You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.
5-4 and 5-4
In a pair of 5-4 decisions yesterday, along the usual ideological fault lines, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel ban and blocked a law that required “crisis pregnancies centers” to provide information about abortion. Today is the last day of the court’s 2017-18 term, and decisions are expected in cases concerning public-employee unions and a battle over water between Florida and Georgia. [The New York Times]
22.5 percent of plate appearances
Major League Baseball is on pace to bear witness to more strikeouts than hits for the first time this season — 18,613 of the former and 18,136 of the latter. Batters this season have struck out in 22.5 percent of all plate appearances. But some clubs are flying high on this ostensible futility. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who sport the league’s lowest batting average at .227, are first in their division. How? Much of the game has been crystallized into the Three True Outcomes: strikeouts, walks and home runs. [USA Today, h/t @Gou_Tongzhi]
Fewer than 40 students
In a corner of a rocket ship company headquarters in California there’s a tiny private school, called Ad Astra, with fewer than 40 students and an average age of 10. Music, languages and sports aren’t taught, students can opt out of subjects they don’t enjoy, and there are no grades. But the kids do trade their own currency and study artificial intelligence. (Someone could argue that an education devoid of language and music instruction generates its own sort of “artificial” intelligence, but I digress.) Elon Musk’s kids attend. [Ars Technica]
44 percent of Republicans (or is it 21 percent?)
The major American political parties don’t know each other that well. For example, when surveyed, Democrats estimated that 44 percent of Republicans were 65 and older (the true number is 21 percent). Republicans estimated that 46 percent of Democrats were black (the true number is 24 percent). This is based on a study in the Journal of Politics. “The parties in our heads,” its authors write, are not the parties in real life. [FiveThirtyEight]
63 months in prison
Reality Winner, an NSA contractor and Air Force vet who was accused of leaking a classified report about Russian interference in the 2016 election to the press, pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors to serve 63 months in prison. It’s “the longest known term imposed by a federal court for a violation of the Espionage Act linked to a media leak.” [The Intercept]
Wealthy Russians are renting President Trump’s condos in Florida so that they can give birth to children with American citizenship. One “birth-tourism” company offers an $84,700 package that includes a Trump Tower II apartment complete with gold bathtub and chauffeured Cadillac. [Daily Beast]
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