Iranian President launches blog, pinches my sign-off line

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has, somewhat improbably, started a weblog. It’s rather hard to get into – oddly enough, the server falls over when you request the english translation – but according to the BBC the first post consists not of the traditional ‘First post!’ or ‘is this thing on?’, but a 2000-word autobiography.

The post apparently concludes with an apology for verbosity, thus:

With hope in God, I intend to wholeheartedly complete my talk in future with allotted 15 minutes

Now, those of you who’ve been favoured with personal correspondence from myself will have seen my sign-off line:

‘If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.’ (Pascal)

…which is something of a mis-attribution, since that particular version is a significant rewording of Pascal’s original. Significant enough that I once had a complaint from the Sorbonne, which at the time I rather mocked, but on reflection they may have had a point; ‘my’ version is now showing up in Google, which it certainly didn’t when I started using it. Ironically, it’s being attributed to Cicero and Wilde in addition to Pascal, but that’s by the by.

Anyway, it’s clear to me that President Ahmadinejad has heard this phrase – most likely via a couple of additional layers of translation – and realised it fits his prose style at least as well as it fits mine.

But hey, I’m not precious. Welcome to the world of blogging, Mr. President. Remember – you build an audience in the blogosphere by writing stuff people find interesting, but what really works is being transparently open and honest. Good luck.

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