Showing posts from December, 2013

Interesting Place - France

If you are arrested in France, make sure the police address you as "vous" and not "tu".

(As of first January 2014 the police in France will have to use the formal "vous" when addressing members of the public.

I'm not sure you can legislate etiquette during an arrest.  What do you think +Xeb eke / +Elinor Minotaur ?)

Interesting Fact - Swearing

Davina Wakelin, headmistress at Meeching Valley Primary School in Newhaven, East Sussex, has sent a letter to all parents about swearing.

(She wasn't so much complaining about the children swearing, she was asking the parents to stop swearing around their children, especially on and around school premises, after pupils had been caught repeating swear words that they had heard their and other parents using.

She wrote:

I have received complaints regarding parents swearing when bringing children to and from school.

Swearing is not permitted on school grounds and I ask all parents to think about the language you use when on school grounds. Thank you for your consideration with this matter.

Tell them to wash their mouths out with soap, and stick them on the naughty step.

Interesting Fact - Lying and Cheating

According to a study published by the Center for Ethics, Harvard University, in the USA, we are more likely to lie and cheat in the afternoon.

(The study, called The Morning Morality Effect - The Influence of Time of Day on Unethical Behavior, found that if we’re usually ethical to begin with, our ethics slip a bit in the afternoon, but people who tend to cheat regularly were just as likely to do so in the morning as in the afternoon.

Interesting Fact - Vocabulary

New research shows that early language development isn’t so much about the number of words as the style of speech and social context in which speech occurs.

(Patricia Kuhl, co-author and co-director of UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences said, “It’s not just talk, talk, talk at the child.  It’s more important to work toward interaction and engagement around language. You want to engage the infant and get the baby to babble back. The more you get that serve and volley going, the more language advances.”

I kind of do this with my students, without the goo goo ga ga, although I did offer that service to a recent visitor who said he wanted to learn like a baby. LOL)

Interesting Words - Hyphenation

The sixth edition of the Oxford English Dictionary has removed the hyphen from around 16,000 words.

(Some hyphenated words are now one, e.g. pigeon-hole is now pigeonhole and leap-frog is leapfrog.

In other cases the hyphen has been removed to form two words instead of one. Pot-belly shall henceforth be pot belly.)

Interesting Fact - Christmas Fact - 3 Wise Men

In every nativity play, there are three wise men, who pay homage to the little baby Jesus, but the Bible never gave a number.

(Matthew's Gospel only refers to "wise men".

So, more than one.)

Interesting Fact - Christmas Fact - Health and Safety

Due to health and safety issues at a church putting on a nativity play in Neath, south Wales, has  meant that the child playing Mary will have to wear a hard hat when she saddles up for the donkey ride to Bethlehem.

(Luckily she will be able to hide the head gear under her shawl.

My favourite headline for this story, comes from the Metro - Yule never believe it!)

Interesting Fact - Fear

According to researchers at the Emory School of Medicine in Georgia, fear can be transmitted from a father to his offspring through his sperm.

(They have shown that if mice are taught to fear a certain smell this triggers chemical changes in their sperm.These changes then alter the makeup of their children and grandchildren's brains, causing them to fear the same smell.

This could explain my fear of flying, and is bound to open up the whole nature vs nurture debate again.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to a study run by, 79% of office workers in the UK waste 4 hours and 22 minutes every day.

(On average respondents believed that they actually did 2 hours and 53 minutes of productive work.

The favourite pastimes that eat up "productive" time were:-

1.       Checking social media – 47% 2.       Reading news websites – 45% 3.       Discussing out of work activities with colleagues – 38% 4.       Making hot drinks – 31% 5.       Smoking breaks – 28% 6.       Texting /instant messaging – 27% 7.       Eating snacks – 25% 8.       Making food in office – 24% 9.       Making calls to partner/ friends- 24% 10.   Searching for new jobs – 19% Average time spent on each distraction: 1.       Checking social media – 44 minutes 2.       Reading news websites – 1 hour 5 minutes 3.       Discussing out of work activities with colleagues – 40 minutes 4.       Making hot drinks – 17 minutes 5.       Smoking breaks – 23 minutes 6.       Text/instant messaging – 14 mi…

Interesting Fact - Accents

According to the executive communications consultancy, the Aziz Corporation, you are better off having a "foreign" accent, than a regional British one.

