What are some global statistics about death?

Yeah, it happens.

Yeah, it happens.

You may not go gentle into that good night, but go you shall. We all do, eventually. Death is the inevitable end game of life. But how we go is a different matter entirely, as there are thousands of ways to die. Here’s what the statisticians at the World Health Organization, the CIA and elsewhere tell us about human mortality around the world (all stats are from the past few years, circa 2012).



Globally, 55.3 million people die each year, which is:

  • 151,600 deaths per day
  • 6,316 deaths per hour
  • 105 deaths per minute
  • about two deaths per second

Put another way, out of every 1,000 people in the world, 8 of them die during the course of a year.

By the way, the 55.3 million deaths are far overshadowed by the 131.4 million births each year, which is why our global population is growing at a pretty fast pace.



According to our friends at the CIA, South Africa has the world’s highest death rate at 17.49 deaths per thousand and the Ukraine is #2 at 15.72. The UK ranks #59 with 9.34/1000 and the US is #94 with 8.15/1000. Two Middle East countries (both with very young population profiles) have the lowest death rates in the world: the UAE with 1.99 deaths per thousand and Qatar with only 1.53/1000.



Can’t have death statistics without a Top Ten list! The leading causes of death, according to the World Health Organization, are:

  1. Ischaemic heart disease (blocked blood flow) … 7.4 million
  2. Stroke … 6.7 million
  3. COPD (breathing problems) … 3.1 million
  4. Lower respiratory infections … 3.1 million
  5. Lung and related cancers … 1.6 million
  6. HIV/AIDS … 1.5 million
  7. Diarrhea … 1.5 million
  8. Diabetes … 1.5 million
  9. Road injuries … 1.3 million
  10. Hypertensive heart disease (high blood pressure) … 1.1 million



Although road injuries are low down on the Top Ten list, injuries taken as a whole are a major killer. About 5 million people die each year from injuries, violence and other non-disease causes, including 883,000 suicides, 456,000 murders, and 196,000 “forces of nature” fatalities (i.e., disasters like floods and hurricanes). Wars and other armed conflicts claim about 18,000 lives per year, though that number is being driven higher by the grim conflict in Syria.



An astounding number of disease deaths are linked to cigarettes. Tobacco kills about 6 million people each year…one every six seconds. More than 5 million deaths are from direct tobacco use, but about 10% of tobacco deaths(about 600,000) occur in non-smokers sickened by secondhand smoke.



Deaths among adolescents follow very different patterns from the Top Ten for the general population. Road accidents are the leading cause of teenager mortality, followed by HIV/AIDS in second place and suicide at #3.

Death takes a heavy toll on the world’s children. About 6.6 million kids die each year before the age of five; 44% of these deaths occur within the first month after birth. The vast majority of childhood deaths happen in the world’s poorest countries.


That’s all for now. Have a nice day!

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Is there a place named after Uclue.com?

Welcome to Ucluelet! (photo by Tourism Ucluelet - PD)

Welcome to Ucluelet! (photo by Tourism Ucluelet – PD)

Is there a place named after Uclue.com? It would have to have been fairly recently named, of course, and hence a still small place, maybe named “Ucluelet”. Wouldn’t that be nice: Uclue.com honored by its own little town? Mountain View hasn’t been renamed Googletown—yet.

Ucluelet does exist, and it is a nice, small settlement on the west coast of Vancouver Island, but it isn’t named after the website. Ucluelet means “people of the safe harbour” in the indigenous Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) language. It is on the Wild Pacific Trail, which suggests the environment and scenery that attracts tourists, hikers and water sport enthusiasts to the area, tourism being important to Ucluelet’s economy.

It is kind of a pity that Ucluelet was not named after the website. On good authority: the website definitely was not named after Ucluelet.

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Why was the English football side unsuccessful in Brazil?

Goal (photo by grassrootsgroundswell - CC-BY)

Goal (photo by grassrootsgroundswell – CC-BY)

Why was the English football side unsuccessful in the Brazil World Cup, when England is the home of soccer? There are several reasons:

  • The team had use of the best training facilities in Rio de Janiero.
  • They were accompanied by an entourage of 72 people, including a psychiatrist.
  • Their sweat production was managed with designer recovery drinks, large fans and heat chambers.
  • Roy Hodgson, Sir Dave Brailsford, and Lord Coe co-ordinated everything.
  • Wayne Rooney said there would be “no excuses”.
  • Every box was ticked.

More likely are the following contributing factors:

  • There is an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.
  • The players were suffering from their anti-malarial tablets.
  • They weren’t used to playing in good weather.
  • They had to play against Uruguay.

But these reasons are insignificant compared to the main reason why England was unsuccessful:

  • They didn’t score enough goals.

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Why, unequivocally, do Italians call a cup of coffee “espresso”?

