by Mike Shea on 31 December 2003
Every day we are bombarded with new threats. Constant "orange alert" updates, stories of exploding cell-phones, and huge congressional deliberations on mad cows brainwash us into feeling that we are under a constant threat. Meanwhile, commonly known causes of death remain untouched in the news. Heart disease, cancer, automobile wrecks, all are glossed over. The following is a chart for the official Mike Shea threat level. It outlines the number of people who have to die before one should become alarmed. Whenever a new threat is discovered, compare it to this chart to decide how to appropriately react. All statistics were taken from the National Center for Health Statistics.Number of Deaths in One Day Threat Level Comparison Appropriate Reaction< 11 Unconcerned Less than 10% of automobile deaths per day. Less than 13% of firearm deaths per day. Less than 0.5% of heart disease deaths per day.
Don't even bother talking to your water-cooler buddy about it. You are more likely to choke on your own saliva during the conversation than to die of this "threat". Examples: Mad Cow disease, SARS, domestic terrorism.10 - 50 Mild Interest Between 10% and 50% of the deaths due to automobile wrecks. Between 13% and 62% of firearm deaths. Less than 5% of heart disease deaths per day. Perhaps worth a conversation, but don't bother blogging about it. No actual action needs to take place.50 - 110 Interest / Concern Up to equal the number of automobile wrecks. Possibly greater than deaths by firearm. Less than 10% of heart disease deaths. If fifty to one hundred people die, it is worthy of discussion / commentary. If it is something that involves you, you might think about taking reasonable precautions.111 - 2000 Alarm Over the number of automobile and firearm deaths, up to equal the number of heart disease deaths. Definitely worthy of CNN time. Definitely worthy of discussion with friends, family, and the blog community. It would not be unreasonable to IM folks about it ("Did you hear about the Micky Mouse explosion in Disney World that killed 1400 people?")> 2000 Armageddon Greater than the number of people who die of heart disease. This catastrophe could be the biggest number of deaths this day. If two thousand people die in one day, conversation and alarm are expected and considered reasonable. If you are within the threat criteria, leave.