Showing posts from July, 2010

Interesting Fact - Jobs

Wal-mart employs more than 2.1 million 'associates' (I think they mean people) worldwide, including more than 1.4 million in the United States.

(It is not only one of the largest private employers in the U.S., but the largest in Mexico and one of the largest in Canada. It is a diverse employer with more than 257,000 African-American 'associates'; more than 41,000 Asian and 5,900 Pacific Islander 'associates'; more than 171,000 Hispanic 'associates'; more than 16,000 American Indian and Alaskan Native 'associates'; more than 869,000 women; and more than 430,000 mature 'associates' who are 50 and older. But, according to the UFCW (the United Food and Commercial Workers Union), more than half of Wal-Mart’s U.S. employees leave the company each year. That's some turnover!)

Interesting Fact - Shopping

Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world. It is also the largest corporation and private employer in the United States.

(Yes, in England it might feel as if Tescos is, but Wal-Mart is way ahead of them. In the U.S., Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates more than 4,300 facilities including Walmart supercenters, discount stores, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club warehouses.
Internationally, Wal-mart operates more than 4,000 additional stores in 15 markets worldwide, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile’, China, Costa Rica.)

Interesting Fact - Clothes

According to shoe firm MBT, flip-flops 'injure 200,000 people a year'.

(The injuries range from trips and falls, joint pain and other conditions linked to long-term use, and it costs the NHS (National Health Service) £40m a year! Yes these innocuous looking pieces of cheap, flimsy plastic are death traps in disguise. Personally I can't bear that horrid little bit that you're meant to stick between your big toe and the next toe. It's painful and it never feels secure.)

Interesting Place - Maywood

Maywood is America's (and possibly the world's) first completely outsourced city.

(Following major cash-flow problems and the threat of bankruptcy, the city of Mayfield in the USA has outsourced every single public service; from the management of parks and libraries, to the book-keeping at City Hall, and even the running of its police department. The number of people it now has on its payroll? A big, fat zero. I think I would like to outsource my housework.)

Source: The Independent

Interesting Fact - Longevity

A genetically engineered organism that lives 10 times longer than normal has been created by scientists in California.

(They deleted two genes and put the organism on a calorie-restricted diet. If scientists could apply this DNA tweak to humans it would mean we'd live to over 800 years old. Of course it's probably a long way off, the organism in question was a fungus, and apart from a couple of men I know, this wouldn't be easy to transfer to humans.)

Interesting Fact - The Romans - Podcast

According to Ray Laurence, the author of Roman Passions: A History of Pleasure in Imperial Rome, the top 10 passions of Ancient Romans were the following:-
Binge DrinkingGetting NakedGrand Designs Older WomenYounger MenSinging and DancingViolenceCollecting ThingsFoodPleasure(Well - I can add most of those to my "favourite things".  Just tone down numbers 1 and 2 a bit and get rid of number 7.)

Interesting Food - Tomatoes

The average harvest of tomatoes per hectare of land in Italy will tumble from 80,000kg last year to an average of 60,000kg this year.

(The cause is, of course, the weather: The heavy rains in June flooded the fields and prevented roots developing, and the exceptionally high temperatures in July have weakened the tomatoes, which dry up, making flowers and fruit fall. The good news is that because of the same weather conditions the outlook for the grape and olive harvests is good, assuming there are no more freak weather conditions.)

Interesting Fact - Nobel Peace Prize

According to Fredrik Heffermehl, a Norwegian lawyer and peace activist, more than half the Nobel Peace Prizes awarded since 1946 have been awarded illegally.

(They were illegal because they did not follow the expressed will of Mr Nobel, the millionaire inventor of dynamite. In Mr Heffermehl's book Nobels Vilje (Nobel's Will) only one of the 10 prizes awarded since 1999 isn't illegitimate under Norwegian and Swedish law. Seemingly the will stated, "One part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." The awards he names as illegitimate are: Mother Teresa (1979); Lech Walesa (1983); Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin (1994); Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi (2003); Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai (2004); and Al Gore (2007) - surely Mr Obama has to be added too. So, guys, could we ha…

Interesting Fact - DNA

According to research published in the journal Current Biology, each of us has at least 100 new mutations in our DNA.

(So does that mean that we're mutating, or evolving?)

Interesting Fact - The UK

It is not illegal to be naked in public in the UK.

(Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 it is not an offence to be nude in public in England or Wales, but it does become an offence if it can be proved the person stripped off with the intention to cause distress, alarm or outrage.)

Interesting People - Kafka

Kafka, a Prague native who wrote in German, was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, best known for his surreal tales he wrote classics like "The Metamorphosis," in which a salesman wakes up transformed into a giant insect, and "The Trial," where a bank clerk is put through an excruciating trial without ever being told the charges against him.

(Interestingly a horde of his writings are caught up in a Trial of there own. Papers, retrieved from bank vaults where they have sat untouched and unread for decades, could shed new light on one of literature's darkest figures, but they won't see the light of day until an Israeli court unravels the tangled question of the collection's rightful owner.)

Full story here.

Interesting Fact - Bacteria

Deinococcus radiodurans has been listed as the world's toughest bacterium in The Guinness Book of World Records because of its extraordinary resistance to extreme conditions.

(The coolest thing is that some scientists think it came from Mars. It's a Martian! Run for your lives!)

Interesting Fact - Britain

According to the Office for National Statistics, us Brits are fatter and lonelier than in the 1970s,

(Seemingly, in the good old 70s there were fewer divorces (read people felt obliged to make their beds and lie on them), people were more neighbourly (read nosey) and churchgoing (read sanctimonious). In addition, more mothers stayed at home looking after their children (read became MCPBs). The good news is, that according to the same statistics (and anyone who really knows me knows what I think of them), we also live longer and take more foreign holidays. Whoopee!)

