Showing posts from July, 2009

Interesting Fact # 1119 - Broadband

Nearly one fifth of people on an eight megabits per second (Mbps) broadband connection in the UK actually receive less than 2Mbps.

(Because of the use of copper wiring instead of fibre optic, the signal degrades the further it travels, so to get 8Mps you would need to be located no further than 2km from an exchange. That is of course assuming they are sending out an 8Mbps signal in the first place.)

Interesting Word # 92 - Finders Keepers

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the saying "Finders keepers (losers weepers)" dates as far back as the early 19th century, recorded as "No halfers-findee keepee, lossee seekee".

(It's something that you might say when you find something that belongs to someone else and decide you are going to keep it, but by law, you don't have any right to keep something you 'find'.)

Interesting Fact # 1118 - Desertification

According to the UN, "desertification is the greatest environmental challenge of our times."

(Desertification is the gradual transformation of habitable land into desert. It is usually caused by climate change or by destructive use of the land. In order to combat it they have set up the UNCCD (The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification). They will achieve their aims by holding lots of scientific consultations and conferences, building a website, coming up with lots of accronyms, like WDCD, DLDD and COPD. They will also publish reams and reams of papers and designate a special day to combat desertification where we will all be asked to go out with a bucket and spade to build sandcastles.)

Interesting Fact # 1117 - Health

The health of French presidents is often a state secret.

(Georges Pompidou died from leukaemia in 1974, whilst still in office. Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who was elected after Pompidou's death, promised transparency, but did not release one health bulletin during his seven years in office. Francois Mitterrand took over from Giscard in 1981, and rumours circulated that he had a serious illness. He did, but he kept secret that had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 1981. Jacques Chirac took over in 1995, again with a promise to "give any significant information about my state of health." but he then refused to publish any bulletins, using his right to protect his private life as the reason. And now Nicolas Sarkozy has been rushed to hospital after being taken ill while jogging.)

Interesting People # 134 - Winston Churchill - Podcast

Winston Churchill felt he had been "sold a pup" when he found out that the bunkers he used as his wartime headquarters in Whitehall were not bomb-proof.

(The idiom, to be sold a pup, means to be swindled, or tricked into buying something that is not worth what you paid. The saying comes from medieval times, where sometimes if you bought a piglet and the seller placed it in a bag or sack he might slip a puppy into the sack instead of a piglet.)

Interesting Fact # 1116 - Swine Flu

In the UK more than 5,500 people were issued the anti-viral drug Tamiflu in one day.

(They didn't go to the doctor, they phoned a swine-flu hotline (I kid you not) and answered a few questions about their symptoms. Then they went to get their Tamiflu. Hmmm... I wonder if there's been an increase of Tamiflu being sold online.)

Interesting Food - Coffee

According to the World Cancer Research Fund some coffee drinks bought in high street cafes can have as many calories as a full meal.

(They found that iced coffees at Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Costa Coffee generally contained over 200 calories, but some had as many as 450. The worst offender was the Starbuck's venti dark berry mocha frappuccino blended coffee with whipped cream, which came in at a whopping 561 calories. The recommended daily intake is 2,500 calories a day for men, and 2,000 a day for women.)

Interesting Place # 108 - Australia and New Zealand

A recent earthquake has brought New Zealand closer to Australia.

(A 7.8 quake in The Tasman Sea added 12" (30cm) of land to New Zealand's South Island. But neither country should fear having to have a "meet your neighbour" party any time soon as there's still more than 1,400 miles separating them.)

Interesting Fact # 1115 - Immigration

According to the German Federal Statistical Office in 2008 56,000 more people left Germany than arrived.

(The number of immigrants was almost constant compared to 2007 at 682,000, but the number of emigrants rose by 100,000 to 738,000.)

Interesting Fact # 1114 - Clothes

According to the BBC the new costume for Doctor Who will consist of a tweed jacket, bow tie, rolled up trousers and black boots.

