I’m writing to you on this historic day, as Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th US President.
It’s historic of course because Mr Obama happens to be black, and so today marks the (hopeful) end of the quite ludicrous racial prejudices which have plagued the country for years. Quite how the melanin content of someone’s skin should be such an issue is beyond me, but anyway, it’s happened, it’s fantastic and a grandoise backdrop of Washington celebrations and a new, hopeful America dawns on my TV as I blog away on my little laptop in frosty London
So, Jan 20th, already.. WTF!? time flies huh.
I thought instead of my usual rambling words, I’d share a few interesting ‘pub quiz’ facts I’ve found out in these first 20 days of 2009 ..
1. Cellphones are not likely to be unsafe in flight
Airplane cockpits have apparently been shielded from electromagnetic interferance since the 1960s. Huh?
The main reason mobile phone calls are not permitted on planes is that when your phone looks for a signal at 30,000 feet it can hit hundreds of aerial towers at once, which causes technical hassles for the mobile operators, in that simply put, they’re not sure how to bill you for the call. No mystery there then.
2. The gas in an average flat screen TV is 17,000 times more Global Warming than CFCs
Irony in action if, like me, you’ve sat in front of one of these things and watched ‘Planet Earth’ for hours on end.
Nitrogen trifluoride (or NF3) is a greenhouse gas just like CFC, though it’s much much more destructive. It just happens to be not covered in the Kyoto agreement and therefore legal. Flat screens are so popular, emissions of NF3 are almost doubling yearly. We all value this meaningless crap over our planet, it makes me sad. I listen to (now) President Obama’s inspiring speech, and hope he, America, myself and the Western world can indeed change in the ways he expresses so well.
3. The printing press was pioneered by the Catholic Church
Yes, we all know their big fairytale was quite the blockbuster, but in fact even this was not what got the printing press off the ground. Fact is in 1455 only a handful of people could read, so replicating a book would have been pretty pointless (even by religion’s standards).
No, what they needed (at the time) was money. So rather entrepreneurially they decided to make some. Not in terms of printing bills (that would of course be pure fraud, which a religious institution would never be guilty of), no just mere exploitation, printing small handwritten notes they called “Indulgences”.
These notes would ‘forgive’ the bearer of a particular ‘sin’ and literally buy their way out of Purgatory (a kind of middle hell).. Anyway, these became extremely popular across Europe, so popular in fact that the old method of handwriting them was soon overtaken by printing, and so the newly invented printing press boomed!
4. Leave the lights on!
I was taught as a child not to be wasteful, and in these economic and environmentally aware times, I have been doubly aware of the simple act of turning off the lights when I leave a room. Turns out I’ve been wrong. The new type of lightbulb uses most of it’s energy on ‘bootup’ and therefore turning it off and on all day makes it highly inefficient!
So now, if you’re leaving a room but plan to come back (within a few hours anyway, not like, ever) leave the light on!
5. Mouthwash was originally a floor cleaner
Listerine, the original mouthwash was invented in the 1800s as a surgical antiseptic. It was later sold as a floor cleaner, but it wasn’t very popular.
So, in quite a brilliant piece of PR spin, in the 1920s they decided to abandon the cleaning racket and market it as a new product instead – a “mouth-wash”. Later, the brilliant advertiser involved said, “we didn’t so much invent mouthwash, as invent halitosis“. Shame no-one told my science teacher to drink the floor cleaner instead of endless cups of foul coffee (urgh, can still remember the stench).
Well, no doubt I’ve bored you enough. Back to America, check out this wicked 17 gigabyte photo of Yosemite..