Pedestrians are dying at levels that haven’t been seen in 25 years, according to a new Governor’s Highway Safety Association report.
The reason appears to be that people are ignoring some of the first lessons they learned as children: Watch where you are walking and look both ways.
The reason for that?
Walkers using cellphones, for one thing. More specifically texting while walking. Combine that with drivers using cellphones and the death toll is mounting.
Nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities occurred in 2017, a jarring statistic. In fact, the spike in pedestrian deaths began in 2015 with a 9.5 percent increase over the previous year. In 2016, there was another 9 percent increase.
Improvements in vehicle safety such as automatic emergency braking, rearview cameras and collision alert technology have not been able to change the pedestrian death trend, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.
About 75 percent of pedestrian deaths happen at night. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, dim headlights might bear some responsibility. Every year, about 2,500 pedestrians are killed at night while crossing a road. In many cases, drivers can’t see them because their headlights are not bright enough.
Another suspected factor in the death toll is legalized marijuana. Seven states have legalized the drug, including the District of Columbia where pedestrian deaths rose 16.4 percent in the first half of 2017. However, since deaths in other states fell by nearly 6 percent, researchers have not drawn a definitive link.
Trees rooted in the ages survive still
More than a thousand years before the oldest sequoia was a seedling, Alerce Milenario was growing in the mist and humidity, deep in a ravine in the coastal mountains of Chile.
It kept its mossy whereabouts a secret for over 5,000 years until it reached 200 feet into the sky, supported by a 13-foot-diameter trunk. And then, 50 years ago, a park ranger spotted the Patagonian cypress.
Its exact age can probably only be determined by taking a core sample and counting its seasoned rings under a microscope. Park rangers are unwilling to disturb the ancient tree. Most of the tree is already dead, and its living part relies on a fragile root system that human foot traffic could kill it.
Instead of ring cores, tree scientists have used statistical modeling, using cores from other nearby alerces. They think the tree is 5,484 years old.
That would put it well ahead of the oldest sequoias in California, which reach an age of more than 3,600 years.
If correct, the alerce would still be older than the gnarled Methuselah tree of the White Mountains in California. That ancient bristlecone pine germinated 4,800 years ago before the Egyptian pyramids were built. As with all the ancients, its exact location is secret to protect it from modern well-wishers and vandals.
Bristlecone pines are thought to be the oldest living individual organisms and now live on protected federal lands.
Methuselah has contemporaries still living today. There is Sarv-e Abarkuh, an enormous cypress in Iran, and the Llangernyw Yew in Wales, both thought to be 4,000 to 5,000 years old.
If you consider the root systems of trees and not the age of the trunk, none of these ancients comes close to the 100 acres of quaking aspen in Utah, called the Pando. The 47,000 trees in the Pando are stems growing from a single root system, which is certainly tens of thousands of years old.
In Sweden, Old Tjikko, just 16 feet tall, has a root system believed to be 9,500 years old, although the trunk is only a few hundred years old, according to Science magazine.
Making sense of UCLA and USC’s move to the Big Ten
Close your eyes and envision the Midwest. You might see rolling crop fields, beautiful lakes, dense forests, and the bright lights of Los Angeles — wait, what?
In a seismic move, the University of Southern California (USC) and UCLA announced that they were joining the traditionally Midwestern athletic conference, the Big Ten.
Originally, the Big Ten was made up of schools from the Midwestern states near the Great Lakes. Back in 1993, Penn State joined the Big Ten, stretching the conferences into central Pennsylvania.
Penn State quickly found itself at home, a large land grant university with rural roots. Then, in 2014, the University of Maryland and Rutgers joined, expanding the Big Ten’s footprint into metro Washington D.C. and New York City’s doorstep.
So what’s driving the expansion? Money, and more specifically, TV contracts worth lots of money. Los Angeles is the second largest TV market in the USA, and the “B1G” now has a presence in the three biggest cities: L.A., Chicago, and NYC.
When new media markets are added to the Big Ten, the conference can push for its TV network, the Big Ten Network, to be added as part of the basic cable package, drumming up mountains of cash. The Big Ten Network is already in 80 million American homes, paying out up to $49 million to each university in 2021. With the Big Ten coming to California, these payouts may increase.
Currently, there are five “power” conferences in college sports: the Big Ten, the SEC, the Big 12, the ACC, and the Pac-12. Many analysts predict that soon there will be just two Power conferences, the SEC and the Big 10. If so, these two power conferences, made up of the biggest college athletics programs, will likely enjoy the most lucrative TV contracts and ever-growing coffers.
Credit 101: Debit cards don’t build your credit score
You use debit cards and credit cards in the same way: A swipe or wave in a card reader or type in your number online.
But the two are very different; only credit cards help build your credit score and are listed on your credit report.
Activity on a debit card isn’t reported to the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). The credit bureaus monitor how people use credit. But they don’t monitor debit cards, which are used like cash. The full amount is deducted from your checking account as soon as the purchase is made.
With credit cards, the full amount is loaned to you on a credit line.
With debit cards, you avoid interest charges and don’t go into debt because if you don’t have the money in the bank, the debit card will be declined.
Credit cards, on the other hand, can build credit — or trash your credit if you don’t make the payments on time. If you use a credit card on purchases you can pay off quickly, especially in the same month, your credit score may increase.
You can’t get a conventional credit card if you have bad credit or no credit history. Enter the secured credit card. With a secured card, you make a deposit to the credit card company, and that deposit becomes your credit line. Then, you can use the card to buy an item every month and then pay off the item each month. This way, you build a history of paying for what you buy. That’s good credit. In some cases, credit card companies will eventually upgrade a secured card to an unsecured card.
Trapping: 15 species to catch
Do you want to hunt using perfectly designed traps placed in strategic locations? You can trap a host of species in the U.S. for meat, pelts, or pest management. While you need to keep regional regulations in mind, here are some common species to consider adding to your hunting display.
Before setting your traps, ensure you’ve completed all the necessary training and have the required permits and certifications. In addition, review the most current regulations regarding appropriate types of gear.
NASA unveils plans to save earth from asteroids
In 1998, Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and other brave souls blasted into space and used oil drilling equipment to blow up an asteroid barreling towards Earth.
That same year, Elijah Wood discovered another asteroid bound for our planet. Fortunately, Robert Duvall blew that one up.
Of course, we’re talking about sci-fi movies, but asteroids are a real threat. Thankfully, NASA has plans (not involving movie stars) for dealing with them.
Over the summer, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released an 18-page report titled the “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan” outlining steps to identify and deflect asteroids and how to react should one hit.
Currently, NASA’s plans for warding off asteroids center on smashing spacecraft into asteroids at high speed. The goal isn’t to destroy the asteroid but simply to redirect it. If an asteroid’s course can be changed even a tiny bit, it could cause it to harmlessly shoots past Earth.
The United States isn’t alone in defending Earth against asteroids. China has announced plans to use the moon as a planetary defense platform. The Chinese plan would involve installing telescopes on the Moon’s north and south pole, along with kinetic weapons. However, the prospect of placing weapons on the moon has drawn criticism.
Asteroids can travel over 15 miles per second (54,000 miles per hour). An asteroid just 500 feet in diameter could destroy a large city. An asteroid a quarter of a mile in diameter could cause mass extinctions. NASA, among other organizations, already scans for asteroids. However, experts estimate that only about 40 percent of larger asteroids have been mapped. Many smaller asteroids also haven’t been mapped but don’t pose as grave a threat.
Fortunately, FEMA’s National Response Coordination Branch has labeled the likelihood of a serious asteroid impact as unlikely but does note that such an impact would be of high consequence.
Buy local in every industry
When you think about buying local, you probably conjure up images of a friendly farmer selling vegetables and jams on a country road or a quaint farmers’ market with a friendly atmosphere. Although these examples illustrate one aspect of buying local, it goes much further.
Have you thought about these sectors?
Buying locally isn’t limited to specific industries. When it comes to supporting your local economy, various companies would be happy to do business with you, including:
• Telecommunications providers
• Insurance companies
• Supermarket chains
• Big box stores
• Hardware stores
• Video game developers
• Engineering firms
• Furniture retailers
Why are these important?
Even if you don’t associate large companies with buying locally, they play a significant role in the economic vitality of your region. That’s why it’s essential to know where your products and services come from, whether you’re buying fresh fruits and vegetables or doing business with an insurance company, internet provider, or appliance store.