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23 August

In the headlines

UK inflation is set to hit a 50-year high of 18.6% in January. A report by Citigroup warns that soaring energy costs will push prices into “the stratosphere”, and suggests the Bank of England may respond by hiking interest rates to as high as 7%. Nasa has released “unprecedented” pictures of Jupiter captured by the new James Webb telescope, says The Guardian. The intergalactic images show the planet’s auroras, giant storms and surrounding rings in detail that’s “never before” been possible. Scientists have discovered that dogs cry tears of joy when they are reunited with their owners, says the Daily Mail. The weepy display is triggered by a rush of the hormone oxytocin. “They call it puppy love!”

Gone viral

This video of a flock of ducks repeatedly circling a car was a hit on Reddit over the weekend. No one seems sure why the birds were acting in this way – or where the footage was filmed – but in the words of one user: “Fowl play is suspected.

Quirk of history

The iceberg that sank the Titanic was probably more than two miles wide and 100 feet tall when it formed, says Smithsonian Magazine. But it’s remarkable how close the infamous collision came to not happening. After three years adrift, the icy mass had floated into warmer water and was shrinking by the hour. It had “one week to live, two at most”. If the Titanic had departed just days later, it would have safely completed its maiden voyage and turned around “for its ho-hum second one”.

On the money

Highgate Cemetery is the latest London graveyard to begin reusing plots, says The Economist. With fresh burial ground in the capital now going for up to £23,000, there is plenty of demand for cheaper, so-called “heritage” options. For the shared graves, “previous inhabitants are either left where they are, interred deeper (‘lift and deepen’) or moved elsewhere (‘lift and shift’)”. But moving around corpses comes with strict conditions: they have to have been buried for at least 75 years, and advance warning of each potential reuse must be given to the public.


It’s officially “the year of the horse girl”, says Keziah Weir in Vanity Fair. Charlotte Casiraghi, Grace Kelly’s granddaughter and 11th in line to Monaco’s throne, cantered down the Chanel runway in January on a “gleaming bay named Kuskus”. Then Beyoncé posed semi-naked astride a holographic steed for the cover of her album Renaissance. There’s also the “equine celebration” that is Jordan Peele’s new horror film, Nope, full of majestic shots of horses “thundering over the dry California dirt, tails streaming”.


Using responses from 2,000 parents, a Nottingham statistician has calculated the exact formula for predicting when a child will throw a tantrum in the back of a car: T = 70 + 0.5E + 15F – 10S. What this means, says The Guardian, is that the average child starts a tantrum 70 minutes into a long journey. This time (T) increases if a child is entertained (E) or given food (F). But having siblings (S) in the car brings forward the chances of “backseat breakdowns” by 10 minutes.


It’s Axioma, a superyacht that went up for auction today after being seized from a Russian oligarch in March. The 240ft vessel was impounded in Gibraltar when owner Dmitry Pumpyansky was placed on the sanctions list, says Bloomberg. After the billionaire businessman then failed to repay a bank loan linked to the ship, a court in the British territory issued permission for it to go under the hammer. It was valued at £63m, but experts reckon it will have sold for much less.


quoted 23.8.22

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realise the extent of your own ignorance.”

American writer Thomas Sowell