Figuratively Speaking for July 12, 2009

Year the first commercial electronic computer -- UNIVAC I, designed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly and built for the U.S. Census Bureau to tabulate the 1950 census -- was used, according to the U.S. Census Bureau: 1951

Year that the general public first became aware of the computer when it was used on television on election night in 1952 to predict that Dwight Eisenhower would win the presidential race: 1952

Percentage of children who now use computers in their school classrooms: 86

Percentage of students who have access to a computer at home: 69

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Average number of hours that U.S. adults who use online resources to research and plan a vacation spend doing so, an increase of 48 minutes over the previous year, according to findings from a hotels.com survey: 8

Average number of reviews they read prior to booking a hotel: 8

When asked what red flags would prevent them from booking a property, percentage who said a dirty room: 96

Source: Hotels.com.

Percentage of American women who say they are willing to give up 10 percent of their savings in order to look a decade younger for the rest of their lives, according to a study conducted by Sustainable Youth in conjunction with Kelton Research: 33

Percentage of women with a household income of $40,000 or more who would give up 10 percent of their savings if it meant they'd look 10 years younger: 44

Source: Kelton Research.

Ranks of Kelly Ripa (26 percent), the Obamas (19 percent), the Pitt-Jolie family (16 percent), Oprah Winfrey (16 percent), Jon Stewart (13 percent) and Stephen Colbert (10 percent) on the list of celebrities Americans would most want to share a vacation rental home with if they were invited along for the trip, according to research released by HomeAway: 1, 2, 3 (tie), 5, 6

Source: HomeAway.

Percentage of consumers who said that the current economy and struggles of the American car manufacturers will have no impact on whether or not their next car purchase will be an American car, according to a recent Cars.com survey: 59

Percentage of respondents who said the threat of bankruptcy by U.S. carmakers would likely preclude them from considering an American car with their next purchase: 20

Source: Cars.com.

Percentage of Americans who believe there is no requirement for couples to earn similar amounts of money in order to be happy, according to research by smile.co.uk ("the Internet bank") from The Co-operative Bank: 54

Percentage who think it is unnecessary for couples to pursue similar careers to be happy together: 62

Source: The Co-operative Bank.

Percentage of Americans who recognize the direct link between sun exposure and skin cancer, and who agree that sun exposure can be deadly, according to a survey by Neutrogena: 80

Though skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, percentage of American adults who report that they rarely or never put on sunscreen: 60

Source: Neutrogena.

Percentage increase in 2008 in outlays by foreign direct investors to acquire or establish U.S. businesses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis: 3

Amount of money this represents: $260.4 billion ($242.8 billion to acquire existing businesses compared with $17.6 billion to establish new U.S. businesses)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Number of times more likely people are to say that they have cut back or cancelled a cell phone plan or cable TV service rather than Internet service, according to research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project: 2

Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Percentage of Americans who correctly answered that a hamburger is ready to eat when the internal temperature has reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit (41 percent of men, 26 percent of women), according to a survey by the American Meat Institute: 34

Percentage who said that checking the middle of the hamburger to ensure that it is brown is the best approach -- a practice experts say is not an accurate indicator that a burger is thoroughly cooked: 21

Percentage who wrongly said that checking to see if juices run clear ensures food safety: 18

Source: American Meat Institute.

Idle Thought

"A fixed idea is like the iron rod which sculptors put in their statues. It impales and sustains." -- Hippolyte Taine, historian

(Readers can contact John MacIntyre at johnmacintyre(at)bwr.eastlink.ca.)

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