Showing posts from 2006

Interesting Fact - UK life expectancy

UK life expectancy has risen. According to Wiki in 2006 people in the UK have a life expectancy of 78.54 years.

(Of course more than a million Brits have given up smoking in the last eight years and a recent editorial in the Lancet entitled, 'How do you sleep at night, Mr Blair?', said that 80 percent of people in the UK are now non-smokers.)

Interesting Fact # 449 - UK Population - Podcast

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The UK population grew at a rate of 500 per day in 2005 as immigration out-stripped emigration.

(In total, 565,000 people arrived in the UK in 2005 saying they intended to stay for at least a year. At the same time, 380,000 people left - 1,000 people a day - more than half of whom were British citizens. Well I account for 1 down.)

Interesting Word # 48 - Glabella

The glabella is the smooth area between the eyebrows just above the nose.

(In Chinese culture, this space is one of the first places face reading fortune tellers look when they want to know your fortune. There is a special name for the space between the eyebrows, called the ‘Yin Tang’. It is considered the central point of a person’s energy and spirit. So the shape and form of this area will foretell a person’s fortunes, especially at the age of 28. The color will also tell about a recent future event.)

Interesting Fact # 448 - Tornadoes in the UK

A recent tornado that devastated part of London was only one of 40 to hit the UK in 2006.

(You see now why the British are facinated with weather.)

Interesting Fact - Witchcraft

It's only 62 years since the last person was prosecuted for witchcraft in the UK.

(Helen Duncan (1897 – 1956) was a Scottish medium. During World War II, she held a seance in Portsmouth at which she indicated knowledge that a warship had been sunk. Because this fact had been kept from the public, the British Admiralty chose to attempt to discredit her. She was arrested and eventually charged at first with conspiracy and then witchcraft, she was jailed for nine months. Winston Churchill was less than impressed with the whole thing and eventually repealed the Witchcraft Act in 1951.)

Interesting Fact - CCTV cameras

There is a CCTV camera for every 14 people in the UK.

(The Surveillance Studies Network report says there are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in the UK. It reminds me of a Police song:-

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
Ill be watching you.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 17 - Ukrainian Christmas Day - Podcast

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Christmas Day in the Ukraine can be celebrated on either December 25, in faithful alliance with the Roman Catholic Gregorian calendar, or on January 7, which is the Orthodox or Eastern Rite (Julian calendar), the church holy day.

(Why not both?)

Oh and Happy Christmas to you.

Interesting Christmas Fact - The Christmas Truce

The Christmas truce of 1914 really did take place, it is a term used to describe the brief unofficial cessation of hostilities that occurred between German and British troops stationed on the Western Front of World War I during Christmas 1914. The truce began on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium, for Christmas. They began by placing candles on trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols, namely Stille Nacht (Silent Night). The British troops in the trenches across from them responded by singing English carols.

The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were calls for visits across the "No Man's Land" where small gifts were exchanged — whisky, cigars, and the like. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brough…

Interesting Christmas Fact # 15 - Charles Dickens

After "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens wrote several other Christmas stories, one each year.

(None was as successful as the original.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 14 - Wassailing

"Wassail" comes from the Old Norse "ves heill"--to be of good health.

(This evolved into the tradition of visiting neighbours on Christmas Eve and drinking to their health. Preferably with their booze.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 13 - 12 days of Christmas

The gifts given to mark the "Twelve Days of Christmas" are: A partridge in a pear tree, two turtledoves, three French hens, four calling birds, five gold rings, six geese laying, seven swans swimming, eight maids milking, nine ladies dancing, ten lords leaping, eleven pipers piping, and twelve drummers drumming. Add them up and there are 364 gifts, one for ever yday of the year.

Interesting Christmas Fact # 12 - Ukrainians

At Christmas, Ukrainians prepare a traditional twelve-course meal.

(The youngest child watches through the window for the evening star to appear, a signal that the feast can begin. As the youngest I'm glad we don't do that in the UK - I'd rather watch tele.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 11 - December 25th

December 25th was not celebrated as the birthday of Christ until the year AD 336.

(Christian leaders set the date to December 25 in an attempt to eclipse a popular pagan holiday in Rome (Saturnalia). For the first three centuries of Christianity, Christmas wasn't even in December—. In fact you wouldn't have found it on any calendar.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 10 - Xmas

"Xmas" and "X-mas" are common abbreviations of the word "Christmas". They are sometimes pronounced "eksmas" and are not irreligious.

The "-mas" part comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for "festival" or "religious event":
And the X probably arose from "XP" or "Xt"; which are found in Anglo-Saxon as far back as 1021 AD. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ and ρ), used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for "Christ").

Source - Wiki

Interesting Fact # 445 - Plastic Surgery on the Never Never - Podcast

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Research by Sainsbury's Bank has revealed that Brits spend £1.8 million on plastic surgery every single day

(And it's not just body conscious women - men account for one in five of the loans taken out to fund such cosmetic improvements. Yes, they borrow money from the bank to pay for the surgery. What happens if you default? Does the bank come and repossess your nose or - eek - other bits?)

Original photo by Jusez

Interesting Fact # 444 - Tax - Podcast

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According to the Sunday Times, there are 32 billionaires based in the UK who pay no personal tax there.

(Well I guess that's how they got to be billionares, just be a complete tight git.)

Interesting Fact # 443 - English

English is now the only "traditional" academic subject in the top 10 most popular university courses.

(Of course one day people will call the Klingon language, embroidery and digital media "traditional" academic courses.)

Interesting Fact # 442 - The wizard of Oz

The lion costume from the Wizard of Oz was made of real lion pelts, which were sewn together to form the outfit.

(Can you imagine the furore if they tried anything like that now? Even so, I swear I will never be able to watch it again. It's like finding out that Sooty was made of bear fur, Sweep from dog and Sue out of real pandas.)

Original photo by nsgbrown.

Interesting Fact - CIA World Factbook

Every country in the CIA factbook is compared in size with a US state or with the US in general.

(It's hilarious - Germany is "slightly smaller than Montana", the UK is "slightly smaller than Oregon", Europe is "less than one-half the size of the US", China is "slightly smaller than the US", Russia is "approximately 1.8 times the size of the US" and the world - I kid you not - the world is "about 16 times the size of the US". That is sooo ludicrous. At the end of the day we all end up with about the same area of land to call our own.)

Original photo by dbking

Interesting People # 69 - Brian Forster and Charles Dickens

Actor Brian Forster (who played the second Chris Partridge in The Partridge Family), is the great-great-great grandson of Charles Dickens.

(Fascinatingly he was born on 14 April 1960, 101 years to the day that A Tale of Two Cities was published. Sometimes life is just weird!)

Interesting Fact - Brits abroad

There are 5.5 million Brits living abroad.

(Studies by the Institute for Public Policy Research, published on the BBC News website indicates that at least 5.5m British-born people live abroad. Seemingly without immigration the British population would be falling. I don't think the country is collapsing due to my absence though. On researching this interesting fact I discovered that MI5 is warning Brits travelling abroad for work or holidays to be aware of the danger of being accidentally recruited into a foreign power's intelligence network. Oh dear, I might be leaking important grammar secrets.)

Interesting Fact - Front Gardens

Sadly the red red robin might not be bob bob bobbin' along in the UK's front gardens. The recent trend for decking, patios, gravel, and let's face it "low maintenance" gardens may be contributing to a decline in song thrushes, house sparrows and starlings, the RSPB has warned.

Richard Bashford said that even small "traditional" front gardens can house more than 700 different species of insect. Food for the birds.

(I'm afraid that garden makeover programs have a lot to answer for. Not many animals can live on tarmac.)

Interesting Animals # 57 - Cows - Podcast

Just one cow gives off enough harmful methane gas in a single day to fill around 400 litre bottles.

(Can you run your central heating on that? Here Daisy, here girl!)

You can listen to this week's Interesting Facts here:-

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Interesting Fact # 438 - Acorns

Back to trees.

Seemingly acorns are toxic to ponies and cattle, but not to pigs.

(Acorns are the fruit of the oak tree, but just to confuse you; an acorn nut is a metal nut where the thread does not go all the way through, which I guess would not be good for pigs either.)

Original photo by Andy Hay

Interesting Fact # 437 - Protein

Someone recently told me that humans share most of the same protein families with worms, flies, and plants.

(And yet we feel so superior.)

Original photo by Dshot

Interesting Fact # 436 - Poplar DNA

The poplar tree has twice as many genes as a human being.

(It has 485 million base-pairs. I comfort myself by thinking that we are just more streamlined, with go faster evolution stripes.)

Original photo by Matt McGee

Interesting Fact # 435 - Poplars

Poplars themselves are thought to cover more than 75 million hectares worldwide.