(According to UK business leaders, strong regional and "working class" accents can hold people back in their careers, as can "posh" accents. The best accent for a Brit to have is a "neutral one".

The worst English accents to have were Scouse, Brummie, Cockney, Geordie and the West Country.
If you want to get ahead in business and don't speak the Queen's English, it is better to sound as if you are from America, Europe, India or indeed Scotland than from any English region.
Khalid Aziz, The Aziz Corporation )

Interesting Fact - Accents

A teacher in a Berkshire school was told by Ofsted inspectors to ditch her Northern accent and speak with a more southern one.

(The teacher, from Cumbria, has been set this by her school as one of her "targets" to improve performance.

Luckily they don't have a leg to stand on if they attempt to enforce this, but it is part of a worrying trend: A school in the Black Country, gave its pupils a list of ten banned regional phrases which, it said, could damage their prospects. These included "ya cor" meaning "you can't" and "ay?" instead of "pardon".

The headteacher said: "It is about getting them ready for job interviews."

They shouldn't want to work for companies that require poncy accents.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to an international study conducted by job seeker website Monster, 1 in 10 workers love their job so much, they would do it for nothing.

(In the same survey, 1 in 8 low-paid workers said they loved their job, compared with only 9% of high earners.

The thing is, they "say" they would work for nothing, but I'm not sure they really would.  If they'd asked me, I would have been able to answer truthfully, because I love my job so much that I do work for nothing.)

Interesting Animal - Clams

The worlds oldest living animal, which lived to be 507 years old, was a clam.

(He was called Ming.

Now, why is this all in the past tense?

Because, during a research expedition in 2006, marine scientists collected live specimens from the Icelandic shelf, and when they were frozen on board to take them home, they all died.

They didn't find out how old Ming was until they were back in the lab and looked at its shell under a microscope.

In the year Ming was born, Leonardo da Vinci was at work on the "Mona Lisa," the first recorded epidemic of smallpox hit the New World, and the Ming dynasty ruled China (hence the name). Ming was 52 years old when Queen Elizabeth I took the throne.)

Interesting Fact - Politics

According to several newspaper reports and blog sites, the Tory party in the UK has deleted all the promises made before the election.

(In what must have bee a frenzy of clicking "Del" all pre-election pledges have been removed from their website: Every article, speech and press release.

And if you want to hear something even more sinister, they are using a “robot blocker” to ensure the documents are hidden from search engines and removed from the ‘Internet Archive’ an online library that aims to build up a permanent record of web content.

A Conservative spokesman said: "We're making sure our website keeps the Conservative Party at the forefront of political campaigning. These changes allow people to quickly and easily access the most important information we provide..." Nice to see how they regard their promises.

They went on to say that they are simply making it easier for people to “quickly and easily” access information on the site, but obviously only the i…

Interesting Fact - Money

The world's most expensive diamond (to date) was sold at Sotheby's in Geneva, for ... wait for it - £52m.

(The Pink Star, which would look good on any Barbie doll, is supposedly the largest internally flawless fancy pink vivid diamond (measuring 2.69cm x 2.06cm) that the Gemmological Institute of American has ever graded.

Estimated to sell for at least £38 million, the diamond attracted four bidders and finally sold for $83,187,381 (£52, 024,735.83), which is a world auction record for a diamond and any gemstone or jewel.

You can watch the insanity here:-


Interesting Food - Chocolate

The market price of cocoa beans has risen by 63% in the last two years.

