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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015

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

2.5 meters

That’s the standard height for a crocodile pit in Ratchaburi province, Thailand. Is that an esoteric figure? Sure. But believe me, if you lived in Ratchaburi, you’d want to be damn sure the pits used by farmers to raise crocodiles were up to code. Crocs are kept by area pig farmers, who feed the crocodiles meat they can’t otherwise sell at market and then eventually sell the crocs’ skin and meat — a solid business venture. But “several” baby crocodiles recently escaped a farm and set off a panic, so Big Government is stepping in over the next couple of days to make sure the Crocodile Industrial Complex isn’t playing fast and loose with the regulations. Thank god I live in America, where (I assume) the Second Amendment protects my right to raise unlicensed crocodiles for the protection of my apartment without such government intrusion. [Bangkok Post]

2.8 percent

Cigarette shipments are set to rise for the first time since 2006, with deliveries in the U.S. growing 2.8 percent in the first six months of the year compared to the first six months of 2014. [Bloomberg]

25 percent

The Energy Information Administration expects fuel bills to be substantially lower this year than last winter, with homes heated by oil seeing a 25 percent decrease in fuel bills and those heated with natural gas seeing a 10 percent drop. Even if this winter is 10 percent colder than the forecast, all major heating fuels will see either lower or neutral costs compared to last year. [EIA]

43 percent

Planned Parenthood, which angers the right, and the N.R.A., which needles the left, are both really popular all things considered, with approval ratings of 45 percent and 43 percent, respectively. Be sure to bring this up at Thanksgiving dinner — I’m sure it’ll go over great. [The Washington Post]

70 years

While the vast majority of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is still under wraps, New Zealand let it slip Tuesday that the pact will require the nation to increase the length of its copyright protections from 50 years after the death of a work’s creator to 70 years, matching U.S. copyright law. [BoingBoing]


Rory McIlroy tossed his 3-iron into a lake earlier this year, drawing a fine from the PGA. The golfer recently revealed that the PGA reduced the fine for the offense from $25,000 to $5,000 because he apologized on television immediately afterward. [ESPN]

6,000 inmates

The Department of Justice will release roughly 6,000 federally incarcerated drug offenders in order to cut overcrowding. A third are foreign citizens set to be deported, and the rest will go through halfway houses and back into society. It’s the largest one-time release of federal inmates. [The Washington Post]

20,000 to 40,000

There’s life on Mars, probably — the issue is that we may have put it there. At the 2011 launch of the Curiosity rover, there were an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 heat-resistant bacterial spores on the robot, and NASA has to do a lot of work to make sure that any analysis to ascertain the presence of life on Mars isn’t influenced by the germs the rover brought with it. [The New York Times]

$73.8 million

The Houston Astros had the lowest payroll of any playoff-bound Major League Baseball team at the start of the season at $73.8 million. Last night, the Astros felled the New York Yankees in the one-game AL Wildcard playoff, shutting out New York 3-0. [The Associated Press]

$99.7 billion

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the company that makes swill like Budweiser, Busch, Michelob and the stalwart Natty Light, has offered to buy rival beer manufacturer SABMiller, the empire behind Miller and the beer responsible for my substantial senior-year weight gain, Miller High Life. SABMiller previously rejected two offers, so we’ll see how this unholy proposal pans out. The companies are the two largest in the beer market. [Bloomberg]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.