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Eight things I learned this week, 07

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 27, 2008

Through June 23 of this year, the three major television networks have spent a total of 46 minutes covering the war in Afghanistan. CBS has spent just eight minutes discussing the war. [NY Times]

Some Floridians are still living in FEMA trailers 15 years after Hurricane Andrew. [Des Moines Register]

Two thirds of the last six Presidents of the United States have been left handed. Obama and McCain are both left-handed. [NY Sun]

In New York State, “blocking the box” (i.e. getting caught in the intersection during a red light) has been reclassified from a moving violation to a parking violation. The change allows a greater number of officers and agents to issue citations. [Streetsblog]

Despite charging exorbitant “convenience” fees for concert tickets, Ticketmaster is somehow $750 million in debt. [Reuters]

There’s more than a 50/50 chance that the medium bag of popcorn that you get at the movies will contain more popcorn than the more expensive large tub. [Portfolio]

Lego keeps a copy of every single set they’ve ever released stored in a secret vault. [Gizmodo]

We all knew it was coming: Hancock might actually suck. [Greencine]

Eleven things I learned this week, 06

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 13, 2008

According to the Meth Project Foundation, one of the warning signs that you may have a problem with meth is that you are “using more meth than intended”. [The Meth Project]

A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, about 9 percent of all income. [NY Times]

The food service operation at the House of Representatives, under private control since the 80s, is significantly more popular than the federally run Senate food service operation. The Senate recently voted to privatize their service as well. [Washington Post]

After John Glenn ran for president in 1984, he struggled for more than 20 years to pay off his campaign debt of $3 million. [NY Times]

The Mars Phoenix Mission has cost $420,000,000 so far. That’s about $1/mile, about the same cost per mile as driving an SUV. Not bad, NASA! [Charisma 18]

A new form of nanopaper is stronger than cast iron and nearly as strong as structural steel. [New Scientist]

Organic milk often keeps longer than regular milk because a lot of the organic product is ultra pasteurized. [Scientific American]

MLB teams are losing road games at a rate not seen since the 1930s. According to an anonymous GM, the reason for the increased home field advantage is that last year’s ban on amphetamines is finally taking hold, leaving traveling players with one less option for feeling peppier after 5 hours on a plane through 3 timezones. [The Frontal Cortex]

The Japanese words for a person obsessed with Muji is Mujirer. [The Moment]

The number of condoms available for use, free of charge, this year at McMurdo base in Antarctica: almost 16,500.

News flash! Most bridesmaids don’t like their bridesmaid dresses. [The Onion

(Check out all of the past installments of this feature here.)

Six things I learned this week, 05

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 06, 2008

China consumes half of the world’s instant noodles and uses 10% of its annual wheat crop for instant ramen. [Monocle]

The average German dreams of stripping the woodchip wallpaper and laying down cherry or walnut parquet. ??? [The Observer]

Ferrari is now offering carbon-ceramic brakes as standard equipment on their cars. They’re more expensive but they stop the car faster, last longer, are lighter, and don’t rust. [Intelligent Life]

Neurosurgeons don’t hold mobile phones to their ears. [NY Times]

A black Japanese watermelon recently sold for $6,100. [AP]

Lost and found: 1) a Massachusetts lighthouse missing since 1925 turned up in California and 2) an Egyptian pyramid discovered in the 1840s and subsequently lost again was recently rediscovered.

Nine things I learned this week, 04

posted by Jason Kottke   May 16, 2008

[Part four of a recurring series…part one, part two, part three.]

According to the Indian National Crime Bureau, there were 6,787 dowry deaths in India in 2005. A dowry death occurs when a woman is killed or commits suicide due to coercion by her husband or her husband’s family in order to secure a larger dowry. [Indian National Crime Bureau]

As of August 2005, the poverty rate in Mississippi was 21.1%, the highest in the nation. The state also ranks first in senior poverty and second in child poverty. Despite being surrounded by states with relatively low poverty rates, Washington DC ranks first in child poverty and is second in overall and senior poverty. [USCCB]

According to the Zoological Society of London, between a quarter and a third of the world’s wildlife has been lost since 1970. [BBC]

Buddhist teachers Michael Roach and Christie McNally haven’t been more than 15 feet from each other in the ten years since they took an oath to that effect. They also read the same books at the same time. [NY Times]

There are more Chinese restaurants in the US than McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and Wendy’s restaurants combined. [YouTube]

NYC’s alternate-side parking rules will be suspended in Park Slope for a few months so that workers can replace parking signs. Residents are overjoyed because they don’t have to move their cars every few days. [NY Times]

There are at least 3 escalators in Wyoming. [Metafilter]

Velcro is 50 years old. (At least the trademark is.) [mental_floss]

The Golden Gate Bridge is younger than John McCain. [Things Younger Than John McCain]

Eight things I learned this week, 03

posted by Jason Kottke   May 09, 2008

[Part three of a recurring series…part one, part two.]

