The numbers - from gun deaths to mini movie stars

If, as they say, life is a numbers game, what are we to make of the following?

Ten: The number of US states in which gun deaths exceeded deaths resulting from motor accidents in 2009.

31,236: The total number of firearm deaths in the USA in 2009.

36,361: The 2009 US road toll. (America's population is 314 million.)


10,000: The decrease in the US road toll since 2006 as a result of efforts to make roads and vehicles safer.

As firearm deaths are on a gradual upward curve and nothing, not even the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 schoolchildren, can shake the gun lobby's implacable resistance to restrictions on gun availability and ownership, it seems only a matter of time before more Americans are being shot dead than killed on the roads.

783: Number of times the N word is used in Quentin Tarantino's latest revenge fantasy, Django Unchained. (It's set in the pre-Civil War Deep South and is, ostensibly, about slavery.)

One: hopefully the number of ministers or associate ministers of education in the western world who believe Adam and Eve were real people and that 6000-odd years ago, God created the world and everything in it in the space of six days.

The associate minister in question is, of course, our own John Banks.

Presumably some of those who paid through the nose to live in Epsom so their children could attend those fine educational institutions Auckland Grammar and Epsom Girls Grammar voted for the candidate who disregards the vast accumulation of scientific knowledge relating to the history of the planet and its inhabitants.

Six: number of cancer-sufferers supposedly cured by attending Napier's Equippers Church, prompting the church to erect a billboard proclaiming "Jesus heals cancer". The Advertising Standards Authority ruled the billboard breached advertising standards because it could be interpreted as claiming the Equippers Church was able to offer something other churches couldn't.

US$723 billion: Amount of extra revenue that will flow into the US Government's coffers over the next 10 years as a result of the "fiscal cliff" deal struck this week.

US$19.5 trillion: Total US public debt.

Two: Number of months that will elapse before America's governing class once again starts playing silly buggers with their - and therefore the rest of the world's - economy.

11.6 per cent: Unemployment rate in the 17 countries that comprise the Eurozone. The youth unemployment rate is almost double that. All told, 18.5 million Eurozone residents are unemployed.

25.1 per cent: Greece's unemployment rate. Half of those aged between 16 and 24 are out of work.

7 per cent: The share of the popular vote won by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece's May election. The extreme right had not been represented in the Greek Parliament since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974.

Zero: Amount of tax International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde pays on her annual salary of $730,000. Lagarde declared she had no sympathy for Greeks protesting against European Union-imposed austerity measures because their tax dodging created the mess in the first place.

75 per cent: Tax rate on annual income over $630,000 proposed by France's socialist president Francois Hollande and this week ruled unconstitutional by the highest court in the land. The Hollande Government has vowed to reimpose the measure following a redraft.

$95 million: Amount of tax French actor Gerard Depardieu claims to have paid over his working life. Depardieu is seeking tax exile in Belgium in protest at the Hollande Government's "squeeze the rich" campaign.

Six: Number of bottles of red wine Depardieu drinks a day when he's feeling stressed.

$1.3 million: The amount by which Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart's multibillion-dollar fortune increases every half hour.

20,000-30,000: Number of "suggestive" emails sent by General John Allen, the American former commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, to a Florida socialite over 17 months.

16 billion: Number of monthly visits to pornographic websites owned by shadowy German entrepreneur Fabian Thylmann who was recently arrested for tax evasion.

450: Number of people who claim they were sexually abused as children by British DJ, charity fund-raiser and friend to the rich and famous Jimmy Savile. As early as 1958 police were looking into sex abuse allegations against Savile, who died in 2011, but no charges were ever laid.

1.96m: Height of fictional hard-man Jack Reacher. (That's 6ft 5in in the old measurement).

1.70m: Height of Tom Cruise who plays Reacher in the just-released film. (That's 5ft 7in in the old measurement.)

Two: Number of big-name movie stars screenwriter William Goldman met during his 50-year career who were taller than him. Goldman is 1.85m; the stars were Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood.