In fact

February 28, 2009
  • At Asda, sales of offal were up 20 per cent in November compared to the same month in 2007. Sainsbury's is selling 48 per cent more pig livers, 22 per cent more chicken livers and 8 per cent more pig kidneys than it was last year. The Times, 9th December 2008

  • If Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich goes to prison, he will become the fourth out of the last eight governors of the state to do so, joining predecessors George Ryan (racketeering, conspiracy, obstruction), Dan Walker (bank fraud), and Otto Kerner (bribery). Slate, 13th December 2008

  • If you could gather every scrap of gold ever mined into one place, you could only build about one-third of the Washington Monument with it. All of the platinum mined would easily fit in the average home.

  • 300,000 people (roughly equivalent to the population of Iceland) have applied to work for the Obama administration so far. In comparison, about 44,000 people applied to work for the Bush administration in 2001 and approximately 100,000 for the Clinton administration in 1993. CNN, 22nd December 2008

  • Women who wear the British dress size 14 are the happiest, with a quarter saying they are extremely happy. However, size 24 women are the unhappiest, with 18 per cent saying they are extremely unhappy. Daily Telegraph, 29th December 2008

  • The political leadership of Hamas is probably the most highly qualified in the world, boasting more than 500 PhDs in its ranks. The Times, 31st December 2008

  • The founder of the movie website Ain't It Cool News, Harry Knowles, started the site in 1994 while bedridden after being run over by a 1,200lb cart full of memorabilia at a science fiction convention. The Independent, 29th December 2008

  • British housewives spend 47 per cent of their leisure time online, more than any other social group in the world. As a nation, the Chinese spend the largest fraction of their overall leisure time online: 44 per cent, compared to 28 per cent for Britons. The Guardian, 31st December 2008

  • Roughly 10 per cent of all US presidents ever elected have been assassinated (4 out of 43), which is roughly as high an occupational death rate as street drug dealers. Crooked Timber, 23rd December 2008

  • A record 46,000 people changed their names by deed poll in 2008, including one man now called Happy Adjustable Spanners after losing a drunken bet. Daily Telegraph, 26th December 2008

  • In 2008, usage of the word "schadenfreude" in Britain's national newspapers rose by 29 per cent when compared to the previous year. (There were 543 mentions in the period to 15th December, compared with 422 in the same period in 2007.) FT, 29th December 2008

  • In December 2008, food sales declined in Britain for the first time since 1986. The Observer, 18th January 2009

  • Spanish has replaced German as the second most popular language (after French) learned in British schools. 75 per cent of state schools are now offering Spanish compared with 67 per cent offering German. The Independent, 4th December 2008

  • Harvard, the world's wealthiest university, said that its endowment lost 22 per cent of its value, or $8bn, in the first four months of the US fiscal year. The decline meant the school's endowment fell from $36.9bn in June 2008 to $28.7bn at the end of October. FT, 4th December 2008