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How Many Wild Animals Die Of Old Age?

Illustration: Jim Cooke (GMG)
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Today we’re talking about the Warriors, coprophagy, Florida Man, business trips, and more. 

Everyone’s favorite large adult oaf can send endless tweets about commercials and how he seemingly overeats every meal, yet can’t respond to a couple of emails? Sad! In the meantime, you’re stuck with me. And send in your Funbag questions.

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Peter:

What percentage of non-captive, undomesticated animals die of old age/natural causes? I think it’s less than 5%. The rest are killed/eaten by predators or end up as road kill, right? I can’t imagine there are many Zebras making it to 35 on the Serengeti. Based on the number of raccoons I see smeared across the interstate, I don’t think there is a raccoon over a year old anywhere on earth.

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“Old age” isn’t a medical condition that people actually die from, which makes this an exercise in defining terms as much as anything else. When your 80-year-old grandfather dies from pneumonia, he didn’t die from old age, but the old age made him more vulnerable to pneumonia.

Culturally, we consider that dying from a natural cause. But what about an infection caused by falling and breaking a hip? What about a 90-year-old getting hit by a car because of a slowed reaction time? What about a 40-year-old dying from pneumonia?

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It is even more difficult to come to a consensus about what constitutes dying of old age for animals, especially since we’re ranging across millions of species with wildly varying evolutionary niches and survival strategies.

As it turns out, this and related questions have long been important subjects of debate by evolutionary biologists, and an influential 1998 paper calculated mortality curves in a number of species. Data extrapolated from this paper (look at the yellow and orange chart halfway down) suggests that in some species fewer than five percent die of old age, while in others it is closer to 70 percent.

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This makes intuitive sense, right? Some species survive by producing so many offspring that at least a couple survive until reproductive age, while others produce few offspring that have a much higher chance of living for a long time. I would guess that generally apex predators are more likely to die of old age.

Steven:

In what year will the average, non-tech person be able to afford to go to more than 1 game per year (if that) at the chase center, or whatever they’re calling the new warriors stadium? Over/under 2024. It will need to be at least 2 years after they start sucking again, right?

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It is going to be impossible. Most of the arena will be taken up by season-ticket holders, and it is quite small, 1,500 fewer seats than the Warriors’ current home. The new location also makes it exponentially easier for every tech schmuck on the corporate dime to go to a game while in town.

But what really matters is the roster. Steph Curry is signed through 2022, and it is likely this offseason that some combination of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will join him with long-term extensions. They might not win the NBA Finals every year, but they will be good and highly entertaining for at least another few.

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Fans turn fast, however. Look at the Cavs’ arena this season. It’ll become not impossible during the first season where it becomes clear the Warriors are a .500 team, so probably right around 2024.

Jon:

While I wholeheartedly agree that fresh garlic >>> jarred, it sounded like neither David nor Megan use a garlic press. Do all of you mince garlic with a knife every time you need some?

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I’m not David or Megan, but ... yes? Mincing garlic isn’t difficult, and it allows you to control the size of the garlic pieces. Garlic presses waste a bunch of garlic that you can’t get off, you still have to peel the garlic and cut off the stem, and any time saved is sacrificed by how damn long they take to clean. Garlic presses suck.

Ben:

What’s the ideal amount of work travel? As the father of two young children I often wish I got to travel for work to get a break from them every now and then. I have friends who get to travel for work fairly frequently, and it sounds like a lot of good meals on their company’s tab with a few worthless meetings scattered around. I know constant travel would get old pretty quickly, but 3-5 days a month sounds like a real sweet spot. I have traveled zero times for my jobs and it feels like I’m missing out!

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This really depends upon personal circumstances. Do you have kids? What do you like to do with your free time? Do you have some weird specific diet or strong exercise preference? Do you enjoy your job? How generous is your expense policy? Are you traveling alone or with co-workers? Are you traveling to Cleveland or to Miami? How much free time do you have while traveling?

But assuming travel doesn’t make your home situation overly burdensome, and the answers to at least a few of the questions above are positive ones, traveling about once a month is deal. Enough that you can rack up a decent amount of frequent flyer miles for personal use and can feel like a sophisticated businessperson with your leather passport holder and TSA Precheck line, but not so much that you immediately answer “yes” when somebody asks if you travel for work.

