Let us now praise Ben Beach, a Washington writer and longtime friend. Like me, Ben is a confirmed statistics buff. Unlike me, he's disciplined. All through the year, he collects interesting stats with the intent of naming the 10 best at year's end. So I happily outsource my last column of 2017 to Ben's list, which is in no particular order. It's fantastic.
1. Motorists spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for parking spots. Highest: 107 in New York.
2. The Agriculture Department's Census of Agriculture reported that, for only the second time in the past century, the number of farmers under age 35 is increasing. Sixty-nine percent of them had college degrees — a much higher rate than the general population.
3. The number of girls playing on boys' high school football teams nearly doubled in the past decade to more than 2,000, and leagues for females are expanding.
4. The World Economic Forum says all the plastic trash floating in the ocean will outweigh all the fish by 2050.
5. According to Pew Research Center, 58 percent of Republicans and conservative independents believe colleges are having a negative impact on the country.
6. Since peaking more than a decade ago at 716,268, sales of new motorcycles have plummeted to 371,403.
7. Americans make up 4.4 percent of the world's population — and own 42 percent of the guns.
8. Ninety-one percent of Trump's nominees to federal courts are white, and 81 percent are male, according to an Associated Press analysis.
9. The planet will produce only 247 million hectoliters of wine this year. That's the lowest production level in more than 50 years, and down 8 percent from last year. Extreme weather in the three nations that produce the most wine is to blame.
10. In 1975, there were three metro areas with at least 10 million people: Tokyo, New York and Mexico City. Now there are 31.
Thanks, Ben, for all the hard work. And to everyone else: Best for 2018.
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