever occur.

Racism is alive and well at The Age

Why does this The Age article about a brawl in St Kilda have to keep mentioning that the brawlers were of “African appearance”? Is it supposed to help us by highlighting that people of “African appearance” are more likely to brawl so we can avoid them? Or is it supposed to help us identify the brawlers to police, because their “African appearance” is a unique identifying feature?

I note that the Age published an article about a different brawl in Melbourne Central a few weeks ago which doesn’t mention anybody’s appearance at all. The people in that brawl did not look like they were “African appearance”; surely that is just as newsworthy as the “appearance” of the St Kilda brawlers.

And just what the heck is “African appearance” anyway? When I did an image search for “Moroccan people” they looked very different to when I did an image search for “Malian people“, and that’s only two countries over! What about a person from, say, Andaman islands? What “appearance” would they be?

Shark sense

Tragically, a shark killed a person off the coast of Western Australia today. I saw a newsreader report the “horrific” statistic that 15 people have been killed by sharks in the last 16 years. Yes, this is a tragedy. It is even true, according to But this is not what I would call a “horrific” statistic.

Want to hear a horrific statistic? For the same time period in Western Australia, there were 3179 road fatalities. And, whilst it is purely optional to go swimming in a shark-infested ocean, it’s pretty damn hard to get by without driving a car or crossing a street; especially in a place as freaking huge as Western Australia.

So before people start over-reacting like they did in like they did in 2013, can we please cut the hyperbole and keep a sense of perspective?


The wisdom of our eldests

Congratulations to Emma Morano, for taking the title of “Worlds oldest living person.” Of course, if I were her I’d be getting a little nervous: every other person to hold this title has died!

What really bugs me about this celebration of a person who has lived slightly longer than anyone else is the one question that every person who is not quite good enough to get a real reporting job invariably asks:

“What is the secret to your long life?”

Sure, I get it, they want to find some little tidbit of information, the wackier the better, that everyone can talk about at the water cooler tomorrow. But seriously, can we please put an end to this stupid line of inquiry? I skimmed through the Wikipedia entries for the last ten oldest people in the world for whom the occupation is listed and checked to see what their jobs were. They were as follows:

  • 3 x Factory worker
  • 2 x Maid/Nanny
  • 2 x Teacher
  • 1 x Merchant
  • 1 x Nun
  • 1 x Postal Worker

Where in that list do you see the experts in gerontology, medicine, or biology? What peer reviewed qualitative case study analyses have they undertaken in order to establish that the 1-3 behaviours or beliefs they nominate have formed a majority part of the causal relationship to their longevity, independent of other factors? The anecdotes of a handful of people whose only unique attribute is being a statistical outlier in a specific domain that they are not specifically educated in is not even close to acceptable quality for evidence.

And if you happen to believe it is, then I have a tiger-repelling rock to sell you…

Now please don’t think that I (sitting on my high horse in my ivory tower with my mixed metaphors and tertiary education and easy access to more information than has ever been known to humankind) am trying to put down these wrinkled remnants of centuries past. I doubt that they are any more or less intelligent than anybody else (well, probably more intelligent than anti-vaxxers, but then, isn’t everybody?). It’s a simple fact that by virtue of their age they grew up in a time when tertiary education was far from the norm, and doubly so for females (who tend to be highly represented in the list of the oldest people).

No, this is not a diatribe against the elderly: it is against the writers of the pointless puff pieces which rather morbidly crawl out of the woodwork every time the last oldest person dies. These reporters have a rare opportunity: the chance to tap into the memories of people who have lived through more history than anyone else alive. People who can surely provide amazing insights into the personal impacts of the great political and social upheavals of the early 20th century. But hey, why do something interesting like that when instead you can just suck away the remaining precious hours these people have with unimaginative and pointless questions that add no value whatsoever. Keep up the good work, reporters!

My Experiences with Gay Pornography

There is a gay couple living in an apartment across the way from me, and I have noticed that there are two things that they particularly seem to like:

  1. Having their blinds open, and
  2. Watching (very) hardcore gay pornography on their big-screen TV.

I have nothing against them watching gay pornography to supplement their activities; in fact I’m happy for them for being comfortable and open enough with each other to explore and find things that they enjoy together, such as hot construction workers with minimal concern for site safety regulations. And how could I not support gay pornography? After all, it is one of the few forms of porn that does not promote objectification or violence towards women.

However, being supportive of the idea of porn it is not the same as having it beamed into my apartment a couple of times a week. As far as I’m concerned, if I can see a naked brown-eye with my naked blue eyes then it’s only fair that they revisit their open-blind policy before I revisit my don’t-go-blind policy.

But how to express my desire for them to not so visibly express theirs? They are too far way to yell, and screaming about pornography is not likely to endear me to my neighbours. Calling the police is out of the question, because it seems cruel to make them think that a hot-cop-knocking-on-the-door fantasy has come true only for cold reality to come crashing in moments later.

