Showing posts from November, 2013

Interesting Fact - Art

The estimated value of art owned by councils across the UK is £4 billion.

(For example; A Lowry painting that Derby museum bought for £42 is now worth an estimated £1m.  Of course they are now under pressure to sell it.)

Interesting Word - Dyslexia

Dyslexia was originally used to describe someone who had lost the ability to read following a head injury.

(It comes from the German word dyslexie, which was made up from Greek dys- "bad, abnormal, difficult" + lexis "word".  Nowadays this type of dyslexia is called deep dyslexia or trauma dyslexia.

Someone with dyslexia might have the following issues:- Seeing some letters as backwards or upside down.Seeing text appearing to jump around on a page.The inability to tell the difference between letters and numbers that look similar in shape, such as lower case letters (q and p) & (d and b), and numbers (10 & 01). The numbers (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 9) could be confusing while (8 & 0) would not be, due to being distinctive in shape. Similarly, distinctive lower case letters (i, m, o, v, & w) and upper case (A, H, I, M, O, T, U, V, W, X, & Y) are typical in shape and therefore not as likely to be confusing.The inability to tell the difference between…

Interesting Fact - The Weekend

According to a survey carried out by, Brits spend nearly nine hours every weekend in front of a TV or computer screen.

(34% of Brits admitted to spending their weekend watching TV,  27% catching up on sleep, cleaning the house (11%), doing ‘life’ admin (8%), getting drunk (5%).

I do all of the above from time to time.)

Interesting Fact - Lies

According to a study carried out by around 2.5 million Brits waste their weekends then lie about what they did.

(People will regularly lie about their weekends to make them sound more interesting, and the main culprit for all these porky pies is social networking.

So, the next time you read someone's update on Facebook or Twitter, take it with a pinch of salt.)

Interesting Place - Heathrow

How many Heathrow workers does it take to change a light-bulb?

(The answer is - none, because since opening in 2008, not a single bulb has been replaced in terminal 5's departure lounge at Heathrow.

In some areas up to 60 per cent of the lights have blown, but they haven't been replaced because there is no safe way to reach them.

The people who designed the terminal, which cost £4.5billion, appear to have overlooked basic maintenance, light-bulbs need to be changed, and some of them are positioned 120ft above the ground. I would have thought pulleys and lifts would have been on the specs, but seemingly not.

They have tried cherry-pickers and hydraulic boom lifts to replace the downlighters, but none were deemed to be practical or safe enough, and now, a team of specialist wire walkers has been given the job of stopping the lights from going out completely.

It will take four months and cost millions of pounds.

I wonder if they will play circus music whilst they are doing it.)

Interesting Fact - Law

Clare's Law is aimed at protecting women (and men) from violent abuse by their partners.

(The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme means that police can disclose previous convictions for violence, even if a person has not requested it.

It is called Clare's Law after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.  It was revealed after his trial that he had a horrific history of violence against women. Miss Woods’ father Michael Brown campaigned for a change in the law.)

!Note - According to The Wright Stuff, 400 people investigated a partner during the pilot scheme.


Today Clare's Law will start to be rolled out across the UK.

(To find out more about what Clare's Law is, read the fact for today.)

Interesting Fact - Money

The BBC paid out £60m in severance payments in eight years.

(This bonanza included £1m to former deputy director general Mark Byford and £486,500 to George Entwistle, who quit as director general at the height of the Jimmy Savile scandal, after just 54 days in the job.

I know people are sometimes surprised when I am less than enthusiastic about the institution that we call the British Broadcasting Corporation, but this kind of "snouts in the trough"* culture is one reason.)

*Not my words - Graham Norton's - He actually works for them and earned around £2.6m in the year to the end of July 2012 . :)

Interesting Food - Coffee

A regular sized cup of coffee (about 5oz) can contain anything from 65 to 125 mg of caffeine. It all depends on the type of coffee and how it's been made: On average there is 110-150mg for filter coffee, 65-125mg for percolated, and 40-80 mg for instant. Typically an 8 oz cup of Starbucks coffee contains165 milligrams of caffeine.

(I looked into this following yesterday's IF, and the amount of caffeine in energy drinks also varies. They can contain between 70 and 200 mg. A Dr. Pepper gives you 61mg, and a can of Coke provides 50mg, but according to Web MD, a full can of 150mg Rockstar energy shot contains a massive 229 mg!

