Friday, March 1, 2024

Funny old world: The week’s offbeat news

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Paris (AFP) – From American whiskey going to the dogs to the trouble with romance. Your weekly roundup of offbeat stories from around the world.

Love never gets old

We always suspected it, but media mogul Rupert Murdoch has revealed himself to be an incurable romantic.

The Fox News owner is to tie the knot for a fifth time at 92.

“I was very nervous. I dreaded falling in love — but I knew this would be my last. It better be,” said Murdoch, who has only just disentangled himself from a short-lived fourth marriage to model Jerry Hall.

His bride-to-be, Ann Lesley Smith, the widow of country singer Chester Smith, seems to have her eyes wide open. “It’s not my first rodeo,” she said.

The multibillionaire, a quarter century her senior, wants them to spend “the second half of our lives together”. Which means Murdoch counts on living to 180.

‘Own the feels’, Rupert

A veteran right-winger, Murdoch has long raged against the nanny state. But we might make an exception for New Zealand, where the government is reaching out to console those who have been unlucky in love.

“Break-ups suck… but you can channel it for good,” said its “Love Better” campaign, which urges the love-crossed to “own the feels” and block their exes on social media.

Romance a ‘big fat lie’?

But what if this whole romance lark is just “one big fat lie?” wondered English actor Hugh Grant, who admitted making “a whole career and fortune out of” the pursuit of true love in films like “Notting Hill” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral”.

“How many really happy relationships do you know?” Hugh Grant asked © Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

“I mean, how many really happy relationships do you know? There’s not many,” he told AFP.

“All those romantic comedies I made — it would be very interesting to have the sequel now, which would presumably start with the divorce lawyers.

“The big question is whether the whole idea of a man and a woman belonging together — and this being something we are all desperate for — is true,” said the actor, who recently compared his 62-year-old self to “basically a scrotum”.

Glass of the brown stuff

The US Supreme Court is having to rule on whether Americans have the God-given right to make poo jokes about Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Not at all smelly: Jack Daniel's whiskey
Not at all smelly: Jack Daniel’s whiskey © SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

The makers of the Tennessee nectar are not amused that a jokey dog chew toy has been made in the shape of their famous bottles, bearing the label “The Old No. 2 on your carpet… 43 poo by vol. 100 smelly.”

Puns are clearly a thing in the dog chew world, with spoof Dr Pepper cherry cola cans called “Dr Pooper” as well as “Mountain Drool” toys in the shape of Pepsi’s Mountain Dew bottles.

Bots’ liberal bias

Even AI bots are plotting against Hungary’s proudly “illiberal” leader Viktor Orban, it seems.

German MEP Daniel Freund asked the ChatGPT app to write a rap song about corruption in Hungary, whose elites have been accused of misusing EU funds.

“From football clubs to luxury castles/ Orban’s empire is built on scams and hustles,” it replied.

“It’s time to clean up, it’s time to fight/ We won’t back down until Orban’s out of sight.”

Clearly furious, Orban’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs turned to the app for a stinging riposte, only for it to laud Freund as a “fighter for democracy” whose “agenda is shining bright”.

This proved, Kovacs argued, that ChatGPT “is nothing more than a bullshit generator”.

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