There are lots of fun things that can kill you. Hang gliding in a tornado, for example. But non-Floridians know that hang gliding in a tornado is stupid, so we don’t do it. Floridians are spared the decision by not having any tornadoes in their state. However, they compensate for that lack by surfing in hurricanes, which is equally stupid and lethal. Running face first into jet engines, jumping out of a car doing over twenty miles per hour, leaping off a ten story building without a parachute, eating Tony Lossanno’s cooking, juggling nitroglycerin, flipping off a biker gang, checking the fuel level with a match, performing ballet in a mine field, tickling a wild tiger, rappelling without a rope and similar items are all obvious things to avoid. In fact I bet you can go through a whole day without even considering one of them. But some things are just there and can kill you just as readily.
For example; you take the family to England to see the sights, laugh at their idea of cooking and get your picture taken with the guards at Buckingham Palace. What’s probably not on your “to do” list is being eaten alive by wild ravens.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.
More ‘Weird Science News’ today. Seems that the burgeoning raven population in the UK – where ravens were once very rare and are still a protected species – has recently taken to forming large gangs and killing farm livestock in Scotland, Wales and some parts of England.
Now, ravens are the smartest of birds. According to scientific researchers, they’re right up there with dogs and primates on the intelligence scale, and like some parrots can even learn to speak human languages. Just ask Edgar Allen Poe! And while ravens are carrion-eaters mostly, they are known to be birds of prey that will attack rabbits and other small critters. Their beaks are sharp and sickle-shaped, their talons are muscular. They get to be about two feet long, and are extraordinary aerial acrobats. They are also the primary bad guys in Daphne du Mourier’s classic horror novel The Birds, as made into the film classic of the same name by Alfred Hitchcock. There have been some B-movie reprises too, though they shall remain nameless (so as not to reveal my personal addiction to B-grade horror movies).
We get raven gangs here in the southern Appalachians. During one memorable grandchild birthday party they descended to steal as many of a scattered bag of lemon drops as they possibly could, then became furious when those hard candies stuck their beaks together with a mass of yellow goo. We laughed and laughed, they didn’t think it was the least bit funny. Probably a good thing they didn’t decide to attack, now that I know they’re killers!
Check out the story from Britain’s Daily Mail about these killer raven gangs. Seems farmers are losing their newborn lambs as fast as they’re born, and now the ravens have started going after calves and even full-grown sheep!
While I suspect recent UK policies to immediately cremate dead livestock (imposed due to fears of Mad Cow and such) has led to some hungry ravens doing whatever they have to do to survive without ready carrion, I hope they don’t decide to decimate raven populations again. These really are spectacular birds.
Meat is meat people, just ask Sweeney Todd, and ravens are less discerning eaters than he ever was.
Here are some more fun ways for you to die, and other disturbing facts about your mortality, courtesy of One Big Health Nut.
1. A human head remains conscious for about 15 to 20 seconds after it is been decapitated.
2. The acid in your stomach is so strong it can dissolve razorblades. See, we do all have super powers.
3. The incidents of immune system diseases have increased over 200% in the last five years. Things that make you go hmmmmm!
4. Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do. Who knew there would be an advantage?
5. Feet have 500,000 sweat glands that are capable of producing more than a pint of sweat a day. You would think there would be a lot more shelves of foot deodorant.
6. The brain itself cannot feel pain.
7. The strongest muscle in the human body is the tongue.
8. Your skin is home to about 32 million bacteria. Is your skin crawling?
9. Everyone has a unique tongue print. That would make for an interesting investigative tool.
10. Close to fifty percent of the bacteria in the mouth lives on the surface of your tongue.
11. Carbon monoxide can kill a person in less than 15 minutes
12. Being lactose intolerant can cause chronic flatulence. One more important question to learn the answer to on the first date!
13. Human hair is virtually indestructible, unable to be destroyed by many acids, corrosive chemicals, and unaffected by cold and water. It even decays at an extremely slow rate. But like all superpowers it has one weakness, flammability
14. A person will die from a complete lack of sleep in 10 days.
15. A moderate sunburn damages the blood vessels extensively, taking four to fifteen months for them to repair. Who says suntans are for sissies?
16. You’ve probably heard more than once older person reference a ‘senior moment’ when he/she has forgotten something. There is truth to that. Once a human reaches the age of 35, he/she will start losing approximately 7,000 brain cells a day which will never be replaced. Gives new meaning to over the hill, doesn’t it?
So, now that yuo know all that you need to to know this. You are more likely to die if you live in a red state. Well, to be more accurate, you are more likely to die younger if you live in a red state. We’re all going to die at some point.
Science News Reviews has the 411.
For those of us who tend to be fascinated by charts, graphs, figures, maps and gnarly scenes of death and destruction, there’s a new county-by-county “Death Map” produced by researchers at the University of South Carolina at Columbia we can now peruse for the gnarly truth about who dies where the most.
Using statistics going all the way back to 1970, Susan Cutter and Kevin Borden of USC created the map to enable emergency management planners to examine various natural hazard risks to populations all over the country. These are deaths by floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, extreme temperatures and other natural (but violent) causes.
The full publication from the International Journal of Health Geographics is available as a pdf at Spatial patterns of natural hazards mortality in the United States. But here’s a sneak preview … what’s your county’s ‘death-by-natural-hazard’ risk look like?
Basically it comes down to this; move to Texas or Arizona and die early and, probably, painfully.
Also, for reasons that elude me, this applies to Buffalo New York. Must be the Buffalo Wings.
Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Friday morning around 9:10!