Showing posts from August, 2010

Interesting Food - Wheat

In 2009, Russia, the world's third largest grain exporter harvested 97 million tons of wheat and exported 21.4 million tons.

(This year they're not exporting anything. So, expect to pay more for your bread, pasta, pizza and beer!)

Interesting Fact - Forex

According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) figures. 2.45 trillion dollars, nearly 30 percent of the global total of 8.09 trillion dollars of money in the world is held by China.

(I wonder what they're going to do with it all.  Buy something nice for the kids I hope.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to a Bank of International Settlements' report, the global foreign exchange market turnover has 90 percent to some four trillion dollars by April 2010 from 3.3 trillion dollars three years earlier.

(Britain is still the world's largest foreign exchange (Forex) centre with 36.7 percent of the total trade, followed by The United States, second with 18 percent, and then Japan with six percent.  I wouldn't even know how to start.)

Interesting Animal - Magpies

According to a survey by Opinions Matters, in association with London Wildcare Trust,  the most unpopular animal in the garden is the magpie.

(Almost 29 per cent of British people surveyed believe they are a menace that destroy the nests of other birds.   However, according to the RSPB old magpie nests are often used by protected species, such as long-eared owls in rural areas and blackbirds in suburban areas, so it's swings and roundabouts really.)

Interesting Place - Wales

Wales holds the record for the number of people dressed up as Smurfs at any one time - 2,510, in Swansea.

(The majority of the participants were students from the local university, and they crammed into the Oceana nightclub to almost double the previous record of 1,253.)

Interesting Place - Ipswich

Ipswich, in the UK, is home to the oldest circle of church bells in the world.

(There are five of them, the oldest of which were cast in the 1440s. They are housed in St Lawrence Church where they are known locally as Wolsey's Bells, after Cardinal Wolsey, the adviser to Henry VIII. I wonder if they rang out after he'd had his head chopped off.)

Interesting Fact - Sleep

Before the Victorian era it was not uncommon for married couples in the UK to sleep apart.

(The change came during the industrial revolution when we all ended up crammed together in tiny houses. Nowadays, according to research presented at the British Science Festival, couples are reluctant to sleep apart, with only 8% of those in their 40s and 50s sleeping in separate rooms. I don't see why we can't sleep in separate houses.)

Interesting Fact - British Passport

The newly designed British passport will feature brand new art work.

(Some of the images will be scenes that represent the four nations, including The White Cliffs of Dover, the Gower Peninsula, Ben Nevis and the Giant’s Causeway. There will also be symbols of the UK's maritime heritage and the British obsession with the weather, as meteorological symbols appear on many pages. It's typical, I renew my passport and then they redesign it!)

Interesting Fact - Slavery

Today is the international day of remembrance for the abolition of slavery, but according to The International Organization for Migration up to 4 million people around the world are still being trafficked for labour and sexual exploitation every year.

(The actual figures are vague, but human trafficking is the fastest-growing source of profit for organized crime. I can only quote from the Manic Street Preachers: "If you tolerate this. Then your children will be next.")

Interesting Fact - Diets

According to a study carried out at Virginia Tech, USA, drinking water before meals can help people to lose weight.

(The scientists found that slimmers can lose an average of 5lb extra if they drink two glasses of water three times a day before meals.)

Interesting Fact - Unemployment

According to the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), unemployment will fall to its lowest level in almost 20 years.

(It's probably because of crappy 400 Euro jobs. Lots of people don't qualify as being unemployed, but they are as poor as church mice.)

Interesting Fact - The Universe

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, Nasa researchers in the USA have discovered that the Universe will probably continue to expand forever.

(They calculated that the amount of dark energy present in space means the Universe will probably never stop expanding. A bit like my waistline.)

Source: Daily Mail

Interesting People - Dangerous Celebrities

According to McAfee, the most-dangerous celebrities to look for online, are Cameron Diaz, Gisele Bundchen (Who?), Brad Pitt, Adriana Lima (Who?), Jennifer Love Hewitt, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Heidi Klum, Penelope Cruz and Anna Paquin (Who?).

(Not because the celebrities will "get you", but because criminals believe these celebrities are the perfect lures to sucker people into visiting malicious websites. Have you noticed 8 out of 10 of these are women? Just goes to prove the female of the species is deadlier than the male - unless you're a bedbug.)

Interesting Animal - The bedbug

When mating, male bedbugs (Cimex lectulariu | Cimicidae family) stab the female bedbug’s body to deposit their sperm directly into her body cavity!

(There's no courtship either, no flowers, no dining out, but with that mating ritual I'm not surprised.)

Interesting Fact - Rubik's Cube

The biggest Rubik's cube on display in the world is in Knoxville, Tennessee.

(It is 3 metres tall and weighs over 500kg. I don't know if anyone has managed to play with it though.)

Interesting Fact - Rubik's Cube

There are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 different possible configurations of the coloured squares on any Rubik's Cube.

(But now an international team of enthusiasts in California, using one of Google's supercomputers, have calculated that you're never more than 20 moves away from solving this famously annoying puzzle. And, what's even worse, if like me you've never figured it out, is that only 300 million arrangements – a small fraction of the total number – require a full 20 moves, the majority of solutions should only take between 15 and 19! I'm going to have to get up in the attic to find mine, and give it another go, after all, I can always just move the stickers.)

