Skip to main content
The Knowledge logo

28 July

In the headlines

Energy costs are on track to nearly double this winter, as Vladimir Putin squeezes gas supplies. Average yearly household bills, already at a record £1,971, are forecast to hit £3,850 by January. The West risks a “collapse into uncontrolled conflict” with China or Russia, according to Britain’s National Security Adviser. Sir Stephen Lovegrove says the world’s superpowers understood each other better during the Cold War, but a subsequent breakdown in communications has increased the threat from dangerous new tech including genetic weapons, “space-based systems” and lasers. McDonald’s has raised the price of a cheeseburger for the first time in 14 years, says The Sun, hiking the cost of the 99p favourite to £1.19. “We ain’t lovin’ it!”


Ukraine risks becoming a “failed state”

The backlash to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made it look as if Vladimir Putin had “massively miscalculated”, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. But after several months, the “grimly relentless logic” of war seems tilted in Russia’s favour. After a “humiliating start”, its military is now on the safer ground of artillery-led attrition warfare. It has conquered more than a fifth of Ukraine, including critical industrial and agricultural regions, and begun to “Russify” the territory it controls. Kyiv’s economy is in freefall and casualties are mounting among its courageous young men and women. If it can’t launch a successful counter-offensive this summer, “Ukraine risks becoming a failed state”: impoverished and permanently divided.


Keep the subway free of “cell-phone jabber”

New York’s subway agency wants to provide mobile and wi-fi coverage across all 660 miles of the network, says Steve Cuozzo in the New York Post. What a miserable idea. Never mind that it would take 10 years to install this “supposed technological triumph”. Or that it would distract from the system’s real crises: high crime and lousy service. No, my biggest issue is that subway carriages are pretty much the only place in the city free from “cacophonous, vapid cell-phone jabber”.


Hidden away in a little-visited corner of Google, the search giant’s Arts and Culture section continues to offer up engaging treats. “Puzzle Party” turns great works, like this Kandinsky, into oddly satisfying online puzzles. Works best on a browser; try for yourself here.

Quirk of history

The last time Britain had a dry spell this long was in 1976. Prime Minister James Callaghan appointed Denis Howell MP as Minister for Drought, and even tried to convince him to perform a public rain dance. Howell sensibly declined – and the heavens opened a few days later anyway. He quickly became known as Minister for Floods.

On the money

America’s Mega Millions lottery jackpot has ballooned to a whopping $1.02bn, after a 29th consecutive draw in which no one matched all six numbers. It’s still only the fourth-largest prize in US lottery history, says AP News: the biggest individual winner, in 2018, scooped a cool $1.54bn.

Tomorrow’s world

You can now buy a flying car for £76,000 – and you don’t need a pilot’s licence to operate it. Sweden’s Jetson Aero is selling the Jetson One, a single-seater with 20-minute flight times and a top speed of about 63 mph. Its first production run has already sold out, but the firm is taking orders for 2023. The vehicles are delivered only 50% assembled, leaving customers to finish putting them together themselves. That’s why buyers don’t need a licence – technically they aren’t required for “homebuilt single-seater aircraft”. Pre-order yours here.


The river Rhine is a crucial transport link for Europe’s economy, says Foreign Policy – and it’s shrinking. Millions of tons of cargo travel down from the port of Rotterdam to European factories and consumers along the 800-mile river, and exports make the journey back out to the global market. But climate change is leaving the water level too low during the summer: it’s currently 2.3 feet at the German town of Kaub, far below the 3.9 feet most river ships require to travel safely.


It’s the “red Marianne”, an iconic French stamp which is being axed after 150 years. The female symbol of the republic, Marianne has adorned letters in various guises since the 1870s, says The Times; for the past 70 years, each French president has chosen his own depiction. The next-day delivery service is being replaced by a “virtual e-letter”, which is written online or at the post office and then printed for delivery near its destination.


Quoted 28.7.22

“Always be sincere, even if you don’t mean it.”

Harry S Truman