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Showing posts from 2007

Interesting Fact # 707 - Transport

The House of Lords science and technology committee has suggested that a minimum distance between seats on airlines should be increased from 26 to 28.2 inches, providing space of about 30 inches.

(Currently if you want more leg room you have to pay for it, a new class of seat called "Premium economy" supposedly bridges the gap between the standard economy class and business class cabins. And they say class is dead.)

From Natasha

Interesting Fact # 706 - Auction

2 sheets from one of Mozart's greatest compositions has been sold at auction for £110,900.

(A mere £55,450 per sheet. What a bargain.)

Interesting Animal # 69 - Wasps

A giant wasps nest was removed from a house in Suffolk, it weighed 1.8 kgs!

(Just as long as the wasps weren't giants too.)

Interesting People # 60 - Daniel Craig

Bond star Daniel Craig is said to owe Dakota Blue Richards £200, his Golden Compass co-star,after starting a swear box on set.

(Serves him right, swearing on a kid's film set, whatever next.)

Interesting Fact # 705 - Driving

According to Government road safety figures 50% of male drivers in the UK, under the age of 21 crash in their first year of driving.

Interesting Christmas Facts # 26 - Working

According to a survey by the Post Office, 40% of the UK workforce will be working for some or all of the period between Boxing Day and the end of the year.

(Lots of them will be working for the Post Office of course.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 25 - Santa Claus

For Dutch and Belgian children, Santa Claus lives in Spain and travels north by steam ship.

(In fact, Sinterklaas, as he's called there, turns up on December 5, with Zwarte Piet, his helper, and believe it or not a horse with no name. You just couldn't make it up, could you.)

Interesting Facts - Christmas Fact - Santa Claus

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In an Internet poll of 4,000 children aged four to 12 by a children's Spanish television channel, Jetix, Spanish children think Santa Claus is "too fat".

(The poll revealed that 53% of them think Father Christmas is "too fat," and 59% believe he should eat better to lose weight, or go to the gym (19%.)

Many also think that his means of transport is outdated, as a sleigh is too slow for delivering presents.

(It's a magic sleigh you numskulls.)

Interesting Christmas Facts # 23 - Stollen

There is a Stollen Protection Agency in Dresden.

(If you don't believe me then check out: http://www.dresdnerstollen.com/english/e_index.htm)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 22 - Stollen

Dresden's bakers churn out more than two million Stollen cakes in various sizes each year.

(And I seem to be churning out 2 million Stollen facts this year.)

Interesting Christmas Fact - Stollen

Only Stollen produced in Dresden's 150 bakeries, many of them family-run, may be called Dresdner Stollen.

(And it's very, very, tasty.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 20 - Stollen

The white oblong shape of a Stollen is supposed to symbolize the baby Jesus in swaddling.

(Well of course I already knew that. It's obvious when you think about it.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 19 - Who stole the stollen?

Stollen, Germany's answer to Christmas cake, has always been associated with the city of Dresden. But according to the Spiegel the small town of Torgau, 75 kilometers northwest of Dresden, is now claiming it invented the cake 550 years ago, and it's launching its own Stollen to mark the occasion.

(Bread rolls at dawn methinks.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 18 - Names for Father Christmas around the World

Belgium Pere Noel
Brazil Papai Noel
Chile Viejo Pascuero (“Old Man Christmas”)
China Dun Che Lao Ren (“Christmas Old Man”)
Netherlands Kerstman
Finland Joulupukki
France Pere Noel
Germany Weihnachtsmann (“Christmas Man”)
Hawaii Kanakaloka
Hungary Mikulas (St. Nicholas)
Italy Babbo Natale
Japan Hoteiosho (a god or priest who bears gifts)
Norway Julenissen (“Christmas gnome”)
Poland Swiety Mikolaj (St. Nicholas)
Russia Ded Moroz (“Grandfather Frost”)
Sweden Jultomten (“Christmas brownie”)
United Kingdom Father Christmas / Santa Claus
United States Father Christmas / Santa Claus

Interesting Fact # 704 - Fame

According to a survey for National Kid's Day the Queen and Harry Potter are more famous than God.

