Showing posts from February, 2012


Today you are working for free if you're on a fixed annual wage.

Interesting Date - Leap Year

People born on February 29th are called "leaplings" or "leapers".

(The poet Lord Byron was a leapling as was the rapper Ja Rule.

Just imagine, you only get a birthday party once every 4 years, but you're quarter the age of the rest of us, in fact Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance the plot revolved around Frederic's discovery that, because he is a leapling, he must remain apprenticed to pirates and serve another 63 years before he can join Mabel, his one true love.)

Interesting Fact - Class

According to a study carried out by psychologists at the University of California in Berkeley, USA, members of the upper classes are more likely to lie, cheat and even break the law than people from less privileged backgrounds.
(The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that those from rich or powerful backgrounds appeared greedier, more likely to lie in negotiation and more likely to cheat. Is this really a surprise? They didn't get rich by being nice.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to economics students at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, USA it would cost more than £541,261 trillion just for the raw materials to build a real Star Wars Death Star.

( This is 13,000 times the world's gross domestic product (GDP), and that's just to supply the steel; labour and other construction costs would send the costs even higher. Oh and if that weren't enough, it would take more than 833,315 years at current production levels to supply enough steel for the 87 mile diameter space craft. So, if you were hoping to achieve universal dominance any time soon, think again. Somehow this actually reassures me.)

Interesting Fact - Happiness

According to the National Wellbeing Survey, the most miserable people in the UK are 45 year old divorced men living in London.

Interesting Fact - Happiness - Podcast

The cost of the UK's happiness index has soared to £8 million.

(The UK Government has admitted that the Office of National Statistics has a £2million-a-year budget for it every year until 2015.  Well at least they'll be happy.)

Interesting Fact - The Weather

Rainfall soothes the atmosphere, and calms storms.

(According to atmospheric scientists at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado, a substantial portion of the energy that drives wind and air circulation in the atmosphere is dissipated as friction by raindrops falling through the air.   I can't say I fully understand the math and science behind this, but it will make me moan less when it's raining.)

Interesting Words - 25 words every toddler should know

According to psychologist Professor Leslie Rescorla, author of the Language Development Survey, there are 310 words that should be part of a toddler's vocabulary.

(25 of these words are words that every toddler should be able to use, as they are are among the most common and the first acquired when learning to speak.

As an ESL learner, you might want to know what these words are and check that you know them:-

The 25-word list comprises mummy, daddy, baby, milk, juice, hello, ball, yes, no, dog, cat, nose, eye, banana, biscuit, car, hot, thank you, bath, shoe, hat, book, all gone, more and bye-bye.

The 310-word list seems to be under copyright.)

Interesting Fact - Games

In a recent poll of youngsters in the US only 45% of youngsters aged between 2 and 17 regularly read books.

(This compares with 91% who regularly play computer games, and the fastest growth of gamers is in the age range of 2 to 5.  What on earth do they play?)

Interesting Fact - Plants

According to an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists in Russia have grown plants from 30,000 year old fruit.

(The fruit found in n the banks of the Kolyma River in Siberia, was probably squirreled away by - squirrels, and the Institute of Cell Biophysics team raised plants of Silene stenophylla - of the campion family from it.

This is the oldest plant material by far to have been brought back to life, the record was previously held by date palm seeds found Masada in Israel, which were a mere  2,000 years old.)

Interesting Fact - Recycling

Metal implants from cremated human bodies are recycled.

(Everything from steel pins to titanium hips and cobalt-chrome knees are reclaimed from the ashes.

The co-founder of OrthoMetals, Ruud Verberne said that in Europe, an operation to provide a new hip may cost you around £5,000 ($8,000. 6,000 euros, but the return value as scrap is maybe, around £10 ($16, 12 euros) per kilo, and there are five hips per kilo.  
The recycled parts don't get reused, instead it is melted down and gets used to make things like cars, planes, and even wind turbines.)

Interesting Fact - The Simpsons

The Simpsons broadcast its 500th episode today.

(It became the longest-running prime time animated show in 1997, breaking a record that The Flinstones had previously held.   Each episode of The Simpsons takes about six months to produce, so that's 3,000 months of production time to date, which works out at 250 years!  I guess they aren't made sequentially.)

Interesting Fact - Death

Britain is the biggest cremator in Europe.

(73% of people who die choose to be cremated. In the US the figure currently stands at 40%.  The reason cremations have risen so much is mostly to do with cost and space.  A traditional burial can cost four times as much as a cremation, and one survey showed 750 burials take up an acre of land.)

Interesting Fact - The Body

Britain has one of the lowest organ donor rates in Europe.

(In the UK only 13 people out of every million end up donating organs, in spite of the fact that 90 per cent of the UK population support organ donation.  One of the reasons it's so low is only 29 per cent actually carry a donor card and in addition in the UK, even if someone carries a donor card, their family can stop organs being used. So, an opt out scheme is being discussed, whereby you would have to register not to become a donor.)


Interesting Fact - Communication

According to Cisco, mobile devices will outnumber humans by the end of 2012.

(By 2016 it predicts that there will be 10 billion mobile connected devices around the world. Today your pocket - tomorrow the world!)

Interesting Fact - Alcohol

According to UK government figures, the cost to the National Health Service of treating drink-related problems  has reached almost £3bn a year.

(That's a lot of money.  Seemingly, in 2011 there were around 200,000 hospital admissions with patients suffering alcohol-related conditions – 40 per cent more than in 2003 – while the number of people treated for extreme drunkenness more than doubled to 18,500.   I'm happy to say that the worst thing that has ever happened to me under the influence, is a, well deserved, hangover.)

Interesting Fact - Valentine's Day

Saudi Arabia's religious police confiscated all red roses from shops prior to Valentine's Day.

