Every day, we learn something new - especially if you’ve been following the news. We begin 2015 with a recap of 10 most interesting things we learnt on the Straits Times website last year.
1. Laws in Singapore you can unwittingly run afoul of
Put that soap down and step away from the reservoir.
Did you know you can be fined up to $1,000 for bathing on a public road, in a public tank, reservoir, or any water body? You can also be jailed or fined for leaving your vehicle engine idle, flying a kite on the road, drinking alcohol in a hospital... and the list goes on.
Read this, and ignorance will no longer be an excuse when you commit any of these offences:
2. How (not) to grow grass
Singapore’s new stadium received some flak after its patchy and sandy pitch was criticised by visiting sports teams. It turns out, there’s a lot more to growing grass than we thought.
On Dec 21, the Sports Hub decided to abandon its $800,000 Desso GrassMaster field, which has been used successfully at world-class stadia like Wembley and Old Trafford.
To cajole the stadium’s grass to grow, the Sports Hub even deployed $1.5 million worth of special lighting equipment, but the pampering didn’t work. The Sports Hub will replace its current pitch with an all-grass "lay-and-play" pitch, and the grass will be grown in a nursery under local conditions.
You can read more about the problems faced, deliberations and solution in the stories below:
3. Why countries say no to ketchup, time travel movies and more
Shisha-smoking was banned in Singapore in November, but there are way more unusual bans in place in other countries.
Guess which are the countries that ban ketchup, time travel movies and blue jeans.
4. There’s more to rats than you ever wanted to know
The rats scurrying near Bukit Batok MRT station are being exterminated, but in general, the pesky rodents are incredibly hard to get rid of. Did you know that they have followed humans to every corner of the globe?
A study in February last year by researchers from the University of Leicester found that rats out-competed many native species in the places they spread to.
The resilient creatures are a Darwinian dream: They can survive atomic bombs and even started eating rat poison as food.
Find out more alarming facts here.
5. The tricks of shady retailers
After numerous Sim Lim Square horror stories, and the alleged scam at Volks Auto made the news this month, Singapore residents, and tourists are far more aware of their rights (or lack thereof) as consumers – we hope.
Here are the different ways dodgy Sim Lim retailers use to pull the wool over customers’ eyes, and five reasons why they are infamous.
If you’re buying a car, here are some tips on avoiding dishonest car traders.
6. Shisha and fruit juice (yes, fruit juice) are bad for us
One comes in fruity flavours and the other is made from fruits. A shisha ban in November drove home the dangers of shisha smoking. One session of shisha smoking is like smoking 100 or more cigarettes.
The Health Promotion Board also warned Singaporeans to drink fruit juice in moderation as it can have as much sugar as a sweetened drink.
Here’s a chart on the sugar levels of common drinks here.
7. How one woman sent prices of macadamia nuts soaring
We all know the butterfly effect, in which a small change, like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings, can result in a large effect, in an interconnected system.
The case of Heather Cho Hyun Ah, heiress and former vice-president of Korean Air, could be the first case of the macadamia-nut effect.
Her outburst on a Korean air flight over a packet of macadamia nuts which were served to her in a packet instead of a bowl, has negated years of her hard work to build up the image of Korean Air, and even sparked a spike in the sale of macademia nuts.
8. The many faces of terrorism
Whether called ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daiish or Daesh, they refer to the same terrorist group which has taken over large swathes of Iraq.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was established as far back as 2004, but became the new byword for terrorism when its fighters seized major Iraqi city Mosul and other Iraqi towns in June.
Shortly after, it announced its ambition to form a caliphate (Islamic state), and has proved adept at spreading its message of violence, inspiring extremists around the world to join its cause.
Here’s more about the extremist group.
9. Countries can change their national flag
It’s not easy to let go, but a few countries have opted to change their flags before.
This year, New Zealand will be holding a vote for new designs to replace its Union Jack and four stars. Then a referendum will decide if Kiwis want the new design or the existing one.
Find out which countries had a change of flag:
10. Basket star?! What is that?
Singaporean Ramlan Saim made international news with his bizarre catch off the Singapore coast.
A video that he posted on Facebook in October of the “sea monster” he caught had about 8 million views. With its mass of creeping tendrils, it looked like an alien, but the basket star is very much an inhabitant of Earth, albeit a rather strange one.
The Straits Times helps you to go beyond the news with our list of explainers on people, places and issues that made the news.
Get more explainers here: http://www.straitstimes.com/explainers#sthash.Kc12ARLa.dpuf