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It is cheaper to ship waste from London to Shenzen in China than it is to send it by road from London to Manchester.
(The world has officially gone mad.)
(University of Worcester carried out tests on 10 duvets, a survey also revealed two-in-five Britons admitted to not washing duvets every six months. I'm just going to switch the washing machine on now.)
The male Emperor penguin withstands the Antarctic cold for 60 days or more to protect his eggs, which he keeps on his feet, covered with a feathered flap.
(During this entire time he doesn't eat a thing, in fact most daddy penguins lose about 25 pounds while they wait for their babies to hatch. Afterwards, they feed the chicks a special liquid, which they regurgitate from their throats. When the mother penguins return to care for the young, the fathers go to sea to eat and rest. Of course the average female mother does it the other way round. We put on pounds whilst we're pregnant, and then when the baby is born we go off to starve ourselves and work.)
Harvesting rhubarb in candlelight is supposed to help preserve its flavour.
(Personally that is just a very good reason to harvest it in brilliant sunshine. Although the producers do swear it's much nicer than the kind of school dinner rhubarb that I remember.)
A Parisian metal smith named Laurens invented the first coffee percolator in around 1818 / 1819.
(However James H. Mason, of Franklin Massachusetts was issued the first U.S. patent for the coffee percolator in 1865. I have never understood patent law.)
(People in Germany consume on average 16 pounds per person. Now I say "People in Germany" rather than "Germans" because I'm in Germany and I account for a considerable amount.)
The are about 30,000 wild parakeets in London.
(When you first see one you might be forgiven for thinking someone had lost their pet, I mean how could they survive our British winters? But, parakeets originate from the Himalayan foothills, so winters in the UK are no problem for them. )
Today is Mothering Sunday in the UK. But, Anna Jarvis is the woman who invented the modern American incarnation of Mother's Day, which falls on the second Sunday in May.
(She became so distressed by its commercialisation that she tried to copyright the date to protect her idea. She failed. In the US nowadays Mother’s Day is the third most important card giving day after Christmas and Valentine’s Day. )
(According to an Estates Return Information Collection's report, the top earners were Southampton University Hospitals at £2.41m and Cambridge University Hospitals, £2.26m. Overall, the NHS took £95m in charges but 74 trusts did not supply figures.)
There are around 200 million incandescent, tungsten filament light bulbs sold each year in the UK.
(However, its days are numbered. There are plans to phase it out by 2011 in favour of energy-saving bulbs. Suffice to say I'm well ahead of them.)
The Office for National Statistics' Social Trends reports that in Britain, 42.3 per cent of children are born out of wedlock.
(In 1994, the figure was 32 per cent, but in the early 1970s it was less than 10 per cent. The number exceeds 50 per cent in some parts of the UK, including Wales. Britain now has the fourth highest level of births outside marriage in Europe, after Sweden, Denmark and France.)
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According to the Guardian newspaper there are twice as many privately-owned tigers in the US as there are in the wild in the rest of the world.
(Of course they should feel lucky they're not lions. Rich Americans, Europeans and Japanese pay about £20,000 to kill a lion in Botswana. The government usually permits the shooting of about 50 lions a year by trophy hunters but decided to impose the ban in part because American shooters favour lions with thick manes for their walls, leading to a disproportionate killing of mature males.
The shortage of such beasts is now so great that hunters have been making use of a mane-extension service back in the US where fake hair is weaved in to give their trophies an extra flourish before they hang the heads. I bet that makes them feel so big and strong and tough.)
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According to a report in the Daily Mail officials at the Health and Safety Executive are just as prone to accidents as the rest of us. Staff there have been involved in 500 accidents in three years.
(One person slipped on a raisin of all things and another cut his head when he walked into a warning sign, which is priceless. I just wonder who investigates these accidents at the place that is supposed to investigate accidents. The Health and Safety, Health and Safety Executive?)
(Amye Everard became the first women in England to be granted a patent for her "preparation for a tincture of saffron". I think the patent has run out now, but you can never be too sure.)
There are 946 billionaires in the world .
(They have a total of $3.5 trillion (£1.82 trillion). Good old Bill Gates held the top spot for the 13th year running with a piggy bank of $56bn. But of course non of them are actually worth this.)
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Babies in Germany are getting bigger.
(20 years ago the average birth weight of a baby was 3,500 grams. Today it is nearly 4,000 grams. It's thought that genes play a factor, but also the better nutrition of the birth mother. A similar thing is happening in the UK and unfortunately the effect has been more surgery for mothers. Caesareans increased last year to a rate of nearly one in four of all births in Britain, up from one in 33 in the 1950s.)
The term "jaywalking", which means crossing the road or walking along the street without regard for approaching traffic, came from the US slang "jay", a term popular in the early 20th Century which means a rustic newcomer unfamiliar with city ways.
(It is not actually illegal to jaywalk in the UK, but if you do you are violating the Highway Code and you are liable for any resulting accident.)
Newcastle is the noisiest place in England.
(A report by Professor Deepak Prasher, of the Ear Institute, said it topped a traffic noise table with 80.4 decibels, said to be the equivalent of a loud alarm clock constantly ringing in a person's ear.)