Secrets to Understanding Our Fucked Up World
Hi reader and/or bot,
Hungry for more outrage? Here are some things designed to “get you” that you may not have been fully cognizant of:
- The reason that US gas pumps have the pump on the right side, next to the button for the “premium” gas is that a fair amount of the time the hose will brush against that button unbeknownst to the customer. Then, even though you press the button on the far left for the cheapest gas, you are charged 50 or 60 cents more per gallon for the premium.
- Retail clothing stores often place mirrors that are gently bent near dressing rooms. These are “skinny mirrors” that subtly distort your reflection to make you look just a bit thinner when you try on clothes.
- Idaho has just over one million eligible voters who can cast their votes not directly for President, but for their four electoral college electors. California has about 20.7 million eligible voters who can vote for 55 electors. Therefore, Californians have 20.7 million times more potential voters than Idaho but only 13.75 more electors. So every vote in Idaho is worth 1.59 times every vote in California. The system is rigged in favor of rural states. Another fucked up aspect of US democracy: Because each state gets two senators, regardless of population, 18% of the population elects 52% of US senators (the Intellectualist). A citizen of Wyoming has 67 times more representation in the Senate, per citizen, than a voter in California. This is why Republicans control the senate even though they represent a minority of voters.
- Jeff Bezos makes more that twice the weekly wage of the median American worker… in one second (Business Insider). Just eight men own more wealth that the poorest half of the earth’s population (just under 4 billion people). In the US, it’s mush more extreme: Three years ago, the three richest men in America already owned more than half this country’s wealth. Since the pandemic, US billionaires have become over 845 billion dollars richer, while over 55 million Americans have become unemployed and at the start of August, over 40% of the US population had an average negative income (considering debt and expenses) of $11,660 per year.
- Americans ingest between 74,000 and 121,000 particles of toxic microplastic particles per year and if you drink bottled, instead of tap water, you could be adding 90,000 more particles. Plastic has been detected in human blood, organs and mother’s milk. And, by the way, we have released over 150 million tons of plastic into the seas, a growing mass that will soon overtake the combined mass of all of the oceans’ fish.
- Hardly any of the plastic we consumers dutifully rinse and drop into recycling containers is actually recycled. We recycle about 2.3% of the plastic we produce in the US (CNN). We incinerate 6x that amount, and the rest is dumped in the ground or ends up in the oceans.
- Pizza drivers, contraction workers and farm laborers are all more likely to die on the job than firefighters or police officers. In the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of most dangerous jobs, police officers ranked 11th. Taxicab drivers are almost 3 times as likely to die on the job than police officers. Fishers are over six times more likely to be killed on the job.
- Dozens of companies that deliver for Amazon have received millions of dollars in forgivable government loans from the CARES Act. This, despite that Amazon made a record 5.2 billion dollars in profit in the first part of the pandemic and its stock is valued at about 1.5 trillion dollars. The resplendent graft of the CARES Act, which was allegedly created to save small businesses, ensured that many multi-million dollar companies got taxpayer loans/grants. Businesses tied to Trump made over $21 million, whereas many small businesses, like DC Sweetpotato Cake, desperate for the funds to stay afloat, were told they didn’t qualify.
- The Government is currently incarcerating nearly one out of every 100 persons in the United States. This is the largest incarceration rate in the world. For comparison, while the United States jails 665 per 100,000 of its own people, China incarcerates 118 per 100,000, Germany is at 77 per 100,000 and Afghanistan incarcerates 18 per 100,000. Which people is the US locking up? 450 per 100,000 White Americans are incarcerated, while the rate for Black Americans is 2,306. But if you look at how many people are stuck the US criminal justice system, not just incarcerated, but also on probation or parole, that number is one out of every 32 Americans. Prison, probation and parole operations generate about 181 billion dollars in annual revenue.
- This list is getting too depressing. As your reward for reading (or skipping ahead to) this far, I present you with one nice item. I couldn’t find anything positive that occurred in 2020, but I did come across this: The popsicle was invented by accident in 1905 by 11 year old Frank Epperson, who had been adding powdered flavorings to water and left his drink out on his back porch with the stirring stick still into it. It froze. Apparently, this was his life’s calling; he began selling the invention in 1923 and patented it in 1924. His children came up with the name “popsicle.” No matter what happens in 2020 or beyond, no one can take the delightful history of the popsicle away from us.