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Significant Digits For Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018

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


Up 25 percent

A head-spinning presidency and deep polarization have at least one clear winner: the publishers of political books. Sales of the genre are up 25 percent this year, according to a market research company. Jeanine Pirro’s “Liars, Leakers, and Liberals,” Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” Omarosa Manigault Newman’s “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” and James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” to name a few, have buoyed the category. Not to mention that Bob Woodward’s “Fear” has already sold more than a million copies. Print sales overall are up 2 percent. [The Hill]


16-month tenure

Ian Buruma has left his job as editor of the venerable New York Review of Books after only 16 months. His departure came just days after the magazine published an essay by Jian Ghomeshi, a former radio personality who was accused of physical and sexual abuse by nearly 20 women. In it, Ghomeshi called himself a victim of “mass shaming” and said he had endured “enough humiliation for a lifetime.” Buruma defended the publication of the piece in an interview with Slate several days ago. [The Guardian]


37 dead

Hurricane Florence’s death toll had reached 37 by Wednesday afternoon. That includes two women who drowned in a sheriff’s van on their way to a mental health facility. [Associated Press]


63 percent of friendship links

In the average American county, 63 percent of Facebook friendships are between people who live within 100 miles of each other. But this geographical connectedness varies widely from place to place, determined in part by state lines, history and physical boundaries. An interactive graphic from The New York Times’s Upshot lets you see how “connected” your own community is. In Brooklyn, in my case, 68 percent of friendships are within 100 miles. [The New York Times]


1,488 migrant children

The Trump administration does not know where 1,488 migrant children are. This follows news from April that it didn’t know where an additional 1,475 migrant children were. These children, who entered the country illegally by themselves, had been taken out of federal shelters and placed with sponsors. Reporting on this, The New York Times wrote that the revelation has “raised concerns that they could end up with human traffickers or be used as laborers by people posing as relatives.” [The New York Times]


12-foot, 580-pound gator

Judy Cochran, the mayor of Livingston, Texas, enlisted her son-in-law and a raccoon to lure a massive alligator (12 feet, 580 pounds) from a pond before killing it (the gator) with a single shot from her Winchester .22 Magnum. And thus the death of her miniature horse years ago, likely at the hands and jaw of the very same reptile, was avenged. The end. [Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News]


Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s out on Oct. 9 and available for pre-order now — I hope you dig it.

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.

Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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