Showing posts from February, 2009

Interesting Fact # 1017 - Litter

A Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) survey found that 25% of English streets are littered with fast food rubbish.

(This is up from 16% in 2002. The worst culprits were Britain's biggest fast food chain MacDonald's who accounted for 29% of the rubbish, with unbranded wrappings from local fish and chip or kebab shops in second place at 21%. Greggs the bakery accounted for 18%, KFC 8% and
Subway/Coffee shops 5%. KBT wants retailers to make it easier to dispose of litter responsibly, but I think it's more of a reflection of the kind of people who eat the stuff, if they don't care what they put in their stomaches, they certainly don't care about where they put their rubbish, they just don't give a ....)

Interesting Fact # 1016 - Carbon Footprint

According to US physicist Alex Wissner-Gross, a typical Google search on a desktop computer produces about 7g CO2.

(This means that two search requests on the internet produces "as much carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle". Google says that a a typical search produced only 0.2g of carbon dioxide. I want to know what a typical search is!)

Interesting Fact # 1015 - Health

According to the the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), popular cough and cold medicines which have been used for years to treat children probably don't work.

(Not only don't they work but they can also cause side effects like hallucinations! I knew there was a reason I never liked taking my medicine.)

Today - Podcast

RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland) announced the largest annual loss in UK corporate history.

Its 2008 losses totalled £24.1bn ($34.2bn).

I was glad to see they meant the US billion with 'only' nine zeros, not the British billion with twelve.


and not


Interesting Fact # 1014 - Accommodation

According to the Daily Telegraph, it costs an average of £667 to keep a prisoner overnight in a London cell.

(It only costs £395 a night to stay at the Dorchester. Maybe the best way to cut crime is to present the prisoner with a bill at the end of his / her stay.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to Charles Schwab 69% of American parents would rather discuss sex with their children than give them investment advice.

(In the same survey 70% of parents taught their children to do the laundry, but only 40% taught them how to balance a cheque (check) book. No wonder we're in the mess we're in! He does give some advice on how to broach this sticky subject on his Money Wise site.)

Interesting Fact - MBA graduates

According to the Financial Times, in 2008 the number of MBA graduates rose to 500,000 worldwide.

(In 1908 33 people were the first to graduate from Harvard University. It makes you wonder if it hasn't devalued the qualification, and if you look at the state of business and finance in the world today, you have to wonder what all these bright young things have been taught.)

You can view business school rankings here.

Interesting Fact # 1011 - Speeding

The shire of Northampton has more speed cameras than any other part of the UK.

(But don't worry, you can check on the Northampton police web site to see where they are!

Is it just me, or is this daft?)

Interesting Fact # 1010 - The London Eye

The spindle of the London Eye is 23 meters tall.

(It's about the size of a church spire and together with the hub, it weighs in at 330 tonnes: over 20 times heavier than Big Ben and with a better view.)

Interesting Fact # 1009 - Clothing in the UK

Around two million tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill in the UK every year.

(The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says the clothing and textiles sector in the UK produces around 3.1m tonnes of carbon dioxide, 2m tonnes of waste and 70m tonnes of waste water per year. In 2007 the Environment Select Committee found that the proportion of textile waste at council tips in the UK had risen from 7 per cent to 30 per cent in five years. It's called throw away or disposable fashion, driven by companies like Primark, in fact it's called the Primark effect. There is hope though, people like Helen Storey who began the Wonderland project, and who along with Professor Tony Ryan has invented the Disappearing Dress, which disintegrates in the wash. My only worry is that it rains a lot in the UK.)

Interesting Place # 95 - Nigeria

There are more than 500 language in Nigeria.

(Different tribes and groups speak different languages, but English is the official language. Even so, more than 50% of the people of Nigeria cannot speak it.)

Interesting Fact # 1008 - Mini Ice Age

According to Robert Penn, co-author of The Wrong Kind of Snow. In 1673 Dover and Calais were joined by ice.

(Between 1350 and 1850 in the UK, there was a Little Ice Age. Freezing winters were a fact of life and the freezing of the River Thames in London in 1684 led to that year's Great Frost Fair, which was held on the River itself. But there's no way the health and safety fun police would allow it now.)

Interesting Fact # 1007 - No Kissing in the UK

Well not the whole of the UK, or at least not yet. But in Warrington Bank Quay railway station, passengers have been told "No Kissing".

(They are only allowed to kiss in the car park. I'm not sure how they'll enforce this rule though. Maybe lip clamping services will spring up all over.)

Interesting Place # 94 - Germany

According to the Suddeutsche Zeitung, between 1990 and 2008 Germany reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 22.4%.

(Unfortunately the German coal industry is exempt from requirements under the EU internal emission trading system. Claudia Kemfert, an energy professor at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin said, "For all its support for a clean environment and the Kyoto Protocol, the cabinet decision is very disappointing." Which is a bit of an understatement.)

Interesting Fact # 1006 - The Galaxy

Dr Alan Boss from the Carnegie Institute believes there could be around one hundred billion earth like planets in our galaxy.

(He says many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple life forms. A bit like earth then.)


Mexico kissed its way into the record books this Valentine's Day, when nearly 40,000 people puckered up with their sweeties, beating the previous world record for simultaneous kisses, previously held by Britain.

Interesting Fact # 1005 - Valentine Fact # 5 - Valentine's Day Gifts

The first recorded Valentine's Day gift was sent by the Duke of Orleans in 1415.

