This is me. Hello me.

According to this, I am this:

INTP - "Architect". Greatest precision in thought and language. Can readily discern contradictions and inconsistencies. The world exists primarily to be understood. 3.3% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs)

Introverted (I) 80.65% Extroverted (E) 19.35%
Intuitive (N) 53.66% Sensing (S) 46.34%
Thinking (T) 78.79% Feeling (F) 21.21%
Perceiving (P) 53.13% Judging (J) 46.88

Somehow, gibberish calculated to two decimal places is more reassuring than gibberish without numbers.

I wonder if there's a psychological test for skepticism versus gullibility.

Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven.

In one hour I am obliged to attend a forum - I may even have to chair it. It's about the crisis in the pensions system, probably specifically about how an unplanned economy can't hope to reliably provide pensions, nor a government created oasis of planning within an unplanned economy like ours.

I think this is far more interesting.

An interlude

I miss H. I miss Nick.

I've tried three times to write about the demo, but can't. It was a strangely depressing experience. Now, I just feel like sleeping.

There's so much to do. Maintaining three of the computers here at home, Maths, Physics, being supposedly self-employed, getting the photos of the demo to people who want them, copying tapes, arranging tomorrow's forum, publicity for the upcoming tsunami benefit gig. I'm supposed to be fighting for a better world and building a belated career for myself - and all I want to do is cuddle with H and write songs with Nick.

A Day Like Any Other

I kept my sex appointment with TC this afternoon. It was all quite pleasant, but for some reason I found myself getting bored. He's a nice fellow, with the endearing habit of taking off his wedding ring before climbing into the marital bed with another man.

My brother visited in the evening, and we ate far too much chinese food to mark my father's 69th birthday.

Tomorrow is the big day. A demo and march against the deportation of Laren Suleman - the 14 year old kurdish schoolgirl. It's my job to photograph the event.

My physics course starts on Feb 3rd, which is awkward, as I haven't finished the preparatory maths course yet.

I'm copying all my 80s and 90s dance music compilation cassettes to mp3. There's some tracks I'd completely forgotten about, and a few soulful ones that annoyed me at the time but now work better.

Lunatics Taking Over The Asylum

Tonight, while Channel 4 is showing Farenheit 9/11, BBC2 show a sympathetic profile of Natal Sharansky. Sharansky is one of those lunatics who divide the planet into 'free world' and 'fear world' - black and white, good and evil, us and them, no shades of grey. In his book The Case For Democracy, he advocates 'exporting democracy' from the Free World (i.e America) to the Fear World, 'by any means necessary".

This thinking is hardly new - whenever the leadership of a regime dream of a world empire, the same ideology emerges to justify the dream in ethical terms. What is surprising is how ineffective the usual checks and balances have been. Even when the political leadership is composed largely of lunatics, the military leadership can keep a cool head to counterbalance. George Bush and Condoleeza Rice are offset by Dick Cheny and (to some extent) Colin Powell.

So, why is Saudi Arabia being threatened with sanctions, and Iran with invasion or bombing, when Iraq is still proving such an expensive disaster? Is it just more sabre rattling - making threats to intimidate, to keep these countries in line?

Ordinarily, I would say it is. Iran can't be invaded, because there is no stable nearby base to invade it from, and because Iran has a sizable and well armed army which could inflict casualties reminiscent of Vietnam. Bombing Iran (possibly using Isreal as a proxy) would achive nothing. It would create massive hostility from the american people, plus the rest of the world, would upset the economy, and cirtainly not provoke 'regime change'.

Iran couldn't fight a war with America, but it could easily create and/or finance terrorist groups. Ironic, that the war-on-terror would create terrorism. As has been pointed out by much more astute people than myself, global power politics is only possible if only the superpowers have great destructive ability - right now, anyone can build a bomb.

Ronald Regan was paranoid that Russia was just about to attack, and funded Edward Teller's worthless 'Star Wars' project so he could get in his retalliation first, without fearing the consequences. But even then, I was pretty sure he wouldn't be allowed to push the big red launch button. Now, I'm not so confident.

