Pointless act of the week

Why do people do these things?

It's Friday, the day of pop psychology, of searching questions.

What compels a man, I ask you, to make a 2,162-metre-long wedding dress for his bride-to-be? The Guinness Book of Records, is the short answer. But there's more to it than that, isn't there? Was Zhao Peng, the dressmaking groom, neglected in childhood; did he suffer a wedding-dress-related trauma in his teens; did he watch American Beauty too many times (Peng pinned 9,999 red roses on to the train of the dress)? I don't know.

I do know that Xinhua definitely walks away with the Quote of the Week trophy. It has two absolute corkers.

First, from the groom himself:

"I do not want a cliché wedding parade or banquet, nor can I afford the extravagance of a hot balloon wedding."

And then his mother:

"It is a waste of money in my opinion."

Oh, mothers! Must they crush our dreams? Your son opted for the giant wedding dress, not the expensive hot balloon option - you should be grateful. (A hot balloon wedding? I know he means hot-air balloon, but I'm just imagining lots of little party balloons, strangely warmed.) Anyway, on reflection, I'm on Peng's side. He's romantic with a capital R. He knows a gesture when he sees one. It might be utterly pointless, but hell, everything's pointless once you start thinking like that. Ah, Friday, it gets me every time.




Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.



In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.