Wednesday, January 30, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #191] Uzakta e doğru hindi düz - se bile orada hayır filan!

Despite being dealt the crushing blow of learning that Turkey is not the Nirvana of falafel I'd supposed the Mediterranean, near-Middle East country would be, I am excited to be heading to Istanbul tomorrow.  I feel similarly to how I did before I went to China, not really knowing what to suspect.  However, from all the good reviews, I imagine that Istanbul will be a damn sight more enjoyable in the traditional arts of booze, food and nightlife, if not in terms of raw force of exotic strangeness and shock.

I head out in the morning with Mary Keany (Yikes!  I just remembered I need to book the car!) to Heathrow where we'll meet Todd, who's coming over from New York, and Sean, who's coming even farther from South London, and the four of us will hop all.  The.  Way.  Over Europe to where the West clichély meets the East.  It is a tiny bit weird that I will be only 750 miles from Iraq; that's not close by any normal-world standards, but I've driven farther than that in a day, so puts some perspective on how far from whatever Britain's Kansas is I will be.

OK, must go pack; will be sure to leave all my inflaming images of Mohammed at home - we don't want to go through that again!

Cheers,
Shaun

--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #190] 1990

We're in the year where people born in 1990 are legally allowed to start going to pubs and drinking in the UK.  These people will be at some of the bars I go to.

1990.

Oi.

Shaun

--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #189] Rather annoyed

Sitting here with a glass of shiraz. Perturbed. They had a round of lay-offs at work today. I wasn't affected, but almost wish I had been. They laid off two of of the nine people in our team, including the girl who supports me, Catherine. This girl has the patience of a saint to come in facing her job every day as it is tedium defined. And, should the full range of service be expected after she leaves, that leaves it in my lap. As you can imagine, I do not relish the idea of this.

London were lucky, too - we were given a week's notice. New York is finding out on the 31st and told not to come back the next day.

We will find out more tomorrow about the path ahead, but it's not happy times at Canary Wharf this week. I guess we should at least be happy that it hasn't come out that one of our traders single-handedly lost $7.1b. Yet.

Needing another glass,
Shaun
--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #188] Hillary vs. Barack

This is in response to several of you who asked me why I don't like Barack. This isn't a normal Life-of-Shaun, so if you're disinterested in the presidential race, feel free to break off here.

I don't dislike Barack at all; I actually really like him. I said in 2004 when I saw him speak that he should be president one day. I just don't think he should be in 2009. He's young - he can, and should, wait a few more years, get more experience. True, Hillary is not as warm and amiable as he, but she is competent to the hilt. And Bush has gotten us into such huge messes anywhere he touched with his anti-Midas fingers, we need the competency.

Below is an article that explains exactly how I feel (I've sent it to some of you already) and probably does so better than I can. But to put it simply, the difference between Hillary and Barack getting the nomination is like the difference between winning £1,000,000 or £975,000 - sure, I prefer the first, but I ain't gonna be upset about the second.

Cheers,
Shaun

Who should be the world's most powerful person?



As Iowa's caucuses start a global ball rolling, my dream team is President(s) Clinton and Vice-President Obama

Timothy Garton Ash
Thursday January 3, 2008
The Guardian


Who do you want to be the most powerful person in the world? Like the snowy caucusers in Iowa today, we all ask ourselves this question, though unlike them we don't have a vote. Less than 300,000 people are expected to participate in this evening's caucuses; 3 billion will be watching out for the result. Tread carefully, Iowans, for you tread on our dreams.

One way to answer the question is to imagine we can pick whoever we like to be the most powerful person in the world. Nelson Mandela? The Dalai Lama? A great philosopher? An innocent child? Yourself? Suggestions welcome.

In the real world, that most powerful person will be an American. And the chances are that she or he will be one of the leading Democrat or Republican candidates for president, although New York mayor Michael Bloomberg remains an intriguing trans-party possibility.

As between Democrats and Republicans, the choice for the world's floating non-voters is, this time around, what Americans call a "no-brainer". After two terms of one of the most incompetent and unsuccessful administrations in recent history, it's time for a change. Were there an outstanding Republican candidate, this might be a closer call; but there isn't. John McCain has a remarkable life story, which commands respect. He is probably too old, and perhaps too erratic, to be a good president. All the others have major weaknesses, whether of character (Giuliani), ideology (Huckabee) or backbone (Romney).

Equally important, the Republican candidates largely agree with each other on several policies that would be bad for the world. Like President Bush, they are still in deep denial about the radicalism needed to meet the epochal challenge of climate change, energy security and sustainable growth. Equally, they carry too much political baggage, on issues from Iraq to Guantánamo, to make the necessary step-change into a long-term, many-sided struggle against international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the fallout from failed or faltering states like Pakistan. How could anyone with an ounce of judgment vote for a man who says, as Mitt Romney has said, that "we ought to double Guantánamo"?

