Showing posts from July, 2008

Interesting Fact - World's Oldest Joke

The University of Wolverhampton in central England has found the world's oldest joke. It's a gag about breaking wind and dates from 4,000 years ago. The joke dates from 1900 BC, and originated in what is now southern Iraq. The joke goes:- "Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman farting in her husband's lap."

(Well I can only think that times and senses of humour must have changed since then.)

Interesting Fact - Computers

Greek sponge divers discovered the oldest computer in 1901. It is a 2,100 year old device and may have been used to calculate the dates for the Olympic Games.

(It's called The Antikythera Mechanism. I'm very glad the name didn't catch on, otherwise PC World would have a very long name.)

Interesting Fact - Space

The moon Phobos, which orbits the planet mars, is shaped like a potato.

(Who knows? It might even be a potato, after all we've never been there.)

Interesting Fact # 845 - Britain's Favourite Toy

A survey, conducted by catalogue store Argos, found that Lego is Britain's favourite toy.

(But according to the same survey it was Scalextric that Britons always wanted but never got.)

Source: Daily Telegraph

Interesting Fact # 844 - UK Life

According to a survey by the Yorkshire Building Society, the average Brit's savings would only last 52 days if they found themselves out of work.

(36% of people surveyed had savings of less than £500. The concept of saving for a rainy day seems to have disappeared.)

Interesting Word # 75 - Pseudocide

Pseudocide is the act of faking your own death.

(Believe it or not there are lots of websites that offer tips and hints on how best to vanish successfully - providing advice on how to cut family ties, sell possessions and start up a new business under a new identity. My own recommendation is to hang around and face the music.)

Interesting Fact # 843 - Big Numbers

In the American numbering system, a million has six zeros, a billion has nine zeros, a trillion has 12 zeros and after that?

Quadrillion: 15 zeros
Quintillion: 18 zeros
Sextillion: 21 zeros
Septillion: 24 zeros

Interesting Fact # 842 - Travel

Only a dozen countries - including Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Russia and the USA, ban travel and immigration for HIV-positive people.

(The US Senate has now voted to overturn the travel ban, which has been in force since 1987.)

Interesting Word # 74 - Monsoon

The word monsoon is often used to describe heavy rain, but it actually refers to the wind, specifically the seasonal reversal of wind direction.

(In fact, according to Jim Dale, senior meteorologist at British Weather Services, monsoons only affect one part of the world and that is the Indian subcontinent. So, us Brits will have to restrict ourselves to the "It's raining cats and dogs" idiom.)

Interesting Fact # 841 - Laptops

More than 12,000 laptops a week go missing at US airports.

(According to a survey by the Ponemon Institute reported by the IDG News Service, an amazing 637,000 laptops are lost each year, most often at security checkpoints. Not very secure security checkpoints.)

Interesting People # 66 - Nelson Mandela

Until July this year Nelson Mandela was still on the US terror watch list.

(For his 90th birthday he can now legally visit the US.)

Interesting Fact - British Police

The Metropolitan Police has been ordered to withdraw its claim to be “the oldest police service in the world” after the advertising watchdog ruled that the Glasgow force had been around longer.

(Seemingly the City of Glasgow Police were set up in 1800 - 29 years before the Metropolitan Police force was formed under Sir Robert Peel. Yet another historic lie I was told in school!)

Source: The Times

Interesting Fact # 839 - UK LIfe

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a single person in Britain needs to earn at least £13,400 a year before tax for a minimum standard of living.

(Film tickets, a bottle of wine and of all things a bird feeder were on the list of goods people need to participate in society. Where do they get these ideas from? A bird feeder! Oh no! I haven't got a bird feeder! I must be poor!)

Interesting Fact # 838 - Temperature

The temperature in remote regions of outer space is about 2.7 Kelvin (-270C; -454F).

(But a vast physics experiment built in a tunnel below the French-Swiss border is fast becoming one of the coolest places in the Universe. The Large Hadron Collider is entering the final stages of being lowered to a temperature of 1.9 Kelvin (-271C; -456F) - colder than deep space. Brrrrr.)

