The Spectator

Barometer | 25 January 2018

Also in Barometer: gloomiest places on earth and robots that had to retire

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Redundant robots

Fabio, a robot assistant in an Edinburgh grocery store, was retired after scaring customers. We worry about artificial intelligence destroying jobs, but sometimes it’s the robot that gets the P45:

Elektra, a 7ft-tall robot with a brain formed of 48 electrical relays, was displayed at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939. He could talk, respond to voice commands and smoke a cigarette. He ended up in a California amusement park.

K9, a robot helping security staff in San Francisco’s Mission District, was taken out of service after it was accused of discriminating against homeless people.

Steve, a security ‘roboguard’ in Washington DC, suffered an ignominious end by tumbling into a fountain last July.

Follow the leaders

Ukip may have a fifth change of leader in less than three years (counting Nigel Farage’s term in late 2016). How long did other parties take to get through as many?

Lib Dem

19 years


21 years


26 years

Plaid Cymru

37 years


39 years

Sinn Fein

66 years


only three leaders in 47-year history


three changes in ten years; it had ‘principal speakers’ before that

Gloom with a view

Moscow had only six minutes of sunshine in December, compared with an average of 18. This was six minutes longer than London in December 1890, when no sunshine was recorded at all. Nasa says an average 67 per cent of the Earth is under cloud at any one time. Yet only a handful of places have fewer than 1,000 hours of sunshine a year:

Bird Island, South Georgia


Prince Edward Island,

Southern Indian Ocean


Torshavn, Faroe Islands


Kinlochewe, Wester Ross


Expensive tastes

Four Japanese tourists complained to police after their restaurant meal of fish, steak and water cost £243 per head in Venice. Places where they could eat for a little more per head:

Paris three-course collection menu at Restaurant le Meurice



Ithaa Undersea Restaurant


Lausanne Restaurant Crissier


Or if they wanted to economise:

Chelsea seasonal inspiration menu at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay