Hobson's Choice

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The Independent Culture
Number of tonnes of pollutants discharged into the air every day in Mexico City: 13,000

Number of days in 1990 Mexico City exceeded World Health Authority air quality guidelines: 310

Ratio of length of time needed for the unemployed in France to find a new job compared with that needed in the US:

5:1

Ratio of likelihood of someone in work in the US losing their job to the same likelihood in France: 5:1

Membership of the Communist Party in the US at the start of the 1990s, its lowest ever: 15,000

Number of people who joined the Communist Party in the US in the first four months of 1998: 4,000

Number of children adopted in the United Kingdom in the year ending March 1998, which is 300 fewer than the year ending March 1994:

2,000

Average amount of time between a child arriving in council care in the United Kingdom and moving in with his or her adoptive parents:

3 years, 3 months

Number of couples who marry every day in USA:

7,000

Number of couples who divorce every day in USA:

3,300

Percentage of children born in Iceland out of wedlock:

65

Number of doublings of speed and capacity of operating computers since the 1940s:

32

Number of chess moves that the IBM computer Deep Blue, which beat chess champion Gary Kasparov in 1997, can examine per second:

200 million

Minimum reaction time of a human:

0.25 seconds

Minimum reaction time of a fly:

0.02 seconds

Amount bet on horse racing each year in Britain:

pounds 6bn

Ladbroke's profits in 1998:

pounds 172m

SOURCES: FOCUS (X2), THE ECONOMIST (X2), CPUSA (X2), DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (X2), UTNE READER (X2), HARPER'S, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS (X2), GUINNESS BOOKS (X2), MANAGEMENT TODAY (X2)

Compiled by Will Hobson

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