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Significant Digits For Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015

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

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The Third Amendment to the Constitution — the one that bans the quartering of soldiers in homes without the owner’s consent — is sort of the Pete Best of the early American legislative experiment. While the other amendments have had all sorts of play at the highest levels of legal rulings, there has never been a Supreme Court decision primarily based on the Third Amendment. Clearly the Founders had a goal, wrote it down, and we haven’t had too many questions about the matter since. Nice work, Founders. Anyway, there’s an idea bubbling among legal theorists to use the Third Amendment to counteract domestic spying from the NSA — a branch of the Department of Defense — and while it may not be 100 percent there, it’s interesting. [Ars Technica]

7 counts

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was accused of receiving $4 million in kickbacks, was found guilty on all seven counts against him Monday, including four counts of fraud, two counts of extortion and one count of money laundering. [DNAinfo]

12th-best team

The Carolina Panthers are doing really, really well this year, with an undefeated record of 11-0. But they are — based on FiveThirtyEight’s NFL Elo model — in 12th place in a ranking of the 12 teams to ever go 11-0. Essentially this means what Panthers followers already know: Early in the season, the team won several close games. But hey, the top 11-0 team ever was the 2007 New England Patriots, and we all remember how that went down.1 [FiveThirtyEight]

15 years

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars and now a private citizen who has not been allowed anywhere near the new Star Wars movie, has not used the Internet in the past 15 years. I wonder what online Menace could have possibly appeared in the year 2000 to drive him offline. [The Washington Post]

Full disclosure: Disney owns Star Wars and also owns ESPN, ESPN owns FiveThirtyEight, FiveThirtyEight pays Walter, I am Walter. I also like Star Wars a lot, but on my own time.


AT&T subscribers who have managed to hold on tightly to their grandfathered $30-per-month unlimited data plans will see a $5 price increase in February. [9to5Mac]

63 percent

New York tweaked its statewide Algebra I exam to make it harder to pass. Well guess what, it’s totally working. Only 63 percent of students passed the exam this year, compared to 72 percent last year. [The New York Times]

65 percent

A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (which sounds like a shadowy pseudo-governmental agency that tries to kill James Bond but really just works with HR people) found only 65 percent of surveyed companies will have a holiday party for employees this year, down from 83 percent in the halcyon days of 1998. [Bloomberg]

600,000 elevators

The world’s biggest elevator market is in China, but as the rate of people moving to its big cities slows and a glut of existing housing remains, demand for elevators is expected to drop. Otis Elevator, the biggest manufacturer of elevators in the world, estimated that Chinese sales will decrease from the 600,000 units sold last year to about 500,000 next year. [Bloomberg]

18 million

While the final numbers won’t be out until next year, Wall Street analysts are estimating 18 million new vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2015, the most ever. The current record-holder is 2000, when 17.6 million vehicles were sold. [Business Insider]

33 million

Estimate of the number of visitors to Rome for the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, a nearly yearlong Roman Catholic event, up from the city’s annual average of 13 million visitors. To protect these tourists, Rome has banned the people dressed as Roman Centurions who hang around the city posing for pictures or pulling rickshaws. The city believes the historical interpreters are a nuisance. This is worse than the time Colonial Williamsburg removed a historical hemp farmer interpreter, though in retrospect he may have just been a guy trying to sell weed to William & Mary students. [Smithsonian Magazine]

Exciting news! For the next two weeks, as global powers meet in Paris to negotiate responses to climate change, we’ll be publishing a climate-focused Significant Digits offshoot, written by the hella rad Christie Aschwanden. Check out the first edition.

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  1. 18-1 after the Super Bowl against the New York Giants, for those who do not remember how that went down.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.