Pale Wire (Popscene)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Someone call Jack Bauer!
Ben set his hair on fire again.

Excluding from consideration the perpetually dumbfounding realm of the cosmos, and the numbing rows of zeros we line up in a feeble human effort to account for its grand arc, there is, every once in a great while, a statistic that just blows my little mind.

For a time, my pet marvel was the estimate that 20,000 coal miners die each year in Chinese mines1. That's Sago times 1,666.667.

My new nugget comes out of the U.S. Department of Transportation's 2006 pocket book. Here, dear reader, is a listing of the prohibited items intercepted at American airports in 2003 and 2004. It's too wide for my blog, so you'll have to click on the picture to see it at a decent size.

Yes, that is 22,000 box cutters2.

1In fairness, the Chinese government's official estimate is 6,000 deaths per year (link). The Hong Kong based Chinese Labour Bulletin put forward the 20,000 estimate (link). In fact, I now see that CLB just put out a new mining safety report on Thursday. Unfortunately I can't read Chinese. If you can, go here and report back what it says.
2Box cutters were the primary weapons used by many of the September 11 hijackers (link)

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