Interesting Animal # 77 - Ants

There are 900,000 ant species in the world.

(There are only about 50 species in the UK.)

Interesting Fact # 837 - Obesity

If you have fat friends you are more likely to become obese.

(A study carried out at the University of Warwick, Dartmouth College, and the University of Leuven, suggests that choices about appearance, on which decisions such as job offers or being deemed attractive are based, are determined by the choices others around you make. So when I next chomp into a cream puff I'll blame my friends.)

Interesting Fact # 836 - Car Accidents

According to research carried out by DirectLine for the Daily Mirror, satellite navigation systems are being blamed for 300,000 road accidents each year.

(Over 1.5 million drivers said that they had driven badly because they were consulting the devices, either by veering across lanes or making illegal manoeuvres. Might I suggest that if a sat-nav gives you an instruction that is likely to leave you in the middle of a river, or driving the wrong way down a road, ignore it.)

Interesting Word - Mysophobia

Mysophobia is a fear of dirt.
(It is sometimes referred to as germophobia (or germaphobia), a combination of germ and phobia to mean fear of germs, as well as bacillophobia and bacteriophobia. Several famous people have suffered from this phobia, including: Cameron Diaz, Howard Hughes, and Joan Crawford.)

Interesting Fact # 835 - Wimbledon

If you reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, you get free tea at the tournament for life.

(Basically you join the ranks of Wimbledon's Last Eight Club, which was formed in 1986 as part of the 100th Championship celebrations. The club is open only to those who have contested a singles quarter-final or doubles semi-final at Wimbledon.)

Interesting People - Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini was given an honourary knighthood in 1923 but it was withdrawn in 1940.

(Honourary knighthoods are given by the Queen to non-British or Commonwealth citizens on what is called the "advice", which basically means the orders, of the British government. Mr Mussolini is not alone though, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, was stripped of his shortly after he had been deposed and, as it turned out, only one day before he was shot. Even more recently Zimbabwe's "President" Robert Mugabe has just been similarly dishonoured. (Is that the right word?).

Interesting Food # 41 - Baobab

The fruit of the baobab tree has six times as much vitamin C, per gram, as an orange.

(But you can't buy them down at Tesco.)

Interesting Word # 72- Flitch

“Flitch” is an old name for a side of unsliced bacon.

(Next time I'm in the UK I'm going to a butchers and ask for a 2kg flitch. I'll let you know how I get on.)

Interesting Word - Potato

In the UK there are loads of words derived from the word potato. They include Scots: pitatie, pirtie, pirta, purta, purty, pitter, porie, tattie, tottie | Hiberno-English pratie, praitie, prae, prata, prater, pritta, pritty, pruta, poota, tater, tattie, totie | Irish: spud | Norfolk: tater.

Interesting Fact # 834 - Recycling

According to Recoup, about 35% of the 13.1 billion plastic bottles used by UK households annually are recycled.

(This is up from 3% in 2001. So, things are improving.)

Interesting Food - Potatoes

The British eat potatoes about 10 billion times a year.

(The UK ranks No. 11 among world potato producing countries, but we still have to import a lot to meet our tatty requirements.)

Interesting Fact # 832 - Heathrow Airport

In 2007 London Heathrow handled 67.8 million passengers.

(Do you like the way they use the word "handled"? It reminds me of signs in my local greengrocers; "Please don't handle the produce".)

Interesting Place # 81 - Heathrow Airport

In 1946 London Heathrow International Airport's number one terminal was an army surplus tent situated a short walk from the aircraft.

(I bet they didn't lose your luggage!)

Interesting Fact # 831 - Heathrow Airport

Heathrow is the world's busiest airport for passenger traffic, and handles more international passenger traffic than any other airport in the world.

(I wonder if they lose more luggage than any other airport in the world too.)

Interesting Fact # 830 - Broadband

According to, London has the fastest broadband in the UK.

(And the slowest traffic.)