Let’s close out the year with some statistics we heard in 2004: • The United Nations predicts that half of the 6,800 languages will be extinct by 2100. Mandarin (Chinese) is the most common language, spoken by 885 million people. Next is Spanish, then English followed by Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese and German. • Only 47 percent of what National Federation of Independent Business calls small companies (1 to 300 employees) offer health insurance for their employees. Forty-one percent of companies with fewer than 10 workers have insurance plans. • College-educated women are now adopting their husband’s surnames, ignoring the three-decade trend toward married women keeping their own name. Main reasons, says the Wall Street Journal, are that it’s confusing when married couples travel or have children in school. • Harrah Entertainment Inc. of Las Vegas paid for a survey that showed that 430,000 Arkansans made more than 2 million out-of-state trips to a casino in 2003. The average Arkansas gambler made 4.8 trips in 12 months. • A poll taken by a German Marshall Fund shows the percentage of regard for U.S. leadership has dropped in Europe from 77 percent in Britain to 54, from 64 to 37 in Germany and 53 to 24 in France. • Salary increases for white collar workers have dropped from 5.5 percent in 1990 to 3.4 percent in 2004, according to Hewitt Associates, a human-resources consulting firm. By contrast, CEOs and their top aides have received 7.2 percent increases in the last two years as well as bonuses amounting to more than $2 million. • Here’s what kills most Americans yearly as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Smoking, 442,000; alcohol, 81,000; motor vehicles, 41,000; suicide, 30,000; homicide, 19,000; AIDS, 17,000, and drug-induced, 14,000. • Good news for parents. A Fidelity Investments survey showed that 95 percent of teen-agers say they would “feel badly” if they didn’t share the cost of their college education. • The Census Bureau says Americans don’t rush to marry these days. Last year ages for first-time matrimony went from 20.8 for women to 25.3 and 23.2 for men to 27.1 Sociologists say this is partially because cohabitation is no longer taboo. • A study by the Pew Hispanic Center showed the changes of the median net worth (adjusted for inflation) by households from 1996 to 2002 showed that Hispanics and whites’ rose ($7,932 or 14 percent for Hispanics, $59,706 or 12.3 percent) but blacks’ declined ($5,988 or a 16.1 percent loss). • According to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Institute for Economic Advancement, there was a gain of 6,600 jobs in Arkansas in the past 12 months and the likelihood that there will be 17,000 new jobs in 2005. • We don’t know yet but people have said that charitable giving would increase in 2004. American foundations got 2.5 percent less in 2003 than they got in 2002. Protestants are giving less to their churches — 16 percent less from 1968 to 2002. But that’s not true of the 533,200 members of Baptist churches in Arkansas. The Baptist newspaper reports that its churches received $298 million in 2003 as compared to only $23 million in 1968. • The Christian Science Monitor says eight out of 10 Americans pray daily or at least weekly. Only 9 percent say they never pray. Here is why most people pray: End of war, 71 percent; safety, 58 percent; terrorism, 49 percent; grief, 47 percent, and hate, 34 percent. • Car thieves’ favorites are Cadillac Escalade EXT ’02-’03 (fancy pickup), Nissan Maxima ’02-’03, Cadillac Escalade ’02-’03 (luxury SUV), and four-door cars Dodge Stratus/Chrysler Sebring ’01, ’03 and Dodge Intrepid ’01-’03, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. • Facts & Trend magazine, a Christian publication, lists the 10 main causes for divorce: Co-habitation before marriage, 18 percent; pornography, 17 percent; morality not taught in school, 14 percent; poverty or unemployment, 13 percent; parental alcohol use, 12 percent; parental drug use, 11 percent; drug use among children, 8 percent; alcohol use among children, 6 percent; adultery, 5 percent, and poor schools, 4 percent. • The number of “poor” Americans went from 12.1 to 12.5 percent in 2003 according to the Census Bureau. However, 46 percent of the “poor” own their own homes, 76 percent have air conditioning, and 97 percent of their households have a color TV set. Happy New Year.