One of Senator Barack Obama’s persistent themes, since the drawn-out US presidential campaign began in the snows of 2007, has been the need for parents to turn off the television, put away video games, and spend more time reading to and talking with their children. Although no candidate would be dumb enough to call potential voters dumb, Obama is in fact referring to the dumbing down of American culture over the past three decades — a phenomenon that can be measured by everything from a sharp decline in book and newspaper reading to the mediocre performance of American students on international assessments of proficiency in science and mathematics.
O’ar Pali says it isn’t easy being on planes next to strangers all the time — and you quickly find there are a series of character types, dying to tell you about themselvesPerhaps it goes with the territory: if you have decided to live your life between two countries you must accept the consequences. And no, I am not talking about Darling’s taxation treat. I am referring to what most non-doms endure on a monthly if not weekly basis.
Hello, hello, he’s back again. Although not necessarily — as the words of his 1972 hit had it — ‘on the right track’. Nobody, these past few weeks, has accused Gary Glitter of being on the right track. The lady in my local post office wants him strung up by his gonads and, from the various websites I’ve been trawling through, this a fairly popular denouement. Glitter was convicted of downloading pornographic images of children in Britain and, after he completed his briefish sentence, of sexually abusing two young girls in Vietnam, to which country he had fled.
We only had a few seconds left to get ready. There were 91,000 people in the stadium and (allegedly) about 1.5 billion watching apathetically at home. I advanced to the little plastic sign on the red carpet saying ‘Mayor of London’, and as we waited to be called to the centre of the arena I decided I had better spruce myself up. Now the crowd were roaring and waving their red light sabres, and hastily I got out my wallet, mobile, keys, and all the other clobber that might impair my flag-waving performance, and handed them to a chap on my left.
In January, I met a friend of mine to discuss his impending departure from Washington DC. He was moving to Chicago to join Senator Barack Obama’s budding presidential campaign. At the time, it was hard not to have an instinctive sympathy for Obama, not least because the Clinton campaign had by that point attracted many of the most loathsome careerists in Democratic politics. Among other things, we discussed the general election landscape.