Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hair today

Today is this blog’s first birthday, and I am thinking about my old goatee.

In the mid nineties, every guy I knew seemed to be growing a goatee. At the time I thought it was the fashion, but I now suspect that it had more to do with my age. I was hanging out with guys like myself, all hitting thirty at the same time, all noticing their waistlines beginning to bulge, and all stumbling across the same disguise for the extra chins and blurring jawline. I had one myself.

After a few years, no amount of goatee could hide the fat even from my own indulgent gaze. A bout of unemployment (unwelcome at the time, but in hindsight very fortuitous) gave me six months in which to run five miles a day and swim another two, and as if by magic the weight went away, swiftly followed by the now superfluous fuzz.

I had done the goatee thing.

Now, I’m not suggesting that blogging is an attempt to hide the ravages of age, or indeed anything else. It has been stimulating and gratifying in its own right. I feel like I’ve made some good friends insofar as one can make friends this way. I’ve had fun, and hopefully I’ve entertained some of you too.

For all that, maintaining a blog is not the sort of thing that one can commit to doing forever, especially when you have four kids and an increasingly demanding job breathing down your neck. A year of this was fun, and I could go a while longer yet, but it will not always be so. I’d rather quit now while I still remember blogging fondly than wait until I resent it as a burden. So, as with the goatee, it’s time to draw the line.

I have done the blog thing.

Therefore this’ll be my last entry for the foreseeable future. I might do some tidying up with the labels, and I’ll leave the links up, but that’ll be it. I'll see you all at your own blogs every now and then – meanwhile, thanks for dropping by, and all the very best for the New Year.

It’s been a blast…

Monday, January 01, 2007

Bonne année

The French welcome the New Year in their own inimitable style, by holding a protest against the relentless progressivism of the calendar.

The Front d'Opposition à la Nouvelle Année/Comité d'Organistion National (Fonacon) brought the centre of Nantes to a standstill last night, condemning the approach of midnight.

"It is about time that the passage of time ended," said one of the hooded organisers. "We are fed up with getting older. Why should we follow the fashion? The planet is getting older and warmer. Not us. Stop this mad race towards death."

"Besides, next year is an election year [in France] and has a rather doubtful feel about it. Sego v Sarko? Not for us. No thanks."

The good folk of Fonacon showed true Gallic resolve in the face of adversity. When 2007 arrived regardless, the marchers amended their chants to "No to 2008" without so much as a pause.

Of course, one assumes they were joking. There must be a few people in France with a sense of humour, mustn't there?

And a Happy New Year to you too...

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sing your life

Want to know what was #1 in the hit parade the day you were born? Satisfy your curiosity here.

Looking at my results, I wonder if perhaps music is not destiny. In the month of my birth, the three top hits were, in chronological order, Ticket To Ride by The Beatles, King Of The Road by Roger Miller, and Where Are You Now? by Jackie Trent. Eight countries later, I’m hoping that that gypsy curse has just about worn off.

On the other hand, one more year and my theme tune would’ve been Pretty Flamingo by Manfred Mann. I’m pretty sure I dodged a bullet there…

So, what's the soundtrack to your life?

I'm a man of means by no means...
King of the Road.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Intelligence Oversight

We all rest a little easier in our beds, as the Democrats unveil the new leadership of the Congressional Intelligence Committee.

In the space of a few minutes, Chairperson Silvestre Reyes managed to describe Al Qaeda as a Shia organisation, and Iran as a Sunni state, before admitting that he had no idea what Hizbollah was or where it was based.

Other concepts Democrats find it hard to distinguish between include “right” and “wrong”, “mine” and “yours”, and most recently “victory” and “surrender”.

Not that the Republicans did much better. To quote the woman in charge of CIA spy recruitment: “The Sunni are more radical than the Shia. Or vice versa.”

What is it with Americans and abroad? I know many of them don’t have passports, but then again, when you live in a country as big as the US, there’s not much reason to leave. Just about any combination of climate and dusky-maiden skin-tone is available right here. Even so, surely they should be able to find a couple of dozen people out of their whole political class who know more about the world than what they’ve gleaned off of a handful of Snapple Facts?

Let’s hope these knuckleheads do a little background reading before they re-open for business in January.

Sylvestre Reyes displays his unrivalled grasp of foreign affairs, yesterday. Is that your final answer?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Not half bad

Ave atque vale, then, Leslie Lynch King, Jr, 38th President of the United States.

"Damn it, I don't need the polls to tell me whether I'm right or wrong."

He's the first president I was ever really conscious of, and even then only because he was always in the news tripping over things. Now we come to consider his life, too late we realize that he probably deserved a lot better. But there's a lot of people like that, especially among the klutzy ones.

So take a minute for those folks in your life - the cack-handed and the bad-haired, the clumsy and the dull - who are plodding along, getting the job done all the same. We rely on them to be there when we need them, but might never think to thank them.

For Gerald R Ford, give them a smile today...

Gerald R Ford and friend, yesterday. RIP.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

All work and no play

The Harvard Business Review indulges in a little schadenfreude, reporting that individuals in "extreme jobs" rake in the cash but only at the expense of their sex lives.

They define extreme jobs as entailing work weeks of 60 hours or more. 46 per cent of the corporate carnivores surveyed said that their jobs interfere with "having a strong relationship with my spouse/partner", with 50% having an unsatisfying sex life. The other 50% were presumably jumping their secretaries.

Excuse me while I unpack my violin. By that logic, I reckon I’m underpaid by a factor of ten. Tough line of reasoning to work into one's annual performance review, tho'…

Big big salary, teeny-weeny penis.