(Why is this interesting? I hear you cry. Well it is, so much so that Doctor Who's new clothes was a well-kept secret until now. It's a "British" thing.)

Interesting Fact - Pubs

According to the British Beer and Pub Association, in the UK pubs are closing at the rate of 52 per week.

(Posh, upmarket, cafe style bars are opening at a rate of 2 per week.  I think I need to go home to rectify this situation.)

Interesting People # 133 - Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world's first woman prime minister in 1960.

(She was the widow of assassinated prime minister Solomon Bandaranaike who was shot by an extremist Buddhist on 26 September 1959. She was voted into power in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). She spent 40 years in politics (on and off) and managed to die of natural causes.)

Interesting Fact # 1112 - Alcohol

In 2004, around 1 in 25 (3.8%) of all global deaths were attributable to alcohol.

(In Europe 1 in 10 deaths were directly attributable to alcohol. And the former Soviet Union countries had the highest proportion at 15%, or around one in seven deaths.)

Interesting Fact # 1111 - Alcohol

Average alcohol consumption worldwide is around 12 units a week.

(In Europe it's 21.5 units, aross the Americas, it's 17 units, in the Middle East it's just 1.3 units per week. I'm on about 8 units a week.)

You can calculate your consumption here:-

Interesting Fact # 1110 - Alcohol

Canadian experts from the University of Toronto believe that one in 25 deaths across the world are linked to alcohol consumption.

(They warn that the effect of alcohol disease is similar to that of smoking a decade ago and the level of disease linked to drinking affects poorest people the most. Probably because poorer people can't afford the good stuff.)

Interesting Place # 107 - Milan

A third of 11-year-olds in Milan have alcohol related problems.

(Milan has banned the consumption and sale of alcohol to young teenagers, and the parents of children under the age of 16 who have been caught drinking wine or spirits in Milan will be liable to heavy fines of up to 500 Euros ($700;£450).)

Interesting Animal # 99 - Cats

Cats use their purr to manipulate humans.

(Researchers at the University of Sussex have learnt that cats use a special kind of purr -- a "soliciting purr," -- to get their bowls filled. This purr is different from the normal "carry on stroking me" purr in that it contains frequencies more irritating to the ears of humans. The message being, wake up and feed me.)

Interesting Fact - Air

According to research by the Max-Planck-Institut and Johannes Gutenberg-University, there are between 1,000 and 10,000 fungal spores per cubic meter of air.

(The average pair of human lungs can hold about 6 liters of air and 1 cubic meter = 1000 liters, so we're talking roughly 6 to 60 spores floating around in there. I hope you've had your breakfast already.)

Interesting Animal # 98 - Monkeys - Podcast

Monkeys can recognise 'bad grammar'.

(In research carried out at Harvard University cotton-top tamarins were able to spot if the order of syllables in a word was "wrong". The monkeys were familiarised with two-syllable terms, and their reaction recorded to words that were not consistent with that syllable. See a monkey can do it.)

Interesting Fact # 1108 - Transport

Computerised scanners around 15 Tokyo railway stations have introduced a system to check that staff are smiling enough.

(The system measures the smile's curvature to ensure it is broad enough. Say "cheese" everyone.)

Interesting Fact - Conservation

Americans consume three times more paper per person than the average European, and 100 times more than the average person in China.

(The average per capita paper use in the USA in 2001 was 700 pounds (320 kg). The average per capita paper use worldwide was 110 pounds (50 kg). Barely a third of the paper products sold in America are from recycled sources — most of it comes from virgin wood. There's nothing wrong with recycled paper, the United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ (EPA) found that recycling causes 35% less water pollution and 74% less air pollution than making virgin paper.)

Interesting Fact # 1106 - Reproduction

English scientists claim to have created human sperm in a laboratory.

(The researchers said their work could also lead to men with fertility issues fathering children. Trust men to create something that will ultimately make them redundant.)

Interesting Fact # 1105 - Conservation

According to green campaigners, damage done to the environment by America's love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food and McMansions, is far outweighed by the US public's insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply toilet paper.