(The Almighty was at third place, Father Christmas was fourth, Simon Cowell fifth, Jesus sixth and England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson seventh.)

Interesting Fact # 703 - Getting Married

According to a survey for National Kids' Day, when they grow up 82% of UK children would like to get married.

(This compares with 76% in 2006 and 72% in 2005.)

Interesting Fact # 702 - The Law

Since April 2007 anyone convicted of a criminal offence in the UK has to pay a £15 "victims' surcharge".

(Sort of a tax on crime then.)

Interesting Fact # 701 - Wine

According to research by cheese maker Castello 56% of diners will not ask the wine waiter for advice in case he recommends something too expensive.

(The survey also revealed that many people suffer from "second cheapest wine syndrome" - rejecting the cheapest wine on the list to conceal their ignorance in front of waiters and friends.)

Interesting People # 59 - Mata Amritanandamayi

India's "hugging saint" Mata Amritanandamayi, Amma, has dispensed 26 million hugs - her helpers count each off with a clicker.

(That's a whole lot of hugging.)

Interesting Fact # 700 - Number Plates

The sale of personalised licence plates by HM Government has raised £1.2bn to date.

(Short plates that spell out names are the most popular.)

Interesting Fact # 699 - Extradition

No Briton has been extradited from Panama since an extradition treaty was signed 100 years ago.

(I guess we just don't want anyone.)

Interesting Places # 64 - Tower Hamlets

According to a report by the Centre for Cities, 47% of people of working age in the London borough of Tower Hamlets are unemployed.

(The Centre for Cities is an independent urban policy research unit, whose main aim is to "to help cities improve their economic performance". They are a registered charity if you would like to donate.)

Interesting Fact - Transport

The first ever number plate in the UK, A1, was issued in 1903.

(A guy called Earl Russell is said to have camped outside the vehicle registration office to get the prestigious plate.)

Interesting People # 58 - Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen is the first British monarch to have celebrated a diamond wedding anniversary.

(I think with the current state of affairs that record could stand for quite some time.)

Interesting Fact # 697 - Calories

Beer has fewer calories than a similar measure of wine, milk or fruit juice.

(There you go. The diet is back on track.)

Today

Millions of homes in Germany, Austria and Switzerland turned off their lights for five minutes at 8 p.m.

Interesting Fact # 696 - British Police

Police are not allowed to strike.

(They were banned from striking in 1919, after walk-outs that year by officers in London and Liverpool.)

Today

Alcides Moreno, tumbled some 500ft (150m) to the ground in New York and lived to tell the tale.

(Seemingly window cleaners who work on very tall buildings are trained to lie flat if their platform comes loose. I shall have to remember that next time I'm cleaning the windows, because in Germany you can't find a window cleaner for love nor money.)

Interesting Fact # 695 - British children

According to the CBBC Newsround programme, one in four British children don't count their father as immediate family.

(That's what happens when you spend most of your time at work, or down the pub dad.)

Interesting Fact - Sleep

In Japanese work culture, sleeping on the job is tolerated, as long as you remain upright and obey certain other rules. It's called inemuri.

(I shall try to explain this to my culturally illiterate boss if he ever catches me snoozing at my desk.)

Interesting Fact # 693 - Airline Routes

BBC South East has revealed that airlines deliberately fly longer routes over the Atlantic Ocean to avoid paying air traffic control charges.

(These routes are known as tango routes, and they can produce an extra three tonnes of carbon dioxide.)

Interesting Fact # 692 - Dementia

Experts have forecast that more than 1.7 million people in the UK will have dementia by 2051, costing billions of pounds each year.

(Currently 700,000 - or one person in every 88 in the UK - has dementia, incurring a total yearly cost of £17bn.)

Interesting People # 57 - Napoleon

A gold-encrusted sword used by Napoleon was sold at auction in France for 4.8m Euros (£3.3m).

(A love letter from Napoleon to his future wife, Josephine, fetched a meagre £276,000 at an auction in London. Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword?)

Interesting Fact # 691 - Salmon vs Jellyfish

Jellyfish 1 - Salmon 0.

(A mass of poisonous jellyfish devastated stocks of organic farmed salmon off the coast of Northern Ireland. Millions of purplish pelagia noctiluca, or mauve stingers, covered 10 miles square and 35 feet deep, they drifted over cages of salmon in Glenarm Bay and stung to death about 120,000 fish. Estimated damage to the organic farm was over £1 million. The jellyfish wiped out the company's mature harvest a month before Christmas, so, I hope you've already got some in the freezer.)

Interesting Fact # 690 - Carbon Emissions

56 countries account for 90 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions

(A new report shows that Sweden is doing the best job in tackling carbon emissions, Germany second best, the UK was seventh, whilst the US ranked second worst only topped by Saudi Arabia who were deemed the most irresponsible emitters among the world's major economies.

Interesting Fact # 689 - Minimum Wage

Germany has agreed to introduce a minimum wage for postal workers. The minimum wage, which will be introduced on Jan. 1, 2008, is expected to be €8.00 ($11.70) per hour in the states of the former East Germany and €9.80 ($14.35) per hour in western Germany.

(Luxembourg-based Pin Group immediately announced that it will cut more than 1,000 jobs in Germany in response, they currently pay between €7 and €7.50 per hour on average.)

Interesting Fact # 688 - Salaries

According to the Spiegel, a German carworker earns just under €50,000 a year on average.

(Wendelin Wiedeking, the chief executive of car maker Porsche, in case you were wondering, earned more than €60 million in 2006.)

Interesting Fact # 687 - Words

According to the government, by the time British children are four, those from poor families are likely to have heard 13 million words, but children from better off families, a figure of 45 million is typical.

(Who counts these things?)

Interesting Fact # 686 - Cars

The Bavarian company Herpa, a miniature model manufacturer located in Germany, announced at the International Automobile show in Frankfort a.M. that they want to put the Trabant back on the streets by 2009.

(Now this won't be a model, this will be a full-sized car. But it will still be made out of plastic, so no difference there.)

Interesting Fact # 685 - Catastrophes

According to the aid agency Oxfam, the number of weather-related disasters has quadrupled over the past 20 years.

(And of course there has been a huge increase in population and so more people are affected when these events take place. Maybe the Germans should be a bit more worried (see previous fact).)

Interesting Fact - Fear

According to R&V insurance, Germans are more frightened of a higher cost of living than of terrorism, natural catastrophes or illness.

(The list goes like this:-

Higher living expenses - 66%
Natural catastrophes - 59%
Infirmity in old age - 53%
Bad health - 51%
Political situation - 51%
Terrorism - 50%
Worsening economic situation - 48%)

Today

Is buy nothing day.

Interesting Places # 63 - Japan

A survey by the Japanese government has said that the dwindling birth rate is expected to cut Japan's population by 30% over the next 50 years.

(Seemingly the birth rate has been falling steeply for over half a century. In the early 1970s it passed the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman and in 2005 hit a record low of 1.26. Luckily we are all living longer.)

Interesting Fact - Shopping

According to scientist Dr David Lewis, when you go shopping and spot a bargain, chemicals that create feelings of well-being - like serotonin and adrenalin are released into the brain.

(The brainwaves change and skin moisture levels rise, heart rates speed up, all indications that people get aroused. When I go shopping the only feelings that are aroused in me are annoyance and impatience.)

Interesting Word # 66 - Blighty

The word Blighty is British slang for Great Britain.

(It actually comes from an Urdu word "bilayti", which means homeland.)

Interesting Fact # 682 - Job Requirements

One of the requirements of being a member of Ryanair's cabin crew is that your are "able to swim well".

(Well at least they don't ask you to be able to fly.)

Interesting Fact # 681 - Prayer

According to the Christian development agency, Tearfund, 42% of UK residents say they pray.

(Of course that also means that 58% don't.)

Interesting Fact # 680 - Prayer

According to a survey by the Christian development agency, Tearfund, praying made 30% of people feel strengthened, 22% said they felt close to God, 21% said they felt reassured and safe and 19% said they felt happy and joyful.

(Unfortunately, this also means that 62% of people who pray do not think it makes them more peaceful and content, 70% do not find it makes them feel stronger, 79% do not feel reassured and 81% do not feel happier.)

Interesting Fact # 679 - Air Pressure

For every one millibar decrease in pressure the sea rises 1cm.

(If the UK faces strong winds, extremely low pressure and a storm surge during the high tide, it could raise the sea level around eastern England by more than 2m. Which means that towns and villages in north Norfolk, plus King's Lynn in west Norfolk, are considered to be at risk from tidal flooding.)

Interesting Fact # 678 - Computer Chips

The next generation of chip will pack more than four hundred million transistors into an area the size of a postage stamp.

(That is of course computer chip, not french fry chip.)

Interesting Fact # 677 - Password Security

Qwerty is one of the most-popular passwords.

(Not very imaginative is it?)

Interesting Fact # 676 - Nuclear Bombs

Until the late 1990s, the RAF's nuclear bombs could be activated using a bicycle lock key.

(The BBC's Newsnight discovered that until the early days of the Blair government the RAF's nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key. Allegedly there was no other security on the bomb itself. Just imagine James Bond, no tamper-proof combination locks which could only be released if the correct code was transmitted, just get a bike lock key James. Not very exciting is it?)

Interesting Fact - Janet and John

In the United States, Janet and John were named Alice and Jerry.

(Everybody in the UK used to learn to read with Janet and John books. Not only did they learn to read, but they learnt their place in society. Women in the kitchen, baking cakes with their daughter Janet, men at work or in the garden with their son, John. That was it.)

Interesting Fact # 674 - Working with a cold

According to Lemsip, 32% of employees who have a cold try to look busy but don't get much work done.

(Dear people at Lemsip, that's just normal behaviour and has nothing to do with having a cold.)

Interesting Animals # 68 - Clams

Clams can grow old - very old.

(Recently fishermen dredged up an ocean quahog clam off the coast of Iceland, scientists said the mollusc was aged between 405 and 410 years. It is thought to have been the longest-lived animal discovered and it could offer insights into the secrets of longevity. Of course it would have lived even longer if no one had dredged it up.)

Interesting Fact # 673 - The Poppy - Podcast

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Listen to the Podcast Here

The Red Poppy has become an internationally-recognised symbol of remembrance.

(In 1918 American Moira Michael wrote a poem called "We Shall Keep the Faith" and promised to wear a poppy in honour of the dead, beginning the tradition of remembrance poppies. The Royal British Legion held the first Poppy Appeal in 1921 to raise money for its welfare work in the ex-service community. It was hailed a great success, raising £106,000. Since then the Legion has encouraged the wearing of the red poppy as a poignant symbol of the need to pause and reflect on the human cost of war.

But there is another poppy - the white poppy. White poppies are also sold around Remembrance Day in the UK, as a symbol for peace. The Co-operative Women's Guild produced the first white version in 1933.)

Interesting Fact # 672 - The Brain - Podcast

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Listen to this Week's Podcast Here

The brain can turn down its ability to see in order to listen to complex sounds like music.

(Dr Jonathan Burdette, who led the study, said: "This is like closing your eyes to listen to music. Imagine the difference between listening to someone talk in a quiet room and that same discussion in a noisy room - you don't see as much of what's going on in the noisy room." Actually listening to some people talk can make me want to block my ears with my fingers and shout, "La la la" very loudly.)

Interesting Fact - The Mafia

The Italian Mafia have commandments.

(A "Ten Commandments" style rules of behaviour for Mafia members, was found by police at the hideout of a captured Mafia boss.

They don't compare very well:-

The Mafia's "Ten Commandments" vs The original Ten Commandments:-

1. No-one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2. Never look at the wives of friends.
2. Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol.

3. Never be seen with cops.
3. Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God.

4. Don't go to pubs and clubs.
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

5. Always be available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife's about to give birth.
5. Honor thy Father and Mother

6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
6. Thou shalt not murder.

7. Wives must be treated with respect.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8. When asked for any informatio…

Interesting Fact # 670 - Kilogram

The defining measure for a kilogram is "Le Grand K", a cylinder of platinum and iridium held in Paris.

(The heavily guarded lump of metal is about the size of a plum. It is the only object known to science that has a mass of exactly 1kg, so it is the reference object from which the unit of mass is derived. This means that all objects measured in kilograms, whether a bag of sugar or an aircraft carrier, are defined by Le Grand K's mass.)

Interesting Fact # 669 - Texting

Britons send as many text messages in a week now as they did in the whole of 1999.

(Some 4.825bn texts were sent in September 2007, equivalent to 4,000 every second. Just imagine all those thumbs flying over the tiny little keys.)

Interesting Animals # 67 - Dogs and cats

If they need a blood transfusion, dogs can have blood of any type, if it's just for one transfusion, but cats need to be blood type matched.

(Cats have always been fussier than dogs.)

Interesting Fact # 668 - Fireworks

The multi-coloured fireworks we enjoy today actually began in the 1830s, when Italians added trace amounts of metals. Until then they were mostly noisy.

(These metals burn at high temperatures and create beautiful colours. Other additives also produce interesting effects. For example, calcium deepens colours, titanium makes sparks, and zinc creates smoke clouds.)

Interesting Fact # 667 - Health

According to the Alcohol Health Alliance alcohol liver cirrhosis rates have risen 95% in the UK since 2000.

(The problem with damage to internal organs is that you can't see it happening. If it made your nose drop off, people would be more sensible.)

Interesting Fact - Password

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According to Ken Munro, the managing director of SecureTest, you should never use a word that is in the dictionary for your password.


(Seemingly online fraudsters have written programs that can try thousands of different passwords and try every word in the dictionary. A good password will mix letters, numbers and punctuation, but the strongest contain non-alphanumeric characters or symbols, of course not all password systems allow them, so we're stuffed.)

Interesting Fact # 665 - Obesity

By 2005 obesity rates in England were the highest of the 15 member states who then formed the European Union.

(Another thing we excel at.)

Interesting Word # 65 - Neet

A neet is someone not in education, employment or training.

(Well that's neat.)

Interesting Fact # 664 - Halloween Fact # 3

In the UK, spending on Halloween rose ten-fold over five years.


(The money forked out for Halloween rose from £12m in 2001 to £120m in 2006.)

Interesting People - Dumbeldore

Harry Potter author JK Rowling revealed that one of her characters, Hogwarts school headmaster Albus Dumbledore, is gay.

(I can imagine that winning her even more fans amongst the far right Christian groups.)

Interesting Fact - Money

To date the Bank of England has never issued a £500,000 note. 


(However, if someone printed a fake £500,000 note it would not technically be a counterfeit, because to be counterfeit the money needs to be legal tender.  So, be warned, there's no such thing as a £500,000 note!)

Interesting Fact # 662 - IP Addresses

IP (Internet protocol) addresses will run out in 2010.

(Every device that goes online is allocated a unique IP address but the pool of numbers is finite and due to run out around 2010. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) urgently need to roll out the next generation of net addresses. The new system, called IPv6, has been awaiting roll out for 10 years. Well it seems like your typical IT project then.)

