Featured post

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 - Greetings

According to senior business leader, Antony Jenkins, the chief executive of Barclays bank, young people in the UK are turning up for interviews lacking basic social skills, such as knowing how to shake hands.

(Mr Jenkins told the Sunday Times, "It seems basic stuff: how to shake someone’s hand, look them in the eye and hold your shoulders back.” He added that while social media was a “very effective form of communication”, it was important young people could talk to each other face to face.

Well these are the business leaders of the future Mr Jenkins, so how about learning how to fist bump?)

Interesting Food - Beer

According to GoEuro, the cheapest city to drink beer in the world is Krakow, Poland.  In the UK it is Liverpool, London is 63rd.

(The top 10 cheapest places, based on the cost of 33cl of beer were as follows:-

1. Krakow, Poland (£1.07)

2. Kiev, Ukraine (£1.07)

3. Bratislava, Slovakia (£1.09)

4. Malaga, Spain (£1.11)

5. Delhi, India (£1.13)

6. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (£1.15)

7. Mexico City, Mexico (£1.26)

8. Belgrade, Serbia (£1.27)

9. Asuncion, Paraguay (£1.28)

10. Bangkok, Thailand (£1.36)

Well, Krakow here I come!)



Interesting Fact - Accommodation

The average private rent for accommodation in the UK is often doulbe that of other EU countries.

(Many Brits spend almost 40 per cent of their earnings on rent, compared with a European average of 28 per cent.  According to the

 According to a report from the National Housing Federation, the average monthly rent in Britain was £750 at the end of 2013, compared with £400 across Europe. It was £520 in the Netherlands, £500 in Germany, £482 in France, £447 in Italy and only £268 in Poland.)

Source

Interesting Word - Twerk

Seemingly the word "twerk", which was made famous (notorious) by Miley Cyrus' antics on stage and has just made it into the Oxford English dictionary, is almost 200 years old.

(It was first used as a noun in 1820, but was spelt “twirk”, and referred to a “twisting or jerking movement” or “twitch”. The verb is believed to have emerged later in 1848, and the “twerk” spelling was in popular use by 1901.

So, Miley Cyrus, stick that in your e-cigarette and vape it.)

Interesting Fact - To Do List

According to a study by the British Heart Foundation, Brits have very ambitious To Do lists.  Unfortunately the top item on most people's list is to win the lottery!

(That's not an ambition, it's a wish!

So here are the other 9 top items:-

  1. Win the lottery (not an ambition)
  2. Travel the world
  3. See the Northern Lights
  4. Experience a once-in-a lifetime challenge
  5. See world famous landmarks such as the Taj Mahal or the Egyptian Pyramids
  6. Swim with dolphins or sharks
  7. Live and work abroad
  8. Build your own house
  9. Go on an African Safari
  10. Start up a dream business and run it
What would be on your top 10 things to do? Please don't say "Win the lottery".)

Today

25th June

Colour TV day 

Interesting Fact - Appointments

According to a survey conducted by the Daily Mail, in the UK 61,000 patients a day miss their GP appointment.

(The lost time costs the NHS over £300 million, which is equivalent to a year's work for 1,300 doctors. Some surgeries run a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy, whereby patients are removed from the list if they miss several appointments.

It is a bit of a Catch 22 situation though; many surgeries are so overbooked they can only offer slots two weeks in advance, so often the appointment is missed because the patient is "feeling better".  But if they had the courtesy to pick up the phone and cancel the appointment, there may not be a 2 week queue.)

Today

24th June

Fairy Day 

Interesting Animal - The Bee

Bees contribute more to the British economy than the Royal family.

(According to research carried out at the University of Reading, the overall value of the contribution of our busy bees is £651 million a year, which is £150 million more than the Royal Family brings in through tourism.

In fact 85 per cent of the UK’s apple crop and 45 per cent of our strawberry crop relies on bees to grow. These two crops alone brought in £200 million to Britain in 2012. Unfortunately honeybee colonies have slumped in the UK from 250,000 in the 1950s to fewer than 100,000 today.

In Germany everyone seems to have their own beehive.)

Interesting People - Michael Gove

Michael Gove, beloved by teachers everywhere, has issued civil servants working under him in his new role as head of the Department of Justice, with detailed guidance on his idea of what constitutes good grammar.

(The guidelines, entitled Ministerial Correspondence Preferences, tell officials to write “make sure” instead of “ensure” and to avoid using the word “impact” as a verb. He is also unhappy with the use of contractions, such as “doesn’t”, and the deployment of “yet” and “however” at the beginning of sentences. It also suggests that “the phrases best-placed and high-quality are joined with a dash, very few others are” and discourages unnecessary capitalisation and repetition.

