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Interesting Fact - The equals sign

The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equa...

Interesting Fact - Lost Property

In 2012, over 246,241 items were handed to lost property offices in London after being found on trains and buses.


(Shopping trolleys, umbrellas, medicine, and even the ashes of a loved one are all on the list of things that got left behind.

Happily 52,000 people were eventually reunited with their property.)

Interesting Fact - OCD

According to the charity OCD-UK, clinical research stats suggest about 750,000 people, approx.1.2% of the UK population suffer with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).

(However research suggests that 44% of the population think they have it. A common phrase in the UK is "I'm a bit OCD", well ladies and gentlemen, that's not OCD.

Some signs of OCD are:-

Compulsive hand-washing (Do you keep scrubbing your hands raw, or use sanitizer?)

Overzealous cleaning (Is your house spotless?)

Checking behaviour (Is the oven off?)

Counting everything (How many steps in your house?)

Perfect Organisation (Is your desk always tidy?)

Fear of violence (Are you frightened to go outside?)

Unwanted sexual thoughts (Are you disgusted at yourself?)

Dwelling on relationships (Do you still obsess about your old flames?)

Always seeking reassurance (Do you ask your friends the same questions over and over?)

Hating your looks (Do you like what you see in the mirror?)

Source.)

Interesting Fact - Technology

According to research carried out by the Ultra Parallel Visible Light Communications project, a joint venture between the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Strathclyde, and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council wireless transmission reaching speeds of 10Gbit/s – more than 250 times faster than ‘superfast’ broadband is possible using converted LED lightbulbs.

(The technology, cleverly called Li-Fi by Edinburgh University's Prof Harald Haas, would enable existing LED light bulbs to be converted to transmit Li-Fi signals with a single microchip.  The
bulbs would have to be kept on to transmit data, but they could be dimmed to the point that they were not visible to humans, and would be more secure than Wi-Fi, as hackers would be unable to access unsecured internet connections from out of sight of the transmitter.)

Source


 

 

Interesting Fact - Law

In the UK, the maximum prison sentence for dog owners whose pet is involved in a fatal attack will be increased to 14 years. 

(The maximum prison term is currently only two years.  

And the new penalty will match the maximum for causing death by dangerous driving. 

There will be an exemption from prosecution for householders whose dogs attack trespassers in or entering the home.)

Interesting Word - Lachanophobia

Lachanophobia is a fear of vegetables.

(The reason this came up was there have been a couple of news stories on people suffering from this condition in the UK.

According to the Mail Online, students Vicki Larrieux and Abi Stroud cannot eat their five a day because they suffer from panic attacks at the merest sight of a sprout or a pea, and what is worse The Metro reports that Dee Vyas developed the phobia after being made to eat greens as a child.  Why is it worse than the other two? She's a vegetarian! Seemingly, she lives off sweets and crisps.

I think a bit of cognitive therapy would come in handy here.)


 


Interesting Fact - Smuggling

Major cigarette firms in the UK have been accused of fueling black market in smuggled tobacco.

(The accusation is that UK tobacco manufacturers turn a blind eye to the avoidance of UK tax by supplying more of their products to European countries than the legitimate market in those countries could possibly require.

The “high-risk” oversupply countries included the Benelux nations – Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and of course Spain, where many Britons go on holiday. Just one “white van man” bringing back a single load of tobacco is estimated to cost the Exchequer £60,000 in lost revenue.

He probably tells customs it's for "personal use".)

Interesting Fact - Facebook

Clicking the Like button on Facebook is part of free speech and so constitutionally protected.

(The ruling has come about following the sacking of several workers for supporting an opponent in a sheriff's 2009 re-election bid, where a district judge, Raymond Jackson in Norfolk, ruled that clicking the 'like' button did not amount to expressive speech.

That ruling has now been overturned, so "liking" a political candidate's campaign page communicates the user's approval of the candidate and supports the campaign by associating the user with it. In this way, it is the Internet equivalent of displaying a political sign in one's front yard, which the Supreme Court has held is substantive speech.'

Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, said in a written statement. 'The Constitution doesn't distinguish between `liking' a candidate on Facebook and supporting him in a town meeting or public rally.'

I can tell a lot about someone when I look at their "Likes".)

Interesting Facts - Work

According to a poll commissioned by UK law firm Slater & Gordon, 60% of women have had to ward off an unwanted advance from a colleague.

(Almost a quarter of female workers have had a more senior member of staff make a pass at them, but only 27 per cent of victims have reported the matter to their boss.

The most common places for harassment are at the desk when working a late shift, in a lift or staff corridor, and of course at the office party.

In my case it was my boss, at the office party.  I won't tell you what I did, but he didn't do it again.  That said soon after I left the company.) 

Interesting Fact - Road Safety

According to a YouGov poll, 29% of Brits don’t think the button at pedestrian crossings does anything useful.

(The fact is, according to the BBC, they are sometimes right. In New York, they are sometimes referred to as "placebo buttons", and in the UK, well - it depends. If you are at a standalone pedestrian crossing, unconnected to a junction, the button will turn a traffic light red. At some crossings, the button will work, but only between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m. In the daytime, the button has no effect.

To be honest, I don't care, I'll still keep poking them.)

Source

Interesting Fact - Road Safety

According to a survey by YouGov, 47% of British adults say they often don’t even bother to find a designated crossing when they need to cross the road.

(You might think this is jaywalking, but it's not illegal in the UK. I always say, "the crossings are there for me, I am not there for the crossings".)

Source

Interesting Fact - Education

50 years ago only 5% of young people in the UK went to university.

(The ONS (Office for National Statistics) found that 27.2% of the UK population aged 16 to 74 had a degree or equivalent or higher, and according to the UK government's universities minister, David Willetts, the number of places at UK universities will have to grow by at least a quarter over the next 20 years.

We have a long way to go to beat Finland though: In Finland 80% of young women are now going to university.

Going to university may become as natural as going to school.)

Interesting Fact - Education

According to government figures, one in ten teachers working in free schools in the UK are not formally qualified.

(Free schools, the wonder child of education reform in the UK, are schools in England which are funded by taxpayers, and free to attend, but they are not controlled by a local authority, and do not have to follow the national curriculum. In addition, unlike state schools, teachers there do not have to have QTS (qualified teacher status).)

Interesting Fact - Learning

According to neuroscientists, children who write using good old fashioned pen and paper learn better than those who use a keyboard.

(A study carried out at the University of Stavanger in Norway showed that people who are learning new letters—such as children learning to read for the first time, or as adults picking up a second language with new characters— retain the information best when writing the letters by hand.

One of the researchers, Anne Mangen, said, "The movement for “the typing of a T is no different than the typing of a Y. Furthermore, when you write something on the keyboard, you get the visual output somewhere else, on the screen, as opposed to watching your hand when you write on paper."



I am so tempted to say "Told you so" again.)

Interesting Food - Sweets

Jelly Babies used to be called Unclaimed Babies.

(Aww, that's so sad.  Victorians really were weird.)

Interesting Food - Hospital Food

According to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, some hospitals in the UK are feeding patients for around £4.15 a day.

(The amount is less than half the national average, which according to the Department of Health, has risen by £1.10 from £8.77 to £9.87. 

Interestingly figures also showed that some hospitals charge £4 per hour for parking – three times the national average.

Nice to see where their priorities lie.)

Interesting Food - Frogs

The British ate frogs' legs 8,000 years before the French.

(Archaeologists at Stonehenge have found the remains of the cooked front leg of a toad, which has been dated to between 7000 and 8000 BC (or BCE for those who have been attending my sessions.

I'm not sure if this isn't something we should simply leave for the French to claim.)

Interesting Fact - Diamonds

According to scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1,000 tonnes of diamonds a year are being created on Saturn.

(These diamonds, which are big enough to be worn as jewellery, could be raining down on Saturn and Jupiter. Seemingly, lightning storms turn methane into soot (carbon) which, as it falls, hardens into chunks of graphite and then diamond.