That's not a drink, that's medicine.)

Interesting Food - Energy Drinks

The supermarket chain Morrisons has banned under-16s from buying caffeine-infused energy drinks.

(The ban will only apply to drinks like Red Bull, that contain at least 150mg of caffeine per litre and has been introduced amid health fears about extreme caffeine intake by children, and staff have been instructed to challenge any customers who look under 25.)

Interesting Fact - Popularity

According to a poll conducted by Populsus, even banks are more popular than the 'big six' energy giants in the UK.

(Only the tobacco industry, and payday loan firms were less popular.

Supermarkets were the most positively viewed companies with a "Like" rating of 58.6.

They can't have included chocolate manufacturers in the list!)

Interesting Fact - The NHS

The NHS (National Health Service) in the UK, received more than 162,000 complaints about care in 2012/13 – around 3,000 every week.
(A recent (2013) report into the NHS and its handling of complaints recommended that all NHS patients should have a pen and paper by their hospital bed for writing down complaints.
I would have thought having a nurse, interested in their well-being, near their hospital bed would be more useful.)

Interesting Fact - Shopping Bags

According to Professor Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, 'bags-for-life' should never be used to carry raw meat or vegetables with soil on them.

(He says bacteria can be transferred from the meat to the bag and then onto other products which are eaten raw - such as fruit - causing food poisoning, and raw meat should be carried in plastic bags which are then binned.

In a study by University of Pennsylvania it was found that since San Francisco banned the use of plastic bags in 2007, hospitalisations and deaths from food-borne illnesses have nearly doubled. Penn Law professor, Jonathan Klick, found that eight per cent of reusable shopping bags contain E.coli and that 97 per cent of people admit to never washing their reusable bags.
Even more scary is that they claim that washing the bags or cleaning them with antibacterial sprays is not sufficient.  This makes me feel a bit sad, because I hate plastic bags, I regularly wash my canvas bags,…

Interesting Fact - Music

The British navy is using Britney Spears' music to scare off Somali pirates.

(According to news reports, Britney's hits, including Oops! I Did It Again and Baby One More Time, are being employed in an attempt to scare off pirates along the east coast of Africa. One naval officer is reported as having said:-
"Her songs were chosen by the security team because they thought the pirates would hate them most. These guys can't stand western culture or music." But my favourite quote comes from Steven Jones, of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry:
"Pirates will go to any lengths to avoid or try to overcome the music. I’d imagine using Justin Bieber would be against the Geneva Convention." Perhaps nothing else – not machine guns, not big, beefy security personnel – is quite as intimidating as the sound of Ms Spears singing "Ooh baby baby".  What would scare you away?)

Sources: Daily Mail | The Guardian

Interesting People - Scott Moyse

18-year-old Scott Moyse spotted Thorntons Chocolate incorrectly priced at one pence a piece on its website.

(A couple of days later 400 boxes of chocolate arrived at his house. So, what did he do with them? He dressed up as a chicken and took to the streets of Horsham with a colourful sign declaring ‘FREE CHOCOLATE’ handed them out to passers by.

Unfortunately the video is blocked here, but you might be able to see it.

Interesting Food - Biscuits

According to a survey of business people in the UK, 2 biscuits is the polite quantity to eat.

(Any more could be considered greedy.  Oh dear, it sounds like a calorie counter worked on this one.

Update: A recent Times report placed this biscuit etiquette (or biscuiquette) at 2 and a half biscuits, but IMHO leaving half a biscuit would be rude and wasteful.  Maybe if there are 5 biscuits and 2 people, then maybe you can cut the spare bikky in half.)

Interesting Food - Wine

According to experts at the London Wine Academy, Britons prefer cheaper wine.

(In blind tests where tasters tried two wines, each from the same grape variety but at different prices, 8 out of 10 people preferred a bottle of wine costing £4.99 to a bottle that cost £19.99, and 6 people in 10 thought the £4.99 version was the more expensive of the two.

The academy said that an amateur’s perception of a good wine is based on the notion of ‘smoothness’, and cheaper wines from warm climates have lower acidity, a simpler flavour, and higher alcohol content.

Aha! I think the last point explains much.)

