from the world's big
New infographics show how Americans cope with hurricanes
Some stress out. Some read. Some drink.
- New infographics reveal how we deal with approaching hurricanes.
- We're ultimately defenseless, but here's how we get though it all.
- Among the storm prep essentials? Alcohol.
As weather becomes more extreme, we can expect the intensity of hurricanes to be on the rise. As it is, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the average yearly costs are already about $28 billion. Most of that tab has been run up in just three states: Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. Of course, these aren't the only states seeing catastrophic weather, and the dollar amount doesn't begin the describe the often devastating impact of big storms on victims' lives.
Farah & Farah, a law firm specializing in personal injuries, decided to find out what people who are experienced in surviving hurricanes do to get ready. Using Amazon's Mechanical Turk, they questioned 1,200 storm veterans about what the approach of a big storm means to them and how they prepare for, and handle, trouble weather. A page of revealing infographics, dubbed Handling Hurricanes, is the result.
No biggie. Or yes biggie.
When asked just how stressful they find an approaching storm, it turns out that people from Georgia, which has had relatively few hurricane disasters, are the most bothered of anybody. Louisiana and Texas come in next, which makes sense given their track record. Surprisingly, Floridians, the people who are far and away most clobbered by big storms, are surprisingly blithe about them, at least compared to Georgians. (Sunshine Staters are a breed apart, and we'll have a closer look at them later.)
Ants and grasshoppers
No one in a region that regularly experiences hurricanes can say they're totally surprised when the dark clouds come rolling in. But, like the children's story of the ant and the grasshopper, some people plan ahead, remaining in a state of preparedness, and some people wait until a storm is bearing down. Storm prep costs can add up, especially right before clouds roll in, when the scarcity of supplies and food causes prices to spike — if goods are still available at all. A rational case could be made for preparing before the weather turns.
That having been said, the survey found that nearly 70 percent of people wait until close to the last minute to get ready. Standing out as most forward-thinking are Louisianans, who have seen with Katrina just how bad a storm and its aftermath can be, and how coming back afterward can take a very long time, when it's possible at all.
Of course, what preparing for a hurricane means depends on who you ask, and the survey revealed how the answer may depend on your age.
Baby Boomers, who generally do a more through prep, consider their number one task to fill a bathtub with potable water. For Gen Xers and Millennials, the prime directive is to take pictures of valuables for post-maelstrom insurance claims. Millennials also consider it important to fashion a headlamp of some sort — you never know when selfies will be taken.
Since all normal activity is on hold...
If you haven't been evacuated from your home as the darkness falls, what's next? You're as ready as you can be, so...
Most people, by far, read during a big storm, at least as long as they have light to read by, presumably. For women, the second-most common bad-weather activity is having deep conversations. Men aren't far behind — it's their third place choice. In second for men is listening to music, and third place for women? Zzzzzzz.
Storm sex? Sure, for 35.6 percent of men, but just 23.4 percent of women. There could be a few different reasons for the disparity. We'll leave that little guessing game to you.
Ten percent of women make shadow puppets. Aw. For those wishing it would just stop — likely people with young children — there are pillow forts to be built. Aw, again.
Then there's that 25.4 percent of women and 27.2 percent of men…
Stormy (hic) weather
So about that 25.4 percent of women and 27.2 percent of men, hurricane readiness must include acquiring hooch. Their favorite thing to drink as the world maybe ends is — no surprise — beer.
Drinkin' in the rain...
About half of those surveyed who drink go out during the madness for fun. People full of liquid courage also brave the elements for less ridiculous reasons, such as evacuating — hopefully someone else is driving — and performing rescues and repairs.
Half of the people surveyed don't go out. Darwinism at work?
About those Floridians
It's by no means the case that people from Florida get so many storms that they don't care. It's just that it's part of life there, and Farah & Farah thus award them their own breakdown.
In three of the five examined regional areas, about 70 percent of respondents buy alcohol when preparing for a storm. Only in the cities of Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater do less than half of the people surveyed liquor-up, even though they're the most stressed by approaching storms. Still, a solid majority of these people go out during storms — in fact, in Jacksonville, only 9.1% don't. Yipes.
Don’t mess with Mother Nature
Sorry. Too late. We have. It certainly feels like weather is getting more extreme, and recent storms seem to have served as an inflection point for many people regarding their attitudes about climate change. Turns out the dire warnings have been optimistic — it wasn't supposed to get so crazy so soon, right? Vox recently published a great article describing what our options going forward are. It turns out it may not be too late just yet. It's well worth a read.
- Hurricane OVERreaction? HOGWASH! - Big Think ›
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Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.
- Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
- As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
- The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
What happens if we consider welfare programs as investments?
- A recently published study suggests that some welfare programs more than pay for themselves.