Expressing espresso (photo by Scott Schiller - CC-BY)

Expressing espresso (photo by Scott Schiller – CC-BY)

An espresso is a shot of coffee made by forcing nearly-boiling water through ground coffee beans, at up to 10 times normal atmospheric pressure. At this pressure, the temperature will be higher than the normal boiling point of water, which causes more of the flavor to be extracted from the coffee grounds.

The machine and the resultant shot of coffee are so-named because the flavor is expressed from the beans. This meaning of express was already in use prior to coffee machines, especially for milk. For example, a nursing mother might use a breast pump to express breast milk. It was natural to use the same word for coffee too, and “espresso” is Italian for “express”.

Unfortunately, the issue has become confused because some Americans erroneously refer to the drink and the machine as “expresso”, leading some to wonder whether the meaning arose from a different sense of “express”, for example “something which happens quickly”. However, if you’ve waited while the barista makes your coffee, you will reaslise that espresso is a rather slow way to make coffee.

So we can discard the possibility that espresso means “quick”, despite that the inventor of the espresso machine, in a fit of marketing hubris, patented it as “new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage”. Making espresso coffee is neither instantaneous, nor is it economic (being the most expensive method of coffee preparation). Instantaneous coffee is actually the stuff which comes in a jar in powdered form, and needs only to be mixed with boiling water and stirred briefly.

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What did you want to know about sex but were afraid to ask?

Archaeological sex (photo by أشرف العناني - CC-BY)

Archaeological sex (photo by أشرف العناني – CC-BY)

Here is a compact set of answers to the questions you may have wanted to ask about sex, but were too afraid.

  • Sex is Latin for six.
  • A person who has not had sex is known as a virgin.
  • “Virgin” is the trademark for Richard Branson’s branded venture capitalism.
  • Most sex occurs between a male and a female, but humans are diverse and some have sex with others of the same sex, or with fetish objects, or with animals, or with sex toys, etc.
  • Bacteria are not capable or having sex.
  • Some people like to tell others whether or not they should have sex.
  • Some diseases are transferred sexually. Wearing a condom reduces the risk.
  • A woman may become pregnant as a result of sex. One in ten European pregnancies starts in an Ikea bed.
  • It is possible, though unlikely, for a woman to become pregnant the first time she has unprotected sex.
  • The “morning after” contraceptive pill is 95% effective at stopping pregnancy when taken on the “morning after”, but it can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex with reduced effectiveness.
  • There’s some seriously weird sexual stuff in the Bible.
  • Some people like to watch pictures of others having sex, which is known as pornography.
  • The British Phonographic Industry has nothing to do with pornography.
  • Some people pay money for sex. Some people trade resources for monogamy.
  • Geeks sometimes write “pr0n” to bypass filters that block the word “pornography”.
  • Heironymus Bosch’s famous painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights” depicts some seriously fruity goings-on.
  • Shakespeare’s Juliet was thirteen and quite under-age by modern western standards. Lady Capulet was married at 12 or 13, and was a mother by 13.

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Why does the oldest Italian brand of coffee have a German name?

Hausbrandt Coffee (photo by Hausbrandt Trieste 1892 S.p.A. - CC-BY-SA)

Hausbrandt Coffee (photo by Hausbrandt Trieste 1892 S.p.A. – CC-BY-SA)

The oldest name-brand Italian coffee is “Hausbrandt” and dates from 1892. For German speakers, “Hausbrandt” suggest an old-fashioned spelling of “Hausbrand,” a word that can mean either fuel for a house oven or stove, or one for the burning of a house. It could also suggest the product of a private distillery, the product of a vineyard owner or fruit farmer who distills the juice of his own harvest.

That, however, has nothing to do with coffee, except that coffee beans have to be roasted. The full name of the original company could help: Hausbrandt Triest 1892 S.p.A. Before WW I, Triest was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, its city and harbor at the head of the Aldria.

Coffee was already known in Europe: in Italy in the 16th century, in France in the 17th century, also in Austria after the Ottoman invasion in 1683. The story is that sacks of coffee were found after the Turks were repelled. Triest became a major harbor for the import of coffee. In the 19th century, there was a coffee house, Caffè Hausbrandt, founded by an Austrian merchant marine captain, Hermann Hausbrandt. (I will assume that his family were not arsonists.) In 1891, the association of coffee brokers in Triest was founded. In 1892 the brand “Specialità Caffè Hausbrandt” was registered. The name, Hausbrandt Triest 1892 S.p.A., that of a company with shares, would seem to have been established after the brand name had earned broader recognition.

Hausbrandt coffee is now internationally well known and belongs to the Zanetti family, but not internationally as well recognized as Segafredo, which also was founded by the Zanetti family in 1973, or the competitor Illy, founded by Francesco Illy in 1933. Perhaps Zanetti chose to promote a new brand name for Italian coffee that sounded more Italian than Hausbrandt.

That is very understandable. I had never heard of Hausbrandt and was very surprised to find an espresso cup and saucer with the name on an island near Venice, not at one of the famous coffee houses on the Piazzo San Marco.

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