As promised, some numbers that reveal the best and worst of American culture and politics this week:
In honor of Earth Day :
1.5 million tons of plastic bottles were disposed of in America in 2005. That number has only gone up, and still only a third of those bottles are recycled. Water bottles in particular are an unnecessary burden to the earth… in other words, get a cup and drink from the tap whenever you can. Many bottled brands now come from a tap somewhere else, anyway. (Source: The Chicago Reader)
$306 billion: the amount it will now cost to clean up the U.S. military’s nuclear waste. It will take until at least the year 2062 to complete. (Source: Harry Shearer’s Le Show)
Consumer food prices are expected to rise 3.0% to 4.0% this year [in the U.S.] after a 4% gain in 2007, said USDA Chief Economist Joseph Glauber.
40% : Rise in the price of grain over the past year. Average loaf of bread went up about 30 cents this week, therefore. And if you think it’s bad here, try shopping in an occupied territory. [” A box of milk for 65 Shekels… thats about $21.50 .” – this price quote comes from Palestine…] The best plan of attack for grocery shopping in the U.S. is to 1) buy locally, through community sources like farmer’s markets, or 2) to only buy what’s on sale at the regular stores, and buy it in bulk. Then use it up over the month, and wait for it to come back on sale again.
Dinner out for two adults & one kid at Outback Steakhouse, with one appetizer and one side dish. No drinks. No tip. (Curbside pickup.) : $50.48 . (And the guilt over paying that much for one meal left a very bitter aftertaste.)
$3.51: Average regular gasoline price this week in the U.S., according to AAA Motor Club. Up 25 cents from last month. (I saw a $3.99 in Chicago yesterday.)
Other numbers (some thrilling, though most of them frustrating):
Iraq body counts: (Source: Antiwar.org and JustForeignPolicy.org)
Iraqi deaths: 1,199,782
|American military, deaths since war began (3/19/03):||Total: 4044||Combat: 3301|
(This does not include 29,000+ non-fatal injuries on the U.S. military side, nor the lower but still ridiculous 494 deaths in Afghanistan, which along with Pakistan is getting worse instead of better as we focus on Iraq.)
Chicago streets, body count — April 19-20, 2008: 32 shootings, 6 of which resulted in homicides. In one case, an AK-47 was used. They’re even picking this AP story up way out in Oregon.
Regarding the primary in Pennsylvania: Figures released in March by the state show Pennsylvania Democrats have added more than 65,000 voters since last fall — almost 2 percent of the party’s total statewide registration of 3.8 million . (Most folks believe that this is due to independents and Obamicans registering as Democrats… though a few people have warned us about Rush Limbaugh’s suggestion that Republicans should change affiliations temporarily and put Hillary over the top, just to screw up the Dems’ numbers.) [Source: Real Clear Politics]
13-6, 11-7, 14-7 : The major league baseball records of the Cubs, White Sox, and Red Sox, respectively. All are in first place as of this writing. (Is this baseball heaven?)
In honor of TV Tune-Out Week this week:
March 24-30th tv ratings: American Idol: 24.7 million on Tuesday 3/24 (20.1 on Thursday) . WWE RAW : 4.9 million, making it #4 on cable, behind Sponge Bob, a Lifetime movie, and Rock of Love.
Meanwhile, Frontline’s excellent documentary “Bush’s War” (running March 24 and 25 in two parts) pulled around a 4 million Nielsen rating (big for PBS in general, but probably tiny compared to the lame but heavily-promoted expose` style programs done by the networks, such as Primetime Live). Online, on the other hand, after the PBS broadcast, Bush’s War gathered another 1.5 million hits at the PBS/Frontline website, ten times what most of their other shows usually get. Apparently people have not entirely bought this whole “the surge is working” propaganda frenzy.
Marking Time Meta (also known as shameless self-promotion) :
On the WordPress side of this blog, I have now written 173 posts, fitting into 47 categories, using 156 different tags. The MySpace side (same content usually) is older, with more total hits still, but it gets fewer hits each day, probably because the search engines don’t like MySpace as much.
And as for my own Nielsen ratings, here are my WordPress blog stats as of this writing:
Total Views: 14,480
Best Day Ever: 176 — Thursday, March 13, 2008
Views today: 69
FYI – that top viewing day last month was when I ran a link to the MySpace Music page of former New York governor Elliot Spitzer’s famous hooker, Alexandra Whatchamablowjob. Proof positive that in the online universe, sex still sells better than anything else. After that, death sells pretty well, too — as in the death of Charlton Heston ( if the large number of hits I’m getting this week for my Planet of the Dopes column is any indication).
Sex, Death and God. The three things we’re not supposed to talk about in polite company…
…but for me, almost the only things worth talking about at all…