Oh, Harper’s Index! Why do you confuse me so? After being bombarded with your many statistics, I somehow never know what to do –– should I be depressed, or angry, or submissive, or amused? Are you trying to compel me to action in some way, and if so, what sort of action shall I take? What kind of conspiracies are you alluding to when you parallel a statistic about the estimated portion of Colombian cocaine revenue that is laundered through banks in First World countries (9/10) and one about the ratio of the number of genes in microorganisms inhabiting the human nostril to the number in the human genome (168:1)? Are you trying to tell me to do cocaine, or to feel bad about being white and a helpless bourgeoisie, or to use a neti-pot? Is it wrong to want to respond to each of these statistics, which in the end sound hollow and pointless, by retorting, “Yeah, well, 86.4% of statistics are made up”? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FEEL, HARPER’S?
Some examples of frustration this week:
1. [Amount] at which the average college-educated woman’s [salary maxes out] at age thirty-nine: $60,000
Damages awarded in June to an Oregon woman who contracted herpes from a man she met through online dating: $900,000
This seems to be telling me that it would be more lucrative for me, as a lady, to get an STD from a stranger than to just, like, work and be normal.
2. Average number of eggs a bedbug will lay after feeding on “clean” human blood: 44
After feeding on blood with an alcohol content of 0.10: 12
I think you’re telling me… to be drunk, always, lest I risk the wrath of the dread bed bug.
3. Percentage of US households that are headed by millionaires: 4.3
Of Swiss households: 17.1
Duh. Moving on…
4. Chances a Republican believes today that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction at the time of the 2003 invasion: 2 in 3
Amount paid at auction in June for one of Annie Oakley’s guns: $143,400
We care too much about guns?
5. Number of plastic spoons Northern Ireland stockpiled as part of a recently declassified plan to prepare for nuclear war: 58,292
I… really have no idea what to do with this information. Maybe… nothing?
6. Minimum gigabyes of data stored in a typical gram of human feces: 10,000,000
And we’re done here.