STUMP » Articles » Meep Hits the Road and Plays the Oldies: Today - Silly(ish) Mortality Posts! » 6 August 2022, 09:03

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Meep Hits the Road and Plays the Oldies: Today - Silly(ish) Mortality Posts!  


6 August 2022, 09:03

I’m about to take a vacation (or, rather, I’m about to pack up and take the kids elsewhere, leaving Stu to have a vacation with the ducks.)

I hope it ends better than the vacation in 2017.

While I’m away, I’m pulling out my old records, I mean posts, pulling back to some golden oldies from the STUMP site as well as the substack. Even for some of you who have been long-time subscribers, some of these may be new to you.

(I am writing and scheduling these things ahead of time, just as an FYI. I will look at any comments when I get home in mid-August. As long as I’m not struck by another goose.)


August is the silly season, and I usually don’t break these things out at this level, but here are some death codes involving animals in 2014: [I pulled it back in 2017 when I was tetchy about that goose hitting me.]

Which reminds me, I need to pull info on motorcycle deaths, here in August 2022, because I’ve been seeing an uptick in stories on those… but that may just be because it’s summer, and it’s that time of year for motorcycle deaths (the “season” being Memorial Day to Labor Day).

Animal-related deaths are not a common way to die in the U.S.

That’s a total of 384 deaths, and it looks like the primary cause is being attacked by some non-dog mammal. I would assume the second cause is primarily people being thrown from or falling off horses. Alas, most of the vehicular accident codes do not distinguish between hitting a person and hitting an animal.

Some people do get killed via animal through the windshield:

(It looks like that person survived… obviously, the deer didn’t.)

If the goose I ran into yesterday had managed to punch through the windshield like that deer and smack my head off (Hmm, about 9600 Newtons… okay, I’m not calculating this. Right now.) — anyway, that would have been coded as a V405: Car occupant injured in collision with pedestrian or animal: Driver injured in traffic accident
We can see from the table that 6 people died that way in 2014.

One reason so few have died that way is automotive safety glass. Yay, safety glass!

Yay, safety glass indeed.

The many deaths of Sean Bean

This is my favorite silly mortality subject.

The last update was April 1, 2022: Updating Sean Bean’s Mortality Rate

I figure Sean Bean’s mortality rate could use a refresh.

Yes, I said I would do an update of the 2021 all-cause mortality, but it got me depressed (it’s worse than 2020, in case you were wondering), so I decided – hey, it’s April Fool’s Day, let’s do a silly mortality post.

The graphs:


Mysterious Caribbean deaths in 2019

Okay, this isn’t really silly to those who died and their families, but when I looked at it, it seemed more of a “slow news cycle” and a lot of people in NYC with family in the Dominican Republic [plus a lot of alcohol- and drug-related deaths].

They stretched the window to capture a bunch of deaths, many of which really weren’t mysterious at all.

Here is my problem with these — it’s the count. A lot more than 11 or 12 American tourists had to have died in the Dominican Republic over the past year (my prior figuring that likely a few hundred die every year).

I already flagged a few of the ones that were not mysterious at all. This one claims 12 “mysterious” deaths, and others had claimed 11. Who the heck is keeping this list? Can we have a central clearinghouse indicating which deaths are mysterious and which are not?

I believe the State Dept., etc., when they say that there’s not an uptick in deaths of tourists in the DR. It’s just that it’s easy to find a “pattern” when this stuff happens all the time. It’s like any media-fueled “trend” (shark attack!). You just decide to publicize something that happens often enough that you’ll get a report at least once a week. So you can keep feeding the media coverage!

I think, ultimately, nothing much came of the DR stories. They had bad press for a bit… and then it went away. Some of the deaths being written about had occurred over a year before, and one of the stories had to do with cheap, botched cosmetic surgery. Plenty of the accidental deaths in DR were not mysterious at all.

And, of course, no media outlets are interested in talking to somebody like me or even somebody from a university who will invariably say “Guys, this is a big ole nothing.”

I do say there is a big ole something in a huge increase in drug OD deaths in the U.S., but that’s not as compelling a story, I guess.

Sorry, let’s get back to lighter stories.

Fictional deaths in Dickens

This is my idea of lightness — SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION!!!!

Death the Dickensian Way is a podcast episode of STUMPDEATH AND TAXES! over at the substack site.

I love this infographic of methods of death in Dickens from the site Dear Mr. Dickens:

Bleak House, the Dickens novel with the aforementioned SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION!!! death in it, is the dying-est of the Dickens novels, if you don’t count the mass deaths in A Tale of Two Cities, and I don’t.

The day that nobody died on Prince Edwards Island

August 2018: Having Fun with Mortality: The Day Nobody Died, the Oldest People Keep Dying, and Don’t Drink and Walk. There were a couple of other topics in there, but the “nobody dying” topic was my fave, because I got to calculate something.

The paper MacLean works at is in Prince Edwards Island, which has a population of only 150,000. The death rate for all of Canada is about 7.5 per 1,000 annually.

That works out to about 1,148 expected total deaths for PEI, which is about 3.15 deaths per day.

For something that (relatively) low, and you can have only whole numbers of deaths, we generally use a Poisson distribution to model the number of deaths in a short period of time.

If I assume a Poisson distribution and an average 3.15 deaths per day, I get this probability distribution:

Okay, a 4% chance. But there are 365 days a year, so you’d expect about 15 days where nobody died.

The thing is, we know more people die in the winter than the summer, so let’s try an average of 2 deaths per day:

Anyway, under either situation, 0 deaths isn’t a huge probability, but it’s non-zero. One would expect this to come up from time to time.

The other thing is, it takes time to put an obituary together for a family member, not everybody who dies gets an obit, etc. So something else may have happened. Also, some obits may be for people who used to live in PEI and moved away, blah blah blah.

Still, it’s not that unusual for a place where you usually see 1 – 4 obits per day that you see none. It happens.

But maybe something else is going on…

Hey, sometimes there are no deaths.

Here’s hoping no animals fling themselves in front of my vehicle over the next week or so.

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