Showing posts from September, 2013

Interesting Fact - Ageing

According to a UN-backed global study, Sweden is the best place in the world to be old.

(Sweden, Norway and Germany headed the list, whilst Britain was rated 13th, one place behind Ireland. So, I guess I won't be moving any time soon.  Sorry to say Afghanistan, Tanzania and Pakistan ranked lowest, but don't worry, the only way is up.)
Source: The Global AgeWatch Index is the first-ever overview of the wellbeing of older people around the world.

Interesting Fact - The Brain

According to research into adolescent health, published in the Lancet, our brains are not fully developed until the age of 24.

(In the UK, young people can legally smoke and have sex at 16, drive at 17, drink alcohol, vote and are deemed adults at 18, but the brain is ill-equipped before the age of 24 to deal with the effects of all the drinking they do and less able to assess risk.

I wish I had known this when I was a bit younger. I'd have had a good excuse for all the crazy things I did: "Hey, give me a break, my brain isn't fully developed yet.")

Interesting Fact - Health

According to a survey ­carried out by the ­British ­Chiropractic Association, two in three of us Brits have suffered serious neck or back pain by the time we hit 35, and what's worse, a survey Simplyhealth showed that 84% of 18-24 year olds admit to having suffered back pain in the last 12 months.

(The biggest culprits? Computers, tablets and smartphones. So, sit up straight - stretch, and now, if you can, go for a walk for a couple of minutes.)

Interesting Fact - Alcohol

According to a series of reports on adolescent health behaviour, published in the Lancet, British teenagers are among the worst in the world when it comes to drinking.

(One in five adolescents was found to binge drink on a weekly basis in the same high-income countries.

England ranked fourth out of 40 high-income countries for the number of 13-year-olds who had been drunk. Wales came fifth and Scotland was eighth.
Having lived in Scotland at the age of 21, I'm amazed they were only eighth.)

Interesting Fact - Death

According to a series of studies, published in the Lancet, more boys in the United States, age 15 to 19, are  likely to die a violent death than any other Western nation.
(The Western nations with the highest rates of violent death per 100,000 teens are:-
1. United States -- 17 2. Israel -- 4 3. Switzerland -- 4 4. Canada -- 3 5. Ireland -- 3 6. New Zealand -- 3 7. Estonia -- 2 8. Sweden -- 2 *United Kingdom -- 1)

Interesting People - Ed Milliband

According to his press office, in his main speech at the Labour Party Conference in Britain, Ed Milliband, the leader of the Labour party, gave a 6,000 word speech, with no teleprompter, or notes.
(He repeated "Britain can do better" 17 times, so I don't think that counts.
I'm lucky if I can remember what day it is, kudos to him.)
If you're interested in how he did it, this article in the Independent attempt to figure it out.


25th September is World Pharmacist Day.

Wish your pharmacist a happy World Pharmacist Day.

Interesting Fact - Age

There are 191 drivers in the UK aged 100 and over.

(The oldest is a 107-year-old woman.

In Britain, you need to have an eye test just before your 70th birthday, but after turning 70, all you have to do is declare whether or not you are fit to drive, the self-declaration has to be filled in every 3 years, but it is not backed up by any formal medical or driving tests.

Some people are calling for a change in the law.  Recently an 84 year old woman died recently after colliding with several cars and then crashing into the central reservation whilst driving the wrong way on the A1 in Northumberland.

I'd happily see the old git in a Merc who drove into the side of our camper van in Portugal taken off the road (it is only a little bump, but he didn't even apologise even though we let him go without fussing), but that said, last year the Daily Mail reported on Arthur Whitaker, who at 100 years old had spent 85 years behind the wheel, and clocked up a staggering 2.5 million mile…

Interesting Fact - Social Media

According to a study by psychologist Ethan Kross from the University of Michigan, online social media is making us lonely, unhappy and unsociable.

(The main problem seems to be when people passively glimpse into other people's lives with their idealized pictures of holidays, work, meals and family - seem to result in a more negative perception of our own lives and social interactions.

So, I'm sorry if my recent holiday snaps made you feel miserable, and I'll admit I tend not to share the things that are less than rosey, but social media is like most things, it's all about how you use it.)

Here is an interesting video:-


Is Hobbit day.

Be proud of your hairy toes.

Interesting Food - Sugar

According to Fairtrade International, 135 million tonnes of sugar is produced every year.

