The ideas factory: From punctuation to 'pay what you can' hotels – six thoughts we liked this week

1. Do parking tickets indicate corruption?

President Barack Obama made the news this weekend for not paying London's congestion charge when he brought The Beast to the city in May – but do the number of parking tickets received by diplomats worldwide correlate with how corrupt a nation is? Forbes' Jon Bruner took a paper ranking diplomats' non-payment by country (Kuwait comes top) and compared it to figures of global corruption from Transparency International. The correlation is robust, but not universal, due to Russia and China's exemplary parking violation record.


2. The reinvention of the lavatory

Forty-two million dollars for a new toilet? It's a quote that even the proud owner of the world's first gold-plated yacht (RRP £3bn) might balk at. Actually it's the amount of money the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are offering to the inventors who make loos more efficient and capable of transforming waste into energy. The hope is to provide the 2.6 billion people without toilets access to them without having to build prohibitively expensive sewers. Good work, Bill.


3. 'Pay what you like' hotels made from concrete tubes

So far this year we've witnessed malls made of shipping containers, but even they seem traditional compared to Das Park Hotel, in the heart of the Germany's industrial Ruhr region. The hotel, which reopened in 2008 certainly takes on the local aesthetic – its rooms are repurposed concrete drains.It's in the middle of a park and shares local facilities, allowing it to operate a "pay as much as you can" system.

Source: Twitter

4. Is this ':' what the world's first '?' looked like?

The question mark has been dated as far back as the eighth century. But that's nothing in punctuation years, according to one academic. Cambridge's Dr Chip Coakley has identified what he reckons is the world's first question mark. Really? Yes! By studying manuscripts written in Syriac, a middle eastern language used in Christian literature before the rise of Islam, Coakley concluded that a double dot symbol in an old Syriac Bible signified a question. "It's satisfying to have made sense of some of those weird dots," he said.

Source: Cambridge University

5. Niche maps that are useful and beautiful

London writer/designers Herb Lester Associates specialise in maps, but they're so far away from Ordnance Survey that they're barely on the same scale. Lovingly illustrated, they offer guides to destinations as diverse as Soho in the 1960s (handy!); being "alone in Paris" and a map of places to meet and work in London.

Source : The Sabotage Times

6. What effect will always being 'on' have on us?

Constantly being attached to our smartphones may now mainly affect our relationships with other halves, who are frustrated at the constant sight of our scalps. Wired journalist Brian X Chen thinks the effects will be significantly wider ranging than domestic strife. He thinks that they'll lead to academics asking students to surf Wikipedia rather than be lectured to; paramedics using special lenses to check vital signs and to the police being able to check fingerprints on the spot. The practical uses of checking Twitter in bed aren't included in his new book, Always On, though.

Source: NPR

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home