And you just thought it was a rock.  Remember - rock is slang for a diamond or other gemstone.)

Interesting Fact - Privatisation

On the day the Royal Mail is privatised I think it's timely to remind everyone that even the great white shark Margaret Thatcher refused to flog off the Royal Mail.

(Her reason was she wasn't prepared to privatise the Queen's head.

In a YouGov poll in July 2013, two-thirds of British adults opposed the privatisation of the Royal Mail.

Nice to know that the Tories are listening to the common people.)


!Update - Three months on from privatisation, shares are trading around 561p, 70% higher than the original price of 330p.  (I'm still glad I didn't buy any.)

Today

15th October - Hagfish Day.



Allegedly the ugliest fish in the world, but I disagree, that surely has to go to the blob fish from Australia.


Interesting Fact - Money

Stacey Withers downloaded a 5-minute cartoon onto her Orange network mobile phone whilst on holiday in Turkey. What's interesting about that? Well...

(That short clip cost her a whopping £1,118. It actually cost her £101 more than the family holiday and the equivalent of £223 for every minute of the film.

She isn't alone, another British holidaymaker racked up a staggering £20,000 mobile phone bill in Turkey, when she used her internet connection to upload holiday snaps to Facebook. This was 28 times the amount she paid for her holiday.  (Lucky for her Orange reduced the amount.)

It shows me 2 things, Britain must stay in the EU and we need to let Turkey join.)

Interesting Fact - Age

According to research from the Australian School of Business, the age you decide to retire at has no impact on life expectancy.

(Did you notice the "you decide to retire" bit? Seemingly if you are forced into retirement because of redundancy or ill health, it can have a detrimental effect on your life expectancy.

There are still reasons to keep working though, research carried out at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherché Médicale (INSERM) in France has shown that people who work for longer are less likely to develop dementia. They concluded that a person who retires at 65 is 15 per cent less likely to develop the condition than someone who retires at 60. It is believed that this is because intellectual stimulation and mental engagement are protective against dementia.

I wonder if going to Bingo would have the same effect?)

Interesting Food - Beer

The lager brand, Stella Artois, is insisting that bar staff in the UK have to use the brand's full name, and not call it simply "Stella".

(It is the best selling premium lager brand in the UK, but in an attempt to rebrand the drink, they are running a campaign called the Connoisseurs Programme and are using the slogan "reassuringly expensive".

Why? Well - In Britain, it is also known as "wife beater", as its high alcohol content is thought to be responsible for many "domestic incidents". The company lowered the alcohol content from over 5% abv to 4.8% in an attempt to reposition it away from such connections to domestic violence.)

What's in a name?

Interesting Fact - Memory

Regulars to the sessions will know that I have a rubbish memory, and I'm not alone.  According to a report commissioned by Post-it sticky note pads, the average person forgets around 4 things a day.  That adds up to 1,460 things every year.

(Here are the top 10 things you are most likely to forget . . .

  1. Why you went into a room.
  2. Where you put your keys.
  3. Things you wanted to buy at the shops.
  4.  People’s names after you meet them.
  5. Where you put your pen.
  6. Taking meat out to defrost.
  7. To respond to an email.
  8. To mail something
  9. What you wanted to search for online.
  10. Where you parked your car.
How many things did I say I was going to write?)

Interesting Fact - Time

Spain is seriously considering moving back a time zone, which would align it with the UK and Portugal.

(Currently Spain's clocks run on CET (Central European Time), the same as Germany, France etc., but some people are arguing that Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) (and its summer equivalent, BST) would suit Spain's daylight hours.

According to said Ignacio Buqueras, president of the National Commission for the Rationalization of Spanish Time, Spain needs to create new habits to allow them to improve their productivity and at the same time allow them to ensure a work-life balance.

Interestingly CET was only adopted by Spain, along with other European countries, during the Second World war when Nazi-occupied France switched to German time, Spain followed suit. However, while countries such as the UK and Portugal moved their clocks back again after the war, Spain's dictator Francisco Franco decided not to.  I think that's as good a reason to change as any.)