(There are millions of sugar cane and sugar beet farms and plantations in 127 countries around the world.

The top 10 sugar producers by metric ton are:-

1. Brazil 37,133,000 Cane
2. India 28,800,000 Cane
3. China 12,341,000 Beet & Cane
4. Thailand 10,569,000 Cane
5. USA 7,655,000 Beet & Cane
6. Russia 5,413,000 Beet
7. Mexico 5,258,000 Cane
8. France 5,193,000 Beet
9. Germany 4,638,000 Beet
10. Pakistan 4,520,000 Beet & Cane



Interesting Word - Punch

The word punch, used to describe the traditional drink, originated from the Hindustani word panch which means 5.

(The recipe for punch was originally imported from India to England in the 17th century.  It is a cocktail that has to have 5 key ingredients: alcohol (often rum), lemon, sugar, water, and tea or spices.)


20th September is International Punch Day.

What it isn't:-

It is not about Punch and Judy.

It is not an excuse to punch someone.

What it is:-

It is a day to celebrate the traditional drink, punch.

Interesting Fact - Families

According to the parenting website Netmums, by the age of 32 we are turning into our parents.

(The pressures of career, buying a house and having children mean one day we suddenly realise we are echoing phrases or mannerisms that used to end in a good door slamming.  Six out of seven people who took part in the poll admitted that they had reason to fear they were already “turning into” their mother or father.

If you are in your twenties and think it can't happen to you - think again.)


19th September

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Ooh arr!

Interesting Words - Scrabble

Once a word gets into the Scrabble Dictionary, it never drops out.

(The only exception is for words mistakenly included.

For example "pH", which in the 1990s was taken out when someone realised it was an abbreviation.

According to the publisher, Collins "Scrabble players don't like to unlearn words."   I'm not sure if you can "unlearn" something.

BTW - I'm sure one of the words in this picture should be "bitten".)


18th September

Today is National Cheeseburger Day in the US.

I wonder when it's "National don't eat junk food day".

Interesting Animal - Jellyfish

Jellyfish use a neurotoxin to stun their prey.

(Although a jellyfish can kill a small aquatic animal, the sting of most jellyfish is not usually fatal to humans, but it can be very painful and cause skin rashes, fever and muscle cramps.

The venom of the box jellyfish, the deadliest of the species, has been found to contain 61 proteins and toxins, but, according to research, only two of the venom proteins, CfTX-1 and -2, have been formally identified.

I wonder if anyone has told them of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), someone should report them to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).)


Interesting Animals - Dogs

Dogs are loyal to anyone, or even anything, that feeds them.

(A new study, led by Gabriella Lakatos, has found that dogs will even bond with robots as long as they are holding a can opener.

So much for man's best friend! They'll be anyone's friend, as long as there's something in it for them. Hmmm - a bit like humans really.)

Sources: Daily Mail | Springer Publishing

Interesting Fact - Politics

According to analysis of the expenses claims of MPs in the UK, 25% of them have given jobs to relatives.

(Figures from the IPSA (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority) show that 155 MPs – nearly one in four – have wives, children and even parents on the public payroll.

Their relatives (aka “connected parties”) enjoy salaries as high as £50,000 for office duties.
This is the perfect opportunity for me to introduce a new bit of vocabulary:- nepotismnoun
the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. )

!Note There is an online map where people can look at how much their MP is costing them, which is nice, but most people don't even know about it.

Interesting Fact - Reading

According to a survey carried out by, only 33% of parents in the UK read their child a bedtime story.
(Some parents said that their children would much rather watch TV, play with toys or computer games, but 13 per cent blamed lack of time for not reading to them and 9 per cent said they were 'too stressed'.

I was read to regularly, and it was part of my bedtime routine, in fact three quarters of the parents surveyed said they were read to every night of the week as children.)

Interesting Fact - British Police

According to figures recently released by the Office for National Statistics, the use of Tasers by police in England and Wales has more than doubled; from 3,500 a year in 2009 to 7,250 in 2011.

(In around 25% of cases, the taser is used as a pain compliance weapon, where the cartridge is removed and used to inflict pain, a kind of stun gun.

In 2008 changes to the law allowed the weapons to be used by any police officer after just three days' training.

They probably think they're Jedi warriors.)

