Showing posts from January, 2011

Interesting Animals - Jackal or Wolf

DNA analysis has shown that the Egyptian jackal, previously believed to be a subspecies of the golden jackal, is actually a relative of the grey wolf.

(Genetic information shows that the species, Canis aureus lupaster, is more closely related to Indian and Himalayan wolves than golden jackals. It has now been renamed "African wolf", and it's the only grey wolf species found in Africa.)

Source: Plos One

Interesting Fact - Royalty

Being a monarch up to 1800 was more risky business than being a soldier engaged in a contemporary war.

(According to "Killing Kings", a paper that will appear on the website of the British Journal of Criminology on Monday 31 January, a statistical study of the demise of 1,513 monarchs in 45 European monarchies over the period 600 to 1800 revealed that almost a quarter (22 per cent) of all royal deaths were bloody - accidents, battle deaths and killings - and that 15 per cent of all deaths were outright murder. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.)

Thanks to Alex

Interesting Fact - Olympic Facts

From 1900 to 1920 tug of war was an Olympic event.

(It was considered to be part of the Olympic athletics programme. Originally the competition was entered by clubs, which meant that one country could win several medals. This happened in 1904, when the United States won all three medals, and in 1908 when the podium was occupied by three British teams. Sweden was also among the top countries with two medals, one as a member of the mixed team. Well I think we should bring it back in 2012. For starters the UK could do with the medals, and secondly I know two dogs who would be perfect on the team.)

Interesting Fact - The Earth

The surface area of the Earth is 197,000,000 square miles.

(And no matter how much of it belongs to you right now, you'll end up with approximately 12 sq ft of it.)

Interesting Place - London

There is a street in London that's called Little Britain.

(Historically, Little Britain referred to a district in the City, including this street. It is even mentioned in Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations as the location of Jaggers' office. It runs from St. Martin's Le Grand in the east to West Smithfield in the west. Postman's Park is situated next to Little Britain. Sometimes I really miss England.)

Interesting Fact - Clothes

Panama hats originated in Ecuador. 

(When I first heard this I did wonder if  it was one of those regional fights like Cornish Pasties, but a quick Wiki told me that straw hats woven in Ecuador, like many other 19th and early 20th century South American goods, were shipped first to the Isthmus of Panama before sailing for their destinations in Asia, the rest of the Americas and Europe. For some products, the name of their point of international sale rather than their place of domestic origin stuck, hence “Panama hats.”)

Interesting Food - Haggis

Haggis from Scotland has been banned in the USA for 40 years.

(It was banned because the US Food Standards Agency prohibits sheep lung in food products.   You see!  Sometimes America gets it right!)

Interesting Fact - Planets

Most planets rotate in a counter-clockwise direction, but Venus rotates clockwise in what is called retrograde rotation.

(Do you think it's because she's female?)
Source - Wikipedia

Interesting Place - New York

New York City has over 28,000 acres of parks and 14 miles of beaches.

(This really surprised me! I don't think of New York as green ( or yellow!) at all.)

Source - Wikipedia

Interesting Words - A fear of long words

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words!

(Presumably invented by a sadist!!)

Source - Wikipedia

Interesting Fact - Employment

According to the Financial Times, only India's railway and the Chinese army employ more people than the NHS in Britain.

(Around 1.3 million people, or if you prefer the combined populations of Birmingham and Coventry, work for the NHS in the UK. Personally I do prefer an army of doctors and nurses to an actual army.)

Interesting Place - China

This year, 2.556 billion people are expected to make their way home via bus and train for the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.

(Two and a half billion people! I just hope that China Rail is better than British Rail.)

Interesting Word - Mondegreen

A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase, typically a standardized phrase such as a line in a poem or a lyric in a song.

(The word was first used in an essay by American writer Sylvia Wright , "The Death of Lady Mondegreen," published in Harper's Magazine in November 1954.[

In the essay, Wright described how, as a young girl, she misheard the last line of the first stanza from the 17th-century ballad "The Bonny Earl O'Moray". She wrote:

"When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy's Reliques, and one of my favorite poems began, as I remember:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl O' Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

The actual fourth line is "And laid him on the green". Wright explained the need for a new term: "The point about what I shall hereafter call mondegreens, since no one else has thought up a word for them, is t…

Interesting Fact - Books

The very first paperback book was published in 1931 in Germany.

(But it was in England in 1935 that paperbacks really took off with Penguin's publication of André Maurois' 'Ariel'. What would we do without them, or say Kindle?)

Source - Wikipedia

Interesting Words - Tittle

The dot over an i or j is called a 'tittle'!

(So instead of saying "dot your is" you could say "don't forget the tittle. I wonder what a tattle is then?)

Source - Wikipedia

Interesting Fact - Life

According to current scientific thinking, the lifespan of all living creatures can be measured in the number of heartbeats: around 1 billion.

(Humans live an average of 65 to 70 years, hamsters on average 3 years and Artic whales as long as 150 years, but the number of heartbeats stays the same. This is because whales can have as few as 10 heartbeats a minute and hamsters as many as 450, so during their lifespan the number of beats averages out. So stay chill, and don't let anyone steal your heartbeats.)

