Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Huge opportunity for grown-up MySpace

I was reading an article recently - and unfortunately I can't remember where it was, because I read so much damn stuff - about the rise of social networking sites like Facebook, Bebo, MySpace. The gist of it was that these sites are the playground of the young: that it's their way of interacting, and we oldsters have no reason to be on them and we're all sad.

I disagree!

We have more need for these sites and provide a better usage model, in marketing parlance. Let's face it, the kids see each other all day at school and then they rush home and spend hours either chatting online or completing turgid and detailed profiles about themselves.

Whereas we oldsters may have moved house quite often, moved jobs, lost contact with schoolmates and former colleagues, plus we might be on the second or third divorce so maybe looking for a new soulmate. We're also keen to do "proper" networking to build our business contacts. Linked In is a good site that offers this, but not much else. Plus we usually have interesting hobbies - photography, travel and so on - where we'd like to share photos and experiences. If you combined all this in a compelling website that wasn't patronising, we wouldn't need to frequent the kids' sites.

But I haven't found a site yet that caters for this potentially huge market, so I do have a presence on Facebook and MySpace, although I'm in a minority in the UK. None of my friends or colleagues in the UK over the age of 30 are on these sites. (I did consider Bebo just a little too young for me!). So Tom, Jeff, the Google team. Seize the mettle.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Katie's fan hits back

Very amused to get a couple of anonymous comments from someone who sounds like Disgusted of Kensington, hitting back at my "Katie Slapper" piece. I suspect it's the same person - possibly Mensa candidate Katie herself - because both times Michelle Mone from Ultimo got a blasting. The funny thing is, I wasn't all that positive about her either (see my last par) - but I did enjoy the way she was the only one so far who put Katie Hopkins in her place.

Over the weekend, other women pitched in with their views on Katie (whose sexploits, btw, were plastered all over the tabloids yesterday). The headline "Superbitches are sad" reflected the views of India Knight in the Sunday Times who said Katie is a sad relic from yesteryear, trying to out-bitch everyone. Ulrika Jonsson (please, no jokes about pots and kettles!)in the News of the World said she was a traitor to all women. "She flirted, simpered, bitched and backstabbed her way to the semi-final. And then she bottled it."

It's time to move on now from Katie, whose 15 minutes of celebrity is now over. But a word to my anonymous comment writer: I would have thought Katie would be a keen Eurovision fan herself. Her 80s wardrobe and make-up certainly suggests that! Perhaps next time you'll be bold enough to give your name?

As for the winner of The Apprentice: my money is on Kristina. Very early on in the series it was clear she was head and shoulders above the rest of the candidates with her mature, objective, strategic insight. She would be a definite asset to Sir Alan. He said a while ago he wanted someone who was fully rounded who could run one of his companies. Kristina could do that easily. Simon is too young; he's a loose cannon. He might have good ideas (not sure that we've seen any) but he lacks gravitas and business acumen.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My celebrity lookalikes

My cool celebrity look-alike collage from MyHeritage.com. Get one for yourself.

I found this in someone else's blog...neat huh? I had to try three photos before it found one that worked...and then the matches I was given were (a) male and (b) Japanese! I've used some of the women who were said to be matches but I kept the #1 match, a male!

Apparently you can upload pictures of your ancestors and the system will try to match them with other people. Probably early days yet, but exciting technology as their database develops.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Paris Hilton: what did you expect?

I had a little snigger when I heard that Paris Hilton had been released from jail so soon on "health grounds." What health grounds, I wondered - a broken finger nail?

But really folks, what were you expecting? That she would do her full term and emerge chastened and remorseful? I knew there would be some sort of dodge to get her out quickly. Money is everything, even with the law.

What surprises me a little is the sentiment around her release. It's like wolves baying for blood. OK, so she's a pampered princess, an heiress whose biggest daily challenge is changing clothes several times and accessorizing the dog's jacket to match. She has a useless, worthless life, but she seems happy enough with that. I don't think she's troubled by enough brain cells to want more.

It seems to me that most of the antipathy is fuelled by nothing more than good old-fashioned jealousy, and outrage that money can open doors anywhere, it would seem.