Less, We Forget

Today is Holocaust Rembrance Day. Television screens full of elderly men and women, trying to describe the almost indescribable things they experienced when young, while journalists make it as unreal as a film script with 5-second cliches.

We see tears, mute inability to explain, and endless eloquent solemnity from pundits. But we never see anger. It is as though the passionate determination that nothing like the holocaust should ever happen again is being smothered with a uniform liturgical intoning.

Who was it wrote that the purpose of memorials is to enable forgetting? It might have been Baudrillard, or Barthes, but appropriately, I forget. Cirtainly there are subtexts to the speeches made by the politicians standing in Auschwitz:
* The holocaust was incomprehensible, therefore causeless, therefore no one is to blame.
* The Nazis were a bit like terrorists, and America led/leads a just war on both.
* Let's preserve the memory by mumifying it.

Yes, of course we must remember what happened. But that isn't enough to prevent it happening again. We need also to remember why it happened - not as a moment of unique evil, but as a political event that could have been prevented. That's the only way to recognise the signs of a buildup to another genocide.

Phatness and Fatness

Yay! I've got a new cassette player. And it doesn't even chew up tapes like the old ones. So now I've just got to sample my 200 music cassettes, filter out the noise, convert to mp3 and put onto CDRs. And then do the same thing for the tapes of radio serials. And then for mother's hundred or so maths and science study tapes.

And then ask anyone whether they have any cassettes they want transferred to CD.

I haven't seen H for nearly two weeks, and I'm really missing him. We exchanged text messages - he can't see me for another week because, like me, he's rather good at putting off 'official' work to do 'hobby' work, until the last minute. So now he and I both have great big towering backlogs of study to get through, and no time to do it. I knew there was a reason I liked him.

I am definitely not going to say how much I weighed today. But if I were a bit more femme (or had more energy), I'd have thrown the scales out of the window. As a teenager, I was a fan of Peter Lorre films - somehow I never expected to end up more like Sidney Greenstreet.

Busy but not Active

Last night I promised myself I'd begin some sort of exercise regime this morning - go for a cycle, or at least a brisk walk. This morning I woke up to stiff painful muscles in the back and neck, and an extremely cold day outside. So I spent the day hunched over various computers, no doubt making the problem worse.

I've got about 200 music cassettes, and one semifunctional tape deck - it plays most tapes without chewing them up, but won't fastforward or rewind, or record. The cheapest new deck costs £99. So, just for the moment I'll use the old one to sample my old cassette collection to WAV, clean up the hiss and rumble, and convert to mp3. Before the tapes degrade further, or players become completely unavailable.

Oh yes, and there's maths and physics to study. Why is it I can find a dozen tedious things to do - cataloguing CDRs, testing permutations of driver combinations for software, editing MP2 sound files from DAB - all of which take me away from things I'm actually interesting in - reading new ideas and making music?

The headline in todays local rag is "Panto Star In Sex Probe". The Conservative Party leader has made a speech saying there's no room in this country for immigrants - presumably he means people like his father, or the invisible people who do the jobs no one else will do. There's a rally on Saturday, in support of a 14 year old schoolgirl who's being thretened with extradition.
My back hurts and I feel like a cup of tea with three chocolate buscuits.

A Bit Strange

A brief visit from Paul T. I told him what I was doing - listening through headphones to snippets of soundtrack recorded 20 years ago. With Dr Strangelove on the left channel and Zardoz on the right. He found this greatly amusing, saying he'd known one other person who sat listening to two things at once. And this other had been paranoid schitzophrenic, known to friends as Eraserhead or Mad Dave.

I suppose it is rather strange to record TV soundtracks and use them to make music. But no stranger than tying six metal strings between two points, and feeding the vibrations through a digital box that simulates the failure of analog circuitry to deal with overlarge amplitude.

Old and New

I've sampled one spool to mp3 - two blocks of 45 minutes, each taking 40 or so megabytes. These sounds were recorded when a 40MB hard disk was considered extravegant, when mp3s didn't exist, and the speed needed to encode them in real time was a fantasy. A mere decade ago.

