More random factoids from various sources:

Safety first: 12,132 condoms were shipped to the American McMurdo research station in Antarctica just before winter set it.

Guys don’t make passes: Two-thirds of American kids think that kids who wear glasses are smarter than those that do not.

Them that has, gits: In 1980 the top 0.1 percent of wage earners worked 12 days to equal a year’s pay for the bottom 90 percent, In 2004 they only had to work three days and three hours for the same result.

A developing nation: China built the equivalent of six New York World Trade Centers for the Olympics in four years – while the new Trade Center itself is still essentially a hole in the ground seven years later.

Slenderizing myth: The average weight gain of rats fed on saccharin was 25 percent more than those fed on sugar. It is thought that the fat cells couldn’t be fooled by taste satisfaction.

Hummers for sale: This year the world is expected to burn through 31 billion barrels of oil, 6 billion tons of coal and dozens of gazillions of cubic feet of natural gas. China is building coal-fired generating plants at the rate of one per week.

Whose lung cancer? Holland, long a leader in health legislation, has totally banned tobacco smoking in public. Marijuana, however, is OK in licensed cafes.

Soy versus hamburg: More than half of all corn and soy production goes to feed animals. Meat requires five times more energy than veggies to produce a calorie equivalent.

Progressive taxation: When Clinton took office the top 1 percent of taxpayers were making about $150,000 per year. With the Bush tax cuts made about $400,000.

Life ain’t fair: John Paulson of the hedge fund Paulson and Co. “earned” $3.7 billion last year in salary and bonus. After taxes, he had enough left over to pay the budget for the state of Maine.

Cleaning house: Number of generals in four years of World War II canned for poor performance – 23. Number in five years of Iraq – 1.

Defense contractors: The three leading contractors are Pepsi, Proctor & Gamble and IBM. Boeing, General Dynamics and Lockheed are well down the list.

Bird of happiness: The Pew Research Center survey revealed that 47 percent of conservative Republicans felt happy in life while only 28 percent of liberal Democrats felt that glow.

Long-term investment: A recent book by two respected economists estimates the eventual cost of the Iraq adventure to be $3 trillion. Maine’s share will be approximately $10 billion – enough to rebuild Maine’s highways, replace or refurbish every one of Maine’s schools, provide a free university education for every Maine student now alive, lifetime medical care for every Maine child for this generation – and reduce Maine’s property taxes for 10 years. If the money were invested rather than spent, the interest would pay 25 percent of Maine’s government for the foreseeable future. Gorham and Westbrook’s share would be approximately $35 million – enough to build a stadium roof over both downtowns to keep off the snow.

Gender equality: In the last six months in the U.S., 700.000 men have lost their jobs while 250,000 women have been hired.

Diversity: A third of the Silicon Valley technology startups since 1975 have been headed by Indian or Chinese entrepreneurs.

Big Macs: Sales at MacDonald’s franchises have increased each month for 57 consecutive months. One man lost 78 pounds in three months eating nothing but McDonald’s “diet” menu.

Town dump: Last year 68 million TV sets were junked in the U.S.

Decoration art: Each pigeon in New York is estimated to contribute 27 pounds of “bird fertilizer” annually.

Corn fields: To produce/grow the amount of ethanol projected for this year will require an area the size of Maryland, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey.

Green with envy: Twenty-seven percent of “green” vehicle buyers were motivated by taxes, costs or other inducements, while 36 percent bought them to impress their neighbors.

Mind over matter: Placebos were found to be nearly one-third more effective if the cost of the trial medicine was announced to be twice as much.

Flatulence: This column previously noted that Scottish farmers were feeding their cattle a special diet that reduced gas (methane). Estonia has gone them one better. Recently, the country levied a “gas” tax on cattle.

Rodney Quinn, who lives in Gorham, is a former Maine secretary of state. He can be reached at [email protected]


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