(Yes, Saudi people can sleep more safely in their beds now that this evil flower, well known for its corrupting influence has been hidden from view.   In a six-page statement, the religious police said they were saving women from "deceiving men", who used the day to give the fake impression that they loved a woman while pretending to be a "harmless lamb".  I am looking at the single red rose, given to me by my hubby, in a completely different light now.  I shall have words with my harmless lamb when he comes home tonight.)

Interesting Word - Appoggiatura

An appoggiatura, is a musical device, a note or tone that is not normally part of a chord but appears in a melody that precedes an essential melodic note or tone. It clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound.

(Twenty years ago, British psychologist John Sloboda conducted a simple experiment. He asked music lovers to identify passages of songs that reliably set off a physical reaction, such as tears or goose bumps. Participants identified 20 tear-triggering passages, and when Dr. Sloboda analyzed their properties, a trend emerged: 18 contained an appoggiatura. According to, Martin Guhn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia this musical dissonance generates tension in the listener and when the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves, which the listener an emotive sensation.  In the lead up to Valentine's day I guess lots of us will be listening to appoggiaturas.)

Interesting Fact - Sport

The England football team's home kit is being replaced after just 8 games.

(The current design was first worn against Bulgaria in September 2010, and it was worn for the last time in a match against Sweden in a friendly at Wembley in November 2011.  The new home kit will be unveiled for the friendly against Holland in February 2012.  Until the 1990s kits lasted three years, but are now changed every 18 months. The main problem is an adult kit costs about £89 and achild's kit costs over £70, and we all know what pester power is.)

Interesting Fact - Tax

Our illustrious leader is looking at the idea of tax breaks for people in the UK who hire cleaners.

(He sees this as a way of generating extra jobs and freeing more women so they can join the workforce.  Of course the only jobs will be for cleaners for him and his cronies.  They really have been watching Downton Abbey a bit too much.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to a survey by Barings Asset Management, one in ten Brits fear they will be forced to work till they drop.

(Retirement will be a luxury as most people simply won't be able to afford to stop working.  I can imagine cozy deals between bosses and funeral services to pick up our rotting bodies.)

Interesting Fact - Money

State pensions in the UK currently cost the tax payer £74bn a year.

(What's worse is the pension hole just keeps getting bigger; it will cost an estimated extra £4bn in 2013 as baby boomers reach retirement age. I doubt I'll ever be able or be allowed to retire.)

Interesting Animal - Pheasants

Pheasants love rum-soaked raisins.

(After villagers and the postman, in Wootton, Staffordshire, were being terrorised by a pheasant, called George, a pheasant expert, Mike Gadsby recommended a seemingly tried and tested way of pacifying George - by feeding him raisins that have been soaked in rum. If you look up the number of recipes for cooking pheasant with raisins soaked in alcohol, it seems a bit stupid of the birds.)

Interesting Fact - Law

2 people have been jailed in the UK for internet trolling.

( Sean Duffy, and Colm Cross were jailed through the Malicious Communications Act 1988.)

Interesting Facts - Death

According to the UK's Office for National Statistics,  491,348 people died in the UK in 2009.

(Of these 238,062 were male, and 253,286 were female.   The biggest cause of death was circulatory disease, followed by cancer, respiratory disease and digestive disease respectively.  The stats show only 17,878 people didn't die from disease, the highest cause of death in this category was transport accidents.  So, maybe it is safer to stay at home.)



Today is National Sickie Day.

English Diary

Interesting Fact - Money

According to accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers. British households have some of the biggest debts in the world.

(The average household is £7,900 in the red. despite families tightening their belts to each repay about £355 in 2011, they will still owe about £7,500 by 2013.  The good news is, credit card borrowing fell by five per cent in 2011, leaving the average balance at about £1,000.  So, at least that shows people are becoming a bit smarter about how they borrow.)

Interesting Fact - Addiction

According to scientists at the University of Cambridge, abnormalities in the brain may make some people more likely to become drug addicts.

(Experts have always been unsure whether drugs changed the wiring of the brain or if drug addicts' brains were wired differently in the first place and this study has shown the same differences in the brains of addicts and their non-addicted brothers and sisters. So you really can blame it on your parents.)


Interesting Fact - Population

According to the Population Reference Bureau, about 107 billion people have lived on Earth.

(They calculated it using stats and guesses from when Homo sapiens first walked the earth, about 50,000 years ago, and assumed that 50,000 years ago there was a population of 2.  I bet there was a humdinger of an argument about that statistic.)

How many people have ever lived?YearPopulationBirths / 1,000Births since previous date
Source: Population Reference Bureau estimates
Number who have ever lived: 107,60…

Interesting Date - February aka Mud Month

In Anglo Saxon times, the second month of the year, corresponding roughly with the Roman (and modern) month of February, was called Solmonath.

(‘Monath’ is the Old English word for a month, and the direct ancestor of our modern English word ‘month’. ‘Sol’ is the Old English word for ‘mud’, so Solmonath meant ‘Mud Month’, which is very appropriate given the British weather at this time of year.  According to a lesser-used term was Kale-monath, which meant “cabbage month.”  I guess that reflected the wonderful English cuisine of the time.)

Interesting Words - Greetings

Bus drivers working for the Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company in England have been warned not to call customers “babe”, “love” or “darling”.
(Following a complaint from a woman who said that she had felt insulted by being called 'babe' when she boarded a bus. 
A sign at the bus depot reads, "Please can drivers be aware that some of our customers may take offence at at having terms such as "love", "darling" and "babe" directed towards them.  This can be seen by some as by some as being a sexist comment, as a recent complaint has highlighted."
I just hope they stop women bus drivers calling men "sweety", "honey", "son" or "my lover" too.  All things hubby has faced over the years.)