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Significant Digits For Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news.

1 box of crickets

Did you know that any honest American subway car is a mere box full of crickets away from complete and utter catastrophe at any given time? This theorem was demonstrated to devastating effect Wednesday evening in New York City, on a D train going over the Manhattan Bridge. A woman was trying to sell crickets and worms to people on the train, because sure, why not, the history of capitalism is chock-full of innovators who not only discovered but created markets. Anyway, this pitch flops, and then a bunch of teenagers — because of course it’s teenagers — pushed her, leading the small businesswoman to dump the box full of crickets and worms in the car, I don’t know, maybe to demonstrate the vitality of the stock. So everybody freaks out, obviously, the crickets are just everywhere, and some wannabe Moses tries to end the plague by deciding to pull the emergency brake, which means that the train is stuck on the bridge for half an hour rather than proceeding to its eventual destination. [The New York Post, via John Carney]

3 tablespoons white pepper

An heir to Colonel Sanders may have given the super secret recipe for the notorious eleven herbs and spices in the KFC batter to a reporter, which is the one thing you’re not supposed to do. The key is apparently white pepper. You need 3 tablespoons of it. [The New York Times]

5 percent

Some scientists put a bunch of kids on standing desks and then compared them to a control group. It’s one study, with only 400 participants, and found a slight (5 percent) change in BMI of the standing desk kids, which obviously means it’s time to overhaul our entire educational system to make sure everyone is using a standing desk. Of course the researcher behind it founded a standing desk company for schools. [Bloomberg]

21 percent

According to a study published in American Journal of Public Health, consumption of soda decreased 21 percent a year after the city of Berkeley implemented a soda tax. Fittingly, we found out about this news from [Bloomberg].

38 percent

Percentage of Americans who believed the Federal Reserve was doing a good or excellent job in November of 2014, compared to 53 percent who said as much in 2003. Golly, I wonder what might have shaken their faith. [The Wall Street Journal]


That’s the year that Farc began its fight against the Colombian state. Wednesday the two sides announced a peace deal, which would be certified after an October 2 plebiscite. [The Guardian]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.