- It is one of the first major reviews of welfare programs to measure so many by a single metric.
- The findings will likely inform future welfare reform and encourage debate on how to grade success.
Welfare as an investment<p>The <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/hendren/files/welfare_vnber.pdf" target="_blank">study</a>, carried out by Nathaniel Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser of Harvard University, reviews 133 welfare programs through a single lens. The authors measured these programs' "Marginal Value of Public Funds" (MVPF), which is defined as the ratio of the recipients' willingness to pay for a program over its cost.</p><p>A program with an MVPF of one provides precisely as much in net benefits as it costs to deliver those benefits. For an illustration, imagine a program that hands someone a dollar. If getting that dollar doesn't alter their behavior, then the MVPF of that program is one. If it discourages them from working, then the program's cost goes up, as the program causes government tax revenues to fall in addition to costing money upfront. The MVPF goes below one in this case. <br> <br> Lastly, it is possible that getting the dollar causes the recipient to further their education and get a job that pays more taxes in the future, lowering the cost of the program in the long run and raising the MVPF. The value ratio can even hit infinity when a program fully "pays for itself."</p><p> While these are only a few examples, many others exist, and they do work to show you that a high MVPF means that a program "pays for itself," a value of one indicates a program "breaks even," and a value below one shows a program costs more money than the direct cost of the benefits would suggest.</p> After determining the programs' costs using existing literature and the willingness to pay through statistical analysis, 133 programs focusing on social insurance, education and job training, tax and cash transfers, and in-kind transfers were analyzed. The results show that some programs turn a "profit" for the government, mainly when they are focused on children:
This figure shows the MVPF for a variety of polices alongside the typical age of the beneficiaries. Clearly, programs targeted at children have a higher payoff.
Nathaniel Hendren and Ben Sprung-Keyser<p>Programs like child health services and K-12 education spending have infinite MVPF values. The authors argue this is because the programs allow children to live healthier, more productive lives and earn more money, which enables them to pay more taxes later. Programs like the preschool initiatives examined don't manage to do this as well and have a lower "profit" rate despite having decent MVPF ratios.</p><p>On the other hand, things like tuition deductions for older adults don't make back the money they cost. This is likely for several reasons, not the least of which is that there is less time for the benefactor to pay the government back in taxes. Disability insurance was likewise "unprofitable," as those collecting it have a reduced need to work and pay less back in taxes. </p>
What are the implications of all this?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="ceXv4XLv" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="3b407f5aa043eeb84f2b7ff82f97dc35"> <div id="botr_ceXv4XLv_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/ceXv4XLv-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/ceXv4XLv-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/ceXv4XLv-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>Firstly, it shows that direct investments in children in a variety of areas generate very high MVPFs. Likewise, the above chart shows that a large number of the programs considered pay for themselves, particularly ones that "invest in human capital" by promoting education, health, or similar things. While programs that focus on adults tend to have lower MVPF values, this isn't a hard and fast rule.</p><p>It also shows us that very many programs don't "pay for themselves" or even go below an MVPF of one. However, this study and its authors do not suggest that we abolish programs like disability payments just because they don't turn a profit.</p><p>Different motivations exist behind various programs, and just because something doesn't pay for itself isn't a definitive reason to abolish it. The returns on investment for a welfare program are diverse and often challenging to reckon in terms of money gained or lost. The point of this study was merely to provide a comprehensive review of a wide range of programs from a single perspective, one of dollars and cents. </p><p>The authors suggest that this study can be used as a starting point for further analysis of other programs not necessarily related to welfare. </p><p>It can be difficult to measure the success or failure of a government program with how many metrics you have to choose from and how many different stakeholders there are fighting for their metric to be used. This study provides us a comprehensive look through one possible lens at how some of our largest welfare programs are doing. </p><p>As America debates whether we should expand or contract our welfare state, the findings of this study offer an essential insight into how much we spend and how much we gain from these programs. </p>
Finding a balance between job satisfaction, money, and lifestyle is not easy.
- When most of your life is spent doing one thing, it matters if that thing is unfulfilling or if it makes you unhappy. According to research, most people are not thrilled with their jobs. However, there are ways to find purpose in your work and to reduce the negative impact that the daily grind has on your mental health.
- "The evidence is that about 70 percent of people are not engaged in what they do all day long, and about 18 percent of people are repulsed," London Business School professor Dan Cable says, calling the current state of work unhappiness an epidemic. In this video, he and other big thinkers consider what it means to find meaning in your work, discuss the parts of the brain that fuel creativity, and share strategies for reassessing your relationship to your job.
- Author James Citrin offers a career triangle model that sees work as a balance of three forces: job satisfaction, money, and lifestyle. While it is possible to have all three, Citrin says that they are not always possible at the same time, especially not early on in your career.