Monday, July 10, 2006

Fun With Numbers

Some fun with numbers from Harper's.

Harper's Index for June 2006

Year that a signboard tallying the U.S. national debt was erected near Times Square: 1989

Year in which it is expected to run out of digits: 2007

Percentage change in U.S. discretionary spending during the first five years of George W. Bush's presidency: +35

Percentage change during Lyndon Johnson's and Bill Clinton's first five years, respectively: +25, -8

Ratio of the average manufacturing wage in the United States to that in Mexico, before NAFTA took effect in 1994: 6:1

Ratio today: 8:1

Estimated number of illegal Irish immigrants in the United States: 25,000

Percentage change since 1960 in the per-capita U.S. consumption of fresh potatoes: -43

Percentage change in per-capita consumption of processed potatoes: +247

Average number of calories of oil that are used to make each calorie of food Americans eat: 7

Length, in miles, of a barrier that Saudi Arabia has proposed to build in order to seal its border with Iraq: 560

Number of electronically controlled gates that would be placed along its length: 135[Middle East Economic Digest (London)]

Minimum number of Iraqis displaced by sectarian violence since February: 65,000[Ministry of Displacement and Migration (Baghdad)]

Days after her coronation in April that an Iraqi beauty queen resigned, citing death threats: 4

Factor by which the number of Iraqis imprisoned now exceeds the number at the time of the Abu Ghraib scandal: 2

Chances that a U.S. federal judge has requested a government-supplied home security system since May 2005: 3 in 4

Chances that a U.S. commuter both lives and works in a suburb: 2 in 5

Percentage change since 1990 in the number of Americans who describe themselves as “nonreligious”: +106

Percentage of U.S. abortions in 1973 and 2002, respectively, that took place in the first trimester: 38, 61

Estimated percentage of women in U.S. prisons or jails who are single mothers: 77

Chance since 2001 that a criminal case in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., has been tried off the docket: 1 in 6

Number of state laws enacted since September 2001 that restrict access to information: 616

Number that broaden access: 284

Number of CIA employees that the Chicago Tribune was able to identify in March through online databases: 2,653

Number of CIA workplaces it located: 24

Estimated number of fake blogs created every day by websites to improve their rankings in search-engine results: 6,750

Price for which China will rent out Beijing's Great Hall of the People: $12,000

Percentage of Chinese who say the free market is “the best system on which to base the future of the world”: 74

Percentage of the French who say this: 36

Chance that an American says he or she views France as a U.S. ally: 1 in 6

Chances that an American says he or she uses the word “fuck”: 2 in 3

Percentage of U.S. public-radio stations' funding in 1980 and 2004, respectively, that came from businesses: 8, 18

Percentage that came from the federal government: 33, 11

Factor by which total U.S. student loans from private lenders last year exceeded the amount in 1995: 10

Minimum amount that a Massachusetts special-ed teacher received in donations from 2003 to 2005 by faking cancer: $35,000

Fee for which a Florida middle-school gym teacher allowed students to skip class, before he was fired in January: $1

Years that his predecessor had operated under the same policy: 1

Amount a Pennsylvania T-ball coach paid a player last year to hit an autistic teammate with a ball: $25

Ratio of negative portrayals of teachers on U.S. children's TV shows to positive portrayals: 3:1

Ratio for portrayals of adults in general: 10:1

This is Harper's Index for June 2006, a Harper's Index, published Monday, July 10, 2006. It is part of Harper's Index for 2006, which is part of The Harper's Index, which is part of

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