This is two years after he circulated “10 golden rules” to officials in the Department for Education, but it isn't the first time government officials have done this kind of thing: In 2012 the then environment secretary Owen Paterson issued a 10-point list which included a ban on his department’s officials starting sentences with “and” or “but”.

Justine Greening, as transport secretary in 2011, had her officials draft a five-page instruction manual on grammar and style, which stated that she did not approve of the use of adverbs or abbreviations in official documents.

It's nice to see they are dealing with such important issues.  After all, in the UK, there's no flooding, or pollution, the jails aren't overcrowded, our education is the best in the world, the trains all run on time, and the roads are in no way conjested. Yes, definitely time to let the inner grammar nazi loose.)

Interesting Fact - Exam Grades

According to a report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, the Saturday job is dead.

(In the 90s, nearly half of sixth-formers (16-17-year-old students) in the UK had a Saturday job, but that number had fallen to 18% by 2014.

Now, before you say it's because youths of today are a bunch of lazy so and sos, it seems it's because they prefer to spend their time studying.  And they could well be right for doing so, as research from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex found that taking a part-time job  while studying for exams, helped students gain work skills and pocket money for those teenage essentials, but had a negative impact on their exam results.

I would still take a Saturday job.  No one cares about your exam results after a few years, but people always value experience.)


Source

Interesting Food - Memories

According to a study by BUPA, 80% of Brits believe families today are missing out on creating happy memories by not eating meals together.

(The top foods that invoked childhood memories were:-
  1. Ice cream
  2. Roast dinner
  3. Fish and chips
  4. Apple crumble
  5. Bangers and mash
  6. Shepherd’s pie
  7. Spaghetti Bolognese
  8. Strawberries and cream
  9. Fruit salad
  10. Bakewell tart
For me it's sherry trifle.)

Interesting Place - Houses of Parliament

According to a report by Deloitte Real Estates, the Houses of Parliament refurbishment could cost between £3.5bn and £5.7bn.

(The buildings date from the mid-nineteenth century, after the original Palace of Westminster was all but destroyed by fire in 1834. But now the roof is leaking, paintwork is peeling, stonework crumbling and lifts are creaking to the point that MPs have become trapped, missing key votes in the Commons.

Costs of renovation could spiral to as high as £7.1bn (once that has been said, it is bound to be even more. The first time I read about this in 2014 they were quoting  £1bn.)

Time to turn it into luxury flats, and move parliament to Manchester?)

Interesting Fact - Farms

According to a survey carried out by the sustainable food and farming organisation Leaf (Linking Environment and Farming), more than one in three British children have never heard the classic farmyard sounds in real life.

(Increasingly, youngsters are only hearing the sound of nature through their computer or TV screen, which means they have never heard a real cow go “moo”, a sheep go “baa”, or a pig go "oink".

This means many kids are oblivious to where the food they eat comes from.  25% didn't know the names for baby cows, sheep, pigs or chickens, and more worryingly one in five had no idea bacon comes from pigs, while one in 20 thought we get cheese from them. Pig cheese? Eew!

My favourite was that 5% percent of the children surveyed believed strawberries grow inside the fridge.  Which has a certain logic to it.  At least they had thought about it a bit.) 

Today

18th June

The finals of the World Latte Art Championships will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden.



It's also international picnic day, and we will be looking at picnic vocabulary in Kitely this week.

Interesting Numbers - The Lottery

Camelot, the company that runs The National Lottery in the UK, has reduced the odds of winning the jackpot by 320%.

(They have added an extra 10 numbers, which means people will have to choose 6 numbers out of 59 not 49. The odds of matching six numbers from 49 balls was 14 million to one - with 59 numbers those odds jump to a whopping 45 million to one.

And there will be no more maximum number for rollovers - which means that jackpots could keep rolling and get bigger and bigger, and people will get greedier and greedier.

Another change means that people will get something for matching 2 numbers - a free Lucky Dip ticket for a future draw. Wow!)

Interesting Fact - Class in the UK

According to research by the social mobility and child poverty commission, old-fashioned snobbery is alive and kicking in the UK.

(Elite British companies are thwarting the career prospects of talented working-class applicants and recruiting applicants from public schools because of their accents and mannerisms.

