Showing posts from November, 2008

Interesting Place # 87 - Mexico

According to the mayor of Aguascalientes in Mexico, police in the city must keep family photos in their wallet as a preventative measure against corruption.

(He hopes that the city's 1,600 policemen will feel "shame" when they abuse their power. Maybe when they open their wallet to put the money in it?)

Interesting Fact - Punctuation

The possessive apostrophe is the punctuation mark that causes people in the UK the most problems.

(According to a test conducted by SpinVox, nearly half of UK adults tested were unable to use it properly. The problems people have with apostrophes arise from the hopeless state of English punctuation and spelling," Professor Christopher Mulvey from the Museum of the English Language at Winchester University, told the Telegraph.)

Interesting People # 118 - Robin Gibb

Robin Gibb has never watched Saturday Night Fever all the way through.

(I think he is probably very wise.)

Interesting Fact # 939 - Diet

Fast eaters are more likely to be obese.

(According to a report in the British Medical Journal, scientists at Osaka University in Japan have discovered that eating too quickly may be enough to nearly double a person's risk of being overweight. Eating too quickly is thought to interfere with the body's signalling system which tells your brain to stop eating because your stomach is swelling up. So, as my mum used to say, "Chew your food, before you swallow.")

Interesting Fact # 938 - Sellotape

Peeling sticky tape emits X-rays.

(According to a report in Nature journal, US researchers have shown that peeling sticky tape emits X-rays strong enough to scan a human finger. They used a motorised peeling machine to unwind a roll of Sellotape at a rate of 3cm per second. The apparatus was placed in a vacuum and they measured X-rays strong enough to X-ray a human digit.)


Overseas students coming to the UK will need biometric identity cards. Anyone applying for a visa extension will have to give their fingerprint from today.

Interesting People # 117 - Karolina Kurkova

Underwear model Karolina Kurkova has no belly button.

(The belly button (also called the umbilicus, or the navel) is a scar on the abdomen, caused when the umbilical cord is removed from a newborn baby. In humans, the scar can appear as a depression (often referred to as an innie) or as a protrusion (outie). I've got an innie.)

Interesting Fact # 937 - The Smurfs

Over the last 3 years, the Smurfs have sold more than 10 million albums.

(Who said the music industry was in trouble?)

Interesting Invention - Barbed Wire

Barbed wire was invented by Joseph Glidden.

(He actually received the patent on this day in 1874. He created the barbs by using a coffee grinder. His invention forever changed the face of farming and by the time of his death in 1906, he was one of the richest men in America.)

Interesting Fact - Photography

Associated Press has a zero-tolerance policy of adding or subtracting content from an image.

(They recently suspended the use of US Department of Defense photos after it emerged that a photo of a general was found to have been digitally altered. Ann Dunwoody was shown in front of the US flag but it later emerged that this background had been added. I think AP are right, it's so easy to alter photos, a news agency must draw the line. Now let's just hope model agencies follow suit.)

Interesting Place - The Boomerang Nebula

The Boomerang Nebula, is the coldest place known outside a science laboratory.

(The nebula is 5000 light-years from Earth and is in the constellation Centaurus, with a temperature of –272.15 degrees Celsius; 1 K. I can't see anyone booking there for their holidays.)

Interesting Animal # 87 - Kangaroos

Australian researchers have mapped the kangaroo genome and discovered that Australia's kangaroos are genetically similar to humans.

(Humans and kangaroos last shared an ancestor at least 150 million years ago and the kangaroo first evolved in China. I guess this explains a lot about Skippy.)


Is World Philosophy Day

This week

1938 - Hungarian newspaper journalist Laszlo Biro with the help of his brother, a chemist, devised a pen tipped with a metal ball bearing that used capillary action to draw ink through the rotating ball. (Yes, it's the humble biro.)

Interesting Fact # 935 - Absolute Zero

It is not possible to cool any substance to absolute zero (Davies, Jeremy Dunning - 1996).

(0° K, is a thermodynamic (absolute) temperature scale. It measures –273.15 °C on the Celsius scale. Which is very, very, very cold.)

Interesting Place # 85 - The Netherlands

Drop accounts for a fifth of all confectionery sales in the Netherlands.

(It's a black and chewy, often salty licorice sweet. In 2007, 32,000 tonnes of drop were bought by 16 million citizens, to the tune of some 155 million euros (196 million dollars). But recently experts have warned that the ingredient which gives drop its acquired taste, glycyrrhizine, may be dangerous if taken in large doses. The substance, which is 50 times sweeter than cane sugar, can raise blood pressure. "An adult can consume about 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of drop a day ... without side-effects. For children, the recommended maximum is about 25 grams," the government-funded Netherlands Nutrition Centre said in a recently published warning.
One sweet weighs about five grams.)

Interesting Word - British

Why one earth would this word be interesting? Well independent Councillor Ron Davies has told on his staff at Caerphilly council to stop using it, because it upsets people from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Asia and China.

(Quote: “the idea of British implies a false sense of unity”. I wonder what he thinks of being called a stupid prat.)

Interesting People # 116 - Laobu Laluo

Chinese police chief Laobu Laluo has arrested no fewer than 48 members of his own family, for crimes ranging from assault and theft to blackmail.
(Dispensing justice without fear or favour. That's what it's all about. And let's face it, we all have at least one embarassing relative - he's just got more than his fair share.)

Interesting Fact # 934 - Work

According to the Office of National Statistics, centre staff take the most sick leave in the UK.