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Grover:

How many weddings are held in America on Super Bowl Sunday on average? Even considering the countless people who don’t watch the game, what are the odds that a relative or member of the wedding party is able to talk them out of it? What would be the proper protocol if you, a sports fan, was asked to be a groomsman/bridesmaid in a wedding held that day?

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I thought about doing actual research for this question and talking to a wedding planner, but then decided to abide by my personal motto—WWDD: What Would Drew Do?—and so I’m going to spitball it and maybe UNNECESSARILY CAPITALIZE some words.

Just by the sheer number of weddings there has to be a few, but that’s about it. January is one of the least popular wedding months, Sundays aren’t nearly as popular as Saturdays or even Fridays, and even the most sports-hating couple is smart enough to know how badly a Super Bowl wedding will distract their guests and take away from the BIG DAY.

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But what I really want to talk about here is the scourge of New Year’s Eve weddings. I haven’t actually had to attend one yet, thank god, but increasingly hear of family and friends doing so. What the hell? New Year’s Eve is already the year’s most overrated holiday (this list is basura) and now I have to spend it dressed up with a bunch of people I don’t know? It screws up holiday travel plans, and has to be phenomenally expensive to find a venue and staff. Stop it.

Ed:

What’s stopping Offensive Coordinators from calling the same play two (or more) times in a row when the play is successful? It seems to me that it would be a decent-enough strategy once or twice a game just on the belief that the defense wouldn’t expect the same exact play twice. This would, of course, require OCs to ignore some of their “Innovative” play-calling instincts and their cutesy plays but it still seems reasonable to me.

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The main reason not to call the same play twice in a row is because the situation has changed. Second and 10 is different than first and 10, third and 5 is different than second and 5. What the offense needs changes, the likelihood of it succeeding changes.

But it does happen. It may not look like it because the running back goes into a different hole, the defense blows up the play the second time, or the quarterback throws to a different receiver. But the Raiders once ran the same play 10 times in a row. Option or wishbone teams obviously run the same thing multiple plays in a row.

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I don’t think this is an instance of offensive coordinators being afraid or anything, I think it’s just not a good strategy most of the time.

Andy:

Is poop meat? By that I mean: Can you eat poop and still be a vegetarian/vegan? Does the answer change if the being that extruded it is a vegetarian? Sorry.

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Whenever anybody tries to telling you that Deadspin’s readers are smart, point them to good ol’ Andrew here.

A VEGETARIAN doesn’t eat meat, or products that result from the killing of animals. A VEGAN doesn’t eat animal products. Neither VEGETARIANS nor VEGANS eat POOP because IT IS GODDAMN POOP AND THOSE ARE DIETARY CHOICES AND/OR LIFESTYLES, NOT BRAIN DISEASES.

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HALFTIME!

Keith:

Why do all the head lines on Deadspin have every word capitalized? As a student who was good in language arts it gets me every time.

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I’m sure once upon a time I knew the actual answer to this question, but I do know the general answer to every Deadspin style question: Because Leitch/AJ/Craggs decided it should be that way for whatever reason, and that is the way it has been ever since.

Plus, capitalizing every word in a headline makes things easy and consistent.

Scott:

When was the last time someone smoked a cigarette on the sidelines of an NFL game? Surely darts were hacked on the sidelines in the 60’s and 70’s… I’m thinking early/mid-80’s, maybe?

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Are we talking about players only, or also coaches and other team personnel? For players, I think sometime in the 1980s is right. While football players weren’t necessarily the fitness freaks they are now, terrible sports pundits were the same and I can hear them screaming about the INTEGRITY OF THE GAME if a player were puffing on the sideline.

Part of me thinks a coach had to have snuck a smoke within the last few years. Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is out here chomping on cigarette butts during games; is it that much of a stretch to think a football coach would smoke on the much more expansive NFL sideline? On the other hand, the smell of cigarette smoke would be so foreign and noticeable on the sidelines that it would be very hard to get away with.

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I’m going to go with 1990s for a coach, with the caveat that I can almost assure you there is a coach vaping on an NFL sideline right this moment.

Evin:

I found out the other day that the main reason for the whole ‘Florida Man’ thing is that Florida’s arrest records are public, so it’s easy for reporters to go through them on a slow news day to find crazy shit:

My question is: If every state had the same policy of public arrest records as Florida, which state would have the most ‘Florida Man’ stories?