The commission examined recruitment at 13 elite law, accountancy and financial companies who between them appoint 45,000 of the top jobs in the country. It found that 70% of jobs offered by those firms in 2014 went to applicants from public or selective schools, even though such schools only educate around 11% of the population.

I'm not in the least surprised, but it's their loss. If you are talented, but turned down for a job because you aren't "posh" enough, open your own company, and put them out of business in a few years.)

!Note - A public school is a private school in the UK.  I went to a state school.

Source

Interesting Fact - Education

nder plans set out by Schools Minister Nick Gibb, every state school pupil will be expected to sit at least five “hard” GCSEs to increase the number of state-educated students at the best universities and in the top professions, the government has said.

(This means that all pupils starting secondary school in autumn 2015 will be expected to take maths, English, a foreign language, history or geography and at least one science subject when they begin their GCSE courses in 2018.

If you have just sat your art and design, music and drama, business studies, communication and culture and citizenship exams, you can breathe a sigh of relief.)

Interesting Fact - Marriage in the UK

According to research carried out by American Express, wedding guests in the UK spend around £640 each to attend nuptials.

(Guests spent on average £114 on hotel accommodation, £112 on gifts and £105 on their outfit before they even factored in how they got there. On average it cost £96 to travel to the venue.

Maybe we should just send the money to the happy couple.) 

On This Day

13th June

1249 – Alexander III was crowned King of Scotland.

1525 – Martin Luther married Katharina von Bora, against the celibacy rule decreed by the Roman Catholic Church for priests and nuns.

1625 – King Charles I married French princess Henrietta Maria de Bourbon.

1774 – Rhode Island became the first of Britain's North American colonies to ban the importation of slaves.

1886 - Fire destroyed nearly 1,000 buildings in Vancouver.

1912 - Albert Berry made the first parachute jump from an airplane.

1934 – Adolf Hitler and Benitto Mussolini met in Venice. Mussolini later described the German dictator as "a silly little monkey".

1970 – "The Long and Winding Road" became the Beatles' last Number 1 song.

1977 – James Earl Ray, the convicted murderer of Martin Luther King Jr. was recaptured after escaping from prison three days before.

1980 - The U.N. Security Council called for South Africa to free Nelson Mandela

1981 – At the Trooping of the Colour ceremony in London, a teenager, Marcus Sarjeant, fired six blank shots at Queen Elizabeth II.

1991 - Boris Yeltsin celebrated victory as Russia's first popularly-elected president.

1994 - Nicole Brown Simpson, the ex-wife of former football star O.J. Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were found stabbed to death outside her condominium in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles.

2000 – Italy pardoned Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Interesting People - Clarence Nash

Clarence "Ducky" Nash, an American voice actor, was the voice of Disney's Donald Duck.
(He provided Donald's distinctive voice for over 50 years, but he was also the original voice for Tom in Tom and Jerry.)

Interesting Animal - The Robin

The robin has been named Britain's national bird.
By Lukas Esser (Own work) [CC BY 3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons

(The short list of 10 birds included:-

The robin 
The barn owl
The kingfisher
The wren
The blue tit
The mute swan
The blackbird
The puffin
The red kite
The hen harrier

It's strange that the starling, the pigeon and the sparrow didn't make the short list. 

Ornithologist David Lindo - who launched the campaign - said the robin was "entwined into our national psyche" as a "Christmas card pin-up".

I wonder if it ever got centre-fold status.)

Today

11th June

Christopher Lee died. The best Dracula ever.

Interesting Food - Britain's happiest food

According to a study by Bupa, ice cream is Britain's happiest food.

(76% of Brits said food could boost their mood.

The foods that make us feel happiest are:-

  1. Ice cream
  2. Roast dinner
  3. Fish and chips
  4. Strawberries and cream
  5. BBQ
  6. Apple crumble
  7. Pizza 
  8. Steak and chips
  9. Curry 
  10. Spaghetti Bolognese 
I'm surprised no one mentioned chocolate (It is a food, isn't it?), or steak and kidney pie.)

Interesting Fact - Clothes

According to a report in the International Journal of Clinical Practice: wearing high heels regularly for more than 3 years can ruin your feet.

(Initially high heels can strengthen muscles around the ankle, but after three years some muscles become dominant and this increases the risk of sprains, and more severe problems like deformed feet, back pain and unhealthy walking patterns.

I've spent most of my adult life in flatties, but I still have problems.  I think it's called old age.)

Today

9th June

Donald Duck Day

Interesting Fact - Longevity

According to evolutionary psychologist Professor Robin Dunbar, gossiping about others could help us to live longer.



