Showing posts from March, 2012

Interesting Fact - Childhood

According to a study commissioned by chocolate biscuit brand Rocky, the summer of 1976 was the best time to be a child in Britain.

(From the perspective of the grown-ups, it wasn’t the best of years.

In 1976 there was a national water shortage, inflation reached 27 per cent, there were widespread strikes and the West Indies cricket team left us grovelling for mercy.

From the perspective of children, it was great. It was the hottest summer for more than 350 years and children spent hours outside, riding their Raleigh Chopper bikes or bouncing on Space Hoppers. Ah - Space Hoppers, those were the days.)


Interesting Fact - Marriage

According to a survey conducted by department store Debenhams, the average wedding guest in the UK spends £510 each time a family member or friend ties the knot.
(The cost of celebrating a wedding as a guest breaks down into the following:-
ITEM                           COST  Stag / Hen do               £150 Outfit                              £80 Drinks                             £80 Wedding present            £75 Accommodation              £65 Travel                             £60 TOTAL                            £510 SOURCE: DEBENHAMS
And that's not all, because most Brits will attend 15 weddings in their lifetime, costs can amount to more than £7,500.  Not so much "Here comes the bride" as "Here comes the bill".)
Source - Net Mums

Interesting Fact - Horoscopes

There are only 12 star signs in the zodiac.

(This means that if you read your horoscope online or in a magazine, in the UK alone each horoscope has to cover about 5.25 million people, and world-wide about 570 million people.   Which means that today 570 million Virgos are going to be feeling underappreciated.)

Interesting Fact - Art

According to the BBC News website, Damien Hirst has produced 1,000 spot paintings.

(Spot paintings are "rows of randomly coloured circles. Interestingly Last year, one of his spot paintings - of which there are over 1,000 - sold for £1.8m.

Hirst has admitted that he only painted five spot paintings himself because, "I couldn't be ******* ***** doing it"; he described his efforts as "shite"—"They're shit compared to ... the best person who ever painted spots for me was Rachel. She's brilliant. Absolutely ******* brilliant. The best spot painting you can have by me is one painted by Rachel." Hirst sees the real creative act as being the conception, not the execution, and that, as the progenitor of the idea, he is therefore the artist. Maybe, Mr Hirst, or maybe the real artist is the wallpaper company who first printed spotty wallpaper.

It looks as if the bubble is about to burst though, like the story, The Emperor's New Clothes, Ar…

Interesting Fact - Health and Safety

In Dorset, in the UK a girl of 14 was banned from buying a Glee pencil sharpener — because it was "a lethal weapon".
(The offending article was part of a school stationery set, branded on the TV series Glee.  The cashier told the girl that the round sharpener could only be sold to someone aged 18 or over becausethe set contained 'lethal objects'.  In the great tradition of under age children in the UK, she got her 18 year old brother to buy it for her.)

Interesting Fact - Horoscopes

According to astronomer Parke Kunkle, the zodiac signs you were supposedly born into are different now because the Earth's wobble on its axis has created a one-month bump in the alignment of the stars.

(Because of the moon’s gravitational pull, Earth is currently in a different spot in relation to the sun, and its equatorial alignment has changed from 3,000 years ago when the study of astrology began -- back when 12 zodiac signs were assigned to 12 different periods of the year. Which means that a Virgo may now be a Leo, an Aquarius - a Capricorn, and a Taurus - an Aries.

To confuse matters even further, he added a new horoscope, Ophiuchus.

So using this theory your "up to date" horoscope, reflecting where the stars currently are aligned, is:-

Capricorn: Jan. 20 - Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16 - March 11
Pisces: March 11- April 18
Aries: April 18- May 13
Taurus: May 13- June 21
Gemini: June 21- July 20
Cancer: July 20- Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10- Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16- Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. …

Interesting Fact - Clothes

Female beach volleyball players have been given the option of playing in shorts rather than skimpy bikinis at the London 2012 Olympics.

( The new rule permits ‘shorts of a maximum length of three centimetres above the knee, and sleeved or sleeveless tops’. 
I was pleased to read this, I don't usually watch beach volleyball, but the one time I did I couldn't fail to notice how the cameraman zoomed in to the players' posteriors whenever possible.)

Interesting People - Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was voted Britain's greatest wit.

