It's The Real Thing

How much music is a guilty pleasure for you?

How often does one half of your mind get into the groove and throw it's hands in the air, while the other half points out how naff the noise is. Unoriginal, derivative, limited, badly written, badly mixed, badly produced, pretentious, silly, pseudo-profound, and actually a little bit embarrassing to like.

Remember Tatu, the fake lesbian schoolgirls from Russia? Stiltskin, the equally fake rock band formed around a jeans commercial? Boney M? 2 Unlimited? Queen? All been guilty listens for me. And I'm sure you've got a list too. Quite probably with ELO in it.

The latest for me is Autokratz. Synth sounds and lines that must be the result of ten second doodles. Meaningless lyrics that are only there so they can be processed to have a disjointed cutup feel. And an odd strutting self-mockery in live performance.

Yes they're in my ears right now.

How would you describe one of these?

Yes, it's a graph. Three graphs and a yellow histogram. But if you had to describe the shape of the lines as though you cared about whatever they represent? Then you've got words like "rise", "fall", "sink" and "plummet", plus collocations like "steady increment", "underlying upward trend" and "sharp knee".

Now which is more boring - two solid hours of learning this stuff, or two of teaching it? I'll know next week,

If you're in America, here's two reasons to vote for Obama.

1) What's on the board.

2) That it was put there by McCain supporters.

Thanks to the miracle that is Google, you can now make it harder to send email - for your own good.

Mail Goggles will challenge you do do maths before it'll let you send emails. So if you're too drunk to do basic maths, you must be too drunk to write sensible emails, so your late night drunken rants won't embarrass you later.

Coming soon, BearAware (the software that checks your Body Mass Index before it lets you do a striptease on webcam), FundieNot (which checks your blog posts for spurious logic, biblical misquotes and racism, and if you're at "Whackjob" level, won't let you send) and MythAway (which listens for urban myths in your conversation, and mechanically forces your mouth closed if you start repeating one).

I'm not good at people. I've only got two real skills:

1) Getting people to talk about themselves - not the most difficult thing in the world.

2) Spotting a fake.

It took two minutes of reading this fellow to go from 5% suspicion to 95% certainty that he's a 100% full-on bullshitter. That's "Augean Stable" on the bullshitometer. Just above "Lobsang Rampa". It's the combination of airy generalities (some inaccurate) and defensive tone that does it for me.

But then, he's talking about Windows 7, where just about everything you read is uninformed guesswork dressed up as top secret leaks.

Which only leaves the question of why some people need so much to give impressions of their own importance that the construct elaborate, time-expensive fantasies - and then try to live in them. It's probably obvious to you, but like I say, I'm no good at people.

I'm writing this on a minimal XP distro (call it XP3), running on a virtual machine (VM1), running on the the same distro as host (XP2), running as second OS on a dual boot (on XP1).

XP3 is running a virtualisation procedure on free software downloaded under XP1, while XP2...plays the greatest hits of Adam Ant.

This is so I can run a portable version of the program under XP1, using it to put together a virtual synthesiser that will use a mathematical model of vibrating membranes to simulate the sound of real drums. Which I can play on a virtual recreation of a drum machine that hasn't been manufactured since 1983.

So, keep it virtually real.


  1. Music that others think SHOULD be a guilty pleasure for me, I don't consider a guilty pleasure as I'm not easily embarrassed by my taste.

    Having said that, my number one earworm is 'Copacabana' by Barry Manilow. I am not a Fanilow yet this song is on constant rotation in my brain. So much so that I've come to like it. So I suppose that's the closest I come to guilty pleasure music.

  2. I get so turned on when you talk about "elaborate, time-expensive fantasies..."

    Tell me more, daddy-o. Do it in a soft whisper close to my right ear.


  3. I'll have you know - though why I should defeats both me and the cat - that I was well into Lobsang Rampa when I was thirteen. And I don't think it made me a sad child ... though maybe a gullible one. ;)

    I once went to a club with a girl who would only dance to Boney M's 'By the Rivers of Babylon'. No wonder I turned out the way I did.

  4. MJ: Oh I'm sure something must make to just a little bit ashamed. How about a teenage crush on Lemmy from Motorhead? Or knowing all the lyrics to Oklahoma!? Or......Brotherhood of Man?!

    Tony: Hmmm. Am I being subtly mocked here? I don't know, 'cos I'm no good at reading people. Hmm.

    Camy: I also was into Lobsang Rampa at age 13 - though for less than a week. The slightly worrying thing is, my grandfather was a sometime devotee at age 90.

    We're all gullible for the first 20 years of life. As someone said, "An expert is someone who's made all the mistakes which can be made". And I aquired quite a lot of expertise before 21.

    Oh, and I'm still perversely fond of "Rivers of Babylon".

    No wonder I turned out the way I did.

    What, charming, self-effacing and talented?

  5. Not only do I know all the words to Oklahoma, I know all the words to "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady AND I'd sing it as a teenager whenever I walked past my boyfriend's street.

    So as you can see, I have no shame.

    To take a line from that song, if I may...

    "People stop and stare. They don't bother me."