Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Exactly what’s killing Americans in each of the 50 states, the “most distinctive” causes?



Death Map: What’s Really Killing Americans
Heart disease and cancer are the most common killers in the United States but a new map sheds more light on exactly what’s killing Americans in each of the 50 states.

Using statistics from 2001 to 2010, the map highlights the “most distinctive” causes of death, rather than what kills the most people. A ‘distinctive’ cause of death is when the rate is higher compared to the national average.

The map is “a somewhat of a colorful and provocative way of starting some conversations and highlighting some unusual things that are going on,” study co-author Francis Boscoe told LiveScience.

The flu was the most distinctive cause of death in Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. In mining states like Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, lung diseases caused by inhaling certain dusts were the most distinctive causes of death.

Dying in a plane or boat accident was the most distinctive cause of death in Alaska and Idaho, while sepsis was the most distinctive cause of death in New Jersey. The most distinctive cause of death in New York and Connecticut was inflammatory diseases of pelvic organs.

Possibly the most surprising statistic comes from Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon, where deaths caused by law enforcement officers — not including legal executions — were the most distinctive cause of death in those states, meaning “death by police officer” occurred in those states at a higher rate compared to the national average.

The numbers of “distinctive” deaths vary greatly. For example, 15,000 people in Florida died of HIV, the most distinctive cause of death there. Meanwhile, there were 22 deaths from syphilis, the most distinctive cause of death in Louisiana.

The source of the map is here.
   

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Friday, May 08, 2015

Elon Musk makes the Future Happen

Has the future finally arrived? I hope so:

Tesla's Elon Musk Unveils Solar Batteries for Homes and Small Businesses
The system could easily take a home off the power grid, especially with the use of many solar panels, Musk said
From a man who made his name and charted his career with lofty goals and often unexpected financial decisions, the news came with little surprise: Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., unveiled a product line of electric batteries late last night in Los Angeles.

Musk introduced the Tesla Powerwall, a wall-mounted lithium-ion electric battery for homes and small businesses, and the Tesla Powerpack, a heftier version of the same core product designed for utility-scale use.

He also announced a new wing of the company, Tesla Energy, which will begin shipping the Powerwall systems to domestic customers in three to four months. Deliveries will trickle out slowly, he said, then accelerate next year when the company begins shipping orders out from its so-called Gigafactory in Nevada.

Yet Musk spoke first about rising emissions and climate change solutions, not cars. He used a slide show of power plants and smoggy skies to introduce the problems. “It sucks, exactly,” he said. “I think we, collectively, should do something about this,” he added, “for us and a lot of other creatures.”

The Powerwall battery charging system, which can be stacked up to nine batteries high and mounted on an inner garage wall or outside, costs $3,000 for a 7-kilowatt-hour system and $3,500 for the 10 kWh option. The entire Powerwall system is roughly 3 feet wide and 4 feet long, and would stick out about 7 inches once mounted. It could easily take a home off the power grid, especially with the use of many solar panels, Musk said.

“Tesla is not just an automotive company, it's an energy innovation company,” the firm said in a statement. “Tesla Energy is a critical step in this mission to enable zero emission power generation.”

The utility version comes in 100 kWh blocks that can be grouped together. Musk said one utility company is already interested in a 250-gigawatt installation of Powerpack systems alone.

Shifting cities to 'stored sunlight'
“This entire night has been powered by batteries,” he told the audience in the warehouse in Hawthorne, Calif., pointing to gray, blocky Powerpack systems standing on end and powering the facility. “Everything you're experiencing is stored sunlight.”

Musk's solution is as audacious as it is simple. By harnessing energy from the sun—“this handy fusion reactor in the sky,” he called it last night—getting enough renewable energy on the power grid and smoothing out energy generation and use between peak and off-peak hours, the nation and planet can shift away from fossil fuels' dominance as a power source, he told the crowd.

The new batteries, he said, will help speed that transition worldwide. “These is going to be a great solution for people in remote parts of the world,” he said, noting that it allows homeowners to leave the power grid and ditch electric cables.

“It can scale globally,” he added, likening the battery systems' potential in emerging economies to mobile phones that penetrated markets faster than old technology and leapfrogged landline sales.

Tesla, the first American car company to go public since Ford Motor Co., has been a darling stock to many in recent years, climbing from trading in the $30 range in 2012 to above $200 a share for most of the past year.

In a research note about yesterday's announcement from Deutsche Bank AG, which was reported by Bloomberg, the authors struck a bullish tone, writing: “Based on the preliminary work on the economics of stationary storage, we believe that this has the potential to be more significant” than Wall Street analysts expect. The battery system, they wrote, could add up to $100 a share.

