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Showing posts from February, 2008

Interesting Fact # 746 - Charity

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According to the Centre on Philanthropy at Indiana University, in 2006 charitable giving by individuals in the US rose to $295 billion.

(When it comes to individual contributions, Americans give the highest share of GDP (gross domestic product) at 1.67%. The UK was second at 0.73%. The lowest at 0.14% of national GDP was France. Come on mon amis, you can do better.)

Today

Women in the UK can ask men to marry them.

It's a tradition, that every leap year a woman can ask a man to marry her. And if he says, "No" he has to pay a fine or buy her a new dress.

Unfortunately as a married woman I don't think I'm allowed to do this.

Interesting People # 61 - Harry S Truman

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The former US president, Harry S Truman, didn't actually have a middle name.

(His advisers insisted he insert an initial between his first and last names to gain credibility with the voters. I would have thought telling the truth was a better credibility rating. As it is, I have two middle initials, so that must mean I have twice the credibility.)

Interesting Fact # 745 - Human Sacrifice

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The ancient Maya civilisation used to offer human sacrifices to their rain god Chaak. Seemingly the victims were painted a vivid blue before being heaved into a watery sinkhole.

(I wonder if that's where the idiom "To feel blue", which means to feel depressed or unhappy, comes from? I'd feel pretty blue if I was being painted blue and facing a watery grave.)

Today

Just before 0100 GMT, the biggest earthquake in the UK for nearly 25 years shook homes across large parts of England. The epicentre of the 5.3 magnitude quake was near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire.

(A lot of my online students won't believe me when I say we do get earthquakes in the UK. Luckily there doesn't appear to have been any widespread destruction.)

Interesting Fact # 744 - Buying a house

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According to ING Direct Bank, UK home buyers spend an average of 17 minutes looking at a house before deciding to buy it.

(17 minutes! It takes me longer than that to make my mind up about what pair of shoes to buy.)

Interesting Fact # 743 - Earnings

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According to a United Nations report called "State of the future", in 2007 25% of the world's population were living on less than $1 a day.

(Thankfully this is down from 1980 when 40% of the population were doing so, but I'm afraid that that is probably more to do with inflation than philanthropy. My premise is that if you can't pay a living wage to someone, do the work yourself. Anything else is slavery.)

Interesting Animal # 73 - Whales

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Whales catnap.

(Yes, according to researchers at St Andrews University, Sperm whales literally drift off to sleep for short periods. Drift off - get it?)

Interesting Fact # 742 - Salaries

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According to social website alljoinon.com, if housewives got paid at the going rate for doing household chores, they would earn around £30,000 a year.

(The average mum works around nine hours a day every day, and if she were paid for the amount of time she spends doing the chores it would look something like this:-

For £8 an hour a nanny would earn £36.80 a day.
Cleaning and tidying for £7.10 a day.
Cooking £17.30 a day.
Making the beds is worth about £1.29 for a chambermaid.
Washing up for £2.57.
Doing the family finances for 39 minutes, would cost £12.50 if an accountant did it.
A taxi driver would earn £2.53 for the 23 minutes of ferrying children around.
And a mystery shopper £2.10 for the 18 minutes a day of grocery shopping.

Ah - but we all know that mums are priceless.)

Interesting Fact # 741 - Smacking

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The first country in the world to ban smacking was Sweden. In fact Sweden has had an anti-smacking law since 1978.

(In the UK the Children Bill outlawed smacking in England and Wales if it causes bruising or mental harm. In Europe; Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland
Germany, Latvia and Norway have all banned smacking. I know where I'd want to live is I were a child.)

Interesting Places # 68- Mizoram

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30% of Mizoram, a mountainous region in India, is covered with wild bamboo forests.

(The bamboo flowers only once every 48 years and the flower bears a rich fruit, the flowering time is called "Mautam". Unfortunately the fruit attracts rats - millions of them, and this has caused famine in the area on more than one occasion.)

Interesting Fact # 740 - Where do Brits go?

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According to a survey for the National Geographic, the most visited facility for Brits is the nearest DIY (Do It Yourself) superstore.

(Unfortunately after visiting the DIY store a lot of Brits visit their nearest Emergency Hospital.)