Folks, get over it: if I take a good long look at the life of Paris Hilton, I can guarantee it's going to be one disaster after another: superficial relationships based on money, drugs, alcohol, dissatisfaction. Unless she finds a cause, or purpose for her life, she will drift. The roller coaster of plastic surgery will inevitably follow as she tries to keep her looks (though I'm always perplexed about this "Paris is beautiful" thing because to me she looks like an anteater). There's nothing very lucky about a life like that.

I am surprised her advisors didn't see this as an opportunity to relaunch her on a better path. Naomi Campbell apparently performed her community service as a cleaner very cheerfully - or so she says in the book that inevitably followed. I was half hoping that Paris would serve her time humbly and then come out fired up with the desire to reform the penal system. But I forgot - I guess you need a few brain cells to do that.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Katie Slapper gets her comeuppance

Wasn't last night's episode of The Apprentice gripping? You could practically read the thought processes as Katie, red in the face, realised the game was up and had to stand down.

The only unfortunate aspect, to me, is that she'd made the final and will probably think she would have won - had she not graciously stepped aside.

It was pretty obvious that Katie was simply there to win the game, not to do the job. She was still denying this on TV today, but Katie, sorry, you're exposed by the fact you didn't even bother to read up on Sir Alan and his companies. If you'd done so, you would have realised he doesn't have an office in Exeter, Bournemouth or any other place where your family and helpers live, and a relocation to Brentwood was inevitable.

It's also obvious that Katie has created a brand, herself as monster, to get some notoriety. She'll be briefly in the public eye as a symbol of slapperdom, ruthlessness, whatever. But she'll then sink like a stone and she'll probably find her colleagues and friends a little more wary of her.

Last night's "The Apprentice You're Fired" programme was also excellent simply for the spectacle of successful businesswoman Michelle Mone giving Katie a piece of her mind. "I would nae employ ye," declared Michelle, the Scottish founder of Ultimo. Katie was unphased and gave some sardonic reply about being glad that Michelle represents public opinion. Michelle snapped back that Katie had too high an opinion of herself and if she was really as successful as she makes out, why was she not sitting in her seat? Priceless.

A few years ago I emailed Michelle Mone with a new business suggestion. I suggested that Ultimo start selling good-looking support lingerie. Not their backless bodies, but waist cinchers and "big pants." At that time, I was way ahead of Gok Wan (How to Look Good Naked) and she could have gained a big competitive advantage by grabbing this potentially huge - in more ways than one - market. But I didn't even get a reply. Not very entrepreneurial, Ms Mone, eh?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Finding out your real age

Nancy Dell'Olio raised a few eyebrows this week when she said she had no qualms about trying for a baby at her age (which is not known, but widely believed to be nearer 50 than 40) because her "real age" is 26.

Real age, rather than biological age, is calculated by assessing many factors including your fitness levels, diet, your immediate family's health, how often you floss your teeth, how many miles you drive and how many friends you have, amongst other things.

I blithely imagined I would have a real age up there with Nancy's because I'm always able to tick "no" to all the boxes that ever ask if you've had asthma, epilepsy, dropsy or whatever; I exercise around twice a week, eat a largely healthy diet, take vitamin supplements and have no financial or other worries.

So I took the Realage test, which is free and accessible here.

It turned out my real age was five years younger than my...er...real (biological) age, but there is plenty of room for improvement. One of the surprise findings is that I don't take enough vitamin E. I had to grab the bottle of high-potency multivitamins and minerals that I take and enter some of the numbers. It contains 10mg of vitamin E when I should be taking 40mg or more, and potassium levels were also low. I don't eat enough grains or rice each week and I don't eat enough of the healthy fats found in nuts and olive oil.

Of course, twice a week isn't enough exercise (I knew that).

It helps if you know your resting pulse rate, cholesterol levels and blood pressure before you take the test. I've had all these done and they were all average but I couldn't be bothered to find the results, so by entering "average" without giving exact data makes the test compilers suspicious.

And no surprises that because I drive around 12000 miles a year, and have a mobile phone conversation at least once every journey (although it is hands-free), I'm at greater risk.

It is food for thought though and well worth doing.
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