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The World

What’s so great about this Suez Canal then?

Essentially it’s (and forgive the laziness but with something as fundamental as this you can guarantee somebody, somewhere, for some reason, has taken it upon themselves to write something fantastic on Wikipedia describing it perfectly) “a more direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian oceans via the Mediterranean and Red seas, thus avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans and reducing the journey distance from the Arabian Sea to London by ~5,000miles, or 8-10 days”. It essentially halves the voyage from the Arabian Gulf to Europe (from ~11,000 miles down to ~6,500). 

One of the world’s largest container ships, the Ever Given got itself lodged lengthways across the canal; the 400m (1,312ft) ship shut down 10% of global trade by running aground on the banks of the canal during a sandstorm. With a crew of 25 aboard, you can bet there was some name calling. She would stay lodged for a week, before a small army of tugboats, dredgers, the little excavator that could and our old friend ‘the literal celestial tides’ enabled a successful refloating. 

The canal has been closed (as it was between 1967 and 1975 following the invasion of Egypt by Israel in 1967), or otherwise had traffic disrupted or policed, before in its 151 year history. Uninterrupted free passage is somewhat a feature of the modern era.  

Ships heading from Asia to Europe’s largest sea port in Rotterdam (etymologically; Dam MuddyWater, seriously look it up) will almost invariably pass through the Suez Canal since it makes the return trip about 9 days and many thousands of miles shorter, compared to going around the Cape of Good Hope, which corresponds to fuel costs in the hundred of thousands of dollars per ship (remembering that these ships require tens of thousands of gallons of fuel daily, the longer route would require hundreds of thousands more). 

While we’re geeking out on maritime stuff, here’s a video of the world’s largest ship picking up a disused oil rig and sailing off with it. 

Flying Wright

Way back in February we covered the latest Mars rover mission, with a particular note of excitement about the first spacecraft set to fly on another planet. NASA revealed this week that ingenuity (the space helicopter) is carrying a swatch of fabric from the Wright brothers’ aircraft that made the first powered human flight, which is frankly, just insanely cool.

Tesla’s of the Sky

Finnair has announced it intends to purchase up to 20 electric passenger aircraft from manufacturer Heart Aerospace as early as 2026, which could make the short-haul fleet the world’s first scheduled passenger electric flights. The race is now between Finnair and fellow scandi’s: Norwegian airline Widerøe, who also plan to have an electric aircraft in passenger service by 2026. 

The Internet


John Cleese has surfaced on Twitter to make fun of the NFT craze. He announced he was behind the alter-ego ‘The Unnamed Artist’ and that he “has a bridge to sell you”. His doodled Brooklyn Bridge is on auction as an NFT at OpenSea. Currently ‘JeffBezosForeskin’ has the winning bid at 21 Ether, roughly $35,000.

If you aren’t familiar with an NFT, it’s a Non-Fungible Token: a unit of data stored on the Ethereum blockchain which represents a unique digital property. Big ticket NFTs have included ‘Nyan Cat’ which sold for about $600,000 and Jack Dorsey’s first tweet which fetched almost £3m. 

Quite reasonably, you might ask “why?” you would pay an astonishing sum for something which is readily available for free online, and what you may stand to gain from ‘owning’ a tweet. If you find an answer to that question please get in touch and let us know.

Danger Zone

VR is a technology that is more creeping into the mainstream than sprinting, but it does seem to be gradually gaining widespread adoption. One of its primary uses is in spicing up video games with a level of immersion not achievable via a screen. Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey, seems to have lost interest in the novelty already: he posed the question on Twitter this week of why we don’t yet have video games that pose a real threat to our physical health, up to the point of death. He thinks that activities that can “maim and kill” are popular because of just that, such as motorsport and it’s flying balls of fire that used to be cars. 

Although this is an absurd idea (so will probably become reality), there may be a thread of truth to it: humans do really like to risk their lives for fun. It’s why extreme sports are a thing. But would virtual base jumping in a VR headset really have the same appeal as the real thing just by knowing there was a chance of a fatal electric shock if you didn’t stick the landing? 

“Jonny! Dinner’s ready!”, “Not now Mum!”, SPLAT! ZAP! “Noooooo, Little Jonny hit the cliff face, he’s fucked!” 

The US

How Does He Sleep at Night? Ep. 6

He’s back! We can make more fun of Mike ‘Crack-head turned Lord-of-the-Pillows’ Lindell! Lindell made news this week (if you count an episode of “The Eric Metaxas Show” as news, which we don’t) when he announced that the rumours are true, and he is in fact launching his own social media site. All the cool kids are these days.

His new social network will, brilliantly, be called ‘Frank’, which those of us in the UK will remember keenly as the government-backed website where we were encouraged to get information about drugs, (if you were a narc), or alternatively, the Jon Ronson movie about a man who always wore a papier-mâché head.

I, for one, cannot wait.

Thanks for reading! We’ll be back next week, get in touch with the authors Will Marshall and Alistair Simmonds on Twitter and let us know what you did and didn’t like.

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