Here we are, a dozen or so installments into the Attention-Whore Index, and we’ve come full circle. Prince Harry dominated the early going, his reign lasting six straight weeks, a couple of those wins shared with his duchess. Then came four consecutive losses, to George Santos (twice), Don Lemon, and Donald Trump.
But last week’s polling is in hand, and look who’s back on top: Harry, with 46 percent. Followed by Ron DeSantis (29.3 percent), Trump (13.6 percent), and, more distantly, Norfolk Southern, Sergey Lavrov, and Stanley Johnson.
What will this week bring? That’s up to you.
The nominees in this week’s edition of the Attention-Whore Index Poll are …
His balloon has been popped but the juggernaut continues. Centralization buff Xi claimed his third term as president of China. Brokered a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to re-establish diplomatic ties. Announced plans to visit Putin in Russia. Reportedly intends to speak with Zelensky. A triple threat … literally!
Dressed in camo, the head of the Russian paramilitary organization the Wagner Group issued a video announcement: “I’m making a political coming out. I decided to run for president in 2024. For president of Ukraine.” Meanwhile, there’s Wagner to run—which is now reportedly trying to recruit “young warriors” from Moscow high schools.
The 36-year-old representative from Colorado announced she’d be a grandmother soon—her 17-year-old son and his girlfriend are expecting. “There’s something special about rural conservative communities,” she said, proudly. “They value life.”
The Silicon Valley Bank C.E.O. who lobbied for weaker banking regulations had unloaded nearly $30 million in stock over the last two years, including $3.6 million worth of shares just days before SVB’s collapse, after which he sent employees a video message: “I have an ask, and it’s a completely unfair ask. My unfair ask is this: Can you guys just hang around, try to support each other, try to support our clients, work together to what may be a slightly better outcome to where we are right now?” Would that better outcome be anywhere near as good as his better outcome? (We’re just unfairly asking.)
The drug used to treat diabetes has found another use: weight loss. “Everybody looks so great,” said Jimmy Kimmel while hosting the Academy Awards ceremony. “When I look around this room, I can’t help but wonder, Is Ozempic right for me?” There is now an Ozempic shortage, though this has yet to be traced directly to Hollywood.
Blamed for precipitating the Silicon Valley Bank collapse by signing a bill in 2018 that rolled back financial regulations, he in turn blamed “out-of-control Democrats and the Biden administration.” Accused Mike Pence of inspiring the January 6 insurrectionists: “Had he sent the votes back to the legislatures, they wouldn’t have had a problem.” Gave a stump speech at future daughter-in-law’s birthday party. Elsewhere declared: “I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III.” But loses A.W.I. points for evident reluctance to appear before a Manhattan grand jury.
Has reportedly created feelings of “resentment” and “despair” in his brother Prince Andrew for not having shared with him, and their other two siblings, some of the $790 million left by Queen Elizabeth only to Charles—per tradition and per inheritance-tax avoidance. Prince Archie and Princess Lillibet have (so far) apparently not been invited to his coronation. Received the gift of a horse, called Noble, from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Perhaps Andrew will be given that?
Decided to unilaterally push through his unpopular proposal to raise France’s retirement age to 64, from 62, without putting it to a vote in the National Assembly, where it was not expected to pass. Two-thirds of the French public opposes the measure, which has resulted in protests, transportation strikes, and mountains of uncollected garbage. Expect a run on barricades.
And now for this week’s Diary …
In Zurich …
SWISS ARMY STRIFE
The Swiss military has begun destroying its Rapier anti-aircraft missiles rather than send them to Ukraine, reported the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. While the Rapier dates to the 80s, it is not obsolete. What’s more, it is British-made, allowing the Swiss some moral wiggle room if they wanted to move them on. Switzerland is chronically neutral, but even some Swiss politicians have questioned the decision to destroy them as being a little too evenhanded.
In Hunan …
An eight-year-old boy who spent the evening watching television instead of doing his homework was punished by being forced to watch more TV—all night long. In a clip shared online—how and why does that happen?—“the child appeared visibly upset and at one point at 4:47AM fell asleep, only to be woken up by his mother to keep watching the screen,” reported Indy100, the The Independent’s newsletter. Online reaction to the punishment was mixed, ranging from “very clever” to “abuse.”
In Paris …
Hôtel de Ville de Paris, the city hall, was turned into a “giant brothel” with Mayor Anne Hildago as the “pimp,” in the words of Icy Diamond, a 22-year-old transgender porn actress and self-described escort, during Pride Night 2023 (“A night of festivities dedicated to youth and queer culture!”) last week. Le Monde reported that to support these characterizations, Icy Diamond claimed to have performed oral sex on a customer in one of the hall’s bathrooms.
In the world of literature …
INFLUENCERS AND INFLUENCEABILITY
Sales of romance novels and “saga fiction” in Great Britain are up 110 percent—$64 million worth—over the last three years, reported The Times of London, an increase publishers attribute to the popular TikTok offshoot BookTok. As for the phenomenon of the bump, it starts with It Ends with Us author Colleen Hoover, who went stratospheric courtesy of the platform—she had 4 of the top 15 spots on the New York Times best-seller list last year.
In Colmar …
Authorities here are offering households two free chickens apiece in order “to reduce food waste and ease the burden of waste collection for the town,” reported The Local. AIR MAIL wants to remind its readers in Colmar that the deadline to apply for the chickens is March 24.
In the Amazon …
A 30-year-old Bolivian man separated from his friends while hunting in the northern part of the country survived for 31 days by drinking “rainwater collected in his shoes and [eating] worms and insects while hiding from jaguars and peccaries,” the BBC reported. By the time he was found by a search party, he’d lost 37 pounds.
In Shanghai …
Hu Hai is a healthy 73, looks about half that (“a body lipid instrument shows my physical age to be the equivalent of 48. I think my psychological age is 20-30”), and achieves it all by avoiding the gym. O.K., also by eating frugally (rainwater, worms, and insects were not mentioned) and observing a strict regimen: “He wakes at 5am every day and after some stretching begins a punishing exercise routine which includes squats, push-ups and rope skipping. Then, after breakfast, it is yoga and belly dancing,” reported the South China Morning Post. Next comes “a noon-time nap, followed by afternoon karaoke sessions with friends online. He finishes the day watching television and is asleep by 10pm.” And one more thing, “a special tip” for staying young: “I hang upside down.” —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