(In a poll conducted by UK TV station "Dave" people were asked to vote for their favourite "wit". The results were a bit surprising and all men: The highest ranked woman in the poll, taking 12th place, was, believe it or not, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher!

Here is a list of the top ten, with a sample of their wittiness.

1 Oscar Wilde: "Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."
2 Spike Milligan: "A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree."
3 Stephen Fry: "It is a cliche that most cliches are true, but then like most cliches, that cliche is untrue."
4 Jeremy Clarkson: "Speed has never killed anyone, suddenly becoming stationary… That's what gets you.."
5 Sir Winston Churchill: "I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
6 Paul Merton: "My school days were the happiest of my life: which sho…

Interesting Fact - National Anthems

The comedy national anthem from Baron Cohen's film Borat was played at a medal ceremony for Kazakhstan's shooting team at championships in Kuwait, instead of the real one.

(The Kazakhstan anthem goes:-

Sky of golden sun,
Steppe of golden seed,
Legend of courage -
Take a look at my country!

From antiquity
Our heroic glory emerged,
They did not give up their pride
My Kazakh people are strong!

My country, my country,
As your flower I will be planted,
As your song I will stream, my country!
My native land – My Kazakhstan!

The way was opened to posterity
I have vast land.
Its unity is proper,
I have an independent country.

It welcomed the time
Like an eternal friend,
Our country is happy,
Such is our country.


The lyrics to Borat's version goes:-

Kazakhstan greatest country in the world all other countrys are run by little girls.
Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium!
Other countries have inferior potassium.
Kazakhstan home of the tinshein swimming pool it…

Interesting Fact - Health

According to a study published in BioMed Central's public health journal, people of working age who live alone increase their risk of depression by up to 80%.

(This is compared with people living in families. The worrying thing is that the proportion of one-person households in Western countries has increased during the past three decades, with one in every three people in the US and the UK living alone. Living alone, the study said, could be linked with feelings of isolation and a lack of social integration and trust, which are risk factors for mental health. Of course with the internet, no one needs to be alone for long, just log in and talk.)

Interesting Fact - Money

Sales of games in the UK beat film and TV for the first time in 2011.

(According to the Electronic Retailers Association (ERA) video game sales hit £1.93 billion in 2011, the biggest ever in the industry's history. By comparison DVDs and other video formats created just £1.80 billion in revenues and music just £1.07 billion. I love the way they say "just" - you know just a couple of billion.)


Interesting Place - The Amazon

If you're an armchair explorer you can now explore the waterways, trails and villages along the Rio Negro in Brazil.

(The pictures were taken in 2010 using camera-mounted three wheeled bicycles and have now been woven into Google Maps.)

Interesting Fact - Property

The Los Angeles mansion where Michael Jackson died is on sale for $23.9 million.

(The seven-bedroom, 13-bathroom property, includes its own movie-theater, a gym and a pool, a magnificent wine cellar and tasting room, an elevator, a spacious spa with gym, and a guesthouse, as well as an "expansive pool and gardens," it said.

The house, built in 2002 in the Holmby Hills district west of Los Angeles, includes more than 17,000 square feet (1,580 square meters) of living space with 12 working fireplaces, and is set in 1.26 acres.

I'll just check my bank balance.)

Interesting Place - The USA

According to the US Commerce Department a record 62 million foreigners visited the United States in 2011, an increase of 2.5 million from 2010.

(Spending by domestic as well as international tourists grew 8.1 percent from 2010 to $1.2 trillion, supporting an additional 103,000 jobs for a total of 7.6 million, and spending $153 billion on travel and tourism-related services. President Barack Obama's administration has promised to support the tourism industry and make America more welcoming to visitors from all over the world. They could start at the airports and get security to smile a bit.)

Interesting Place - Britain

There's a new sport being played in Britain: Quidditch, the fictional ball game from the Harry Potter books.

(To play the game, opposing teams of seven have to put ‘quaffles’ into hoops while avoiding dodgeballs known as ‘bludgers’.   The flying ‘snitch’ is played by a neutral player dressed in yellow with a tennis ball in their waistband. In the absence of flying broomsticks, players have to run around with sticks or brooms between their legs.

