Showing posts from November, 2006

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.)