Monday, August 27, 2007

Prevalence of Transsexuals in Society

According to research, as many as one in 100,000 women and one in 30,000 men believe themselves to have been born in a body with the wrong gender.

One in 30,000 strikes me as an astoundingly high number for men.

Just to give you an idea of what this ratio means, at every home game for Manchester United, statistically there are 2 men in the capacity crowd of 67,000 at Old Trafford who believe that they actually should have been born as a woman. At the next England home game, there will be 3 blokes who, deep down, think they really should be birds cheering on Wayne Rooney and the rest of the team.

Two or three isn't that many in absolute terms, but (I think you will agree) it's still more than you might expect.

However the upside is that as a Fulham fan I can be totally secure in my own gender. The capacity at Craven Cottage is only 23,000.

Growing Strawberries

Growing strawberries in your back garden is great.

Not only do you get a nice green-leaved ground cover plant with occasional white flowers throughout the summer, it also keeps all the snails in your garden in one handy place, protected from birds by netting.

The little "house-on-my" back bast-rds have eaten every single strawberry to grow this year. For something that is by definition "slow" they seem to be bloody quick at spotting when strawberries are about 2-3 hours before the point of being just ripe enough that you might think about picking them.

Given the absolute dearth of snails in the rest of our - admittedly not that big - garden, these snails must also communicate well across vast distances to . Perhaps they have mobile phones - well, if my eight year old niece seems to need one, maybe snails now have them too?

Watching "Life on Earth" I seemed to remember David Attenborough telling me that snails communicated by passing pheremone based information to each other in their saliva - a sort of phlegm-based GPS system. Imagine if humans could also transfer information the same way. Take a long car journey and you'd end up soaked -

"turn left at next junction, HHHaaaakkkkk!"

"merge right onto B3316 in 100 yards, GGGGuurrghaH!"

You would be able to buy GPS systems with the phlegm of your favourite football star - imagine Frank Lampard hacking up a greenie in your face every time "you have now reached your destination..". People would rely a lot more on maps ....

Friday, August 03, 2007

Squirrels in England

For folks living in the countryside, there are 2 types of squirrel.

The red squirrel (Sciurus Vulgaris) is the only squirrel native to Britain, it can easily be recognised by its size, colouring, which can vary from bright ginger, red through dark brown. From nose to tail, their length is around 350 - 400mm, adults can weigh up to 350g.

The American grey squirrel (Sciurus Carolinensis) was first introduced to Britain at Henbury Park, Cheshire, in 1876, and introduced to other areas around the UK in the 1920s. From these sites the squirrel population grew, and as it did, the red squirrel population began its decline. There are no definite facts as to why the two species cannot live together, but it appears that the greys have a greater ability to compete for food. The only advantage that the reds have is their supremacy in conifer forests.

In England, greys outnumber reds by 66:1.

For urban dwellers and town and city based squirrel watchers, a similar story is unfolding abeit with two different breeds.

The "oh how cute is that" squirrel is common in urban gardens across the UK, and can easily be recognised by its you-tube-friendly scampering motion, its lovely tail and rather cute habit of staring back winningly at you as you look out of the window. The "oh how cute" squirrel will often be seen on fences and lawns in winter and early spring delighting children and adults alike.

The "Those Bastard" Squirrels are found mostly in gardens with expensive plants, carefully tended organic vegetables, young fruit trees bearing limited amounts of fruit, and plastic bin bags - all of which Those Bastard Squirrels feast upon in preference to digging up stored nuts like they damn well should be doing (the bastards). Those Bastard Squirrels are easily recognised by their sly, evil faces, rat-like bodies and irritatingly insolent disregard for any amount of screaming, window banging and general gesticulating by the residents of the property they have chosen to blight.

In London, Those Bastard Squirrels outnumber Oh how Cute Squirrels by over 2,000,000:1