SURPRISING COINCIDENCES: We tend to fail to understand how the basic laws of probability work and our selective attention, which lead to great surprise at many coincidences. Stunning coincidences are only natural — like stumbling into a close friend halfway around the world or meeting someone with the same birthday can be explained by simple mathematics.
In a group of 366 people, there’s 100 percent probability that two people will have the same birthday — since there are only 365 days in a year, excluding leap year. In a group of 23 people, there’s >50% two people in the room have the same birthday
We also have selective attention — we notice and remember coincidences, but we hardly ever heed their absence.
Credits: Guillaume Jacquenot (Wikimedia Commons)
FAT TEMPTATION: Drop a bunch of kale into your cart and you’re more likely to head next to the ice cream or beer section. The more “virtuous” products you have in your basket, the stronger your temptation to succumb to vice. When shown a burger, their average guess was 734 calories; when shown the same burger alongside three celery sticks, the average guess dropped to 619. These are not rational calculations; they betray the shortcuts your brain takes in its running tally of vice and virtue.
LIFE EXPECTANCY OF MUSICIANS BY GENRE: Musicians from the older genres – blues, jazz (including bebop and dixieland), country (including country and western, boogie woogie, honky tonk and bluegrass), and gospel (including spiritual and Christian rock) – enjoyed, on average, similar lifespans as those from the U.S. population with the same year of birth and gender.
The next group – R&B (including doo wop and soul), pop, folk (including ballad and polka) and world music – had lower life expectancies compared with the U.S. population.
Thereafter, the gap between population lifespans and average age of death for the more recent genres – rock (including rockabilly), electronic (including experimental, techno, disco, and funk), punk, metal, rap and hip hop – widens.
AREA CODE STATUS: San Francisco, a city with no shortage of status symbols, has just gained another: the 415 area code. As with all status symbols in San Francisco and elsewhere, a 415 number can be yours, for a price. 415 was a “sizable market” even before the appearance of 628.
But it’s not the most in-demand area code. “310” — Los Angeles — “right off the bat, are the hardest numbers to secure. People can’t get a 310, even a random 310 anymore.” Instead, they’re stuck with LA’s version of 628, 424. Nobody wants a 424, especially if they’re in business.
Other popular area codes: 214 (Dallas), 312 (Chicago), 305 (Miami), 404 (Atlanta), 818 (Hollywood), and 626 (Pasadena). These are “original area codes.
Most expensive number: 702 FORTUNE for $99,999. Most expensive ending digits -XXXX for $31,250.
The most popular area codes (PhoneNumberGuy.com)
AVERAGE MIDLIFE CRISIS AT 42: Spotify found that there’s a specific point when middle-aged listeners drop their sophisticated singer-songwriters, their “best of the 80s, 90s and today,” and spontaneously start listening to teeny-bopper pop again. That age is — drumroll, please — 42.
Listeners become less interested in popular music over time — until that little dip, circa age 42. (Spotify)
GETTING BUFF BUT GOING DEAF? High-intensity fitness classes are even noisier than they were a decade ago, with indoor cycling classes topping the list of culprits, blaring tunes as loud as 99 decibels.
Adults can safely tolerate 85 decibels for up to eight hours.
The human ear can handle 91 decibels for two hours, and 94 decibels for just one hour.
A sign that it’s too loud: You experience ringing in your ears — tinnitus — after you’ve stepped out of the gym. You might also have temporary hearing loss.
BOND GIRLS – AND JAMES BOND: Over the course of the Bond films, only 3 times has a female co-star been older than the actor playing James Bond. That includes Monica Bellucci (50) and Daniel Craig (46).
As a woman ages, she finds attractive the photos of men in her age range, or perhaps a few years younger. But it’s much different for men, who prefer women in their early 20’s even if the man is 30, 40 or 50.
James Bond and Bond Girls: Italian actress Monica Bellucci (R), French actress Lea Seydoux (L) and British actor Daniel Graig (C) unveil the next James Bond Film, ‘Spectre’ at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Britain. The movie will be released in Britain theaters October 2015. (EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA)
DIVORCES FALL: It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce.
70% of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s.
Of college-educated people who married in the early 2000s, only about 11% divorced by their 7th anniversary. Those without college degrees, 17% were divorced,
If current trends continue, nearly ⅔ of marriages will never involve a divorce.
The median age for marriage in 1890 was 26 for men and 22 for women. By the 1950s, it had dropped to 23 for men and 20 for women. In 2004, it climbed to 27 for men and 26 for women.
There are many reasons for the drop in divorce, including later marriages, birth control and the rise of so-called love marriages.
HOLIDAY HITS STUCK IN MID-CENTURY: There hasn’t been an enduring holiday song released in the 20 years since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994). Most lyricists of classic Christmas songs are dead. “Christmas in Hollis” was originally released in 1987, during a 10-year span that produced two other classics, Wham’s “Last Christmas” (1984) and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”.
No one, not even such superstars as Taylor Swift, Coldplay or Beyoncé, has managed to turn a temporary seasonal hit into an evergreen since Carey’s tune. Some recent songs that showed promise, like Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas?” or Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe,” couldn’t survive their singers’ waning popularity. Others, like Christian group NewSong’s tearjerker-turned-novel-turned-TV-movie “The Christmas Shoes,” flamed out early.
Krampus in Munich (Gordon Welters, NYTIMES)
KRAMPUS: Long before parents relied on the powers of Santa Claus to monitor their children’s behavior, their counterparts in Alpine villages called on a shaggy-furred, horned creature with a fistful of bound twigs to send the message that they had better watch out.
Besides visiting homes with St. Nicholas, the Krampus has for centuries run through village and town centers spreading pre-Christmas fear and chasing away evil spirits. That tradition dwindled across much of Bavaria during the 1960s and ’70s, as postmodern society moved away from its rural past.