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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 - Money

The UK government paid social media giant Facebook 113 times more in taxpayers’ money for advertising than Facebook paid in corporation tax in the UK.

(Government departments spent £489,329 in the 2014-15 fiscal year for advertising on Facebook, who only coughed up £4,327 in corporation tax.

They only had to pay such a tiny amount because they recorded a £28.5million loss in the UK, but at the same time they handed staff £35million in share bonuses.

Increasingly it seems that the job of governments is to be cleverer than corporations, but I want to know the answer to one question, "What on earth were they advertising?")

Interesting Fact - Films

According to linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer Disney films are dominated by men when it comes to dialogue.

(Pocahontas, Mulan and The Little Mermaid were all named after the main female character, but that didn't help: In Pocahontas 76% of the dialogue was from the men, it was 77% in Mulan  and 68% in The Little Mermaid.

Beauty and the Beast had male characters speaking 71% of the time, while in Aladdin it was 90%.

Early Disney films such as Snow White had fewer speaking roles but spread them equally between male and female characters, and in Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty women seemingly had more dialogue than men.

To be fair it's not just Disney. In the film The Avengers, none of the female characters talked to each other at any point.)

On This Day

25th February

1972 - The miners strike was called off.

1982 - The European Court of Human Rights ruled that beating schoolchildren against their parents' wishes was a violation of the Human Rights Convention. Luckily my mum was against corporal punishment.

Interesting Fact - Education

According to educational charity, the Sutton Trust if you have a private education, you are considerably more likely to get to the top of British public life.

(Their research shows that Oxbridge graduates are over represented in top jobs in fields as diverse as the law, politics, medicine, journalism, and even acting.

In 2014 the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission reported that 59% of the Cabinet were Oxbridge graduates (compared to the average of less than 1% of the public as a whole). This recent research shows that although only 7% of the population attend independent fee-paying schools, almost three quarters (71%) of top military officers were educated privately, with just 12% having been taught in comprehensive schools.

Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the Sutton Trust, said: “As well as academic achievement, an independent education tends to develop essential skills such as confidence, articulacy and teamwork, which are vital to career success."

Sir Peter, I think you'll find wearing the old school tie to the interview helps too.)

Interesting Food - The UK

People in the UK are eating 3.5 million ready meals - wait for it - a day.

(According to analysts Kantar Worldpanel for trade mag The Grocer, Brits munched their way through £3.2 billion worth of chilled or frozen dinners in 2015.

Family favourites are shepherd's pie, lasagne and chicken tikka masala, with traditional British meals accounting for £1.3 billion of sales. Italian meals £610 million, Indian nearly £400 million and Chinese meals £281 million.

We are turning into a nation of microwave chefs.)

Interesting Fact - Coffee

According to a study carried out by Action on Sugar hot drinks can contain at least as much sugar as a can of Pepsi or Coca-Cola.

(In some of the worst cases the drinks tested contained 20 or more teaspoons of sugar. For example, a large Chai Latte can contain around 80g of sugar: according to the NHS, the maximum intake of added sugar per day for those aged 11 and over is about 30g or seven teaspoons - a can of Pepsi or Coke can contain around 9 teaspoons.

The drinks assessed included flavoured coffees such as mochas and lattes, hot fruit drinks and hot chocolates from coffee shops and fast food chains.  98% of the drinks they tested would have to carry a red food label for high sugar content.)

Interesting Food - Croissant

Tesco supermarkets have decided to only sell straight croissants.
(Why? Well because UK customers have complained they cannot spread jam properly on a traditionally curved croissant.

Now you probably know that the croissant is a French pastry, but what you might not know is that the word is French for crescent, and if you look crescent up in the dictionary you will see that it describes the curved sickle shape of the waxing or waning moon.  Oh dear, this is becoming an interesting word post.

Anyway, although I am suspicious of their reasons (it's far more likely that it's simply cheaper to produce straight pastries), Tescos should be able to sell their boringly straight pastries, but they shouldn't call them croissants, they should call them tout droit instead.)

PS - I am aware that no self-respecting French person would put jam on their croissant.

On This Day

20th February

1962 - John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

1986 - The Soviets launched the Mir space station.

Interesting Fact - Waste

Hamburg, Germany has banned coffee pods from all state-run buildings as part of an environmental drive to reduce waste.

(In fact, the inventor of the American version of the coffee capsule, John Sylvan, has admitted he regrets ever inventing them due to their environmental impact:  Some pods contain 6 grams of coffee, but have 3 grams of packaging, and because they are made of mixed materials, combined with organic content, they are extremely difficult to recycle.

Imagine if cars were sold like that.)

On This Day

19th February

1878 – Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.

1861 – Serfdom was abolished in Russia.

