Seven Days


A glance at the week that was

The numbers


Percentage of German austerity measures promised for 2011 that Angela Merkel’s governing coalition failed to implement.


Compensation paid to an Irish farm worker after he lost four toes in an industrial accident.


The fall in Barack Obama’s approval rating in the past month, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll, despite improving unemployment figures.


Increased risk of premature death related to daily consumption of red meat, according to a report from the Harvard School of Public Health.


The number of Irish universities in the Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings top 100.


The cost of candlesticks, tables and chandeliers ordered by Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad, from a Paris designer last September.

We now know

An Australian classified ad for bricklayers that warned no Irish need apply was placed by an Irishman.

Ads for Paranormal Activity 3 are too scary to be shown before the watershed, according to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.

Directors at Goldman Sachs frequently referred to its clients as “muppets”, according to former Goldman banker Greg Smith, who resigned in an open letter published in the New York Times.

Encyclopaedia bows to new media

This week, the publisher of Encyclopaedia Britannica announced that it was ceasing publication of the printed edition of the reference bible. Since its foundation in Edinburgh in 1768, Britannica aimed to be the last word in factual accuracy , arranged alphabetically and printed in huge hardbacks. But the 32-volume 2010 edition sold only 8,000 copies, compared with 120,000 US sales in 1990.

The concept of owning physical reference books seems quaint in the age of Google, and Britannica’s efforts at going digital have so far been only moderately successful. For many, the news was the equivalent of hearing about the death of a celebrity of yesteryear and thinking, That person was still alive?

Next week you need to know about . . . The Hunger Games

With the Harry Potter series concluded and the Twilight saga coming to an end this year, it’s time for a new franchise to hoover up that all-important teen/tween demographic, and the anointed successor is arriving in cinemas this Friday. You can run, but you can’t hide from The Hunger Games.

Based on the hugely successful sci-fi adventure trilogy by Suzanne Collins, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence as the heroine Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl coping with life in a dystopian future when she has to participate in the Hunger Games, a series of brutal events in which young adults are forced to compete against each other, to the death.

Two dozen are picked , but only one survives. Which would be bad enough, but the games are also a reality-TV series for the entertainment of the masses: Survivor Extreme, if you will.

If you think the plot sounds familiar, then you’re probably thinking of Battle Royale, the Japanese cult crossover hit from 2000. Or maybe you’re thinking

of The Running Man, the 1980s Steven King adaptation with Arnold Schwarzenegger looking more bewildered than usual as he’s hunted for entertainment.

Add a dash of Lord of the Flies, 1984 and Gladiator, and you’ve got the idea.

But whether the film is derivative is beside the point: The Hunger Games and its sequels will be a phenomenon. - DAVIN O'DWYER