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Hard Numbers: Costly emoji, South African firefighters, snowbird visa extension, dawn of Anthropocene

A farm worker harvests flax in Russia.

A farm worker harvests flax in Russia.

REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

82,000: 🤞this never happens to you… a Saskatchewan court ordered a Canadian farmer to pay CA$82,000 in damages in a dispute over the meaning of the 👍 emoji. A buyer had sent the farmer a photo of a proposed contract, to which he responded “👍”. Although the farmer argued in court that this simply meant he had received the document, the buyer thought it meant he’d accepted its terms. The court agreed. 👍 or 👎?

428: South Africa has so far sent 428 firefighters to Canada this year to help put out the country’s raging wildfires. The yellow-and-blue clad brigades, which do tours of 35 days at a time, are famous for singing rhythmic songs as they work and train.

8: Good news for snowbirds! A bipartisan bill in the US Congress would extend the length of time that some Canadians are permitted to stay in the US without a visa from 6 months to 8. The measure applies to Canadians over the age of 50 who own property in the US — people you see LOTS of in Florida between, say, December and May.

73: This week, a group of scientists picked Crawford Lake in Milton, Ontario, as the location of the dawn of the Anthropocene, or Age of Humans. The lake's sediments show a huge spike in man-made environmental disruption beginning 73 years ago. That’s when human activities — from testing nukes and guzzling fossil, to destroying forests and expanding global trade — began to have a clear impact on the planet's geology. Is seven decades long enough to know?


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