In 8 years your chances of dying will double!

by Robert Nagle on 8/6/2009

in linkdump

Cartoon Law of Physics.

Advertisers are dumping Glen Beck. Finally!

Digby: It’s Ok if you’re a Republican.

From a trackback, I see a blog about weird garage sales.

Sex columnist and blogger Dan Savage gives some hilarious talks (available on youtube).

Whack a Kitty, a humorous cat video.

Video: How to Tell People they Sound Racist.

Michael Blowhard on lies that a women’s  magazine’s tell you. My fave:

  • Drinking green tea and pomegranate juice will ensure that you’ll never get sick.
  • Nevertheless, you’re always just this far from discovering that you have breast cancer.

Friend and film expert Michael Barrett on why now we are in the golden age of cinema. Here’s his piece debunking whether film scores should be memorable:

When I read interviews with Golden Age composers, it seems they always repeat this homily about their craft: "The background score is supposed to support the movie without calling attention to itself. The moment the audience notices the music, that means it’s bad and not doing its job properly."

And it’s a crock, isn’t it?

If we take this standard seriously, then it’s easy to name some of the worst scores in film history: Bernard Herrmann’s work for Hitchcock, John Williams’ for Spielberg, Ennio Morricone’s for Leone, John Barry’s for the James Bond films, Elmer Bernstein’s "Magnificent Seven," Jerry Goldsmith’s "Patton" or "The Omen," Michael Nyman’s "The Piano," Henry Mancini’s work for Blake Edwards, Nino Rota’s for Fellini and "The Godfather," and Prokofiev’s work for Eisenstein. My word, don’t they jump right out at you.

And who let that guy Anton Karas into the room to write "The Third Man"? P.U.!

By this "you shouldn’t notice it" standard, some of the most mediocre hackwork must be top-drawer stuff. Indeed, the most forgettable must be utter genius.

Fascinating economic analysis of sex.

From the fascinating science blog Gravity and Levity comes a discussion of mortality percentages:

What do you think are the odds that you will die during the next year?  Try to put a number to it — 1 in 100?  1 in 10,000?  Whatever it is, it will be twice as large 8 years from now.

This startling fact was first noticed by the British actuary Benjamin Gompertz in 1825 and is now called the “Gompertz Law of human mortality.”  Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every 8 years.  For me, a 25-year-old American, the probability of dying during the next year is a fairly miniscule 0.03% — about 1 in 3,000.  When I’m 33 it will be about 1 in 1,500, when I’m 42 it will be about 1 in 750, and so on.  By the time I reach age 100 (and I do plan on it) the probability of living to 101 will only be about 50%.  This is seriously fast growth — my mortality rate is increasing exponentially with age.

The conclusion:

Imagine that within your body is an ongoing battle between cops and criminals.  And, in general, the cops are winning.  They patrol randomly through your body, and when they happen to come across a criminal he is promptly removed.  The cops can always defeat a criminal they come across, unless the criminal has been allowed to sit in the same spot for a long time.  A criminal that remains in one place for long enough (say, one day) can build a “fortress” which is too strong to be assailed by the police.  If this happens, you die.

Lucky for you, the cops are plentiful, and on average they pass by every spot 14 times a day.  The likelihood of them missing a particular spot for an entire day is given (as you’ve learned by now) by the Poisson distribution: it is a mere e^{-14} \approx 8 \times 10^{-7}.

But what happens if your internal police force starts to dwindle?  Suppose that as you age the police force suffers a slight reduction, so that they can only cover every spot 12 times a day.  Then the probability of them missing a criminal for an entire day decreases to e^{-12} \approx 6 \times 10^{-6}.  The difference between 14 and 12 doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the result was that your chance of dying during a given day jumped by more than 10 times.  And if the strength of your police force drops linearly in time, your mortality rate will rise exponentially.

This is the Gompertz law, in cartoon form: your body is deteriorating over time at a particular rate.  When its “internal policemen” are good enough to patrol every spot that might contain a criminal 14 times a day, then you have the body of a 25-year-old and a 0.03% chance of dying this year.  But by the time your police force can only patrol every spot 7 times per day, you have the body of a 95-year-old with only a 2-in-3 chance of making it through the year.

Please cut the crap is a great debunker of right-wing nonsense run by Milt Shook. Here’s his castigation of birthers (people who believe Obama wasn’t born in the US).

You have to believe that this birth announcement, which was discovered and posted by a pro-Hillary Clinton blogger during the thick of last year’s primary fight, and which was found in the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper and dated on August 13, 1961, was part of the conspiracy. In other words, you have to believe that someone living in Honolulu back in 1961 had an inkling that the "colored boy" (that’s what the baby would have been called in those days) who was born on August 4, 1961, might want to become president someday, so someone planted the birth announcement in the paper.

More importantly, he rebuts the usual Republican jibes on health care reform.       

Personal Note: I have been interviewing author Jack Matthews about his work. Details forthcoming.                         

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: