Conservatives with guns are more likely to commit suicide


Residents of states with the highest rates of gun ownership and political conservatism are at greater risk of suicide than those in states with less gun ownership and less politically conservative leanings, according to a study by University of California…professor Augustine Kposowa…

Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States in 2007, the most recent year for which complete mortality data was available at the time of the study. It was the seventh leading cause of death for males and the 15th leading cause of death for females. Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide by males and poisoning the most common among females.

“Many studies show that of all suicide methods, firearms have the highest case fatality, implying that an individual who selects this technique has a very low chance of survival,” Kposowa said. Guns are simply the most efficient method of suicide, he added.

With few exceptions, states with the highest rates of gun ownership — for example, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Alabama, and West Virginia — also tended to have the highest suicide rates. These states were also carried overwhelmingly by George Bush in the 2000 presidential election…

Kposowa is the first to use a nationally representative sample to examine the effect of firearm availability on suicide odds. Previous studies that associated firearm availability to suicide were limited to one or two counties. His study also demonstrates that individual behavior is influenced not only by personal characteristics, but by social structural or contextual attributes. That is, what happens at the state level can influence the personal actions of those living within that state.

The sociologist said that although policies aimed at seriously regulating firearm ownership would reduce individual suicides, such policies are likely to fail not because they do not work, but because many Americans remain opposed to meaningful gun control…“Even modest efforts to reform gun laws are typically met with vehement opposition. There are also millions of Americans who continue to believe that keeping a gun at home protects them against intruders, even though research shows that when a gun is used in the home, it is often against household members in the commission of homicides or suicides,” Kposowa said.

About time we had some good news about guns. Yeah, I know – facetious.

The facts probably say something about the culture where firearms achieve a level of worship and power sufficient to overcome sense and sensibility. Probably includes something about ignorance and fear, the delightful pairing that encourages bullies.

Pic of the day

In a rare but amazing show of nature this grasshopper has been caught on camera shedding its old skin – and leaving behind a perfect replica of itself.

Carefully, but with determination and dexterity the insect took 40 minutes to cast off its hard outer shell – called an exoskeleton – all while hanging onto a piece of grass.

Photographer Adhi Prayoga, 41, watched the transformation in his back garden in Mataram, Indonesia and caught the moment on camera.

The proper way to eat a pig? – first, buy a pig!

On a recent morning in Portland, Ore., Camas Davis was teaching nine high-school kids how to butcher a pig. A 17-year-old named Mady called dibs on the front trotter, slicing through the skin near the pig’s ankle, then using a hand saw to cut through the bone. Nathan, 15, moved up the leg and worked through the hock, while Karina, 16, eyed the shoulder. Pushing up the sleeves of her red cardigan, she placed her blade between the fifth and sixth ribs, scored the flesh, then gave the knife a long pull, separating the shoulder from the carcass, but leaving intact the coppa — a muscle around the pig’s neck — in case anyone wanted to roast it.

The kids were wearing aprons over their jeans. When it wasn’t their turn to butcher, they gossiped and texted friends photos of the dead pig, which was splayed out on a jigsaw of white cutting boards, its head sitting nearby, gazing on; its eyelids had been sliced off during an inspection for parasites. On a counter, industrial plastic bins were marked: bellies, loin/chops, shoulders/roasts, hams, bones/trotters/hocks. The students took turns removing the pig’s feet and breaking the animal down into four “primals”: shoulder, loin, belly and ham. Then Davis stepped in to show them how to butcher it into the cuts they’d seen at the grocery store and the ones they hadn’t. She picked up a leg, peeling off the skin with her blade, removing the “H-bone,” and then turned it toward her students. “Instead of muscling through this,” she said, “I’m going to use the tip of my knife to feather through the fascia,” the pig’s connective tissue. Davis held the knife in a butcher’s grip and delicately separated the muscle groups to reveal a roast. “Now it’s your turn.”

Butchery is a new course being offered by the Oregon Episcopal School, an independent preparatory academy that prides itself on “inquiry-based learning.” Each year, the week before spring break, called Winterim, is reserved for experimental education projects. Some students go dog-sledding in Minnesota. Others play Dungeons & Dragons or opt for an intensive course in the art of hat-making. Recently, an English teacher at the school, Kara Tambellini, read an article about the Portland Meat Collective and proposed a course on butchery.

And so Davis, who has taught butchery to mothers and young professionals, to beer brewers and bike messengers, but never to high schoolers, devised a weeklong curriculum that covered the basics. This included a field trip on a Friday, when she took the students to a local farm to meet and select a pig, whom they named Wilbur and then, realizing she was female, renamed Wilburess.

Read the whole article. It’s four pages long and wanders in interesting fashion through all the turns of animal protein and being a student charged with learning about butchering. Along the way you will bump into a fair piece of discussion about how alienated we are about our food – as individuals and as a society.

I don’t mean to offend the vegetarians and vegans who read my blog. Over the years, I’ve been through a number of discussions you will find in this article. I’d like to encourage some reflection in general about where our food comes from is all.

Ionic thrusters generate surprisingly efficient propulsion

Thrusters powered by ionic wind may be an efficient alternative to conventional atmospheric propulsion technologies. When a current passes between two electrodes — one thinner than the other — it creates a wind in the air between. If enough voltage is applied, the resulting wind can produce a thrust without the help of motors or fuel.

This phenomenon, called electrohydrodynamic thrust — or, more colloquially, “ionic wind” — was first identified in the 1960s. Since then, ionic wind has largely been limited to science-fair projects and basement experiments; hobbyists have posted hundreds of how-to videos on building “ionocrafts” — lightweight vehicles made of balsa wood, aluminum foil and wire — that lift off and hover with increased voltage.

Despite this wealth of hobbyist information, there have been few rigorous studies of ionic wind as a viable propulsion system. Some researchers have theorized that ionic thrusters, if used as jet propulsion, would be extremely inefficient, requiring massive amounts of electricity to produce enough thrust to propel a vehicle.

Now researchers at MIT have run their own experiments and found that ionic thrusters may be a far more efficient source of propulsion than conventional jet engines. In their experiments, they found that ionic wind produces 110 newtons of thrust per kilowatt, compared with a jet engine’s 2 newtons per kilowatt. The team has published its results in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, envisions that ionic wind may be used as a propulsion system for small, lightweight aircraft. In addition to their relatively high efficiency, ionic thrusters are silent, and invisible in infrared, as they give off no heat — ideal traits, he says, for a surveillance vehicle.

You could imagine all sorts of military or security benefits to having a silent propulsion system with no infrared signature,” says Barrett, who co-authored the paper with graduate student Kento Masuyama.

RTFA for benefits – and problems to overcome. Regardless, a fascinating propulsion source that may come into its own.

Just putting that sentence in their original press release – about the military and security – may get them a golden look-in. 🙂