A Tale of Domestic Disaster

Some people seem to think that my life in Berlin is all fun and games — that if I’m not grilling Angie in the Bundestag or accompanying a world-famous TV crew, I’m at the Brandenburg Gate having a laugh on the John Murray show.

Yesterday on my way home from shopping, a large carton of vanilla and blueberry ice cream melted in my bag, trickling through a crack in the lid, onto all the other food and covering my wallet and its contents in a sweet-scented white foam.

Then, as I was unpacking my shopping, my best buy, an enormous glass of Nutella (25% extra free), slid out of my hands and smashed into scores of pieces.

Shards of glass glittered on the kitchen tiles.

I used a tea spoon to separate the Nutella from the larger pieces of glass and after a quarter of an hour, was satisfied that the majority of the chocolate spread had been salvaged. I spooned it into an old jar that I found in my Recycle heap.

Then I realised that I was bleeding profusely.

A deep, clean gash had appeared in my middle finger.

Now I had ice cream on my jumper, Nutella in my hands and hair, and my blood was trickling onto the counter-top.

I took a deep breath, cleaned myself and tripped over a loose onion.

Then I boiled some millet. I was in a TV studio last week watching a health and fitness show being filmed and the guest doctor was advocating a low sugar wholegrain diet. I resolved to reform.

The millet bubbled over.

I added tomatoes, spring onions and a yellow pepper, but the taste of blandness was poorly disguised.

I ate the modest meal on my little balcony, listening to the birds sing and with the sun in my face.

I decided to go to the cinema.

I watched a French film about a couple whose baby has a brain tumour.

On my way home, I passed a fruit market. A Turkish vendor was crying hysterically “LAST OFFER!! ONE EURO FOR A PUNNET OF STRAWBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERIES”

I bought one.

When I got home, I dropped several strawberries on the kitchen floor.

Later that evening, I decided to make German oatflake chocolate chip cookies. My father had kindly scanned an ancient page from my mum’s recipe book and I had all the ingredients to hand. I would have shown my national pride more traditionally by watching the match, but I could not figure out how to turn on my flatmate’s television.

My Mama’s Secret Recipe Revealed to the Masses

I weighed and mixed and stirred and ground and moulded the dough into little balls. I put them into the oven, cleaned the kitchen and breathed a sigh of relief.

I decided I deserved a treat.

I got out my vanilla and blueberry ice cream (all had not been lost there either), chopped up some strawberries and added a couple of scoops of Nutella.

The first mouthful was divine. Then I tasted glass and I had to spit out little shards, one at a time. This morning, I had two German oatflake chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. They were burnt.

Domestic Disaster

Burnt Biscuits

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The Forbidden Fruit: Why Paul Begley Won’t Go To Hell

Paul Begley is 46, Irish and until recently, had a good job. He travelled around the world, packing fruit and vegetables into big crates. Then he shipped them to Ireland and sold them to supermarkets. If you wanted a good gherkin or an organic asparagus, he was your man. It wasn’t glamorous work but it paid the bills easily and allowed him to take on a few people. He donated money to children’s charities and liked getting involved in awareness campaigns like “Kids in Action.” Now he’s going to prison, because he pretended that his bulbs of garlic were apples. He’s going to stay there for six years, just in case anybody else gets the idea to mislabel their garlic.

The tone might be facetious but the facts stand: As Judge Nolan said as he was sentencing him, Paul Begley was a “decent man.” He was probably about as honest as the next person.

It’ll cost the Irish taxpayer around half a million euro to keep him in prison. For every bit of money you earn, a little portion of it will go towards keeping Paul Begley in his cell. If, as is likely, he gets depressed you might also end up contributing to the salary of a prison psychologist.

As he said himself, what Paul Begley did was wrong. He shouldn’t have put “apple” labels on boxes of garlic. He shouldn’t have avoided paying tax, because no matter how inordinately high the tax on garlic, as opposed to say its cousin, the onion, Paul Begley was not in a position to take the law into his own hands.

He admitted it. He helped the police with their inquiry. He agreed a mode of repayment. And still, he was sentenced to six years in prison. The harsh sentence made headlines around the world.

Prison is for people who are a threat to society when free. It is a practical, rather than moral solution to society’s problems. In reality it is neither about revenge nor rehabilitation. It is a preventative strategy, and nothing more.

