In possibly our most evenly distributed Attention-Whore Index to date, the first- and last-place finishers were separated by only 22 percentage points. Still, the tally broke distinctly in two: Elon Musk (28.7 percent), Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito (22.6 percent), and Luis Rubiales (21.3 percent) led the way, trailed significantly by second-divisioners Rebecca Hill, Jesse Watters, and the British Museum, that last one an undeniable disappointment. Surely such a distinguished museum can find a way to mislay a few dozen more priceless artifacts and become a serious contender.
The nominees in this week’s edition of the Attention-Whore Index Poll are …
Last week’s winner hopes to make it two in a row. What has he got to offer this time? Well, Vladimir Putin called him “an outstdanding person” and a “talented businessman.” And, unlike most of us, he’s the subject of a big new biography which revealed—and Musk has acknowledged—that he has a third child with the singer Grimes. The previously undisclosed son, Tau Techno Mechanicus (age unknown), joins X Æ A-12 (three), Exa Dark Sideræl (one), plus seven other children with two other women. This nicely buried the book’s other disclosure, that Musk had allegedly cut off Starlink coverage to Ukrainian forces when they were about to attack Russia’s navy in Crimea. He’s rapidly becoming a cross between Hugh Hefner and Dr. Evil.
The former, fleeting prime minister gave interviews in which she said her virtually undetectable premiership was sunk by “left-wing orthodoxy,” and that she would be publishing a memoir to “share lessons” about her time as a politician. Truss’s book is to be called Ten Years to Save the West, and not, as one might have reasonably assumed, “Forty-Nine Days That Didn’t Shake the World.”
On the one hand: showed his stamina by jetting to New Delhi for the G-20 summit, where he met with 30 world leaders, and then to Hanoi. On the other hand: at a sometimes rambling news conference just before flying home, got the hook mid-answer when his mike was turned off and jazz started playing.
KIM JONG UN
Chugged up the coast to Russia in his preferred mode of transportation, a drab green, heavily armored train, for a meeting with Vladimir Putin. The Pgongyang-Vladivostok trip took about 20 hours because the train’s top speed is somewhere between 37 m.p.h. and 55 m.p.h.—all those thick, bulletproof cars laden with cases of wine and gourmet food can slow things down, and then, of course, there’s the Supreme Leader himself.
Resumed taping of The Drew Barrymore Show and was picketed accordingly. “I own this choice,” she posted, adding that “we are in compliance with not discussing or promoting film and television” affected by the strike. But the Writers Guild of America was not pleased, and she was dropped as the host of the National Book Awards. So much for reading the room.
Along with his wife, Mila Kunis, posted an Instagram video explaining away the couple’s earlier support of the recently convicted rapist Danny Masterson—they’d written character letters that “were intended for the judge to read, and not to undermine the testimony of the victims, or to retraumatize them in any way.” And then there were the decades-old clips from Punk’d and The Rosie O’Donnell Show, shared widely online, of Kutcher saying that Hillary Duff was “one of the girls that we’re all waiting for to turn 18. Along with the Olsen twins,” and of Kunis revealing that when she was 14, on the set of That ’70s Show, Masterson had dared the 19-year-old Kutcher to French-kiss her. Following on the heels of his close relationship with disgraced former WeWork C.E.O. Adam Neumann, Kutcher sure knows how to pick his friends.
The U.S. representative, no stranger to arrests and disruptions, was escorted from the musical Beetlejuice in Denver, “accused by venue officials of vaping, singing, recording and ‘causing a disturbance’ during the performance,” according to The Denver Post. One of the ushers said, “I told them that they need to leave the theater and if they do not, they will be trespassing. The patrons said they would not leave. I told them I would (be) going to get Denver Police’. They said go get them.’” And got they were. Boebert and her companion were escorted from the premises, with the incident report stating that Boebert protested her treatment by declaring, “I will be contacting the mayor,” “I am on the board,” and that time-honored default of the extravagantly self-regarding, “Do you know who I am?” Just another wild Sunday night in Denver.