That leaves the Democrats. I started 2007 as an enthusiastic Obamaite. I go into 2008 a sober Clintonian. I continue to believe that Barack Obama is the only candidate who could change the United States' image overnight. It is now consistently less popular across the globe than at any time since international polling began. Obama personifies those aspects of American society that even some of Washington's fiercest critics admire, and he has some good ideas too. The trouble is, the more I watched him last year, the more convinced I became that he is not yet ready for the job.

One small moment sticks in my mind: responding to a question in one of the debates, he said he would start to address the problem by calling the presidents of Mexico and Canada (the latter does not have a president). A trivial slip in itself, but there have been too many like it, as well as too much waffling. Of course, an inexperienced president can learn on the job, as the last two did. But look how disastrous that was in Bush's first term. And Bill Clinton's was not that hot either; witness the disgrace of inaction over Rwanda, not to mention dithering over Bosnia. In an increasingly dangerous world, with this new year ushered in by a nuclear-armed Pakistan trembling on the verge of anarchy, we can't afford that blunder-time any more.

The point about the Clintons is that they know the mistakes to avoid because they've already made most of them. They've learned the hard way. And let's be clear about this, in choosing Clinton, American voters would be choosing Clintons. In reality, this would be President Clintons, or Presidents Clinton. But that's another advantage.

Hillary herself has become, at 60, absolutely formidable. Superbly briefed on every issue, almost word perfect, scarcely ever putting a foot wrong, tried and tested as few human beings have been. At a cattle auction site in Ames, Iowa, the other day, she joked that they could "look inside [her] mouth", as farmers do with cattle, if it helped them to make up their minds. And the truth is that if anyone in the world has been "looked inside the mouth", it is the Clintons.

Is she simpatica? No. At least not as a public persona. The outward warmth is all with Bill. Frank? That's not exactly what the record suggests. Shall we say, as honest as a lawyer. But we don't need the most powerful person in the world to be nice. We need her to be good at the job - grownup, knowledgable, responsible, tough, a safe pair of hands after eight years of a blunderer. And the more so for having to assist her one of the most articulate, well-informed and skilful politicians on the planet. Two for the price of one. And behind the two of them, several potential foreign policy teams of great experience to draw on, with views closer to those prevailing in most of the world's leading democracies - and therefore better placed to forge the indispensable alliances. Hillary's own pitch is that the US needs someone "ready to be president on day one". Well, she would say that, wouldn't she. But she happens to be right.

There would be the added satisfaction of seeing a woman break through what must be the ultimate glass ceiling (unless, that is, we imagine one on the throne of St Peter). What the return of the Clintons would not do is to work an Obama effect on America's image abroad. Instead, millions around the world will ask: what kind of a democracy is it in which the elected president is always called either Bush or Clinton? So we need Obama too. Give him a few more years of hard experience, such as Hillary has garnered, and he could make an inspirational president. And what better way to gain that experience than by serving as her vice-president? Very unlikely, I know, especially if she wants to run for a second term. But Clinton-Obama would be my dream team.

www.timothygartonash.com


--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism
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[The Life of Shaun #187] Weeds

I've discovered "Weeds".  Mary and I watched the first six episodes tonight - it's great!  How did I miss it the first time around?

Definitely add it to your queues.

Apropos of nothing, have you ever noticed this - a word you don't know and then you see it, or at least notice it, for the first time, and then you see it all the time?  This happened to me with 'inculcate' recently; I'd never heard or seen it, but then I saw it once and now it's everywhere.  Fairly, it could be because of my heavy reading weighting towards The Economist, and maybe it's a fashionable word in their office right now.  But this seems to happen oddly regularly.

I hope you're all lining up good weekends; I am sober tonight to have a hangover-free day to catch up on paperwork I've been "getting to tomorrow" since before Christmas.

Cheers,
Shaun

--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #186] New Hampshire...

...is now one of my favourite states!  Thank you, New Hampshire!

There's a long way to go, yes, but I am so glad to see Hillary have a good day yesterday.  Though I am exhausted now as I was up until 02:30 watching the results.  Ugh.

Well, here's to feeling like the $25 I donated on Monday did some good in its own little way!

Cheers,
Shaun

--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #185] Bad Shaun!

"Tonight's one of those nights I am glad I live with a friend".  It's also one of those nights where I am still recovering from two nights ago.

And it's the Master Cleanse, not the Mast Cleanse.

And it's my sisters who told me about the Master Cleanse, which is what the reference was all about.

The thirties are not the twenties, are they?  In most instances I am happy about that, but recovery is one where I wouldn't mind a little bit of youthful exuberance.