Sadly, I've called off the 'longfight' collaboration with Nick. If either of us had the inspiration free flowing, there might be time, but our muses are away having flihgs with other musicians. Plus I have one of those lingering low-level colds that make you feel somewhat drowsy all the time and kill the singing voice.

Anyway, these are the lyrics I did manage to complete. Hopefully to be part of some future project:

Did a man come back to life
Three days after the end?
And is he coming back in the year
Two thousand and ten?
Secret plane or UFO?
Did the CIA kill JFK?
Will something bad happen if you step on the cracks?
And will you get rich if you chant every day?

What do you believe?
When you're calling me nieve
When the jig is up and the chips are down
And there's no one else around

Lying on a leather couch
Telling last nights dream
Reveal forgotten childhood rage
Or so it seems
Will this drug turn you into a sex god?
Were we brothers in an earlier life?
Will you live as long as the lines on your hand?
Did you see a flying sled on christmas night?

They say man is the dream of the dolphin
They say man is a hairless ape
They say man was created in the image of god
And the truth is a matter of faith
What do you believe?
When you're calling me nieve
When the jig is up and the chips are down
And there's no one else around

What do you believe?
What do you believe?


I've been making music since I was 13. Much of my musical development was influenced by my grandfather. Not because I took musical influences from him - I didn't - but because the recording equipment available to me came from him.

My grandfather was a great electrical hobbyist. He rewired his house several times, managing to install all the light switches upside down, and making it an exercise in Kafkaesque experimentation to discover which permutation of switches on which floor would activate which lightbulb. He spent his retirement taking apart nonworking tape decks and canibalising them into...tape decks that half worked. Some of the time.

I remember one system he concocted. By a series of switches, you could play a cassette on one deck, but if you wanted to rewind you had to transfer power to a different deck that could only fastforward. You could record from the radio to a reel-to-reel deck, playing through mismatched speakers.

One day when I was about 17, having actually got a reel-to-reel deck working perfectly, he said he couldn't find a use for it, so offered to sell it to me. I paid £70, and got a wooden box I could barely carry and a stack of dusty spools.

I fixed the deck up to the speaker output of my parents large television, and recorded sound effects and dialogue from TV shows. When I'd composed some music on my Tascam cassette 4-track, I carried the deck upstairs, and selected snippets of television sound to dub over the music. This was my vocal - I never thought of trying to sing, rap, or speak. I made a dozen or so albums that way.

Recently, I've decided to try to recreate the most successful tracks from this early work, using technology I could only dream of at the time. So, sitting in front of me is a stack of analog spools, containing roughly recorded sections of soundtrack from 80s and 90s television.

Tomorrow, I plan to dig out that old tape deck, and sample those cut up snatches of mass media that form most of my pleasant teenage memories.

My grandfather has been dead for over a decade. I have only a few memories of him, as a kindly man, a tinkerer, and a reader of bizzare mystical trash. He died just as I was getting to know him. We had two interests in common - taking things apart to make them work, and music.

Four Bands and a Fun Time

Last night I went to a gig. The sixth 'Unite Against Fasism' concert in Portsmouth. I was asked along to help The Strict Machines with equipment moving, setup, and checking - which as it turned out they didn't need. I bought my video camera and filmed what I could of the event.

First up were my friends The Strict Machines. Anna the singer had had one hell of a day at work, and was feeling stressed and upset. She's a real trooper and a perfectionist - or if you prefer, incapable of admitting weakness until it overcomes her, and never happy with her own performance. Paul the guitarist was his usual self - extremely enthusiastic, randomly resentful, and with a talent almost as big as his ego. Fabio the drummer was his usual phlegmatic Italian self.

Second were a thrash band - Ashes to Empires. Their wall of guitar fuzz and gutteral roaring was actually very effective, because it was puntuated with some well played and tuneful passages. The lead singer 'sang' with a deep throaty roar that would get respect from Extreme Noise Terror. And spoke between tracks in a sweetly clipped, middle class voice. I spoke to them briefly afterwards - friendly teenagers with pierced faces. Oddly professional in their outlook.

