You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news.
Pennsylvania spends more than 7 percent of its annual state budget on its corrections system, about $2 billion. The state is considering basing punishments on the likelihood that an individual will commit more crimes in the future. Raises a lot of questions, right? [FiveThirtyEight]
It’s been a year since CVS announced that it would stop selling cigarettes — a move that would involve short-term business lost with the hope of longer-term business gained — but details on those losses have finally appeared, and they’re not pretty. General merchandise sales — where cigarettes used to be — were down 8 percent at the drug store last quarter, and the company claimed that sales would have been flat if not for the change. [KMBC]
The Australian speaker of the lower house resigned amid what’s being described as “Choppergate,” an incident where Bronwyn Bishop used government funds to pay for helicopter trips despite a fiscally conservative policy portfolio. As an American, I find this surprising for two reasons, the first being that a helicopter trip for a few grand could never tank a member of Congress, and the second being since when did other countries start adding “gate” to the end of their scandals? That’s our thing! [The Economist]
That’s the number of lampposts in San Francisco. The city’s issue is that the lampposts are decaying: On Monday, a urine-degraded lamppost fell on a car, according to city officials. Lot to digest in that sentence, I know, but apparently urine degrades lampposts (but not fire hydrants, oddly enough, according to the city) and also this is such a problem in San Francisco that the sheer volume of urine is enough to topple a metal light pole. The budget for replacing light poles increased from $500,000 to $5 million last year alone, I presume because of an ocean of pee coursing through city streets. [SFGate]
Gaming companies are looking at the growing e-sports phenomenon and seeing a way to extend the playable life of multiplayer games. Microsoft announced that for the forthcoming “Halo 5: Guardians,” it will launch the Halo World Championship with prizes worth $1 million. The gamble is that the interest built up by watching competitive Halo will drive players to the fifth game. [CNET]
A Picasso that was considered a national treasure in Spain, “Head of a Young Woman,” was intercepted by French customs while being smuggled out of the country. Hey, what’s Nic Cage been up to lately? [The Associated Press]
$3 billion or more
Major League Baseball is actually an integral part of streaming video online — MLB Advanced Media streams video for, in addition to baseball, the WWE, HBO and ESPN* — and the company indicated that after a board vote it would spin off the tech operations of Advanced Media into its own company. BAM Tech would be worth upwards of $3 billion. The company also announced that it inked a deal with the NHL to stream hockey games, too. [Recode]
*Standard disclosure, ESPN owns FiveThirtyEight, which is where I work.
9 billion gallons
That’s how much water lawns consume every day nationwide. About 1.9 percent of the lower 48’s land area is consumed by lawns. Seems pointless. [The Washington Post]
The S&P 500 may be up since June of last year, but oil has taken a substantial hit in that time. Energy companies saw $1.3 trillion of their value wiped out in the crash of crude oil’s price to below $50 a barrel. [Bloomberg]
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