Interesting Fact - Crying

According to a survey carried out by Cosmopolitan and 75% of women cry at least once a month, and almost 5% of men said that real men never cry.

(The same survey showed that 33% of women cry at least once a week. Around 39% of men felt that crying should only be in response to tragedies, like the death of a loved one, while 27% said it's okay for a man to get emotional at any time. The remaining 29% say it's okay to for a guy to cry whenever, so long as it's not publicly.

Interestingly, 99% of women believe that real men cry. So, don't worry about it guys, it doesn't make you any less of a man in our eyes.)

Interesting Place - London

The centre of London is located at Charing Cross, Westminster.

(Whenever the distance to and from somewhere in London is measured, Charing Cross is the point it's measured from.

It's not because it can be measured as the centre of London, but because on her death in 1290, King Edward I had crosses erected across England as a memorial to his beloved wife Queen Eleanor. The original crosses were in Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Hardingstone, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St. Albans, Waltham, Cheapside (West Cheap), and the last one was at Charing Cross.

Only three of the original crosses remain at Geddington, Hardingstone and Waltham. The cross outside Charing Cross Station is a replica made in 1863.
An illustration of the construction of the cross:-
This file is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Interesting People - Craig Cobb (We need a new Daft People section)

White supremacist Craig Cobb has achieved national notoriety in the USA, by attempting to turn Leith, North Dakota into an all-white enclave.

(The town of Leith has even gone so far as to create its own national socialist hunting flag, complete with stag horns and only a small “discreet” swastika.  If they tried that in Germany, they'd be arrested.

However, what makes this story so much fun is, according to the Telegraph, Mr Cobb may now be unable to meet the racial purity benchmark he set to settle in his own town after the tests showed he was 14 per cent sub-Saharan African.  His interview on the Trisha Show is a must see (normally I'm not a fan of daytime TV, but this one is priceless).

DNA tests are so cool. If you don't believe me, read this:

BTW - You will hear him spout the old "Oil and water don't mix" phrase.  However:-…

Interesting Fact - Money

Well rip off Britain gets even worse on the disclosure that people in the UK spent around £56 million calling government helplines.

(According to investigations by the Public Accounts Committee, people in the UK are being charged premium rate to access certain government departments.  They also take too long to answer. Most departments have no targets, despite an industry standard that calls be answered within 20 seconds, but of course there's no real incentive to answer quickly, as the longer they can keep you on hold, the more money they make.

Of the 208 million calls made in 2012/13, some 63% were made to higher rate numbers at an estimated total cost of £56 million.  These included calls to the Department for Work and Pensions, the inquiries and complaints line of the Student Loans Company, and sickeningly to helplines for victim support and the Bereavement Service.

It's like something out of Despicable Me.)

Interesting Food - Pumpkin

Artist, Dmitri Galitzine, who works with outsized vegetables, has claimed the fastest 100 metres paddled in a pumpkin record.

(The record now stands at 2 min 0.3 sec, should you wish to beat it.)


Interesting Fact - Arguing

According to a survey carried out by Esure home insurance, couples in the UK bicker and argue around 2,455 times a year. That's equal to almost seven times a day.

(The most likely topics for conflict were: over-spending, money in general, laziness, snoring, and even what to eat for dinner.

So if you are married to a profligate, lazy, snoring glutton, you are doomed.)

Interesting Place - Wales

An advert filmed to promote a Welsh University was filmed in England.

(The ad was supposed to show the actor Ioan Gruffudd, walking across the Brecon Beacons, but the location had to be changed to the Mendip Hills because of - rain.

Interesting Fact - Meals

According to research carried out by WRAP (the UK's Waste and Resources Action Programme ), the average UK household throws away enough food to make 6 meals every week

(The waste costs almost £60 a month per family, but, according to farming UK if you add it all together it's worth a whopping £12.5 billion a year. 

The top three foods that we are throwing away uneaten are those every day essentials: bread, potatoes and milk. The equivalent of 24 million slices of bread, 5.8 million potatoes and 5.9 million glasses of milk are wasted daily.)



7th November 2013  (Celebrated on the first Thursday of November.)

National men make dinner day.

The most important rule is women aren't allowed to interfere, just let him get on with the cooking.

