Showing posts from November, 2007

Interesting Fact # 690 - Carbon Emissions

56 countries account for 90 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions

(A new report shows that Sweden is doing the best job in tackling carbon emissions, Germany second best, the UK was seventh, whilst the US ranked second worst only topped by Saudi Arabia who were deemed the most irresponsible emitters among the world's major economies.

Interesting Fact # 689 - Minimum Wage

Germany has agreed to introduce a minimum wage for postal workers. The minimum wage, which will be introduced on Jan. 1, 2008, is expected to be €8.00 ($11.70) per hour in the states of the former East Germany and €9.80 ($14.35) per hour in western Germany.

(Luxembourg-based Pin Group immediately announced that it will cut more than 1,000 jobs in Germany in response, they currently pay between €7 and €7.50 per hour on average.)

Interesting Fact # 688 - Salaries

According to the Spiegel, a German carworker earns just under €50,000 a year on average.

(Wendelin Wiedeking, the chief executive of car maker Porsche, in case you were wondering, earned more than €60 million in 2006.)

Interesting Fact # 687 - Words

According to the government, by the time British children are four, those from poor families are likely to have heard 13 million words, but children from better off families, a figure of 45 million is typical.

(Who counts these things?)

Interesting Fact # 686 - Cars

The Bavarian company Herpa, a miniature model manufacturer located in Germany, announced at the International Automobile show in Frankfort a.M. that they want to put the Trabant back on the streets by 2009.

(Now this won't be a model, this will be a full-sized car. But it will still be made out of plastic, so no difference there.)

Interesting Fact # 685 - Catastrophes

According to the aid agency Oxfam, the number of weather-related disasters has quadrupled over the past 20 years.

(And of course there has been a huge increase in population and so more people are affected when these events take place. Maybe the Germans should be a bit more worried (see previous fact).)

Interesting Fact - Fear

According to R&V insurance, Germans are more frightened of a higher cost of living than of terrorism, natural catastrophes or illness.

(The list goes like this:-

Higher living expenses - 66%
Natural catastrophes - 59%
Infirmity in old age - 53%
Bad health - 51%
Political situation - 51%
Terrorism - 50%
Worsening economic situation - 48%)


Is buy nothing day.

Interesting Places # 63 - Japan

A survey by the Japanese government has said that the dwindling birth rate is expected to cut Japan's population by 30% over the next 50 years.

(Seemingly the birth rate has been falling steeply for over half a century. In the early 1970s it passed the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman and in 2005 hit a record low of 1.26. Luckily we are all living longer.)

Interesting Fact - Shopping

According to scientist Dr David Lewis, when you go shopping and spot a bargain, chemicals that create feelings of well-being - like serotonin and adrenalin are released into the brain.

(The brainwaves change and skin moisture levels rise, heart rates speed up, all indications that people get aroused. When I go shopping the only feelings that are aroused in me are annoyance and impatience.)

Interesting Word # 66 - Blighty

The word Blighty is British slang for Great Britain.

(It actually comes from an Urdu word "bilayti", which means homeland.)

Interesting Fact # 682 - Job Requirements

One of the requirements of being a member of Ryanair's cabin crew is that your are "able to swim well".

(Well at least they don't ask you to be able to fly.)

Interesting Fact # 681 - Prayer

According to the Christian development agency, Tearfund, 42% of UK residents say they pray.

(Of course that also means that 58% don't.)

Interesting Fact # 680 - Prayer

According to a survey by the Christian development agency, Tearfund, praying made 30% of people feel strengthened, 22% said they felt close to God, 21% said they felt reassured and safe and 19% said they felt happy and joyful.

(Unfortunately, this also means that 62% of people who pray do not think it makes them more peaceful and content, 70% do not find it makes them feel stronger, 79% do not feel reassured and 81% do not feel happier.)

Interesting Fact # 679 - Air Pressure

For every one millibar decrease in pressure the sea rises 1cm.

(If the UK faces strong winds, extremely low pressure and a storm surge during the high tide, it could raise the sea level around eastern England by more than 2m. Which means that towns and villages in north Norfolk, plus King's Lynn in west Norfolk, are considered to be at risk from tidal flooding.)

Interesting Fact # 678 - Computer Chips

The next generation of chip will pack more than four hundred million transistors into an area the size of a postage stamp.

(That is of course computer chip, not french fry chip.)

Interesting Fact # 677 - Password Security

Qwerty is one of the most-popular passwords.

(Not very imaginative is it?)

Interesting Fact # 676 - Nuclear Bombs

Until the late 1990s, the RAF's nuclear bombs could be activated using a bicycle lock key.

(The BBC's Newsnight discovered that until the early days of the Blair government the RAF's nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key. Allegedly there was no other security on the bomb itself. Just imagine James Bond, no tamper-proof combination locks which could only be released if the correct code was transmitted, just get a bike lock key James. Not very exciting is it?)

