Monthly Archives: September 2013

Singing and playing guitar again

Because a lot of other things came up — including summer, this conference and this paper that I wrote in its aftermath — it feels like it’s been ages since I played and sang songs at a folk club or similar. Checking my notes, I see that the last time was in fact right back in May, which is much too long.

Happily, I fixed that on Friday night, where I had a chance to play four songs at the Cross Keys Inn in Goodrich. One of them I’ve done before: Crosby, Stills and Nash’s cheerful travelogue Marrakesh Express. But the other three were all new additions to the repertoire: Paul Simon’s downbeat three-act short story Slip-Slidin’ Away, the Beatles psychedelic epic A Day in the Life, and Joni Mitchell’s heartbreaking but emotionally cold A Case of You. (I know you need a band, a symphony orchestra and three grand pianos to do A Day in the Life properly, but we make do and mend.)

That brings my repertoire to 45 songs. When I hit fifty, I’ll have to start looking around and seeing if I can find some actual gigs, or at least support slots.

Also on the agenda: it’s to my enduring shame that I’ve never written a song of my own. I like interpreting others’ work, but it does feel like that’s only half of the job.

What is the opposite of “man”

Here is a linguistic oddity that I’ve been aware of for some time. What is the opposite of “man”?

  • Boy (because he’s immature)
  • Woman (because she’s female)
  • Machine (because it’s artificial)
  • Beast (because it’s not rational)
  • God (because he’s not mortal)

All equally valid answers, because a man is an adult male natural rational mortal.


Continue reading

Turn up the volume!

Back in 2005, I won a first-generation iPod Shuffle at a conference for being the most engaged participant or something (i.e. for being a loud-mouth).


The Shuffle is a horrible piece of kit, of course. It has no display, no way to navigate between albums (only track-at-a-time), no EQ, only the crudest battery-state indicator (OK vs. not-OK), and Apple’s appallingly clunky proprietary disk format which means you have to wrestle it to the ground before you can add songs.

Continue reading

Misunderstanding natural monopoly

Seth Godin’s blog is a great source of pithy, wise, generous insights. I read pretty much every entry, and often find myself going “Huh! I’d never thought of it that way”. But as usual. I’m only going to blog about him when I disagree.


Continue reading

What should I be using for email?

Since June 2009 I’ve been using Gmail for my email, and I have to admit it’s been great. Really convenient, excellent searching facilities, available from anywhere. In terms of ease of use it’s a huge step forward from my old approach, using GNU Emacs’s “vm” package and manually syncing mailboxes between my desktop and laptop as necessary.


Continue reading