The chances of Paul Begley reoffending are very slim. For one, he’s bankrupt. He has €1.6 million to pay back, probably with hefty interest. He’s been humiliated. There’s not a supplier in Ireland that doesn’t know his name. At 46, he’ll probably call it a day and retire to a modest orchard somewhere, where he will consider his crime, live a quiet life and try to make ends meet.

He is not a danger to society.

The following scenario is analogous to Paul Begley’s crime. Think about it and ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 how serious the offense.

Imagine you’re in your local supermarket doing the weekly shopping. You pick up a few loose onions and pop them into a bag. Then you grab a couple of garlic bulbs and put them in another. You plop the bag with the onions onto a weighing scales and press the picture with the onions on it. You collect the little label with the price and stick it to the bag. Then you do the same with the garlic, except this time, the price is 25 times as high.

“Eh, what?” you think. “That’s ridiculous! You look at your bags again. Feeling a little bit uneasy, you scrunch up the sticker you printed out for the garlic. You put the bag back down on the weighing scales, and pause. You feel a little uncomfortable, but you think “ah, sure feck it.”

This time, you press the picture of the onion. You pick up the sticker, which shows an amount 25 times less than the previous one and attach it to the bag. Sure onions are just obese garlics, you think as you make your way to the till, where the sales assistant scans the two bags through without a second glance.

Paul Begley has already lost his reputation. Putting him behind bars means that the tax payer loses out too.
As for the argument that the purpose of the ruling is to deter others from committing the same crime, perhaps we should consider first of all, why the authorities find it so difficult to keep track of customs fraud, and second, why the tax on Chinese garlic is up to 232 % while that on onions is 9%.

Image source: articles.businessinsider.com

How I missed out on visiting the Biggest Chocolate House in the World

This afternoon, a red-faced Berliner with a moustache reprimanded me for committing a traffic offense on Unter den Linden. My crime: staying put when I saw the red man.

I know that there are a lot of things I don’t understand. Many of them I have written about here before.

But of all the enigmas with which I have battled, nothing remains as clandestine as the reason for pedestrian traffic lights occurring at the same spot as a zebra crossing.

Granted I had been walking along the narrow central stretch of the beautiful tree-lined promenade, instead of the wide pavements designed for walkers, but I had good reason for it. From the middle, I had a wonderful view of both the Victory Column ahead, and the Brandenburg Gate behind.

I had stopped with the intention of crossing over to have a look at the Russian war memorial. I almost pulled a muscle in my neck with all the looking left, then right, then left again I was doing. Ligaments have the right to rebel when called into use after periods of benign neglect.
It may have been a zebra crossing, but the light was red.

To be honest, I was charmed by the iconic red traffic man, with his wide hat and purposeful stance. Even if he had been green, I probably would have stopped to stare. Anyway, something about my immobility irked the balding motorist with whiskers sprouting from his nose. He beeped and growled at me as he drove past.

On I wandered down Unter den Linden anyway and turned off at the corner to have a look at the Schloss Belvue, the residence of the new Federal President, Joachim Gauck. On Monday, when I took a bus tour of the city, the lady guide quipped that it was Germany’s “White House”.
I found it pleasant to look at and unusually unguarded. You’d know it was a ceremonial role.

When I got to the end of Unter den Linden, I reached the Siegessäule or “Victory Column”. This monstrous tower was erected to celebrate defeats first against Denmark, then the Prussians and then Austria. I remembered that the guide had mentioned the number of steps to the top but I had promptly forgotten the number, which is in line with my tendency to not see the trees for the wood.

It didn’t matter. As I was climbing higher and higher up the spiral staircase, I considered the number to be infinite. With each loop, I looked upwards with expectation and to my horror found the distance yet to be conquered to be increasing.

At one point, I stopped and considered the possibility of failure. After all, if the column celebrated success over adversaries, I may as well be monument to its victory over foreign invaders.

As I was gazing upward into the infinite abyss, I embarrassingly caught the eye of a German champion who had made it and was gazing patronisingly downwards. Her laugh echoed down at me and I boomed a nervous one back.

As I climbed higher and higher I was struck powerfully by my absolute solitude. If I were to fall, nobody would know. The only people to accompany me during my last breaths would be a group of exuberant southern Germans too busy in the big smoke to care, and a Spanish couple, so visibly in love, with their linked arms and communal tickling, that my death might even pass them by.