Interesting Fact - Money

Analysis of figures released by the Office for National Statistics shows that workers in the UK are £1,500 a year worse off than they were in 2010.

(Statistics show that the average annual increase for the whole of the last decade was just 1.3 per cent, the lowest figure since records began in 1948, creating a toxic combination of poor pay rises or pay freezes and rising household bills.

The main burden is on the young, as 16 and 17-year-olds have seen their pay slashed and are more likely to be paid less than the minimum wage.

John Willcock, head of financial services at the Post Office, said: 'It is a concern that we are becoming “Pay Day Britain”, just counting down to the next pay cheque.')

Interesting Fact - Shopping

According to a study carried out in Taiwan, shopping can help you live longer.

(The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that elderly people who shop every day have a lower risk of dying over a 10-year period than those who don't shop as often.

The study stated, "... compared to other types of leisure-time physical activity like formal exercise, which usually requires motivation and sometimes professional instruction, shopping activity is easier to undertake and maintain. ... Shopping captures several dimensions of personal well-being, health and security as well as contributing to the community’s cohesiveness and economy and may represent or actually confer increased longevity."

Time to shut down the laptop and grab the shopping bag.)


This one has to be for +april sis.  It's purely medicinal.  :)

Interesting Word - Zorro

Zorro is Spanish for Fox.

(The Sword of Fox!  It doesn't have the same ring, does it?

And let's face it slashing a Z with a sword is cooler than slashing an F.)

This one is for +Fernando Lestau  and   +João Crespo.  ;)

Interesting Fact - UK Flowers

Systematic recording of flowering times began in the UK in 1875 when the Royal Meteorological Society established a national network of observers.

(The result of all this studying is that scientists now say British plants are flowering earlier than at any time in the last 250 years. Of course there was no sign of that this year, even the host of golden daffodils was late.)

Interesting Fact - Monopoly

Monopoly is the world's best selling board game.

(It is sold in 103 different countries, in 37 different languages.

I wonder how many divorces it has caused.)

Interesting Fact - Transport

According to National Rail statistics, nearly 33.3% of Britain's trains are late.

(Virgin trains were the worst culprits, with only 47% of their trains on the West Coast Mainline arriving on time.  The best performers were Chiltern Railways with 87.5 per cent and London Overground with 86.2 per cent.)

Interesting Fact - Time

Under new guidelines a train is considered "late" if it arrives more than 59 seconds behind time.

(In the past, long-distance trains on British rail network were only considered to be late if they were 10 minutes behind time.

So, how late is late?)

Interesting Place - London

Reflected light cast by a building in London is allegedly so intense that it has melted parked cars.

(According to City AM newspaper, the 37-storey tower known as the Walkie Talkie in the financial district, casts a beam of light at certain times of day that has melted parts of cars. It was designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly, Mr Vinoly probably thought the sun never shines in the UK.)

Interesting Fact - Education

In Finland children do not have to undergo any formal tests and teachers are allowed to teach whatever and however they wish as long as they meet very general learning objectives set by Finland’s National Board of Education.

(The only formal, national test is the university matriculation exam: a set of four open-ended exams that are based on problem-solving skills rather than subject mastery.

Although most students who go on to university take this exam, it is not required for graduation from upper secondary school or even for university admissions

Imagine that!  No fear, just learning.)

Interesting Fact - Money

A survey carried out by UK retailer John Lewis shows that parents have to spend around £550 to equip their child to go back to school.

(The reason is that on top of the usual expenses, such as clothing, sports equipment, bags, books, stationery and lunch boxes, gadgets are making their way into the satchel.  One of the main differences between today’s school bag and those in my day is the inclusion of electronic gadgets, with almost half of all secondary school children taking a smart phone to lessons and around 35 per cent carrying headphones. Nearly a fifth of kids take an MP3 player into school, 5 per cent take a tablet and 2 per cent an ereader.
The saddest thing is thought that schools still don't utilise these items with their lessons, teachers even have the right to search for and confiscate mobile phones in school.)

Interesting Words - Mx

Brighton and Hove City Councils plan to introduce the title ‘Mx’ on their forms.

(Mx will be used as a gender neutral title for transsexuals.

The x acts as a wild card, taking the usual title format of Mr and Ms and putting in an x to remove the gender in the title.  I don't see why it should only be used for transsexuals though, it seems thoroughly sensible to me.

I can't wait!  Hello my name is Mx Hand.)