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Significant Digits For Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015

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

12 percent

“California is on fire” is kind of “dog bites man” this time of year, but one fire that covers about 94 square miles is currently only 12 percent contained. The Rocky fire has forced the evacuation of more than 13,000 people. [The Guardian]

27.24 percent interest rate

National Journal reports that GOP presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has two credit-card debts of more than $10,000 each. On one account, Walker owes between $10,000 and $15,000 at a 27.24 percent interest rate, which seems like the rate you’d get from Frank out back the racetrack rather than Barclays. Also, fair warning that if you ever run for president people will be able to learn way too much about your financial life. [National Journal]

40-foot-tall minion

As if “Minions” weren’t already ruining your Facebook news feed, a 40-foot-tall balloon of one of the creatures got loose and flew into traffic in north Dublin on Monday, causing congestion. [The Independent]

720 years

The last time that the Welsh town of Conwy had an official jester appointed was in about 1295, 720 years ago, when King Edward I assigned Tom le Fol to the post. Now, a resident named Russel Erwood has claimed the esteemed position to reignite the tradition. The story makes no mention of the queen showing up, but the guy did complete a few feats, so based on everything I know about the laws of Wales (zilch), I guess that’s legitimate. [Raw Story]

1,041 percent

That’s the price increase on textbooks between January 1977 and June 2015. While this is obviously terrible for students and is yet another sign that the commodification and commercialization of learning is pretty screwed up, it’s catnip for people like me who took flak for skipping grad school to work in the lucrative and sexy field of writing crap on the Internet. [NBC News]

5,357 bottles

Law enforcement in China has confiscated 5,357 bottles of baijiu (expensive grain liquor) products from two distillers in Guangxi as part of an investigation into whether the company added Sildenafil, which is the generic name for Viagra, into their alcoholic beverages. I knew something would fill the vacuum left after they nixed full-strength Four Loko, but I worry this may be a viral marketing campaign for The League. [Reuters]


A journalist who was arrested during protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in November settled a lawsuit against St. Louis County for $8,500 and the dropping of three charges. [The Huffington Post]

36,000 cases

Kraft has issued a recall for 36,000 cases of individually wrapped American cheese because part of the packaging might stick to the cheese and create a choking hazard. It’s worth noting that this is a problem because either (a) Americans are eating the singles with such voracity that they fail to notice that the packaging has not been fully removed from the processed cheese product, or (b) the flavor of plastic is not entirely distinguishable from the aforementioned processed cheese product. As an American who has thrown back his share of stacks of American cheese singles, I can say with authority that it’s probably a little bit of both. [CNN]

17 billion views

Facebook defines a video view as someone watching at least three seconds of a native video. This has made some content creators unhappy, as some unscrupulous news sites rip content from YouTube or other services to repost on Facebook. Of the top 1,000 most-popular vids from the first quarter of the year, 725 were re-uploads. These videos — which were not created by the entity that reposted and thus profits from them — accumulated some 17 billion views. Think of it this way: If each of those views was only three seconds, that still means humanity spent a cumulative 1,616 years and change watching reposts. [Business Insider]

If you see a significant digit in the wild, be sure to tweet it to me @WaltHickey.

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.