I huffed and I puffed and I made it. I had a breath-taking view of the city covered in mist. The TV tower to the east fought with the clouds and together they looked like a clumsy mass of candy floss.

Church steeples and colourful concrete blocks, and in between a glass dome, or a power station: the city’s skyline is a muddled testament to its troubled history.

I took a few photos and implored an Italian man to take my picture.

Sieger!

That’s the funny thing about travelling without companions; you’re much more forward about approaching people, even if you risk inferring that you wish to become a shareholder of Sparda bank.

After I had made it down safely, I sat at the base of the Victory Column and considered my next move. I could go to the Zoo, but I probably wouldn’t have time to see all of the 15,000 species of animals. Or I could go to the Pergamon museum, but I wouldn’t have time to look at every specimen of Athenian artefact on display.

So I thought I might as well head west back down Unter den Linden and check out the beautiful Gendarmen Square, which I had read about in my trusty guide.

Alas, that plan was destined to fail.

I had just reached Humboldt university when I spotted a bookstall set up outside. Given that I’ve a penchant for independent booksellers, I wandered over to browse the titles.

I picked up a hardback copy of Hermann Hesse’s Der Steppenwolf and a translation of Gabriel Garcua Marquez’ A Hundred Years of Lonelienss.

The vendor, a bearded man with glasses and wearing a black hat, took them from me and said: “Ich bin beeindruckt”.

I smiled. He had told me he was impressed with my selection.

This man reminded me of the type of person I thought I would miss from Ireland.

He was an unconventional and incessant talker, belligerent one moment and benign the next.

He talked to me about socialism and National Socialism, about Gunther Grass and Johann Goethe, about the student movement of the 1960’s, and about anti-Americanism; about a Japanese girl he had sworn at because she had dared haggle over a Hermann Hesse book and about a journalist at the Berliner Morgen Zeitung, who gives him hundreds of newly-released titles for free because he is inundated with copies to review.

The man was an intriguing blend of madness and intellect. His depth of knowledge on all matters of political, historical and cultural importance impressed me, his unflappable loquaciousness did not.

I was making polite one or two word responses to his tirade against anti-intellectualism, when a lady with a tight bun and pursed lips interrupted.

The direct translation of what she said was:

“Would you ever give me some attention and quit your incessant blabber about nothing?”

He didn’t so much as glance in her direction when he beamed at me and said “This lady thinks I talk too much. She’s right!”

I tried to make a dash as he was completing her transaction but he continued to speak,now about Theo Adorno, looking me directly in the eye.

It was getting dark.

“I would like to introduce you to my friend in the Berliner Morgen Zeitung”, he said. “I am absolutely certain he would fall instantly in love with you. He’s a very brilliant man; a philosopher”.

“That’s impressive”, I mumbled politely.

“He is in his sixties”, he added, by way of explanation.

After one hour and five minutes, he leaned over and shook my hand.
“You’ll come back, won’t you?”, he asked.

“Yes”, I said.

Because I feel his gift of the gab might be newsworthy.

When I returned home late this evening I told my flatmate what had delayed me.

“Why didn’t you just say you had to go?”, he asked.

“Because it was utterly impossible!”, I cried.

“Then you should have just thrown a book at him”.

To add to my woes, I saw someone on the U Bahn today with my totally unique Rittersport chocolate bag. And as if it couldn’t get any worse, I just googled Gendarmenmarkt and found that it is home to the biggest chocolate house in the world.

Banking Crisis in Berlin: A Special Report

I would like to set up a bank account in Berlin. So this morning I popped into the Sparda Bank on Georgenstrasse, where I’ll be working, and looked around for somebody to talk to. It was an odd kind of bank. There were several ATM machines and people milling about but there was an unusual formality in the air.

A man resembling a pencil caught my eye and glided over. He had a silver pen wedged into the pocket of his shirt and there wasn’t a crease to be seen in his pin-striped suit. He exuded pleasant authority.

“Hello” he said, “how can I help you?”
“Hello! 🙂 I’m new in Berlin and I’d like to open a bank account. Are you the right person to talk to about this?”
“Potentially”, he said, “though I’ll see if one of my colleagues can help you. Please take a seat”.
“Thank you!”

I sat down opposite a round-faced man with tufts of thick blonde hair. He was reading the Spiegel. My heart did a little skip.

