Borexit update: The outgoing British P.M. isn’t likely to remain on the sidelines, quietly wishing his successor—whoever it is—all the best. Stories like the delicately worded one in The Guardian that Boris Johnson “has failed to deny claims by Rishi Sunak that he is refusing to take calls from his former chancellor” suggest that the idea of even having a successor doesn’t hold much appeal—not for Johnson and not, strangely, for his own Conservative Party, even though they ousted him. With Johnson easily outpolling both Sunak and Liz Truss as the favorite to lead the party and the nation, The Guardian reported Johnson is “less than enthusiastic” about collaborating with either.
But until BoJo’s inevitable comeback attempt, he needs to do something, and what exactly that might be must have been on his mind in recent weeks, during which he was spotted kicking back at a spa in Slovenia and then at a supermarket outside Athens. A return to writing for the Daily Telegraph is unlikely; they’ve been mean to him. However, “multiple sources at the Daily Mail have said Johnson has been approached about writing a column for the paper when he leaves Downing Street. Such an arrangement could cement the close links between the prime minister and the Mail titles—with potential benefits for all involved. There has been continued speculation that Johnson is preparing to give a peerage to Paul Dacre—the editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail’s parent company—in his resignation honours list,” noted The Guardian. “At the same time, the prime minister is looking for new sources of income, as his salary will halve to £84,000 [$100,000] when he leaves office. He is also dealing with the aftermath of an expensive divorce and the cost of supporting multiple children.”
Garden-variety residents of eastern Long Island have been reducing lawn-sprinkler usage because of drought, but for some of the area’s richest specimens—the category responsible for having turned this particular paradise into a hotbed of entitlement—the adjustment will be more difficult. This crowd, burdened with saunas, pools, and such, uses water, lots of it, year-round. And now 27east.com, the Web site of The Southampton Press, has mined the Suffolk County Water Authority’s statistics to present the gratifyingly headlined Water Hogs of the Hamptons, 2022.
According to the newspaper, “average water usage by a Suffolk County home, the water authority says, is about 130,000 gallons a year.” A drop in the bucket! Among the Top 10: Jonathan Tisch (hotelier and co-owner of the New York Giants, Bridgehampton, 7.2 million gallons); Marc Leder (private-equity businessman, Sagaponack, 7 million gallons); and Louise Blouin (publisher, Southampton, 5.7 million gallons).
“The main stress on the water authority’s water supply is the demand for automatic sprinkler systems,” noted The Southampton Press. “But while estates with sprawling, meticulously manicured and intricately landscaped grounds are certainly thirsty, the difference between a few million gallons and the demands of super users is almost always geothermal heating and cooling systems in large mansions.” Hence the S.C.W.A. is “pleading with South Fork homeowners to reduce the watering of their properties because low pressure in the lines threatens the ability of firefighters to deliver water to their hoses.” Good luck with that.
Billable hours will turn into “billable units of attention” as soon as chips are embedded in attorneys’ brains, according to a report by the Law Society. It’s part of an attempt to reduce the cost of legal advice in the U.K., now routinely ka-chinging along at $1,800 an hour. “No longer will teams of solicitors be required to pore over complicated merger contracts,” reported The Times of London. “One super-lawyer with an embedded chip will be able to scan years of precedents and acres of background material in a fraction of the time…. Proponents of neurotechnology for lawyers have argued that corporate clients will press for the chips as an efficiency measure.” The report “forecast that brain implants were likely to become the ‘iPhone of the future’ in the legal profession.” Henceforth, iRumpole of the Bailey?
Gina Lollobrigida, the 95-year-old former actress once dubbed the world’s most beautiful woman, “is standing as a candidate in Italy’s September election as she seeks to join a long list of celebrities, from porn stars [Ilona Staller] to famous architects [Renzo Piano], who have entered Italian politics,” noted The Times of London. Lollobrigida, who hopes to enter Parliament as a member of the Eurosceptic Sovereign and Popular Italy party, wants “to change Italy’s laws, which allow courts to seize the wealth of the elderly if they are deemed incapable of managing it,” said the newspaper. “[She] recently sparred in court with her son, who wants control of her estate, claiming she fell under the spell of a young male assistant who plundered her fortune.”
Well, why not run? Even 85-year-old Silvio Berlusconi is after a Senate seat. The disgraced former P.M. is entering politics again, he recently said, because “that way everyone would be happy.”
The litter situation on K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, is worsening. Pictures shared on Instagram by a Peruvian climber “show an ascent littered with plastic bottles and discarded tents, ropes and shovels,” reported The Times of London. “We are supposed to be mountaineers, why do we do this to the mountain?” asked the climber, Flor Cuenca. On Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, the discarded debris got so bad that in 2014 Nepal’s government came up with a plan: the visiting $4,000 fee is refunded only if the person returns with at least 18 pounds of rubbish, “the average amount that a single person produces during the climb.”
This mountain pass in western Switzerland has a different problem: it isn’t what’s there but what’s missing. “The pass between Scex Rouge and Tsanfleuron has been iced over since at least the Roman era,” said The Guardian. “But as both glaciers have retreated, the bare rock of the ridge between the two is beginning to emerge—and will be completely ice-free before the summer is out.” A dry winter and this summer’s heat wave haven’t helped. As recently as 10 years ago the ice on the ridge was 50 feet thick.
Mountains, melting or otherwise, pose no obstacle to Death’s-head hawk moths as they journey from Europe to North Africa. Scientists using tiny trackers have determined that the moths are expert travelers. Faced with, say, an Alp, they know enough to go over or around it, and when: they can factor crosswinds into their choices. “Like seafarers of old,” said The Times of London, “they had good days for navigating, and days they waited in port.” One scientist told the newspaper, “They use the winds almost like sailors. They are very choosy in how they direct their flight; it’s not that they just go up and are blown around.” —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