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Significant Digits For Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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

No. 1

In what is absolutely the sign of a functioning republic that has achieved its goal of delegating the onerous responsibilities of government to a small, capable group of people so that the remainder of society can carry on with their day-to-day lives, every single book to hit No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2018 so far has been about contemporary politics in general and President Trump in particular. That trend is set to continue with James Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty,” which hit shelves Tuesday. Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” unseated a nice book about Leonardo da Vinci in mid-January, and since then it’s been Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s “Russian Roulette” in March, then “Dear Madam President” by Jennifer Palmieri, then (presumably) Comey’s tome. [CNN]

3 companies

San Francisco has ordered three motorized scooter rental companies to stop operating unless they can ensure users are obeying state laws and not jeopardizing the public. Those of you with friends out west have certainly heard them complain about the Biblical plague of scooters — some potentially rented from LimeBike, Bird or Spin — that have cropped up in swarms recently. Certainly the transit issues are bad, but in my estimation they amount to just one-tenth of one MTAs-worth of problems. [The Associated Press]


Justice Neil Gorsuch — newly appointed by Trump — sided with the traditionally liberal wing of the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling that a law requiring the deportation of immigrants convicted of some violent crimes was unconstitutionally vague. The Trump administration was not pleased with the decision. [Reuters]

At least 100 buildings

There are at least 100 buildings in San Francisco that are both over 240 feet tall and built on ground that has a very high chance of liquefying in an earthquake. The city — whose notions of zoning appear more Pythonesque than YIMBY — has potentially underestimated the damage a sufficiently large earthquake could do to large buildings given the unprecedented nature of The Big One. The drunkenly listing Millennium Tower — which has sunk a foot and a half and leans 14 inches — is perhaps just the beginning. [The New York Times]

250 priests

This year’s class size for the annual exorcism course at the Vatican in Rome. Priests from 50 countries have arrived for “Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation,” which teaches the rituals behind expelling demons and how to identify demonic possession. (The course costs €300, or about $370.) If you are a young adult novel editor and would like to hear more about my pitch for a seven-book YA series set at Exorcism School, my twitter is below. [BBC]

More than 8,000 stores

Starbucks will close more than 8,000 U.S. stores on the afternoon of May 29 for racial-bias training. The move comes after two men were arrested for “trespassing” while peacefully waiting for a third friend to join them in a Philadelphia Starbucks location. [The Guardian]

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

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.