Friday, March 15, 2013

Things I learned this week

• While the U.S. minimum wage is $7.25, minimum wage for waiters and waitresses is only $2.13, a rate that hasn’t changed since 1991. The justification is that they earn tips. Because of inflation, $2.13 is worth 40% less in real terms than it was when the rate was established 21 years ago. Restaurants are supposed to make up the difference if tips don't bring earnings to $7.25, but they often just exploit the workers, who are usually women.

• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that a certain amount of contamination is unavoidable in commercial food processing, so it allows for a small amount of "filth" before taking action. "Filth" includes rat hair, maggots and cigarette butts, insect eggs, "mammalian excreta, and much more."

But there are limits. The FDA doesn't worry when there aren't "over 20 or more maggots ... per 100 grams of drained mushrooms," and it's happy unless the "average of mold count is 12 percent or more." Peanut butter can have no more than an average of one rodent hair per 100 grams. There are also limits to the amounts of sand, grit, parasitic cysts, insect fragments, sticks, and stones.

• The share of American households with guns has declined over the past four decades from 50% in the 1970's to 34% in 2012, according to General Social Survey results released last week. A spokesman for the NRA wasn't buying it.

• Among North American companies, Proctor and Gamble has the most billion dollar brands, with 27 of their 300 products qualifying for the exclusive club. They include Tide, Crest, Gillette, Pampers, Charmin, and Head & Shoulders. [Source: Under the Influence]

• Two years after the Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster, in which residents were speedily evacuated, one man still remains there. Naoto Matsumura, a 53-year-old, feeds the local animals that were left behind when everyone fled his town, which is just six miles from the plant and is highly radioactive.

• Vietnamese Americans make up an astounding 80% of California’s manicurists and 43% of manicurists nationwide.

5 comments:

  1. The key to a billion dollar brand is to have a product that people must use and throw away repeatedly so that there is always a constant demand for it. That's where the big bucks are!

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    1. Seems to be a winning formula for P & G.

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  2. What a fascinating story about Naoto Matsumura. I was especially touched by his rescue of the dog, Kiseki.

    $2.13 for waiters and waitresses! That is ridiculously low!

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  3. Thanks for making me look at my peanut butter jar in an entirely new light, Douglas.

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    1. I live to serve, Francis. Please keep an eye on the mushrooms, too.

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