Interesting Fact - Geography

In a National Geographic survey, a third of Brits asked thought that Mount Everest was either in the United Kingdom, or the Alps.

(Now I am not proud to admit that I am geographically challenged too, I once drove from Nottingham to Devon and ended up in South Mimms, but really this is embarrassing.)

Interesting Word # 67 - Tanorexic

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If someone is a tanorexic they are addicted to tanning, usually by using a sun bed, and won't stop no matter how dark (or orange) they get.

(Of course the word combines the word anorexic with tan. It's not in the dictionaries yet, but it soon will be I'm sure.)

Interesting People # 63 - Confucius

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According to state media reports in China, more than two million people have registered as descendants of Confucius.

(The celebrated Chinese philosopher's family tree was last updated in 1930, and it has rocketed by more than 1.3 million people since then. The Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee (CGCC) says that this triples the size of the celebrated Chinese philosopher's family tree, but the actual number of his descendants living across the world could actually be more than three million.)

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” Confucius

Interesting Fact # 738 - Tax in the US

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According to the IRS 99% of tax on personal income from wages is successfully collected.

(Only 70% of tax on business and investment income is collected though. I guess businesses and people who can afford to invest can also afford good tax lawyers.)

Interesting Fact # 737 - Work

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According to a survey by Manpower there is a worldwide shortage of workers.

(The top ten "Most Wanted" workers are:-

1. Sales reps
2. Skilled manual tradespeople
3. Technicians
4. Engineers
5. Accounting and finance staff
6. Labourers
7. Production operators
8. Drivers
9. Top management
10. Machinists

So there's a shortage of top management. Which must mean that there's no shortage of scraping the bottom of the barrel management.)

Interesting Fact # 736 - Valentine Fact # 4 - Boyfriends

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A More magazine poll of the "average British boyfriend" has found that 52% still live at home with their mums.

(Further research revealed that the "average British boyfriend" is, on average, aged 25, 5ft 10in, with dark brown hair and blue eyes. He rarely buys his girlfriend flowers, but will stretch to a dinner out once a month.)

Interesting Fact # 735 - 5-a-day

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According to the NHS the average person in the UK eats less than 3 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, instead of the recommended 5.

(That's because they are counting their chips as a portion.)

Interesting Food - Potatoes

According to a survey for the Health Food Manufacturers' Association, two-thirds of Britons mistakenly think that eating chips, roasties and mashed potato contributes to their five-a-day recommendation.

(The 5-a-day campaign aims to highlight the healthier benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables. The idea being that you should eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Of course the kind of fruit and veg you eat does matter, and I don't think a packet of crisps counts.)

Interesting Fact # 733 - Spitting in public

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According to a study conducted by Renmin University in China, 2.5% of people in Beijing still spit in public.

(But this is down from 4.9% in 2006. So there's hope yet.)

Interesting People # 62 - Joan of Arc

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Joan of Arc was only nineteen when she was burned at the stake.

(What were they thinking of?)

Interesting Fact - Deinococcus radiodurans

Deinococcus radiodurans means "strange berry that withstands radiation".

(It was formerly called Micrococcus radiodurans.

All those name changes. It's worse than Prince.)

Interesting Fact # 731 - Complaints

According to the Press Complaints Commission 4,340 complaints were received in 2007.

(This is a 31% increase on 2006, which either means the quality of reporting in the UK is deteriorating, or Brits are moaning more.)

Interesting Fact # 730 - Health

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According to the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and Environment, healthy people are actually a greater burden on the state, than overweight people or heavy smokers, because they live longer and oblige the taxpayer to deal with the cost of "lingering diseases of old age like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s".

(They found that while "a person of normal weight costs on average £210,000 over their lifetime", a smoker clocks up just £165,000 and the obese run up an average £187,000 bill before they shuffle off this mortal coil. Well i'm still going to go to the gym, and I'm not going to take up smoking. Sorry.)

Today

According to a poll by flour firm McDougalls, only 27 per cent of people in the UK will definitely make pancakes today, Shrove Tuesday - otherwise known as Pancake Day.

More Interesting Stuff