Showing posts from October, 2008

Interesting Halloween Fact # 4 Trick or Treat

Trick or treating was first noted as arriving in England by the Times in 1986.

(It isn't really an American import though.)

Interesting People # 114 - Sarah Palin

Experts have revealed that Sarah Palin is related to the late Princess Diana.

(10th cousin to be exact.)


Bill Gates spent his last day at Microsoft.

(Maybe he'll stop sending me updates now.)

Interesting Fact # 921 - Money

According to an EU-commissioned study, the annual cost of the lost of forest is more than the amount being lost in the current banking crisis.

(Seemingly if you add the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide, the annual cost of deforestation comes in at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.)

Interesting Word - Dead Cat Bounce

The phrase "dead cat bounce" means a brief rally in the price of falling stock.

(It is derived from the notion that "even a dead cat will bounce if it falls from a great height". Spooky is not impressed.)

Interesting People # 72 - Nicolas Sarkozy

According to ecological magazine, Terra Economica, President Nicolas Sarkozy has a carbon footprint equivalent to that made by 1,000 of his fellow French citizens.

(Over the past 11 months he has produced 7,061 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of the annual total emissions -- transport, housing, food -- of 1,000 ordinary French people. The hot air wasn't produced through all the gassing he does though, it was all that globe trotting in the presidential jet.)

Interesting Fact # 920 - Beer

Beer is the world's oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage.

(It is recorded in the written history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and historians think it may have been brewed as early as the 6th millennium BC. I knew it was good stuff.)

Interesting Fact - British Pubs

British pubs can only serve beer in pints, half pints and a third of a pint.

(You won't often see a third of a pint in pubs but it's popular at beer festivals where drinkers try lots of different ales. This may change if proposed changes to the law on weights and measures are approved.)

Interesting Fact # 918 - Religion

According to a survey on Religion and Public Life in America, conducted by the Pew Forum, more Americans believe in heaven than in hell.

(In addition, around three-quarters of Americans believe in miracles, and nearly six in 10 pray every day. Of those who pray regularly, around a third -- 31 percent -- say God answers their prayers at least once a month, and one in five Americans said they receive direct answers to prayer requests at least once a week.)

Interesting Fact # 917 - Sex Appeal

According to a survey for internet holiday firm, British women holidaying in Europe find German men the sexiest.

(31%of women said the men in Germany were better looking than anywhere else. And 37% of British men considered Croatian women the most attractive. As I'm a British woman married to a British man, I'm saying nothing.)

Interesting Fact # 916 - Spelling

The Spelling Society found that more than half of adults in the UK could not spell embarrassed or millennium.
(A quarter struggled with definitely, accidentally and separate. The survey found that Britons blame the current state of poor spelling on parents and teachers. After the age of 21 you really should stop blaming other people.)

Interesting Fact # 915 - Parking

In 2007 around 3.4 million parking tickets were issued in England.

(When you consider that fines range from £40 to £120, that's a lot of revenue. One of England's growth industries.)

Interesting People # 113 - Jonny Wilkinson

World-cup-winning rugby star Jonny Wilkinson, would practise about 1,000 kicks to prepare for just 20.

(Sadly, he wrote in the Times that his fear of failure was so powerful that he didn't feel any satisfaction or pleasure even after winning the rugby World Cup with a drop goal in the last minute. Luckily since then he seems to have discovered a more balanced approach to life.)

Interesting Fact # 914 - Parking

Westminster Council in London has reported that more than 80% of parking fines on foreign-owned cars and motorbikes go unpaid.

(Currently they are owed more than £4.5m in parking fines. Not surprisingly the worst culprits are the owners of luxury cars. Seemingly a Lamborghini Murcielago owner has 17 unpaid tickets and owes £2,000. Ferrari Scaglietti - 19 tickets, £2,000. Rolls Royce Phantom - 23 tickets, £3,000. And an unspecified motorbike has 400 unpaid tickets and owes £45,000. I think a quick bit of clamping or a tow or two would solve the problem.)

Source: Westminster Council

Interesting Place # 84 - Vienna

The Spanish Riding School in Vienna, famed for its Lipizzaner horses, has admitted two female riders for the first time in its 430-year history.

(In a further break with "tradition" they have accepted a non-Austrian, 17- year-old British girl Sojourner Morell. In exchange for her training she will commit herself to working for the school for at least 10 years! I thought indentured labour was illegal!)

Interesting Fact - Trains

The UK's Department for Transport has rewritten the guidelines on the acceptable number of people standing in a train carriage.

(Before, it was considered acceptable to have ten people standing for every 100 seats but under new guidelines it is all right to have 30 standing passengers per 100 seats. So you might be squashed on like a sardine with no seat and no chance of finding a seat, but you can be happy in the knowledge that you're not actually overcrowded.)

Interesting Word - Oenology

Oenology (BrE) or enology (AmE), pronounced iːˈnɒlədʒi, is the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking from the grape harvest to bottle. An expert in the field of oenology is known as an oenologist.

(I knew I'd chosen the wrong course at Uni!)

Interesting Fact # 912 - Evolution

Professor Steve Jones from the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, believes that the mechanisms of evolution are winding down in the human race.

(So, according to him this is as good as it gets.)