(That's a lot of trees!)

Original photo by Matt McGee

Interesting Fact - Tree DNA

It's coming up to Christmas and everyone seems to be buying a real Christmas tree this year.

Well, the first tree to have its full DNA code unravelled was the poplar.

(I hope it didn't hurt.)

Photo by me.
Fact Source - Genome Canada Project

Interesting Fact - Wishing Wells

People making a wish with their spare change literally throw away just under 3 million pounds every year, according to the "Fountain Money Mountain" report.

(Tourists regularly throw a copper or two into wishing wells and fountains, and a study has shown they spend an average of 31 pence at tourist sites such as Rome's Trevi Fountain.

A wishing well is a term from European folklore to describe wells where it was thought that any spoken wish would be granted. The idea that a wish would be granted came from the idea that water contained deities or had been placed there as a gift from the gods, since water was a source of life and oftentimes a scarce commodity. The tradition of dropping pennies in wells, ponds and fountains stems from this. Coins would be placed there as gifts for the deity in thanks.

I have tried installing one in my garden, but it doesn't seem to be working yet.)

Original photo by Dystopian_Optimist

Interesting People # 68 - Kim Jong-il - Podcast

Kim Jong-il is an obsessive James Bond fan.

(I'll bet he's got a big, furry, white cat too. Nee ha ha!)

Listen to this week's Interesting Facts Round Up here:-

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Interesting Fact # 432 - Greetings cards

In the UK, people spend over £1bn per year on cards, sending an average of 55 cards each.

(Some of us send more some of us send fewer, some of us should learn to send E-Greetings instead.)

Interesting Fact # 431 - Quitting Work

According to a study by Professor Brooks Holtom of Georgetown University, 64% of people quit their job because of a shock.

(Well that's a shock - I quit!)

Interesting Fact # 430 - University Courses

In the UK there are now more than 600 full-time degree courses in creative writing.

(I wonder if in the future you won't be allowed to write a book unless you have a "certificate" to prove that you can.)

Interesting Fact # 429 - The Pasty Wars

The pasty is a serious thing in Cornwall, but now Devon is claiming that they originated there.

(Seemingly a historic document, dating back to 1509 mentions a pasty. The reference to a "10d" pasty is in an audited civic account book for Plymouth in Devon. Not to be outdone Cornish chronicler of the pasty has hit back, saying that cave drawings revealed evidence of pasties in the county in primitive times. This whole thing needs to be handled very carefully, after all wars have been fought over less.)
Original photo by Fimb

Interesting People # 67 - Online Shoppers

According to research by Akamai your average online shopper will only wait around four seconds for an internet page to load before giving up.

(Oh dear, just as well I'm not actually selling anything.)

Interesting Fact - Coffee

A new study shows that even decaffeinated coffee comes with at least a small dose of caffeine. Yes, drinking five to ten cups of decaf could deliver as much caffeine as one or two cups of regular coffee, according to research at the University of Florida Maples Center for Forensic Medicine.

(My biggest problem is that according to Wiki the decaffeination process generally starts with the steaming of the beans (fine so far). They are then rinsed in solvent that contains as much of the chemical composition of coffee as possible without also containing the caffeine in a soluble form - (yes solvent - lovely).

I have just one question: Low fat ice cream - decaf coffee - no sugar coke - Why?)

Interesting Fact # 427 - Kissing - Podcast

Researchers say that twice as many people turn their heads to the right to kiss as to the left.

(I've been trying to figure out which way I turn my head, but I'll have to wait until hubby comes home.)

Listen to this week's Interesting Facts Round Up here:-

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Interesting Fact # 426 - Smuggling

UK customs officials intercept attempts to smuggle in 150 live birds and animals, and 6,400 animal parts, each week.

(It's the animal parts that I find most upsetting. Of course if people would stop buying this stuff, smugglers wouldn't even try.)

Interesting Fact # 425 - Internet addiction

More than one in eight adults in the US show signs of being addicted to the Internet.

(Signs to look out for are habitually checking e-mail, websites and chat rooms. What about blogging? Does compulsive blogging count? OMG I'm a webaddict!)

Interesting Fact - Toilets

According to the National Phobics Society, four million people in the UK have phobias about toilets.

(There are different words to describe this kind of phobia: Shy Bladder, Paruresis, Parcopresis. It must make daily life very awkward, although if you have used a public toilet in the UK you can understand people's alarm and as for France - well I'll admit it, I'm very afraid of French public loos - I can't go if it's one of those elephant's feet thingies. And let's face it, in America they have a phobia about the word toilet.)