Karl Brauer, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said Tesla's new battery division could be even more successful than its car business. [...]
The German bankers recognize the potential. This is really exciting. I had posted previously about this new type of power grid that such batteries would create. Now it's actually starting to happen.

Hooray!
     

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I agree with President Obama...

...about this Nike thing:

As Obama Visits Portland, Trade Deal Divides Liberal Community
As President Barack Obama visited Nike's headquarters in Portland — a city known for lush greenery, constant drizzle and liberal politics — the left-leaning enclave has become ground zero Friday for the debate over the administration's push for a sweeping, multinational trade deal.

The president acknowledged that he's faced hurdles in his quest to garner support for an ambitious trade accord between the United States and 11 South American and Pacific Rim nations, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He told workers at the Nike campus that the people opposing this "typically they're my friends and coming from my own party. On this one, they're like, whooping on me."

Obama insisted the trade push is not political for him, since he's run his last election. He said the trade accord is the right thing to do for working families.

"The only reason I do something is because I think it's good for the economy," Obama said.

Still, in Portland, with its normally laid back vibe, the debate over the trade issue is splitting residents into two camps.

On the one side are companies like Nike, one of the city's largest employers. The company employs 8,500 people in Oregon and 26,000 nationwide. Nike says its economic impact on the state of Oregon is $2.5 billion.

And the company promises to add 10,000 jobs and an additional 40,000 indirect and supply chain service jobs if the trade deal is approved.

"We believe agreements that encourage free and fair trade allow Nike to do what we do best: innovate, expand our businesses and drive economic growth," said Mark Parker, Nike's president and CEO.

On the other side are labor unions that argue that the trade accord would repress worker wages and encourage companies — like Nike — to outsource jobs.

Those differences were on display Friday morning as Nike workers, most wearing Nike shoes, lined up to cheer the president. Meanwhile, about a hundred protesters crowded outside and chanted their outrage.

"Nike represents everything about corporate America that stinks," said Andrew Crosby, as he carried a protest sign.

The pact has even split Oregon's senators, both Democrats.

Sen. Ron Wyden is helping lead the charge to pass "fast-track" authority which would grant Obama and future presidents the right to ask for an up-or-down vote in Congress on trade agreements. Obama and supporters say the president needs this authority to better negotiate with other nations.

Opponents worry that such large trade deals deserve vetting by Congress. Sen. Jeff Merkley has said he is "dubious" about the impact of such broad trade accords. [...]
Wyden is a reasonable Democrat. Merkley is a Moron. Oregon desperately needs the jobs and revenue. The unions here are too powerful, and dragging our state down. I have to agree with president Obama on this one.
     

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Friday, May 01, 2015

Underwater volcano active off Oregon coast

A volcano may be erupting off the Oregon coast, scientists say

Three hundred miles off the Pacific Northwest coast, the seafloor has been rumbling.

Over the past five months, there were hundreds of small earthquakes on most days at Axial Seamount.

Then on April 24, there was a spike: nearly 8,000 earthquakes. The seafloor level dropped more than two meters. Temperatures rose.

Scientists believe an underwater volcano is erupting.

An eruption is not a threat to coastal residents, researchers say, because the earthquakes are small, mostly magnitude 1 or 2, and the seafloor movements are relatively gradual, so they won't cause a tsunami.

The volcanic activity has no relationship to the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which scientists watch closely for signs of a much larger and more destructive earthquake.

To Bill Chadwick, an Oregon State University geologist, the eruption at Axial Seamount was not a surprise.

He had predicted it would happen this year. He predicted the previous eruption, in 2011, too.

Chadwick hopes the lessons he and his collaborator, Scott Nooner at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, learn from Axial Seamount can eventually be applied to volcanoes on land.

Land volcanoes have thicker crusts and are influenced by large earthquakes and other nearby volcanoes, among other things, so predictions are more difficult, Chadwick said.

"Axial Seamount is a pure example, if you will," he said. "It has relatively simple plumbing."

Chadwick and other scientists watch the signals at Axial Seamount in real-time via a cable laid out on the seafloor. The cable is part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative funded by the National Science Foundation. [...]
I doubt that it has nothing to do with the Cascadia Subduction Zone, since it is practically right on top of it. I presume they mean to say, that the volcano isn't signaling an imminent earthquake. As far as they can tell.

Read the whole thing for embedded links, photos and more.

     

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