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20 January

In the headlines

Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The 64-year-old actor, who was rehearsing with a prop gun on a film set when the shot was fired, could face up to five years in jail. The UK has “turned a corner” on rising inflation, the governor of the Bank of England has said. Andrew Bailey added that the coming recession wouldn’t be as bad as feared, and that there are signs high prices will fall “quite rapidly” this year. The hardest word to pronounce in the English language is the Irish name Aoife (“ee-fa”), according to a new study. Others include the Brazilian fruit açaí (“ah-sa-ee”); the Greek kebab gyros (“yee-ros”); and schedule, which in traditional English should be “shed-yool” rather than the Americanisation “sked-yool”.


Australian contortionist Shannen Jones has set a new world record for firing a bow and arrow with her feet, while doing a handstand. The 22-year-old hit a bullseye from 59ft 11in, smashing the previous record of around 40ft. Watch the full clip here.

Tomorrows world

Fears that ChatGPT could steal people’s jobs are well-founded. Neil Taylor, founder of a London communications consultancy, used the AI programme to complete a writing test for a job application at his firm. When he submitted the resulting 300-word essay, the robot was recommended for an interview and placed in the top 20% of candidates.

Quirk of history

The term “red tape” as shorthand for “bureaucratic entanglements” comes from the physical red fabric used by the American government to tie together documents, says The Washington Post. The bright cotton strips were used from the 1780s to the 1980s, with miles of the stuff purchased every year. The National Archives in Washington now sells the tape, incorporated into earrings, paperweights and more, through its gift shop. Browse the collection here.


After wearing Marilyn Monroe’s dress to last year’s Met Gala, Kim Kardashian has “moved on to another famous blonde” for fashion inspo, says Olivia Truffaut-Wong in The Cut: Princess Diana. The bodacious businesswoman scooped up a diamond-and-amethyst cross pendant once worn by the princess for $197,453 at a Sotheby’s auction on Wednesday. Fans on Twitter were “less than thrilled” to see Kardashian bag the necklace given she was accused of permanently damaging Monroe’s frock, pulling the seams as she tottered up the Met steps. One user accused her of “trying to traumatise the ghosts of iconic women”.


Researchers at the University of Maryland have identified a protein that counteracts key toxins in rattlesnake bites, leading to hopes that effective antivenoms may be possible for all snakebites. Not a moment too soon – worldwide, snakebites are responsible for 120,000 deaths every year.


They’re white pearl strawberries, which have gone on sale in Marks & Spencer in what is thought to be a first for British supermarkets. The variety is just as sweet as the traditional red fruit, says The Times, but has “an aroma of pineapple and notes of vanilla”. They were created in Japan by combining white berries with normal strawberries. There’s just one problem, says one commenter: “How do you know when they are ripe?”


quoted 20.1.23

“What really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering.”

George Bernard Shaw