Next was Goffman. Excellent blues-funk - most of the audiance got up and danced. I'd decided to film them from floor level - so it's hardly my fault that a lot of gyrating figures unexpectedly started grooving around the shot. Or that I was directly underneath a pair of very nice teenage buttocks. Anyway...

Finally, Silicon Sun - probably the most musical and varied of the bands, but somehow the most boring. All kinds of guitar stumming from Simon & Garfunkel to Black Sabbath.

Unfortunately, the UAF organisers had somehow never got around to publicising the event, or organising for it. So the audiance consisted of the bands and their friends, there were no political flyers or leaflets, and no little speeches. The music was very good, but the 'point' of the gig was absent.

Complicating, Circulating, New Life

I've written half a song, the lyrics and melody 'inspired' by Losing My Religion. Nick says he likes what I've written so far, so the song when it's finished is his to sing.

My birthday gift from mother was the Revitar guitar physical modelling synthesiser. I can cirtainly see it being very useful in future productions provided (a) I can get to grips with guitar chord theory and (b) I can fathom how to use Sonar, the sequencer that I'm using to run it.

I started cataloguing my mp3 collection, discovered peppermint tea, and studied a little maths. In all, a pleasantly uneventful day. Tomorrow, lets see if I can keep somewhat better to my new life resolutions.

Note on Rand

Ayn Rand tries to bridge the is-ought divide by pointing out the base-superstructure relation between the two. The physical world and it's laws are a necessary precondition for the existance of ethical laws - there would be no morality if there were no people.

However, she uses a linier model of superstruture determination by the base. She relies on the notion that the form of the base determines the form of the superstructure. This isn't the way determination works.

The base determines which superstructures cannot spring from it, and to some extend which ones are more or less likely from the vast array of possibilities. Determination is negative, but Rand requires it to be positive.

She also relies on a kind of moral superimperative - that actions be 'life positive'. This is an ethical skyhook, coming from nowhere and determined by nothing - not even the physical base.

Kappy Birthday

Right. The gig went quite well. At least I think it did. I had a cold and a sore throat, so some notes were off. And the backing track skipped a few times, which messed up the rhythm. But I got a respectable applause at the end, and the comment "That was very good, even if you did plunder every cliche of cheesy 80s pop."

When I got home, I found the computer wouldn't boot. So, after reinstalling Windows 2000 a few times, I installed an old 16GB hard disk to be the system drive, and installed my software setup yet again.

Chatted on IRC with Nick on Friday. We're going to try to put together a song for the 'longfight'. Each of us writes one song, plus one set of lyrics for the other to sing and compose backing for, then we segue the four into a mix. I have no inspiration whatsoever, but it does sound like a good project. Hopefully I'll have some ideas by the time we chat again on Monday.

Monday is my birthday, and it starts in 1 hour. I'll be 33. It seems like a good day to try implementing some of the things I've been promising myself I'd do. The usual things - give up chocolate, do exercise, study more regularly, try again to find a job, keep sensible sleeping hours, and all good worthy stuff. Oh, and update audio diary and blog more often.

I plan to get myself a small birthday gift - the Revitar 2.0 VST guitar synthesiser from The demo version looks very impressive, though I'd need to know more about guitar chord theory to use it properly. Strange that after two decades of being into synthesised dance music, I'm lining up to record boy-and-guitar songs.

I've just come back from chairing a seminar on Bob Dylan. The speaker was Pat Stack, who's always a brilliant speaker - well informed and passionate. Unfortunately no one else in the audiance wanted to say much in the discussion, so I made a complete tit of myself trying to galvanise a discussion for half an hour.

So. Put on a CD of ambient mp3s, lie down in bed, drift off to the gentle music, and wake up one year older.

Chicken Tonight

I'm playing a gig tonight, supporting the Strict Machines. I've got the backing tracks processed and laid down on CD, lyric sheets, and all the hardware and cables I'm likely to need. The only thing lacking is my voice - I've just practiced, and my singing is abysmal.

