Showing posts from May, 2007

Interesting Fact # 554 - Keyboards

The QWERTY keyboard isn't standard all over the world.

(In Germany and Austria they have QWERTZ, in France and Belgium AZERTY and in Italy they have QZERTY, which sounds more Russian to me.)

Interesting Fact - Keyboards

The QWERTY (named for the key placement of the upper left row) was invented by Christopher L. Sholes, who began its development in 1867

(This keyboard was designed to be as inefficient as possible because if people typed too fast the typewriter would jam. So Sholes arranged the keys so that many words would be typed with only one hand, few words can be typed on the home row, and the left hand gets the majority of the work.

The DVORAK keyboard, which uses a different setup, improves efficiency by at least 70%, but like many good ideas it never caught on.)

Interesting Fact # 552 - Money

Paper money was first introduced by the Chinese in 806 A.D.

(Seemingly there was a severe copper shortage, and funnily they abandoned paper money again in 1455 (I guess they found some more copper). Notes didn't appear in Europe and America until the mid-1600s and it was another hundred years before paper money became common. It's strange that it ever did because, let's face it, paper currency is actually worthless.)

Interesting Fact # 551 - Housing

At present a typical UK home costs seven times the average salary.

(Government figures show that in 2000 the average cost of a home was four times annual earnings. predicts that this is set to rise again unless supply increases. By 2026 the NHPAU (the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit) estimates that the average price will be ten times yearly earnings.)

Interesting Fact - Houses

A three-bedroom house built today must have at least 38 sockets.

(This is more than twice as many as 30 years ago. The number has been set by the National House Building Council's technical standards. They recommend 4 each in the kitchen and utility room, 4 in the living room, 8 in a living/family room with 2 near the TV aerial. Funnily enough they reckon there should be 6 in the main bedroom, and four in other bedrooms.

I have no idea why you would need so many sockets in the bedroom. The mind boggles.)

Interesting Fact # 549 - Bestselling Books - Podcast

The world's bestselling author, JK Rowling, has sold more than three times as many books as the next two.

(The next two are Enid Blyton and Dr Seuss, who have an estimated 100 million sales each. I think there might be something in this "writing for children" lark.) Listen here.

Interesting Fact # 548 - No 10

No 10, Downing Street, has no keyhole.

(I bet that infuriates the tabloid press reporters.)


A swarm of bees grounded a Palmair Boeing 737 at Bournemouth Airport.

(You see the little guy can make a difference.)

Interesting People - Gracie Fields

Gracie Fields lost her British citizenship.

(British born, Dame Gracie Fields, DBE, was a singer and comedian who became one of the greatest stars of both cinema and music hall. She entertained the troops during World War II and was known as the forces sweetheart. Despite this her citizenship was revoked. Her crime? She married an Italian.)

Interesting Animals # 62 - Whales

According to Richard Black of the BBC, in the 17th Century Japanese whalers buried the foetuses of the pregnant whales they caught in a special graveyard facing out to sea.

(In Nagato, Japan, they gave the whales killed Buddhist names. I just wonder how many of the species interred are now extinct.)

Interesting Food - Pizza

In 1950's Britain, pizza was known as “Italian Welsh rarebit".

(Welsh rarebit — or rabbit — is a traditional Welsh snack, comparable to toasted cheese. And let's face it, this is the country that fell for the spaghetti tree report on April 1st.)

Interesting Fact # 547 - Patio Heaters

According to Friends of the Earth, using a gas-fired patio heater for just one hour can waste enough energy to make 400 cups of tea.

(Personally I can't stand them. I would much rather have a cup of tea than a boiling head and freezing feet.)

Interesting Fact # 546 - Articles - Podcast

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Over the past decade, the average length of an article for a magazine or newspaper has gradually fallen from 5,000 words to 3,000, and in the last few years to just 1,500.

(In the 1890s reports of 5,000 words were common in the Times, but of course that was before the tabloid journalist arrived. Personally I think it's easier to write 5,000 words than it is to write 1,500 words with a catchy headline.)

Interesting Fact # 545 - Baldness - Podcast

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According to the Times Newspaper, almost one-third of men are balding by the time they reach 30.

(Their problem isn't baldness, their problem is their problem with baldness. If they didn't have a problem with baldness, then going bald wouldn't be a problem. Got it?)

Interesting Fact # 544 - Pregnancy

According to the BBC web site, half of pregnancies are unplanned.

(Hopefully a nice surprise though.)

Interesting Fact # 543 - Wireless Phone

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India reports that 6 million people sign up for a wireless telephone service every month.