(A couple of years ago a similar Australia-first study of absenteeism in call centres found sick leave rose in 38 per cent of call centres. Staff took on average 75 per cent of their allowed sick leave. Whilst I was at university I worked in a call centre, and I can tell you, it's a sickening job.)

Interesting Fact # 933 - Education

The intellect of even the brainiest 14-year-olds in the UK has deteriorated dramatically since 1976.

(This is despite an increase in the number of pupils achieving top grades in exams. Of course, being a '76er, I'm not at all surprised.)

Interesting Fact # 932 - Hair Growth

Hair grows at a rate of about 1 centimetre a month.

(But it can only grow so long, and that is down to the individual and their age. Typically, waist-length hair is 80-90 cm long, and will have taken about seven years to grow, but as you grow older the growth period of hair drops to about three years, so your hair will only grow to about shoulder length before it falls out or is brushed out. I never realised hair was so fussy!)

Interesting Fact # 931 - Hair

The average human head has roughly 100,000 hair follicles.

(I really don't recommend that you attempt to test this particular fact.)

Interesting Fact - Alcohol in the UK

According to government figures, a child under 10 is admitted to hospital due to alcohol problems every 3 days in England.

(It's not that surprising when you realise that some supermarkets offer beer at 54p a pint, and a 750ml bottle of branded water, sells for the equivalent of 57p a pint.)

Interesting Fact # 929 - Ragweed

Ragweed is the leading cause of late-summer hay fever in North America.

(The problem is it's spreading to Europe and extending the havfever season to October! In Germany, ragweed is called 'ambrosia,' which is from the plant's botanical name, Ambrosia artemisiifolia. A nice name for a nasty menace.)

Fact # 928 - Bloggers Unite for Refugees United

In the past year, the number of refugees has grown to more than 16 million people worldwide.

(UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "I urgently call on the international community to redouble efforts to address both the causes and consequences of forced human displacement. Greater international solidarity is crucial if we are to share the burden of protection more equitably.

I thank the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and United Nations agencies that have worked together to protect and help repatriate the displaced. We must not lose sight of the individual people who are fleeing persecution, what they face on a daily basis as they try to meet their basic needs.

Our goal must be no less than to ensure that refugees will be free one day to return home, in safety and dignity. But on World Refugee Day, let us first reaffirm that all refugees have the right to asylum, and let us do everything we can to give them the full protection they deserve.")

Interesting Animal # 79 - Snakes

According to research in the Public Library of Science Medicine 400,000 people are poisoned by snake bites worldwide.

(20,000 people die every year. I'm glad I'm British, we only have the relatively harmless, and very shy, adder.)

Interesting People # 115 - George Bush

There are about 95 "Impeach George Bush" groups on Facebook.

(Groups are now springing up along the lines of "Impeach Barack Obama", not because of taking his country to war, but because he wants to introduce social reform. Ah well, I guess they didn't want him to feel left out.)

Interesting Fact # 927 - Animal Rights

In Switzerland it is an offence to keep a single goldfish, guinea pig or budgerigar.

(Switzerland has adopted new animal protection legislation which specifies in great detail how fish and animals are to be treated — including how to dispose of unwanted goldfish, it is no longer legal to flush a goldfish down the loo — they must be knocked out and killed first. Which I'm sure is a great relief to them.

From guinea-pigs to budgerigars, any animal classified as a "social species" will be a victim of abuse if it does not cohabit, or at least have contact, with others of its own kind.

In addition, aquariums for pet fish should not be transparent on all sides and owners must make sure that the natural cycle of day and night is maintained in terms of light.

Anglers also have to take lessons in compassion, catch-and-release fishing and the use of live fish bait is banned.

Additionally, dog owners will require a qualification, they must take classes on how to properly raise their …

Interesting Fact # 926 - Energy Prices

According to recent figures, gas and electricity prices in Britain have climbed twice as fast as the European Union average.

(According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) there's been a 29.7 percent rise in utility prices in the past year in the UK, compared to a 15 percent increase in the EU. We don't call it "rip of Britain" for nothing.)


America elected one of the youngest presidents ever, oh and he's black.

Good luck Mr Obama.

Interesting Word # 80 - Hacktivist

Hacktivist refers to politically motivated computer hackers.

(It's a play on words, mixing activist and hacker. I'm not sure if it's in the dictionaries yet, but I'm sure it will be soon.)

Interesting Fact # 924 - Google payout

Google has paid out 125 million dollars in a copyright dispute with publishers.

(The end of this dispute could see millions of books available for purchase online, but the payout will be split three ways: 30 million to creating a Book Rights Registry, 45 million to paying authors and publishers whose books have already been scanned without permission and the remainder will reimburse legal fees.

So, the winner is - drumroll....

Surprise surprise! The lawyers!)

Interesting Fact # 923 - Chocolate

According to France's Chocolate-Makers Union, the Swiss are the world's top consumers of chocolate, chomping through 12.3 kilogrammes per person per year.

(No surprise that the Swiss are top, but Germans mop up 11.2 kgs per person, Britons 10.3 and Belgians 9.3. Seemingly the Japanese love dark chocolate, but the Chinese hate it! But I always say, if you don't like dark chocolate, you don't really like chocolate.)

Interesting Fact # 922 - Mobile Phones

According to the ministry of information in China, almost one in two Chinese people now has a mobile phone.

(In a nation of 1.3 billion, the number with mobiles stood at 592 million. Interestingly the number of fixed-line subscribers has fallen. I don't plan to get rid of my normal phone just yet. Why? Because I never remember to switch my mobile on.)

Interesting Halloween Fact # 5 - Candles