Interesting Animals # 66 - Dogs

Sniffer dogs can sniff out a termite.

(Of course I would prefer it if mine didn't.)

Interesting Fact - The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa isn't a canvas painting.

(She is actually painted on a wooden panel made of poplar.  She always looked a bit wooden to me.)

Interesting People - Sean Connery

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According to The Daily Telegraph Sean Connery posed for life drawing classes in Edinburgh.

(If you don't know what a life drawing class is, it means he posed nude. I wonder how much he would be paid for that particular job nowadays.)

Interesting Word - Ai

An ai is a three-toed sloth from South America.

(It's also the two-letter word that clinched Paul Allan the title of national Scrabble champion.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to a poll by Office Angels, 44% of workers said colleagues coughing and sneezing put them off their work, while 58% said pointless meetings and silly questions were also a distraction.

(For the rest of us pointless meetings and silly questions are our work.)

Interesting Fact # 659 - Death

According to a poll by MORI, 25% of people claim to have the ability to talk with the dead.

(Personally, I think the dead have far more interesting things to do than stick around and talk to us.)

Interesting Fact - Holidays

According to a survey commissioned by Teletext Holidays, 9% of workers in the UK still have more than 20 days of annual leave to use up before the end of the year.

(Are they insane? Holidays are so important, they allow us to recharge our batteries and reduce stress, even the busiest of us become happier and more energetic during the holidays.)

Interesting Fact - Class in the UK

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According to a survey by the Guardian newspaper 2% of people in the UK consider themselves upper class.

(Of 1,011 adults question in the phone poll, 53% said they were working class and 41% middle class.

Me? I've been told I have no class.)

Interesting Places # 62 - Austria

The Austrian army rents out personnel and machinery.

(Seemingly you rent a lieutenant for only €21.27 an hour.)

Interesting Fact # 656 - Tattoos

According to Mobil Deutschland 6,970,000 Germans have a tattoo somewhere on their body.

(This is in spite of the fact that only one in twelve German women find tattoos on men cool.)

Today

The UK civil service lost 25 million child benefit records.

A Junior official from HMRC in Washington, Tyne and Wear, sends two CDs containing password-protected records to audit office in London through courier TNT, neither recorded nor registered. It goes missing. So what do they do? They send another one!

However the public is not told that their bank details, national insurance numbers, addresses and date of birth have been "mislaid" until 21st November. Now that's a scandal.

Interesting Fact # 655 - CO2

CO2 emissions from shipping are twice the level of aviation.

(Darn it! Now I'll have to cancel that world cruise I was planning.)

Interesting Fact # 654 - Atheism

Discrimination against atheists is allowed in employment law in Texas, according to the state's constitution.

(These have seemingly been nullified by federal laws, because the constitution of the United States expressly prohibits establishment of a state religion, but of course an atheist could just lie on their application form without fear of divine punishment.)

Interesting People # 54 - Robbie Williams

According to a lot of fan sites, Robbie Williams has 600 pairs of shoes at his Los Angeles home.

(There's a lot of speculation about how many of these are trainers. But I'd like to know who looked into his closet and who counted them? Of course the other question is does he think he's a millipede?)

Interesting Fact # 653 - Asterix

Asterix the Gaul was called Asterix by his creator Albert Uderzo so he would appear at the start of an encyclopaedia of comics.

(Although not hugely popular in the UK, some 325 million copies of the 33 Asterix comic albums have been sold worldwide, with translations into languages as diverse as Urdu, Arabic and even Latin.)

Interesting Fact - Human Body

Leeches are used as a treatment for hematoma auris, cauliflower ears.

(After a sharp blow, a large blood clot can develop under the skin and block the flow of blood to the cartilage, that gives the ear its peculiar cauliflower shape. The leeches suck out the fluid, but if the cartilage dies, the ear shrivels and becomes lumpy. So further treatment is required.)