(Of course that will please the inventor of the "electro-magnetic field protection unit", Gary Johnson. He'll be able to convince millions of Indians that they have "Electrosensitivity" too.) Grrr.

Interesting Place # 52 - Switzerland

According to the 2006/2007 Gobal Competitiveness Report, Switzerland moved up from fourth place in 2005 to first place.

(Must be all those gnomes.)

Interesting Fact # 542 - Recycling

According to the Institute for Public Policy the Netherlands recycles 65% of its waste, whilst Portugal only recycles 3%.

(Of course Britain can't hold its head up either. It recycles 27% and, in Europe, only Greece and Portugal recycle less.)

Interesting Fact # 541 - Working Hours

According to the Financial Times 52% of British adults believe there should be no limits on working hours.

(They probably believe that children would be better employed sweeping chimneys too.)

Interesting Fact # 540 - Domain Names - Podcast

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The first domain name ever registered was (Seemingly was used for the first ever root server ( So, it was techinically the first ever domain name, as it was created by the registry (for use by the registry) on day 1, before domains were even allowed to be officially registered. But, Symbolics holds the distinction of being the first ever registered name. What's really interesting is to see what they've done with the web site.

Interesting Animals # 63 - Kangaroos - Podcast

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Kangaroos can't walk backwards.

(Seemingly kangaroos are built for hopping, not walking, and their legs do not move independently of each other. Tell that to the makers of the film Kangaroo Jack, that kangaroo hero could do anything.)

Interesting Fact # 539 - Google Search

Google paid $900 million to be MySpace's search provider.

(They're my search provider too, but they didn't offer me a penny for the privilege.)

Interesting Word - Insults

The insults "moron", "idiot", "imbecile" and "cretin" were once official medical diagnoses.(You can use it in the following way:-Some ..... smashed into the back of my car yesterday. Just insert your preferred insult.)

Interesting Fact # 538 - Global Warming

Antarctica's Southern Ocean is failing to soak up as much CO2 as it was expected to.( An increase in Southern Ocean winds is being blames, but the bottom line is that in the future atmospheric CO2 levels may be even higher than predicted. I wonder if any of those gas guzzling RR owners owns a beach property.)

Interesting Fact # 537 - Rolls Royce owners

14% of Rolls-Royce owners also own a private jet and 7% a yacht.

(In addition, on average, Rolls-Royce owners already have an average of seven or eight cars, along with three to five properties. So, do you fancy working out the carbon footprint for these people?)

Interesting Fact # 536 - Hair

The human head comes equipped with around 100,000 tiny hair follicles, from each of which grow a single hair.

(The number of follicles varies depending on hair colour. Red heads have 90,000, people with black hair 110,000 and blondes 140,000.)

Interesting Food # 26 - Folic Acid - Podcast

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According to the Observer, four ingredients have been added to bread by law since WW2 – niacin, thiamine, iron and calcium.

(There is now a campaign underway to have folic acid added to bread in the UK. The FSA (Food Standards Agency) is going to advise the Department of Health to introduce the mandatory fortification of white and brown flour, but to exempt wholemeal flour. In America a wide range of products have to include set amounts of the vitamin - bread, corn meals, rice, noodles, macaroni and other grain products. A total of 39 countries now add folic acid to flour, including Canada, Israel and Mexico. The Republic of Ireland, Australia and Canada are considering doing the same. But, folic acid is found naturally in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. So, just eat your greens. )

Interesting Places # 51 - Amsterdam, Berlin, London

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A website will help travellers to Amsterdam, Berlin, London and other capital cities to avoid high crime areas.

( shows what parts of each city are particularly dangerous. Just as well Nottingham isn't on there, it would just be "red".)

Interesting Fact - Exams

According to the Observer, 70,000 teenagers failed to turn up to take their GCSE exams last year.

(This might be related to the number of teenagers relying on drugs such as Prozac and Seroxat to see them through their exams. 84,000 children and teenagers were prescribed drugs such as Seroxat and Prozac in 2004-2005. Now that's crazy.)

Interesting Fact # 533 - Crime

According to the Times, fewer than 3% of rewards offered for information about crimes in the UK are paid out each year.

(It's because ever since we go to school we are taught that no one likes a snitch.)

Interesting People - Tony Blair

Tony Blair smoked his last cigarette 15 minutes before he got married.

(No wonder he's pushed a ban through.)

Interesting Fact # 532 - Motorways

According to the Observer, widening the M1 motorway in the UK will cost more than the annual economies of a third of the world’s nations.

(Doing any building work in the UK costs an arm and a leg nowadays.)