Interesting Fact - Janet and John

In the United States, Janet and John were named Alice and Jerry.

(Everybody in the UK used to learn to read with Janet and John books. Not only did they learn to read, but they learnt their place in society. Women in the kitchen, baking cakes with their daughter Janet, men at work or in the garden with their son, John. That was it.)

Interesting Fact # 674 - Working with a cold

According to Lemsip, 32% of employees who have a cold try to look busy but don't get much work done.

(Dear people at Lemsip, that's just normal behaviour and has nothing to do with having a cold.)

Interesting Animals # 68 - Clams

Clams can grow old - very old.

(Recently fishermen dredged up an ocean quahog clam off the coast of Iceland, scientists said the mollusc was aged between 405 and 410 years. It is thought to have been the longest-lived animal discovered and it could offer insights into the secrets of longevity. Of course it would have lived even longer if no one had dredged it up.)

Interesting Fact # 673 - The Poppy - Podcast

Listen to the Podcast Here

The Red Poppy has become an internationally-recognised symbol of remembrance.

(In 1918 American Moira Michael wrote a poem called "We Shall Keep the Faith" and promised to wear a poppy in honour of the dead, beginning the tradition of remembrance poppies. The Royal British Legion held the first Poppy Appeal in 1921 to raise money for its welfare work in the ex-service community. It was hailed a great success, raising £106,000. Since then the Legion has encouraged the wearing of the red poppy as a poignant symbol of the need to pause and reflect on the human cost of war.

But there is another poppy - the white poppy. White poppies are also sold around Remembrance Day in the UK, as a symbol for peace. The Co-operative Women's Guild produced the first white version in 1933.)

Interesting Fact # 672 - The Brain - Podcast

Listen to this Week's Podcast Here

The brain can turn down its ability to see in order to listen to complex sounds like music.

(Dr Jonathan Burdette, who led the study, said: "This is like closing your eyes to listen to music. Imagine the difference between listening to someone talk in a quiet room and that same discussion in a noisy room - you don't see as much of what's going on in the noisy room." Actually listening to some people talk can make me want to block my ears with my fingers and shout, "La la la" very loudly.)

Interesting Fact - The Mafia

The Italian Mafia have commandments.

(A "Ten Commandments" style rules of behaviour for Mafia members, was found by police at the hideout of a captured Mafia boss.

They don't compare very well:-

The Mafia's "Ten Commandments" vs The original Ten Commandments:-

1. No-one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2. Never look at the wives of friends.
2. Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol.

3. Never be seen with cops.
3. Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God.

4. Don't go to pubs and clubs.
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.

5. Always be available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife's about to give birth.
5. Honor thy Father and Mother

6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
6. Thou shalt not murder.

7. Wives must be treated with respect.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8. When asked for any informatio…

Interesting Fact # 670 - Kilogram

The defining measure for a kilogram is "Le Grand K", a cylinder of platinum and iridium held in Paris.

(The heavily guarded lump of metal is about the size of a plum. It is the only object known to science that has a mass of exactly 1kg, so it is the reference object from which the unit of mass is derived. This means that all objects measured in kilograms, whether a bag of sugar or an aircraft carrier, are defined by Le Grand K's mass.)

Interesting Fact # 669 - Texting

Britons send as many text messages in a week now as they did in the whole of 1999.

(Some 4.825bn texts were sent in September 2007, equivalent to 4,000 every second. Just imagine all those thumbs flying over the tiny little keys.)

Interesting Animals # 67 - Dogs and cats

If they need a blood transfusion, dogs can have blood of any type, if it's just for one transfusion, but cats need to be blood type matched.

(Cats have always been fussier than dogs.)

Interesting Fact # 668 - Fireworks

The multi-coloured fireworks we enjoy today actually began in the 1830s, when Italians added trace amounts of metals. Until then they were mostly noisy.

(These metals burn at high temperatures and create beautiful colours. Other additives also produce interesting effects. For example, calcium deepens colours, titanium makes sparks, and zinc creates smoke clouds.)

Interesting Fact # 667 - Health

According to the Alcohol Health Alliance alcohol liver cirrhosis rates have risen 95% in the UK since 2000.

(The problem with damage to internal organs is that you can't see it happening. If it made your nose drop off, people would be more sensible.)

Interesting Fact - Password

According to Ken Munro, the managing director of SecureTest, you should never use a word that is in the dictionary for your password.

(Seemingly online fraudsters have written programs that can try thousands of different passwords and try every word in the dictionary. A good password will mix letters, numbers and punctuation, but the strongest contain non-alphanumeric characters or symbols, of course not all password systems allow them, so we're stuffed.)

Interesting Fact # 665 - Obesity

By 2005 obesity rates in England were the highest of the 15 member states who then formed the European Union.

(Another thing we excel at.)

Interesting Word # 65 - Neet

A neet is someone not in education, employment or training.

(Well that's neat.)