New Internationalist

Curiosities And The NI Crossword

Issue 290

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Curiosities
Questions that have always intrigued you about the world will appear in this, your section,
and be answered by other readers. Please address your answers and questions to ‘Curiosities’.

Has anyone fully compared the cost of rail and road transport?

The problem with this issue is that people do not usually understand that the car-based transport system is highly subsidized. They think that it is the public transit users that are subsidized, and that car-users have a sacred right to drive anywhere. Unfortunately, this is an absurd myth. Though it is rarely reflected in the cost that the passenger pays, the cost of rail transit is much cheaper altogether than road transport. Even the Canadian Ministry of Environment is pointing this out. In the US about $200 million is spent on building and rebuilding roads every single day. The actual cost of building a freeway can be as high as $1 billion per mile, while new light rail costs only $10 to $16 million per mile (about one or one-and-a-half per cent of the cost). It has been estimated that the US spends $300 billion a year to subsidize roads and cars. These costs do not even include any of the ecological destruction caused by cars. As for business arguments, it has also been shown in numerous European cities that banning cars from the city centre actually increased business, because city centres become so much more pleasant to be in.

Railway construction is less capital intensive but more labour intensive, creating many more jobs than road building. Railways use less fossil fuels and produce less pollution both in construction and use, and they are much more efficient. The reasons for choosing a car-based transport system are by no means economic, they are political:

Worth checking are David Engwicht's Reclaiming our Cities and Towns and The Auto-Free Times at PO Box 4347, Arcata, CA 95518, US. Also very interesting are Worldwatch Institute Papers Nos 90, 98 and 118 (Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington DC 20036). The last one – which I have not read – is specifically about rail transport.

Christian Huot
Montréal, Canada

A recent book by David Maddison and David Pearce, Blueprint 5: the True Costs of Road Transport, demolishes the myth that the motorist is over-taxed. The authors illustrate that the sum currently paid by British motorists, for example, in road and fuel taxes amounts to just a third of the overall calculable costs of road transport (£16 billion revenue compared with £50 billion costs, at 1993 prices). The remaining two thirds are being subsidized by the populace as a whole, whether we drive or not.

Roger Blake
London, England

awaiting your answers

Is there a rule that modern wind turbines on windfarms have to be painted white? If green or light blue were used wouldn’t they be less visually intrusive?

Glenn Rawlingson
Edinburgh, Scotland

I am looking for information about the Australian language Lardil, including its ceremonial variant Damin, said to have a unique 200-word vocabulary that is learnable in a day but can express the full range of concepts in everyday speech.

Laurie Hudson
Nottingham, England

If you have any questions or answers please send them to Curiosities, New Internationalist, 55 Rectory Road, Oxford OX4 1BW, UK, or to your local NI office (see inside front cover for addresses).

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS SECTION ARE NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF NI.

The NI Crossword
No. 10 by Axe

Crossword no. 10

CRYPTIC

Across
1 Grand in Michigan, these cascades (6)
4 Low when crossing the line? (8)
9 Return art after a quantity at first makes the island (7)
11 Scarlett mixed up in acid test for ruler (7)
12 Smell reported from drain in Central Europe! (4)
13 Travelled over snow and hit up into the air? (5)
14 Lido renovated for superstar (4)
17, 18 Australian mounts to subvert National Front ringleaders (8,5)
20 Revelation of Michael’s eviction from upstairs of the bad guy! (5)
22 Re bribe – I overturned the complaint (8)
26 East African tribe coming from the summer uplands (4)
27 Tartar sauce? (5)
28 Pelt out of Belarus city, but not south (4)
31 African city, giving name to fruit, looks to have more zest... (7)
32 ...and has this appealing architecture! (7)
33 President calm when loses first two legs of bridge (8)
34 Back sheep into area on the borders of 23’s city (6)

Down
1 Brittany port where rail supports gold upright (7)
2 Make sense of poem – and one letter in Greek – about classical site (7)
3 Timing for fruit? (4)
5 Bird of prey recoils so over quarry (7)
6 The pulse of India? (4)
7 Anna dug madly for the African (7)
8 Dutch outpouring held in scene without direction – twice (7)
10 Moor reported to a Turkish city (6)
15 Italian city university holds banquet under... (5)
16 ...sway of dubious Brit superior circle (5)
19 Team in dreadful mess about chauvinism (6)
20 Ammonite and others unearthed when Military Intelligence bug in quotes played back (7)
21 For Reagan as far as the Canadian city (7)
23 Controversial period under flag over for African country (7)
24 Dye a hat badly for Zulu party (7)
25 Nomad the United Arab Republics get back around (6)
29 One not too bright returning to the South of France (4)
30 Guns, unfortunately, do for the animals (4)

QUICK

Across
1 White water section of a river (6)
4 Area of low pressure around the equator (8)
9 The sixth-largest island in the world – part of Indonesia (7)
11 Hebrew name meaning ‘dynasty’, adopted by kings from 950BC (7)
12 River rising in the Czech Republic, a tributary of the Neisse (4)
13 Sent into the air (5)
14 Ju-ju (4)
17, 18 Mountainous region of South Australia (8,5)
20 Evil incarnate (5)
22 Debilitating disease whose name derives from the Sinhalese for ‘weakness’ (8)
26 Kenyan tribe and town, and National Park made famous by Joy Adamson (4)
27 Liquor from mare’s milk, used by nomads of Asia (5)
28 Member of the weasel family prized for its fur (4)
31 Seaport of northern Morocco (7)
32 A turret attached to a mosque (7)
33 Thirtieth President of the USA [1929-33] (8)
34 Capital of 23 (6)

Down
1 Ferry port and resort of Finistère, France (7)
2 Roman city destroyed by Vesuvius’ eruption in 79AD (7)
3 Palm tree of the genus Phoenix (4)
5 Sole member of the Pandionidae family, erroneously called ‘fish hawk’. (7)
6 Indian for lentils (4)
7 Citizen of East African country bounded by Sudan and Rwanda (7)
8 Dutch name for river of France, Belgium and Holland emptying into the North Sea (7)
10 City that replaced Istanbul as its country’s capital in 1923 (6)
15 Italian city, south of the Dolomites – headquarters of the Italian Army in World War One (5)
16 Track or ellipse (5)
19 Prejudice or stereotyping of males by females, and vice versa (6)
20 Name describing peoples descended from Shem, son of Noah (7)
21 Canadian city – Indian for ‘place of meeting’ – established by the French in 1749 (7)
23 African country, independent since 1993, on the Red Sea (7)
24 South African political party founded by Chief Buthelezi in 1975 (7)
25 African nomad, speaker of Tamashek (6)
29 Popular name for Southern France (4)
30 Antelopes also known as wildebeestes (4)

Last month's solution
Solution to no.9
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