Interesting Fact - Education

According to a story in the Daily Star, there are 32 students living in one house in Plymouth. The house started life as four separate terraced houses, which were knocked through into one complex of rooms.

(The house comprises of, 32 bedrooms; 22 toilets; two living rooms; three kitchens; one utility room; seven showers (four of which contain twin showers); one bath; a pool table; a dart board; four washing machines; five fridges; five freezers; and four ovens.

They get through 40 loo rolls; 20 bin bags of rubbish; 100 tins of baked beans; 20 large bags of pasta; 500 cans of beer; 150 cans of cider; 50 Pot Noodles; 150 takeaways.

And each week they collectively spend their time in the following activities:

320 hours at lectures; 311 hours partying at nightclubs; 1,300 hours watching TV; 900 hours playing PlayStation; 224 hours playing pool.

According to The Wright Stuff, by the time they graduate they will owe over 1 million in student fees.

Of course, that's always assuming they gr…

Interesting People - Albert Mehrabian

Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA, came up with the 7%-38%-55% rule.

(His premise is that when it comes to "liking" someone,  words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55%, this is abbreviated as the "3 Vs" for Verbal, Vocal & Visual.

Unfortunately people often use his research to say that communication is only 7% verbal.  Which of course is nonsense.

On his website, Mehrabian clearly states:
"Total Liking = 7% Verbal Liking + 38% Vocal Liking + 55% Facial Liking. Please note that this and other equations regarding relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages were derived from experiments dealing with communications of feelings and attitudes (i.e., like–dislike). Unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes, these equations are not applicable. Also see references 286 and 305 in Silent Messages – these are the original sources of my findings."[2]

Interesting Words - Scrabble

The final board of the 2013 British Scrabble championships contained words that don't appear in the Oxford English Dictionary.

(But don't worry, there was no cheating going on, as they did appear in the official Scrabble dicationary.

The 12 most obscure words on the final board were:-

Aecia: A fruiting body of a rust fungus
Coniines: Alkaloid that makes up the poisonous part of hemlock
Vela: Plural of velum, a glass screen
Zeds: Plural word for the letter Z
Khis: Plural of khi, a letter in the Greek alphabet
Fy: To digest
Enew: (Hawk) Falconry term for driving a bird into the water
Qat: variant spelling of khat, a plant whose leaves are chewed as a stimulant
Litu: Plural of Litas, a former silver coin and monetary unit of Lithuania
Atigi: Parka worn by the Inuits in northern Canada
Bandura: Ukrainian lute
Swarf: A swoon; grit abraded from an axle

Now work out how many points they scored.)

Interesting Animal - The Octopus

Octopuses have three hearts. Two branchial hearts pump blood through each of the two gills, while the third is a systemic heart that pumps blood through the body.
(Octopus blood contains the copper-rich protein heamocyanin for transporting oxygen. Although less efficient under normal conditions than the iron-rich haemoglobin we have, in cold conditions with low oxygen pressure, heamocyanin oxygen transportation is more efficient than heamoglobin oxygen transportation. The heamocyanin is dissolved in the plasma instead of being carried within red blood cells, and gives the blood a bluish color, which of course we had to call "ink".
Yet another reason not to eat these remarkable marine animals:  The main reason being they can juggle.)

Interesting People - Carlos Burle

Brazilian surfer Carlos Burle is believed to have surfed a 100ft wave.

(He took on the monster wave - created by the St Jude storm - at Praia do Norte in Portugal.

The current Guinness World Record holder, Garret McNamara from Hawaii surfed a 78ft wave at the very same spot in Nazare in Nov. 1 2011.  Footage of Mr Burle's amazing ride will be analyzed by the Guinness World Records team, you can view it on YouTube:



2nd November the world beard and moustache championships take place in Germany. It will be conducted according to the Rules and Regulations of the Association of German Beards Clubs.

Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Interesting Fact - Being Good

According to a study by Pru Health, three quarters of Brits try to be 'good' most of the time.

(57% do so simply because they believe it’s the right thing to do 49% do it for their own sense of wellbeing and one in five (20%) believes in karma and that what goes around comes around.

However, remembering one's 'Ps and Qs' and being friendly are the good deeds Brits do most regularly, as well as simple things like holding open a door for someone (70%) and being helpful to others (67%).
Being helpful can be a "good deed", but the rest is just good manners.)