Showing posts from December, 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 Winston Churchill was less than impressed with the whole thing and eventually repealed the Witchcraft Act in 1951.)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.)