Showing posts from May, 2005

Interesting Fact - Language

45% of European citizens can take part in a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue.

(And I am one of them!)

Interesting Fact - Official EU languages

There are 20 official languages in the EU.

(They are:-

Čeština - CS - CzechDansk - DA - DanishDeutsch - DE - GermanEesti - ET - EstonianElinika - EL - GreekEnglish - ENEspañol - ES - SpanishFrançais - FR - FrenchItaliano - IT - ItalianLatviski - LV - LatvianLietuviškai - LT - LithuanianMagyar - HU - HungarianMalti - MT - MalteseNederlands - NL - DutchPolski - PL - PolishPortuguês - PT - PortugueseSlovenčina - SK - SlovakSlovenščina - SL - SloveneSuomi - FI - FinnishSvenska - SV - Swedish)

Interesting Fact - ID Cards

The UK currently has no ID card system.

(People are very surprised when I tell them this, in fact many people argue with me! However, there are currently plans to introduce one at a cost of £93 per person, although some economists reckon it will cost on average £300 per person. Great!)

!Update - The scheme has been abandoned. Great!

Interesting Animals - Crickets

A species of Alpine cricket (Alpinus Anonconotus) can mate every 18 seconds.

(Seemingly this guy isn't much into wining, dining and wooing though.)

Interesting Places - China

Beijing's Forbidden City and the Great Wall now attract more visitors than Florence's Uffizi Gallery or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as China overtakes Italy as the world's fourth most popular tourist destination.

(And I still haven't been! - Seen the Uffizi and the tower though.)

Interesting Fact - Global Warming

The average surface temperature of the earth climbed to a record high in 1995 - 58.7°F. Moreover, the years 1991 through to 1995 were warmer than any similar five-year period, including the two half-decades of the 1980s, the warmest decade yet recorded.

(Source: Reports by the British Meteorological Office and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.)

Interesting Fact - Mandarin

Only 53% of Chinese speak Mandarin.

(A survey by the National Language Commission shows that only 53 percent of China's 1.3 billion people speak Mandarin, the nation's official language.)

Interesting Fact - Cigarettes

Cocoa, honey, sugar and plum extract are just some of the additives that cigarette makers put in their products, Germany's consumer ministry said.

(There are actually 599 approved additives for cigarettes and over 4000 chemical compounds are created by burning a cigarette, many of which are toxic and/or carcinogenic.)

Interesting Animals - The Turkey

A turkey has several flaps of loose skin around the head and neck that turn color depending on its mood. The flaps are called the "wattle" (on the chin), the "snood" (on the head and over the beak) and the "caruncle" (on the throat). Under calm conditions, these areas are pinkish-gray or blue; if the turkey is annoyed or mating, all these areas turn bright red.

(Why don't humans have this capability. It would make life much easier.)

Interesting Places - The Amazon

According to reports in the Independent newspaper figures show that last year the rate of forest clearance in the Amazon (the lungs of the world) was the second highest on record. An area of more than 10,000 square miles - nearly the size of Belgium - was cut down.

(A booming market for soya beans for cattle feed (let them eat grass) is seemingly the main driver of rainforest destruction. The man allegedly responsible for this crime against humanity (and no I am not being melodramatic) is one Mr. Blairo Maggi, a millionaire farmer and politician - what a surprise! Remember him in your thoughts tonight.)

Interesting Fact - Nappies

Disposable nappies account for 2.5% of annual household waste in the UK.

(Who counted them?)

Interesting People - Posh and Becks

According to the Beckhams' former nanny, Posh's first drink of the day is Diet Coke.

(So much for the stereotype of the English drinking tea!)

Interesting Fact - Bottled Water

Coca-Cola tried to market 'Super Pure' Dasani bottled water in Britain. Then the public found out it was just filtered tap water supposedly super purified to NASA standards! If this wasn't enough they then found unacceptable levels of bromide in it - suffice to say they 'withdrew' the product.

(The headlines ran "Coke's in hot water," "Eau dear" and "The real sting" . However, I do believe they still sell this product in the US. Wake up everyone! Generally speaking, anything that doesn't say "source" or "spring" on the label is just fancy tap water.)

Interesting Animals - Bears

All polar bears are left-handed.

(Now I have never shaken hands with a polar bear, but I am sure this is true. That said, people were once sure that all swans were white.)

