Archive for May, 2008

Human deaths in the U.S. caused by Animals

May 29, 2008

If you try to pet a grizzly bear, of pick up a rattle snake, you are not only likely to be attacked, but you are very stupid. Animals are defensive of their homes, and are much more likely to attack if they feel threatened.

Animals that didn’t make the list

Mosquito’s are widely regarded as the most deadly creature on the planet, killing an estimated 3 million people per year, but the mosquito is not the real killer. Malaria is a parasite carried by mosquito’s. Micro-agents such as parasites, viruses, and bacteria are alive and kill millions of humans, but they are not included on this list. Humans are the most deadly animals on the planet. They are also excluded from the list.

Deer can kill people directly, but auto accidents caused by deer kill 130 people per year. Since the deer did not directly kill the person, this is an auto related accidental death.

Poisoning deaths

Bee stings are the largest killer of humans in the U.S. directly caused by animals. An allergic reaction to the venom is bee’s kills 53 people per year. This number is increasing every year due to the aggressive African honey bee that is taking over in Texas.

The Black Widow and Brown Recluse spiders kill 6.5 people per year. They are usually young children that do not get medical attention right away.

Rattlesnakes carry venom that kill 5.5 people per year. Rattlesnake attacks are always defensive. Most rattlesnake related deaths are males between 17 and 27. Alcohol is usually involved which facilitates the venom. I picture a drunk kid on a camping trip trying to mess with the snake, then not seeking medical attention immediately.

Scorpion and centipedes are responsible for 1 death every two years on average. This is due to their remote habitat and inadequate medical care.

Predatory attacks.

Sharks, alligators, and mountain lions are the only U.S. predators that hunt humans in the wild.

The most feared animal is without a doubt the Shark. The Jaws craze has sent a wave of fear across America for the past quarter century. In reality, less that 1 person per year is killed by a shark in the U.S. Hawaii, California, and Florida are the most likely places to be attacked.

While Jaws is purely fictional, two true stories of shark attacks continue to haunt us. 1912 New Jersey attacks killed 5 people over a course of a week. The most amazing thing was that the bull shark responsible for the attacks, traveled up a river and attacked people swimming in a creek 5 miles from the ocean. The other story was actually told in Jaws. The USS Indianapolis was sank in WWII and the survivors were picked off one by one over the next four days by Oceanic White Tip sharks in the open ocean. Of the 900 sailors in the ocean all but 317 were killed.

Mountain Lions are by far the most dangerous land predator in the U.S. While deaths are extremely rare (1 per year) the thought of being stalked, killed, and eaten is horrific. Alligators in Florida have killed 18 people in the last 60 years. The attacks have been increasing in recent years. This increase is attributed to human encroachment into the alligators habitat. Many attacks occur on golf courses, which have been built over drained everglades.

Bear attacks are almost always defensive. Alaska and Yellowstone National Park are the only places in the U.S. where fatal bear attacks usually occur. Grizzly bears are not interested in humans for food except in late fall before hibernation. Less than 1 fatality per year is due to bear attacks.

Pet attacks

Pet dogs account for 31 deaths per year in the U.S. The Pit Bull is not a recognized breed of dog. There are many mutts that resemble the pit bull that kill people, so classification is difficult. The Pit bull variety is by far the largest killer of humans, followed by Rottweiler’s and Husky’s. Dozens of different breeds can kill people. Basset Hounds, Beagle’s, Dauschund’s, Labradors, and even Golden retrievers have killed humans.

Wolf deaths usually occur when people bring them home as pets. Three small children have been killed by pet wolves in the past 30 years. In the wild, there has not been a fatal wolf attack in the U.S. since 1888. (Two deaths have occurred in Canada in the past 10 years)

A 12 foot pet Burmese python recently strangled a 2 year old girl to death in Florida.

While it is rare for a python to kill a human, it can happen, so I included it on this list.

Non Native animal attacks

On rare occasions, attacks can occur at the Zoo, or circus. in 2007 a man was killed by a Tiger at the San Francisco Zoo. There have been a few deaths in the U.S. caused by elephants. The chance of dying from an elephant attack in the U.S. is almost impossible. However, elephants kill over 125 people per year mostly in Africa and India.

Riding accidents

This is a bit of a different category because the animals usually do not intend to cause injury or death. Rodeo, equestrian, and bull riding deaths occur infrequently related to how many people are exposed to these animals, but they do happen. An average of 20 people per year are killed in horse related accidents, and 3 people are killed by Bulls.

Average Number of Deaths per Year in the U.S

Bee/Wasp 53
Dogs 31
Spider 6.5
Rattlesnake 5.5
Mountain lion 1
Shark 1
Alligator 0.3
Bear 0.5
Scorpion 0.5
Centipede 0.5
Elephant 0.25
Wolf 0.1
Horse 20
Bull 3

Closest U.S. Presidential Elections

May 15, 2008

In the early days, electors voted for both a President and V.P. The tie between Jefferson and Burr changed that practice. Alexander Hamilton saw Jefferson as the lesser of two evils and wrote a scathing review of Aaron Burr. Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel and killed him.

In 1824, Andrew Jackson won the most electors, but since there were four candidates, he did not secure a majority in the electoral college. The election was turned over to the federalist controlled house of representatives where they chose their candidate, John Quincy Adams as President.

