Monday Roundup: Pinterest’s Iowa Origins

The death toll in mobile homes • Rebuilding the Louisiana coast • GMO seeds are producing super pests • Pinterest was designed for people outside metros

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The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that two-thirds of the 34 people killed in the March 2 tornadoes in Kentucky and Indiana died in mobile homes.

 Sixteen people in Kentucky and eight in Indiana “died as their mobile homes were rolled, flipped, flattened or obliterated by twisters with winds that in some areas exceeded 175 mph,” reports Andy Wolfson.

Mobile homes make up only 14 percent of the housing stock in Kentucky and 6 percent of the houses in Indiana, reports Wolfson. Twenty-four people died in the mobile homes or double-wides while 8 people died in conventional homes and 2 died in vehicles.

Wolfson writes:

Experts on severe weather say the disproportionate death toll in mobile and manufactured housing isn’t surprising: The National Severe Storms Laboratory has found that occupants of such dwellings, which are lighter and less well anchored, are 10 to 20 times more likely to be killed in tornadoes than those in conventional homes.

From 2006 to 2011, 31 percent of the 823 people killed in tornadoes in the United States died while in or fleeing from mobile homes, even though that housing accounts for only about 8 percent of the nation’s residences, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau.

And from 1996 to 2007, 93 percent of the tornado deaths in Indiana and 73 percent in Kentucky were in mobile homes, according to a study published in Natural Hazards, a scientific journal.

A mobile home industry trade group said manufactured housing “is largely found in rural and suburban areas where tornadoes are most likely to occur.”

Meteriologists found that claim laughable — and after being contacted by Wolfson, the Manufactured Housing Institute said it would remove that claim from its web site.

• Al Cross, at the Institute for Rural Journalism at the University of Kentucky, has a good column on the future faced by smaller thoroughbred horse breeders. 

Cross talks to one small farmer who sees a “major stratification recently” between the large and small farms. Big farms are finding markets worldwife, while small farmers are seeing the U.S. demand for race horses dwindle. 

• The next “debt bomb” will be student loans

• A Kentucky coal mining company has settled a lawsuit claiming that mountaintop removal coal mining caused a 2010 flood that ravaged a part of Pike County, Kentucky. 

Terms of the settlement were not revealed. The plaintiffs contended that coal strip mining and poor reclamation practices exacerbated flooding. “I do not think it’s a coincidence that the worst damage occurs in areas directly below unreclaimed strip mines,” said Ned Pillersdorf, who represented the plaintiffs.

• Twenty-two of the nation’s top experts on corn pests have written the federal government saying that insects were developing resistance to genes inserted in corn seed meant to control the insects. 

In particular, the scientists are seeing the spread of corn rootworms resistant to the gene routinely inserted in corn seed to control the insect.

• A while back we speculated that the new web phenomenon Pinterest was more popular in rural areas than in larger cities. 

The New York Times Sunday told us that, yes, interest in Pinterest was exploding — and the site was developed with the heartland in mind. 

“We showed it to folks from all walks of life, lifestyle bloggers, crafters and hobbyists,” said Ben Silbermann, a founder and the chief executive of Pinterest. “The early people were from the area where I grew up, in Des Moines, and the site grew very organically from there.”

And, gee, it has dawned on investors that there just might be a profit in designing something for people other than those who live in Austin or Brooklyn. “It defies the mold that you have to build something for New York and San Francisco and then spread it out from there,” said Chris Dixon, an investor in Skype, Skillshare, GroupMe and other companies and the chief executive of Hunch, which was acquired by eBay earlier this year. “It’s amazing how well that worked.”

What an insight!!

• Louisiana has proposed a $50 billion, 50-year plan to restore the coastal wetlands destroyed by the levees built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

• In Darwin, California, a PayPal transaction can take half a day to complete online, connections are so slow. 

The Los Angeles Times visits a town that is way on the other side of the digital divide. 

Exports to China — especially soybeans — are surging. 

 

 

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