Interesting Fact - E-mail

According to a survey conducted by security firm Mirapoint and market research company the Radicati Group, nearly a third of e-mail users have clicked on links in spam messages. Not only that but one in ten users have bought products advertised in junk mail.

(Don't do it! Ignore Spam! Use your mail filters! End the age of the spammer!)

Interesting Food - Peas

The oldest known vegetable is the pea.

(I wonder when it has its birthday. Or should that be podday?)

Interesting Places - The Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream can carry a message in a bottle at an average of 4 miles per hour.

(It is probably faster than Royal Mail!)

Interesting Word - Typewriter

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

(Yes, you can type it out on the top row of your keyboard, but not in Germany! In Germany the y key is on the bottom row and the z key appears on the top! It makes organiying mz tzping verz interesting!)

Interesting People - George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver, who was born into slavery, invented peanut butter.

(In fact he discovered over 300 uses for peanuts. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed him a "Black Leonardo", a reference to the Renaissance Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci. To commemorate his life and inventions, George Washington Carver Recognition Day is celebrated on January 5, the anniversary of Carver's death.)

Interesting Fact - Temperature

Minus forty degrees Celsius is exactly the same temperature as minus forty degrees Fahrenheit.

(Yes, basically bloody cold!)

Interesting Fact - Taxes

During the time of Peter the Great, any Russian man who had a beard was required to pay a special tax.

(Now there's a tax they should bring back!)

Interesting Fact - Pearls

Pearls disintegrate in vinegar.

(I wonder who the unlucky person was who discovered this?)

Interesting Food - Ketchup

Tomato ketchup was once sold as a patented medicine. In the 1830s it was marketed in the United States as Dr. Miles's Compound Extract of Tomato.

(Imagine telling that to children today. I wonder if they would be so keen on it then!)

Interesting Words - Month

No word in the English language rhymes with "MONTH".

(I have thought long and hard about this one, and I think it is correct.)

Interesting Fact - Human Body

It's physically impossible for you to lick your elbow.

(Go on I dare you to try it!)

Interesting Fact - Pens

On average, 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year.

(Did you know that is why they started to put a hole in the tops? Note to self - must stop chewing biros!)

Interesting Invention - The Paper Bag - Podcast

Luther Crowell invented the paper bag in 1867.

(I can't imagine anyone inventing a paper bag! I mean it's not exactly a Eureka moment, is it?)

Interesting Fact - Dating

Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.

(We know what they are called, don't we?)

Interesting Food - Apples

Apple seeds are poisonous!

(According to Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, under certain unusual circumstances, cyanide poisoning can follow the ingestion of seeds or pits of several common fruits that are members of the Prunus species, including, apricots, cherries, almonds, peaches, and apples. All of these seeds and pits contain amygdalin. You may have heard of amygdalin as a component of Laetrile, an "alternative" cancer treatment, of no proven value, that may be associated with cyanide poisoning. This harmless chemical lies inside the seed, but when the seed is moistened and crushed, it can be converted by bacteria in the intestinal tract or by an enzyme within the seed into cyanide. Because the amount of amygdalin in an apple seed is quite small, it is highly unlikely that you would become ill from swallowing one or two seeds, especially if they were not chewed. Note to self - stop drinking Scrumpy!)

Interesting Animals - The Eel

The energy of a discharge of an electric eel could start 50 cars.

(I could have done with one of them last week when my car battery was flat. You can never find an electric eel when you need one!)

Interesting Date - May Day

May Day (the day, not the call for help) used to be known as Beltane, which means 'day of fire'. Beltane was an ancient Pagan festival. Bel was the Celtic God of the sun and marked the seasonal transition from winter to summer and celebrated the first spring planting.

(Nowadays, May Day is recognized throughout the world as International Workers' Day, or Labour Day. In 1884 US and Canadian trade unions declared that after May 1st 1886, 8 hours would constitute a legal days work.

In previous centuries working people would take the day off to celebrate, often without the support of their employer.

William Davidson, a black trade unionist and a revolutionary, was executed on May Day 1820. Davidson was born in the then pirate capital, Kingston, Jamaica and put a skull and crossbones on a black flag to say:“Let us die like men and not be sold like slaves.” He was executed for being part of a conspiracy to kill the entire cabinet, which was hoped to give the spark to a revolutio…