Sources:  Sky News / Deutsche Welle



Interesting Fact - Money

According to a report from parliament's public spending watchdog, the failed NHS (National Health Service) patient record system has so far cost the British taxpayer nearly £10bn

(I say "so far" because the final bill, for what would have been the world's largest civilian computer system, is likely to be several hundreds of millions of pounds higher, it has been described as "the biggest IT failure ever seen".  

Nice use of the superlative.  I wonder if the British taxpayer can sue?)

Interesting Food - Pizza

Pizza Hut introduced the Cheeseburger Pizza Crust pizza.

(The spiel is that you can have it all - burger and pizza. At a whopping 2,880 calories, they are recommending it for sharing - for 288 calories a slice.

And people wonder why there's an obesity epidemic, I mean how many people do you know who share a pizza between 10 people?)

!Update - this pizza was withdrawn from sale in November.




Interesting Animals - Beetles

In connection with our last fact, there are other animals with superpowers that don't work properly for them. The tiger beetle is one such, they can run really, really fast.  Like the Flash.

(However, their eyes can't keep up.  This means that they run towards their prey, then they have to stop let their eyes catch up and then sprint again and hope they’ll hit it.

A bit like me playing darts. I aim, and then I just throw the dart willy nilly and hope I hit the board.)

Interesting Animal - The Housefly

Houseflies are notoriously difficult to swat, and now scientists have discovered why: It's because they have superpowers.

(According to a publication in the journal Animal Behaviour, they can actually see you coming in slow motion. They process more visual information than we can, for example, your average housefly can see a light flickering at a rate nearly seven times faster than we can.  So what we perceive as fast is in slow motion for them.

One of the researchers, Dr McNally compared it to the famous bullet-time scene in the Matrix where the bullets were moving at an incredibly slow rate as far as Keanu Reeves was concerned.)

Interesting Place - Coleshill

Coleshill in North Warwickshire is England's Viagra capital.

(The little market town of Coleshill only has a population of 6,343 people, but NHS figures show that last year, 54.87 prescriptions per 1,000 men were issued by GPs in the district for erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, placing the town well ahead of its nearest rival for the dubious title, Wychavon, across the border in Worcestershire.

The City of London has the lowest usage with just 1 prescription per 1,000 male patients.
I do hope I don't end up getting a lot of spam for posting this one!)

Interesting Fact - Wine

The UK government has a cellar that contains about £2m worth of wine and spirits.

(The cellar contains fine wines from the likes of Chateau Latour, Chateau Lafite, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

Now I understand why people go into politics.)

Today

Is world smile day.

SMILE :D

Interesting Fact - Transport

According to Europol criminal gangs are using budget airlines to fly into cities to carry out illegal activities - and then flying out the same day.

(They are either cheapskates or crime really doesn't pay.)

Today

Today is National Poetry Day in the UK.

Put pen to paper, and let the creative juices flow.

Interesting Animal - Hornets

According to China News Agency attacks by hornets in northern China have killed 41 people since July.

(A combination of rapid urbanisation and climate change seem to contributing to the problem. More than 1,600 people have also been injured by stings in Shaanxi province, but the hornets behind the deadly attacks this summer appear to be the Asian giant hornet, or Vespa mandarinia. 

Scarily, they can grow up to 5cm long and have a 6mm sting.)

Interesting Fact - Oceans

According to a review by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), the health of the world’s oceans is deteriorating.

(The problems have been known for some time, but the deterioration is happening even faster than had previously been thought.

The oceans face many threats; climate change means they are warming, and slowly turning less alkaline by absorbing CO2.  Additional problems include over-fishing, pollution, siltation and toxic algal blooms. If that's not bad enough, dead zones are being formed by fertilizer run off pollution.)

Today

1st October 2013 - The start of national mushroom month.

(This should be dedicated to all workers, who are often treated like mushrooms.  They are kept in the dark and fed manure.)