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Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I've been collecting these interesting bits of trivia and news, many from TIME magazine:

1.  Headlines blared that in 2012 military suicides rose to 349, eclipsing battlefield deaths of 295 in Afghanistan.  Terrible, of course, but on the second page of this article in the Star Advertiser, we learn that the civilian suicide rate is, in fact, 43% higher:  military, 17.5 per 100,000 -- civilian, 25 per 100,000.  The highest internationally is South Korea at 31.7 and a few countries in the Caribbean are close to zero.  The rate is much higher for male than female.

2.  One penny costs two cents to mint, while it takes a dime to produce each nickel.  Canada is eliminating the penny next week.  Should we get rid of both?  Take South Korea, though, where you get 1100 won for each U.S. dollar.  They circulate 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 won coins.  Thus, their one won coin is worth less than $0.00001.  Why do they bother?  Not to encourage anything illegal, but some of their coins are accepted in vending machines around the world.  Make sure your fingerprint is not on it, though, if used.

3.  This is just the tip of the environmental iceberg, but 16 of the world's  20 most polluted cities are in China.  The air quality reading at the American Embassy in Beijing last week was 886 (forget about the the dimension, for it is the relativity).  Any reading higher than 300 is hazardous to your health.  I'll be there in a few weeks.

4.  The 35 cubic feet space around a flu patient has 16,000 virus particles.  A cough travels at 50 miles/hour and releases 3,000 droplets containing the flu virus.  A sneeze moves at 100 MPH and expels 40,000 saliva droplets up to 3 feet away.  However, the good news is that the terrible flu season anticipated has peaked.  Influenza rates are dropping nationwide.

5.  American Idol ratings are continuing to drop, but Nicki Minaj is worth a view.  I haven't seen her in blue hair yet, but it's just a matter of time.

No doubt Simon is missed.  Yet, look at is this way.  During the past week, the Wednesday AI ranked #1 and the Thursday AI #2.  #3 was NCIS, with the Pro Bowl #4.  They will be in San Antonio and Oklahoma City this week.

6.  In 2009 there were more guns in the U.S. than people:  114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, 86 million shotguns.  Just about half of American households have a gun.  All that rhetoric to come in Congress and media will result in some control, for 92% favor a background check of arms purchased in a gun store, 58% support a ban on high capacity clips and 56% want to ban assault rifles.  Here is a very effective editorial  compiled by Joe Nocera reviewing gun deaths just this past week.  Republicans will only gain in stupidity (courtesy of Bobby Jindal) if they make too much of a fuss.  Or, maybe they'll draw a line on this issue, for they have already caved in on increased taxes, cuts for defense spending and immigration.

The day ended with Shizuko and Shigetoh Miyachi at House without a Key and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse:

This is the location, of course, where my photo of this blog site was taken.  The green flash was spectacular.  The steaks were magnificent, but the Caesar Salad at Ruth's Chris was particularly outstanding:


Tropical Cyclone Felleng suddenly strengthened to 125 MPH, and will increase further to become a Category 4 hurricane, but, at this time, appears to be taking the track between Madagascar and Reunion:


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