The 1876 election is the most controversial ever. Still mired in reconstruction following the civil war, the democratic south’s candidate won the popular vote by 3%. The republican controlled senate contested the electors of 4 states. Tilden only need one state while Hayes needed all 4. A 15 person commission (8 rep, 7 dem) was set up do award the disputed electors. The commission voted along party lines and each state was awarded to Hayes. The senate upheld the results while the house disputed the results. A compromise was reached when the republicans agreed to remove troops from the south and end reconstruction.

Year Electoral Votes Popular Votes
1800 Thomas Jefferson (Dem.-Rep.) 73
Aaron Burr (Dem.-Rep.) 73
John Adams (Fed.) 65
Charles C. Pinckney (Fed.) 64
1824 John Quincy Adams (Fed) 84
Andrew Jackson (Dem) 99
William H. Crawford 41
Henry Clay 37
1876 Rutherford B. Hayes (R) 185 4,033,768
Samuel J. Tilden (D) 184 4,285,992
1880 James A. Garfield (R) 214 4,449,053
Winfield S. Hancock (D) 155 4,442,035
1916 Woodrow Wilson (D) 277 9,129,606
Charles E. Hughes (R) 254 8,538,221
1960 John F. Kennedy (D) 303 34,226,731
Richard M. Nixon (R) 219 34,108,157
1968 Richard M. Nixon (R) 301 31,785,480
Hubert H. Humphrey (D) 191 31,275,166
George C. Wallace (Ind.) 46 9,906,473
1976 Jimmy Carter (D) 297 40,830,763
Gerald R. Ford (R) 240 39,147,973
2000 George W. Bush (R) 271 50,455,156
Albert A. Gore (D) 266 50,992,335

Reverse Engineering for War

May 6, 2008

Reverse engineering is the process of taking an existing product and figuring out how to manufacture it by taking it apart. This has been done throughout history by all nations of the world. The concept has been especially useful in military terms.

Famous examples of Reverse engineering for military purposes:

The Egyptian chariot was the “shock and awe” weapon of its day. The Assyrian army dominated with their chariots, and the Egyptians captured one, reverse engineered it, and went on to mass produce their improved design. With this new weapon of war, the Egyptians dominated the region for the next thousand years.

The Roman navy was inferior to the Carthaginians during the first Punic war. They simply had no answer for the feared Carthaginian Quinquireme. A storm wrecked several quinquiremes on the Italian coast. Roman engineers copied the design and constructed several of their own ships to bolster the Roamn Navy. In 241 BC the Roman fleet sank 50 Carthaginian ships in the Battle of Aegus.

Tupolev Tu-4: Three American B-29 bombers on missions over Japan were forced to land in the USSR. The Soviets did not have a long range, heavy strategic bomber, so they decided to copy the B-29. Within a few years they had developed the Tu-4, a near perfect copy.

Soviet R-1 Rocket: Western Allies captured technical plans and hardware for the German V-2 rocket. The Soviets captured several German scientists who worked on the V-2 project. They worked with Soviet Scientists to recreate the rocket from the few documents they had. The V-2 rocket led to the space race between America and the Soviet Union

Vympel K-13 Missile: In 1958, an AIM 9 Sidewinder Missile was fired from Taiwan at a MiG-17 fighter. It did not explode upon impact. Instead, it became lodged into the side of the jet. When the pilot landed, Russian scientists reverse engineered their own copy.

BGM-71 TOW missile: In 1975, Iran was in negotiations with the U.S. for the purchase and production of the TOW and Maverick Missile. The revolution in 1979 brought an end to diplomatic relations between the countries, but Iran had reverse engineered their own copy and they are still producing it today.

5 ways the Axis could have won World War II.

May 2, 2008

I am assuming that Russia maintains their alliance with Germany and Japan throughout the war.  It is hard to imagine the Americans staying out of the war, but without Pearl Harbor, the massive commitment made by Americans may not have been as strong until it was too late.

1. Germany invades Great Britain immediately upon France’s capitulation. Despite huge German casualties, Great Britain, Ireland and Iceland would likely fall into German hands before the United States could enter the war.  Without a Atlantic base of operations, there could have been no Normandy invasion.

2. Germany does not invade Russia. Hitler, instead sends his entire invasion force to Egypt and the middle east. All of North Africa, and Asia are in Axis hands by the summer of 1943.  Without the Suez canal, the Allies could not resupply the Far east as effectively.

3.  Japan does not attack Pearl Harbor.  The Japanese forces attack British held Burma and India and take control of the entire Indian Ocean by the end of 1943.  Japan was defeated by the British in India in 1944, but the British would be less powerful with Egypt and the Suez canal lost.

4. Japan and Russia (who were allies) invade China. Japan takes control of China proper, and Russia controls Manchuria and Korea by the end of 1943.

5. Russia invades Alaska and Canada. Japan invades Australia and the Philippines. Germany invades South Africa, and on to South America. The U.S. would have to hope for a favorable peace treaty in this scenario.

If the political Allaince of Germany, Russia, and Japan could maintain their peace, They could have controlled the world. This is a wild assumption of course knowing the personalities of Hitler and Stalin. Individual Revolutions would eventually spring up and the Axis controlled world would likely crumbled by the 1950’s.