Californians + Halloween = Spike in Insurance Claims

It would seem natural that with the increased number of people on the streets during Halloween, there would be an increase in car-pedestrian accidents. But it looks like California really outdoes other states when it comes to this hazard. According to Allstate Insurance, the number of people hit by cars in The Golden State jumps 25% on Halloween versus the rest of October.

The company urges trick-or-treaters to stay alert and refrain from texting and walking, which may become just as dangerous as texting and driving.


How Much Airport Security Is Too Much?

Martin Broughton, the chairman of British Airways, has had it up to here with the horse-and-pony show of airport security requirements required for all European flights headed to the United States.

“America does not do internally a lot of the things they demand that we do,” Broughton said in comments quoted by the Financial Times and confirmed by British Airways.

“We shouldn’t stand for that. We should say, ‘We’ll only do things which we consider to be essential and that you Americans also consider essential.'”

Specifically, he was referring to shoe and laptop removal requirements — “redundant” practices he had a few other choice phrases for.

Chairman Martin Broughton accused the U.S. of demanding “completely redundant” security checks at airports, such as removing shoes and separate examinations of laptop computers.
Europe should not have to “kowtow to the Americans every time they want something done” to beef up security on U.S.-bound flights, Broughton said.

Chairman Martin Broughton accused the U.S. of demanding “completely redundant” security checks at airports, such as removing shoes and separate examinations of laptop computers.

Europe should not have to “kowtow to the Americans every time they want something done” to beef up security on U.S.-bound flights, Broughton said.

He won support Wednesday from the owner of Heathrow airport and the British pilots’ union as well as several European airlines and security experts on both sides of the Atlantic.

It isn’t just European pilots who are on his side. Many of the major carriers across the pond gave their seals of approval to Broughton’s frustration.

security experts and several European airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, Iberia and Finnair, welcomed Broughton’s comments, saying it was time to reevaluate the many layers of time-consuming airport security.

“We need to keep passengers safe, but there’s also a whole bunch of security rules that could be eased out,” said Chris Yates, an aviation security analyst in London.

The requirement to remove shoes for screening, for example, was “the knee-jerk reaction after Richard Reid.” The newest metal detectors would sense any metal such as wiring in shoes, he contended.

Many of the security rules are in place because of history rather than real risk, agreed Todd Curtis, a Seattle-based security expert at

As with all risk management decisions — and, at its core, that’s what all security comes down to — Curtis’ point is the issue at hand: how do you ensure that commercial airlines can be as safe as possible but at the same time not impose onerous safeguards that impair their ability to succeed as commercial ventures?

The safest way to make sure no planes explode would be to ban air travel. No planes would ever be hijacked again. Also, oh yeah, no one would ever make another dime in the airline industry and we would all be doing a lot more driving.

The other extreme would be to have no security at all. There would be no lines to wait in before you board. No privacy-invading x-ray screening. The whole process of flying would be streamlined and the airport would become an ideal environment to make money from consumers. But then planes would likely be dropping out of the sky every few weeks.

There needs to be a balance.

And with a sensitive, hot-button issue like airport security — which is essentially the lynchpin of America’s “domestic war on terror” — the pendulum between safety and convenience will likely always sway along with the news. The more terrorist plots we see, particularly if ever there is another, major successful event, the more security we will likely see. The fewer events we hear about, the more complacency will set in and the more people will covet convenience.

Apparently some European heads of industry think the pendulum has swung too far in direction of safety — or more accurately, they think the “for-show” protocols that were once mere annoyances have turned into business-harming problems that need to be fixed.

Time can do that.

In related news, a humorous new website called Fun With TSA that I bet Broughton would enjoy is poking fun at some proposed, in-flight TSA safety restrictions. Apparently the aviation watchdog has suggested that it may be wise to not allow passengers to “leave your seat during the last hour of your flight, use electronic devices, or have anything at all on your lap.”

And while that would indeed be very annoying, here are two of their suggestions on fun ways you can pass the time during the last hour. There are eight other ideas if you click through to the Fun With TSA site.


