Americans Fat, Lonely, Frequently Injured by Bikes

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The New York Times has a neat article today on the most recent census, and what it says about Americans. Judge for yourself.

Americans:

– Drank more than 23 gallons of bottled water per person in 2004.

– Consumed more than twice as much high fructose corn syrup per person as in 1980.

– Remain the fattest inhabitants of the planet.

– Spend about eight-and-a-half hours a day watching television, using computers, listening to the radio, going to the movies, or reading. In short, not interacting with other people. The average American spends more than 64 days a year watching television.

– Occasionally have sex with members of the same sex. Six percent of men and 11.2 percent of women say they have had same sex contacts.

– Are more frequently injured by wheelchairs than by lawnmowers.

– Are most frequently injured by bicycles and beds.

– Enjoy this here series of tubes. 16 million Americans used a social or professional networking site and 13 million created a blog.

– Lost their jobs. From 2000 to 2005, the number of manufacturing jobs declined nearly 18 percent. Employment in textile mills fell by 42 percent.

– Aren’t very likable. In 1970, 79 percent said their goal was developing a meaningful philosophy of life. By 2005, 75 percent said their primary objective was to be financially very well off.

– Are seeing some form of gender equality. In 1970, 33,000 men and 2,000 women earned professional degrees; in 2004, the numbers were 42,000 men and 41,000 women.

As for the fact that Americans spend more and more of their leisure time doing solitary activites, that’s right in Harvard Professor Bob Putnam’s wheelhouse. He wrote the very good “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.” Wouldn’t you know it, the Times got a quote.

“The large master trend here is that over the last hundred years, technology has privatized our leisure time,” said [Putnam]…. “The distinctive effect of technology has been to enable us to get entertainment and information while remaining entirely alone.”

Except, of course, if you are one of those 16 million Americans who spends your lonely internet time on social networking sites. In that case, you are blowing Bob Putnam’s mind.

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This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

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