WASHINGTON — It's a journalistic ritual. At the end of the year, we do lists and rankings.
There's the year's biggest news stories, the best photos, the most notable deaths, the best books, the funniest cartoons, the best (and worst) movies.
Now, let me add another item: the year's most interesting statistics.
Truth be told, the idea comes from my friend Ben Beach, a recovering journalist who, for years, has included some of the year's intriguing stats on the back of his family holiday card. This year, Ben's list had six items.
I've added four more. They appear below in no particular order. (The sources are in parentheses.)
n On a typical day, 3,300 American teenagers smoke their first cigarette (Washington Post, Dec. 10).
n Only 13 percent of students in two-year colleges graduate in two years (New York Times, Sept. 8).
n David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox batted .688 in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals (Washington Post, Oct. 31).
n A low-end iPhone has 240,000 times the memory of the computers on Voyager 1, which is now nearly 12 billion miles from Earth (New York Times, Sept. 13).
n The stock market has risen 30 percent for the year (through Dec. 24), representing a gain