There is only one solution to this riddle, and that is the trusty super-hero: my laser pointer. By day, it is a mild-mannered red dot, who meekly emphasises key points on powerpoint slides about business processes, IT development, and a bunch of other boring stuff. But at night the dark side of his personality comes out, and he helps me hunt down and admonish those who would force upon me their desire for hot army gang-bangs.

And so that’s what I have been doing lo these many nights. When the elephantine organs come out, so to does Mr Red Dot, and he dances gaily about the walls for the 30-40 seconds it takes for the blinds go down.

Who ever would have thought that a humble hand-held laser pointer could be a weapon of ass disruption?

The real reason for the “gay marriage” plebiscite in Australia.

Australian law defines marriage as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” There’s even a bit at the back that says foreign marriages between a “man and a man” or a “woman and a woman” are not recognised, so you can forget about that loophole. Oh, and if you don’t identify as a man or a woman? Well, we have a strategy for that.

This definition was passed in to law by the Howard Coalition Government in 2004.

The tide of public opinion has changed in the last decade, but the Government is still fighting for old prejudices. The current Coalition Government, led by Tony Abbott Malcolm Turnbull finally seems to be recognising this, but they still won’t commit to making a change. The best they will do is agree to hold a plebiscite about the issue if they win the next election.

The question is:


Government ministers are not idiots. Sure, it’s easy to believe they are, but the fact is you don’t get to a senior position in the government without having the ability to negotiate the slippery twists and turns of alliances and backstabbing and compromises with one’s party, the voters, and the media. Maybe one or two drongos will slip in, but an entire government? Unlikely. So it is not stupidity.

Polls show clear support from the Australian public for marriage equality. Politicians look at polls. They say they don’t, but you just know they do. You can’t spell “politician” without “poll”. Well, most of it anyway. The current government are already on shaky ground because people are starting to realise that apart from fewer gaffes and less misogyny there is not a whole lot of difference between an Abbott Government and a Turnbull Government. So it’s not that the government is unaware of what the people want.

Let’s look at some statistics. The government knows that “there are much higher numbers of attempted suicide and self harm across the LGBTI community when compared with the general community.” That’s a link taken from an actual Australian Government agency, so the government has no excuse for not knowing. The government also knows, through a Senate report, that the plebiscite will be “potentially harmful to children and other vulnerable people in the gay and lesbian community.

So why do the government want a plebiscite? If it’s not stupidity, and it’s not for votes, there is only one reason I can think of: the government has resigned itself to the fact that it can’t stop marriage equality, so it is hoping to drive as many LGBTI people to suicide as it can in the process. If you can’t stop “gay marriage”, I guess you can at least reduce the number of people to whom it applies.

What do you think? Are they really that evil? Or are they just a bunch of old bigots? Comment below!


Reality check

I feel like society had a very brief window in which it could have stopped “reality” TV from taking off. Back when it first started, if everyone had just ignored it, it might never have gone anywhere. It would have been relegated to a forgotten TV series or two, rather than evolving into a whole genre.

Unfortunately, this was never going to happen, for two reasons:

  1. The infancy of the Internet
  2. “Reality” TV showed boobs.

So next time you are cursing the 3rd ad in a row begging you to vote for some alleged celebrity* to stay in the jungle, just remember: you had a chance, and you blew it. Now stop reading this blog and go back to your porn and dreams of TV shows that might have been.


*Celebrity (noun). Washed up actor or sports star you have never heard of.

Heart of Glass

I went to buy window cleaner today, and it turned out to be a more complicated decision than I had anticipated. And there were only two options to choose from! The choice I had to make was between the hippie “save the world” biodegradable option, or the conservatively blue “we mean business” name brand option. There were a lot of factors to consider:

  • The biodegradability of each product, because obviously I don’t want to be responsible for nasty chemicals persisting in the environment any longer than necessary.
  • Whether the process for making “biodegradable” chemicals was actually worse for the environment than the other chemicals.
  • Whether there really was any difference between them, or whether it was just marketing mumbo-jumbo.
  • The toxicity of the products. I don’t want to subject myself to any unnecessary risk if I can help it.
  • The fact that the “green” version listed itself as vegan whereas the other one remained strangely silent on the matter. As an opponent of cruelty to animals I support making cruelty free choices where one can.
  • On the other hand, what the hell is “vegan” about window cleaner anyway? It’t not like they squeeze duckling juice into it, it’s basically just water, alcohol, and a bit of fragrance.
  • And of course, which one will be the most effective? There’s no point having something environmentally friendly if it doesn’t work. And if the name-brand one is more effective, am I willing to shoulder the responsibility of any environmental damage I do for such a minor thing as slightly cleaner windows?

After standing there for some time, a bottle in each hand, carefully pondering all these factors in what I hoped was a rational and scientific fashion, I came to a decision.

I bought the cheapest one.