Posters of grinning middle-aged men in flashy cars and attractive women getting massages in exotic surroundings were pinned to a display board advertising loans. A coloured graph showing the values of shares going up and down was captioned “Values always rise after a financial crisis”.

After some time, a lady came to me. “If you’re ready, Madam, I’ll take you this way”.
My Goodness, I thought. What service. You don’t get this in the Trinity Branch of Bank of Ireland.
She led me into a little chamber, pulled out a chair for me and said, “Please take a seat”.
I shuffled in and got my feet tangled in my bag.
“Could I get you something to drink?”
Something to drink? I thought. Sweet Mother.. How long does she think I’m staying?
“No thank you”, I replied brightly, compensating for my bewilderment with excessive friendliness.
“Now”, she said, “tell me about yourself”.
“Well” I started, “I’ve just moved here from Ireland and am going to do an internship with Spiegel for three months. I’m not sure how long I’ll stay after that but I would like to have access to money from a German account if it’s possible”.

Her face changed. Suddenly she looked both panicked and apologetic.
“I’ll have to check with my colleague. Please wait”.
“Sure”, I said.

I twiddled my thumbs.

She came back.

“I’ve discussed the matter with my colleague. We feel that this might not be the right bank for you”.
“Oh really?”
“Your plans are a little vague. We require our customers to hold onto an account for a minimum of one year”.
“Ah, I understand”, I replied.
“Furthermore, when you open a bank account with us, it is mandatory to become a shareholder of the company”.

I gulped and tried to smother laughter.

Had I just attended an important business meeting with an investment banker?

Yes, I had.

There was nothing for it but to head to the Brandenburger Tor.

Next stop: Brandenburger Tor

**********************************************************************************

PS – My day was very eventful so I might blog again later if I’m not being a superhero in the hostel kitchen.

Ich bin angekommen!

So here I am alone in a hostel in east Berlin, munching on Rittersport (Knusperkeks flavour) chocolate. The original plan was to sit alone drinking beer, but when I checked in I was presented with a formidable list of “Hausregeln” (or “House Rules”). One of them said that drinking alcohol in the dorms was prohibited. Dejected, I scrawled “Kate Katharina” in the appropriate place and signed my humble plan away.

So now it’s just me, the single square of chocolate that’s left and a potted plant with spindly leaves, which greeted me from the window sill when I arrived.

Earlier when I got off the plane and into the arrivals hall at Schönefeld, I set eyes on a peculiarly tall youngster. He was dressed all in white – in a baggy tracksuit and matching pristine cap (which he was wearing backwards). He was holding an artificial bunch of roses upside down. I thought he might have jumped out of one of Eminem’s music videos, but then it occurred to me that it might be LSB in disguise.

Given his tendency towards deceit and his elaborate plan to surprise me for Valentine’s Day again this year, I thought it was reasonably plausible that he had taken a night flight after we parted ways yesterday (underneath Ranelagh Luas Bridge) in order to welcome me in Berlin.

I looked over expectantly but the rapper-romancer was oblivious to me. There was nothing for it but to continue my journey to the Airport train station.

My going-away gifts for LSB


Schönefeld airport reminded me much more of Ireland than the swanky Terminal 2 in Dublin. It’s a modest building, and you collect your luggage from a sluggish conveyor belt in cramped space. While you’re waiting for it, entertainment comes on a screen which shows the three-day weather forecast, the business news and an advertisement for a back massage clinic in continuous rotation. It had a charming higgledy-piggledy feel which made me feel right at home.
While I was yanking my unobliging cases through the walkway on the way to the trains, I passed a man lurking about holding a sign that read “Need ticket” in neat black biro print. Some kind lady stopped to give him change. I wondered how he had landed there.

I was happily prepared to soak up my first impressions of Berliners on the S9 to Friedrichshain. I even asked the train driver, a man in his fifties with half his face taken up by a magnificent curly grey beard, if I was on the right line. I was. When I asked if he stopped at Frankfurter Allé, he paused dramatically, so that I might think I was way off.

Then he grinned and said “Ja, da fahre ich hin”.

I could have been on Dublin bus.

My mum told me that Berliners are known to have a sharp sense of humour, that can be cutting at times. It’s called the “Berliner Schautze” (the Berlin Snout). More of that in future posts.

