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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, subscribe.

12 sex parties

Former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn said he had “only” had 12 sex parties over three years, pushing against perceived exaggerations from prosecutors. Everything in moderation, right? [BBC]

15 percent

Brian Williams was suspended for six months by NBC. I get that this is a story because a television personality was caught lying, but let’s be honest: For all the ink spilled on the matter, only 15 percent of people ages 18 to 29 were able to identify the “NBC Nightly News” anchor in 2013. The nightly news format is not exactly the pulse of the nation anymore. This is inside baseball. [Poynter]
On the other hand

16 years

After 16 years behind the desk, Jon Stewart announced Tuesday night that he intends to step down from hosting duties of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” His departure date hasn’t been set. Brace yourself, because the entire Web on Wednesday will be a paroxysm of piping-hot takes about Stewart, meaningless aggregations of him saying things about stuff, rampant speculation about his successor, and people complaining about the preceding items. I recommend avoiding the space entirely. [The Wall Street Journal]

18 percent

The New York City subway system was originally designed to bring people living in the outer four boroughs into the core of the city, Manhattan. But intra-borough commutes are on the rise, up 18 percent over a decade. [Regional Plan Association]

32 percent

Only 32 percent of donated hearts are accepted for transplants, down from 44 percent in 1995. About 20,000 Americans “would benefit from a heart transplant” annually. [Bloomberg Business]

115 mph winds

SpaceX on Tuesday delayed the launch of a weather satellite for the second time. The company — run by Elon Musk, the billionaire industrialist who is one more bad day away from super-villainy, if you ask me — called off the launch within 12 minutes of takeoff because of inclement weather, 115 mph winds that were miles higher. [Associated Press]

3,959 victims

The Equal Justice Initiative has released a report compiling 3,959 lynchings that occurred in the American South from 1877 to 1950. [The New York Times]


Local governments are “phallible”: The council of Aukland, New Zealand, spent NZ $160,000 — about $118,500 USD — on a set of wire sculptures for a public art installation. The work looks like a penis, and people aren’t happy. As someone who went to an all-boys Catholic high school, allow me to assure you there’s no way this was unintentional. [Hyperallergic]

$850 million

Apple is putting up $850 million toward a solar farm in Monterey, California, with the intention of using the generated power for its operations in the state. The 1,300-acre farm would produce 130 megawatts, enough to power 50,000 homes. [The Verge]

$5.1 billion

Americans put loads of money toward an ill-defined adjective in 2014, with “organic” groceries accounting for some $35 billion in spending. About $5.1 billion of that was on organic dairy, a figure that may go a long way to explain why grocery stores are running out of organic milk. [Bloomberg Business]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.