(After the battle of Agincourt he was captured and held prisoner in the Tower of London. There he composed a poem to his wife:-

Go Forth My Heart

Go forth, my hert, with my lady;
Loke that we spare no business
To serve her with such lowliness,
That ye get her grace and mercy.

Pray her of times prively
That she keep trewly her promise
Go forth, my hert, with my lady;
Loke that we spare no business
To serve her with such lowliness,
That ye get her grace and mercy.

I must as a hertless body
Abide alone in hevyness,
And ye shal do wel with your maistress pleasure
In plesans glad and mery.

Go forth, my hert, with my lady;
Loke that we spare no business
To serve her with such lowliness,
That ye get her grace and mercy.

!Note - They didn't have spell checkers in those days.)

Interesting People # 122 - Charles Darwin - Podcast

Charles Darwin only published his treatise "the Origin of Species" after a fellow naturalist, called Wallace, wrote him a letter to inform him that he had come up with a theory of natural selection.

(Before receiving this letter he'd been too scared to go to print because he was a devout Christian, and when he realised what his new scientific theory meant for Christian fundamentalism, he was scared of the backlash he'd receive.)

PS - Hindsight proves him right to have been worried as the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial proves, and the controversy continues today.

Interesting Food # 46 - Chips

Scientists at Leeds University have isolated the tempting smell of chips.

(Using a process known as gas chromatography mass spectrometry to isolate some 46 different compounds they then asked people to describe what they smelt like. Some of the smells they identified included butterscotch, cocoa, onion, flowers, cheese, and, believe it or not, ironing boards. It sounds like they asked Jilly Goolden to take part.)

Interesting Animal - Snakes

According to a report in the journal Nature, the fossilised remains of the world's largest snake, which lived in the rain forests of north-east Colombia 58-60 million years ago, show that it was about the length of a bus.

(They've called it the Titanoboa and it's estimated that it was 42ft (13m) long, weighed more than a tonne and it was so wide it would have reached up to a person's hips. To put it into perspective reticulated pythons - the world's longest snakes - can reach up to 32ft (10m) and green anacondas - the world's heaviest snakes - are lightweights at just 550lbs (250kg). I have heard of the film "Snakes on a plane", but they could make a new one called "The snake is a bus".)

Interesting Fact # 1005 - English Football Podcast

According to FA chairman Lord Triesman, English football has total debts of more than three billion pounds (3.9 billion euros).

(Unsurprisingly, he says that the four big clubs, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, probably account for about a third of that amount. They obviously subscribe to the Lily Allen school of Economics: "But it doesn’t matter cause I'm packing plastic, and that’s what makes my life so FA fantastic."

Interesting Fact # 1004 - Google Mail

Google has adapted its free email service so that users can adjust their email settings to activate a feature that makes you solve a few simple math problems after you click "send" to verify you're in the right state of mind.

(It's to prevent anyone from letting loose after having had a few too many, just to make sure you really want to tell your boss what you think of him / her. Not recommended for anyone who is mathematically challenged though.)

Interesting Fact # 1003 - Transport

According to the Tax Payers Alliance, in the fiscal year 2007/2008 13 out of 20 UK Government Departments spent over £18.5 million in flights.

(£10.6 million went on business and first class flights. But, when you include quangos and other bodies,the total bill for public sector flights was almost £70 million. I've never even been in first class, or business class, which is probably because so much of my income goes on taxes to pay for this.)

Interesting Fact # 1002 - The Trabi

The number of Trabants registered in Germany sank from 920,162 in 1993, to 52,432 in 2007 and to just 38,912 in 2008.

(Why? Well it has been driven by new emission regulations (you're simply not allowed to drive Trabis within most major cities here). So where have they all gone? Well without embarking on a Trabi hunt I can only think that a lot must be just sitting around not rusting away, they may outlast us all, although I have it on good authority that some Trabant bodies were ground up and used instead of sand or salt for traction on winter roads in the 90s. That said, people are strangely nostalgic about the old East Germany. They even have a word for it Ostalgie, (nostalgia for East Germany). Ost means east in German. So, I envisage lots of Trabi rallies in the future.)

Interesting Fact # 983 - The Trabi

Between 1957 and 19991 3,096,099 Trabants were produced in Zwickau.

(From ordering to delivery there was a waiting period of at least ten years.)

Interesting Fact - Aging

Research published in the ASPS medical journal, says that divorce can add two years to the age you look.

(Researchers examined 186 pairs of identical twins and found that twins who had been divorced looked nearly two years older than their identical siblings who were married, widowed or single. I wonder how many years it's added to Zsa Zsa Gabor? But then I guess anyone who can come up with the line, "I'm an excellent housekeeper. Every time I get a divorce, I keep the house,” didn't find the process that stressful.)

Interesting Fact # 981 - Internet Use

A study by global market information group TNS has shown that the Chinese spend the largest fraction of their leisure time online, an average of 40%, and under 25s a whopping 50%.

(However, in the UK, housewives spend even more time than that. Stuff the ironing! Let's hear it for the British housewife!)

Interesting Fact # 980 - US Law

Annoying someone via the Internet is a federal crime in the USA.

(Basically anyone posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing their true identity is subject to criminal prosecution which can include stiff fines and two years in prison. It's a bit ambiguous though, I mean what constitutes "annoying"? And I wonder why they felt it was necessary to pass a law that should be covered by simple good manners. I guess it's because so many people hide behind the name "Anonymous" or as I shall now call it "Annoying mouse".)

Interesting Fact # 979 - Population

The population of Britain is expected to pass 70 million by 2028.

(It's currently only 61 million.)