Having taken a seat on the S9, I stared at the people around me, as I have the bad habit of doing. Opposite me sat a lady with a nest of red hair that concluded in a limp tail that looped around her left shoulder. She was wearing sunglasses and orange and blue snow boots and got off at a stop which translates as “Tree School”.

I paused to consider what kind of things young saplings might need to learn but was stumped after I came up with dendrochronology.

An Australian lady with wavy blonde hair and a nose piercing was reading an academic paper with the title “The roots of gender inequality in Government”. She was marking the important bits with a yellow highlighter.

Unfortunately, my desire to get an authentic flavour of Berlin was thwarted by a group of noisy Irish students who had also been on my flight. They were talking loudly about who they were “shifting”, about the strapless tops they’d bought in Penneys and about the RTE player.

I sighed.

When I got off, I was immediately confronted by a murmuring drug addict looking for money. On the way to the hostel I passed a man lying on a few blankets with a broken shopping trolley and two large dogs for company. A few yards up a homeless woman, her face distorted by drug use, was muttering to herself. It was surreal to hear the language of drug abuse and poverty being spoken in German. I don’t know what I expected. They couldn’t all have a flat Dublin drawl.

It was far from the fairytale villages I know from Bavaria but it was exciting, with cars whizzing by, darkness beginning to descend and the scores of pizzerias and kebab shops tempting me to dinner.

As I type my eyes are becoming heavy. I’m installed cosily beside a radiator at a desk nestled in the corner of my little private room, which is attached to a four-bed dorm. Impressively, I’ve already made a friend. We met in the kitchen. I had my mouth full of falafels when he walked in.

His name is Tom. He’s forty-six and I saved him from burning his stew. He’d popped out of the hostel kitchen muttering something about “missing the vital ingredient” and left the pot unattended.
When he came back bearing a bottle of wine, I was dealing with the cauldron, where bubbles had begun to burst at the brim.

Me and my falafel.

So we had a chat over dinner and he told me that I had a distinct gypsy vibe. My eyes and the shape of my face, he said. I lauded his perception. After all, I recently found out that all of the women in my family have rare mitochondrial DNA associated with the Roma tribe. He said that he definitely wouldn’t have put me as either Irish or German. Russian perhaps, or Polish.

Just as well I’m living in east Berlin, I suppose. My guidebook charmingly describes Friedrichshain as “a traditionally rather dowdy working-class district which is increasingly being discovered by the well-to. I’ve a feeling I’ll fit right in.

Now, where can I recycle my Rittersport Knusperkeks wrapper?

Big Issue: Small change

The man that sells the Big Issue outside Trinity College has one brown beard, two blue-white tired eyes and five or six wrinkles folded down his cheeks.

His head and shoulders slope to the right so it seems as if he is suspended in the middle of collapsing. He never carries more than three or four copies of the magazine but the little bundle he has got he clutches tightly in his right hand, which he keeps raised in the air, like the Statue of Liberty and her torch. He has a vacant stare which usually points in the direction of Front Arch.

image source: atp.cx

I bought the December issue from him. The cover featured a photograph of a spectacled man in a Santa Claus costume and inside you could read about the origins of the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and about a day in the life of Garda Pauline Sheehan.

When I approached him, his face flashed alive, as if a switch had turned his eyes on.

“Hello, I’d like a copy please”, I began redundantly.
I had two €2 coins ready.
“Yes, love”, he replied, huskily, “yes love. Just a moment.”

I handed him the coins, adding cheerfully, “that’s four euro for you there”, to compensate for the sadness I felt for him, as a long trickle of snot began to drip from his nose.

The Big Issue costs €3. Half that goes to the vendor.

He fumbled for change in the dirty corduroy pocket of his pants. I made a pointless remark about the cover so that he would think I hadn’t noticed the large tear of snot reaching his lips.

He dug slowly inside his pocket until he found a euro among a handful of coppers.
I thanked him.
“Happy New Year, Love. Happy New Year. Happy New Year to you”.
“And to you too!”

I came back for the January issue. It contained a feature about Ireland’s only real-life pet detective.
“Hello Love. Happy New Year”, he said.
This time I had the exact change.
“God bless, love. Happy New Year to you. Happy New Year now”.

Last week I walked past him again. I was sure he was watching me as I went by. I scolded myself for self-absorption. But I could feel his eyes digging into the side of my face as I passed. The sensation overwhelmed me and I turned back.

