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18 October

In the headlines

Liz Truss issued a “grovelling apology” for her chaotic first weeks in office in a “painful TV mea culpa” last night, says the Daily Mail. One Tory MP compared her performance to a “corpse delivering its own eulogy”. How long the PM survives largely depends on whether scheming backbenchers can coalesce around a replacement. Around 30 former British military pilots have been paid up to £240,000 to train China’s armed forces. Defence officials say the recruitment drive will give Beijing vital knowledge of Western strategy in a conflict scenario. Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka has picked up the Booker prize for his ghost story The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. He joked that he wished the £50,000 award could be paid in cryptocurrency, given the British pound is doing only “marginally better” than the tanking Sri Lankan rupee.

US politics

Yuval Noah Harari on the death of conservatism

The football World Cup “is a model for good nationalism”, author Yuval Noah Harari tells The Sunday Times. People wave flags and support their national team, but it’s all about global co-operation. “You can’t have a World Cup if every nation invents its own set of rules.” Supporting your team is nationalism at its best – it’s about “love”, the feeling that you are “connected to the other people in your country”. In today’s America, this has broken down. Republicans and Democrats fear and hate each other “more than they fear and hate anybody else on the planet, more than they fear and hate the Russians or the Chinese”. In the long run, it’s impossible to sustain a democracy in such conditions.

Cost of living crisis

No, we’re not all in this together

Handwringing over the rising cost of energy has awoken a tribe not seen since the 2008 credit crunch, says Julian Baggini in The Guardian: “thriftifarians”. These people moan constantly on social media about the coming “crisis”. They show off about how much longer they’re going to leave it before turning on the central heating this winter, and complain about the rocketing price of organic pasta. Yet for all their supposed belt-tightening, they haven’t stopped splashing the cash in restaurants, bars, theatres and elsewhere. And they’ll easily be able to handle their energy bills rising by the expected £3.50 a day, which is “far less than the price of a pint of beer”.


South Korean pop stars BTS will soon be abandoning their army of fans, says the BBC, to join the actual army. Debate has raged for years over whether the world’s most popular boyband would be exempt from national service – all able-bodied South Korean men aged 18-28 must serve for two years, because the country is still technically at war with its nuclear-armed neighbour to the north. The country’s defence minister says the K-pop band will still be able to “practise and perform together” while they are enlisted.

On the way out

King Charles spaniels have fallen almost completely out of fashion, with a mere 14 new puppies registered in the first half of 2022. The short-snouted breed is on the Kennel Club’s “vulnerable list”, says The Times, and a record low of 56 were born in 2020. Lovers of the spaniels – named after Charles II, whose wig bore a resemblance to his favourite dogs’ floppy ears – hope the accession of the new King Charles might give the pups a much-needed boost. They may be disappointed: he “prefers Jack Russells”.


“The future of fashion is the past,” says Olivia Petter in The Independent. Vintage designer pieces from Junya Watanabe, John Galliano and Comme Des Garçons, some decades old, have been worn by the likes of Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Kendall Jenner. The downside for the rest of us is that the finest second-hand clothes are getting harder to find. Writer and “seasoned vintage shopper” Camille Charrière recently revealed that after a shop put aside a baby blue Gucci fur coat for her to rent, it was snapped up by Rihanna instead.


The trend for extreme morning routines shows no sign of abating among the world’s “turbo-strivers”, says Emma Jacobs in the FT. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey gets up at 5am to meditate for an hour, before running six miles and immersing himself in an ice bath. Actor Mark Wahlberg wakes at 2.30am for “prayer and breakfast”, works out between 3.40am and 5.15am, then recovers from his exercise “in the -100C freeze of his cryo chamber”. They make Winston Churchill look like a slacker: the wartime PM would habitually take “breakfast and the newspapers in bed, before starting work, also in bed”.


Researchers in Japan have taken to attaching giant googly eyes to self-driving golf carts, says Futurism, to make it clear to pedestrians that the vehicle knows they’re there. Studies found that walkers felt safer when they saw the ocular accessories pointing in their direction, and were happier to cross the road when a kitted-out cart was approaching.


quoted 18.10.22

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”

John F Kennedy