Showing posts from November, 2005

Interesting People - Tony Blair

Tony Blair's favourite film is Rush Hour.

(Never seen it personally.)

Interesting Fact - Shopping

In the UK more than 3.5 million people have admitted shoplifting in the past five years.

(Now remember shoplifting means stealing from shops, not weight training with them.)

Interesting Fact - Parents

Every day UK parents bin eight million nappies.

(So, is it irresponsible to use disposable nappies because they damage the environment, or are disposables heroes, for allowing women to spend less time cleaning soiled children and more time on work, leisure and the brighter side of parenting?)

Interesting Words - Chokuegambo

The Japanese word "chokuegambo" describes the wish that there were more designer-brand shops on a given street.

(There is no equivalent English word for this. We would just say, "I wish there were more designer shops on this street.")

Interesting Fact - Law

In the UK prisoners have to wear lurid green and yellow jumpsuits when appearing in court so they can be easily spotted if they try to escape.

(Now that's what I call cruel and unusual punishment.)

Interesting People - C S Lewis

CS Lewis wrote his wonderful book "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in only three months.

(BTW CS stands for Clive Staples.)

Interesting Fact - Thanksgiving Turkey

Every year at Thanksgiving in the USA two turkeys are "pardoned". For many years the turkeys were given to Kidwell Farm, a petting zoo at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia. In 2005 they were flown to Disneyland in California for the famous Thanksgiving Day parade. They will spend the rest of their lives at a Disneyland ranch.

(Disneyland somehow seems better than Frying Pan Park if for a turkey who has escaped being part of someone's Thanksgiving feast.

In 2005, President Bush gave two turkeys named Marshmallow and Yam a last-minute reprieve. The two turkeys hail from Henning, Minnesota, For the third time, the American public was allowed to vote for the turkeys' names on the White House web site. 2004's turkeys were named Biscuit and Gravy, and in 2003, Stars and Stripes.)

Interesting Fact - Politics

British cabinet ministers who have been sacked, resigned or lost their seats collect an £18,000 golden handshake (and those who leave twice get the payment again).

(I always knew I was in the wrong job.)

Interesting Numbers - Telephone

In the UK you can dial the emergency services with 112 as well as 999.

(Of course, when questioned, no one in Britain knew this, but it is the European emergency number, so it makes sense.)

Interesting Fact - English Law

In the UK bailiffs cannot evict on Sundays, bank holidays, Christmas Day or Good Friday.

(What day is it today?)

Interesting Fact - Harry Potter

The French translation of the bestselling book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has an extra 120 pages.

(The reason is that French is a less concise language than English, but does it mean it's more expensive in France?)

Interesting Animals - Koalas

Koalas have fingerprints exactly like humans.

(The koala did it!)

Interesting Fact - Flags

The colours of the Irish flag are orange, green and white. Each stripe has significance :-

orange = Irish Protestants

green = Irish Catholics and republicans

white = hope for peace

Interesting Fact - Politics in the UK

Rather than abstaining, a British MP in the House of Commons can vote both for and against a motion at the same time.

(Why doesn't that surprise me?)

Interesting Fact - Health

Wrapping up warm really CAN help stop you catching a cold.

(Your granny was right. You can catch a chill from being out in the cold without your vest on. Staff at the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff took 180 volunteers and asked half of them to keep their bare feet in icy water for 20 minutes.

They found 29% developed a cold within five days, compared with only 9% in the control group not exposed to a chill.)

Interesting Fact - Birthmarks

If left alone, 70% of birthmarks gradually fade away.

(It's always best to let nature take its course.)

Interesting Words - Ransom

The concept of ransom comes from the medieval code of chivalry, which decreed that defeated knights be unharmed and exchanged for a sum of money.

(Um - chivalry? Where's the chivalry in demanding money for someone's life?)

Interesting Fact - Olympic Fact

A 19th Century covenant forbids the building of sports facilities on a plot of land earmarked for the 2012 Olympic development in east London. The government is planning to pass a law overturning the rule.

(Well what else are rules for?)

Interesting Fact - World War One

During WWI, drinking water was often delivered to the front in old petrol canisters.

(I'd always wondered where the idea for that Coca Cola taste came from.)

Interesting Fact - Remembrance Day

The French equivalent of the Remembrance Day poppy is the blue cornflower.

(Strange, because the national flower of Germany is the blue cornflower too.)

Interesting Fact - Big Ben

The world’s most famous clock, The Tower Clock, which houses Big Ben, checks its time with the BT Speaking Clock.

(Many other major organisations have permanent feeds of the clock from BT into their private internal phone systems so employees can check the time without making an outside call.

Just as well Big Ben doesn't speak though. "Bong bong b-o-n-g!!!!!")

Interesting Fact - Time

There have only ever been three voices for the BT Speaking Clock, apart from a two week period in March 2003 when Lenny Henry, a famous British comedian, did a special version of the Speaking Clock in aid of Comic Relief.

(A London telephonist, Jane Cain was the first voice in 1936 and lasted until 1963. She was followed by a Miss Pat Simmons, a supervisor in a London telephone exchange, she was the second voice from 1963 until 1984. The present voice, belongs to Brian Cobby (73) who was an assistant supervisor at Withdean exchange in Brighton. He became the first male voice at 11 am on 2nd April 1985. Brian Cobby, an actor by profession before he joined BT, was selected from 12 finalists in BT’s Golden Voice competition, on 5th December 1984.)

!Note - The speaking clock is a telephone service provided by British Telecom where you dial 123 to hear a recording of the time, but be warned, you will be charged 31p for doing so.

Interesting Fact - Time

Originally the accuracy of the BT Speaking Clock was one-tenth of a second, it is now correct to within five thousandths of a second!

(Does it really matter when you are setting your alarm clock?)

Interesting Fact - Time

The BT Speaking Clock has been ticking 24-hours a day, seven days a week since 24th July 1936.

(If you work it out, this is around 67 years, which is more than 24,000 days, more than 586,000 hours or 35 million minutes!  And that, I think you will agree, is a long time.  (Oh, and if you're reading this beyond 2005, it's been even longer.))

Interesting Fact - Nettles

Nettles growing on land where bodies are buried will reach a foot higher than those growing elsewhere.

(At least it means we are nutricious.)

Interesting Fact - Bonfire Night Fact

In Guy Fawkes's day, anyone who persistently refused to attend Protestant church services was fined £20 a month.

(Back then £20 was the annual salary of a school teacher! I think my bill would have been pretty large.)

Interesting Fact - TB

There used to be signs on buses in the UK warning against spitting to guard against the spread of TB.

(Could we have the signs back please?)

Interesting Inventions - Sellotape

Richard G. Drew (1899-1980) invented masking tape and clear adhesive tape (also called cellophane tape, Sellotape or Scotch tape). Drew was an engineer for the 3M company (the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing).

Drew's first tape invention was a masking tape made for painters in 1923 (this tape was designed to help painters paint a straight border between two colors). This early masking tape was a wide paper tape with adhesive on only the edges of the tape - not in the middle. Drew made an improved tape called Scotch (TM) Brand Cellulose Tape in 1930. This tape was a clear, all-purpose adhesive tape that was soon adopted worldwide. The first tape dispenser with a built-in cutting edge was invented in 1932 by John A. Borden, another 3M employee.

Interesting Fact - Cost of water

The daily cost of water for the average UK household is 68p - what it would cost to buy a 2-litre bottle of Evian in a supermarket.

(Evian spelt backwards = naive.)

Interesting Fact - Law

In colonial America, servants negotiated agreements that they would not be forced to eat lobster more than twice a week.

(I think even once a week is unecessary punishment.)