Commentary: Numbers Beyond Comprehension
By Jim Schuh
Numbers almost beyond comprehension – a retail publication says that this Christmas buying season, Americans will spend over $1 trillion. It looks like this: $1,000,000,000,000, or a thousand billion. This will be the first time Christmas spending tops $1 trillion.
The numbers are smaller, but broadcasters have just concluded a lucrative political season.
Several big publicly-traded radio broadcasting firms have reported results from the third quarter and they show better-than-expected income and profits. Fourth-quarter political advertising should be even better.
One radio company with more than 60 stations says it aired $1.2 million in political ads for the first nine months and expects that number to jump to more than $3 million when it tallies the results.
You can multiply those numbers many-fold if you want to determine how much TV stations have taken in. Cable TV companies also have done well.
Outfits that keep track of political ad spending on TV and radio say the total for the 2018 mid-term elections was between $2.7 billion and $3.3 billion. Another includes cable TV and puts the number at $4.6 billion. That’s at least double the amount from four years ago and equals between $9 and $15 for every man, woman and child in this country, depending on which estimate you use. I wonder if anyone calculated the number of political ads each of us has suffered through. Democrats outspent Republicans by roughly 52-48 percent.
Despite all of us being bombarded by ads for Scott Walker and Tony Evers, spending on the Wisconsin gubernatorial race didn’t make the top 10. Florida, at $181 million, topped the list followed by Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Georgia were the top five.
No, you probably won’t have to buy a new atlas or globe this week.
I came across a recent report that the people of New Caledonia, a French territory in the Pacific about halfway between Australia and Fiji, have decided not to become the world’s newest nation. They voted by a nearly 3-2 margin to remain part of France. So your atlas is still up-to-date, unless it doesn’t show South Sudan as a nation. South Sudan became an independent country in 2011, the most recent one to do so. Juba is its capital and the nation lies along the Nile in east-central Africa.
A little trivia – there are 195 countries in the world.
North of New Caledonia, Palau will become the first country to ban certain reef-toxic sunscreens. It lies east of the Philippines, and will put the prohibition into effect in 2020. The tiny nation hopes it will benefit coral reefs, fish, sea urchins and microalgae.
Hawai’i initiated a similar ban this past May.
Do you want more news? Charter Communications is inaugurating news channels for its Spectrum subscribers. In Wisconsin, the new channel will broadcast state news, weather and features from Milwaukee studios. The company has hired anchors and reporters. The 24-hour news network will show up on Charter cable TV boxes on channel 1 in late November.
Names from the past – if you’re old enough, you might recall the name of Mary Ann Van Hoof, the woman who predicted the Virgin Mary would appear on a farm near Necedah in 1950. The Washington Post recently carried a story about her account, which the La Crosse Diocese later discredited. She died in 1984. I can remember the hoopla her claims caused as thousands of pilgrims went to the farm in hopes of witnessing a visit from the Virgin. She didn’t oblige.
I’m among those who have been eating my hamburgers wrong. You might be, too.
A hamburger guru says we should be eating our burgers upside down. He argues the top of the bun is twice as thick as the bottom and can better withstand the juices that make the buns fall apart as we eat them. The top also may have sesame seeds on it and eating the bun on its head allows us to taste the seeds.
I wish he’d give me the formula for building and eating a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. I can never remember in what order to stack the ingredients. And without fail, my BLT falls apart before I finish it. The same happens with a corned beef sandwich. The sauerkraut is juicy and before I’m half finished, the rye bread turns soggy and the beef and kraut ooze out. I have to finish up with a fork.
How many raisins or blueberries do there need to be in baked goods before you can reasonably include the fruit’s name in the description? I once purchased a loaf of raisin bread at an Amish bakery near Montello. As we cut slices, we found just one raisin in the whole loaf. And recently at a downtown restaurant, a patron ordered a blueberry muffin, and found just one berry inside.
Finally, I saw a story headlined, “What it takes to overcome procrastination.” I decided I’d put off reading it ‘til later.