Showing posts from December, 2008

Interesting Fact - Champagne

When you're drinking your bubbly to see in the New Year the following notes might help to choose and then describe the taste and bouquet (smell).

(Brut Zero & Brut Sauvage, are sugar free and extremely dry. These are also the best option for diabetics.
Brut is dry.
`Extra Dry' is actually slightly sweeter than Brut.
Demi sec translates as 'half dry', which is a good choice for those who prefer medium wines.
Doux and Rich are very sweet.

Biscuity - a biscuit smell to the bouquet that denotes maturity and integrated flavours.
Creamy - obvious tastes of vanilla or cream.
Fresh - Champagne has a higher acidity compared to other white wines and usually features traces of lemon and green apple for a refreshing taste.
Nutty - this flavour usually derives from age and points to maturity of the Champagne.
Toasty - a bready smell to the bouquet that denotes maturity and integrated flavours.
Yeasty - Champagne is made using a secondary fermentation process…

Interesting Fact # 956 - Exports

According to the Economist, the world's largest exporter is Germany.

(Yes, Germany, not China and not the US. Although China was predicted to overtake both the US and Germany by 2010, the global recession might put paid to that.)

Interesting Word # 83 - Euthanasia

The word 'euthanasia' means good death.

(It comes from Ancient Greek eu- "good" + thanatos "death." Now it refers to the practice of killing anyone who is suffering from an incurable illness or condition.)

Interesting Animal # 88 - Antelopes

Antelopes click their knees to demonstrate their sexual prowess.

(That's very worrying for me, because my knees are clicking more and more as the years go by.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 31 - The Grinch Effect

According to research, commissioned by natural fruit juice and smoothie company, Grove Fresh Organic, almost 25 million people will lock horns with loved ones this Christmas and New Year period.

(They say that this seasonal irritability is caused by a heavily reduced intake of essential vitamins, minerals and roughage. Well being a smoothie company, they would.)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 30 - The Sour Hour

According to research, commissioned by Grove Fresh Organic, 8pm is the UK's official Christmas Day 'Sour Hour'.

(More than 3 million Brits admit to being at their worst at this time on Christmas Day. So, have a Happy Christmas everyone, and remember lights out at 8!)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 29 - Robins

Robins only became a symbol for Christmas in the 19th Century, when postmen - who mostly brought mail at Christmas - wore scarlet waistcoats and were known as Robin Redbreasts.

(Hubby and I watch out for cards with robins on them, because we think they are the last ones to be used. It's a good way to figure out who really doesn't like you.)

Interesting Christmas Fact - Christmas Cards

In 2007 Gordon Brown did not send a Christmas card to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel or Russia's outgoing president, Vladimir Putin.

(Did I mention he's Scottish?)

Interesting Christmas Fact # 27 - Reindeer

Both male and female reindeer have antlers.

(Usually only male deer have antlers, but along with caribou reindeer have an equal antler opportunity policy.)

Interesting Place # 90 - Fray Bentos - Podcast

Fray Bentos is actually the name of a town in Uruguay.

(Fray Bentos is better known in the UK as a brand of corned beef. And the original location of the main factory that produced Fray Bentos tinned meat for the German-British Liebig Extract of Meat Company (what a name) was in Fray Bentos, Uruguay. Thirty years after the closure of the plant, the Brazilian-owned Marfrig Group is producing corned beef in Fray Bentos once again and exporting it to Britain. Yet again, I'm not sure if this should be interesting places or interesting food.)

Interesting Fact # 955 - The Colour Red

According to research from the University of Rochester in the US, men prefer women in red.

(Seemingly this doesn't just apply to clothing - even women in photographs with a red frame were rated as more attractive. The conclusion was that men are driven by primal instincts. No surprises there then.)

Interesting Fact - Land

According to the Living Planet Report there are 2.1 hectares of land per person actually available for the global population.

(The problem is that the developed world actually uses up far more than this and this means that we are using the agricultural land, forests, seas and resources of other countries to sustain ourselves.