Interesting Fact # 423 - The UK's Supercomputer

The fastest supercomputer in the UK can make 15.4 trillion calculations per second.

(The supercomputer, the HPCx (What happened to names like Hal?) is planned to cease working in December 2008. After that Hector (That's more like it!), or the High-End Computing Terascale Resource, will be owned by the Research Councils of the UK and will start operating in 2007. Hopefully they'll redesign their web site too.)

Interesting Invention - Chewing Gum

In the early 1880s, two brothers, Henry and Frank Fleer invented chewing gum.

(Of course it really started way, way back in time. Archeologists claim that prehistoric men and women chewed on lumps of tree resin for pure enjoyment. How primitive you say, but before WWII chewing gum was made from chicle, the sap of the sapodilla tree, a form of rubber that softens and hardens according to temperature. Henry and Frank Fleer began experimenting with this stuff and Henry Fleer just covered this tasteless rubber with a sugary white coating and named it "Chiclets. Nowadays the main ingredients in gum are sugar, gum base, corn syrup, softeners, flavouring and colouring. You see, we haven't come that far.)

Interesting Fact # 422 - Chewing Gum - Podcast

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Ten-pence is the going rate for clearing up a piece of discarded chewing gum.

(It costs councils around £250,000 to clean gum off the pavements in a small city centre in the UK. Personally I would charge more for removing people's suspended spit. Surely it could be tested for DNA and then "returned" to its owner - preferably to their hairbrush or comb, or am I being cruel.)

Interesting Fact # 421 - Fish and Chips - Podcast

One third of all the cod fished in the world is consumed in the UK.

(Our love of fish and chips probably accounts for this. According to the Fish and Chips Takeaway Guide; Cod and haddock account for around 45% of all fish consumed in Britain. In 1999 fish friers served up more than 283 million meals a year making it the most popular takeaway among the British population. There are over 8,600 fish and chip shops in the UK who served up around 49,200 tonnes of fish last year. The record for the most portions of fish and chips served up in one day by a fish and chip shop is over 4,000!)

Listen to the week's round up here:-

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Interesting Fact # 420 - Missing People

According to the National Missing Persons Helpline, on average there are 375 people reported missing each day.

(I don't know how many they find.)

Interesting Fact # 419 - Pollution hotspots

3 of the world's 10 most polluted places are in Russia.

(I wonder if they've checked my nephew's bedroom?)

Interesting Fact # 418 - Blogging

According to Harris Research, nearly one internet user in ten has started a blog.

(As ever I could throw a spanner in their stats. I'm one internet user who has started ten blogs.)

Interesting Animals # 56- Dung Beetles

A study by Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Mussalam showed that dung beetles prefer horse dung to sheep dung, and prefer sheep dung to camel dung.

(Some species feed on dung of only one species of animal, for example some cave beetles feed on bat droppings, however others are less choosy.)

Interesting People # 66 - Tony Blair

Tony Blair likes to cook spaghetti bolognaise.

(Unfortunately he doesn't share the recipe he uses. Somehow I don't think he uses much garlic. Now why would I think that?)

Interesting Fact - The Shortest War

The shortest war in history was between Zanzibar and England in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes - 37 minutes, 23 seconds to be precise.

(It's called the "War of the Cricket Match", and it all began when Admiral Sir Henry Rawson gathered his war ships off the coast of Zanzibar so that officers could disembark to watch a cricket match. Incensed at the concentration of warships in his harbour, the Sultan of Zanzibar declared war and sent his only warship into battle. The British responded by bombarding the Sultan’s castle, sinking the lone battleship, and sending the Sultan into exile. I have no idea who won the match though.)

Interesting Fact - Smurfs

A Smurf male is very short (just "three apples tall", a French expression - "haut comme trois pommes").

(Smurfs have blue skin, white trousers with a hole for their short tails (didn't even know they had tails), they wear a white hat, and some additional accessory that identifies each one's personality.)

This video was created by Unicef to highlight the horror of war:-

Interesting Fact # 415 - Surviving a plane crash

Advances in science and technology now mean that over 90% of plane crashes have survivors.

(Recently the FAA and the CAA changed their instructions for the "crash position". Instead of sticking your head between your knees you should now cross your hands on the seat in front of you. Put your head against your hands and stay in that position for as long as it takes to get to the ground.

