Widening the M6 motorway by one lane will cost £1,000 an inch.
(This is probably the most expensive tarmac in the world. The whole project is going to cost £2.9bn, twice as much money as Britain gives in aid to Africa in a year. Britain is actually spending £13bn on new roads, just imagine if they invested it in reducing traffic instead.)
Since June 2007 an estimated 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares) of land has been destroyed in around 3,000 wildfires in Greece.
(Some of the fires are natural, due to the high temperatures, but most have been started deliberately by developers. Because there is no land registry illegal construction is rife, but there is a simple solution, I suggest the authorities contact Google Earth for some pre fire photos, then replant in all those areas that were previously forest.)
One-day strikes now account for 55% of industrial stoppages in the UK.
(According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2005 and 2006, 55% of all stoppages lasted for just a single day. This was up from 49% in 2001. In 1988, the figure was 42%. In 1977, only 17% of stoppages lasted for a single day, while 18.5% lasted 12 days or more.)
(US researchers say that people who put on weight lead those around them to think it is OK to be bigger. data on more than 12,000 people suggested the risk was increased by 57% if a friend was obese, by 40% if a sibling was and 37% if a spouse was. Time to get hubby on a diet.)
(Five years after the concept was first proposed, the so-called $100 laptop, for developing countries, is poised to go into mass production. It's actually more rugged and energy efficient than the laptops you can buy at the moment as it has a rugged, waterproof case and uses less power.)
(The GRPR (gastrin-releasing peptide receptor) "itch gene" was found in spinal cord nerve cells by a Washington University team. This means they can now start developing anti-itch medication, so no more having to ask someone to scratch that place in the middle of your back that you can never quite reach yourself.)
No matter what you may have seen on TV, Van Gogh did not cut off his ear.
(Well not all of it anyway. He actually cut off the lower part of his left ear, leaving part of the upper ear still attached. He then wrapped the mutilated flesh in a piece of cloth and made his way to his favourite brothel where he presented it as a "present" to a prostitute. The police were called and Van Gogh was taken to hospital. The severed tissue was placed in a jar of alcohol in case it might be needed as evidence. Some months later it was thrown out. Nowadays they'd probably sell it on eBay.)
Source: Van Gogh: His Life and Art by David Sweetman
German motorways (Autobahn) are numbered according to special rules.
(The "main autobahns" which go all the way across Germany have a single digit number usually even-numbered for east-west routes and odd-numbered for north-south routes. Shorter autobahns that are of regional importance (e.g. connecting two major cities or regions within Germany) have a double digit number (e.g. A 24, connecting Berlin and Hamburg). Any very short autobahns, of local importance (such as beltways, or the A 555 from Cologne to Bonn) usually have three numbers.)
There are fewer possible moves in a game of draughts than in a game of chess.
(There are 500 billion billion possible draughts positions whilst chess has a billion billion billion billion billion possible positions. There is now a computer that will play draughts, and it can't be beaten, but you can still beat a computer at chess - phew.)
Engineers at Stanford University have invented a car that can drive itself.
(Junior is an ordinary-looking estate car - apart from £250,000 worth of sensors mounted on its roof. Personally, I'm not interested in a car that will drive itself, but once they've cracked the self-parking angle, I want one.)
Three separate reports published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Charities Aid Foundation and the London School of Economics say that the poorest donors to charity give away around 3% of their income in contrast to the wealthiest donors, whose gifts might be bigger in absolute terms but which cost a mere 1% of their available income.
(I guess that the more you have, the more you want to hang on to it. I wonder if they've ever read the story of Scrooge?)
Joggers who listen to MP3 players could be at risk from lightning strikes.
(Several cases of people suffering burns and hearing loss after being struck by lightning while wearing personal stereos have been recorded. Whilst the device isn't thought to attract the lightning, they can help to channel the current. Maybe people should wear good old fashioned rubber soled shoes.)
Mammoth hair can be sold for $50 an inch on the black market.
(Seemingly specimens of this extinct species are traded in a lucrative market not just for hair, but ivory, skin, and other body parts. You know it's true what they say, some people will buy anything. Actually my hair has a slightly woolly mammoth quality to it. I wonder how much I could flog it on eBay for.)
July 7, 2007 was considered the perfect date for a wedding.
(7-7-7, besides looking good on the invitations, getting hitched on the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year is considered lucky. The Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York offered a special July 7th wedding package. It featured a reception for 77, a seven-tier wedding cake, seven Tiffany diamonds for the bride, and a seven-night honeymoon at any Ritz in the world -- for $77,777. I just want to look at the figures in a few years, how many divorces, separations etc after the seven year itch? We'll just have to wait and see I guess.)
According to the BBC of the 800 Britons registered as living in the Niger Delta, 33 have been kidnapped in the past year.
(The percentages are staggering. The most recent case where a three-year-old British girl was kidnapped shows how bad it's become, she was the third child to be kidnapped in the last six weeks. Luckily she was reunited with her parents after being freed by her kidnappers, but they had held her for four days during which time the family went through hell.)
Pollution kills 750,000 people in China every year.
(An environmental report has allegedly found that outdoor air pollution levels in Chinese cities cause 350,000 to 400,000 premature deaths each year. Poor indoor air kills another 300,000 people and more than 60,000 die due to poor quality water. Researchers estimate that pollution will cost China as much as 5.8 percent of its GDP (gross domestic product), or about $160 billion a year. The cost of progress seems too high to me.)
In the UK there were 6.3 million 999 calls (emergency ambulance calls) made in the last year. (This is almost double the number of calls received 10 years ago. The number of immediately life-threatening incidents (termed Category A) was 1.8 million. A category A call is for those life-threatening conditions where the speed of response may be critical in saving life or improving the outcome for the patient, e.g. heart attack, serious bleeding, etc.) Listen Here
Invalid File Odeo. Seems to be the message. Along with - Application error (Rails)???
I have recorded the sound files and uploaded them to Odeo for podcasting, but I keep getting a raspberry message "Invalid File". :(
I don't know what's going on! (Are my files invalids or just invalid?) I've given up for now and contacted Odeo to find out what's going on (if anyone knows please let me know). In the meantime enjoy the previous files (they are still working and there are lots of them).
Sigh. I still haven't had any reply to my email and their forum isn't working either. There is a workround, uploading your file to the net and then building a player in Odeo using "Link to Audio". But it still doesn't tell me what's wrong with the Upload feature.
I hope to resume normal services as soon as possible. In the meantime you can listen by clicking the Listen Here link at the bottom of any post marked Podcast - this will open an mp3 file, kindly …