I don't want to pour scorn on the idea, but, flying through the sky chasing a magical ball = cool. Running around a muddy field, chasing someone with a tennis ball stuck in their knicker elastic, with a broom between your legs = not so cool.)

Interesting Fact - Transport

The world's first road-worthy flying car is up for sale.

(The 1954 Aerocar is one of only five known to still exist today, and it will cost you a mere £800,000, but just think of all those traffic jams you'll be able to avoid. That said, I'm still waiting for my jetpack.)

Interesting Fact - The Internet

According to ZDNet, 51 per cent of website traffic is through automated software programs, often with   malicious activity in mind.

(The breakdown of an average site’s traffic is as follows:

- 5% = hacking tools looking for an unpatched or new vulnerability within a site.

- 5% = scrapers.

- 2% = automated comment spammers.

- 19% = “spies” collating competitive intelligence.

- 20% = search engines (non-human traffic but benign).

- 49% = real people who are actually browsing the Internet.

Maybe I should cut my visitor logs in half.)

Interesting Places - New Cities in the UK

Chelmsford in England, Perth in Scotland and St Asaph in Wales are to gain 'city status' to mark this year's Diamond Jubilee (which marks The Queen's 60 years on the throne).
(City status is rarely granted in the UK and only 14 new cities were created during the 20th century.

In the last contest - held in 2002 for the Queen's Golden Jubilee - Preston, Newry, Lisburn and Newport were among the winners.

In 2000, Brighton and Hove, Inverness and Wolverhampton were given the status to mark the new millennium.

The unsuccessful towns which entered a contest to "win" city status were: Bolton, Bournemouth, Colchester, Coleraine, Corby, Craigavon, Croydon, Doncaster, Dorchester, Dudley, Dumfries, Gateshead, Goole, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Reading, Southend, St Austell, Stockport, Tower Hamlets and Wrexham.  
Never mind guys, you can always try in another 60 years.)

Interesting Fact - Children

According to the charity BackCare, growing numbers of children in the UK are developing irreversible back deformities because of the weight of the bags they carry to school.

(Pupils often have to carry bags filled with heavy books, laptops, sports kit and packed lunches, and their bag may weigh as much as 28 lbs. According to experts, children risk long-term and ultimately permanent damage if they regularly carry more than 15 per cent of their body weight over their shoulders and because children’s skeletons are still growing, carrying heavy bags can cause lasting damage.

The British newspaper, the Daily Mail, worked out that bags can weigh up to 2 stone, which they calculated as:-
Textbooks - 8lb 13oz Laptop - 8lb 13oz Lunchbox - 1lb 11oz Bottle of water - 1lb 11oz Exercise books - 1lb 1oz Pencil case - 1lb 1oz PE Kit - 1lb 1oz Sports shoes - 1lb 1oz Coat - 13oz Diary - 9oz Game console - 8oz Mobile phone - 5oz MP3 player - 5oz Wallet and keys - 4oz
It's a heavy load, but …

Interesting Place - Guatemala

A court in Guatemala has sentenced a former soldier to 6,060 years in prison for his role in the massacre of 201 people during the civil war.

(The massacre at Dos Erres was one of the most violent episodes in Guatemala's brutal 36-year civil conflict, in which an estimated 200,000 people died. He is the fifth former soldier to be convicted of taking part in the atrocities. The sentence though, is largely symbolic as the maximum actual term he can serve is 50 years.)

Interesting Food - Meat

According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, a diet high in red meat can shorten life expectancy.

(Simply by adding an extra portion of unprocessed red meat to someone's daily diet would increase the risk of death by 13%, of fatal cardiovascular disease by 18% and of cancer mortality by 10%. The figures for processed meat were even higher at 20% for overall mortality, 21% for death from heart problems and 16% for cancer mortality. The researchers concluded that saturated fat from red meat may be behind the increased heart risk and the sodium used in processed meats may "increase cardiovascular disease risk through its effect on blood pressure".  So, you might want to reconsider what you're having for Sunday lunch today.  Nut cutlet anyone?)

Interesting Fact - Work

A study by Cranfield School of Management has found that the number of women directors on top company boards has increased to a record 15%, but it is still well below a target of 25% set by the British Government.

