Monday, March 27, 2006

10 things I didn't know until last week

1. America is home to more Wal-mart employees (1.3m) than high-school teachers.
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2. All written language systems fall into 3 categories : alphabets, where a sign (letter) is assigned to each sound (phenome); syllabaries, where a letter is assigned to each syllable; and logograms, where each letter represents a whole word. Though most known languages are a mix of all three systems, the predominant system used determines the number of letters – a low 26 for alphabetic English and running into hundreds for logogramic-Chinese
(Source : ‘Guns, Germs and Steel : A Short History of Everybody for 13,000 Years’ by Jared Diamond.)

3. Much of the erotic lingerie sold in sex shops across Europe is made in Turkey. Islamic Turkey is the third largest underwear exporter in the world after China and Hong Kong.
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4. Singapore is known as the ‘little red dot.’ Although the term began as a derogatory remark, it has been proudly taken up by Singaporeans as evidence that Singapore’s importance is far greater than warranted by its size.
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5. Starbucks is named after the first mate in Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick.’
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6. It was only in 1940 that the two-weekend was officially introduced.
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7. New Coke, Coca-Cola’s famed and disastrous failure lasted a mere 79 days in the market before it was withdrawn and the classic Coke formula re-introduced.
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8. On the Dow Jones Industrial Average index, companies with the highest share price, not the biggest market capitalization, still carry the most weight. Much has been made of this flaw, but a recent study in Stanford University revising the Index with market cap on top between October 1928 and December 1999 showed little difference in performance.
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9. Research shows that western children learn nouns first while Korean and Chinese children pick up verbs – which relate objects to each other – more easily. Other studies show that Americans tend to concentrate on central objects in pictures, while the Chinese pay more attention to the background as well.
(From New Scientist Magazine: 27th August 2005 Edition)

10. Less than 10% of all patents filed have any economic worth.
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Iqbal Mohammed is Head of Innovation & Strategy at a digital innovation agency serving the DACH and wider European markets. He is the winner of the WPP Atticus Award for Best Original Published Writing in Marketing & Communication.

He blogs about #innovation, #technology and #marketing at You can reach him via email or Twitter.