Showing posts from September, 2009

Interesting Animal - The Kakapo Parrot

The Kakapo is the heaviest parrot in the world.

(Sadly they are also one of the most endangered species in the world. There are only 91 known to be alive, and each one has been given a name.

Interesting People # 138 - Nero - Podcast

Emperor Nero had a rotating dining room built.

(Archaeologists on a dig on Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy (where Roman emperors traditionally built their most lavish palaces) believe they have found the remains of the legendary rotating dining room which the Emperor Nero built to entertain his guests. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, who described the unique revolving room in his Lives of the Caesars, written about 60 years after Nero's death: "The chief banqueting room was circular and revolved perpetually, night and day, in imitation of the motion of the celestial bodies. Just imagine having a huge dinner and then sitting there - rotating day and night - ugh!)

Interesting Fact - Pets in the UK

According to the Telegraph, all domestic dogs in Britain will be fitted with microchips carrying the name and address of their owners.

(It is hoped it will reduce the number of strays, the trade in stolen dogs and animal abuse. It's not a bad idea, as it should help reunite lost pets with their owners, but there are problems. I'm sure the kind of people who steal dogs, or harm or dump their pets, would not have any scruple about removing the chip before doing so, causing the pet even more suffering. Maybe the government should think about linking the chip to a DNA database. Hopefully they won't consider doing the same to us humans though.)

Interesting Fact # 1157 - Transport

According to a study carried out at Heriot-Watt University, three out of four accidents involving vehicles are caused because the driver was distracted.

(The two biggest causes of accidents were dealing with children, and believe it or not - texting. TEXTING! 52% of the respondents admitted to using a mobile phone, and 40% said they had written a text whilst driving. Who do they think they are?

Interesting Fact # 1156 - Reading

A new library scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland means that wherever you are you can borrow a book, simply by using your local library card.

(What a fantastic idea! It means that even if you're on holiday you can still use the local library. Of course you have to take any books you've borrowed back to the library you borrowed them from, but even so... I'm tempted to go back to England.)

Interesting Fact # 1155 - Exercise

According to research by the British Heart Foundation, seven in eight children in the UK aren't getting enough exercise.

(This means that only one child in eight is exercising for more than 60 minutes a day! What's even more worrying is that 20% of the children surveyed thought that you only need to exercise if you're fat. We're going to turn into a nation of teletubbies!)

Interesting Fact # 1154 - Ikea

According to Ikea 41 million "Billy" bookcases have been sold since 1979.

(I have several of them and I'm thinking about buying a couple more in the next few weeks. I can't throw books away and so I need the storage.)

Interesting Animal - The Toucan

A team of researchers from Brock University, Canada, and Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil, have concluded that the toucan uses its enormous beak to stay cool.

(Charles Darwin thought it might be used to attract mates, other research claimed it was for peeling fruit, nest predation and a visual warning, but the recent research used infra-red thermal imaging technology to show that the bill effectively acts as a heat sink to draw heat away from the bird's body, allowing it to stay cool. I could use one of them on my laptop.)

Interesting Place # 116 - Paris

Superstitious diners who find themselves in a group of 13 in Paris can hire a quatorzieme, or professional 14th guest.

(I am available for bookings.)

Interesting Place # 115 - Moscow

According to a report by the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, nearly 60% of black and African people living in Russia's capital Moscow have been physically assaulted in racially motivated attacks.

(80% had been verbally abused. The rise of the far right in Russia has supposedly been fuelled by high unemployment and low wages, but as someone who has suffered under both I can assure you, they're just excuses for the cowardly.)

Interesting Fact # 1153 - Youth Hostelling

Youth hostelling started in Germany in 1912.

(German schoolteacher Richard Schirrmann was a firm believer in the power of the “outdoor classroom”. After a stormy experience during a class trip one night on August 26, 1909 he lay awake, thinking: "What if there was a network of places offering accommodation to young people all the way across Germany, or the world?"

In 1910 he published an article saying:-

“Villages could have a friendly youth hostel, situated a day's walk from each other, to welcome young hikers. Two classrooms will suffice, one for boys and one for girls. Some desks can be stacked away, thus freeing space to put down 15 beds. Each bed will consist of a tightly stuffed straw sack and pillow, two sheets and a blanket ... each child will be required to keep his own sleeping place clean and tidy.”

It was so well received and he received so much financial support, he set up the first Jugendherberge (literally “youth inn”) in his own school in Altena, western Ge…

Interesting Fact - Wine

According to Maria Thun, a German great-grandmother, the taste of wine can vary from day to day.

(A calendar that Frau Thun first published in the 1950s categorises days as "fruit", "flower", "leaf" or "root", according to the Moon and stars. Wine is best on fruit days, followed by flower, leaf and root days. The worst day is marked as "unfavourable" in the calendar. Even businesses have started to take this seriously Marks and Spencers has started drawing attention to the calendar in its wine magazine and advises customers to avoid the dreaded ‘root’ days when opening special bottles.)

Interesting Word - Orchard

An orchard is a garden or an area of land used for the cultivation of fruit or nut trees.

