Factoid Fire Sale



I can't get my feet under my desk because the crate where I archive my research runneth over. I count 37 of these crate escapees, so it's time to set them free. I've decided to just choose some at random and extract one factoid from each. 


To expedite things, just assume these come from legitimate sources. I don't want to burden you with Internet addresses that may be longer than the factoid itself. For example, there are only two states that have never elected a woman to Congress – Mississippi and Vermont. (The Net address is longer than than the actual item.)


Last week, I reported about the 1300 new words just added to dictionaries. This week I came upon another two interesting examples of new terminology. One is “pink tax.” The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that products geared toward girls and women cost 7 percent more than similar goods for males. This adds up to about $1,351 more a year in extra costs.


The other is “weaponized fake news.” This happens when fake news appears on social media or in emails. The object is to entice you to click on a link. Actually, the weaponized fake news reports deploy malware that can infiltrate the target’s computer, entire network or company. Eventually, everything in the system can then be stolen or manipulated.


I'm sure you know Michigan is in the process of raising speed limits on some roads. So, you might also like to know that in the past three years 13 states have raised their speed limits and research has found that every 5 mph increase in the maximum speed produces an 8 percent increase in fatalities.


If you are wondering how the border wall with Mexico is coming, there may be a slight glitch. President Trump has said that initial cost of the wall was to be financed existing funds from the Department of Homeland Security. The problem is the DHS has has identified only $20 million of available funds. The cost for each mile of wall is estimated at $17.8 million. To visualize that, this means the span of wall financed by DHS money would stretch about the length of the McKellop Walkway along Lake Cadillac.


Along those same lines, since NAFTA went into effect, U.S. Economic output has risen by 40 percent after adjusting for inflation. USA Today adds that rising incomes in Mexico have slowed illegal immigration “to a trickle.”


Speaking of NAFTA and the proposed “border tax,” Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan commented: “The supply chain for parts and vehicles made in the U.S., Canada and Mexico is among the most closely integrated in the world. Some raw materials components cross borders many times in the manufacturing process, potentially being taxed repeatedly.” What this means to you, according to the Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association representing 1,000 companies, is the tax could add $2,000 to $2,500 to the average cost of a vehicle sold in the U.S. (even if it was manufactured in this country). The American International Automobile Dealers Association adds: “That’s $100 a month if you finance the car. It’s a recipe for disaster for the American economy.”


If you've ever wondered if immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy, consider this. Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants. Immigrant business owners are responsible for 15 percent of all business revenue, $121.2 billion.


Our crazy weather has sure been in the news this week. Related to that is an effort called Protect Our Winters (protectourwinters.org). Why would we want to do that? Because in Northern Michigan and nationwide winter weather is vital for the economy. Nationally, winter sports community generates $62 billion annually and supports 965,000 jobs. The northern hemisphere has lost a million square miles of spring snowpack since 1970, so efforts to save winter are critical.


One way to do that is to use more renewable energy. The good news is that solar power continues to grow. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that in 2016 there were 187,117 workers employed in the fossil fuel industry, but 373,807 were employed in the solar power industry.


Believe it or not, spring is just right around the corner. With that comes the baseball season and for high school pitchers there will be some changes. Fourty-four states that are members of the the National Federation of State High School Associations have adopted pitch count rules in an effort to reduce injuries. The Michigan High School Athletic Association is one of those. “Beginning this season, pitchers will be allowed to throw no more than 105 pitches in one day and will be required to rest three days if they throw more than 75. Pitchers must rest two days after throwing 51-75 pitches and one day after throwing 26-50. No rest will be required if pitchers throw 25 or fewer pitches.”


FYI, the record for the most pitches thrown by a high school pitcher was set in 1977. “Tony Arnold was playing for Irving, Texas, threw 280 pitches in a 15-inning, 2-1 district loss to Duncanville, Texas, and its ace, Keith Creel (who threw 253 pitches).” The two pitchers combined for 57 strikeouts.


Finally, something high tech and cool. The Jackson Citizen Patriot reported the case of Michigan Center 19-year-old, who was previously in the Guinness Book of World Records for world's tallest teenager. Broc Brown, who is nearly 8 feet tall, has Sotos Syndrome that affects approximately one in every 15,000 people. One challenge is to find shoes for his size 28 feet.

Enter Feetz, a company that uses an app to convert photos of someone's feet into a 3D model, which can be measured to create custom-fit shoes manufactured by a 3D printer. Brown now has snazzy new sneakers in the black and red colors of his favorite NBA team, the Chicago Bulls.


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.