On A Mutual Love-In

So as Americans like our Queen, we Brits tend to like your Presidents. I happen to like this President, which meant that the usual bile I reserve for the saccharine News coverage the BBC ladled out for the visit to Britain by the Obamas was largely absent today.

We are supposed to live in a les deferential age, so the fawning coverage of the recent Royal Wedding and today’s Presidential visit, especially by the BBC is still difficult to stomach, despite, as I say my own liking for Obama. The heavy duty serious coverage and analysis is, as usual left to Channel 4 News and later on by the flagship programme – our own ‘Situation Room’ if you like, ‘Newsnight’.

Not that there will all that much for anyone to say. Today President Obama met the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and took the salute in Buckingham Palace gardens, because security prevents American Presidents being driven down The Mall in an open topped carriage. The Obamas then went on to meet  Prince William and his new wife, who is now Princess of something or other, before going off to play ping pong with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at a Secondary School.

We shouldn’t get too carried away, but ping pong was the opening gambit between President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao of China in the former’s historic visit to ‘Red China’. How ironic that the Chinese Politbureau, despite having converted itself to Market Leninism, in the past decade completely turned the tables on the liberal Anglo American economic model and sat back as the Western economies consumed themselves to unsustainable excess and then near collapse. But I digress.

Tomorrow the serious talking gets underway in Britain between Obama and Cameron, although let us not pretend that they are some kind of equals. The BBC will prattle on about the ‘Special Relationship’, and Royal correspondents will become Presidential correspondents for another day. Americans will, if they have noticed that their President is away, be baffled to hear the words ‘special relationship’, and cynics will say the whole visit is a PR stunt. Which of course to some extent it is.

But who can blame the Obamas,and who can blame the United States? Any President, however remote his ancestry will always be given a welcome in Ireland, the Emerald Isle. And US Presidents (George Bush the second excepted) can count on a warm welcome in Britain.

But the biggest relief is surely that David Cameron appears to be his own man, and anxious to dispel the ‘poodle’ image that was associated with Tony Blair.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less