National Statistics Per Capita

Large countries get the most attention, but the picture changes when you adjust for size:

  • Highest GDP: United States
  • Highest GDP per capita: Luxembourg
  • Largest military: China
  • Largest military per capita: Vatican City
  • Most expensive military: United States
  • Most expensive military per capita: Israel
  • Most Olympic medals: United States
  • Most Olympic medals per capita: Australia
  • Most Cannes Palmes d’Or: United States
  • Most Cannes Palmes d’Or per capita: Denmark
  • Most Nobel Prizes: United States
  • Most Nobel Prizes per capita: Iceland
  • Most startup companies: United States
  • Most startup companies per capita: Israel

Yap Stone Money

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yap_Stone_Money.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

“The great affair, we always find, is to get money.” So wrote Adam Smith, but he might have been surprised to visit the Micronesian island of Yap, where a coin’s value is determined by its size. If a native pays you a large debt, you might find yourself with a limestone coin 12 feet in diameter and weighing several tons. You might display it outside your home, as a status symbol — or you might just leave it where it is (even underwater) and agree that ownership has been transferred. Easier on the back.

The Forer Effect

Does this describe you?

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

If you said yes, you’ve been had. The description was assembled from random horoscopes by psychologist B.R. Forer in 1948. He found that if you give someone a vague, mostly positive personality description, and tell him it’s tailored specifically to him, he’ll rate it as highly accurate. It’s called “the Forer effect.”

The Madness of Crowds

Countries with the densest populations:

  1. Monaco – 16,620 inhabitants per square kilometer
  2. Singapore – 6,389
  3. Vatican City – 2,093
  4. Malta – 1,261
  5. Maldives – 1,163
  6. Bahrain – 1,035
  7. Bangladesh – 1,002
  8. Barbados – 647
  9. Republic of China (Taiwan) – 636
  10. Nauru – 621

… and the least dense:

  1. Guyana – 3 inhabitants per square kilometer
  2. Canada – 3
  3. Libya – 3
  4. Mauritania – 2
  5. Iceland – 2
  6. Botswana – 2
  7. Suriname – 2
  8. Australia – 2
  9. Namibia – 2
  10. Mongolia – 1

Taken as a whole, the population density of the planet is 43 inhabitants per square kilometer.

Oops

Faux pas around the world:

  • Arab countries: Eating with the left hand.
  • China: Giving someone a timepiece as a gift.
  • Czech Republic: Shaking hands while wearing gloves.
  • France: Giving chrysanthemums to the host.
  • Romania: Giving an even number of flowers.
  • Thailand: Touching someone on the head.

In Thailand it’s also improper to step over or stand on bills or coins. They bear the face of the king, who is highly revered.

Personality and Blood Type

Personality traits associated with various blood types, according to Japanese superstition:

Type A:

  • Best traits: Conservative, reserved, patient, punctual, perfectionist, and good with plants.
  • Worst traits: Introverted, obsessive, stubborn, and self-conscious. Anal retentive.
  • Famous examples: George H.W. Bush, O.J. Simpson, Britney Spears

Type B:

  • Best traits: Creative and passionate. Animal-loving. Optimistic and flexible.
  • Worst traits: Forgetful, irresponsible, individualistic.
  • Famous examples: Akira Kurosawa, Jack Nicholson, Luciano Pavarotti

Type AB:

  • Best traits: Cool, controlled, rational. Sociable and popular. Empathic.
  • Worst traits: Aloof, critical, indecisive, and unforgiving.
  • Famous examples: John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger

Type O:

  • Best traits: Ambitious, athletic, robust, and self-confident. Natural leaders.
  • Worst traits: Arrogant, vain, and insensitive. Ruthless.
  • Famous examples: Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth, John Lennon

Interestingly, Type A blood is the most common in Japan, while Type O is most common in the United States — and among Japanese prime ministers.

I Am Not An Animal!

Are the X-Men human? Purists might like to debate that for a while, but the U.S. Court of International Trade went ahead and decided on Jan. 3, 2003: They’re not.

Why force a decision? Because there are two kinds of action figures: human figures are “dolls,” and nonhuman creatures are “toys.” And dolls carry a higher tariff, for some reason. Toy Biz, Marvel’s gaily named subsidiary, argued that its action figures were toys, and after examining more than 60 action figures, Judge Judith Barzilay agreed.

That saved Marvel some money, but it sent a thunderclap through the comics world, where the doughty mutants had been struggling for years to prove their humanity. After an awkward silence, Marvel grinned nervously, tugged at its collar, and said, “Our heroes are living, breathing human beings — but humans who have extraordinary abilities. … A decision that the X-Men figures indeed do have ‘nonhuman’ characteristics further proves our characters have special, out-of-this world powers.” Spun like a pro.