This and That

I mailed a card in an envelope by first class mail to a friend in Massachusetts. It was post marked on December 9th, 2020. He received it on Thursday, January 7, 2021 – 29 days later. John and Mary Podesta mailed a package by first class mail to Minnesota on December 13, 2020. It arrived on January 15, 2021 – 33 days later.

The median age of all U.S. homebuyers has risen from 31 in 1981 to 47 in 2019. [Axios Markets 12/21/20]

Researchers have found that 97.5 Fahrenheit is the new normal body temperature, down from the standard 98.6 established in 1867. [NYT 1/11/21]

Some things about the tax code

More than a third of the U.S. middle class gets more in government benefits than they pay in taxes.

In 1979, the middle 60% of earners paid about 45% of overall taxes collected by the IRS and got 27% of means tested benefits.

In 2016, the middle 60% of earners paid just 31% of taxes and paid a lot more of the benefits including 49% of those distributed on a means tested basis.

Between 1979 and 2016, the middle class share of U.S. pretax income fell from 51% to 40%.

The top 20% of earners now shoulder 69% of the tax burden, up from 53% in 1979.Their share of income also rose to 59%, up from 47%.

Between 1979 and 2016, the share of adults paying no income tax increased from 22% to 40%. [WP 1/2/21]

U.S. greenhouse gas emission fell more than 10 percent in 2020, reaching their lowest level in three decades as the coronavirus slowed the economy. [NYT 1/12/21]

The Census Bureau has stopped trying to produce a count of unauthorized immigrants, ending the agency’s role in President Trump’s bid to alter census numbers used for reallocating seats in the House of Representatives. [NPR 1/13/31]

Americans increasingly get news on varied digital devices.

Often Sometimes Net
A smartphone, computer, or tablet 60% 26% 86%
Television 40% 28% 68%
Radio 16% 34% 50%
Print publication 10% 22% 32%

52% of Americans prefer to get news on a digital platform. 35% prefer television, 7% prefer radio and 5% prefer print publications. [PEW 1/12/21]

Odds and ends

“Paraprosdokians” are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and is frequently humorous. Here are a half dozen examples from comedians and writers.

  • My husband can’t stand to see trash and garbage lying around the house – he can’t stand the competition. – Phyllis Diller
  • There are three kinds of people in the world – those who can count, and those who can’t. – Unknown
  • I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world because they’d never expect it. – Jack Handey
  • The company accountant is shy and retiring. He’s shy a quarter of a million dollars. That’s why he’s retiring. – Milton Berle
  • I’m a very tolerant man, except when it comes to holding a grudge. – Robin Williams
  • Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times. – Mark Twain
  • Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. – Peter De Vries

About words

“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

“Stewardesses” is the longest word typed with only the left and “lollipop” with your right.

The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every letter of the alphabet.

The words “racecar”, “kayak” and “level” are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).

There are only four words in the English language which end in “dous”: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

There are only two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: “absetemious” and “facetious.”

“Typewriter” is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard.