Showing posts from February, 2007

Interesting Fact # 494 - Funerals

There has been an increase in damaging mercury emissions in the air from melted dental fillings.

(This is thought to be due to the rise in popularity of crematorium funerals. Although the mortician will is remove a heart pacemaker, they draw the line at extracting teeth. Personally I blame the NHS for insisting on mercury fillings.)

Interesting Fact # 493 - TV Moments

The first couple to be shown in bed together on TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

(Of course they kept their clothes on and each had one foot on the floor.)

Interesting Animals - Pigs

A pig's mood is indicated by its tail. It is happy when the tail is tightly coiled and unhappy when it hangs limp.

(I'm glad I haven't got a tell tail like that. Just imagine trying to play poker!)

Interesting Fact - Fines

In the future anyone caught over the limit on Swiss roads may have to pay up to €113,000.

(The majority of European countries have a drink driving limit of 0.5 mg. Though some countries have outright bans on any alcoholic trace in drivers' blood, countries like the UK, Ireland, and Switzerland allow 0.8 mg, and the Republic of Cyprus (that's the southern Greek-speaking part that is now an EU member state) has a 0.9 mg threshold. Fines will be calculated according to the income of the driver. This means that a millionaire caught speeding will have to pay around €19,000. Of course the overpaid lawyers will probably get them off on a technicality.)

Interesting Fact # 491 - Maths - Podcast

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Poor maths is costing UK shoppers £800m a year because they don’t notice when they are short-changed.

(That and the fact that many of us are too trusting and don't bother to even check our change any more.)

Interesting Places - New Zealand

According to McKinsey Quarterly New Zealand's sheep outnumber the people by 13:1.

(New Zealand - where the men are men and the sheep are nervous.)

Interesting Fact # 490 - Trabants

Trabants, affectionately known as Trabbies, were made from plasticised cotton waste, called Duroplast.(They were unreliable, polluting, and slow, with maximum speed of 90km per hour (56mph), but they were very cheap.)

Interesting Fact # 489 - Attraction

American women believe they are at their most attractive at the age of 38.

Source: American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

(Can you believe they are actually called Aarp?)

Interesting Animals - Pets in Germany

There are over 23 million pets in Germany.

(Most of them are allowed into shops, cafes and other public places, much to the consternation of visitors. It's great fun taking a big mutt like Sam into a posh dress shop.)

Interesting Fact # 488 - Shoes

In the UK we spend £6.5bn a year, just on shoes.(According to Mintel there will be a further 17 per cent rise by 2010, meaning that the total amount spent on footwear each year will have then risen to £7.6 billion. Maybe the way to a Brit's heart is through their feet.)

Interesting Fact - Dog Bites - Podcast

In the UK 4,133 people were admitted to hospital last year suffering dog bites, almost double the number in 1996. More than a fifth were children under nine.

(You know I love my dog Sam, but I would never trust him alone with a child. That said I would never trust a child to be alone with Sam.)

Interesting Fact # 486 - State Aid - Podcast

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According to UK think tank Civitas, one in three households in the UK is dependent on the state for at least half its income.

(Wayne Allard said, "From the employees' standpoint, in 1935, Social Security was a big gamble. Employees would be required to participate in the program, contributing a percentage of their income for their entire adult working life." Nowadays it looks as if the gamble was more the government's. Gambling that people would try to stand on their own two feet.)

Interesting Fact # 485 - Plagiarism

According to the BBC, 10% of university work from across the UK is plagiarised.

(My books need no one to accuse or judge you: the page which is yours stands up against you and says, "You are a thief." Marcus Valerius Martial)

Interesting People # 72 - The Dutch

In the last 150 years, the Dutch have become the tallest people on Earth—and experts say they're still getting bigger.

(According to John Komlos, a leading expert on the subject who is professor of economic history at the University of Munich in Germany, it was only in the 1950s that the Dutch passed the Americans, who stood tallest for most of the last 200 years. He added that many Dutch people are much taller than average. So many, in fact, that four years ago the government adjusted building codes to raise the standards for door frames and ceilings. Doors must now be 7' 6 1/2" high. No more "Duck or Grouse" then.)


Well it's Valentine's Day, and a chef has flown from Scotland to Italy to create the world's most expensive pizza for a St Valentine's Day meal.

(Award-winning Glasgow restaurateur Domenico Crolla will prepare the £2,150 (3,000-euro) feast for lawyer Maurizio Morelli and his wife Sabrina in Rome.

Am I the only person who thinks it's very strange to fly a chef from Scotland to Italy to bake a pizza.)

Interesting Valentine's Day Fact # 3 / Interesting Fact # 484 - Sweet Nothings

According to The Independent on Sunday, the left ear is more responsive to words of emotion whispered into it than the right.

(So this Valentine's Day you know which ear to whisper your sweet nothings into.)

Interesting Fact # 483 - Council Housing

In the UK over 4 million people live in a council house.

(However, it's very difficult to get one. Once you're in though you're laughing.)

Interesting Fact # 482 - The World Wide Web

According to Netcraft, an independent technology reviewer, there are now more than 100 million websites on the internet!

(Counting only domain name sites with content, they tracked the growth of the internet since 1995 and say of the 100m, around 48 million are active sites that are updated regularly. When it began observing sites through the domain name system in 1995, there were 18,000 web sites in existence.)

Interesting Fact - The Mile High Club - Podcast

The mile high club is slang term applied to individuals who have engaged in sexual activity while on board an aircraft. There is no known formally constituted club so named.

(According to the BBC, travel lawyer Philip Banks, from the firm Irwin Mitchell, says that getting frisky in the toilet of a plane could be a criminal offence.

Seemingly a person has committed an offence if they have sex in a lavatory to which the public has access, under section 71 of the Sexual Offences Act 2004. You have been warned.)

Interesting Fact # 480 - Astronauts

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Astronauts wear nappies during launch and re-entry because they can't stop what they're doing should they need to urinate.

(Of course they don't call them nappies, they call them "Maximum Absorbency Garments". Still, I wonder if kids would still want to be astronauts if they were told this little snippet?)

Interesting Fact # 479 - Instant Messaging in Poland

80% percent of children in Poland aged 12 to 18 use instant messaging, compared to 50% in the UK, says a survey published in the Daily Telegraph.

(Luckily people are not forced to reply immediately to incoming messages. So, it's not very instant, is it?)

Interesting Place # 44 - Bristol

According to the National Audit Office Bristol is the least anti-social place in England.

(Well done Bristol. Of course where you have winners there have to be losers:-

The most anti-social places in the UK are:-

Corby 48.8%
Mansfield 44.4%
Hackney 42.7%
Nottingham 42.7%
Luton 42.7%
Slough 42.0%
Ashfield (Notts) 41.2%
Middlesbrough 39.3%
Knowsley (Merseyside) 39.2%
Easington (Durham) 38.9%

The percentage is how many adults think anti-social behaviour is a problem in the area.)

Interesting Animals # 56 - The Haddock

A haddock's mating call starts as a slow knocking sound, before it turns into a quicker hum similar to a small motorcycle revving its engine.

(Vroom, vroom, wink, wink.)

Interesting Fact # 478 - Palm Oil

Palm oil is present in one in 10 supermarket products in the UK.

(The popularity of palm oil is set to rise with the demand for bio fuels. Unfortunately this means large areas of tropical forest are being cleared to make room for plantations, destroying the habitat of a number of endangered species, in particular, the orangutan populations on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Ironically the clearing of tropical forests is one of the leading causes of climate change and Indonesian peat bogs have been converted into palm oil nurseries, and this is thought to be responsible for 2000 million tonnes of CO2 emitted annually in Indonesia: 600 million tonnes from the decomposition of dry peat, and 1400 million tonnes from fires resulting from the draining of the bogs.)

Interesting Fact - Shopping in the UK

According to the Evening Standard, only four postcodes in the UK do not have a Tesco. They are the Outer Hebrides, the Shetlands, Orkney and Harrogate.

(Tesco plc is a United Kingdom-based international supermarket chain. It is the largest British retailer by both global sales and domestic market share, the world's third-largest grocery retailer, and is the fourth-largest retailer behind Wal-Mart of the United States, Carrefour of France, and The Home Depot of the United States. As of 25 February 2006, there were 1,897 outlets in the UK, covering a total of 25.9 million sq ft.)

Interesting Places # 43 - China - Podcast

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China allegedly opens a new coal-fired power station every five days.

(It's a shame they haven't learnt from our mistakes.

Early in December 1952, a cold fog descended upon London. Because of the cold, Londoners began to burn more coal than usual. The resulting air pollution was trapped by the inversion layer formed by the dense mass of cold air. Concentrations of pollutants, coal smoke in particular, built up dramatically. The problem was made worse by use of low-quality high-sulfur coal for home heating in London in order to permit export of higher-quality coal, because of the country's tenuous economic situation. The "fog," or smog, was so thick that driving became difficult or impossible. It entered indoors easily, and concerts and screenings of films were cancelled as the audience could not see the stage or screen.

Since London was known for its fog, there was no great panic at the time. In the weeks that followed, the medical services compiled s…

Interesting Fact # 476 - Car Insurance in the UK - Podcast

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According to the Times, uninsured vehicles are 10 times more likely to be involved in hit-and-run crashes.

(It's estimated that 2 million vehicles, about 6 per cent of the UK vehicle fleet, are being driven by uninsured drivers. The Police now have the power to seize and destroy an uninsured vehicle.)

Interesting Fact # 475 - Dishcloths

Dishcloths are purged of 99% of their bacteria during two minutes in a microwave.

(The downside of this is that they can also catch fire. Best to just boil them like granny used to.)


France imposed a ban on smoking in public places. The land of the Gauloise has seen the writing on the wall. The "clope" is dead, long live nicotine chewing gum.

Interesting Fact - Train Travel in the UK

Passenger Focus, the national rail consumer watchdog, estimates that 70,000 people stand every morning on trains coming into London.

(Things are only going to get worse, the Association of Train Operating Companies says passenger numbers could increase by as much as 30-40% in the next 10 years. Better book your seat now.)