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Last month, my friend in Philadelphia dropped her iPhone.  She dropped it really well, on its back, like a lunchtray, distributing the force evenly over the whole phone.  The front glass shattered in the most even pattern I’ve ever seen.  When I tried this several years ago with an iPod, we got cracks radiating from the corner of impact.  Not this one.  Perfectly even distribution of cracks, all over the face.  My wife and I facetimed her last night and she looked like Greta Garbo.

She had a good reason, though.  It was nearly two years old, and could soon be replaced for a nominal fee with AT&T.  She was happy to have used a slick device for almost 100 weeks without any kind of bulky case.  I showed her my wonderfully designed iPod case by Griffin, and she curled her lip at its rubbery bulk.

She had a point.  The protected, iPod or iPhone  is a sexy connected sliver of glass in your hand.  The minute you try to protect the thing or “shudder” clad it in Burberry plaid or black rubber, you lose those excellent lines.  I’d say she did alright in the bargain.

She traded infrastructure and safety for appearance and convenience, and she was winning that bet until he dropped her phone.  The < a href=”http://newsbcpcol.stb.s-msn.com/amnews/i/9e/e8f69387c1c57b6150e96840ae794_h366_w650_m6_lfalse.jpg”>West Fertilizer Company </a> was doing the same thing until last week.  The owner of <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/world/asia/bangladesh-building-collapse.html”>Rana Plaza</a>  was doing the same thing when he added two floors to the top of his factory to squeeze more workers into his garment factories.  The building inspectors of  Port au Prince made the same calculation when the gave the <a href=”http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/11/07/haiti.school.collapse/”>College La Promesse Evangelique</a> a pass to build a rickety schoolhouse hanging over a ravine..

And yet, sometimes these are good bets.  I actually yelled when I heard that Haiti was making it a po t to build earthquake proof buildings at greater expense.  Their last two major earthquakes were in 2010 and 1842.  Better to spend limited aid and internal resources on hurricane-proof housing than on earthquake-proof housing.

(not the iPhone in question, but approximately the same extent of damage)