Showing posts from October, 2011


The United Nations projected the world population to pass the seven billion mark today, and several countries have announced a "7 billionth baby" to mark the milestone.

Let's just hope they can grow up in a fair and just world.

Interesting Fact - Halloween

According to research commissioned by Santander Insurance, one in four adults has suffered damage to their home over the Halloween period.

(Yes, many people experience being a victim during the period from Halloween to Bonfire Night (we don't call it “mischief week” for nothing). Most pranks are harmless, but of course some people don't know when enough is enough, as a result households in the UK face an average of over £232 in repair fees, or a collective £2.65billion.
One in eight adults has suffered damage from eggs being thrown at or in their home and six per cent have had garden plants, ornaments or fences damaged. More than 1.6 million have been victims of theft inside or outside the home during this period, and two per cent have had windows broken. Over 1.4 million have had their property damaged by sparklers or stray fireworks and 1.1 million suffered damage from firecrackers or silly string through the letterbox.)

Interesting Fact - Halloween

People traditionally dressed up as ghosts, ghouls etc on Halloween to avoid being recognized by ghosts, and spirits.

(The idea is that any ghosts would will mistake you for a fellow spirit and therefore leave you alone. Of course you don't want to look too good, or they may decide to form an attachment.)

Interesting Fact - Halloween

According to research commissioned by Santander Insurance. 20% of people in the UK want Trick or Treating to be banned at Halloween.

(50% want it to be mandatory for parents to accompany children and 43% would support a ban on people wearing masks obscuring the face over Halloween. 31% would like to see a curb on people wearing hooded tops.
And 38 % would back the introduction of curfews for groups of youths at this time of year. I'd back a curfew for groups of kids at any time of year! They should be at home, doing their homework.)

Interesting Fact - Women

According to a study by Imperial Leather. working women look their best for just two hours and 22 minutes in the morning.

(The study found that the average woman spends 38 minutes getting herself ready and leaves the house at 7.40am looking and feeling like a million dollars, but the beautifully styled hairdo and fully made-up face is history by precisely 10.03am.  I have to admit, I look a mess first thing in the morning, and nothing changes till last thing at night. Why else do you think I don't use video for the English sessions?)

Interesting Place - Ukraine

The city of Kherson in Ukraine, has passed a law banning dogs from barking between 10pm and 8am to make life quieter for residents.

(The rule also applies to cats miaowing and pigs grunting.  According to reports, anyone who flouts the law faces fines of up to £65.  So, no dog treats for a week.)

Interesting Fact - Crime

According to UK crime statistics, 214 people have been killed by a knife this year (2011).

(And worryingly 4,606 people have been injured by a knife.  Of course in reality the knife is blameless, it's the hand wielding the knife, and the mentality behind the hand that does the harm.)

Interesting Place - London

According to the Daily Mail,  90% of the tents being used in the protests outside St Pauls Cathedral are empty overnight.

(This just shows me that the protesters are very sensible.  Any fool can be cold and wet.)

Interesting Fact - Health

According to research carried out at the University of Cambridge the time children spend outdoors could be linked to a reduced risk of being short-sighted, research suggests.

(Researchers found that for each additional hour spent outside each week, the risk of myopia reduced by 2%. I am long sighted, so maybe I spent too much time outdoors.)

Interesting Fact - Health

According to a study released on Tuesday by Kimberly-Clark Professional, petrol pump handles are the filthiest surface that Americans encounter on the way to work.

(The worst offenders were petrol pump handles, handles on public postboxes, escalator rails and ATM buttons. Closely following on the filthiest list were parking meters and kiosks, pedestrian crossing buttons and buttons on vending machines in shopping centres. Dr. Kelly Arehart said, "It comes down to the fact that nobody cleans the things that you're going to touch on a daily basis." Of course Kimberly-Clark Professional are a unit of personal hygiene giant Kimberly-Clark Corp, and they sell hygienic wipes. Surely there is no coincidence though.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), education spending in the UK is facing the largest cut since the 1950s.

(According to their research, public spending on UK education will fall by 14.4% between 2010-11 and 2014-15. School and college building projects will suffer the most from cuts to funding. The budgets for these projects will be more than halved. Universities will fare the next worst with a 40% cut, although this will be offset by higher tuition fees of up to £9,000. The education of 16 to 19-year-olds and the under-fives will each suffer a 20% funding fall in real terms, the study found.

The Conservative Party - Tough on education, tough on the causes of education.)

Interesting Place - London

St Paul's Cathedral in London has closed to visitors for the first time since World War II.

(The decision was taken to close because of protestors in the area. It is the only the second time Sunday services have been cancelled - the other time was during World War II, when the cathedral was closed in 1941 for four days during the Blitz. The protestors had attempted to set up camp outside the London Stock Exchange, but they were prevented. After all, the great cathedral of capitalism mustn't be inconvenienced.)

Interesting People - George Washingon

In 1788 George Washington traded his prize Arabian horse, Magnolia, to Light Horse Harry Lee for 5,000 acres of land in the Kentucky territory.

(Ha! If I asked my niece to trade her horse for some poxy land, she'd tell me where to go. Which is why no one in my family will ever be rich.)

Interesting Fact - The Internet

According to research by Sweet & Maxwell, the number of defamation cases related to social media in the UK almost doubled in the year to June 2011.

(When you see the actual numbers of libel cases involving social media it's actually not that scary; rising from seven cases to 16,  One court case involved New Zealand cricket team member Chris Cairns who sued over a comment on Twitter.  So, be careful what you say about each other.)

Source: The Guardian

Interesting Fact - Money

According to official statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK, Britons spent an average of £539m online each week in September 2011.

(This is out of a total sales figure of £5.61bn, which means that £1 in every £10 is spent on goods bought online for the first time. We're S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G shopping.)

Interesting Fact - The Internet

According to a study by DLA Piper, one third of employers have disciplined employees for something posted on a social media site.

(In addition, 21% of employers had to give their employees a warning for posting something derogatory about a colleague or about the business itself on their Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus account. Of course if I posted something derogatory about myself, I would have to discipline myself. No gummy bears for a week maybe?)

Source: Britopian

Interesting Fact - Makeup

If a woman spends 15 minutes a day on hair and makeup (a pretty conservative estimate) it will cost her 3,900 minutes a year, or almost two working weeks.

(So, why do women go through this routine, day in / day out? Well according to research by makeup manufacturer Procter & Gamble— professional women who wear makeup are perceived as more likeable, trustworthy and competent. Doh! That's what I've been doing wrong all these years, I just needed a bit of slap and I'd have been CEO of Post Office Services by now!)

Interesting Fact - Restaurants

Over the past 50 years, revolving restaurants have opened in more than 50 countries on six continents, from Colombia to Nepal to Canada.

(London's revolving restaurant in the BT skyscraper, previously known as the Post Office Tower was supposed to reopen by 2012 in time for the Olympics. Unfortunately it doesn't look as if it is going to happen now. In fact, it has not been an eatery since 1980 when the the Top of the Tower venue, which was run by the Butlins companys (I kid you not) closed after 14 years. It was shut amid security fears after an IRA bomb exploded in the gents lavatories in 1971. Still if you can't wait to try eating on the move there is a list of the best revolving restaurants here:

Thanks to Rehan Ahmad for inspiring me to look this up.

Interesting People - John Malone - Podcast

According to the US 2011 Land Report 100, which ranks the top land owners, John Malone is now America’s biggest individual landowner.

(The 70-year-old cable pioneer and chairman of Liberty Media now owns 2.2 million acres, after purchasing more than 1 million acres of timberland in Maine and New Hampshire earlier this year. I wonder if anyone has told him, you can't take it with you Mr Malone.)

Interesting Food - Pringles

When is a crisp, not a crisp?  When it's a Pringle.  
Yes, according to Wiki, Pringles only contain 42% potato.

(That's less than half of the content, the rest is wheat starch and corn and rice flour, all mixed together with vegetable oils and an emulsifier. Of course they call themselves potato crisps, because wheat, rice, corn and potato fried gunk wouldn't sound quite as tempting.)

Interesting Fact - Money

The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home in London is £1,360 a month, which is almost two-and-a-half times more than the rest of England (According to the housing charity Shelter, private rents are now unaffordable in 55% of local authorities in England. Homes in these areas cost more than 35% of median average local take-home pay. Shelter found that rents had risen at one-and-a-half times the rate of incomes in the 10 years up to 2007. There is a reason that we scrimp and save in order to be able to buy our house. You just can't trust landlords.)

Interesting Fact - Health

The black death, still kills 2,000 people a year.

(It's caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, a plague that is primarily a disease of wild rodents and is spread by their fleas. It is one of the "oldest identifiable diseases known to man", according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and believe it or not, it has never been wiped out. Luckily nowadays, almost all cases are curable if diagnosed in time.)