1674 – England and the Netherlands signed the Treaty of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. A provision of the agreement transferred the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to England, whereupon it was renamed New York.

On This Day

18th February

1478- George - Duke of Clarence, who had been impeached for treason by his brothers Edward IV and Richard III, was, allegedly, drowned in a gigantic vat of Malmsey wine at the Tower of London.

1517- Mary I, Queen of England was born.

1678 - John Bunyan'sPilgrim’s Progress was published.

1946- Sailors of the Royal Indian Navy mutinied in Mumbai harbour, from where it spread throughout British India.

1949- Opportunity Knocks, the forerunner to the X factor and other talent shows, was presented for the first time (on BBC radio) by its creator, Hughie Greene.

1991 - One man was killed and 43 people injured by an IRA bomb at Victoria Station, London.

1996 - An IRA bomb detonated prematurely on a bus travelling in central London, killing Edward O'Brien, the IRA member who was transporting the device. Eight other people were injured.

Interesting Fact - Fashion

According to a study carried out by home insurer MORE TH>N women are at their most fashionable around the age of 30.

(By this time the average British woman owns 212 items worth around £7,658.  Their wardrobe usually consists of 166 items of clothing (including designer outfits worth £2,399, 7 pairs of designer shoes, costing £2,086, and some, 24 pieces of jewellery worth £2,800.

Men on the other hand hit their peak at 36, but will own a staggering of £8,868 worth of clothing, shoes, watches, bags and jewellery by then.

However, 1 year later, the value of a person's wardrobe falls, and between the ages of 30 and 50 women see a 26% decrease in the value of their wardrobe and a 70% decrease in the number of designer items.  For men, the value plunge is even more pronounced, dropping by 46% over the same period.

This either means everyone develops some common sense, or they have children.)

On This Day

12th February

1809 - Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. (But only after a few million years of evolution.)

Interesting Fact - Transport

According to a report from the Department of Transport, the slowest road in England is the A306 Northbound at Richmond, which has a rush hour speed of just 3.5 mph.

(We are slowing down: In the year ending to December 2015, average speeds on local ‘A’ roads in England during the weekday morning peak were a measly 23.4 mph. The actual speed limit on a dual carriageway can vary from 40mph and 70mph, but you'll be lucky to get the chance.  One theory is that roads are getting congested by all the online shopping deliveries.

Outside of London Nottingham is home to the slowest road: The A6005 Eastbound with rush hour speeds of just 6.4 mph.  This shouldn't come as a surprise to Amatsu.)

On This Day

11th February

1990 - Leading anti-apartheid campaigner, Nelson Mandela was freed from prison in South Africa after 27 years.

Interesting Fact - Shopping

According toThe Money Advice Service (MAS), supermarkets are making an extra £1,000 from families each year by using BOGOF and other special offers.

(76% of people regularly spend more than they mean due to the buy-one-get-one-free deals among others. On average, people said they spend £11.14 more on a weekly shop, than they had budgeted for.

What's worse is some of the deals have been shown to be completely bogus, this could mean that confusing offers will be banned.)

On This Day

10th February

1763 - The Seven Years' War between Britain and Spain ended when The Treaty of Paris was signed.

On This Day

8th February

1974 - The Loch Ness Monster was allegedly photographed in Scotland.

1996 - Francois Mitterand died.   Seemingly for his last meal he decided to eat a tiny little yellow songbird called an ortolan, which is illegal in France.

A typical ortolan weighs only 55 g and is about the size of a man's thumb. Depending on the preparation, the diner is sometimes required to first bite off the head of the bird and discard it on the plate. Then, the rest of the bird is eaten in one mouthful, including the bones and internal organs. A napkin is worn over the diner's head to prevent the aroma from escaping (or to cover their shame).

God grant me the grace to have something more interesting to do when I am dying.

On This Day

6th February

1945 - Bob Marley was born.

1952 - King George VI died in his sleep aged just 56 and Princess Elizabeth became sovereign of Great Britain.

(She wasn't declared Queen until February 8, and wasn't crowned Queen Elizabeth II until June 2, 1953.)

1958 - British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at the Munich-Riem airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane was the Manchester United football team, nicknamed the Busby Babes, along with a number of supporters and journalists. Twenty-three of the 44 passengers on board the aircraft died in what was to be called The Munich Air Disaster.

On this day

4th February

1789 - George Washington was elected the first president of the United States.

(He was from Virginia, and was the commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He was elected by all 69 presidential electors who cast their votes.)

1913 - Rosa Parks was born.

1959 Barbie was created, by Ruth Handler, who was one of the founders of the Mattel Company. Barbie was named after Ruth’s daughter. Later on, when the Ken doll was made, it was named after Ruth’s son.