Be the person on your flight to suddenly shout out “Marco!” during that last hour when others are looking for things to do.  It might take a few tries, but eventually someone somewhere on the plane will respond with a “Polo!” if for no other reason than to shut you up.  Entertainment achieved.


This can be every bit as much fun as when people do “the wave” at a stadium, only there will be no standing up here for obvious reasons.  Instead, simply power on your overhead light, wait for the people in front of you to power on theirs, then turn yours off.  A truly beautiful spectacle once it gets going.

Indonesia’s Year of Tragedy

The recent tsunami that devastated several remote islands in Indonesia has brought to light the country’s horrible history of natural disasters. Here, we take a look at the worst disasters to strike the chain of islands in Southeast Asia this year alone.

June 16, 2010: The 7.0 magnitude Papua earthquake destroyed nine villages and killed 17 people. More than 2,500 houses were destroyed. This came on the heels of the 2009, 7.6 magnitude Papua earthquake that killed four and injured dozens.

October 6, 2010: The Papua area experienced yet another disaster when torrential rains caused overflowing rivers and landslides. More than 145 people were killed, more than 800 injured and hundreds more displaced. The government blamed heavy rains for the severe flooding, rather than illegal logging and deforestation.

October 25, 2010: The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, causing a deadly tsunami.

October 25, 2010: The tsunami struck Indonesia’s Sumatra province, flattening villages and a resort. West Sumatra provincial disaster management official Ade Edward was quoted as saying, “The number of dead is now 282 and 411 are missing.” He said aid such as food, blankets and tents had begun filtering into the affected areas but that clean water was scarce and that the risk of disease was growing. Indonesian officials have said that the country’s tsunami warning system was not working because it had been vandalized. (The warning system was implemented after the horrific 2004 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 230,000.)

October 26, 2010: Indonesia’s most volatile volcano, Mount Merapi, erupted, killing at least 28 people. Authorities have been attempting to evacuate 11,000 villagers living on the slopes of the volcano where many houses have been destroyed. Among the dead was the elderly spiritual guardian of the volcano, a man who, Japanese believed, possessed magical powers over the mountain.

Fantasy Football: Good for Work or Bad for Business?

fantasy football

If you don’t participate in a fantasy football league, you may be considered a rare breed these days. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), there are close to 30 million fantasy players in the United States alone, an increase of 54% from just two years ago.

Sounds great, unless of course your employees are using company time to perfect their fantasy starting lineups. Some companies have blocked access to fantasy sports sites (the most common being those offered by Yahoo, ESPN and the NFL), while other companies have fired employees on the spot for engaging in fantasy football during working hours. You may remember the case of 26-year-old Cameron Pettigrew, who, along with four colleagues, was fired from Fidelity Investments without warning for participating in a fantasy football league with coworkers.

This is a case of extremes, however. According to a survey of HR professionals from around the country by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, nearly half (46%) say they do not care if employees engage in fantasy football at work as long as their work performance does not suffer.

“Other surveys show that people are indeed managing their fantasy teams from work. However, what we are hearing from the human resources community is that this is not at all affecting the level of output workers are expected to deliver,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

But it is interesting to note that the FSTA says fantasy football players spend roughly four hours a week adjusting rosters, researching injury reports and proposing trades to their friends. Of that time, approximately 1.2 hours of fantasy team management occurs at the office. And, according to estimates from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, American companies could be losing as much as $1.5 billion in productivity during an average football season because of fantasy leagues.

Even so, some companies see benefits from employees engaging in fantasy sports together, such as boosted morale and improved workplace relationships.

“Managers should only crack down on those whose work is clearly suffering from the added distraction,” said Challenger. “An across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites could backfire in the form of reduced morale and loyalty. The result could be far worse than the loss of productivity caused by 10 to 20 minutes of team management each day. Companies that not only allow workers to indulge in fantasy football, but actually encourage it by organizing a company leagues are likely to see significant benefits in morale as well as productivity. In the long run, this may lead to increased employee retention.”

What do you think? Should fantasy sports be banned from the office or encouraged among coworkers?

Should employees be banned from engaging in fantasy sports during work hours?

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