He was looking me right in the eye.

I retraced my steps.

I was impulsively apologetic.

“I’ve got that issue already”, I said as if I were guilty of something indefensible.

He grabbed my arm. I could feel the force of his thumb on a vein through my coat.
“I love seeing you”, he said. “I love seeing you go by. It’s lovely seeing you. Happy New Year, Love. It’s so nice when you go by”.

I thought about him later that evening; standing in front of Trinity College with snot dripping down his nose searching for a euro to give me back and it came to me that it was one of the most dignified things I have ever seen.

Ireland’s Big Issue is street journalism at its best and I hope there’ll never ever be an app for it.

Armpit hair or the Eurozone crisis? The writer’s dilemma

I met a girl once who let her armpit hair grow nice and bushy so that she could weed out the guys that were more interested in her grooming habits than her intellect. I thought of her yesterday as I was killing time flicking through the bestsellers in Easons. I’d picked up Caitlin Moran’s How to be a woman and happened upon a passage outlining the importance of maintaining a fine balance between the cultivation and removal of excess pubic hair. Apparently, girls as young as 12 are now seeking full body waxes. Furthermore, young boys’ exposure to porn means that they’re unfamiliar with the follicle reality of the female anatomy, which shocks them upon their first real encounter with it.

The things you learn.

I was conscious that it had been nearly a week since my last post and even though popular science dictates that the third week in January presents the greatest statistical probability of lapsing on your New Year’s Resolutions, I was determined to buck the trend and continue blogging.

So I thought about writing about bodily hair; about how I’ll be damned if I shave my legs in the winter, or about how I got my eyebrows threaded last June and that though it was very painful and my eyes were watering like a hose, when the beautician asked me if I was alright I answered that I was doing just fine and that the streaks of mascara decorating my cheeks were intentional.

But I thought the better of it. After all, there are more important things to be worrying about than the state of the nation’s armpits. I resolved to educate myself on a more sober theme.

As a result, I spent much of today in solitary confinement; having decided that I wanted to be someone who writes about the things that matter, rather than the colonies that fester in secret under our nation’s arms.

It didn’t take me long to find a suitable treatise.

With the stealth of a long-repressed id, the Eurozone crisis reared its ugly head from the back of my mind, where I had shoved it to avoid returning to the shameful and possibly unalterable fact that I don’t understand economics.

I began by googling promising terms like “Eurozone crisis”, “structure of European banking system” and “austerity”.

I decided it would be only right to set myself a plausible-sounding essay title to focus my enquiries.

I came up with “Outline the causes of the Eurozone crisis and discuss potential outcomes of Government measures to tackle the crisis”, which I thought sounded promising.

Like most academic titles, it was embedded with the code “Write anything you know about this theme and don’t forget to reference several bizarrely named academics to make the whole process a bit more bearable”.

I skimmed through a few generalities and familiarised myself with key Eurozone celebs like Hosé Manuel Barosso, Christine Lagarde and Evangelos Venizelos. I even recorded the duller-sounding names in a notebook for future perusal.

image source: guardian.co.uk


I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I happened upon the BBC’s Crisis Jargon Buster. I rushed downstairs to make myself a cup of mint tea, took a deep breath, then spent the entire day reading the list of terms and taking notes, which I intend to copy into the desktop folder I have called “My general betterment”.

As it turns out, the crisis is not without its gratifying terms. So much so, that when LSB picked me up this evening, we whiled away a pleasant half hour making economy-related puns over our cappuccinos.

I asked him if he could guess what my new favourite cereal was. Though he’s a savant, he was stumped. He knew that it used to be Aldi’s own-brand strawberry crisp but I told him that was old news.

My morning victual of choice was now … “Credit crunch”.

His groan was nothing on the one I had let out when I reached the letter “H” in the jargon buster glossary. Wedged defiantly between “Glass-Steagall” and “Hedge fund” was the word “haircut”.

And it didn’t refer to armpits.

Such are the dilemmas I’m facing as I embark on another year of blogging. Do I write about my savant boyfriend, who generates hundreds of hits, or about the war in Iraq or the meaning of “art” , which fewer people want to read about?

Should journalists give the public what it should want, or what it does want? Is it more important to inform or to entertain?

What do you think?