Source: The Independent

Interesting Fact - Rubik's Cube

Since its invention in 1974 more than 400 million Rubik's Cube puzzles have been sold worldwide.

(If all the cubes were placed on top of each other it would be enough to reach the North Pole from the South Pole.)


Interesting Invention - Rubik's Cube

The original Rubik's Cube puzzle was invented in 1974 by the Hungarian architect Erno Rubik.

(I'm afraid Mr Rubik is not my favourite person.)

Interesting Food - Cheddar Cheese

In 1170 Henry II, the then King of England, bought 10,240lbs (4.6 tons) of Cheddar Cheese for a farthing a pound.

(Nowadays it would cost him £4.55 a pound, a total of £46,592.00. I wonder what he did with it all.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to a study by, men make better bosses than women.

(63 per cent of women and 75 per cent of men asked, said they would rather have a man in charge at work. Personally, I've worked for both, and I would say I'd rather have a good boss at work.)

Interesting Fact - Pollution

According to Michal Krzyzanowski, an air quality adviser at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, around 2 million people worldwide die each year from breathing air filled with pollutants.

(In a World Health Organization (WHO) report, the death toll from air pollution in China is thought to kill around 656,000 Chinese citizens each year, and in India it causes 527,700 deaths a year.)

Interesting Fact - Driving

A 37-year-old Swedish man was caught driving a black Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS from Bern to Lausanne at around 300 kilometers per hour (180 miles per hour) on a Swiss motorway.

(He now faces a fine of nearly £650,000 ($1 million). Authorities said the man, who was not immediately identified, could be facing up to $1 million Swiss francs ($962,000) for his speeding offense, as fines in the European country are based on a driver's wealth, which in his case will work out at 300 days of fines at £2,166 a day.

He's not the first to be slapped with a heavy fine: in January, a Swiss court slapped a $290,000 speeding ticket on a millionaire Ferrari driver who drove 60 mph (nearly twice the 30 mph limit) through a small village.

And the head of Finnish communications giant Nokia was ordered to pay a $103,000 fine for a speeding ticket in 2002. Officers pulled over Anssi Vanjoki on his cherry red Harley Davidson in Helsinki after he was clocked driving 47 mph in a 31-mph zone.

There is …

Interesting People - Silvio Berlusconi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Barack Obama, David Cameron, Napoleon

Silvio Berlusconi and Nicolas Sarkozy are the same height.

(At 5'5" (1.65m) they are both shorter than Napoleon, whose height has been recalculated as 5'6" (1.68m) up 4" from the 5'2" we were taught at school. Barack Obama is 6'1" (1.85m) and our current PM David Cameron is 6'0.5" (1.84m). Note the half inch, it makes all the difference you know.)

Interesting Place - Japan

Criminal trials in Japan have a 99% conviction rate.

(Seemingly their conviction rate soared after their jury system was done away with, it has since been reintroduced, but only for serious crimes. Even China only has a conviction rate of about 98 percent and Russia a rate of about 90% (virtually unchanged in spite of the end of communism). Britain has a conviction rate of about 74 percent, and in America it's around 80%, but in both countries it's a lot lower for serious crimes.)

Interesting Fact - The Moon

According to curators at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, a treasured piece on display - a supposed moon rock from the first manned lunar landing - is nothing more than a piece of petrified wood.

(It was given to former Prime Minister Willem Drees during a goodwill tour by the three Apollo-11 astronauts shortly after their moon mission in 1969. Seemingly NASA gave 'moon rocks' to more than 100 countries following lunar missions in the 1970s. They might want to check them out. The Rijksmuseum, which is perhaps better known for paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, says it will keep the piece as a curiosity.)

Source: BBC News

Interesting Fact - Travel

According to government figures in the UK, more than 60,000 British travellers reported their passport lost or stolen abroad between April 2009 and March 2010.

(And it's not just people going abroad, the Identity and Passport Service replaced more than 279,000 passports lost or stolen in the UK or abroad in the same period. The service advises people to take two photocopies of their passport, leaving one at home and keeping one separate from the passport when travelling. Actually looking after the original is a good idea too.)

Interesting Food - Cheddar Cheese

According to the British Cheese Board, Cheddar is the most widely consumed cheese in the world.

(It originated in Somerset around the late 12th century, from the Gorge or caves in the town of Cheddar. The caves there were used to store the cheese and gave it it's unique flavour. The problem is that nowadays it can be made anywhere. In 2008 Britain imported 136,938 tonnes of cheddar from abroad, 86,000kg from Latvia of all places. Around 258,000 tons were produced in the UK in 2008. The good news is that you can still buy the original cheese, albeit at a premium, from the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company - the only cheddar made in Cheddar:

Interesting Fact - Transport

Paris may is going to host the world's largest electric car sharing program.

(The scheme, called Autolib, may help many Parisians get rid of the cars they have, saving them an estimated 7,000 euros ($9,200) that it costs an average owner to keep a car in the city. The city is starting with a fleet of 3,000 cars available for rent coupled with up to 1,000 battery recharging stations throughout the French capital.)