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Significant Digits For Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016

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

35 acres

Belgium will trade 35 acres of land to the Netherlands for seven acres of their land in a new agreement. Essentially, when you make a river a border for your nation in 1843, and then reconfigure the path of that river in 1961, you’re going to swap stretches of territory. It took the discovery of a headless corpse some time back and a subsequent jurisdictional kerfuffle to remind the nations they needed to deal with the land along the Meuse River at some point. [The New York Times]


Number of times Warren Dew commented on a FiveThirtyEight article from March 2014 through late November 2016. My colleague wanted to find out what, precisely, motivates people like Dew to comment on articles on the internet, so she asked more than 8,500 people what their deal is. I will never forget being castigated in the comments for not properly identifying several background characters in the investigative journalism piece, “The ‘Charlie Brown Christmas Special’ Dancers You Most Want To Party With” last year. [FiveThirtyEight]


Japan is trying to deal with an estimated 541,000 “hikikomori,” young people who avoid school, work and interactions with people outside their families. It’s a pretty large problem — 1.6 percent of 15 to 39 year-olds in Japan are hikikomori. The Japanese government is working on bringing them back out into society. [Bloomberg]

$7 million

Zenefits agreed to pay $7 million as part of a settlement with California regulators over a scandal in which the company helped employees cheat on state insurance broker licensing requirements. The human resources startup owes half now and California will waive the other half if the company passes an examination in 2018. [Buzzfeed]

$9 million

New York City’s MTA wants to spend $9 million over the next four years on “24/7 social media.” That’s $2.25 million a year, around six grand a day. That’s enough to pay individual people hush money so they don’t tweet about the transportation agency’s complete inability run trains after midnight in most of the city. [Jalopnik]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.