Monday, February 8, 2010


Each year Americans throw away 25 trillion styrofoam cups, which are not actually styrofoam (an insulation material) but are polystyrene, a material that does not biodegrade and is difficult to recycle because of its light weight and low scrap value - Germany is the only country that collects polystyrene packaging and products at  curbside recycling pickups)

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has found styrene in 100% of fat samples biopsied from human subjects - it is now known that polystyrene food packaging (such as the tray under the raw meat from the cooler in grocery stores) and drinking cups leach styrene into liquids and foods that enter the human body - and that styrene is a major carcinogen

A rat can live longer without water than a camel

Each year the U.S. Mint puts millions of one cent pieces (pennies) into circulation in the American currency - cost to manufacture a penny includes four main components: metal, fabrication, labor and transportation - the price of metal and labor and transportation all fluctuate, usually each increasing over time, making the cost to produce a one cent piece in the U.S. costs more than one cent - the average cost has been 1.5 cents per penny but in 1982 hit an all-time high of 2.5 cents

Odds that an American age 45-64 owns at least one gun:  1 in 3

Odds that an American age 65 or older has a VCR:  1 in 1.2  (about 90%)

In the U.S., a residential fire occurs every 78 seconds - Somewhere in the world a residential fire occurs every 2 seconds

Researchers have ranked pigs as the 5th smartest animals only out-ranked by elephants, dolphins, chimps and humans

The sound made by a jet engine is 113 decibels, while a pig's squeal can reach 115 decibels

Fertility is falling globally with women giving birth less- down from an average of three babies per woman in 1990 globally to 2 births per woman globally and 1.5 in industrialized nations, yet global population remains on the rise with 140 million births per year, in part because fewer babies are dying and people are living longer

Globally, the child mortality rate - the number of children who die before age 5 per 1000 births - dropped to 72 in 2009, a 20% decline since 1990 when the rate was 93 per 1000

Odds of a "white Christmas" in New York City:  1 in 10

Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee

National median age in the United States:  37 years

National median age in the United States of a death row inmate:  27 years

1 in 1.22 Americans is white (Caucasian)

The infant mortality rate (the number of babies who die before age 5 per 1000) is 44% higher for Native Americans than it was a decade ago

Common pizza toppings in Japan:  Mayonnaise, Corn, Seaweed

1 in 8 Americans is currently receiving food assistance (food stamps, also known as SNAP- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; donations from food pantries; donations from charities)

Number of Americans over age 15 who cannot fully comprehend and read this blog:  12%

A December USA Today analysis revealed that during the first 18 months of the recent recession, beginning December 2007, the number of federal employees with six-figure salaries shot up from 14 percent of the federal workforce to 19 percent. Defense Department civilian executives earning more than $150,000 went from 1,868 to more than 10,000, and the Department of Transportation, which had only one person earning $170,000 in December 2007, now has 1,690. The average federal salary is $71,206, compared with the private sector's $40,331. [USA Today, 12-10-09]

Rod Jetton, a former speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives and creator of Common Sense Conservative Consulting, LLC, was charged with felony assault in December after visiting a woman in her home in Sikeston, apparently for a sexual encounter. The woman later charged that Jetton punched her in the head and choked her into unconsciousness as his idea of foreplay, but Jetton said the "assault" was consensual, in that she was to utter a pre-arranged "safe word [phrase]" if things got too rough and that he would have immediately stopped. Jetton told police that the woman never spoke the agreed-on phrase "green balloons." [Kansas City Star, 12-7-09]

Copenhagen, one of the "greenest" cities in the world, endured an added 41,000 extra tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in December during the 11-day "climate summit." The 15,000 delegates required 2,000 limousines (only five of which were electric or hybrid) to get around town, and the world leaders arrived and departed in 140 private jets, some of which had to be "parked" overnight in Sweden because of airport congestion.  [Daily Telegraph (London), 12-5-09]

In December, Obama Administration officials, seeking to fulfill a campaign pledge of a more open federal government, held a multi- agency training session in Washington, D.C., on the Freedom of Information Act. The meeting was closed to the public.  [Star Tribune (Minneapolis)-AP, 12- 9-09]

By 2004 Presidential proclamation and 2007 statute, the U.S. government made it clear that no foreign official or family members would be allowed into the country if they are "involved in corruption" regarding oil or other natural resources in their home countries. However, as the New York Times reported in November, Equatorial Guinea's oil minister (and son of its president) owns a $35 million estate in Malibu, Calif., that he visits regularly in his Gulfstream jet even though the U.S. Justice Department regards him as a major agent of corruption. (U.S. companies manage Equatorial Guinea's oil production, and the State Department is reluctant to challenge the country, according to officials cited by the Times.) [New York Times, 11-17-09]

President Obama's figurine was expected to lead in sales for the second straight year in the traditional "caganer" craft industry in Spain's Catalonia region. As News of the Weird reported in 2008, the popular statuettes are typically modeled on famous people, each with pants down, squatting to answer a call of nature. They are ubiquitous in Nativity scenes, playfully hidden to encourage children's where's-waldo-type guessing, and believed to symbolize "equality" through the universality of bodily functions. Another figurine expected to do well this season is the brand-new Queen Elizabeth. [Agence France-Presse, 12-21-09]

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