Some would say "better late than never".
I think it's fair to say that I am surprised that Ricky Martin has eased himself out of a closet. Not because I didn't think he was gay - far from it. Just because I thought if he hadn't done it by now he never would.
There are certain occupations where it's still hard to come out. It used to be virtually everywhere. You could only really be out if you worked in the theatre, perhaps television. These days, it's pretty much only professional footballers that can't come out and have to marry pop singers to prove their heterosexuality.
Hollywood is an interesting one, though. It's swarming with homosexuals, but there's something of a glass ceiling if you're openly a gay. There is still a fear that audiences will reject an openly gay man playing a heterosexual hero, even though the audiences mainly understand the difference between real life and pretending, and consider a straight actor playing a homosexualist as at best normal and at worst "brave".
Similarly in the music industry. As we saw in the UK, coming out deeply hurt the career of Will Young, who never adorned a poster on a teenage girl's wall. Boyzone and Westlife both disbanded when one of their members came out, and Take That never achieved success after playing a gay bar once.
Timing is the interesting thing here. There is a certain amount of press interest that can be generated by playing the "is-he/isn't-he" card. You can be spotted cavorting on the beach with a fit mate, for instance, and that might just remind someone who reads the Daily Mail who you are, and you might sell a few more records, or get yourself a part in a Zovirax commercial. Speculation can create interest, even when there is no new product attached to you.
So will this revelation kick-start Ricky Martin's career once more?
Brief thoughts on the evolution of the dinner party.
In the 1920s perhaps we would have piled down to Squiffy's place in Kent for the weekend. During the day we would have enjoyed the grounds. Ffytch would have sat in the arboretum, composing poetry, and Grumpy Montmorency Cleeves would have made a fool of himself in an amusing event in the gazebo, leaving Calamity Mitford under the mistaken impression that he had proposed. In the evening, chef would have served us primordial soup, the cream of Scotland Yard.
In the 1950s we would not have had dinner parties. We would have had austerity instead. Austerity is not a good alternative to dinner.
In the 1970s the dinner party was in its heyday. We'd be invited round to Margot and Jerry's, and Margot would serve us olives ("on a stick, how unusual!") with our Cinzanos before we settled down to dine on Prawn Cocktail and Boeuf Bourgignone. We'd prepare dinner in advance, just to check that it worked, and we would serve our carrots from a hostess trolley.
By the 1990s Boeuf Bourgignone was terribly bad taste. If we were entertaining clients, we'd pop out for Novelle Cuisine. ("I couldn't possibly take two carrots, I'm on a diet.") The dinner party evolved in to the more casual "having friends round for dinner", which was a chance to show off the wall we'd had removed to create a kitchen-diner, so the whole mystery of food was transformed in to a social event.
In 2010, that is being replaced by a phenomemon lifted from television. The 20-somethings of my acquaintance don't have friends for dinner, they don't throw dinner parties, or casual soirees. They "do" Come Dine With Me. A group of friends visit each other in rotation, mark each other in secret, and presumably rifle through each other's underwear drawers.
In the beginning, was the universe. The universe was very big, very confusing, and full of things that people couldn't understand. Things like the sun, and seasons, and death, and all sorts of things that if you were to stop and think about them would make you basically sit in a field all day going "Ug".
So, early mankind made up stories that explained observed phenomena. The sun was drawn across the sky on a chariot, and if you didn't eat your porridge it might not come up. Death was a doorway to a greater truth, but killing people was wrong.
That's fantastic. That's the beginning of a code of laws, the beginning of science, the beginnings of community. It also lets people stop worrying about what it's all about, and start focussing on really important things like inventing wheels and printing presses and processed cheese.
It's also the beginning of specialisation. If you've got one man who knows how the universe works he can worry about making sure it keeps working, and you can make sure that there's still bread on the table. He doesn't need to worry about yeast, and you don't need to worry about the laws of physics suddenly changing.
There's scope for a healthy degree of debate between the two of you. You might suggest, perhaps, that maybe eating Wob-meat gave you food poisoning, and he might oblige by checking with the Gods and finding out that Wob-meat is unclean. And he may suggest that the Gods have said that bread should be made with sand rather than flour, and you might oblige by telling him that you tried that and it didn't work.
What there is, though, is a healthy respect for the fact that you are the expert in baking, and he is the expert in the universe. If you say that Wob-meat gave you food poisoning, rather than declaring Wob-meat unclean, he may issue divine guidelines on how to cook Wob-meat properly, and thereby appease the thousands of Wob-farmers he might otherwise put out of work. He's got a different perspective. A wider perspective.
Of course, information is the enemy of this sort of specialisation.
You've probably not heard of Ulysses' Boat. It's a little story. It goes like this.
Ulysses goes on a long journey, and as he goes, he replaces part of his boat. Upgrades, if you like. At the end of the journey, none of his boat is the original boat. However, a canny Scotsman on his crew has been keeping all the discarded bits of boat and uses them to recreate the original boat. Which boat is Ulysses' Boat?