Cheers,
Shaun

--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

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[The Life of Shaun #184] The New Yorkers on the town; failed redemption

Tonight's one of those nights I am glad I live with a friend. I am suffering post-visitor blues; it was so nice to have my friend Rachel here for two whole weeks. It feels empty now that she's left back for New York. Even though we didn't have the ideal visit (I was sick the whole first week), it was perfect to have the kind of friend around I who I could be sick for a week and it's OK. Very glad I am going to see her in just two months and stay with her for five of the nine nights I am in New York!

Another friend of mine, the ever-getting-sexier Darrin, was also in town from New York visiting his boyfriend, and so we all went out for drinks on Friday night. Attaching a few pics from the evening.

I also learned a valuable lesson - do not attempt to start the Master Cleanse when you have a hangover. It doesn't work. I was going to do it again, and failed on day one. Grease really is necessary after vodka. I also didn't have the ingredients for the lemonade and learned just how important it is.

So, no Master Cleanse for me. I am going to try a less harsh alternative with Mary post Istanbul that has a liver & gall bladder cleanse portion at the end, so will see how that goes. Just something to counter the effects of the holidays, but maybe not as gung-ho as my sisters' characteristically extreme ideas.

Cheers,
Shaun



--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism


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Friday, January 04, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #183] Lisbon, a New Year and an Old Leaf

OK, lots of little bits to cover here, so I won't dwell - you've all got places to go, people to see, gifts to return...

So, Lisbon! Schnookums and I arrived after an easy flight on Portugal's national carrier and plopped into a taxi for a €10 (€10!!!) ride to Bairro Alto, the old (and gay) area of Lisbon and found ourselves in the middle of an eminently agreeable, very nice, city. And this is the phrase that would come to describe the weekend and the city. Everything about Lisbon is nice - it's nicely compact, has nice buildings, nice and easy to be in, has nice shops, nice restaurants, nice gay bars - nothing dramatically amazing or dramatically disappointing about it. (However, the airport is shite - they make sure you are happy to leave by the time you get on the plane.) There are amazing things, but it just doesn't scream about them like other cities do; it's quite content to sit self-assuredly on its own and wait for people to realise all it has to offer.

The Portuguese survive on a strict diet of cigarettes and salt, preceded by always fantastic cheese and bread, upon which we gorged happily. The food was always good (if salty) and every time we said we wouldn't eat so much again next time, but of course we did. And the boys? Well, there wasn't the staggeringly overwhelming quantity of OM-MY-GOD as Madrid, but the ones who were hot were hawt. Assessment? Definitely add it to your list if you've not been yet. If you are a Southern European fan, you will simply adore it.

Happily, they enacted a smoking ban beginning on midnight 01 January, so later visitors will be allowed to keep their lungs.

But back to cold London. A new year, my third, has dawned here and I am looking forward to seeing what the year has in store. The year is starting off so dramatically different than last, and more changes are just poking around the corner. Against the new is a bit of old for me; most of you probably know I was a strict vegetarian for 15 years until three years ago. I didn't go off the diet for any dramatic reason, just I had lost any strong convictions I had about it and I had been a bit flummoxed from time to time on the outside of some social events.

Well, turns out I am not a very good carnivore; if you add up all the meat I've had in the last three years you'd have trouble getting a week's menu together. So, the long and short of it is, with 2008 I am back on the vegetarian diet. When it comes down to it, it really is just me. I am happy I didn't lie in the dogma, gave the "new" a shot, and have found where I am more comfortable. You are all welcome to mine for tofu green curry any time.

And two quickies - I sent my passport to the US Embassy to have more pages added! I am down to two squares, and I am off to Istanbul at the end of the month, for which you have to buy a visa on arrival (only in foreign currency, BTW - they don't accept their own Turkish lira!), so I need the space. However, I felt naked as I handed over my passport and I realised I am currently a prisoner on this European Alcatraz. Not so upset about that - as excited I am about Istanbul, I think after that, followed by two weeks in America two weeks later, I will be ready to stay put on this island for a little while.

The second tidbit is I watched "Tales of the City" again this week. Made me whispy for San Francisco. Since it's looking like my family's not going to do a big Xmas get together in 2008 I am thinking I should have another West Coast holiday season in 2008.

OK, that's it from here! Hope you all had a great start to 2008. Attached are a few pics from the weekend.

1. Making sure Schnookums is breast cancer free
2. My favourite sight in Lisbon
3. The street of our hotel
4. View of the city from the castle on the hill

If you want to see more, you can check them out at: share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0AZOXLJwzcNmL8w

Cheers,
Shaun



--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism


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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

[The Life of Shaun #182] Back from Lisbon

Hi all!

Just wanted to let you know I got back safely from Lisbon.  I was going to write a little about it tonight, but just noticed the time.  Will upload some pics and give the run-down soon.

Hope you all had a good New Year's Eve and a happy start to 2008!

Cheers,
Shaun

--
Shaun Coley
Clerkenwell, Islington
London, UK

http://www.friendster.com/shaunism
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