A Test on Drinking and Driving

I recently had to get a new drivers license and since I happened to be physically located in an area with different arbitrary boundaries than the previous set of arbitrary boundaries where I lived.  Therefore I had to take test on the rules for operating a motor vehicle in this new geographical area.

There are a lot of odd things about this test.  For example each question was weighted equally despite the potential negative consequences.  The question about how to turn your wheels in case the transmission’s park and the parking break systems on your car failed (an unlikely scenario which if done wrong would result in your car disrupting traffic) is treated the same as if you had run a red light and t-boned someone killing the occupants. 

Clearly there are problems with the way this test is constructed.  Isn’t it interesting how you can miss the most deadly 20% of the questions and still get your license?

The area that irked me the most were the questions about alcohol.  These bothered me quite a bit.  I found 16 alcohol related questions from a sample test for the way alcohol impacts driving within my current arbitrarily defined boundaries.

  • If you are over 21 years old, BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of _____ or higher is illegal
  • Alcohol can:
  • Prescription or over the counter drug can:
  • What is a chemical test used to measure:
  • Which of the following can affect your driving ability?
  • On average, 12 ounces of beer could be cleared in your body in about:
  • After drinking, you should:
  • How many alcoholic drinks does it take to affect your driving?
  • When alcohol and drugs are combined in your blood:
  • When you are driving in the States, you have consented to:
  • How long does it take to clear three beers in your system?
  • What should you do before driving if you are taking a non-prescription drug?
  • What is the effect of drinking coffee after drinking alcohol?
  • What is the only way to “sober up” before you drive?
  • Alcohol is a:
  • Which of the following does Blood alcohol content (BAC) not depend on?

Where’s the “I don’t drink” option? Seriously. I used to have to know this stuff because how it impacted my job in the Army. When you’re in charge of Soldiers it’s a good idea to know about alcohol consumption and how it impacts the body and what legal limits are. Since this was my first test after leaving the Army those things didn’t seem to matter anymore… I don’t need to know how much to advise someone to drink. I don’t need to know techniques for taking someone keys. I don’t need to know this stuff because my life is now alcohol free! I’m no longer required to go to events where alcohol is served and I am responsible for those consuming it. So, why was I getting asked the questions?

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This is another good example of where governments fail. In most of our lives we enjoy personalized experiences even with some of the largest corporations the world has ever known. Amazon is a great example of this. Huge corporation with massive warehouses and infrastructure, yet your relationship with it is highly personalized. I’ve never once had Amazon suggest kitty litter (because I don’t own a cat) or alcohol related products (because I don’t drink).

Governments have a difficult problem going forward because they offer very limited choices. There’s only one test for driving inside of the arbitrarily drawn boundaries and it’s designed for people who drink or plan on drinking at some point in their lives.

I’m happy that there’s likely going to come a day when my children’s generation who are so used to hyper focused experiences meet with government experiences like this and just wonder why it couldn’t be more personalized especially when they see the price tag we’ve left them for such one-size-fits-all experiences.

Yes, there is a solution to this. Let insurance companies issue both driver’s licenses and license plates. The insurance company has the greatest incentive to keep you safe on the road–not the government. A state could easily license insurance companies and the equipment for them to issue plates and licenses to drivers. They would be more likely to respond to market forces like the booming population increase in Boise/Ada County Idaho. I know it sounds controversial, but a driver’s license is way less complex than putting objects in orbit and since Space-X (a private company) is now doing just that for NASA. Oh, and the rocket analogy has even more application since rocket technology are considered ballistic missiles and have to be heavily licensed. If we can figure it out how to license ballistic missile technology going to space and landing again why can’t we figure it out how to put those invested in our greatest success on the road in a position where they could innovate?

My insurance company would know I don’t drink. I could opt out of the questions or chose to take them in exchange for lowering my rate. One day I hope to have the freedom to do that.

Scam Calls–and Why I Love Them

I just got another call from a scam number.  This time from Quebec.  It was for an offer for a brace to relieve chronic pain, and the person on the phone promised me it would be 100% covered by my insurance.

I politely informed her that my chronic pain was on my left ear lobe and asked if they had a brace that would help with that.

She said, no.

I thanked her for her energy and enthusiasm and her kind call and wished her a nice day.


One day during a meeting at work one of our technicians was getting a call from a scam number.  I offered to answer it.  It was an offer for insurance.  So I stated that I’ve heard of famous people insure parts of their body (J-Lo does it).  So I pretended to be a toe model who after a very successful year wanted to insure my feet so that way I wouldn’t be so nervous wearing sandals anymore.

The conversation lasted longer than you’d think, until eventually the man suggested that I was pulling his toes.  I said, yes.  Then told him I hope’d he ended up with a good story to tell for his next break.


Usually I get someone offering to help reduce my credit card debt.  I pretend they’re from my bank.  When they ask how much debt I have I say things like, “wait a minute, you’re my bank.  It’s highly suspicious of you to ask me when you can look it up yourself.”

Usually they hang up.


The master of all scammers is James Veitch who even made a TedTalk about the experience he had with importing some gold.

What’s your favorite way to reply to a scam?  Leave a comment below.

Project Management & The Risks of an Information Economy

Project Management & The Information Economy Risks

Manoush Zomorodi hosts a weekly tech oriented radio show in New York City called “note to self.”  In her March 9th, 2016 episode entitled, “Why You Feel More Productive But the Economy Isn’t” Manoush discusses the curse of growth expectations on the economy (Zomorodi, 2016).  Growth expectations for businesses create a disconnect where the business must work for its customers by providing a competitive product while simultaneously growing the value of the stock for shareholders.  It’s not just enough for Nike just to make good shoes.  Good shoes alone don’t show growth in the business.  Growth happens with expanding profit margins or expanding product line.  The world’s billions in stocks are committed to companies that are fighting to find room for growth in their bottom line.  When the business moves towards creating that space for growth they create a project.  This cycle is one reason why project management will continue to be a highly demanded skill set for years to come.

I have always enjoyed working with computers and for my master’s I’ve selected Information Technology with an emphasis on Project Management.  I won’t be completing my degree until May of 2018 and have some time before I have to commit to any particular industry.  I’ve looked at the saturation of IT tools and projects across the economy and chose this path due to its versatility in a variety of industries.  The project management jobs I’d like to do after training all involve information technology.  I want to transition businesses to open source solutions to give them more control over the production efforts and help them maximize productivity along the production chain.  To facilitate this goal I would like to work in new systems development, new systems training development, and new systems integration.  

The benefits of going open source generally includes a reduced software cost, greater predictability over software feature inclusion, reduced cyber threat, and open communities of information to facilitate adoption.  Working in this field on projects for new systems, training, or integration programs would allow me to leverage my formal and informally developed skill set.  Because these skills span several industries it broadens my opportunities for future employment.  Nearly every industry has an IT project in the works but the industry I am most curious about right now is still in its embryonic stages, cyber insurance.  

Cyber insurance is of particular interest to me because of what it does for quantifying a market’s value and associated risk.  It puts price tags on processes.  I’ve often explained to my coworkers the miracle of price tags in a market.  Price tags are a summary of knowledge.  They communicate the cost of labor and machinery for resourcing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling the wide variety of products available to billions across the globe.  Although we once raised chickens for eggs, I find it amazing how the entire cost of production for a dozen eggs including feed, transportation, life cycle of the hen and refrigeration costs are all summarized in three digits when I approach the eggs at my local grocery store.

Cyber insurance’s role in the information economy will not be just to underwrite risk, but more importantly to calculate good and poor practices within the digital industry allowing quantifiable comparisons between solution implementations.  The scope of this need is enormous although not immediately obvious to all market participants.  Skitsko’s 2016 article on digital logistics is based on the foundation that we are living in an information economy and that for each economic component there is an informational component.  Back in 2009 Bandyopadhyay opined in his article “Why IT Managers Don’t Go for Cyber-Insurance Products” that the issue was on the demand side of the economic spectrum.  “The size of the U.S. cyber-insurance market (annual premiums) was expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2005…. In 2008 the size of the cyber-insurance market was estimated at $450 million” (Bandyopadhyay, 2009).  This under performance of growth has allowed many complacent practices to perpetuate within the IT space.  Target’s 2013 breach was the visible the culmination of several poor practices being implemented across several different levels of business (Roecker, 2016).  

Keith Kirkpatrick cites Target’s breach as one of the major proponents for encouraging businesses to adopt cyber security policies.  In addition to increased awareness he also cites evolving regulatory requirements with the EU’s pending legislation having major impact on the horizon (Kirkpatrick, 2015).  Yu’s 2014 article in Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal illustrates the legal challenges of using traditional consumer grade licenses with cyber loses highlighting the complexity of building this industry based upon traditional products and policies.  The risk for any new project must necessarily involve the risk of its digital compromise and creating the tools to evaluate and communicate that risk to the market is something that has me thoroughly intrigued.

References

Bandyopadhyay, T. Mookerjee, V. S., & RAO, R. C. (2009). Why IT Managers Don’t Go for Cyber-Insurance Products. Communications Of The ACM, 52(11), 68-73. doi:10.1145/1592761.1592780

Kirkpatrick, K. (2015). Cyber Policies on the Rise. Communications Of The ACM, 58(10), 21-23. doi:10.1145/2811290

Pilinkiene, V. (2016). Trade Openness, Economic Growth and Competitiveness. The Case of the Central and Eastern European Countries. Engineering Economics, 27(2), 185-194. doi:10.5755/j01.ee.27.2.14013

Roecker, J. F. (2016, April 20). How Big Is Your Target? – Freedom Penguin. Retrieved May 21, 2016, from http://freedompenguin.com/articles/opinion/how-big-is-your-target/

Skitsko, V. I. (2016). E-LOGISTICS AND M-LOGISTICS IN INFORMATION ECONOMY. Logforum, 12(1), 7-16. doi:10.17270/J.LOG.2016.1.1

Yu, A. (2014). LET’S GET PHYSICAL: LOSS OF USE OF TANGIBLE PROPERTY AS COVERAGE IN CYBER INSURANCE. Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal, 40(2), 229-255.

Zomorodi, M. (2016, March 9). Why You Feel More Productive But the Economy Isn’t. Retrieved May 21, 2016, from http://www.wnyc.org/story/you-work-harder-why/

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