Interesting Fact - Women

According to research from the University of Chicago, in the USA women now outnumber men in the workforce.

(Unfortunately this isn't because women are now being treated more fairly, it's simply an effect of the recession, men have been losing their jobs faster than women, some people are even referring to the downturn as a “man-cession.”)

Interesting Fact - The Royal Family

In the UK, the total cost of keeping the monarchy in the fiscal year 2009-2010 was £38.2m.

(That's 62p per person. To be honest it seems quite cheap when compared with the billions we've paid to keep the banks.)

Interesting Fact - The Weather

According to the federal National Climatic Data Center in America, the world is enduring the hottest year on record.

(For the first six months of the year, 2010 has been warmer than the first half of 1998, the previous record holder, by 0.03° F. Northern Thailand has its worst drought in 20 years, while Israel is in the middle of the longest and most severe drought since the 1920s. In Britain, this year has been the driest since 1929. However, it remains to be seen whether 2010 will overtake 2005 as the hottest year overall.)

Interesting Fact - Transport

According to the Office for National Statistics in 1970 only half of the households in Britain had access to a car.

(By 2008 that had increased to 78%, but that still means 22% of households still didn't have a car.)

Interesting Fact - Holidays

According to the UK's Office for National Statistics Britons went on 10 million fewer trips abroad in 2009.

(This was a drop of 15% and meant that altogether Brits saved £5.1 billion. The destinations worst hit were Spain, France, Italy and Portugal, and the USA saw a drop of 20%. I guess the "staycation" is here to stay.)

Interesting Animal - Apes

According to studies conducted in German zoos, apes play tag.

(They sneak up on their rivals and hit them and then run away as fast as they can. I guess that's why we call that kind of fighting "gorilla tactics".)

Interesting Fact - The Human Body

According to scientists at Duke University in the US, athletes with a high navel have a higher centre of gravity and that can give them the edge on the running track.

(The same researchers say that it slows you down if you're a swimmer. It all balances out in the end then.)

Interesting Animal - World Cup Fact - Octopus

For me the real star of the World cup was a cephalopod called Paul.

(Paul, an octopus in Germany, correctly predicted the winner of Germany's seven matches at the 2010 World Cup, as well as the final. He had a 1:2 chance of predicting a single result and a 1:256 chance of predicting all eight results. He did a lot better than I did.)

Interesting Place - World Cup Fact - Brazil

Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times.

(They are also the only team to have played in every World Cup tournament. That's quite a record to uphold. God help the team that fluffs it!)

Interesting Fact - World Cup Fact - Matches Played

Germany have played the most World Cup matches, with 99 games played.

(I wonder if that's what inspired that little "ear worm" 99 red balloons.)

Interesting Fact - World Cup Fact - British Teams

The first World Cup Match to include British participants was held in Brazil in 1950.

(Seemingly we hadn't wanted to play football against countries we'd been fighting just five years earlier. Personally I say "Play football, not war.")

Interesting Fact - World Cup Fact - Teams

In the first "official" world cup held in Uraguay, only 13 nations took part.

(7 from South America, 4 from Europe and 2 from North America. Times have changed though. 200 teams entered the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds; 198 attempted to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, while a record 204 countries entered qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.)

Interesting Fact - World Cup Fact - The Trophy

The trophy, now known as the FIFA World Cup Trophy, was designed by the Italian designer Silvio Gazzaniga.

(It is 36 cm (14.2 in) high, made of solid 18 carat (75%) gold and weighs 6.175 kg (13.6 lb). The base contains two layers of semi-precious malachite while the bottom side of the trophy bears the engraved year and name of each FIFA World Cup winner since 1974.

Not surprisingly, given the fate of the original trophy, the new trophy is not awarded to any winning nation permanently. World Cup winners retain the trophy until the next tournament and are then awarded a gold-plated replica rather than the solid gold original.)

Interesting People - World Cup Fact - Jules Rimet

The original World Cup was called the Jules Rimet Trophy.

(It was originally known as the World Cup or Coupe du Monde, but in 1946 it was renamed after the FIFA president who set up the first tournament, Jules Rimet. In 1970, Brazil's third victory in the tournament entitled them to keep the trophy permanently. However, it was stolen in 1983, and has never been recovered, apparently melted down by the thieves.

 Do you think they posted it in an envelope to Cash My Gold?)

Interesting Fact - World Cup Facts - Least number of goals

The least number of goals scored in a World Cup was 70.

(This happened in both 1930 and 1934, but of course there weren't as many matches in those days.)

Interesting Fact - World Cup Facts - Most number of goals

The most number of goals scored in the World Cup tournament was in 1998 when a total of 171 goals were scored.

(Note - That record still stands as only 145 goals were scored in the 2010 World Cup.)

Interesting Fact - Health

According to an article in the journal Science, scientists in the US have developed a way of predicting how likely a person is to live beyond the age of 100.

(According to the US scientists, only one in 6,000 people in industrialised countries do so, and 90% of them are still disability free by the age of 93. If I live to a ripe old age, I want to at least be healthy enough to enjoy it.)

Interesting Fact - Shopping

According to Prof Frank Sommer, a researcher in Berlin, shopping might make men impotent.

(Seemingly a chemical compound, Bisphenol A (BPA), used to make ink visible on thermally sensitive paper, is present on some till receipts and the amount present can be high enough to suppress male hormones in the body. So now men have the perfect excuse not to go shopping, I'm sure they'll find something dodgy in the washing up liquid next.)