Seemingly the key to survival is to get out of the plane as fast as you can. In fact the FAA says that flight crews should be able to evacuate an entire jet in just 90 seconds, because the first minute-and-a-half after a crash is considered "golden time" by many in the industry.)

Interesting Fact # 414 - Bullets

If you shoot a bullet at water the bullet will not penetrate more than 2.5 metres. This interesting bit of information was tested by Mythbusters and they proved that the hero can escape bullets by diving into a river or lake.

(Water has a specific gravity about 900 times that of air, so to be stable when penetrating water, a bullet would require a twist 30 times greater than that for flight through air. I do hope you don't mind if I don't test this one personally, let's leave that to Mr Bond.)

Interesting Fact - Plastic Bags

A study commissioned by DEFRA in 2000, showed that UK consumers used eight billion plastic carrier bags per year. However, it also showed that more than 80 per cent of people in the UK re-use their plastic carrier bags.

(In the Republic of Ireland, by introducing a 15 cent plastax, they cut their use by more than 90% and raised millions of euros in revenue. In Bangladesh polythene bags are banned altogether.
I have a bag for life, but I still get given carrier bags, unless I tell the shop assistant I don't want one.)

Interesting Fact # 412 - Savings

According to the OECD Observer the piggy bank is about to become obsolete in the US. In 2005 the US household savings rate dropped to less than 1% of disposable income.

(In the UK household saving is 7.4%, so at least we have something that's bigger than America's.)

Interesting Place # 40 - France

France has the highest proportion of Bloggers in Europe.

(I do wonder is it Le Blog or La Blog, or have they given it another name like La Journal - after all they do for every other word in the English language. And if you write a blog in France do you have to write it in French, or maybe have it translated into French. If anyone knows do tell.)

Interesting Word # 47 - Bonfire Night Fact # 2 - The Word Bonfire - Podcast

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Remember, remember 5 November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.

Of course 5 November is bonfire night in the UK. But, no one can be certain where the word 'bonfire' comes from. Large fires have been used for signalling, marking special events and celebrating things for far longer than 400 years'.

The word Bonfire may have come from 'bane-fire' or 'fire of woe'. Alternatively in medieval times people believed 'bone-fires' repelled dragons, which were said to hate the smell of burning human bones (a bit of a surprise considering).

However in French and German the word has a much more positive meaning, a bonfire is known as 'feu de joi' in French or 'Freudenfeur' in German - both mean a 'joyous fire'.

Interesting Fact # 411 - Encyclopaedias - Podcast

You can buy the Encylopaedia Britannica in Germany.

(Surely it should be the Encylopaedia Germanica?)

Listen to a round up of this week's facts here:-

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Interesting Fact # 410 - The Phone Book

The very first phone book was published in 1880.

(I've just found out that 100 years of back issues of the UK phone directories have been scanned and published online. Now I'm not saying they would be an interesting read, far from it, but it is of interest to anyone researching their family tree.

The books go up to 1984--the date of BT's privatization.

In the beginning there were only 248 subscribers to the Telephone Company, and just the addresses were listed. If you wanted to be connected, you had to ring the operator and ask for the person by name.

The first entry in the very first phone book was John Adam & Co, 11 Pudding Lane in the City of London. In 1916, Buckingham Palace appeared as Victoria 6913 - with a whole four phone lines to the royal family! And in 1925 Winston Churchill could be dialled on Paddington 1003.)

Interesting Fact - Pearl and Dean

The music played in all British cinemas before the ads come on is called Asteroid.

(If you go to the Pearl & Dean website and click on Launch Audio, you can listen to it. Pa pa pa pa pa pa pa pa papapa...)

Interesting Fact # 408 - Education

Government figures show that one in eight pupils at primary schools in England speaks English as a second language.

(Of course putting students in a situation where they must use a foreign language, whether or not they know it creates fluency. Unfortunately it won't create accuracy of usage.)

Interesting Fact - Halloween Fact # 2

In Mexico, they celebrate El Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead starting on the evening of October 31. (It looks very similar to Halloween in its use of skeletons and ghoulishness, but without the vampires and pumpkins.)

Interesting Animals - Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes have a sweet tooth.

A Hebrew University team was able to devastate a local mosquito population by spraying acacia trees with a sugar solution spiked with an insecticide.

Source - BBC News

(I have a question though. Why did Noah let mosquitoes onto the ark?)

