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In the headlines

It’s “April Cruel Day”, says the Daily Mirror: from today, the energy price cap is rising by 54%, council tax by up to 5% and national insurance contributions by 1.25%. Average household bills will increase by more than £1,000. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s measures to soften the blow don’t “even touch the sides for a lot of families”, one Cabinet minister tells The Times. Russian soldiers have largely withdrawn from the Chernobyl nuclear power station after being hit with “significant doses” of radiation, says Ukraine’s state nuclear company. The troops reportedly dug trenches in the most contaminated part of the site and then “panicked at the first sign of illness”. Rising farming costs could lead to an egg shortage within weeks, says the Daily Star. Brace for “armageggon”.


The Oscars

When it’s ok to joke about looks

Is it always wrong to joke about someone’s appearance? A lot of people have been making that argument since Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. The actor lashed out because Rock cracked a joke about his wife’s shaved head. Now, the gag itself wasn’t funny – Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, which she can “hardly help”. But a joke about a public figure’s appearance can still be “valid, and even useful”. The key is that it “should always have a point” – it has to say something about the subject’s “character, persona, behaviour or mood”.


The dangers of disaffected youth

The biggest threat to America’s economic and political system isn’t “oligarchic elites”, says Joel Kotkin in National Review. It’s the “growing number of underemployed, overeducated” people. Half of all recent college graduates make under $30,000 a year, and 40% work in jobs that don’t actually require their degree. This is a “global phenomenon”: in China, more than a quarter of graduates are unemployed; one in three graduates under 29 in India doesn’t have a job, more than three times the country’s overall unemployment rate. This generation were promised riches from the “new economy”. Instead, they’re scrapping it out for unstable, low-paying jobs.

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Nike set up a 3D-effect billboard outside Shinjuku station in Tokyo last week to promote its Air Max trainers, says the advertising website Muse by Clio. The outside of the building was also covered with a giant stack of Nike’s distinctive orange shoeboxes.


It’s the world’s biggest Hummer, built by Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, a car-mad Emirati royal and billionaire, for his museum of weird vehicles. It has a two-storey interior, complete with flushable, Western-style loo, and at 46ft long it’s harder to park than a double-decker bus. The sheikh holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of 4x4s, at 718.


Tori Boggs, 29, is the world’s top skipper: she has taken the Grand World Champion crown five times, the US title 32 times, and performed with Cirque du Soleil. She holds the world speed record: 1,010 jumps in three minutes, an incredible 5.61 jumps per second. But mostly, she says, it’s just a bit of fun: “there’s nothing I would rather be doing with my time than jumping over rope”.


Influencers and fashionistas have taken to saying “lensed” instead of “photographed”, says Allie Jones in Gawker. “Lensed by Annie Leibovitz” or “lensed by Guy Aroch”, for example. “Why is this happening, and how can we make it stop?” If the word “photographed” is too long for you to type out, try “shot”, or simply use the 📸 emoji. “Unless you are discussing gravitational lensing as observed by the Hubble Space Telescope, please avoid using ‘lens’ as a verb and just say what you really mean. Thank you.”


When Questlove collected the best documentary feature award at the Oscars moments after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock, the musician and director acted as if the whole incident hadn’t happened – he accepted a big hug from Smith as he approached the podium, and gave a heartfelt speech that made no mention of the slap. It turns out he had missed the entire thing because he was meditating. “I was in my ‘Mmmm’,” he told talk-show host Jimmy Fallon. “So when I opened my eyes, I didn’t realise.”

Quirk of history

In 1901, Edward VII instituted “Sandringham time” at the royal estate. It was half an hour ahead of GMT, giving the King more daylight for hunting on winter evenings. Rather “unsportingly”, says Jane Shilling in The Daily Telegraph, this “regal idiosyncrasy” was then abolished by Edward VIII in 1936.


quoted 1.4.22

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.”

Oscar Wilde