This is the last blog posting for 2012. It has been a good year for readership numbers. There have been some 23,154 page views this year. My thanks to all of you who, week on week, take the trouble to read my words and thoughts on the world. Your support is much appreciated. As regular readers might have surmised, I quite the like numbers that underpin many of the stories commented on. So I thought I would over indulge myself in this last post with some of the numbers that have caught my eye this year. In no particular order of importance here they are:
Team GB won 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze medals during the 2012 Olympic games. The games were watched by 90% of the UK population. A total of 51.9m people watched at least 15 minutes of the London games on BBC TV. The population of England and Wales is 56.1m, 4m more than a decade earlier. We are an ageing population with 1 in 6 of us are aged 65 or over. There are 10.6m children in England and Wales.
Russia has barred couples from the US from adopting Russian children - 60000 of whom have found new families in the US since 1992. However, there are currently 23,000 American children waiting to be adopted, most of whom are aged between 5 and 16.
$6Bn was spent this year on the US presidential election campaigns, which works out at about $18 (£11) per person. The last general election in the UK was 50p ($0.80) per person and the last Canadian election was about $8 per person. However Americans also spent $7bn on crisps this year and about $8bn on the Halloween celebrations.
The US and the UK has been at war in Afghanistan for 4,012 days. Troops arrived less than a month after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 The war in Afghanistan has cost the US $1.2Tn (the UK £2,5Bn) since 2001. It is an incredible amount of money to have spent with so few controls or plans, so little auditing, and almost no credible measures of effectiveness.
According to the United Nations, more than 13,000 Afghan citizens have been killed between 2007 - when the UN began reporting such statistics - and June 2012. Since 2001, 2,000 US and 425 UK service personnel and have been killed. In 2011 the number of people killed in road fatalities in the UK was 1901.
25% of the UK population say they have no religious beliefs, with Norwich being the place the most people report that they have no religion. Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (aged 76) has agreed to pay 36m euros (£30m) a year to his ex-wife Veronica Lario. Forbes estimated his wealth at almost $6bn (£3.7bn) in March 2012. A study of 2012's most read Wikipedia articles reveals that Facebook topped the English edition, Hua Shan - a Chinese mountain featuring ‘the world's deadliest hiking trail’ topped the Dutch list and in Germany, cul-de-sacs were the German site's most clicked entry.
Fifty Shades of Grey was the most borrowed book from the Caterham Library in Surrey. Caroline Warne, 31, of Croydon Road (and no relative as far as I am aware), said ‘the book had been a real bestseller’ among her friends and acquaintances. It has sold over 65m copies in 2012. Scouting for Boys (a similar book allegedly, in that it involves the use of ropes, scarves and woggles) has sold 150m copies since 1908.
More than 800m chickens are raised and killed for meat yearly (about 2.1m per day) in the UK. The average consumer eats 170 eggs per year. I mention this as I also keep chickens, and although I eat the eggs, being a vegetarian, I don’t eat the hens. But foxes do. And there are 2 living in the evergreen bank in the garden. I saw one in the orchard only last Thursday morning while out with Cello. The chickens are safe and sound in their winter quarters however.
Last but by no means least; we were the only School in the University to reach our student target numbers in 2012. In September we registered some 980 undergraduate students and are on line to also take 340 more students in March 2013. It is a time of great turbulence in the UK University sector. According to UCAS, the UK admissions body, nearly 54,000 fewer students started courses this autumn than did so last year. I think this reflects on the student experience that we have collectively worked so hard to enhance. Well done to everyone and I wish you all a very happy and satisfying New Year - 2013