More interviews

I know I still owe questions to a few people. Anyway, here are my latest set of answers.

From :

  1. Are you worried you’ll get brain cancer from flying so much?!
    I was doing an outside physical labouring job (working on an archaeology site) the week that the Chernobyl fallout dusted the area (in southern Germany) so I think that if I’m destined to go that way, flying’s not going to make much difference. Anyway it’s the cardiovascular system that has tended to kill off my relatives.
  2. Which is your favourite/least favourite airline?
    I have had a very good impression of United in my last couple of transatlantic flights. Comfortable and cheerful service. I hope they can keep it up. As for least favourite, I won’t name them but I’ve had some uncomfortable and horribly catered experiences on the national carrier of one of my Eastern European countries. Having said which, Ryanair are pretty crap too.
  3. Could you see yourself ever standing for election for anything again?
    Yes, once the kids are no longer absorbing so much of my time. I’d very much like to get back into electoral politics at some point in the future. But it won’t be for another few years.
  4. What do you miss most about living in Ireland?
    Second-hand bookshops in English. This would of course apply to the UK as well, or the USA.
  5. What’s with all the carrots? What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?
    I have penetrated your sinister plan, Wall. As you well know, in the next line of the song Anya suggests that it may be midgets. You cannot distract my attention so easily.

From :

  1. If given the opportunity, would you change your children in any way?
    Next question, please.
  2. Does Irish Catholicism really differ from European Catholicism and if yes, how so?
    I think it’s Catholicism in Belgium (and perhaps the Netherlands as well) that is outside the European norm. Fifty or a hundred years ago, Irish Catholicism would have been unusual in that its adherents were attending Mass much more than other Europeans, and were much more conservative than European Catholics. My perception is now that in Ireland, like in most countries, the number who are actually practicing Catholics has dropped dramatically, and those who are left are almost all pretty conservative in their views on what are loosely called “moral issues”. However in the Low Countries the more progressive elements seem to have remained active within the Church rather than leave.
  3. You’re given the opportunity to claim one book as a book you have written. Which one would it be?
    asked me this in a slightly different way – which book would I like to have written, rather than which book would I like people to think I had written! So I think the answer is different, and probably it is The Lord of the Rings.
  4. Would you become the head of the United Nations and if so, what would you change?
    I think I’d rather be a senior political adviser than be the man right at the very top; and that’s a general comment rather than a specific UN feeling. Having said that, the single most obvious thing to change about the UN is the structure of the Security Council, which reflects the balance of world forces in 1945 and not 2006. If I had a clean slate I would give seats with vetoes to the top ten countries ranked by population and by GDP (so USA, Japan and China qualify on both criteria, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia and Nigeria make it on population grounds, and Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Canada, Spain and South Korea [which is just ahead of Brazil and India] get in on the size of their economies). Then you would balance out the geography by having a similar number of elected members. But on top of that, countries who actually contribute troops to peacekeeping missions should have an extra say in how the troops in those missions are used.
  5. The US and Europe go at war with each other. How will the conflict be solved and with whom will the Russians side?
    Hmm. The second bit is easier; the Russians will sit back, and sell oil and weapons to both sides. In a purely military sense, the US is much stronger and of courfse has much better intelligence about where European military assets are than vice versa. But I think they would find that having won the war it would be pretty difficult to stay dominant for long in peacetime.

And from :

  1. How many languages do you speak?
    English (obviously); reasonably fluent in Dutch, German and French. Tourist-level Serbo-Croato-Bosnian and Macedonia, and Italian if I try. Used to be able to read medieval Latin but haven’t tried for a while. Vestigial Russian. Say four for safety.
  2. Please explaing what psephology is?
    The study of election results. I hadn’t realised when I wrote my profile, but it is considered an obsolete and slightly pompous term in the USA, whereas for British and Irish speakers (at least those of us who are fascinated by elections) it is a normal term of conversation.
  3. What are your top 3 criteria when choosing a new book to read?
    I am trying to be a bit more systematic about this, as recent posts show. In general it tends to be “whatever catches my eye”. At present I am attempting to plan against various criteria: i) diminishing the unread list; ii) reading Great Novels; iii) reading Great Science Fiction; iv) this year’s Hugo nominees; v) whatever catches my eye. It is not easy to combine these various criteria into a workable strategy.
  4. Who’s your favourite Bond?
    Oddly enough, Pierce Brosnan.
  5. How long does it take you to get to work and do you take the same route/method every day?
    I almost always head in along the E40, and then down through Montgomery and up the whole length of Avenue Louise, which can take as little as 25 minutes if traffic is clear (ie at weekends) but is more usually about an hour, worse if there is bad weather or worse than usual traffic. One alternative I have sometimes tried is to skip the motorway altogether and go in through Tervuren.

One thought on “More interviews

  1. I’ve read ten of the first list, none of the second, and not heard of at least 70% of either list.

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