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Significant Digits for Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015

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

1.4 percent decrease

A study by the Boston University School of Public Health found that a 1 percent increase of beer, wine, and liquor prices through taxes correlated to a 1.4 percent decrease in binge-drinking adults. Wyoming has the lowest beer excise tax in the United States, at a mere 2 cents per gallon, and Tennessee the highest, at $1.17. [The New Republic]

13 teams

The New York Knicks are a dumpster fire. They’re the worst thing to happen to Madison Square Garden since “Godzilla” (1998). Overhydrated toddlers study their game tape to figure out new and innovative ways to wet the bed. They’re terrible. So terrible that not only is almost every team in the NBA certainly superior to them, but the benches of 13 NBA teams are probably better than them too. [FiveThirtyEight]


22 people

In the past week, New York City police officers have appeared to sit back and ignore minor transgressions, seemingly reflecting a conflict between the city’s police department and Mayor Bill de Blasio. In a week one year ago, about 1,400 people were arrested or ticketed for jumping a turnstile in the Subway. This past week, only 22 people were. [The New York Times]


25 megabits per second

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is looking to substantially increase the definition of broadband internet — currently set at 4 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads, 1 Mbps for uploads — to 25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream. The definition was last changed in 2010, when “broadband” meant one-20th of what it does today. [Ars Technica]


37 percent decrease

Samsung had a tough year — its operating profit fell about 37 percent in the quarter ending December 2014 compared to the quarter ending December 2013. It’s the fifth consecutive quarter of decline for the world’s top smartphone maker. [The New York Times]


219 years

Age of a time capsule opened Tuesday in Boston. The capsule was placed by Paul Revere and then-Gov. Samuel Adams. Get excited, history buffs: artifacts conservator Pam Hatchfield identified some of the box’s contents as “newspapers,” which as I understand it were fiber-based products developed by people of yore to distribute their blogs. [Boston.com]


796 deaths

According to preliminary BLS data, that’s the number of deaths from construction work in 2013. Latino workers — who are more likely to be undocumented or work for smaller employers — are at increasing risk. [Buzzfeed]


1,200 potential jurors

In order to assemble a jury to try alleged Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. summoned 1,200 potential jurors to find 12 — 8 jurors and 4 alternates — who are qualified to serve. Selecting a panel that can evaluate the case without allowing personal bias may prove difficult. [The Boston Globe]

28,000 tons

Mass of expanded polystyrene — plastic foam — that New York City collected in a year. Beginning on July 1, food establishments in the city will be barred from using such containers. If the new ban is anything like the city’s smoking laws, there will be a ton of pushback to begin with, people will probably stop complaining about it after a while, gradually the policy will expand across the country, and 10 years from now the most dedicated New Yorkers will just take a bus to Virginia every four months to buy their take-out food containers in bulk. [The New York Times]


$100 million valuation

The San Francisco-based food replacement startup Soylent has reportedly raised just over $10 million, with a valuation of about $100 million. The company sells a meal replacement shake that purportedly contains all the recommended nutrition a Redditor person needs. [Re/code]

A Significant Digits daily newsletter is coming soon. If you want to be one of the first to receive it, sign up here. And, as always, if you see a significant digit out in the wild, tweet it to me @WaltHickey.

CORRECTION (Jan. 8, 11:52 a.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the year that Godzilla encountered Madison Square Garden. It was 1998, not 1999.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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