Interesting People - Jesus Christ

3,096,541 people like Jesus Christ on Facebook.

(Yes, Christ has a Facebook page, and 200,426 people are talking about it. Now, it is against Facebook's ToS to impersonate anyone, so ... That said, if you are the real Jesus Christ, Facebook does allow you to report anyone who may be impersonating you or someone you know:-

What should I do if someone is pretending to be me? 

If someone has created an account to impersonate or imitate you, please go to the impostor profile and click "Report this person" in the left column. Check the "Report this person" box, choose "Fake account" as the reason, and add "Impersonating me or someone else" as the report type. Be sure to add a valid web address (URL) leading to the real profile so that we can review the information."

I love the Internet.)

Interesting Animal - Water Fleas - Podcast

The tiny water flea has more genes than you or I do.

(It was the first crustacean to have its genome sequenced, and if you don't believe that it could be more complex than magnificent you, the average human has about 20,000 to 25,000 genes, whereas this little critter has 31,000 genes.  Which makes it the animal with the most genes to date.  As if that wasn't enough. more than a third of the genes in the water flea are unique, and have never been seen before.  You see size really doesn't count, it's the actual count that matters.)

Interesting Place - South Sudan

The young nation of South Sudan has chosen English as its official language. (Currently about 150 different languages are spoken in the South. Welcome to the club guys.)

Interesting Fact - Genetics

The genetic code of the Black Death has been reconstructed by scientists for the first time.

(They extracted DNA fragments of the ancient bacterium from the teeth of medieval corpses found in London, the pathogen is the ancestor of all modern plagues. In other words all current strains circulating in the world are directly related to the medieval bacterium. The mother and father of all plagues.)

 Source: BBC News

Interesting Fact - Olympic Fact - Shakespeare

What has Shakespeare got to do with the Olympic games? Well, next year, as part of the 2012 Olympics arts programme, the South Sudanese Kwoto Theatre Company will perform Shakespeare's Cymbeline in Juba Arabic at the Globe theatre in London. (In fact, beginning on 21 April 2012, the Globe will present a programme of multi-lingual Shakespeare productions for the London 2012 festival. 37 international companies will present every one of Shakespeare's plays in a different language over six weeks. So there you have the link. And talking of links, you can read more about it here:-

Interesting Fact - Botox

Botox (botulinum toxin) is a lethal naturally occurring substance, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, and is considered the most powerful neurotoxin ever discovered, but nowadays it is used for a number of cosmetic and medical procedures.

(Botulinum toxin causes Botulism poisoning, a serious and life-threatening illness in humans and animals, but in the late 1960s Alan Scott, M.D., a San Francisco ophthalmologist, and Edward Schantz were the first to work on a standardized botulinum toxin preparation for therapeutic purposes and, in 1980, Scott officially used BTX-A for the first time in humans to treat strabismus "crossed eyes". But Botox aka BTX-A is also used as a cosmetic treatment to reduce wrinkles, this was originally documented by a plastic surgeon from Sacramento, California, Dr. Richard Clark, and published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 1989. BTX-A is also used as a treatment for excessive underarm sweating, and many actors …

Interesting Place - Israel

Israel registers its citizens according to both their religion and their ethnicity, although it does not include an "Israeli" ethnicity, labelling its Jewish citizens as of "Jewish" ethnicity.

(But now Israeli law allows citizens to be officially registered as having no religion. This came to light when the interior ministry refused to alter an an Israeli writer's official religious status from Jewish to "without religion." Yoram Kaniuk turned to the courts and a Tel Aviv court sided with his demand, ruling that Israeli law allows citizens to be officially registered as having no religion.

Kaniuk said, "The court granted legitimacy to every person to live by their conscience in this land, in ruling that human dignity and freedom means a person can determine their own identity and definition."  And so say all of us.)

Interesting Fact - iTunes

The Open University's iTunes U service has broken the world record for number of downloads.

(The service allows students to download free video and audio recordings of lectures, and reached 40 million downloads - with the increase driven by mobile devices such as iPads.  Figures from Apple suggest this puts the Open University ahead of rivals such as Stanford, Yale and even Oxford, but let's face it, these institutions are not best known for sharing.)

Interesting Fact - iTunes

The iTunes U online service, which offers digital content created or curated by educators, which can then be easily downloaded and viewed on any Mac, PC, iPod, or iPhone, now services 300 million downloads a year.
(There are 350,000 lectures offered by more than 1,000 universities around the world.  And much of it is for free.)