Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

27 Feb 2011, 8:35 a.m.


Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2011 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Winter in New York City; learning to love the gurgle of the radiator.

Project management is sometimes a matter of asking an obvious question, then standing there with an expectant look while your team member gets around to promising they'll do what they know they ought to do.

At karaoke, some songs had music videos -- not the original music videos, of course, but karaoke music videos, much cheaper in cost and effect, one step above B-roll. Motorcycle riders, abandoned warehouses, beaches, you know. The video for Radiohead's "Creep" featured a hunchbacked dude yearning for a woman who rejected him. I told my fellow singers, "I'm waiting for the bit where he invents Facebook."

The BBC Radio 4 Friday Night Comedy Podcast has been the News Quiz for several weeks; I'm looking forward to the next installment, a The Now Show. The News Quiz has introduced me to socialist/nihilist comedian Jeremy Hardy, perhaps to make up for all the reactionary snark. Let me quote from the 8 January show:

Sandi Toksvig: Miles, whose Gallic grump is of global proportions?

Miles Jupp: .... It turns out that the French -- they are the most depressed people in the world. Which is a surprise. Well, I suppose what it teaches you -- that if you live in a country where people are either rioting, shrugging, or refusing to work, it will eventually grind you down.

Sandi: We only came fifth. Fifth!

Miles: In the grumpy?

Sandi: In the grumpiness! They must have only polled people who don't watch EastEnders. Fifth!

Jeremy Hardy: It was developing countries where people are more cheery, wasn't it?

Sandi: The Nigerians are, apparently, very cheerful.

Jeremy: Well, because when people are materially disadvantaged, maybe they're more optimistic, because they know that their destiny's not entirely in their own hands. And so they just have to hope for the best. Whereas in the developed world, where materially we've got plenty of stuff, and lots of opportunities, we know that the only thing stopping us from being happy is ourselves, which of course is a kind of downward spiral into disillusionment and hopelessness, isn't it, really? Because you can't -- you're never gonna get rid of yourself, so if you're basically unhappy, you're always gonna be unhappy, and in the remaining time that you've got left, you're either gonna be in despair about the fact that you've wasted your life, or maybe a bit cheerful about the fact that it's nearly over.

Miles: How depressed must the French be!

Sandi: And a very happy New Year to us all.

You're not going to hear that on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.