At first I thought it would be a deep South state like ‘Bama, but I now think New York is a dark horse contender. New York City is huge and full of crazy people, and there are also many truly backwater areas upstate where some dark stuff is bound to be going down. Also: Bills fans.

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This is true, and something Florida Woman Diana Moskovitz herself taught me. She also taught me the useful heuristic that red states generally have much more open police and court records than blue states. Always listen to Diana.

To answer the actual question, assuming we are controlling for population size here, the answer is obviously Arizona. Arizona is a wild place. It’s got crazy politics, a quasi–Old West spirit, Texas influence, weird border shit, high plains drifters, and the Phoenix suburban sprawl can drive anybody insane. I’ll believe literally any story you tell me if you say it happened in Arizona.

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Kevin:

I’m 30. I have not been into sports since I was a kid in the 90s. I remember watching the greatest period for the NBA and arguably the greatest time to be a fan of the Mariners. I feel that as a 30 year old male, I need to be sports knowledgeable. I am not anymore. I live in Seattle, so we don’t have a basketball team anymore and lolmariners. I feel like if I focus on basketball, I’ll have a fighting chance

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You can just be you and not know anything about sports, Kevin, if you really want to. But if you do want to get more into sports, I suggest going to a few live sporting events. The magic of 20,000 people, or 70,000 people, all collectively losing their minds almost forces you to care, even if you don’t.

In Seattle, your best bet is probably to attend any Seahawks game, or a Sounders game against the Timbers or one of the top teams in the league. If you want to watch some other sport, go to a bar for big games. I’m sure there is a great basketball bar, or SEC football bar, somewhere in Seattle.

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Victor:

I know 99 percent of Twitter is a hellscape, but I have a special distaste for Coach Twitter. It’s filled with misattributed inspirational quotes about leadership, terrible sports takes, and a rural Wyoming-level of Trump support. I’m a sports reporter, so I often have no choice but to see a retweet of a Vince Lombardi tribute account in my timeline. What’s the worst segment of Twitter that you, on some level, cannot avoid due to work or some other obligation (Political Twitter seems like the easy answer, but at least news and some humor sneaks in there)?

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Look, Twitter is obviously a blight on humanity, rots the brain of anyone who spends more than a few minutes on it, is run by a guy who can’t even come up with acceptable responses to questions that really shouldn’t be that difficult to answer etc. But just don’t follow bad people on Twitter. It’s not that hard.

Does someone’s tweets bring you distress? Unfollow. Infuriate you? Unfollow. Clog up your timeline? Unfollow.

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I am a sports business and media reporter, so you would assume I follow Darren Rovell and Richard Deitsch. Of course I don’t! Why would I subject myself to that? Besides, Deitsch blocks me. There are co-workers I really like and friends that I don’t follow because they’re bad at Twitter. You don’t owe anybody anything!

Find accounts that tweet the relevant information you’re interested in without all of the bad stuff, or just bookmark websites or set up some RSS feeds like it’s 2008. It is very easy to dramatically improve your Twitter experience and yet for some reason people feel like they’re obligated to opt in to a hellscape.

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Drew story of the week!

At the Gizmodo Media Group and its predecessors, there is always some catastrophe. During my two-and-a-half years alone there was the trial, the verdict, the unionization process, the 20 percent nicer Gawker, the auction, the sale and the indemnity fight, among others I blacked out during and thankfully don’t remember.

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After one of these (I think it was the sale) Drew, McKenna and I repaired to a bad DuPont Circle bar to commiserate. Drew is a BIG-TIME BOOK AUTHOR and writes for a men’s fashion magazine—he was going to be okay. He could’ve divorced himself from much of the misery inflicted upon his co-workers.

But he didn’t. He never did. Instead he bitched and moaned and agreed this was the apocalypse, while also telling us it would be okay in a way that isn’t cheesy but actually made us (or at least, me) feel that it was indeed going to be okay. And it was.

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Drew’s a good friend.

Email of the week!

Arturo:

Is Steph Better? Or more explicitly, is Steph a top __ guy all time?

Steph is, in fact, better. He is the best player in the NBA, and will end his career as a top 5 player of all-time.

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Come fight me.

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Kevin Draper

Reporter at the New York Times

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