As with boats, so with Sugababes.
I read today that Mutya Buena is applying for the trademark of the name Sugababes. Possibly, the original three members might re-form. But the rights to the name currently sit with Universal.
There are real examples of this sort of thing going on all the time. Companies change staff and change ownership. Football teams evolve over time. People die, people are born - the population of the Earth changes from one moment to the next. The cells of your body die and are replaced. Only ideas really have continuity, perhaps.
This case isn't just about the name, though. It's about the rights to merchandising, to back catalogue. It's about intangible things like money and expertise (money, by the way, is intangible - really). It's not purely sentimental. It's intrinsic to what makes the Sugababes what they are. So perhaps the courts might view the Brand almost like a member of the group... and all it has done is changed its back-up singers...
I don't care how much the chairman of the BBC gets paid. Nor should you. Because it is none of your business.
Oh yes, you pay your licence fee - a tax by any other name - and that makes the BBC accountable, down to the last paperclip, the last penny of your money that you have paid to fund your BBC.
You're entitled to demand the removal of Jonathan Ross, the reinstatement of 6 Music, to moan about too much sport, or not enough, or whatever the heck you want.
This is a fantastic degree of transparency and openness. But it's flawed and ultimately kind of pointless and destructive.
Say you're a private contractor, working in some field of technical expertise. You're brilliant at your job and you can charge £500 per hour for your time. You get hired, a lot. Do your clients have the right to ask what they are going to get for their money?
Of course they do. They want some piece of technical knowledge that you either have, or can generate for them. You've obviously set your rate at one that you think fairly covers your costs, pays off some of your student loan and mortgage, has some contingency in it to cover the fact that as a private contractor you may not be working full time. You might have loaded it up a bit because you know the client is prepared to pay more for you. You might have rounded, or put in VAT at 17.5% when you're currently only paying it at 9%. At the end of the day, you are not a charity.
As long as the client is happy that the service received is worth the money that they have paid for it, everyone should be happy, shouldn't they?
They might not be. There might be a negotiation. Happens all the time. Cut a few quid off here, scale back a service there. All fair enough.
Never in a private business relationship does the client - who pays the wages - have a right to demand to know how that money is spent. They can't see how much you pay your PA, they can't see whether you've shopped around and got the cheapest energy provider to supply power to your office. They wouldn't expect to.
Paying for something does not give you an automatic right to control it.
I'll admit that there is a difference between a private contractor and the BBC - there are many - but the key one would be that the BBC - like the National Health Services and the Government - isn't in a competitive playing field. But the same principle applies.
Compare the benefit received to the price paid. Get that sorted first.
Between them, husband and wife duo Avatar and the Hurt Locker have eighteen Oscar nominations this year. They're directly against each other in seven categories. Here's how I think they'll do.
The Hurt Locker is beautifully shot. Iraq (shot in Kuwait) feels intimate, close, open, familiar, alien. Heat and tension emanate from the screen. Avatar, on the other hand, redefines what Cinematography means, using a bizarre mix of camera styles that has never been tried before - and succeeds. And the Oscar goes to The Hurt Locker, because it's real even though it's not.
Film editing is critical in defining the pace of a film, fine tuning the audience experience. The Hurt Locker vs Avatar here is a fine balance between the traditional art taken to its extreme, and the art of film editing completely redefined. And the Oscar goes to Inglorious Basterds, because of the opening scene in the house in the fields.
A tough one here. Good scoring underlines the themes of a film and stays with the listener far beyond the cinema, while at the same time being almost inaudible and unmemorable. Both of these movies are triumphs of subtlety, so it's very hard to choose. And the Oscar goes to Up, because it made me cry.
Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing
Two categories in one here - both are about the art of creating a fictional reality, about adding depth to a two dimensional picture. And the Oscars go to pretty much anyone. These are really technical awards, and not likely to garner much attention. Star Trek could win.
Both The Hurt Locker and Avatar are strongly directed. Of the two, Avatar is clumsier and clunkier, but nonetheless interesting. The Hurt Locker is tense and intimate, but it's somewhat unvaried. It's a symphony in beige, with explosions. The art of the director is the art of creating a cinematic experience that utterly absorbs. For me, therefore, the Oscar goes to Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino's strongest film to date by quite some way, a huge step up in terms of his talent and confidence.
Well, it's not going to be Avatar or The Hurt Locker. Avatar looks great, it's got smurfs and dragons, and the plot of Pocahontas, and bits of Aliens soldered on for good luck. In a cinematic environment where anything can happen, cliches are bound to happen. I guess.
The Hurt Locker is a turgid plop of a film. Based on some things a journalist saw once, it's tense, you grow to care about the characters to some extent, but it's a dramatic mess, and the performances are all un-nuanced. There's a reality to it that's hard to achieve in cinema these days, mainly because it's not interesting.
And the Oscar goes to... something else.