Showing posts from January, 2007

Interesting Fact - Saying Sorry

In their lifetime the average Brit will say "sorry" 1.9 million times.

(I'm sorry, have I mentioned this before? And yet they say "sorry" is the hardest word.)


Sidney Sheldon died.

In 1997 the Guinness Book of World Records acknowledged him as the Most Translated Author in the World.

Interesting Fact - Vandalism

According to a report in the Times, most of the large-scale vandalism on the rail network is caused by only 200 people.

(I guess they must get around a bit. Probably letting the train take the strain.)

Interesting Fact # 471 - Caring in the UK

The Commission for Social Care Inspection has reported that more and more elderly people are relying on relatives as the population in the UK ages. In England alone, there are 4.7 million people over 18 who are unpaid carers for elderly or disabled people.

(It is alleged that this kind of care of the elderly in the UK saves the British state £57bn a year. I'm afraid, they'll have to look after me when I'm old and grey.)

Interesting Fact # 470 - Shoplifting - Podcast

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According to Tesco supermarket razorblades are stolen more than other products.

(In a report in the Guardian it seems that Tescos take a digital photo of you each time you pick up a Gillette razorblade from the store's shelf - it only takes one to prompt the camera - and again when you present the pack at the checkout. Tesco says that the photos are "temporarily stored", but does not specify for how long. However, Smart Labels Analyst magazine explains that this system enables the store to "blacklist certain shoppers and keep an eye on them". In his interview with the magazine, Alan Robinson recounts an occasion when his Cambridge store was able to show the police a photograph of a shoplifter in the act of removing two packets of razors from the shelf: "The police were completely flabbergasted, having never seen anything like it in their lives.")

Interesting Fact # 469 - Pollution - Podcast

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According to a major study published in the Lancet there is a link to motorway pollution and permanent, life-limiting damage to children's lungs.

(Children who live within 500 metres of a motorway grow up with significantly reduced lung capacity. The culprit could be diesel fumes, but the only solution is to reduce emissions.)

Interesting People # 71 - Mona Lisa

The world famous painting the "Mona Lisa" is sometimes also known as "La Joconde" in France, "La Gioconda" in Italy.

(She is believed to be Lisa Gherardini, the wife of the wealthy Florentine silk merchant, Francesco del Giocondo.)

Interesting Word # 51 - Panspermia

Panspermia is the idea that life on Earth originated on another planet.

(When I look in the mirror on a Monday morning I have to agree with the theory.)

Interesting Fact # 468 - British jobs

According to the BBC's progamme What Makes Britain Rich? As shown on BBC Two; Jobs in finance make up 4% of the UK's workforce - and account for 13% of the income tax paid.

(Now you'd think if they work in finance, they'd know how to avoid paying any tax.)

Interesting Fact # 467 - Who Knows who Churchill is?

15% of UK children think Winston Churchill is the dog on the Churchill insurance TV advert.

(Oh yes, yes, yes, they do. The star of his own TV ads, the Churchill Nodding Dog™ plays a big role in all of Churchill’s advertising and is now synonymous with the brand name.)

Interesting Fact # 466 - Mona Lisa

In 1982 a Japanese artist, Tadahiko Zgawa, created a version of the Mona Lisa out of 63 pieces of burnt toast.

(His other famous pieces of edible art are da Vinci's "Last Supper," and Botticelli's "Birth of Venus". Imagine if the security guard at the art gallery got peckish, now that would be priceless.)

Interesting Fact # 465 - Loyalty Cards - Podcast

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According to market researchers TNS, 85% of UK households have a loyalty card.

(Loyalty cards are issued by supermarkets and department stores, they entitle you to freebies or cash simply for shopping. Of course, retailers get something in return: they record information about what you buy and build up a profile about you. And the most annoying thing of all is that every time you go to pay you will be asked "Have you got a ..... card?")

Interesting Fact # 464 - UK Landfill - Podcast

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The UK disposes of more than 27m tonnes of waste into landfill each year.

(This means that we use landfill for more household waste than any other EU state. Well it's nice to know we're top at something.)

Interesting Fact # 463 - Special K

Kellogg's Special K in the UK has 31% more sugar than Special K in the US.

(That said, I am reliably informed that Special K in the US tastes like the cardboard box it comes in.)


A huge storm swept the UK - the most powerful to hit England since Burns' Night 1990 - it caused even more damage in northern Europe after developing what's known as a "sting jet", caused by cold air high above the clouds rushing down to Earth like an avalanche of high wind.

Interesting Places # 42 - Finland

Finland is the only country in the world which broadcasts the news in Latin.