Interesting Fact - Barbie Murdered Lilli -

Barbie was based on a German doll called Lilli, Mattel (the owners of the Barbie brand) acquired the rights of the Bild Lilli doll in 1964 so the production of "Lilli" had to stop.

Source: Wiki

(According to M.G. Lord, the author of "Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll," Lilli -- "an eleven-and-a-half inch, platinum ponytailed" German doll was a toy for German men! She was based on a popular post-war cartoon character who first appeared in the West German tabloid Bild Zeitung in 1952. A professional floozy of the first order, Bild Zeitung's Lilli traded sex for money, delivered sassy comebacks to police officers, and sought the company of "balding, jowly fatcats". A German brochure from the 1950s said that Lilli (the doll) was "always discreet," while her complete wardrobe made her "the star of every bar."

It looks as if Barbie couldn't stand the competition. So, what's the sentence for dolli…

Interesting Fact # 405 - Getting egged - Podcast

Chucking raw eggs is often used as a form of protest or prank, but seemingly it is far from harmless.

A recent study at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital discovered that over a 14-month period, 13 people out of a total of 18,651, who attended an eye unit, had been the victim of an egg attack, many of these cases were clustered around Halloween, and 12 of the patients were men.

(Remember this was raw eggs, imagine the damage you could do with a hard-boiled egg!)

Listen to this week's round up here:-

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Interesting Fact # 404 - The rich list

The rich list as a whole is worth $1.25 trillion, compared with $1.13 trillion a year ago.

Source: Forbes

(I find it difficult enough to figure out how many zeros are in a billion, never mind a trillion.)

Interesting Fact # 403 - The rich list

For the first time, the richest 400 tycoons in the US all have a personal wealth of at least $1bn (£526m), Forbes magazine has reported.

(Is that a British billion, or a measly US billion? Even so, we have to rewrite the song, "Who wants to be a billionaire? I do!)

Interesting Fact # 402 - Turkish Law

It is a criminal offence in Turkey to insult Turkishness.

(Article 301 of Turkey's penal code allows up to three years in jail for "denigrating Turkish national identity". Just think, if they made it an offence to insult "Britishness", the Monty Python team would have been locked up years ago.)

Interesting Fact - Microchips

Out of ever 100 chips produced in the world, 20 come from Dresden.

(Yes, there are two AMD production facilities in Dresden. They call it "Silicon Saxony".)

Interesting Fact - Obesity in the UK

There are estimated to be 2 million overweight children, and 700,000 children, who are obese in the UK.

(If you look at the previous fact, this is not a surprise. Two simple words - "Fat camp".)

Interesting Fact # 399 - Pack a day habit - Podcast

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No, I'm not talking about smoking, I'm talking about eating crisps. Seemingly if you eat a pack of crisps a day, every year you are "drinking" almost five litres of cooking oil.

(A typical 35g bag of crisps contains about two-and-a-half teaspoons of oil. A larger 50g pack contains three-and-a-half and figures from Mintel show that we eat a tonne of crisps every three minutes in the UK.)

Interesting Fact # 398 - UK Law - Podcast

The age of criminal responsibility in the UK is 10.

(Is it too young? Is it too old? I honestly don't know. The age of criminal responsibility in Saudi Arabia is 7 years old. That must be too young.)

Listen to this week's round up here:-

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Interesting Fact - VAT

The UK lost five times more money to VAT (Value Added Tax) cheats than any other EU country between June 2005 and June 2006.

(In fact the figures (if they are true are staggering:-


UK 12.6bn euros (£8.4bn)
Spain 2.6bn euros (£1.7bn)
Italy 2.3bn euros (£1.5bn)
Germany 1.9bn euros (£1.3bn)
France 1.5bn euros (£1bn)
Source: Eurocanet

I just can't think of anything funny to say.)

Interesting Fact # 396 - Voices

1 in 25 people hear voices in their head. In fact it's so common as to be normal.

(So if you don't hear voices in your head you have a problem. Oh and if your voice keeps telling you useless facts, you've been on this blog for too long.)

Interesting Fact - Shopping in the UK

Tescos supermarket takes 31p in every pound spent on food shopping in the UK.

(And they are spreading. Coming to a community near you. You have been warned!)

Interesting Fact # 394 - UK Wildlife

The Beastwatch UK survey recorded 5,931 apparent sightings of big cats, 332 of wild boars and 3,389 of sharks since 2000 - with figures expected to rise.