And now for this week’s Diary …
What is happening to the cats of Bologna? “In a small stretch of the Apennine Mountains, 30 cats were reported missing last month,” according to The Times of London. Among them is Bartolo, a beloved fluffy white Persian belonging to the fashion photographer and influencer Nima Benati, who has offered a $5,000 reward and put a pet detective on the case. Dozens of cats devoured by wild animals? “The Italian Association for the Protection of Animals and the Environment believes that the reason for the disappearances could be more nefarious,” the newspaper reported. “Having found no cat carcasses, it dismissed suggestions that the cats were being eaten by wild predators, suggesting instead that a satanic sect might be abducting the cats.”
Three guests at the 50th birthday party for Belgian justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne last month have been charged with urinating on a police van that was parked outside his home during the festivities. The minister—did we mention his name? Vincent Van Quickenborne—has apologized, but has also offered contradictory statements about whether he was aware of the incident at the time. Euronews reported that “[the] affair, dubbed ‘pipigate’ [pee-peegate] by the Belgian media, has put this Flemish liberal leader in a difficult position, with several police unions calling on him to resign.” Calling, to be clear, on Vincent Van Quickenborne to resign.
Two construction workers looking for a shortcut have been charged with causing “irreversible damage” to a section of the Great Wall in this northern China province. The 12,000-mile wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has survived since the Ming Dynasty, suffered its most recent modification when the workers decided to widen an existing gap by driving an excavator through it.
A nighttime yoga class inside a café in Lincolnshire, England, was mistaken by two passersby as the scene of a mass murder. The instructor told the BBC that the yoga students were lying down in the candle-lit dark, covered with blankets, eyes closed, as she walked around playing a drum, when “a couple with some dogs just came up to the window and were having a look in … these people phoned in saying that there was a mass murderer [and that] it looked like some kind of ritual, and that the people on the floor were actually dead.” The class had been in its shavasana (relaxation) stage, at least until the police sirens started and the screeching squad cars pulled up.
The $42 million San Francisco home belonging to Sloan Lindemann Barnett and Roger Barnett drew some unwanted attention when it was featured in the January 2021 issue of Architectural Digest. Detectable in a photo of a courtyard were some empty pedestals, which turned out to be empty only because the ancient Khmer statues that normally sat on them were mysteriously M.I.A.—edited out of the photo by unknown hands, The Washington Post reported at the time. Now the statues are gone from those pedestals for real. The U.S. Attorney’s Office “announced the return of 33 Khmer antiquities”—the courtyard figures among them—”to the Kingdom of Cambodia, pursuant to an agreement between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the family of the late George Lindemann. The collection includes statues dating to the 10th and 12th centuries that were originally looted from religious and archaeological sites in Cambodia.”
Marathon cheats are nothing new. One could say that the modern era began back in 1980 with Rosie Ruiz “winning” in Boston. But these tend to be isolated instances—except at the Mexico City Marathon, where runners have in recent years turned it into an art form. In the wake of the 2023 race, held a few weeks ago, authorities have disqualified approximately 11,000 runners (out of 30,000 who started) for cutting sections of the course, using bicycles, or taking public transportation where available. A new record, apparently.
Speaking of layabouts, as the competition for Laziest Citizen—which involves stretching out on mats and staying there—hit the three-week mark at this Montenegrin resort, the seven remaining contestants (out of 21) appeared to be merely settling in, as it were. “All of us feel good, excellent, there are no health problems, they are pampering us, all we have to do is to remain lying down,” the 2021 champion, 38-year-old Dubravka Aksic, told Reuters. Books, laptops, and cell phones are permitted, as is a 10-minute bathroom break every eight hours. First prize, $1,075. This weekend marks the one-month point, with seven still in the running. Or in the reclining. —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 at AIR MAIL