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Significant Digits For Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015

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

5 games

Since the end of the Bush administration, Washington’s football team has only been above average for five games, according to a new history of the NFL that my colleagues put together. That’s just one of countless ways you can insult division rivals thanks to our new mathematical system. Dallas, your team exemplified mediocrity in American sports from 2010 through 2014 and I now have the stats to prove it. [FiveThirtyEight]

5 hours, 20 minutes

Approximate number of hours that Republican debates took last night, with the first debate starting around 6 p.m. eastern and the finale wrapping up in the ballpark of 11:20 p.m. If you’re a political junkie or a masochist or probably both, be sure to read FiveThirtyEight’s coverage of both debates. [FiveThirtyEight]

15-foot wave

A magnitude 8.3 earthquake in central Chile led to 15-foot waves in the city of Coquimbo. One million people have been evacuated in Chile, and the earthquake has also led to a tsunami advisory for the southern coast of California. [The Los Angeles Times]

40 times as much

A presidential primary debate is great for ratings, and in advance of last night’s congested affair CNN was reportedly making bank selling commercial time. Fox News’s debate was the ninth most-watched cable news broadcast ever, and in anticipation of sky-high viewership CNN was reportedly charging 40 times its normal advertising rate. If you saw a 30-second spot last night, it cost the advertiser somewhere from $150,000 to $200,000. [Marketplace]

82 percent

McDonalds has been complicating its menu in order to compete with new fast casual chains, and while there have been some successes for the company they’ve angered the franchisees who run 82 percent of the chain’s restaurants. I respect you all too much to unleash an “I’m hatin’ it” joke. [Bloomberg]


Yale University has in its possession a 1,000 guilder bond that was issued on goatskin by de Stichtse Rijnlanden, the Dutch water authority, in 1648. Yale will receive 136.20 euros in interest from the bond this year. How many other pieces of goatskin are still moneymakers? [Bloomberg]


Approximate number of Super PAC ads that have aired for the 2016 GOP presidential election as of Monday. About 90 percent of them specifically targeted Iowa and New Hampshire, which will briefly be important in the national conversation for some time early next year before ebbing away. Then they’ll go back to being either that state we get corn from or the one our libertarian weed dealer moved to after college. [The Center for Public Integrity]

3 million

A new study published in the journal “Nature” estimates that there are 3 million premature deaths worldwide resulting from air pollution. As someone who lives in New Jersey and downwind from a coal plant, all I have to say is holy crap I need to move. [The Washington Post]

$75 million

Microsoft announced plans to invest $75 million over three years in computer science education for kids. It might want to start in Irving, Texas, where it seems like the cops and school administrators can’t tell an etch-a-sketch from an iPad. [USA Today]

$1.3 billion

The Department of Justice approved Expedia’s acquisition of travel booking site Orbitz Wednesday following an anti-trust investigation. Expedia will buy Orbitz for $1.3 billion, making the combined company the largest in its sector. [Reuters]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.