When was the best time to be alive? – The Guardian

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When was it bliss to be alive? We at the Upside often find ourselves considering this, given how often we hear that modern life is rubbish and this is the worst era since AD540.

That may be so, but the Upside is always looking for the good in things. So when was the golden age? Surely not that tumultuous period that Wordsworth was recalling when he wrote the words: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive / But to be young was very heaven!” Let’s face it: life was dreadful in the 18th century, and didn’t last long either.

The roaring 20s? The swinging 60s? The febrile (18)40s, or the postmodern 1990s? The naughty 00s or the dirty 30s (as the 1630s weren’t called)? Should it be a period of recovery and restoration, such as the 1950s, or a time of great growth and opportunity such as the Gilded Age?

Over to you Upsiders. Write to us and let us know: when, if ever, was it bliss to be alive? The best answer gets a vole.

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A vole. Photograph: Nature Photographers Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy

Otherwise, this week we were greatly cheered by:

the breast cancer survivor who persuaded a generation to check their chests. Five-minute read
the cryptocurrency that is about to slash its carbon emissions. 90-second read
Leonardo di Caprio’s plan to rewild the Galápagos. Two-minute read
dogs better than lateral flow tests at detecting Covid. Two-minute sniff
Readers singing the praises of bleak places they came to love during lockdown. Three-minute read
Lego’s new LGBTQ+ figures. 90-second read

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Lego’s first LGBTQ+ set. Photograph: Lego

Lucky numbers

Several US states have reported days free of Covid deaths for the first time in months.

Cambridge accepted record numbers of students from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in 2020.

What we liked

Taking cars out of cities can be a boost to certain types of business, according to this piece from Bloomberg CityLab.

Meanwhile, the BBC reported on the ancient Italian village uncovered when an Alpine lake was drained.

And this is curious: the ants who live far longer than the rest. From the Atlantic

Speaking of longevity, where in the world is it best to grow old? Here perhaps?

What we heard

Daianna Karaian wrote in from London with news of a news initiative:

For a long time, we’ve all been led to believe that we, as individuals, can’t do anything about the state of the world. But the link between individual action and collective change has been hard to miss this past year – from changes in climate policy, to movements against discrimination, to the ebbs and flows of a global pandemic.

As founder of Today Do This, I’ve always believed our small individual actions today can create big collective change tomorrow. That’s why, two years ago, we began publishing a weekly ‘do-something-about-the-news letter’ where we pick a recent news story and share one simple thing readers can do that day to make a difference.

To give even more people the confidence to create change, we’ve made the past year’s worth of news stories and practical actions available to everyone here.

Thanks Daianna – tons of practical advice for us all in there.

Where was the Upside?

With a new Guardian feature to make journalism more accessible to low-vision and blind users.

Also with the restoration of things we missed last year, from a looming summer of sport to Glastonbury (a livestreamed version and a shorter, live version), and, er, Eurovision?

We’re away for a couple of weeks. Back in June. In the meantime, don’t forget to tell us about your golden age.

If you have any questions or comments about any of our newsletters please email newsletters@theguardian.com

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