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17th of November, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 02:53

Five questions, via http://​whatever.​targum.​net/​ , Thank you Deirdre. Oh, and, the rules; Leave a comment, oops, mail me, saying you want to be interviewed. I will respond; I’ll ask you five questions. You’ll update your website with my five questions, and your five answers. You’ll include this explanation. You’ll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

1) If you could go back in time and choose a college course again, would CSLL be on the list? If not, what would take its place? 

It’d be on the list. I’d put medicine at the top, though. I’ve realised that no matter what you do, you have to work very hard to succeed well, and as a result the structured 80 hour weeks of a resident doctor don’t seem that different or that much less attractive to the lazy part of me.

CSLL was good. There were interesting people doing interesting stuff. A bit stressful at times, but I’d take stress over boredom any day. And I’m glad that I came out of it literate and moderately sociable and moderately polyglot, not things that are that common among code monkeys.

2) Top 5 cities that you have ever visited? (due to a holiday show on tv that I saw recently where the top 10 were as predictable as I could have imagined, that is: Paris, Prague, San Francisco, Sydney and London were all there but nowhere at all inspiring). 

I’ve visited depressingly few. I want to move to Berlin in the next couple of years, so I suppose that would make it; downbeat former communism beside boho art heads beside the remnants of upbeat 80s capitalism beside the architecture of nineteenth-century Prussia, all with cheap accommodation and good infrastructure. Budapest—pretty, full of Hungarians, who seem to be doing the former communism thing better than anyone except, perhaps, the Czechs. Paris—it does make everyone’s list for a reason, but beyond how fuсking amazing the place looks, it’s got a huge, vibrant mix of people that live in  the city, better weather than Dublin, and good bookshops. I’ve never been to London, but some aspects of it seem pretty funky. San Francisco is beautiful and diverse, but the property values seem to have made SF proper, outside downtown, into a fun-free zone in many ways. I want to visit the US east coast, and Japan, and South-East Asia.

3) Which super hero power would you most like to have? 

I think a super hero power would be a very socially isolating thing. How many friends would you have if you could turn invisible at will and this was generally known, for example? But, umm, although I’ve never seen it written anywhere as a superhero power, I’d like to be able to function well without any sleep. There is too much cool ѕhіt in the world, and too little time.

4) Favourite 5 books or if you are anything like me in the way you read books (obsessive compulsively with a tendency to read all one author before moving onto the next book) then your favourite five authors? 

I’m a whore, I haven’t said “this is my favourite book in the world ever” since I was fourteen. Let’s see ... I’ve two collections of Umberto Eco’s short stories, How to travel with a Salmon  and Travels in Hyper Reality , and I’m on my second or third reading of them, which isn’t something that happens often. I’ve also read a few of his novels—with a stack of dictionaries to hand, they’re much more funny—and will get through the rest of them as soon as the sixty hour weeks stop. So, I suppose, he’d file under “favourite author”. (Of course, a lot of credit for this has to go to William Weaver, his English translator; judging by his spelling, he’s one of the most erudite Americans I’ve ever read, shoulder to shoulder with http://​www.​languagehat.​com.​ )

Also good writers; PJ O’Rourke and AA Gill. Saki. Guy de Maupassant—he’s a bit dry, and into his moustache, but he’s good. I should read more Rimbaud. Flann O’Brien, especially the collected Crúiscín Lán columns. That’s five anyway, isn’t it?

5) If you could change one thing about Ireland what would it be? 

I like the weather. I like that we speak the lingua franca  of the world today as a mother tongue. I would like it more if we also spoke more Irish, but I accept that Irish is not Danish or Swedish, and that if we did it might impact significantly on our skill in English. I like that we’re getting significant inward migration, finally, and I like that that means our obsession with the “National Question” will die down in the next few decades.

Long-term economic success to the extent that we could give good social services would be the ѕhіt. We can do it, but we just need to lower our threshold of tolerance for crap; don’t let them build the port tunnel with clearance a metre too low, next time someone proposes a light rail system slap them around the place if they propose that there be two lines with two different gauges, Michael O’Leary may be an annoying git, but he has a demonstrable knowledge and a successful track record in civil aviation, so we should  build a second terminal in Dublin Airport. It would be a pervasive change in the way we think, but I think it would be for the better.

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