I've read a lot about this new movie, Fight Club. Apparently it's about a group of directionless young men who rediscover their masculinity by beating the crap out of each other. Now, I'm as lost and irrelevant as the next man, but I can already tell this particular form of self-help isn't for me. Firstly, I think you have to take your shirt off. Secondly, if regaining something I've lost means being hit in the face by somebody, then I'm not sure whether I really want that thing back.

Anyway, there are lots of new ways to assert your masculinity. What about ego-surfing? Just type your name into one of the Web's many search engines and presto, you get an instant assessment of your current standing as a man of the information age. Of course women can ego-surf too, but with their continued relevance, I imagine they have better things to do. Recently I found 124 examples of my name being bandied about on the Web. Actually they're not all about me. I happen to share the name Tim Dowling with a rather outspoken marketing manager at Intel, who is the subject of about a dozen of them. It's also a different Tim Dowling who is listed on several sites called "Trombonists of the World". Then there are the multiple mentions of Rev Tim Dowling in the online newsletter from Our Lady of the Magnificat parish church in New Jersey.

Apart from those, there are 93 references to Tim Dowling which fall into the more generic category of "just not me". I'm no rocket scientist, so it's safe to assume I am not the Dr Tim Dowling who is working with spacecraft data to develop numerical models of the atmospheric motions of Jupiter. I am not even the Tim Dowling who participated in the Jack Rabbit Run in Norwalk, Connecticut on 18 May, 1997 - I have, in fact, discovered that I'm one of the less relevant Tim Dowlings in modern society.

There are only five websites that make reference to the actual me. Four are reprints of articles I've written, two of them reprints of the same article. There is also a quotation attributed to me in an essay called Die Zukunft Des Geldes-E-Cash, but I can't read German, so I don't know whether the author thought what I said was clever or stupid. As usual, I'm thoroughly depressed by the whole exercise. It just makes me want to go out and fight someone.