Starting in June 2009, the US government will require a passport or “similar federally approved document” for entering the US by land. Both US and Canadian citizens living near the borders are unhappy. [Salon]

Fifty percent of the Australia’s houses sit less than 8 miles from a beach. Eighty percent of Australians live within 80 miles of the sea. [Architectural Record]

The capacity of Niagara Falls is controlled artificially; the flow is doubled during normal tourist visiting hours. [Newsweek]

As a reward for returning the Stradivarius left in the backseat of Mohamed Khalil’s taxi, violinist Philippe Quint gave the cabbie a reward of $100, a private 30-minute performance in the taxi waiting area at Newark, and tickets for him and his family to Quint’s next performance at Carnegie Hall. Khalil also received a medal from the city of Newark. The Stradivarius is valued at $4 million. [BBC]

Toilet bowls are cleaner than the average computer keyboard. Studies differ on how much cleaner…1/5? 1/67? 1/400? [Gelf Magazine]

When actively used, women’s ballet shoes can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 days. [Arizona Daily Star]

For $6,000, you can buy a Worldchanging Carbon Clean Slate gift for your graduating high schooler, which will offset all the climate emissions that your kid has accumulated from birth. For $25,000, you can offset their entire life. [Worldchanging]

By 2015, Moscow will have the 10 tallest office buildings in Europe. The rent for Moscow office space is currently higher than in midtown Manhattan. [Newsweek]

And finally, a holdover from the last week (which itself was a holdover from the week before). Bob Herbert got his “a third of all American high school students drop out” stat from a report prepared by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. As I erroneously surmised last week, the ~10% rate from here is not an annual dropout rate. I don’t know how you get from 10% of 16-24 year-olds not having a high school diploma in 2005 to 1/3 of all students dropping out of high school. Final update.

Eight things I learned this week, 02

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2008

[Part two of a recurring series…part one is here.]

Barack Obama is poised to run the first privately financed general-election presidential campaign since the mid 1970s. One reason for the move away from public funds is that Obama could raise more many than would be available to him through the public financing program. [WSJ]

According to author Clay Shirky and IBM researcher Martin Wattenberg, Wikipedia represents about 100 million hours of human thought. Compare that to 200 billion hours of television watched in the US every year. [Clay Shirky]

Over the last six decades, the real incomes of middle-class families grew twice as fast under Democratic presidents as they did under Republican presidents. The real incomes of working-poor families grew six times as fast under Democratic presidents. [NY Times]

OPEC members will take in nearly $1 trillion in income because of record crude oil prices. [Reuters @ National Post]

A Berkeley study indicates that children who attend daycare or playgroups cut their risk of the most common type of childhood leukemia by about 30%. [BBC]

The starting price for a 1000-year-old olive tree is around €18,000. The trees are popular as landscpae art for wealthy homeowners, golf courses, and resorts. [WSJ]

SUV sales are down and with them, their prices. The rising cost of gas is to blame. Many dealers won’t even accept SUVs as trade-ins. [AP]

Brazilian chica nailed seven. [My inbox, unsolicited bulk email from “Johnna Laird”]

And finally, a bit of housekeeping from last week’s post. Several people wrote in to say that Bob Herbert’s statement that “roughly a third of all American high school students drop out” was entirely out of line with the actual statistics. I’m no statistician, but if you take 2005’s ~10% annual dropout rate and apply it to an incoming 9th grade class for 4 years, you end up with about 66% of the students reaching graduation…or “roughly a third” dropping out. Not sure that’s where the number came from, but it’s a possibility.

Ten things I learned this week, 01

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2008

I’m debuting a new feature on kottke.org. On (some? most? all?) Fridays, I’ll wrap up the week with a list of interesting facts I’ve found that don’t really warrant their own posts for whatever reason. I hope you find it useful. Suggestions for next week’s list are welcome via email.

Life expectancy for women in some parts of the US declined significantly from 1983 to 1999. [NY Times]

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners. One out of every 100 American adults is presently incarcerated. [NY Times]

Nearly 1 million women in Iraq are widows or divorcees, or their husbands are missing. [Washington Post]

A quarter of all the petroleum ever consumed in the history of the world was consumed in the last 10 years. Humans collectively consume 6,000 gallons of fuel every second. [PBS]

About a third of all American high school students drop out. That’s about one every 26 seconds. [NY Times]

China now has the world’s largest population of internet users. [Reuters]

Humans may have almost gone extinct almost 70,000 years ago. The total population may have dipped to 2,000 individuals, possibly because of drought. [CNN]

Standard Operating Procedure is the first movie Errol Morris has shot with a Cinemascope aspect ratio of 2.35:1. [Errol Morris at the Apple Store]

Harrison Ford urged George Lucas to kill off Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi because it would have made a better story. [Guardian]

Nearly 80 percent of roommates got so drunk last night. [The Onion]