The countries with the biggest impact on the planet are the USA and China. Together they account for around 40% of the global footprint. And per person the USA and United Arab Emirates have the largest ecological footprint, while Malawi and Afghanistan have the smallest. The old adage comes to mind, consume less, live more.)

Interesting Fact # 953 - Fear

You really can smell fear.

(According to a study at Rice University in Houston there are chemical warning signals produced by fear. Now they just have to discover the sweet smell of success.

There's an a-z list of phobias and fears on the forum.)

Interesting Fact # 952 - Football

In the UK, the offence of indecent or racist chanting at a designated football match under the Football Offences Act 1991 can be punished by a fine of up to £1,000 and can also lead to a football banning order.

(A football banning order prevents the subject from attending domestic matches. They must also attend a designated police station and surrender their passport when a control period starts and collect it only when the match of tournament is over. I'm not sure if they are enforceable if you abuse the ref though.)

Interesting Word # 82 - Charlie's Dead - Podcast

"Charlie's dead" means that someone's slip is showing.

(Slip means petticoat and of course this is from a time gone by, when ladies wore petticoats. "Charlie's dead" was said when a ladies' petticoat was showing below her dress or skirt, along with the equally bizarre "It's snowing down south", which probably started because ladies' petticoats were usually white. There are a couple of different explanations for Charlie's dead though.

The first explanation is that the Jacobites wore white ribbons to identify themselves to each other as supporters of "Bonnie Prince Charlie. And after he died you could point to someone who had a piece of white in their clothing and say "Charlie's dead".

The other explanation that I found is that it may stem from Charles I, where apparently at his execution the women in the front row dipped their petticoats in his blood.

Of course, like most idioms, nobody really knows for sure.)

Interesting Fact # 951 - Video Games

According to a study by Pew Research Center, more than half of American adults aged 18 and older play video games.

(About one in five play every day or almost every day. It's actually been this way since the invention of railway models.)

Interesting Place # 89 - London

Around 250,000 pints of beer were served to curious drinkers at the Great British Beer Festival in the Earls Court exhibition centre west London.

(Over 750 different brews, are represented from around the world, from as far afield as the US, Nigeria, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Belgium and Italy. And there were more than 450 British real ales, some of the stranger ones being served were Black Mass, Alligator Ale, Gorge Best, Henry's Heady Daze, A Fist Full of Hops, Beserker Export, Oscar Wilde Mild, Inferno, Land of Hop and Glory, Bravo Zulu, Side Pocket for a Toad, Mother in Law and Pig's Ear. Fancy a pint of Pig's ear anyone?)

Interesting Fact # 950 - Earnings

According to a report by the National Audit Office, the chief executive of CDC Group, Richard Laing, is paid £970,000 a year.

(What's amusing / annoying is that the CDC is the Commonwealth Development Corporation, a government-owned body which helps to tackle poverty in developing countries. I think giving some of his wages to poverty stricken countries might be helpful.)

Interesting Fact # 949 - Sneezes

A single sneeze propels 100,000 germ laden droplets into the air at 90mph.

(According to cold and flu expert Dr Roger Henderson, just one sneeze on a crowded train can give 150 passengers a cold in just five minutes. This means that 10 per cent of commuters will come into contact with an area infected by just one sneeze, and researchers for cold and flu remedy Lemsip found that 99 per cent of commuters suffered at least one cold last winter. As my mother used to say "Coughs and sneezes spread diseases,catch them in your handkerchief!" And with the availability of paper tissues, there is no excuse not to do this.)

Interesting Fact # 948 - Aging

According to a six-year study from the University of Michigan, we may all be getting older, but seniors feel about 13 years younger than their actual age.

(516 men and women aged 70 and over, said that they felt on average 13 years younger than their chronological age. But women thought they were closer to their actual age than men. I'll bet you women lie more about their age though.)

Interesting Fact - Human Rights

According to the Guinness Book of Records The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is the "Most Translated Document" in the world.

(It consists of 30 articles which outline the view of the General Assembly on the human rights guaranteed to all people.)

Interesting Fact # 946 - The Computer Mouse

The computer mouse was first demonstrated by Douglas Engelbart on 9th December 1968. It was made of wood and had one button.

