Showing posts from August, 2008

Interesting Fact # 876 - The Earth

Fewer than a half of the world’s maritime boundaries have been agreed.

(Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, all countries have rights to resources up to 200 nautical miles from their shoreline. This recently resulted in Russia planting a flag on the seabed of the North Pole. Personally I think that if someone can walk there, without the aid of any machinery, they are quite entitled to plant a flag, of course they didn't so they aren't.)

Interesting Fact # 875 - The Earth

Some people still believe the earth is flat.

(The modern hypotheses supporting a flat Earth originated with English inventor Samuel Rowbotham (1816-1884). Based on his interpretation of certain biblical passages, Rowbotham published a 16-page pamphlet, which he later expanded into a 430-page book, Earth Not a Globe, expounding his views. According to Rowbotham's system, which he called "Zetetic Astronomy", the earth is a flat disk centered at the North Pole and bounded along its southern edge by a wall of ice (Antarctica), with the sun and moon 3000 miles (4800 km) and the "cosmos" 3100 miles (5000 km) above earth. Nowadays, the term "flat-earther" is used to describe someone who is spectacularly - and seemingly wilfully - ignorant. Flat-earthers call spherical-world believers "globularists". That would make me a globularist then.)

Interesting People # 110 - Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger is officially an OAP (old age pensioner).

(I wonder if he'll queue up at his local post office.)

Interesting Fact - Water

Lake Baikal in Russia holds about a fifth of the world's fresh water.

(At 1,637 meters (5,371 ft), it is also the deepest lake in the world. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, so let's hope that preserves its future.)

Interesting Word - Pica

Pica is an eating disorder, which involves an abnormal compulsion to eat non-nutritive substances (such as paint, string, hair, animal droppings, insects, soil etc) for over a month.

(Yes, you will only be diagnosed as suffering from this if the compulsion persists for more than one month, and you have to be deemed developmentally able to determine whether an item is appropriate for consumption. So your average worm-eating 3-year-old does not suffer from this disorder.

I wonder if eating non-nutritive substances includes hot dogs?)

Interesting Fact # 873 - Laptops

The tiny South Pacific nation of Niue is the first nation in the world to issue laptop computers to all its children.

(It's part of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. Every primary and secondary school student has been given a little green laptop, with wireless connection to the Internet. Not only that but inhabitants have free internet access! I'm moving to Niue!)

Interesting Fact - The Olympics

Olympic swimmers can consume more than 12,000 calories a day while training - and not get fat.

(Michael Phelp's diet consists of the following:-

Breakfast: Three fried egg sandwiches; cheese; tomatoes; lettuce; fried onions; mayonnaise; three chocolate-chip pancakes; five-egg omelette; three sugar-coated slices of French toast; bowl of grits; two cups of coffee
Lunch: Half a kilo (one pound) of enriched pasta; two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread; energy drinks
Dinner: Half a kilo of pasta, with carbonara sauce; large pizza; energy drinks.

I think I just put on a couple of pounds just reading this list.)

Interesting Fact # 871 - The Olympics

The official motto of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement is “citius, altius, fortius”.

(It's Latin for "faster, higher, stronger." Perhaps some of the athletes got a bit confused with the Latin, it's not "faster with drugs, higher on drugs, stronger drugs!")

Interesting Fact # 870 - The Olympics

David Beckham will take part in the Olympic flag ceremony at the closing ceremony in Beijing.

(He will appear alongside Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, London-born singer Leona Lewis, dancers from the Royal Opera House and (drum roll) Boris Johnson - the newly elected Mayor of London. Luckily sportsmen and women from previous Olympic Games will also appear, which to me is much more meaningful.)

Interesting Fact # 869 - The Olympics

Germany's Christian Ahlmann has been suspended from the Olympic Games in Beijing after his horse tested positive for a banned substance.

(Drugging yourself is bad enough. Drugging a horse! Scumbags, they should make whoever did it do the course without a horse.)