(Orchards comprise fruit or nut-producing trees grown for commercial production. Orchards are also sometimes a feature of large gardens, where they serve an aesthetic as well as a productive purpose. According to some people you need 15 trees to make an orchard, but others say you only need 5.)

Interesting Fact - Paper

You can make paper from sheep's poo.

(In fact you can make paper from many different sources, wood (of course), plants (even bananas) and animal excrement, like elephant dung. Just make sure what kind of paper it is before you lick the envelope.)

Interesting Fact # 1150 - Anti Viral Drugs

Anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza, don't attack the virus.

(They attack an enzyme that allows the virus to spread within the body. The enzyme, Neuraminidase is the "N" used in identifying a flu strain.)

Interesting Fact # 1149 - Swine Flu

An outbreak of swine flu in 1976 infected 200 people in the US.

(Only one person died, but a vaccine administered to 40m people killed 25 and led to 500 others developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can be fatal.)

Interesting Invention # 32 - The Battery

Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist, invented the battery.

(Also known as the voltaic pile, Volta's battery was the first object that generated a constant electric current. The unit of measure for electricity was named after him: the volt.)

Interesting Animal # 102 - The Flying Fox

The flying fox isn't a fox, it's a bat.

(It's actually a fruit bat and it only eats nectar, blossom, pollen, and fruit. From the genus Pteropus, and belonging to the Megachiroptera sub-order, it's the largest bat in the world.)

Interesting Food # 52 - Pasta

According to the Italian Farmer’s Confederation, 1 out of every 4 plates of pasta eaten worldwide, are produced in Italy.

(I make sure all the pasta I eat comes from Italy, unless I make it myself. If it isn't from Italy, it isn't pasta!)

Interesting Fact # 1148 - Volcanoes

Italy has three active volcanoes: Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli.

(Stromboli is off the north coast of Sicily, Etna is on the east coast of Sicily, and Vesuvius is east of Naples. I need to know these things as I'm there at the moment.)

Interesting Place # 114 - Rome

Many ancient buildings in Rome bear the symbol SPQR.

(It stands for "Senatus Populusque Romanus" - "the senate and people of Rome." It even appears on manhole covers.)

Interesting Fact # 1147 - Volcanoes

Mt. Vesuvius, in Italy, last erupted in 1944, destroying a number of neighbouring villages.

(Most famous for having destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii, it looks as if it's not quite finished with us.)

Interesting People # 136 - Shakespeare

Shakespeare was Sicilian.

(Well not so much an interesting fact as an interesting theory. According to Professor Martino Iuvara, 71, a retired teacher of literature, Shakespeare was born in Messina as Michelangelo Florio Crollalanza, and fled to London because of the Holy Inquisition. There he changed his name to its English equivalent: Crollalanza or
Crollalancia literally translates as Shakespeare. It could explain all those plays set in Italy.)

Interesting Fact # 1146 - Shakespeare's Plays

12 of Shakespeare's plays were set either partially or completely in Italy.

Can you name them?)

Scroll down for the answer:-

Julius CaesarRomeo and JulietOthelloThe Merchant of VeniceAntony and CleopatraCoriolanusCymbelineMuch Ado About NothingThe Taming of the ShrewTitus AndronicusThe Two Gentlemen of VeronaThe Winter's Tale

Interesting Place # 113 - Italy

Italy borders 6 countries.

(Can you name them?

Read below for the answer:-

Austria, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, San Marino, and the Vatican City.)

Interesting Place # 112 - Italy

Italy has the fourth-largest population in the European Union.

(But over 20% of the population is over 65 years old, and with falling birth rates (Italians used to be known for having large families, but Italy is now known for having Europe's lowest birthrate) this could soon end.)

Interesting Fact # 1145 - Healthcare

Britain pays an annual sum to Ireland to cover healthcare costs of Irish workers who have returned home.

(This has been going on for 40 years and is based on the national insurance Irish citizens paid in the UK. It works out at around 450m euros per year. I wonder if the German government will do the same when I go home?)

Interesting Fact # 1144 - Facebook

According to Psychologist W Keith Campbell narcissists are attracted to Facebook.

(He says it's because it allows them control over their image. (Have you ever seen an ugly photo on Facebook?) Along those lines then I think people with ADD are attracted to Twitter, people who have BPD must be attracted to MySpace and people who blog every day have OCD.)

Interesting People - Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a mathematical genius who worked at Bletchley Park during WWII, helping to create the Bombe that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines.

(Unfortunately he lived in a time of intolerance and misunderstanding. He was prosecuted under the gross indecency act after admitting to a sexual relationship with a man. He was convicted and given experimental chemical castration as a "treatment" and was told he could not continue to work for the UK Government. Two years later he killed himself.

Now, thousands of people have signed a Downing Street petition calling for a posthumous government apology.

Interesting Fact # 1143 - Science

An image of a single molecule has been taken.

(The new image even shows the chemical bonds, which will open up all kinds of possibilities in electronics and pharmaceuticals. Me? I'm waiting for the first replicator from Star Trek to be developed.)