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Significant Digits For Monday, March 14, 2016

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. We’re trying out a new approach, with fewer news items but more detail, so please bear with us.


2 years

In today’s edition of “stories that made me ignore my best friends during brunch on Saturday because they hooked me that good,” Richard Simmons has disappeared from public life for the past two years, has reportedly cut off ties with old friends, and those friends fear he may be held against his will in his home, the Daily News reports. Seriously, “Hey you hear about this Richard Simmons thing?” was basically the only thing I said to people for the rest of the day. [The New York Daily News]


8 minutes

Louisiana is in a dire financial situation and state legislators had to pass some pretty big tax increases, despite their misgivings, just to keep the lights on. Parts of the state will see sales taxes rise above 10 percent, and overall approximately $1 billion in new taxation was passed in the final eight minutes of the session. [The Advocate]


10 pounds

Ten pounds of bat guano — poop, that is — was found above the desk of Ken Lawson, a Florida regulator. That sucks, don’t get me wrong, but imagine being the cop assigned to investigate this particular crime. Your place on the totem pole becomes pretty clear pretty immediately when you pull that assignment. [Associated Press]


19 percent

The University of Kansas has the highest chance of winning the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament — March Madness! — based on the FiveThirtyEight model. (The women’s bracket will be announced later today.) The other No. 1 seeds are the University of North Carolina, Oregon and the University of Virginia. [FiveThirtyEight]


20 percent

Average estimate of the likelihood of a recession in the next 12 months according to a monthly survey of economists, down from 21 percent a month ago but up from 10 percent six months ago. [The Wall Street Journal]


11,000 data centers

The federal government has a lot of data, OK? A new policy would force agencies to get permission from higher-ups before building a new data center, which seems silly until you hear that the Feds already have upwards of 11,000 data centers. The outdated tech housed within — some of it predates the ’80s — makes up about three quarters of the $80 billion IT budget. [Nextgov]


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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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