You can watch a video of the demonstration here.

(The world's first trackball was invented by Tom Cranston, Fred Longstaff and Kenyon Taylor. It was as part of a project in 1952, and it used of all things, a standard Canadian five-pin bowling ball, but it was not patented, as it was a secret military project.

Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute invented the mouse in 1964 after extensive usability testing, but he never received any royalties for it, as his patent ran out before it became widely used in personal computers.

The first known publication of the term "mouse" as a pointing device is in Bill English's 1965 publication "Computer-Aided Display Control".

The first marketed integrated mouse, which was shipped as a part of a computer, and intended for personal computer navigation, came with the Xerox 8010 Star Informa…


2008 - Oliver Postgate died.

(He created some of my best-loved characters for children's TV: Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, the Clangers and of course Bagpuss.)

Once upon a time,
Not so long ago,
There was a little girl, and her name was Emily,
And she had a shop...

There it is.
It was rather an unusual shop because it didn't sell anything.
You see, everything in that shop window was a thing that somebody had once lost,
And Emily had found,
And brought home to Bagpuss.
Emily's cat Bagpuss.
The most Important,
The most Beautiful,
The most Magical,
Saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world.

Well now, one day Emily found a thing,
And she brought it back to the shop,
And put it down in front of Bagpuss
Who was in the shop window fast asleep as usual.
But then Emily said some magic words:-
"Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss,
Old fat furry cat-puss
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring.
Wake up, be bright
Be golden and light
Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing."

And Bagpuss was wide awake,
And …

Interesting Invention - The Slinky

The slinky was invented by Richard James.

(It was a fortunate accident. Mr James, working as a naval engineer at the time, noticed the interesting flip-flops of a torsion spring bouncing across the floor. After the war he and his wife began to manufacture them as children's toys. According to one estimate more than 300 million Slinkys have been sold worldwide. The only change in the original design has been to crimp the ends as a safety measure.)

Interesting Fact # 945 - Writing

The first known examples of writing date back 5500 years.

(Markings were found on fragments of pottery at a site called Harappa in Pakistan. Unfortunately it's a bit like my handwriting, nobody can understand what it says.)

Interesting Fact # 944 - Art

The world's oldest example of abstract art, dates back more than 70,000 years.

(It was found, on two pieces of ochre, in a cave called Blombos Cave in South Africa. Picasso eat your heart out.)

Interesting Fact # 943 - Art

Archeologists working on a dig in the southern German province of Swabia have unearthed what they claim to be the oldest statue in the history of art.

(The artifacts, found in a cave, date back between 30,000 and 33,000 years, to a time when some of modern humans' earliest relatives populated the European continent. They depict a lion-man, a water bird and a horse.)

Interesting Place - Berlin

There are over 8,000 panes of glass in the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) in Berlin.

(I would make a joke about window cleaning now, but seemingly they are cleaned by a robot! Another addition to my Christmas wish list.)

Interesting People # 119 - Eleanor Rigby

A pay slip allegedly bearing the signature of the woman who inspired the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby was sold recently for £115,000.

(I have a pay slip allegedly bearing the signature of the woman who set up an interesting facts blog, if anyone is interested.)

Interesting Fact # 942 - Beer

According to recently released figures, beer sales in the UK have sunk to the lowest level in since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

(Maybe it will also reduce the size of beer bellies to their lowest girth since the Great Expansion of the 1990s.)

Interesting Fact # 941 - Transport

Nissan has developed a car which rotates 360 degrees.

(This means no more reverse parking! I know what I'm writing on my pressie list to Santa this year.)


Is World AIDS Day.

By the end of 2007, in the UK, an estimated 77,400 people were living with HIV. In 2007, there were at least 7,734 new diagnoses of HIV, contributing to a cumulative total of 97,423 reported by the end of June 2008.

It is estimated that a quarter of people in the UK are unaware that they carry the infection, but it is very easy to find help and advice. If you are worried that you may be at risk you can easily organise a test: will help you find a centre near you.

Ignorance is not bliss.


VAT in the UK will be cut from 17.5% to 15%!

(But only for 13 months.)