Interesting Fact # 651 - World Record

43-year-old engineer Russell Byars skimmed his way into the Guinness Book of Records by skimming a stone (a game sometimes known as Ducks and Drakes) 51 times.

(According to the BBC you would need to throw the stone at a speed of at least 80 kmh!)

Interesting Food # 30 - Haggis and Pasties

According to a poll for British Food Fortnight, an annual event designed to excite and educate young people about British food, of 1,000 children in England aged between eight and 13, 54% did not know pasties came from Cornwall and 57% did not know haggis originated in Scotland.

(Of course the confusion may arise because they'd probably never even tasted haggis and that Devon and Cornwall keep arguing about who invented the pasty.)

Interesting Fact # 650 - Radiohead

Radiohead has decided to release their new album, Rainbows, on the web. Nothing new there, but you can download it from their official website and they will let you decide what to pay for the 10 mp3 files - that's right, you can decide to pay anything, from nothing to £100.

(A survey of music fans who downloaded Radiohead's new album found that 29% paid either nothing or just 1p. More than half gave up to £10.)

Interesting People # 53 - Michael Young

Michael Young, the founder of Which? magazine, also founded the Open University.

(In fact, according to his biography he founded or helped found a remarkable number of socially useful organisations, including the Consumers' Association, the National Consumer Council, and Language Line, a telephone-interpreting business.)

Interesting Fact # 649 - Literacy and Math Skills

According to a study by Learndirect people in the UK have to use maths skills up to 14 times daily and literacy skills 23 times a day.

(I'm sure I use my literacy skills more often than that. Maybe I need to keep a record.)

Interesting People # 52 - Hitler

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According to the Times, Hitler received 1,000 letters a month of fan mail.

(Of course fan is short for fanatic, so....)

Interesting Fact # 648 - On the web

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There were 61 billion web searches made in August.

(Google powered 37 billion, more than half and more than all the other major search engines combined.)

Interesting Words # 63 - Pond life

The term "pond life" or "pondlife" means a worthless or contemptible person or group.

(The US equivalent is 'pond scum'.)

Interesting Fact # 648 -

An NHS feedback body found that of 5,200 NHS patients asked, 6% had treated themselves at some point.

(DIY dentistry! People are literally pulling their own teeth. Now I feel quite queasy.)

Interesting Place # 61 - Iceland

In Iceland, 96% of women go to university.

(Which means 4% have better things to do with their lives.)

Interesting Fact # 647 - Travel

3% of UK workers travel at least three hours every day.

(Poor guys. I hope they enjoy travelling.)

Source: RAC Foundation

Interesting Facts - Video

Interesting Fact # 646 - Commuting

54% of all the cars in the UK are used for commuting.

(So start working at home and the UK's traffic problems are solved.)

Source: RAC Foundation

Interesting Fact - Travel

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25m people commute to and from work in the UK.

(I bet they all pass each other going in different directions.)

Source RAC Foundation

Interesting Fact # 644 - Travel

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According to a study by the RAC 14% of commuters go to the office by bus or train, while 11% walk.

(Add that to the previous fact of 71% going by car and that must mean that 4% of people don't go to work, or maybe they cycle?)

Interesting Fact - Travel

A study by the RAC Foundation has found that around 71% of British workers travel to work by car.

(Whatever happened to "Go to work on an egg"?)

Interesting Fact # 642 - Commuting

On average a UK commuter travels the equivalent of two-and-a-half times around the globe over a full working career.

(I can think of nicer places to go with the mileage.)

Interesting Fact - Hyphens

Hyphens are disappearing from the English language.

(About 16,000 hyphens have been dropped from the latest edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Some of the hyphenated words have become two words, like fig leaf, others have become one word, like bumblebee.)

Interesting Fact # 640 - Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs had creches.