(98% of the toilet paper used in the USA comes from virgin wood, in Europe and Latin America, up to 40% of toilet paper comes from recycled products. Longer fibres in virgin wood are easier to lay out and fluff up for a softer tissue for a soft backside. After all fluffy loo paper vs the future of the planet? No contest really.)

Source: The Guardian

Interesting Food - Fruit and Veg

The European Union has scrapped rules on fruit and vegetable size.

(Twenty-six fruits and vegetables are now free to grow their own way. But ten — including peaches, pears and tomatoes — still have to watch the scales. I shall look forward to funny shaped carrots going back on the shelf.)

Interesting Fact # 1104 - Clothes

According to a survey by CareerNet, almost three-quarters of South Korean male office workers feel uncomfortable when female colleagues show too much leg or cleavage in the workplace.

( 56 % objected to micro-miniskirts (I call them belts) and 51% objected to excessive cleavage (you don't hear that complaint much in the UK). Hipster trousers revealing underwear, "killer heels" and flashy outfits in general were also cause for complaint. Women complained about stains on the shirts and ties of their male colleagues, but I'm sure they'd complain if their male colleagues turned up in high heels and low cut blouses.)

Interesting Fact # 1103 - Taxis - Podcast

The BBC spent a massive £14m on taxis in 2008.

(That works out at more than £38,000 a day. BBC staff took more than 406,000 taxi rides. I wonder how many times round the world that would go?)

Source - Daily Mirror

Interesting People # 132 - Roger Federer

He was born Aug. 8, 1981 in Basel, Switzerland.

Roger Federer was 18 when he won his first Grand Slam match in the first round of the Australian Open.

Roger Federer was 19 when he won his first career title.

He is the only player to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open consecutively three straight years.

In 2001 he ended Pete Sampras' 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon in the fourth round before losing in the quarter-finals.

His 2009 French Open win makes him only the sixth man to have won all four grand slam titles. The other five are: Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi.

He's won a record 15th grand slam title after winning Wimbledon today, with a 5-7 7-6(6) 7-6(5) 3-6 16-14 defeat of American sixth seed Andy Roddick. His other wins are: Wimbledon, 2003-2007, 2009; US Open 2004-2008; Australian Open 2004, 2006, 2007; French Open 2009.

Interesting Place # 106 - Bangladesh

With a population of 150 million, Bangladesh is the most crowded place on Earth.

(Worryingly it will become even more packed as global warming affects sea levels, and a predicted 20% of the country will be under water in the next 30 years.)

Interesting Fact # 1102 - Global Warming

According to a report in Science journal, climate change is causing a breed of wild sheep in Scotland to shrink.

(Classic evolutionary theory would predict that wild sheep gradually get bigger, as the stronger, larger animals survive into adulthood and reproduce, but milder winters caused by global warming, have helped smaller sheep survive, and breed, causing a decrease in size of the overall population. A bit like washing a jumper in a hot wash.)

Interesting Animal # 97 - Ants

Scientists led by Eiriki Sunamura of the University of Tokyo, have discovered that a single mega-colony of ants has colonised much of the world.

(The species, Argentine ants, are living in vast numbers across Europe, the US and Japan and they belong to the same interrelated colony. They will even refuse to fight one another. In Europe, one vast colony is thought to stretch for 6,000km (3,700 miles), while another in the US, known as the 'Californian large', extends over 900km (560 miles) along the coast of California. The colony could rival humans in the scale of world domination. After all, we never seem to refuse to fight one another.)

Interesting People # 131 - Sir Cliff Richard

British pop star Sir Cliff Richard has been ordered to knock down a £30,000 conservatory built at his house in Surrey because he did not have planning permission.

(The conservatory measures 17ft (5.2m) by 13ft (4.2m) and breaks planning regulation because it increased the property's floor area by more than 30%. Basically his conservatory is about the same size as my house!)