(The problem is that according to trade magazine Kennedy’s Confection, diminishing cocoa supplies could threaten the future of chocolate. 

Because cocoa butter and cocoa are the most expensive ingredients in the chocolate we eat, it is increasing being replaced with cheaper ingredients like vegetable fat, sugar, raisins and nougat.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you'd better stock up now.)

Interesting Christmas Fact - Christmas Music

British pop group Slade earn £500,000.00 in royalties every year from their festive hit "Merry Xmas Everybody".

(The top Christmas earners for 2013 were approximately:-

Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody - £512,000
The Pogues - Fairytale of New York - £386,270
Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas - £347,615
Wham - Last Christmas - £301,620
Cliff Richard - Mistletoe & Wine - £98,400
Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas? - £78,030
Shakin Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone - £53,834
The Pretenders - 2000 Miles - £45,344
East 17 - Stay Another Day - £30,220
Jona Lewie - Stop The Cavalry - £13,260

I need a Christmas number 1!)

Interesting Fact - Shopping

British supermarket chain Tesco has announced it will introduce a “one date” system to stop customer confusion between display dates and use-by dates.

(The confusion arises because shoppers often throw out items based on their sell-by or display date, but this date is only used by the sellers for stock control, and doesn't actually mean the product is unfit for consumption. 

The expiration date, or use by date is the one that relates to food safety.  For food items, maybe it should be called an "eat by" date.)

Interesting Christmas Fact - World Records

A record-breaking stollen that weighed in at over 4,000 kilograms was created to celebrate the opening of Dresden's Christmas market.

(If you want to make your own you will need approximately:-Stollen (rounded figures):

1,500 kilos flour
990 kilos seedless raisins (sultanas)
790 kilos butter
455 kilos sugar
200 kilos candied lemon peel
150 kilos almonds (sweet)
110 kilos icing sugar
95 kilos yeast
55 kilos almonds (bitter)
45 kilos lemon peels
44 kilos Jamaica rum
44 kilos powdered milk
30 kilos salt
5 kilos spices)

Interesting Fact - The cosmological horizon

According to a team of physicists we now have the “clearest evidence yet” that our universe is a hologram.

(According to an article in Nature, the conflict as to why Albert Einstein's theory of gravity clashes with quantum physics, could be solved if the Universe were a holographic projection. The theory is that the three dimensions we perceive are actually just “painted” onto the cosmological horizon - the boundary of the known universe.

I really struggled with the title for this one!)


Interesting People - Thamsanqa Jantjie

Thamsanqa Jantjie, a sign language interpreter in South Africa has been branded a fraud by members of South Africa's deaf community.

(Around the world deaf people started tweeting about what the man was doing, with Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, the first deaf woman to be elected to the South African parliament tweeting: "ANC-linked interpreter on the stage with dep president of ANC is signing rubbish. He cannot sign. Please get him off." And others said it amounted to little more than "flapping his arms around."

What a shame that this happened during a memorial ceremony for a great man.

!Update - He now says he suffers from schizophrenia and was suffering an episode during the speech making.)

Interesting Christmas Fact - Christmas Borrowing

According to figures released by the Circle Housing organisation, about 7 million people in the UK are expected to take out a loan to cover the crippling cost of Christmas.

(It gets worse; according to the Money Advice Service, one million Brits will use a payday loan to cover the cost of Christmas while a third of adults will use credit cards.  Two of the most expensive ways of borrowing money.
In 2012 Brits spent an average of £1,000 per household on Christmas and some of them haven't paid that back yet.

The harsh reality is, if you can't afford to buy something without paying with credit, don't buy it.  If you are feeling pressured into buying presents you can't afford, be honest and tell people, including your children, you simply can't afford it. They will be more understanding than you think, and you can offer to start a fund to buy their "must have" item later when you have enough to buy it with hard cash.  If you have to have something to wrap, mak…

Interesting Word - BYOD

This is more an interesting abbreviation, but I hope you will forgive me.  BYO is an abbreviation that's been in use for some time, usually seen in restaurants, it stands for 'Bring Your Own', and it usually applies to wine or alcoholic drinks. BYOD means Bring Your Own Device.

