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Significant Digits for Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. Today’s number is 800-288-8372 — the legendary Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, which answered 11,265 calls last year on Thanksgiving Day.

33,000 excess deaths

A new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says more Americans are dying at younger ages despite greater spending on health care in the U.S. than in any other country. Mortality and life expectancy rates for Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 are getting worse, with increases in suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related liver disease, among other factors. The study estimated that there were 33,000 excess midlife deaths between 2010 and 2017, and the negative trend was found across gender, race and ethnicity. [The Washington Post]

40 pizzas

The founder of Papa John’s isn’t impressed with the pizza chain since his ouster 18 months ago. John Schnatter told Louisville, Kentucky, TV station WDRB that he had eaten 40 pizzas in the past 30 days, but “it’s not the same pizza.” Schnatter said that new company chief Rob Lynch has “no pizza experience,” that two of the company’s board members should be put in jail, and that “the day of reckoning will come.” [WDRB]

20 million unique customers

If you’re thinking of checking out online luxury stores this week to get going on your holiday shopping, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter technology from a software customer service company called Powerfront. Its flagship product helps sales representatives see, chat with and track online customers using cartoon-like avatars. Powerfront says the service has become incredibly popular among hundreds of clients and is capable of processing huge amounts of information: approximately 20 million unique customers every 24 hours. [The New York Times]

143 Taser incidents

Bad behavior in school usually means a trip to the principal’s office, not a hit from a Taser. A new investigation from HuffPost found at least 143 incidents since 2011 in which children as young as 11 were Tasered by school officers, even though Tasers can be deadly. Some of the incidents were for the protection of children, but there are also cases on the other end of the disciplinary spectrum, like an instance last year when a deputy used a Taser to wake a sleeping student. [HuffPost]

3 times as much mercury

Sometimes even the way pollution spreads has a way of surprising scientists. A new study from the University of California, Santa Cruz found three times as much mercury in mountain lions in the Santa Cruz Mountains as in the same animals inland. The source of the mercury is likely coal-burning plants; the metal lands in the ocean and sinks to the bottom, then bacteria convert it into a fat-soluble form that is picked up by the coastal fog and carried into the mountains. The mercury is absorbed by lichen, which are consumed by deer, which are eaten by mountain lions. [San Francisco Chronicle]

40 percent of household income

Men report higher levels of psychological distress when they are the sole household earners — distress that decreases as their wives earn more money. But that comes with a catch, according to a report published last month in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Economist Dr. Joanna Syrda found that the husbands’ stress hit a low point when their wives earned 40 percent of the household income but began to increase again as the wives began to outearn them. One silver living: If women made more money than men when they got married, the men didn’t have the same concerns. The long-term study looked at thousands of couples in the U.S. over 14 years. [Good Morning America]

SigDigs: Nov. 27, 2019