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18 May

In the headlines

UK inflation has hit a 40-year high of 9%, the highest level among G7 countries and among the highest of any advanced economy. The Bank of England expects prices to be “higher still” by the winter, says Sky News’s Ed Conway on Twitter – and they tend to underestimate inflation. A Conservative MP has been arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault. Tory whips say they have banned the unnamed man, who is in his 50s, from parliament until the investigation is complete. Pope Francis has railed against his doctors for telling him to use a wheelchair because of a gammy knee. “Do you know what I need for my knee,” the 85-year-old told a crowd in Mexico: “Some tequila.”


Population growth

Africa’s “astonishing” rise

The rise of China and India isn’t that surprising, says Adam Tooze in Foreign Policy, when you consider that both cultures have dominated world affairs for most of the last 2,000 years. What is unprecedented is Africa’s “astonishing demographic transformation”. In 1914, the continent’s population was about 124 million, 7% of the world total. Now it’s 1.4 billion, and by 2050 it could be up to 2.5 billion – around a quarter of the global population. Unlike in the rest of the world, where birth rates tend to fall as countries develop, many African nations still see stubbornly high levels of fertility: in large parts of west and east Africa “the desired family size remains in excess of five children”. No wonder Nigeria is expected, by 2050, to replace America as the world’s third most populous country.


Should everyone be forced to vote?

Britain is getting older, says Charlie Peters in The Critic, and old people are more likely to vote than the young. That’s why our politics has become so stagnant: anything that might spur economic growth and help the young, like housebuilding, is opposed by well-off pensioners who are more interested in the price of their house going up. Taxes on workers are rising but cuts to pensions are nowhere to be seen. Unsurprisingly, record numbers of people are now planning to emigrate as the cost-of-living crisis bites.

Love etc

Men tend to have longer, thicker eyelashes than women, says Mel Magazine. Just as with other types of body hair, it’s because of their far higher testosterone levels. Though we might associate luscious, fluttering eyelashes with lust, they used to be a sign of chastity: the ancient Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder suggested that women’s lashes could fall out if they had too much sex. He wasn’t wrong – syphilis, all too common among randy Romans, can indeed cause eyelash loss.


Julia Fox has caused a stir after she popped to the shops wearing a bikini. The 32-year-old actress also wore a large denim blazer, scrunched-up denim boots, and a handbag made from a pair of jeans. After plenty of online speculation, Fox released a statement explaining why exactly she’d worn the outfit, writing on Instagram: “I just think that if it’s socially acceptable at the beach it should be the same everywhere lol.” Oh, says Gawker, “lol”.


It’s a delivery robot in the woods outside Northampton, spotted by historian Matthew McCormack on a morning bike ride. He took a photo of the hapless droid and suggested it was “lost”, which went viral on Twitter. The makers of the friendly four-wheeled automaton, Starship Technologies, tweeted back to him: “Not lost, simply on an adventure! 🤖”


A new aspirational aesthetic is celebrating the joys of generational wealth, says The Cut. Together, #oldmoney and #oldmoneyaesthetic have over 1.3 billion views on TikTok, with classy content creators posing beside horses, lolling against vintage convertibles, and playing croquet on the grounds of English country estates. Equally important is the old-money attire: black loafers (preferably Prada), pearls (real, of course) and lavish fur capes.

Gone viral


Here’s a good anagram, says LitHub. If you rearrange the phrase “Noel Coward is”, you get: “no Oscar Wilde”.


quoted 18.5

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Bertrand Russell