CarriageTowneNews.com, Kingston, NH

Community News Network

September 12, 2013

14 oddball reasons you're not dead yet

Lifespan has doubled in the United States in the past 150 years. This ridiculously wonderful change in the nature of life and death is something we tend to take for granted.

When we do think about why we're still alive, some of the big, fairly obvious reasons that come to mind are vaccines, antibiotics, clean water, or drugs for heart disease and cancer.

But the world is full of underappreciated people, innovations and ideas that also save lives. A round of applause, please, for some of the oddball reasons, in no particular order, why people are living longer and healthier lives than ever before.

Cotton. One of the major killers of human history was typhus, a bacterial disease spread by lice. It defeated Napoleon's army; if Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture were historically accurate, it would feature less cannon fire and more munching arthropods. Wool was the clothing material of choice before cotton displaced it. Cotton is easier to clean than wool and less hospitable to body lice.

Satellites. In 1900, a hurricane devastated Galveston, Texas. It killed 8,000 people, making it the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history. In 2008, Hurricane Ike hit Galveston. Its winds were less powerful at landfall than those of the 1900 storm, but its storm surge was higher, and that's usually what kills people. This time we saw it coming, thanks to a network of Earth-monitoring satellites and decades of ever-improving storm forecasting. More than 100 people died, but more than 1 million evacuated low-lying coastal areas and survived.

Fluoride. There were plenty of miserable ways to die before the mid-20th century, but dying of a tooth abscess had to be among the worst — a slow, painful infection that limits your ability to eat, causes your head to throb endlessly, and eventually colonizes the body and kills you of sepsis. Now it's a rare way to go, thanks to modern dental care, toothbrushes, and (unless you're in Portland) fluoridated water.

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Obituaries
  • Elwood (Al) Shaw, 93

    Meredith, NH — Elwood (Al) Shaw, 93, of Center Harbor, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 30, 2014, at Forestview Manor in Meredith. He was the beloved husband of the late Greta L. (Sykes) Shaw, to whom he was married for 62 years.

    Continued ...
    The Carriage Towne News Thu, April 17
    7 days 1 Photo
  • Jo Ann Hughes, 79

    Sandown, NH — Jo Ann (Phelps) Hughes of Sandown, New Hampshire passed away on Thursday, March 27, 2014, surrounded by all of her children at home. She was born in Little Bend Kentucky, to Beatrice (Shepherd) Phelps and John (Cat) Phelps in 1934. Jo Ann was predeceased by brothers, Marcus Phelps, Johnny Phelps, Forrest Phelps and sisters, Juanita Phelps, and Jeanette (Phelps) Vincent. She is survived by brother, Donald Quiggins of Georgia; sisters, Geneva (Phelps) Stanley of Kentucky, and Frances (Phelps) Bratcher of Tennessee who had just visited Jo Ann in September of 2013.

    Continued ...
    The Carriage Towne News Thu, April 17
    7 days 1 Photo
  • Sherry Lynn (Cookson) Scanzilo

    Raymond, NH — Sherry Lynn (Cookson) Scanzillo, 58, of Raymond, N.H., passed away Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Elliot Hospital surrounded by her loving family after a sudden illness.

    Continued ...
    The Carriage Towne News Thu, April 17
    7 days 1 Photo
  • Thomas Hugh Clinton, 73

    Atkinson, NH — Tom passed away on Sunday, March 30, 2014, at Elliot Hospital in Manchester. Tom was born on October, 30, 1940, at Clover Hill Hospital in Lawrence, Mass., as the only child to Hugh Clinton and Evelyn (Forcier) Clinton. Tom graduated from Methuen High School in 195

    Continued ...
    The Carriage Towne News Thu, April 17
    7 days 1 Photo
  • Jo Ann Hughes, 79

    Sandown, NH — Jo Ann (Phelps) Hughes of Sandown, New Hampshire passed away on Thursday, March 27, 2014, surrounded by all of her children at home. She was born in Little Bend Kentucky, to Beatrice (Shepherd) Phelps and John (Cat) Phelps in 1934. Jo Ann was predeceased by brothers, Marcus Phelps, Johnny Phelps, Forrest Phelps and sisters, Juanita Phelps, and Jeanette (Phelps) Vincent. She is survived by brother, Donald Quiggins of Georgia; sisters, Geneva (Phelps) Stanley of Kentucky, and Frances (Phelps) Bratcher of Tennessee who had just visited Jo Ann in September of 2013.

    Continued ...
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    14 days

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