(Seemingly exotic animals roaming free are becoming an increasingly common sight in the UK. These figures are expected to rise as people who thought it was cool to keep an exotic pet find they are good at escaping or just get fed up of them and chuck them out.)

Interesting Fact # 393 - UK Law

There is an offence in the UK called "wanton and furious cycling".

(If convicted you face a fine of £200. It is basically to stop anyone injuring another whilst on private land and therefore outside the scope of normal road traffic law.)

Interesting Fact # 392 - Food for worms? - Podcast

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A restaurant in Johannesburg, Gramadoelas, gives diners the chance to see how South African food reflects the diversity of its people. The most stomach-turning option on the menu is Mopane worms.

(Seemingly this worm is a favourite among the Venda ethnic group clustered mostly in northern South Africa. It is thicker and hairier than most worms, as it is actually a caterpillar named after the tree it eats.

Allegedly it's an acquired taste (no surprises there) and according to those who have tried it the texture and taste resembles that of cardboard (I'll just take their word for it). Preparation: After its innards are squeezed out, the worms are boiled and sun-dried. Yum)

Interesting Fact - Germs

On 2.5cm2 of your office desk there are 20,961 germs compared with 49 on the same area of a typical toilet seat.

(The joy of WiFi is that I can ask you whether you are sitting at your desk now, or if are you surfing on the loo?)

Interesting People # 65 - Kenneth Grange

Kenneth Grange, the designer of the Inter City 125, also designed the Kenwood Chef mixer, the parking meter and redesigned the angle-poise lamp.

(Up until the parking meter I was all for him.)

Edited 24th Oct 2006 due to comment.

Interesting Fact # 390 - Human Settlement in Britain

There were seven unsuccessful attempts by early humans to settle in Britain, before the first successful attempt, 12,000 years ago.

(Could it possibly have been the weather that put them off?)

Interesting Fact - Obesity

According to the Institute of Medicine, by the year 2010, 1 in 5 children in the US will be obese.

(You can imagine the odd kid out at school - everyone will be shouting "Hey skinny!

Interesting Fact # 388 - Cancer

According to the WHO seven and a half million people worldwide died from cancer in 2005.

(Maybe this should be depressing fact # 1. Even more depressing is that More than 70 percent of these fatal cases were reported in low- and medium-income countries.)

Interesting Fact # 387 - The Human Brain

The medical name for the part of the brain associated with teenage sulking is "superior temporal sulcus".

(Another part of the brain is yet to be discovered "inferior temporal mardyarsus".)

Interesting Fact - School uniforms

It's estimated that in the UK parents pay 45 million pounds a year too much for school uniforms because of restrictions on suppliers.

(The Office of Fair Trading has called for the practice of buying uniforms from restricted suppliers to be scrapped after estimating that parents across the UK who have no choice of where they buy school uniforms are worse off by around £45 million per year. It has been estimated that compulsory school clothes and other items cost around 150 per cent more from "designated" retailers than they do in supermarkets.

Most children wouldn't mind, but school uniforms are designed to be ugly.)

Interesting Places - South Africa and Northern Ireland

Estate agent signs from Northern Ireland are being re-used as roofing tiles in South Africa.

(The question is, "How do they get there?")

Interesting Fact # 385 - World's fastest supercomputer

The world's fastest supercomputer will have its speed measured in "petaflops", which represent 1,000 trillion calculations per second.

(My dog does good petaflops.)

Interesting Fact # 384 - World's Population

According to the Population Reference Bureau in Washington DC by the year 2050 the population in Uganda will have risen 387% whilst the population in Bulgaria will have fallen by 34%.

(I wonder if they took into account all the British people looking for bargain homes in Bulgaria in those figures?)


The scientists at Improbable Research announced the winners of the 2006 Ig Nobel prizes.

Among this year's honorees are the following:

Orinthology: Ivan R. Schwab, for studying why woodpeckers don't get headaches.
Nutrition: Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Mussalam, for studying the eating preferences of dung beetles. Their study showed, for example, that dung beetles prefer horse dung to sheep dung, and prefer sheep dung to camel dung.
Mathematics: Physicist Dr. Piers Barnes and photographer Nic Svenson, for calculating the number of group photos needed to be reasonably sure of getting one photo with no one's eyes closed.
Medicine: A tie between Francis M. Fesmire and the team of Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan,and Arie Oliven, for their case reports titled "Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage."
Physics: Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, for examining why, when you bend spaghetti, it never breaks into just two pieces.
Chemistry: Antonio Mulet,…

Interesting People # 64 - Bob Dylan and Pam Ayres

Bob Dylan inspired Pam Ayres to write poetry.