(There are now 141 women holding 163 board seats in FTSE 100 firms, while the number of companies with no women board members has fallen to 11, but when you cast a wider net, 89% of FTSE 350 firms still have no female board representation. That said, the percentage of board members in 1999 was 6.9%,  so we are making some progress.)

Interesting Place - China

China produces almost the entire world supply of rare earths.

(China produces more than 95% of the world's rare earth metals, which are used in high-tech goods like mobile phones, computers and flat screens TVs.

They include: Scandium; Yttrium; Lanthanum; Cerium; Praseodymium; Neodymium; Promethium; Samarium; Europium; Gadolinium; Terbium; Dysprosium; Holmium; Erbium; Thulium; Ytterbium; Lutetium . Try pronouncing that lot!)

Interesting Fact - Books

According to a poll by consumer group Silver Poll, in 2011 6% of over-55s in the UK owned an e-book reader.

(This compares with five per cent of those aged 18-24. Of course there is a simple explanation, over 55s can read.  Oh and you can make the print bigger.)


One of the biggest solar flares in years is on its way to Earth and there is a good chance that the protection our magnetic shield offers will break down in the next 24 hours, leading to a geomagnetic storm.  The most likely effect will probably be on SatNav systems.  (Take a map.)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to the National Audit Office, a massive seven-year government programme meant to increase efficiency has cost the British taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

(Whitehall departments have spent £1.4 billion over the last seven years in a bid to save £159 million by sharing "back-office" functions such as personnel and procurement.   It would be funny, if it weren't so tragic.)

Interesting Facts - Work

Apple claims that statistics show it's responsible for creating or supporting 514,000 jobs in the US.

(On their web page entitled "Creating jobs through innovation" the say that a study by the Analysis Group determined that Cook & Co. has "directly or indirectly" created 304,000 jobs spread throughout all 50 states. The remaining 210,000 jobs, Apple says, were created in the "app economy". It's the "indirectly" part of the statement that I have an issue with, as Apple directly employ 47,000 people in the US – about 9 per cent of the total they claim.

Now I'm all for beating your own drum: if you don't beat it, no one else will, but the rest of the figures are difficult to quantify, Apple says they are made up from these "indirect" jobs, which come from "the development and manufacturing of components, materials, and equipment; professional, scientific, and technical services; consumer sales; transportation;…

Interesting Food - Pies

According to AC Nielsen, a marketing research firm, the British pie market is worth £229 million a year.

(The traditional steak, and steak and kidney pies are still Britain's favourites, but you can also buy more sophisticated varieties; including Aberdeen Angus minced steak with stilton, chicken and Wiltshire ham, and even lamb and mint pies.

References to 'pyes' as a food have been noted in English and Latin literature from as early as the 12th century and the full description of a pie as we would know it appears in books of the 14th century.)
You can read more about British food here.


Today is the start of British Pie Week.

More on British Traditions, Food and Culture here.

Interesting Place - Brunswick (Braunschweig)

In the town of Brunswick (Braunschweig) in Germany a mystery benefactor is giving pots of money away.

(He or she leaves it in envelopes in batches of 10,000 euros, often where it might not be found. If he or she reads this, just pop it in the post.)

Interesting Fact - Smoking

13.4% of British mums to be admit to smoking whilst pregnant.

(Some areas of the UK are black tar spots as rates varied from 2.8% in Brent, London, to 30.3% in Blackpool.

The good news is that the statistics are lower than they used to be.)

Interesting Fact - Politics

According to a survey by  YouGov, nearly two-thirds of British voters (62 per cent) believe politicians lie "all the time.
(This shows that voters aren' t that clever, as surely it's impossible for anyone to lie all the time.  It's a very depressing thought.
“At length corruption, like a general flood (So long by watchful ministers withstood), Shall deluge all; and avarice, creeping on, Spread like a low-born mist, and blot the sun." Alexander PopeMoral Essays)

Interesting Animal - Fleas - Podcast

Fossils unearthed at two sites in China reveal that fleas, up to 10 times as large as modern fleas, drank the blood of dinosaurs and pterosaurs.

(These Jurassic fleas are believed to be 165 million years old. They had claws on each of their six legs, with tiny teeth on the claws that helped the insects cling to hair shafts, and feathers.

I do hope no-one gets the idea of cloning these wee beasties.)
Source and icky picture.