(The recent discovery of fossilised remains of six infant dinosaurs that died in a volcanic mudflow in China has led researchers to believe that the animals were less than four years old, and probably formed a "creche" composed of babies from at least two different clutches. I wonder what age they had to go to junior school.)

Interesting People # 51 - Paris Hilton and Zsa Zsa Gabor

Zsa Zsa Gabor is related to Paris Hilton.

(Ms Gabor has one child, a daughter, Francesca Hilton. Francesca Hilton is the great aunt of Paris Hilton. Doomed by genetics I would say.)

Today

Traffic has been banned from several roads in central London for the day to make way for thousands of cyclists taking part in a mass bike ride.

Interesting Animals # 65 - Caterpillars

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The procession caterpillar, which marches in lines - hence the name, can cause severe allergic outbreaks in humans. They are covered in long, toxic hairs which cause dermatitis and respiratory problems and can account for up to 80 percent of doctor visits in any affected area.

(The Belgian army had to be called in recently to deal with an infestation of these little critters. A mini-platoon of soldiers was deployed into the forests of Belgium to tackle a plague.)

Source - Daily Mail

Interesting Word - Microtia

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Microtia (meaning 'Small ear') is a congenital deformity of the pinna (outer ear). It can be unilateral (one side only) or bilateral (affecting both sides). It occurs in 1 out of about 8,000-10,000 births. In unilateral microtia, the right ear is most typically affected.

Source: Wiki

Interesting Fact # 639 - Internet Access

When Americans were asked by the advertising agency JWT how long they could go without internet access and still feel OK, 15% said a day or less, most said they could only manage a few days.

(Personally I have gone for 2 weeks with no access. The first couple of days you're twitchy, but you soon get used to having a proper life, honest.)

Interesting Food # 29 - Crisps

The carbon footprint of a packet of Walkers Crisps is 75g.

(In April, Walkers Crisps began labelling its cheese and onion bags of crisps with a carbon footprint - how many grams of greenhouse gases were emitted in its production - and that has been rolled out to other flavours. The calculations are done by the Carbon Trust, a private company set up by the government to reduce the UK's carbon footprint. The problem consumers face is can you trust the Carbon Trust.)

Source: BBC News

Interesting Fact # 638 - Mobile Phones

According to a study commissioned by the Campaign To End Child Poverty, 19% of British children think that not owning a mobile phone is a sign of being poor.

(Personally I think that thinking people are poor because they don't have a mobile phone is a sign of being stupid.)

Interesting Fact - Beauty

According to New Woman magazine British women spend a whopping £3,000 a year on beauty products and treatments.

(81 per cent of British women wear makeup every day. Yet again I buck the trend.)

Interesting Place # 60 - The USA

There are 3,142 counties in the United States.

(There are only 86 counties in the whole of the UK. I guess we really are a small country.)

Interesting Fact # 636 - Business

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UPS, the worlds biggest package carrier, delivers more than 13 million items daily.

(In 2006 they delivered 3.9 billion packages and their revenue was $47.5 billion. Funnily enough I couldn't find any statistics to show how many they lost.)

Interesting Fact # 635 - Sleep

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Total lack of sleep will kill you quicker than lack of food.

(If you go 10 days without sleep you're toast, whilst starvation takes a few weeks. In fact if you go for more than three days without any sleep at all, you will lose orientation in place and time, you will hallucinate and eventually your body will begin to break down.

The average human requires between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. This enables the body to repair and refresh itself in order to start the new day. If you try to burn the candle at both ends and don't get enough sleep, it will affect everything that you do. Mistakes can be made, accidents can happen and there is evidence of short-term memory. Good news for the over 60s is that you can get away with between five and six hours sleep.)

Interesting Fact # 634 - Business

According to the New York Times US Airways makes $10 million a year by advertising on tray tables and napkins in their airplanes.

(I wonder how much they charge to advertise on their sick bags?)

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