(He should be ashamed of himself.)

Interesting Fact # 383 - German Reunification

German reunification has cost an estimated €1.5 trillion, according to the Free University of Berlin.

(Some of that money is ours. Yes, British expats pay towards the reunification too. Something that shocks some of our German colleagues, who say things like "But you are not German, why are you having to pay German reunification tax?)

Interesting Video # 1

The text was written by Donella Meadows (1941-2001) and was originally called the "State of the Village Report" this movie illustrates the thought provoking idea of how the world would look if there were only 100 people in it.

View the video here.

Interesting Fact # 382 - British Ale

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Twenty years ago, seven out of every 10 pints drunk in the UK were ale. Now, thanks to the rise of lager, stout and cider, the number is just three.

(Of course, I do my best to redress this situation every time I'm back in the UK.)

Interesting Food # 25 - Curry

Feeding children curries may protect them from cancer. Scientists believe that turmeric, the spice which turns curry dishes yellow, stops the growth of leukaemia cells and seems to protect against damage from cigarette smoke and some processed food.

(An even better way to protect against such damage is not to smoke or eat processed food. Besides what happens if you feed your children processed curry?)

Listen to this week's round up here:-

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Interesting Fact - Chinese Girl

Chinese Girl, a painting by Vladimir Tretchikoff, who died last week, is believed to have sold more in print form than the Mona Lisa or Van Gogh's Sunflowers. Dressed in a gold-collared robe, her skin is a strange blue-green colour.

(Of course critics dismissed it as kitsch, but, if kitsch sells, who are they to criticise?

Apologies if you were sent here when searching for a dating site.)

Interesting Places # 38 - The Arctic

In the Arctic, between 2004 and 2006, an area the size of Pakistan or Turkey melted.

(According to records Arctic sea ice cover between 2004 and 2005 declined by 14%. The UK Met Office says that 2005 was the warmest year on record for the Northern Hemisphere. Everybody get your swimming trunks out!)

Interesting Fact # 380 - British stamps

Some Royal Mail stamps, which of course carry the Queen's image, are printed in Holland.

(Made in Britain doesn't mean much any more.)

Interesting Fact # 379 - Lips

88% of couples in long and happy relationships have lips of similar size, according to research by the University of Leicester.

(I always knew kissing was important.)

Interesting Fact # 378 - Cost of Education in the UK

Everyday school expenses in the UK - such as uniforms - cost families an average £1,300 a year.

(And they say we have a free education system.)

Interesting Animals - Cows

Do cows have regional accents? Well a professor of phonetics, John Wells', attention was drawn to this phenomenon by a Somerset farmer, Mr Lloyd Green, who claims that his bovine charges moo with a distinct Somerset drawl.

To read more on the Professor's response - look at the comments.

(Does that mean that they go mooh arr? And in Scotland do they go "Och aye the moo"?

BTW - "Ooh arr" is West Country speak for "Oh yes," and "Och aye the noo" is part of the Doric dialect in Scotland which I believe means "Oh yes, just now".)

Interesting Fact # 377 - UK Population

There are 300,000 people aged 90 or over in the UK.

(According to my MySpace profile I am one of them. LOL)

Listen to this week's round up here:-

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Interesting Fact # 376 - Guitars

A million guitars were sold in the UK last year, more than double the number sold five years ago.

(There are a lot of X factor wannabes nowadays.)


We celebrate the first ever "One Web Day".

Susan Crawford, the founder of OneWebDay, said she wants people to reflect on how the web has changed their lives.

I'll second that!

Interesting Fact # 375 - Tea

Cups of tea can be healthier than water, according to some nutritionists.

(I keep telling everyone, but will they listen?)


The 65-year-old Italian nun shot dead in Somalia on 17th September, was buried in neighbouring Kenya.

Sister Leonella Sgorbati was killed, along with her bodyguard, outside the Mogadishu hospital where she worked.

I have great respect for people who try to help people in other countries, regardless of the risks.

Interesting Place # 37 - Brazil

There are two million cars and trucks in Brazil which run on alcohol.

(There are a few million Brits who do the same.)

Interesting Fact # 374 - Temperature of the sun

The surface or the sun is about 5,500 Celsius -- about as hot as it is at the center of the earth.

(The sun's surface is mostly hydrogen gas, now that's a lot of hot gas.)