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Showing posts from May, 2008

Interesting Animal # 76 - Duck-billed platypus

The genetic code of the duck-billed platypus contains avian, reptilian and mammalian features.

(That's why I think God has a great sense of humour.)

Interesting People # 64 - David Blaine

Magician David Blaine set a world record by holding his breath for 17 minutes and four seconds on Oprah Winfrey's US TV show in Chicago.

(Go on see how long you can hold your breath for.)

Interesting Food - Diet

According to a study, by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford, a woman's diet around the time of conception may influence the gender of her baby.

(They think that a high-calorie diet at this time - and regular breakfasts - might increase the odds of a boy. A rather chubby boy probably.)

Interesting Fact # 806 - Trees

According to figures from accident and emergency departments in England, injuries to children from tree falls are down. In 2006-7, only 1,067 children went to casualty due to tree falls.

(That sounds like good news, but the bad news is that children are more likely to injure themselves in a tumble out of bed - 2,531.)

Interesting Fact # 805 - Trees

The most valuable tree in the UK is a plane tree in central London.

(It has been valued at £750,000, but as it is six-foot-wide and stands in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, that's not so surprising.)

Interesting Fact # 804 - Language

English is the main language in space travel.

(Knowing a bit of Russian can't hurt either.)

Interesting Food - Cravings

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According to the social network website gurgle.com, the most common craving during pregnancy for an odd combination of food is for pickles and peanut butter.

(Pickles - No! Peanut Butter - No! Pickles and Peanut Butter - No! No! No!  However, as this craving was closely followed by Marmite and ice cream... Pickles and peanut butter? Yummy!)

Interesting Word # 69 - Kosher

According to the Cambridge Dictionary online, the word kosher is applied to food or places where food is sold, prepared or kept in conditions that follow the rules of Jewish law. Informally though it's often used to describe something you can trust.

(But if you want to describe the method of slaughtering animals which conforms to Jewish law - it's not kosher, it's shechita. That just doesn't seem kosher to me.)

Interesting Fact - Pubs

25 places in the UK claim to have the most pubs.

(The claimants include Glasgow, Glastonbury, Bewdley, Bollington, Weymouth, Witney, Saffron Walden and St Albans. If any of these places wish to hire me to resolve this dispute, I'd be more than willing.)

Interesting Fact - Pubs

According to Mark Hastings, of the British Beer and Pub Association, more than 15 million people visit a pub each week.

(What a great job Mark Hastings has. Counting the number of people in pubs, I'd do that for nothing.)

Interesting Fact - Pubs

According to Mark Hastings, of the British Beer and Pub Association, there are 57,500 pubs in the UK.

(Somehow that doesn't seem enough for a population of nearly 61 million.)

Interesting Fact - Pubs

In the UK the most popular name for a pub is the Red Lion.

(There are 756 "Red Lions" in the UK. So if you arrange to meet anyone at the pub, make sure you know which pub you're talking about.)

Special interesting animal facts video about owls

Warning to elves! A cute little bunny gets eaten in this film!

Interesting Animal # 75 - Squid

Colossal squid have the largest eyes of any creature on the planet.

(Their eyes measure around 11 inches. I bet they make great hypnotists.)

Interesting Fact # 799 - The Law

Unlawfully laying hands on a cow with intent, was a crime in 19th Century Britain.

(I'm not sure what the intent was though.)

Interesting Fact # 798 - Computing

According to a study by IronPort, 80% of e-mail spam is sent by Zombie PCs.

(A zombie computer, or zombie, is a computer attached to the Internet that has been compromised by a hacker, computer virus, or trojan horse. Not a computer that wonders around the streets going "Ooh! Aaah!")

Interesting Food # 36 - Foie Gras

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The city of Chicago has lifted a two-year ban on the sale of the French delicacy foie gras.



(But according to Farm Sanctuary, force-feeding birds has been banned in 15 countries, including Germany, Italy, and the UK.)

Interesting Fact # 797 - Hydrogen Powered Cars

For years BMW has been refining its dual-fuel (hydrogen/gasoline) technology. They have now developed the mono-fuel Hydrogen 7, which runs solely on hydrogen.

(According to Argonne National Laboratory it is "one of the lowest emitting combustion engine vehicles that have been manufactured." This is great news! Until you read the Spiegel that is, which says that the hydrogen dispensed at filling stations is generated primarily from petroleum and natural gas. So, the shiny new car puts about as much strain on the environment as a heavy truck with a diesel engine.)

Interesting Fact - Water

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According to figures presented at the 61st International Water Conference, between 1940 and 1990, world water usage increased four-fold.

(This isn't sustainable. Even within the United States, water is being withdrawn faster from underground aquifers than it can be replenished. One aquifer near El Paso, Texas, which serves both the U.S. and Mexico, is expected to run dry by 2020.)

Interesting Fact - Water

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According to the Peace Corp's website, of all the water on earth, 97.5 percent is salt water. Of the remaining 2.5 percent of fresh water, some 70 percent is frozen in the polar ice caps. The other 30 percent is mostly present as soil moisture or lies in underground aquifers.

(This means that less than 1 percent of the world's fresh water (or only about 0.007 percent of all the water on Earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.)

Interesting Fact # 793 - Holidays

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC, the number of paid holidays guaranteed by law in the United States is zero.

(This compares with 30 guaranteed holiday days in Finland.)

Interesting Fact - Books

In 2007 a rare first edition, from 1847, of Emily Bronte's novel Wuthering Heights sold at auction for £114,000.

(It had been expected to fetch between £30,000 and £50,000. So a nice surprise for the owner.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to Visa Europe, 41% of personal expenditure in Britain is carried out using a credit card.

(This compares with just 8% in Germany. You can imagine how many times I had to put my credit card away and scrabble around for cash when I first came here.)

Interesting Fact # 791 - Money

According to the European Central Bank six out of seven payments in Europe are made with cash.

(So much for a plastic society. Show me the money!)

Interesting Places # 79 - Derbyshire

The world’s longest-running factory in is Derbyshire.(Knitwear manufacturer John Smedley was founded at Lea Bridge in 1784.)

Interesting Food # 35 - Rice

Rice was once considered so important in Japan that it was worshipped as a god.

(Inari, the god (or goddess) of rice is related with general prosperity. A bit like football in the UK then.)

Interesting Fact - Crime

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According to the Guardian newspaper, only 3% of London street robberies are solved with the help of CCTV evidence.

(This is in spite of the fact that Britain had more CCTV cameras than any other European country. A spokesperson said that officers often avoided trawling through CCTV images "because it's hard work".

Why not put them up on YouTube, and let the public do it?)

Interesting Fact # 789 - Fat

Abdominal fat is the most dangerous.

(It is known to increase the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers. So start doing those sit ups now.)

Interesting Fact # 788 - The Olympic Torch

The Olympic torch is designed to stay alight in rain up to 50mm an hour.

(They probably tested this theory in Wales.)

Interesting Fact # 787 - The Brain

According to a study by the Max Planck Institute, the brain makes some decisions 10 seconds before they become conscious thought.

(Hence the saying, "Look before you leap.")

Interesting Fact # 786 - The origins of May Day

May 1st was declared a workers holiday by the International Working Men's Association (First International) in Paris in 1889.

(It was to commemorate the Haymarket Martyrs of 1886: 8 anarchists who were wrongly accused of throwing a bomb at police. 4 of them; Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolf Fischer and George Engel were hanged, Louis Lingg committed suicide in prison and in 1893, John Peter Altgeld, pardoned the three surviving men; Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe and Michael Schwab. A bit too late though.)

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