Why are so many Americans happy with their lot? | World news

There were two surprising things about a recent Gallup survey into life satisfaction in the US.

The first was that more Americans consider themselves to be thriving that at any point for more than a decade. Despite more than half a million Covid deaths, drought, heatwaves, wildfires and resurgent inflation, three in five Americans say they are pretty happy with their lot.

The second surprise was how little media coverage this received. (Though perhaps this is not so surprising, for we are well accustomed to newsrooms ignoring the positives.) What’s behind this big turnaround in wellbeing? Who are these Americans who’ve never had it so good? Are you one of them? If so, we’d love to hear from you. It just goes to show: life was not necessarily better in the “good old days”.

Otherwise, this week we were heartened by:

The Indian girls fighting child marriage. Three-minute read
A new EU plan to confront global heating. Two-minute read
How to reinvent yourself at 50… Four-minute read
…or get a degree at the age of 96. Three-year course
Chinese father and son reunited 24 years after abduction. 90-second read
Techscape: a new weekly newsletter about technology – and it’s free! Weekly fix

Guo Gangtang is reunited with his son, who was abducted 24 years ago. Photograph: CCTV

What we liked

An American newspaper has decided not to print the fibs and mendacious stunts that politicians commit. According to this Nieman Lab article, it’s working.

Meanwhile, a South Korean student has invented a toilet that converts poo into energy – and cryptocurrency! It’s our number two favourite article this week …

What would happen if your colleagues decided your salary? This piece from Positive News found out.

And the world’s first underwater farm is highly intriguing, even if it might prompt you to ask … why?

What we heard

This week, it was all about prandial etiquette, and specifically the minimum number of cheeses required to make a proper cheeseboard. Thanks for all your responses on this. I now know that simply finding two bits of ancient cheddar in the back of the fridge and putting them on the lid of a tupperware pot is simply not good enough.

Herewith some of your replies, in brie(f):

In Dublin, Peter McKenna talked us through the basics

It’s strange, given the importance of this question, that this is the first time I have heard it posed. Restaurants offer a choice of three cheeses, good restaurants may offer a choice of five… Plate size may be a factor here. In the domestic environment obviously different criteria apply. One cheese is not a cheese course, it’s a cheese. Two cheeses don’t give any scope to cover the variety of tastes and textures that cheeses offer. Three is a bare minimum but suggests the host is serving a cheese course on sufferance. Consequently I offer four cheeses as the minimum that one can present as a cheese course and expect credibility.

Dominic Pinto drew on his Norman roots

As a descendant of a proud Norman woman, born near to Pont-l’Évêque, who came to this country just over 100 years ago, it has to be the classic four: neufchâtel, livarot, pont l’évêque, camembert …

Shona Goulds said quality was as important as quantity

It depends on the quality and distinctiveness of the cheeses represented: four unusual and interesting cheeses would just about ‘cut the mustard’, however, if a boring cheddar is included it has to be five!

While Gretchen Zeigler took a mathematical approach to the question

First of all, it needs to be an odd number. It’s more aesthetically pleasing. That said, three is not enough and seven seems extensive unless it’s a very large gathering. At any rate, the question asked about the MINIMUM number.

Simple. The answer is FIVE.

Simon Anderson got a little carried away

A subject dear to my heart. I would say that a cheese board should contain a bare minimum of five different cheeses in order to call itself respectable. Nine or 10 being optimum, any more and the choice becomes overwhelming. My ideal basic cheese board would contain the following cheeses; sharp cheddar; cheshire; red leicester; wensleydale; stilton; camembert or brie; edam or gouda; limburger; fresh buffalo mozzarella; a strong, soft goat cheese.

Mustards, chutneys and malt vinegar pickled onions. Fruit is wonderful but does not belong on a cheese board.

Soft fresh French bread and unsalted butter, assorted crackers and warm pitta wedges. Extra virgin olive oil.

I am actually drooling now.

In northwest England, Jan Delaunay prefers something simpler.

Two, as long as they are of exceptional quality. I suggest a good stilton and a perfect camembert, grapes and chunks of a French baguette.

How I miss them after having no sense of taste and smell for six months.

Where was the Upside?

Looming auspiciously in the summer break the Upside is about to embark upon. We’ll be back in touch soon. Enjoy the holiday season and if you find the Upside, do let us know.

Get in touch

If you have any questions or comments about any of our newsletters please email [email protected]

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.