I don't know whether I can give a good performance tonight. It's the first time a lot of people I know are going to hear me sing, and I've a horrible feeling I'm going to mess it up. Still, given the organisation of the Strict Machines, and the fact that there were supposed to be two other bands, and the misunderstandings over publicity, and the small detail that we don't yet know the exact electrical layout of the venue, maybe any mistakes I make won't be so glaring.

What's the worst that can happen? I make an utter tit of myself in front of people I respect, plus a lot of strangers. Oh well, I'll let you know how it went.

Fuck Me Again You Animal

If we see one male lion mounting another, there are a large number of possible interpretations. For instance:

* They are lovers and long term partners
* This is consensual gay sex
* It's rape
* It's a display of social dominance and submission
* It's social bonding
* It's the result of no females being available
* One is practicing for reproductive sex, using the other for a 'dry run'.
* They are playing

What seems to be an obviously sexual act, can have plausible (and perhaps even true) nonsexual functions.

However, the converse is also true. If we take a human activity like smoking, marathon running, drinking beer with friends, demonstrating against the government, or engaging in 'retail therapy', all these have possible sexual explanations. Indeed, much of the pseudoscientific side of psychoanalysis is concerned with positing such explanations.

In a world where girls fall in love with popstars and ponies, and boys read magazines about guns or bodybuilding, the various disciplines of psychology, sociology, and cultural theory are in the dark ages.

Fuck Me You Animal

There are two reasons animal behavior is studied. The first is to gain understanding of the natural world, sometimes to control it. The second is to answer ethical questions about human behavior. The first is useful, the second misguided.

The reasoning might be that, because some animals engage in same-sex sexual activity, it is natural for humans to do so to, therefore not morally wrong. However, there are different, equally valid inferences which can be drawn from the same data.

One is that "homosexuality" in animals - and indeed sexuality in general - is more about social bonding than reproduction, and therefore sexuality in humans is similar, and therefore social restrictions against homosexuality, polygamy, and "Sluttishness" are counterproductive.

A third possible interpretation is that animals show a moral degeneracy, contracted from contact with immoral humans, and therefore humans should try to set them a better example. A fourth is that homosexuality is part of primative animal sexuality, and therefore humans who do it are unevolved brutes.

All these lines of reasoning are nonsensical because they try to derive 'what ought' from 'what is' - they try to base ethics in empiricism. Indeed, they treat each fact as having an indissoluable ethical value - that animals are 'less evolved', that human society is 'corrupt' or 'ungodly', or that 'alturism is desirable'.

Facts do not contain values. Values are not a type of fact. Facts can be observed and interpreted, values can only be ascribed.

Another problem is the selectiveness of the reasoning. Someone may argue that, because some anthropoids practice something analogous to polygamy, the notion of monogamous marriage is untennable. The problem is that some anthropoids practice infanticide, but parallel reasoning is not used here.

It is entirely possible to reach a correct (or "just") moral conclusion be reasoning invalidly from correct empirical statements. Conservative attitudes towards homosexuality and polygamy are indeed incohearant, insupportable, and do great harm. My point is that using evidence from animal behavior to attack these positions must fail.

It fails because (a) it is illogical and (b) diametrically opposed conclusions can be drawn using the same illogical reasoning from the same evidence.

...four, three, two...

One long day. What wasn't spent sleeping was spent with FDISK, Partition Magic, Windows 98, Windows 2000, and a hard disk that refused to format in NTFS. I finally have a workable system, with the boot partition formated to FAT32, and the others to NTFS.

Tomorrow there's a film viewing of Battleship Potemkin which I am being regularly reminded to attend. And the day after, I get to meet my new jobsearch advisor. Just when I don't need more pointless things to do., six, five...

Sometimes it's useful to have more than one computer. I've just spent the last six hours trying to reinstall Windows 2000 on my own system, and after two complete installs, numerous uses of the MS-DOS FDISK and FORMAT commands, and several partitioning schemes, I don't have a hard disk that works, let alone an operating system. I'm writing this on my mother's computer.

It is my life's ambition to have a computer that doesn't slow down to a crawl every few months, or contract nonremovable spyware and popups, or crash at odd moments with no more explanation than an impossibly cryptic error message. It would also be nice if it didn't become senile just when I need it most.

Ten, nine eight...

Chatted for the first time in ages on IRC with Nick. I'd forgotten how much I missed his company - even on the other side of a screen filled with words. He's got two gigs coming up, the second one a benefit concert for the tsunami appeal, and we may be able to perform together. The stage debut of our much delayed synthpop duo 'The K Twins'.

Okay. I can now finally get around to reinstalling windows. After making sure that all the files are backed up. And then making sure the backup disc isn't corrupt. And then finding a few files I'd forgotten to back up.

I'm singing in a pub with some other bands on the 12th, which gives me about a week to put together 17 minutes worth of backing material, some of it from scratch. Though I'm supposed to be studying my maths books. Oh well, if absolutely necessary, I'll reuse the backing CD from the SFUK2004 gig.

While wasting time browsing through other people's blogs, I found A gay arts graduate with little tolerance of pretention - which I can cirtainly identify with. And a superfit HIV+ black man living in Texas, which is more difficult.


Where there are minor difficulties, there are those who exagerate them into insurmountable catastrophes. Where there are major disasters, there are those who trivialised them.

Some people trivialise by making an international situation reflect their personal gripes. It may be true that corporate greed cause your local bus service to be cut, making you stand for 30 minutes in a bus shelter. But the same greed causes millions to die of AIDS in Africa because they couldn't pay the full (inflated) price for the drugs.

The mass media trivialises an earthquake by focusing on a pair of holidaymakers who escaped.

And then there are the conspiracy theorists and alien colonisation nuts. Here's part of an email I recieved today, from the REDPOLITICS list.

>With a sadistic psychopath surrounded by nazionistic psychopaths
>in the white house, ANY hitherto unthinkable crime can and must
>be considered a realistic possibility.
>Like their test piece, 9/11, a tsunami catastrophe implies very
>great strategic opportunities for their imperial and depopulation
[snip pages of incohearant rambling]

130,000 people dead through a meaningless act of god. No malice, no evil, just geology. The tokenism of help from other governments could indeed be described as evil. But to treat the forces of nature as a manifestation of global greed - that trivialises both the force of the tsunami and the loss of life, by turning both into a finger pointing accusingly at some politicians.

I'm quite fond of dumb conspiracy theories - as a tourist in the land of the mad. They are a good barometer of fashions in obsession and hangups. This kind of thinking was expected, but it's still uncomfortable.

And so it begins. You have forgotten something.

Nick and I both got our songs finished and submitted. He says his is in the vein on Nick Cave (and, presumably, The Bad Seeds), but as I can't call to mind their sound, I can't judge. It's a good little song of lost love, somehow mawkishly bleak. I really wish I could write lyrics that easily.

Mine came out pretty well, with two small problems. First the vocals are mixed too low. And second, all the production tricks that I used to make it loud...seemed to make it quiet.

So, I spent several hours today revisiting and refining softknee compressors, hard limiters, and the mathematical artistry involved in using them. I still don't really understand them well enough to know which paramaters are helpful for which genre.

An email arrived from H. He thinks I'm as grumpy in cyberspace as in real life - which is probably true. Sometimes he's so kind, intelligent, and modest about it I could happily spend each night cuddled up to him. And sometimes he's so blithly life-affirmative I want to grind my teeth. Sounds like a lot of successful couples I've met.

Oh yes. The new year's party. I have vague recollections of getting very drunk very quickly, arguing about the laws of probability applied to extraterrestrial life, arguing about whether or not the english are accent snobs, communally hating George Bush and the whole 'empire' attitude, embarassing Jon Snape by kissing him, embarassing Max by kissing him, and getting home with a muzzy headache and a mouth like mouldy newspaper.

I've just reinstalled Windows 2000 yet again on one computer, and now I'm going to reinstall it on this computer. Happy New Year. Goodnight.