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Significant Digits For Tuesday, July 31, 2018

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


Some in the city of Austin, Texas, former home of your humble SigDig columnist, have raised the possibility of changing its name. Stephen F. Austin, the city’s namesake and so-called “Father of Texas,” opposed a Mexican plan to ban slavery “in the province of Tejas,” so Austin’s Equity Office is suggesting the city should go by a different name. Also up for renaming are a number of streets, including Dixie Drive, Confederate Avenue and Plantation Road. That street renaming would reportedly cost $5,956. [Austin American-Statesman]

42 open seats

As of today, there are 98 days until the midterm elections. The battleground for the House is broad, writes The Upshot, including “a long list of working-class and rural districts that voted for Donald J. Trump in 2016.” Thanks to a spate of retirements, there are 42 open seats in which Democrats hope to make inroads. [The Upshot]

$10,000 in vest sales

The humble vest has become a modern symbol of high capitalism for the Silicon Valley set. (Throw out your canes, top hats and monocles.) In the San Francisco airport — where else? — there is a Uniqlo vending machine that dispenses vests. It being San Francisco and all, the vending machine brings down an average of $10,000 a month, per a representative of the airport. [Business Insider]

4 runs in the 6th inning

Some people apparently, to my shock and dismay, leave baseball games early. For those people, some FiveThirtyEight contributors have provided a cheat sheet on when it’s “safe” to leave. For example, you “should” leave after the sixth inning if the leader is ahead by at least four runs — there’s a 95 percent chance you won’t miss a comeback. But until you have sat through a blowout both frozen and fried (sometimes in the same month) in nearly-empty Wrigley bleachers with a beer in one hand and (when applicable) a hot chocolate in the other, with term papers yet to write and emails yet to return and bills yet to pay, you have really yet to live. [FiveThirtyEight]

F4-466 instead of F4-468

Yesterday, like many, many other days in recent memory, saw a hellish commute for many on the sclerotic public transportation system of New York City, the biggest and “greatest” city in the country. This one, at least, was a fresh hell. It was caused by a single Metropolitan Transportation Authority typo on a work order — signal F4-466 instead of F4-468 — which caused inexplicable walls to spring up over should-have-been-active tracks, rerouted trains off the express route, piled up trains behind those, and just all around caused mayhem. Fun! [The Village Voice]

3 people, 1 shark

Two men and one woman stole a shark from an aquarium by disguising it as a baby. The end. [KSAT]

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

Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.