(He told the Cheltenham Science Festival that the most important thing that will prevent you dying is the size of your social network, adding "Language evolved to allow us to keep the oil of the social network flowing, keep us up to date, and tell stories which is really important for community cohesion."

And he's not alone: Dr Matthew Feinberg, a researcher at Stanford University also said: “Groups that allow their members to gossip sustain co-operation and deter selfishness better than those that don't."

Other studies have implied that gossiping about others is what sets us apart from the animals, and according to scientists at the University of Michigan it's especially good for women, a woman is happier and healthier if she enjoys a regular chat with her female friends because it boosts levels of progesterone, a hormone shown to reduces levels of anxiety and stress.

I think you can have a nice chat without gossiping though.)

Interesting Fact - Romance

According to a survey run by GoEuro, women in France and Belgium ranked British men as the most desirable in Europe.

(The European survey found that the typical British gentleman is now perceived to be the third most attractive nationality, ahead of the French (in fourth place).

Go Euro said, the change in fortunes could be down to English now being the most widely-spoken language.

I like to think I've done my bit for the men of Britain.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to a study carried out by price comparison site Confused.com, being in a relationship in Britain can cost an extra £2,340 a year compared with being single.

(Travel, eating out, and food all cost more when you're a couple, and people in relationships eat out more often, have more weekends away, spend more on clothes and are more likely to pay for a gym membership.

In other words, they have more fun.)

Interesting Fact - GCSE Maths #EdexcelMaths

The Twitter hashtag #EdexcelMaths popped up all over the internet following  the GCSE maths exam paper from Edexcel (part of the Pearson group).  It contained a question about someone called Hannah and her bag of orange and yellow sweets, and caused a hilarious Twitter storm.

(Tweets like this:-



flooded the net over the following question:-

Hannah has 6 orange sweets and some yellow sweets.
Overall, she has n sweets.
The probability of her taking 2 orange sweets is 1/3.
Prove that: n^2-n-90=0
According to the Independent, this is the answer:-
There are 6 orange sweets and n sweets overall. So, if Hannah takes one, there is 6/n chance of getting an orange sweet. When she takes one,, there is one less orange sweet and one less overall meaning that the probability is now (6-1)/(n-1)=5/n-1.
To find the probability of getting the orange sweet both times, multiply the two fractions: 6/n* 5/n-1 =30/n^2-n.
It shows the probability of taking two orange sweets (1/3) is: 1/3=30/n^2-n.
The denominators then need to be the same, so multiply 1/3 by 30 which would then make 30/90=30/n^2-n.
Discounting the 30 on both sides of the equation makes n^2-n=90. By moving 90 onto the other side of the equation, it will equal zero.

There was also a question about the volume of two pieces of cheese, which elicited the following response from Joe Reeves :-

Why did Jane bother cutting her cheese into two different shaped cuboids if she wanted the same volume?

Another question mentioned pencils, which brought the following response from someone called Brittany:-

"I'm going to stab myself in the eye with all of those pencils John bought for the conference."
Of course students in China would laugh in the face of this.  They are sitting the Gaokao, which lasts for two days and is dubbed the "the world's toughest exam".  Maybe Pearson wanted to steal their thunder.

I'm so glad Twitter didn't exist when I sat my exams.)

Interesting Names - Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde

Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde are the names of the ghosts in Pac-Man.


(The red one is Blinky, the blue one Inky, the pink one is (you guessed it) Pinky, and the orange one is Clyde.

According to studies, the red ghost chases Pac-Man all of the time, the pink and blue ones try to position themselves in front of Pac-Man's mouth, and the orange one chases Pac-Man most of the time, but also moves toward the lower-left corner of the maze when it gets too close.

I'm still rubbish at it, I just panic when the ghosts chase me / it / him.)

Interesting Word - Pac-Man

Pac-Man started life as Pakkuman in Japan, created from the Japanese phrase “paku-paku taberu”, slang for smacking your lips.

(According to the creator Toru Iwatani, it was to be called Puck-Man for its US release, but the name was changed because they realised someone might vandalize the “P” and turn it into an “F”, so they changed it to Pac-Man.

And the rest, as they say, is history.)

Interesting Invention - Pac-Man

The video game Pac-Man holds the Guinness World Record for having the most "coin-operated arcade machines" installed world wide.

(293,822 to be exact. It is thought that Namco has made nearly 3 billion dollars from the little guy, but the creator Toru Iwatani never made a penny, apart from his salary.  Such is the fate of many a wage slave.)