(Nuntii Latini - News in Latin - is a weekly review of world news in Classical Latin, the only international broadcast of its kind in the world, produced by YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company. I don't know why this cheers me up so much, but it does. Maybe it appeals to my belief that no language should ever die out completely.)

Interesting Fact # 462 - Education in France

School starts at age three in France - and many children start at two.

(What kind of homework can you give a two year old?)

Interesting Fact # 461 - World's Tallest Flower

The world's tallest flower is the Titan Arum, it grows to just under 3m (10ft).

(It's also one of the world's smelliest flowers, it smells of rotting flesh. Not the thing to put in your Valentine's bouquet then.)

Interesting Fact # 460 - Decision making

According to research carried out by University College London, a snap decision is more likely to be correct than a decision you think carefully about.

(Just as well, because I never think carefully about what to put on here.)

Interesting People - Sophia Loren - Podcast

Sophia Loren's first marriage, aged 22, to the recently deceased film producer Carlo Ponti, was a proxy marriage with lawyers taking their places.
(Seemingly Ponti was still married to his first wife and the Catholic Church would not let them divorce. They were married by proxy in Mexico, with lawyers taking their places. I thought it would be wonderful if someone found a mistake had been made and the two lawyers were actually married instead.)

Interesting Word # 50 - A king's ransom - Podcast

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A king's ransom is a large amount of money.

(According to the Financial Times nowadays a king's ransom is worth approximately £685m. They worked it out based on the sum paid by Eleanor of Aquitaine to secure the release of Richard the Lionheart in 1194.)

Interesting Fact # 459 - Mobile Phones

According to the Daily Telegraph in the mid-1980s, it was predicted that by the year 2000 there would be 900,000 mobile phones worldwide.

(In the year 2000 900,000 phones were sold every 19 hours.)

Interesting Fact # 458 - Traffic lights # 2

Around 50,000 tonnes of CO2 is emitted by UK traffic lights each year through energy use.(According to the UK Energy Research Centre switching from the existing incandescent lightbulbs in traffic lights to LEDs could save around 57,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2010.)

Interesting Fact - Beefeater

The Tower of London has appointed a female 'Beefeater' for the first time in its history. (Now this doesn't mean she'll be chomping through steaks and pies, the job title "Beefeater" is more formally known as a Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary - in other words "security guard")

Interesting Fact # 456 - Scooby Doo

The cartoon dog, Scooby-Doo was named after Frank Sinatra's final phrase in "Strangers in the Night".

(You know the bit at the end that goes at "dooby-dooby-doo". Now tell me you never sang "Scooby-dooby-doo".)

Interesting Fact # 455 - Traffic lights # 1

According to the UK Energy Research Centre, the UK currently has an estimated 420,000 sets of traffic and pedestrian lights.(This number is increasing around 3% annually. Pretty soon we'll all have one each.)

Interesting Fact # 454 - Fridge Magnets - Podcast

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Fridge magnets can prove fatal. A strong type of magnet (neodymium magnet) used in many new commercial products can interfere with pacemakers and implanted heart devices with deadly consequences.

(Sort of fatal attraction. In fact these new magnets can be found in lots of stuff apart from fridge magnets; such as badges, jewellery and mobile phones.)

Interesting Place # 41 - Norway - Podcast

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In Norway striptease is considered an art form and it is therefore exempt from value-added tax (VAT).

(Well as most striptease is subtractive I can see the logic.)

Interesting Fact # 453 - Apples

According to the trade association English Apples and Pears, five billion apples are eaten a year in the UK.

(Of course an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and as we have a shortage of doctors in the UK it's probably just as well we eat so many.)

Interesting Fact # 452 - Divorce Rates in the New Year

A sad fact this: Divorce rates in early January are around 50% higher than at an other time of year.

(Seemingly Christmas stress is partly to blame. 'Tis the season to be grumpy - fa la la la la la la la la.)

Interesting Animals # 58 - Sea urchins

Sea urchins see with their feet.

(But what happens if the have smelly feet? And does it mean they smell with their eyes too?)

Interesting Word # 49 - Pediculosis

Pediculosis is an infestation of head lice.

(Are you scratching your head now?)

Interesting Fact # 451 - The state of the blogging nation

The blogging phenomenon is set to peak in 2007. In fact according to analysts Gartner there are 200 million blogs which are no longer being updated. The reason for the levelling off in blogging is supposedly due to the fact that most people who would ever start a web blog have already done so (once or twice).

(According to the same study, those who love blogging are committed to keeping it up (so to speak) while others have become bored and moved on. In November 2006 blog tracking firm Technorati reported that 100,000 new blogs were being created every day, and 1.3 million blog posts were written.

Technorati tracks more than 57 million blogs, of which it believes around 55% are "active" and updated at least every three months. Ha! How's about every week - well every two weeks over Christmas.)