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Bill Wolff on the pennies

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Katrina Victims Sue for Quadrillions

Katrina Victims Sue for Quadrillions

Bill Wolff on the pennies

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News worth an honorable mention.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Hey, welcome back to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We're always available to you online at npr.org/bryantpark. We're on AM, FM, satellite, iTunes, Internets, in my head.

BILL WOLFF, host:

Yeah. If you think really hard, you just start hearing it.

STEWART: Exactly. I'm Alison Stewart. That's Bill Wolff.

And usually, when we do The Ramble, it's someone's lighter story. Sometimes, it's a sort of the talking stories of the day, maybe soundbites that are out there in the world that you've heard. But today, we noticed a theme. It's time for the dark and stormy edition of The Ramble.

WOLFF: Ooh. That's foreboding.

STEWART: Yes. Well, the first one is about a crematorium.

WOLFF: Uh-oh.

STEWART: Okay. It's a British crematorium.

WOLFF: Oh, double trouble.

STEWART: Yeah. It's considering using heat from its body-burning furnaces to also possibly heat and light its chapel. They're doing so in the name of being environmentally friendly as a part of a drive to reduce carbon emissions. Now, these cremation furnaces are capable of generating 1,600 to 1,800-degree-Fahrenheit heat.

WOLFF: That seems to me it'd be plenty warm.

STEWART: Yes. But the local vicars, they're onboard. They referred to it as an excellent innovation, saying, it really has nothing to do with the ghoulish scenes in people's minds. It's not like that. It's simply to use the gas more efficiently.

WOLFF: Well, I wish them the best of luck. But I think it's ghoulish.

STEWART: A little dark and stormy, I'm telling you.

WOLFF: Next up, the Associated Press reports that one intrepid - and perhaps deluded - victim of Hurricane Katrina is seeking from the government $3 quadrillion in damages.

STEWART: And we have to say there was a discussion in the morning meeting how many zeroes are in quadrillion.

WOLFF: And the answer is 15 zeroes. I also read online that if you had $3 quadrillion in pennies and you stack them…

STEWART: Yeah.

WOLFF: …first of all, it'll be very difficult, balance wise.

STEWART: Yeah, they're hard.

WOLFF: It would reach Saturn.

STEWART: Oh, my.

WOLFF: Where it would melt and then you would die. So don't do it. It might be helpful to consider if you try to put your mind around the idea of quadrillion dollars, it would dwarf the U.S. gross domestic product. Little known about the person who filed the claim for $3 quadrillion. I'm not sure if that person actually thinks he or she is going to get that money. Only the zip code of the person was released.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have received 247 claims of at least $1 billion a piece, including this one for three quadrillion. Some people say that the residents who were making these claims are exaggerating their claims to send a symbolic message to the Army Corps of Engineers about the scale of their suffering in the hurricane and two and half years…

STEWART: Post-hurricane.

WOLFF: Well, in the two and a half years since.

STEWART: All right. Remember the story - we want to update you on it - of these two inmates and became outmates…

WOLFF: Yes, they were.

STEWART: …in New Jersey. Apparently they had viewed "The Shawshank Redemption" one or two times. They had used - they carved an escape tunnel in their cells. And they - which they had actually hid behind photos of ladies in bikinis. They'd been on the lam since December 14th.

WOLFF: And I must say, with much of the news-consuming audience sort of rooting for them.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Well, I'm not sure that they are - well, there was ingenuity.

WOLFF: Yes.

STEWART: I think people are impressed of the ingenuity. How about that?

WOLFF: Yeah, okay.

STEWART: They escaped on December 14th. One - maybe actually (unintelligible) of the inmates who escaped from that New Jersey jail…

WOLFF: Yeah.

STEWART: …was caught yesterday in Mexico City. So that's an update for you there.

WOLFF: Wow. Thanks for that.

STEWART: Sure.

WOLFF: I have been keeping track. And next, Marvel comics rivals the old soap opera "Dallas" now. Do you remember when Bobby Ewing died? He woke up. He came out of the shower so that the entire thing has been a dream. (Unintelligible).

STEWART: Oh, yeah, the whole last season?

WOLFF: Yeah, the whole last season had simply been a dream.

Well, Marvel Comics has ended the marriage of one of its biggest heroes, Spiderman. In the latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man - that's number 545 for those of you keeping score - Peter Parker and Mary Jane not only end their 20-year marriage; their relationship gets completely erased from history. The villain, Mephisto, erases all traces of the Peter-Mary Jane marriage from their memories. The only good cause: to save Aunt May's life. It's the "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" come true or…

STEWART: I like that movie.

WOLFF: I had liked that movie too. I also like "Dallas." The Marvel.com message boards are blowing up with angry posts. People are angry about the break-up of the marriage and the plausibility of Mephisto actually doing this. One fan wrote, quote, "The Spider-Man I have loved and read for 34 years is dead now. No matter how well-written or drawn what comes next, it is being built upon the corpse of something that I, and many other readers, cared about deeply," end quote.

STEWART: You don't want to rile up comic book fans.

WOLFF: No, you don't. I don't.

STEWART: (Unintelligible)

WOLFF: I never speak ill of them.

STEWART: Nope. Hey, you want to read more about these stories? We'll link them on the blog. And that does it for The Ramble.

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