Interesting Fact # 868 - The Olympics

The plane bringing Britain's Olympic team home next week is going to be painted gold in honour of the record gold medal haul for Team GB in Beijing.

(British Airways are going to paint the nose-cone of the Boeing 747, which is normally dark-blue. A golden nose job.)

Interesting Fact - The Olympics

Britain has had its best Olympics for a century, taking its 17th gold today and staying in third place in the overall medals table, behind China and the United States.

(Not bad for a little island, but personally I think we've always had good athletes, our drugs just weren't good enough.)

Interesting Fact # 866 - The Olympics

According to the China Daily, Peking roast duck is the popular choice of athletes at the Beijing Olympics.

(The crispy duck dish now tops the medal table at the athletes' village. Funnily enough the company running the catering is an American one and they've had to hire specialist chefs to cook it.)

Interesting Fact # 865 - The Olympics

Some spruikers in Beijing are wearing counterfeit versions of the blue and white Olympic volunteer shirts.

(A spruiker is someone who vigourously tries to persuade customers to purchase their wares. In this case rip off designer clothing, watches etc. Personally I think there's only one thing sadder than wearing branded goods, and that's wearing fake branded goods.)

Interesting Fact # 864 - The Olympics

According to the International Olympic Committee, the Beijing Games are set to become the most widely broadcast event in Olympic history.

(Timo Lumme, the IOC's director of TV and marketing said that by the end of the Beijing Games, three times more TV and online material would have been broadcast than at the Athens Games in 2004. "The figure for total viewing in the world could be around 1.2 billion people," he said.

In China alone, a total of 842 million people tuned in to at least some of the opening ceremony and more than 1 billion Chinese people have watched at least one Olympic event. Whilst in the United States, more than 40 million viewers watched swimmer Michael Phelps win his eighth gold medal - the biggest Saturday night audience since 1990.)

Source BBC News.

Interesting Fact # 862 - The Olympics

The Beijing Games are the last time table tennis players will be allowed to use speed glue to re-fix the rubber surfaces to the racket or paddle.

(So called speed glues contain volatile organic compounds, and expose the players to potentially harmful chemicals. However, not everyone is happy about the ban, seemingly gas produced by the chemicals seeps into the bat's rubber covering and stretches the rubber giving it a tension that in turn makes the ball behave like an object meeting a trampoline, hence the term speed glue. Critics charge that the glue ban is a veiled attempt to slow the rapid-fire sport. The ban was supposed to take place as of 1 September 2007, but the date was moved back to 1 September, 2008. From September the International Table Tennis Federation will introduce a doping test for bats - a device that can detect whether the illegal glue is present in the rubber covering.)

Interesting Fact # 861 - The Olympics

The official Olympic flag was first flown during the 1920 Olympic Games.

(It was created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1914. The flag consists of five interconnected rings on a white background. Each ring symbolizes the five significant continents, Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Europe. Each ring is interconnected to symbolize friendship. The rings, from left to right, are blue, yellow, black, green, and red. These colours were chosen because at least one of them appeared on the flag of every country in the world.)

Interesting Fact # 860 - The Olympics

In the opening ceremony organisers claimed that the 56 children who carried the national flag were from each official ethnic group in China, but they were actually all Han Chinese.

(Seemingly the deputy director of the Galaxy Children's Art Troupe, Yuan Zhifeng, to which the children belonged, let the cat out of the bag to the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal.)

Interesting Fact # 859- The Olympics

The pretty little girl who sang at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was only miming.

(The real singer was Yang Peiyi. She was not allowed to appear because she was not considered as "flawless" as nine-year-old Lin Miaoke. The excuse given by officials was that they had decided to "put our country's interest first." In the words of François de la Rochefoucauld, “The world more often rewards the appearance of merit than merit itself”.)

Interesting Fact # 858 - The Olympics

Togo won its first ever Olympic medal when Benjamin Boukpeti took bronze in the men's single kayak slalom at the 2008 Beijing Games.

(He got a bigger cheer than the gold medal winner.)

Interesting Fact # 857 - The Olympics

Parts of the spectacular Beijing Olympics opening ceremony on Friday were faked because of fears over live filming.

(The bit where a series of giant firework footprints appeared above the city, were CGI. They did set off the fireworks, but figured they wouldn't be able to film them adequately.)

Interesting Fact # 856 - The Olympics

A 97-year-old grandmother, Xiao Xincui, has travelled 2,400 kilometres (1,491 miles) by tricyle to watch the Chinese badminton team in action at the Beijing Olympics.

(Actually she sat in the back and supervised her grandson, Liu Xianghui, who provided the pedal power. I hope she didn't weigh much.)

Interesting Fact # 855 - Air Force One

"Air Force One" isn't just one plane, it is actually the air traffic control call sign for any US Air Force aircraft carrying the President of the United States.

(Any Air Force aircraft carrying the Vice President is called "Air Force Two", and any plane carrying the pope is called "Shepherd One". I wonder what they'd call a plane carrying all three?)


The 29th Olympic Games began in Beijing. Building a Peaceful and Better World Through Sport and the Olympic Ideal.

(Oh and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who attended the ceremony, said "war has started" in the breakaway region of South Ossetia while Georgia accused Russia of "a well-planned invasion" and appealed to world leaders for help.)

Interesting Fact - Lucky Day?

On the 8th of August, 2008, an estimated 9,000 couples will be married in China, where the number 8 is considered to be very lucky.

(The number “8″ is considered very lucky in China, something about it sounding like part of the phrase “to get rich” in Mandarin. Although with the cost of weddings being such as they are, I doubt that any of the couples will be getting rich any time soon.)

#IFUpdate - I wonder how they are all doing?

Interesting People # 67 - Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, never phoned his wife or mother because they were deaf.

(Unfortunately he was also connected with the eugenics movement in the United States. Teacher of the deaf, inventor of the telephone, and promoter of eugenics. I wonder what he'd prefer to be remembered for.)

Interesting Fact # 853 - Clothing

According to research published in the British Journal of Ophthalmolog, men should think twice about how tight they wear a necktie because it could increase their chances of developing glaucoma.

(Seemingly a tight necktie can raise the blood pressure in the eye, which is a leading risk factor in the illness that can lead to damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision. I have a better suggestion - don't wear ties.)

Interesting Fact # 852 - Film Memorabilia

A miniature model space craft from the original Star Wars film has sold for £177,789 ($350,000) in an auction of iconic film memorabilia.

(I've got an Airfix model of the model if anyone is interested.)

Interesting Fact # 851 - Yawning

According to a study by Birkbeck College, University of London, yawning is known to be contagious in humans but now scientists have shown that pet dogs can catch a yawn, too.

(Seemingly this copying suggests that pooches are capable of empathising with people. say the researchers who recorded dogs' behaviour in lab tests. All I can say is it's currently 50 50 in my house. After yawning for about two minutes only my dog Laika yawned back, Sam just looked at me as if I'd lost my marbles.)


Nobel literature prize winner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn who revealed the horror of Stalin's camps to the world, died aged 89.

Interesting Fact # 850 - Champagne

According to Bruno Dutertre there are, on average, 250 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne.

(Seemingly the three-year-study to "understand and study the influence of chemical and physical parameters on the formation of bubbles and the stability of the mousse" cost $7 million. A camera-based, computer-linked "artificial vision system" built by ITMI (Industrie et Technolgie de la Machine), actually recorded the release of bubbles and counted them. The study was financed by Moet & Chandon and Heineken. I would suggest that instead of trying to confirm these findings, you just sit back and enjoy the bubbles.)

Interesting Fact # 849 - Britain's oldest joke

The oldest British joke is a bawdy gag from the 10th century which employs the traditional question and answer format. "What hangs at a man's thigh and wants to poke the hole that it's often poked before? A key."(Wow! Where did we get a reputation for having a good sense of humour from? I guess it's marginally funnier than the world's oldest joke.)