Showing posts from April, 2008

Interesting Fact # 785 - Crime

According to The Reform Scotland report, there is more crime in Glasgow than New York.

(Seemingly for every 100,000 people there were around 731 incidents in Glasgow compared to 631 in New York. You can keep an eye on Glasgow's crime statistics here.)

Interesting Word # 68 - Genuvarum

Genuvarum describes the condition of bow-leggedness.

(If you are bowlegged it means your legs bow outward at, or below the knee. The chief cause of this deformity is rickets, which is caused by a deficiency of vitamin D, due to a lack of sunlight or a poor diet. Researchers believe that the increased use of sunblocks and increasing levels of atmospheric pollution are responsible for a world-wide increase in cases of rickets.)

Interesting Fact # 784 - Music in schools

The most popular musical instrument in UK schools is the violin.

(According to a report by the Institute of Education, girls prefer the harp or flute while boys go for electric guitar and drums. I went for the violin and then tried to play it like a guitar.)

Interesting Food # 34 - Apples

According to the Sun newspaper, 4.4m apples are thrown away daily in the UK.

(With a population of over 60 million that means each person throws away around 0.07 apples, which is probably just the core.)

Interesting Fact # 782 - Women in the boardroom

According to the Female Directors Report 2007, the number of female directorships in Britain has broken through the one million mark (1,008,343 to be exact) for the first time.

(This means that around 28% of directors in the UK are now female. We've still got a little way to go then.)

Interesting Fact # 781 - The largest chocolate bar

According to the Guinness World Records Organisation, the largest chocolate bar in the world was made by Elah Dufour - Novi in Alessandria, Liguria, Italy on 11 September 2007.

(It weighed 3,580 kg (7,892.5 lb), but it probably weighs nothing now.)

Interesting Animal # 74 - Whales

Belugas are the only white whales.

Beluga actually means "white one" in Russian.)

Interesting Places # 78 - Siachen Glacier

At 6,300 meters (20,700 feet), the Siachen glacier is the world's highest battlefield.

(After partition in 1947 no one bothered to extend the line of control between Pakistan and India up to this height because no one thought it was worth bothering with. Since then it has become the ultimate symbol in the dispute over Kashmir. Which goes to show you something, I'm just not sure what.)


Is Earth day. Go out and hug a tree.

Interesting Fact - The Olympic Torch

The Olympic torch is designed to withstand winds of up to 65 kms per hour. (I just hope the sprinters who carry it know this.)

Interesting Fact # 779 - Wheelie Bins

In the UK it's against the law to overfill your wheelie bin.

(Recently father-of-four, Gareth Corkhill, 26, of Whitehaven, Cumbria, was given a criminal record for overfilling his wheelie bin by four inches. The bin men, sorry - refuse collection officers - even took a photo of the offending wheelie bin.

Don't get me wrong, I believe we should reduce our waste and recycle whenever possible, but giving someone a criminal record for such a trivial offence is ludicrous.)

Interesting Places # 77 - The Tower of London

In the 14th century lions were kept in the Tower of London.

(During excavations of the moat two lion skulls were found, it is thought they were gifts to English monarchs in the 13th and 14th centuries. Good grief, had they never heard of a box of chocolates?)

Interesting Food # 33 - Meat Production

According to the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), a total of just under 7.3 million tonnes of meat was produced in Germany in 2007.

(Pork had by far the largest share in meat production at just under 5.0 million tonnes (68.2%), and yet you still can't buy decent bacon.)

Interesting Fact # 778 - The Olympic Torch

The tradition of relaying the Olympic torch was started by the Nazis for the Berlin Games in 1936.

(The torch was carried through Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia and finally Germany. A reconnaissance mission? On a lighter note, in Sydney 1956 Barry Larkin, a university student, fooled crowds when he carried a wooden chair leg crowned with a blazing metal pudding container which held the remains of his burning underpants.)

Interesting Fact # 777 - Domestic Appliances

Austria has the highest number of old domestic appliances still in use in the EU.

(Their solution? Well seemingly the Austrian government are sending out a census to every household where people can write in the appliances and then an expert will calculate how much energy (and money) they could save if they bought a new one. I have to say it's a good idea because the English club bought a new fridge a year ago and the electricity bill was halved.)

Interesting Fact - Traffic

According to traffic researcher Frank Schmid, there are 160,000 traffic jams in Germany every year.

(This means that 288 million litres of petrol are wasted and 714,000 tons of C02 created. I'm afraid that on my last two holidays I was a contributer, for some reason every time I drive a long way in Germany, someone decides to demolish a bridge on the motorway I'm on.)

Interesting Fact # 775 - Stress

According to a study in the European Heart Journal, a stressful job has a direct biological impact on the body, raising the risk of heart disease.

(Those who felt stressed not only had less time to exercise and eat well, they also showed signs of important biochemical changes. So, time to start practising those relaxation techniques.)


From today all petrol and diesel sold at UK pumps has to include at least 2.5% biofuels.

Interesting Fact # 774 - Testosterone

Testosterone could be partly responsible for crises in city trading.

(Cambridge University researchers discovered that testosterone levels were linked to the profit that male City of London traders made. The downside is that they can then become over-confident, and take bigger and bigger risks leading to huge losses. They recommend recruiting more women, but I would have thought that wouldn't help the testosterone levels of the remaining men at all. Just remember though, when a City trader makes a big profit or loss, they were just feeling a bit hormonal.)

Interesting People # 65 - William Lyttle

William Lyttle is a 77 year old pensioner from east London. For over 40 years he dug a labyrinth of tunnels under his house in Mortimer Road, Hackney.

(The eccentric Mr Lyttle, aka Mole Man, has since been ordered to pay £300,000 for repairs carried out to stabilise the house. He was lucky not to be sent to prison, but I guess they thought he might dig his way out.)

Interesting Fact # 773 - Sea Levels

A UK/Finnish team which has built a computer model linking temperatures to sea levels for the last two millennia, has forecast that sea levels will rise a massive one-and-a-half metres by the end of this century.

(If you are planning on buying that lovely little house by the sea, you might want to rethink.)

Interesting People # 64 - The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama was born Lhamo Thondup.

(When he became the Dalai Lama at the age of 15, he was renamed Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso. Tibetans address the Dalai Lama in several different ways: Gyalwa Rinpoche ('Precious Victor'), Kundun ('Presence'), and Yishin Norbu ('Wishfulfilling Gem'), but thank goodness he is usually referred to simply as "His Holiness" (HH), or "His Holiness The Dalai Lama.")

Interesting Fact # 772 - Viruses, Trojans and Worms

According to security firm Symantec, there are now over one million worms and trojans in circulation.

(Viruses, Trojans and Worms, Oh my!)

Interesting Place # 76 - The South Pole

A team of engineers from the US has begun constructing one of the most difficult "roads" ever attempted: a 1,600-kilometre (1,000 miles) overland route to the South Pole.

(The route is very simple: just head south.)

Interesting Fact - The British Pub

Britain has its first booze free Islamic pub. The Halal Inn, formerly the Westwood Inn in Oldham, has a juice bar, snooker tables and darts board - along with a prayer room and a steam room.

(I wish them all the best, but I'll stick to the beer thanks.)

Interesting Invention # 24 - Cup & Up

A leading Israeli plastic surgeon has invented a new bra.

(Nothing revolutionary you might think, but this one is placed under the skin; it used fine straps or "threads" that are attached to the ribs between the breast and the shoulder with a pair of titanium screws. Eeew!)

Interesting Fact # 770 - Transport in the UK

According to the NAO (National Audit Office), rail passengers in the UK faced 800,000 delays on Britain's trains in 2006/7 and were poorly informed about them.

(This means that 14 million minutes were lost by late running trains, costing the public £1bn in lost time. Now British rail can compensate you for the cost of a ticket, but they can't give you your time back.)

Interesting Fact # 769 - Obesity in the UK

According to the School Food Trust the rising levels of obesity in the UK are being fuelled by the ready availability of fast food near schools.

(They've even compiled a list of the worst offenders:-

1 Brighton and Hove there are over 46 takeaway outlets and sweet shops per secondary school.
2 Blackpool 40.63
3 Kingston upon Hull 40.00
4 Reading 39.17
5 Middlesbrough 38.33
6 Manchester 36.95
7 City of Bristol 36.94
8 Inner London 36.66
9 Newcastle upon Tyne 36.21
10 Gateshead 35.00)

Interesting Fact # 768 - Cow burps

According to the Guardian newspaper, German scientists have invented a pill to reduce bovine burping.

(The fist-sized pill, poor cows, known as a bolus, when combined with a special diet and strict feeding times, reduces the methane they produce. Now this might seem trivial, unless you're a cow, but according to scientific estimates, the methane gas produced by cows is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions.)

Interesting Fact # 767 - Gold

According to the independent precious metals consultancy GFMS, China became the world's biggest producer of gold in 2007.

(They have overtaken South Africa which held top spot for 100 years. Seemingly stoppages by miners protesting unsafe working conditions and ongoing power cuts in South Africa have hampered supplies. I guess the Chinese mines aren't likely to suffer from strikes any time soon.)

Interesting Fact # 766 - Champagne

According to the Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), France exports 150.9m bottles of champagne per year.

(The main importers are the UK: 38.9m bottles, the US: 21.7m bottles, Japan: 9.1m bottles, Russia: 1.03m bottles, and China: 656,000 bottles. Of course in the UK we have a saying, "Champagne taste on a beer pocket.")

Interesting Fact - April Fool's Day

On April 2nd 1857, the New York Times reported that April Foolery was over.

(To quote: "April Fool's Day is going out of remembrance. There was less fooling yesterday than usual - thanks to advancing civilisation." I think that civilisation has a bit of a longer way to go than they thought.)