Skip to main content
The Knowledge logo

26 July

In the headlines

The “gloves are off” in the Conservative leadership race, says the I newspaper, after last night’s fractious head-to-head TV debate. Liz Truss’s allies criticised Rishi Sunak for “mansplaining and shouty private school behaviour”, while Sunak’s team say Truss is economically illiterate. The whole thing was “pointless”, says The Independent’s Tom Peck on Twitter, after the programme’s truly weird intro (below). No one will remember anything else about it. Fourteen million people are expected to watch England Women’s Euro 2022 semi-final tonight on BBC1, says The Times, a record for female football. The Lionesses are favourites for the game against Sweden, which kicks off at 8pm. The inaugural Scottish Tree Hugging Championships were won this weekend by Alasdair Firth, who lives in the woods nearby on the Morvern peninsula, and came dressed as a tree. Events included hugging as many trees in one minute as possible and “freestyle” – hugging a tree in the weirdest way possible.


It’s “vibes and tribes” that shape our politics

Why is Rishi Sunak, who supported Brexit before it was popular, trailing among Tory members to Liz Truss, who vigorously campaigned to remain? It’s all about vibes, says Janan Ganesh in the FT. Sunak and Truss are both Oxford graduates “of public-sector middle-class stock”, but Sunak gives off a know-it-all, “richer than God” vibe. Truss, however, seems no-nonsense and “regional”. People care about “vibes and tribes” far more than they do about ideology. I’m certainly guilty of it: I like Sunak and Emmanuel Macron because they are my kind of people. “They dress and act like the average of my 10 best friends. If there are some awkward policies in the way, I will reinterpret them.”


How the literary world is censoring itself

America’s publishing industry has “long prided itself” on freedom of expression, says Pamela Paul in The New York Times. Back in the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita was banned in France, Britain and Argentina – but not the US. Efforts to repress other works, from Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species to Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, have also been rebuffed. But while publishers and editors would never condone book banning, many privately admit that “a subtler form of repression is taking place in the literary world”: self-censorship.

Get The Knowledge in your inbox

signup box

We scour the world’s media sources and bring you the best – all in one place. Sign up to our five minute daily newsletter here.

From the archives

“Old Hollywood bloopers are a thing of beauty,” says @NonsenseIsland on Twitter. Here is a compilation of them, with sound, showing actors fluffing their lines and getting into trouble.

Inside politics

Six years after Rupert Murdoch told Donald Trump he would back him for the presidency, the pact has ended. On Friday night the media mogul’s two big US newspapers, the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, both published damning editorials about Trump’s failure to stop the January 6 insurrection. The Post said the former president had “proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again”. Even Murdoch’s Fox News declined to broadcast a Trump rally on Friday, instead airing an interview with top Republican rival Ron DeSantis.


Instagram, TikTok and YouTube have become the most popular news sources for British children aged 12 to 15, overtaking the previously top-ranked BBC One and Two. On TikTok, 44% of users get their information not from news organisations but “other people they follow” on the app, says Tortoise. This “raises obvious questions about where those people get their news”.

Self-driving ships are slowly “becoming a reality”, says Rebecca Heilweil in Vox. Last month the Mayflower Autonomous Ship successfully navigated across the Atlantic using artificial intelligence, with no humans on board. In Norway, an autonomous container vessel is already “shuttling fertiliser between a factory and a local port”. And in Knoxville, Tennessee, an AI start-up has built a self-driving water taxi. Because the tech is so new, it’s not yet clear whether it’s as capable as human navigators. But the hope is that AI will “make better calculations about routes and speeds”, saving time and fuel.


I told an American friend about the book co-authored by failed Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt last year, Greater: Britain After the Storm, says Charles Moore in The Spectator. “Do you think she has read it?” he asked. It’s not a crazy question, given that many books boasting famous authors are in fact written by ghost or co-authors. Take this passage about a full English breakfast: “Not surprisingly, after such breakfast bowel-bashing there blossoms a stool of biblical proportions. Exodus by Caesarean section.” What on earth does this mean, wonders Moore. “Why are ‘biblical’ stools big? Why ‘by Caesarean section’? Why is anyone writing this?”


It’s a Strandbeest, meaning “beach animal”, created by Dutch artist Theo Jansen. Since 1990 Jansen has been making “kinetic structures” like this one, which walk on their own, getting all their energy from the wind. Watch a longer compilation of his creations in action here.


quoted 26.7.22

“Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.”

American poet Ogden Nash