Notes and shorts from around the world


High art for cavemen
“Perhaps future historians will call it the Stoned Age,” said Mark Bridge in The Times. An archaeological study has claimed that prehistoric cave painters were so starved of oxygen deep underground, that they may have been euphoric and hallucinating when they got to work. Many of Europe’s major cave paintings are located hundreds of metres from cave entrances – often only accessible through claustrophobic passages, far from areas used for domestic activities. A team of Israeli researchers has suggested that Palaeolithic artists in search of inspiration may have sought these airless passages to lull themselves into states of hypoxia, a form of oxygen deprivation known to elicit feelings of euphoria, near death experiences and out of body sensations of floating or flying. “The symptoms of hypoxia are very similar to when you are taking drugs,” said Yafit Kedar of Tel Aviv University, the report’s lead author. Artists may have believed such states allowed them to “connect with the cosmos”.
Non-performance fee
British actor Bob Hoskins was delighted when Steven Spielberg sent him a script in the 1980s, and asked if he would like to play the villain, but then he heard nothing, until, a year later, when a letter arrived from the director, explaining that he had cast someone else in the role, and enclosing a cheque for US$250,000, to make up for his wasted time. Immediately, Hoskins put pen to paper with “Dear Mr Spielberg, no need to apologise. If there are any more films you don’t want me to be in, please let me know.”
Turning aeroplanes into restaurants
All Nippon Airways is turning one of its grounded Boeing 777’s into a restaurant, where people who cannot afford first class flights will be able to experience some of its trappings. Diners will pay up to $700 to sit in either first or business class seats, and feast on dishes such as Wagyu beef. Before the “flight”, they will be invited to spend time in the business class lounge, at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Nippon is not the first airline to diversify in this way in the pandemic. BA is offering to deliver first class meals to punters’ doors.
Statistics watch
Beijing is home to 100 billionaires – more than any other city. New York is second on the list, with 99. Hong Kong has 80, Moscow has 79, and London has only 63.
Bons mots
“At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.” – “Ann Landers”, syndicated newspaper advice columnist, USA

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