Nobody’s perfect …

How the tidy have fallen: “My home is messy and there’s nothing I can do about it,” said Marie Kondo in The Times of London. “That’s where I am in my life. I’ve given up — in a good way. I’ve let it go. Now I can say in interviews, my house is really messy because I have three children. I’m still embarrassed to show that mess, but I’m much easier on myself.”

As tweets go, it was tweetissimo. “On a good day, my tweets get 100 likes,” wrote Tom Kington in The Times of London. “This one earned 10,000 and plunged me into a raging debate about modern Italian, fears for the language’s future, regional resentments and what makes Italians really cringe.”

The tweet in question: “Italians now referring to a message sent via WhatsApp as a ‘whatsappino’, proving the Italian language can smooth out the ugliest words.” Kington reported that while non-Italians liked “whatsappino,” most Italians “absolutely loathed it.” One commentator wrote, “NOT A WHATSAPPINO NEVER A WHATSAPPINO … ”

And that was just the app-eritivo. That commentator, Giulia Blasi, told Kington, “My pet peeve is ‘downloadare’, which uses the English word rather than perfectly good Italian words like ‘scaricare’. Another example is ‘ti whatsappo’, meaning I will send you a WhatsApp … the worst thing is I have caught myself using it.”

From the latest installment of Corinna and the King, Corinna Larsen’s podcast/celebration of her former lover and current courtroom adversary, the onetime King of Spain, Juan Carlos: “He does two pretend Christmases.” There’s “the pretend real Christmas with the people he can no longer stand,” i.e., his family, but one December that was preceded by a few days with an alternate-universe Christmas Juan Carlos had ordered up: Christmas with Larsen—and this was after their affair had ended—plus her ex-husband, their kids, gifts, tree, champagne, turkey, “pretending it’s Christmas, only it’s not Christmas.” Well, no one has ever denied that it’s a complicated—and very, very busy—time of year.

Ancient-pathogen alert! This eastern Russian region’s permafrost, home to long-dormant microbes and viruses, is thawing, and as New Scientist reports, now more “zombie viruses” have emerged. The oldest one, revived by scientists after 48,500 years, is dangerous only if you happen to be a single-celled organism, which means it’s of no concern to most of us. But as the planet warms, other pathogens will resurface, and whether they will pose a threat to animals and humans remains to be seen.

The long tail of the Chinese dragon?

According to the South China Morning Post, when a senior researcher at the Culture and Tourist Bureau in this northern Chinese city asserted on the group’s official WeChat account that there was “a great deal of evidence to show that it was the Chinese who created Egyptian civilization,” his claim was “met with confusion and mockery.” The researcher cited as evidence an ancient bronze basin on display at the Zhangjiakou Museum, whose carvings, he said, were similar to those found in ancient Egypt. “All existing archaeological evidence and studies from around the world support the conclusion that Egypt’s ancient civilization appeared far earlier than that of China’s, despite the shared similarities,” noted the newspaper. The article was pulled from the site and an internal investigation is underway.

Using a Skype link and a rubber mask fashioned to look like France’s defense minister, con man Gilbert Chikli was able to relieve some extremely wealthy benefactors—the Aga Khan, imam of a branch of Shiism; the Turkish businessman Inan Kiraç; and Corinne Mentzelopoulos, the owner of Château Margaux—of some $20 million. Chikli, the subject of the new Netflix documentary The Masked Scammer, capitalized on the 2015 kidnapping of French citizens by Islamists in Syria and Mali and the rumors that France, reeling from the Bataclan terror attack in Paris, might be willing to quietly pay ransom.

Chikli and his accomplices are thought to have contacted more than 150 people and organizations, including the King of Morocco, the archbishop of Paris, and Brigitte Bardot. But he met his match when a chamber of commerce director he’d approached, Sophie Grenier, had suspicions and, with police cooperation, played Chikli while he was playing her. Chikli was sentenced to an 11-year prison sentence in 2020.

Separate beds?

A recent study “found that 10 per cent of cohabiting couples sleep in different rooms and a further 6 per cent would like to but fear the consequences,” reported Le Parisien, and that “young people are increasingly eschewing the same room.” Something to do with “retain[ing] their personal identity,” according to one sociologist.

Those who want to sleep together but without another sort of issue, as it were, are embracing a contraception movement involving special underwear for men. The idea is to lift the testicles toward the body, raising their temperature by the crucial few degrees required to impair sperm production. “After three months of wearing them for 15 hours a day, a man’s sperm count falls drastically to the point where he is effectively sterile,” The Times of London reported. —George Kalogerakis

George Kalogerakis, one of the original editor-writers at Spy, later worked for Vanity Fair, New York, and The New York Times, where he was deputy op-ed editor. A co-author of Spy: The Funny Years and co-editor of Disunion: A History of the Civil War, he is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL