Numbers Mean Things
So I saw this headline in The Washington Post:
UN envoy says $5 billion malaria fight has saved several thousand lives in recent years
My first thought was, “$5 billion divided by, let’s say 5000 people, that comes out to a million bucks per person saved. A noble result, to be sure, but isn’t there a more cost-effective way of achieving the same result?”
Then I read the first paragraph:
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. chief’s envoy for malaria says a $5 billion campaign has saved several hundred thousand lives in recent years, keeping international efforts on track to virtually end deaths from the mosquito-borne disease by 2015.
(emphasis added) and now the cost per person drops two orders of magnitude, from $1 million to $10,000. Much more reasonable (though it’d still be nice if it were even cheaper).
But I suspect that either the reporter, or someone at AP or WaPo decided that the word “hundred” didn’t change the meaning enough to make it worth taking up valuable headline space. I’m sorry, but it does.
Then again, what’s two orders of magnitude among friends?
(Cross-posted at UMDSI.)
Ramp Closed. Use Next Exit
(See what I did there? It’s because my site is a fill-in-the-blank on the Information Superhighway. Get it?)
The more eagle-eyed among you who visit this site on a regular basis (both of you) may have noticed some changes to the layout and whatnot. Or maybe something just went kerflooie in the RSS feed and your aggregator has just tossed the whole thing in the trash rather than try to deal with it.
Well, not that you asked (you could’ve asked, you know. I take an interest in your lives, you insensitive assholes1), but I’ve been messing with things behind the scenes, mainly to avoid having to update stuff all the time. So, in keeping with the vintage 1992 metaphor in the title, I’ve stopped leaning on my shovel, drained the last of my coffee, and actually gotten to work fixing the actual roadway underneath the twenty-times-patched potholes. And then knocking off early and asking someone to punch my time clock for me, because that’s the kind of tireless lazy fucker I am.
Actually, one thing y’all might like is the “Reply” button underneath comments, that allow you to reply to individual comments.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to pop over to Geocities to download some animated “Under Construction” and flashing-light GIFs.
1: Not intended as a factual statement.