(Seemingly more and more companies are asking employees to provide their own electronic devices, at their own cost. This means employees have the freedom to use a device that they prefer over one issued by their employer and employers don't carry the burden of providing computers, smart phones and other mobile devices.

Of course I have no choice but to BMOD.)

Interesting Place - Solihull

Now that's not something you see every day - Solihull is interesting, but it is at the moment, as it has been voted by, as Britain's best place to live.

(Solihull's motto is "urbs in rure" (town in the country), and Almost 70 per cent of the borough is designated as green belt land, but it's main claims to fame are that it has Felicity Kendal and a branch of John Lewis.

Frankly it's nice to see somewhere in the Midlands, Solihull is between Birmingham and Coventry, getting a look in on one of these "best of lists", so rock on Solihull.)

Interesting Fact - Families

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, in the UK, the number of women who don't have children has almost doubled over the past 30 years.

(The most common family size in Britain is two children, but nearly one in five of women who had reached the end of their child-bearing years last year had no children, compared with just over one in ten of their mothers.

On average a woman born in 1940 had 2.36 children, while her daughter’s generation had 1.91.

No jokes about .36 and .19 of a child please.  That's just the joy of averages.)

Interesting Christmas Fact - The origins of Santa Claus

Thanks to Oana for sharing this video with us.

Today is Saint Nicholas Day, but unlike Christmas, it's not something we celebrate much in the UK.

The video is full of interesting facts of the origin of St Nicholas, who is the forerunner of Santa Claus. If there's a part you don't understand, post a question here, with the time it appears in the video, and we'll see if we can help you out.

Interesting Fact - Smoking

According to research from Cancer Research and the Imperial College London, an estimated 463 children, some as young as 11, start smoking every day in England, 50 in Scotland, 30 in Wales and 19 in Northern Ireland.

(That means around 600 children in the UK begin smoking every day.

Between 2010 and 2011 there were 50,000 more child smokers than the previous the year, making a total of 207,000.

It's so sad, because no matter what I say, it won't change.  Kids think it makes them look adult, but it just makes them smell bad.)

Interesting Fact - Wages

The latest government figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show that on average British wage-earners have taken a £5,000 pay cut over the last five years.
(Wages and salaries for the middle fifth of non-retired households fell from £33,100 in 2007-08 to £28,300 in 2011-12. Over the same period original income, which is the income households get from employment and investments, fell from £37,900 to £32,600, while cash benefits rose from £3,100 to £4,600.

We can't blame the recession either, as the figures show that the decline predates the big slump.
How does that song go?  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. )

Interesting Fact - Christmas - Christmas Fact

Ladbrokes is offering odds of 2,000:1 for a zombie apocalypse to happen on Christmas Day.

(This means that they think a zombie apocalypse is more likely than Crystal Palace winning the Barclays Premier League this season (5,000:1).

Poor old Crystal Palace.)

Interesting Fact - Mental Health

The Word Health Organisation (WHO) only removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1993.

Interesting Fact - Money

On average, 70% of young sports stars will go broke within 3 years of retiring.
(In the USA 78 percent of NFL players face bankruptcy or serious financial stress within just two years of leaving the game and 60 percent of NBA players face the same dire results in five years.
Mike Tyson the former heavyweight boxer earned an estimated $400 million filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

Gold-medal winning figure skater Dorothy Hamill declared bankruptcy in 1994.

Even Swedish tennis star Bjorn Borg filed for bankruptcy in 1989.

And our own George Best, whose appetite for spending led to his financial downfall. "I spent a lot of money on booze, women, and fast cars. The rest I just squandered," he said.)