Interesting Food # 45 - Curries

A study by the Food Standards Agency has found that in the UK a quarter of takeaway curries contain illegal levels of potentially harmful chemicals.

(The law currently allows curry sauces to contain up to 500mg/kg of artificial colour but one sample was found to contain five times this level. Basically a cocktail of tartrazine (E102), sunset yellow (E110), ponceau 4R (E124), carmoisine (E122) and allura red (E129). And yet if you served up a brown or light yellow curry, customers would probably complain.)


The Icelandic Stock Exchange fell by 76% in early trading as it re-opened after closing for two days last week.

Interesting Fact # 911 - Aliens

A group of aliens calling themselves the Galactic Federation of Light are coming to earth today.

(How do I know? Well it's on YouTube, so it must be true.

Interesting Fact # 910 - The Bible

Two New Testament books were left out of the modern Bible.

(The Codex, written around the time of the first Christian Emperor Constantine, is probably the oldest Bible in existence and it contains books which are missing from the authorised version of the Bible that most Christians are familiar with today.)


The British government announced a £37bn rescue package for the three major UK banks.

Interesting Fact # 909 - Health

According to an EU study, if you listen to music at high volume for more than one hour a day over five years risk permanent harm to your hearing.

(Seemingly one in 10 people with a personal MP3 or CD player could suffer permanent hearing loss because they play their music too loud.)

Interesting Place # 83 - Nebraska

A unique law in Nebraska, allows any adult, not just parents, to drop off children of any age at any state-licenced hospital.

(It's called the safe-haven law, and it means that if little Johnny is being naughty you can tell him to behave himself, or you'll dump him. Not really an appropriate way to deal with parenting issues.)

Interesting Fact # 908 - Bankruptcy

Countries can go bankrupt.

(Of course it's not quite the same as when companies do. They can't suddenly close their doors and send everyone home. But if they default on their loans and don't repay the interest or principal, they can go insolvent.


The government of Iceland seized Kaupthing Bank, the country's largest lender, effectively completing the nationalization of the whole banking system after the previous takeover of Glitnir and the No.2 lender, Landsbanki.


The US government's debts have grown so high that the National Debt Clock in New York has run out of digits to record the ever spiralling figure.

Interesting Fact # 907 - Corporate Tax

Corporate tax in Ireland is a mere 12.50%.

(Compared with the UK - 28%, Germany - 30% and France - 34.43%. In Ireland the income tax for an individual is between 20% and 41% for the top earners. I wonder if you can set yourself up as a corporation?)

Interesting Fact # 906 - Earnings

In 2000 first generation immigrants to the USA earned 20 percent less than the typical non-immigrant worker.

(In 1970, recent arrivals earned around 1.4 percent more than their non-immigrant counterparts, and 1940, new immigrants were earning almost 6 percent more than non-immigrant workers.)

Source: PEW Economic Mobility Report

Interesting Fact - Money

Nine £1m banknotes were printed after World War II.

(Seemingly there are two still in existence. Although they are no longer legal tender one treasury note recently fetched £78,300 at an auction in London.)

Interesting Fact # 904 - Traffic

According to the German Government, as of 1st January 2008, over 8 million Germans were registered traffic offenders.

(Their response? Well they're going to raise the amount of the fine for traffic offences, in some cases more than double the amount. For example, anyone caught driving through a red light will have to pay €200 instead of the current €50, if the lights were on red for longer than a second. Anyone caught driving under the influence will be slapped with a €3,000 fine. What a great way to raise more money for the German banks!)

Interesting People # 112 - Ammon Shea

Ammon Shea spent a whole year reading the Oxford English Dictionary.

(That's not the little one you keep in your pocket, it's the whole thing - 20 volumes, 21,730 pages and 59 million words. He reckons it was as enriching as reading a novel, I reckon he's bonkers.)

Interesting Fact # 903 - Books

In 2007 more than £1.8bn was spent on books in the UK.

(Of course 2% of this was for that great literary classic "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", which took more than £36.5m.)

Interesting Fact # 902 - The Grenze

The inner German border (Innerdeutsche Grenze, Deutsch-Deutsche Grenze, or Zonengrenze) ran the entire 1,381-kilometer (858 miles) length of the border between East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, or GDR) and West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany, or FRG).

(The border was a series of 3–4-metre (12–15 ft) high metal fences, walls, armed guards, guard dogs, barbed wire, electric alarms, trenches, watchtowers, automatic guns and minefields. The Berlin Wall, which separated East and West Berlin, was the most famous part of the system but it formed less than a tenth of the whole. Nowadays, most of the system is a green haven for wildlife.)

Interesting Fact # 901 - Smoking

According to University of California researchers, virtually all of the big Hollywood stars of the 1930s, '40s and '50s were involved in paid cigarette promotion.

(This doesn't surprise me in the least. Today's movie studios insist they don't accept product placement money for cigarettes any more, but the American Lung Association asked a group of teenagers to watch 133 films, and they saw tobacco feature in some way in 77 percent of the movies. Maybe they need to check on what shares movie studio owners hold.)

Interesting Place # 82 - Almere

According to European Commission statistics, Almere in the Netherlands is the fastest-growing city in Europe.

(The town was started in 1975 but now has already 180,000 inhabitants. The city's slogan is "Everything is possible in Almere", but to me it seems to be a suburb of Amsterdam really.)