Interesting Fact - Wikipedia

Wikipedia is 10 years old today.

Happy birthday Wiki.

Interesting Animal - The Ant

Worker ants don't sleep. They rest by taking hundreds of short power naps.

(Just like my 6 month old grandaughter!!)

Source - BBC

Interesting Invention - The Parachute

Leonardo Da Vinci has been proved right, over 500 years after he sketched the design for the first parachute.

(A British man, Adrian Nicholas, dropped from a hot air balloon 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) above the ground, after ignoring expert advice that the canvas and wood contraption would not fly.

I love it when 'experts' are proved wrong!)

Source - BBC

Interesting Word - App

The American Dialect Society’s 'Word of the Year 2010' is - drumroll – 'app'.

(App is abbreviated tech slang for a computer or smart phone application.

The runner up was ‘nom’ - a chat, tweet, and text-friendly syllable that stands for ‘yummy food’. It comes from the sound that Sesame Street character Cookie Monster makes as he devours his favourite food. I'm eating a bit of chocolate with my coffee - nom nom.)


Interesting Fact - Human Body

The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons. The 52 bones in your feet make up about 25 percent of all the bones in your body.
( And don't I know it! I've just had an operation on mine!)

Source -

Interesting Word - The Longest Word

According to the English Oxford Dictionary the longest English word is 'pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis'. It is 45 letters long.

(I can't even pronounce it let alone spell it!!)

Source - Wikipedia

Interesting Animals - Bees

A healthy queen bee can lay about 2,000 eggs a day during the spring.

(This is more than her own bodyweight in eggs every day. Women always have to work hard.)

Source - Wikipedia

Interesting Animals - Cats

For cats, a tail held high is a sign of happiness, while a half-raised tail shows less pleasure, and unhappiness is indicated with a tail held low.

(And if it's twitching from side to side, you'd better run.)

Source - Wikipedia

Interesting Fact - Human Blood

Human blood most closely resembles sea water in terms of it's chemical composition!

Interesting Place - Taiwan

Taiwan has banned repeat tax evaders from  spending more than Tw$2,000 on a single purchase, and they are banned from using expensive transport like taxis or high-speed trains.

(Seemingly several people owe more than Tw$10 million ($331,000) in tax, but still live in an extravagant style. so they have been served with "anti-extravagance" orders.  How on earth these orders can be enforced I have no idea.  I mean, what does a taxi driver ask before they'll take you somewhere?)

Interesting Words - Rewriting Books

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is going to be republished, this time without the N word.

(Instead of the n word the word slave will be used, and the author, Twain scholar Alan Gribben, has also changed "injun" to "Indian".    Of course Huck Finn is a classic and so many people are up in arms. Seemingly many schools will no longer allow the book to be read because of the use of the ‘N’ word.  I guess it's a step up from book-burning.)

Interesting Word - Coffee

Starbucks has dropped the word "coffee" from its new logo.

(The company says it indicates the company's intention to move beyond its core product, saying "it's possible we'll have other products with our name on it and no coffee in it".    It's the first time that Starbucks has changed its logo since it floated on the New York Stock Exchange in 1992, unfortunately without the word "coffee" the logo is pretty meaningless.)

Interesting Place - Beebe

More than than 1,000 blackbirds died and fell from the sky over a small USA town on New Year's Eve.

(Apparently, the birds fell across a 1-mile area of Beebe, Arkansas.  According to an aerial survey, no other dead birds were found except those in that particular area.  The birds showed some signs of physical trauma, and officials say that a flock could have been hit by lightning, high-altitude hail, or even been startled by fireworks resulting in death from stress.  Whatever the real reason I am sure the conspiracy theorists and Armageddon watchers will be having a field day.)

Interesting Food and Drink - Hangover Cure

According to a report in the Royal Society of Chemistry, the best hangover cure is toast with a large dollop of honey.

(Hangovers are caused when the body converts alcohol into the toxic chemical acetaldehyde.

Other hangover cures exist:  Hair of the dog, a fry-up, and coffee are all popular cures for a New Year's hangover, and there are lots more disgusting suggestions and concoctions that you can find on the net, but a plate of toast and honey provides the body with the sodium, potassium and fructose it needs."  The report added that the best way to avoid a hangover in the first place is to have a glass of milk before you start drinking, stick to gin or vodka with a few soft drinks throughout the night, and then have a pint of water before you go to bed, but let's be honest, the best way to avoid a hangover is to not get drunk in the first place.)

Interesting Dates - 31 Day Months

You may have read somewhere on the net that October 2010 had 5 Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, which is true, but these hoax posts also said that this happens only once every 823 years, which is not true.

(In a 31-day month, if the month starts with a Friday-Saturday-Sunday, it will have a total of 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays, and if it starts with a Sunday-Monday-Tuesday, it will have a total of 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays, and 5 Tuesdays.  So these kinds of months come around relatively frequently, in fact we only have to wait till July 2011 for another month with 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays.  I only mention this because I got an email telling me this, and before I posted it as an interesting fact I researched it and found out it's not true.)

Thanks to and for debunking this myth.