Thursday, 27 October 2016

Es besteht keine Wahrscheinlichkeit

"Anyone who attempts to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." - John von Neumann

I won't deny the sin, and I've always been suspicious of randomness. When I worked in the guided missile industry we were forbidden from using the word; which was one of the few comforting things about the whole environment. Anyway, the supposedly random music shuffle machine played this earlier today, which seemed fitting as it is the third anniversary of Lou Reed's death.

Take a walk on the wild side.


  1. "When I worked in the guided missile industry" - that's a fascinating sentence, and inspires my curiosity.
    I also found out recently that Lou Reed was married to Laurie Anderson for many years - didn't know that either.
    I have been using a music app called Jango recently. Not a random music selection, but rather it builds a playlist based on what you say you like. Seems to work fairly well, since the genres are clearly defined (e.g. classic New York City Jazz ca 1960 hence lots of Modern Jazz Quartet). Works for me.

    1. I used to be the Finance Director of a guided missile company. I have rather mixed feelings about it now. I convinced myself at the time that the only use of what we produced was to act as a deterrent. It wasn't.

      I shall check out Jango. I own a vast amount of music which is on a network server and which I mainly play on random shuffle, but it would be nice to have some sort of AI to anticipate what I would like to listen to.

  2. Another vote for jango I use it a lot when I'm out of the UK, it's good because it comes up with related artists that you might not have come across.
    Best Iain

  3. Apologies – I have been distracted by Real Life again, and am catching up with my reading. Enjoyed the clip - thanks for this.

    The Velvet Underground were – along with the Mothers of Invention and one or two other acts of the day – precious to me as a reference point for my secret rebellion as I entered into a lifelong career in (arguably) the most druidic and (certainly) the most boring and stiff-arsed profession known to humanity.

    With time, I became uncomfortable with VU – the music was not so competent as I had hoped, the weirdness was an end in itself much of the time. By contrast, the Mothers’ “Freak Out” album is still a scary experience, and Susie Creamcheese became a lasting spiritual icon for me.

    Many years later, I went to a Lou Reed concert at the Kinema Ballroom in Dunfermline (difficult to believe, come to think of it), and Lou was unable to appear, since he had a numb brain. Maybe it is just as well – maybe that is the correct final version of Lou – and somehow it was OK – numb brains were an important and acceptable part of the tradition.

    I remember all this with affection – especially Nico, of course, but I am left with some unanswered questions about Mr Reed. Was he, I ask myself:

    (a) a genius, and a figurehead for a generation?
    (b) a solipsistic idiot?
    (c) laughing all the way to the bank?
    (d) mostly just numb enough to be unaware of what was going on? (i.e. he thought he was an accounts clerk)

    1. I didn't have any elder siblings and got my introductions to musical artistes from my peers. The Velvet Underground were the first whom I discovered for myself and made others aware of - this would have been a few years after their heyday of course. For that rather banal reason I've always had a soft spot for them.

      I have no musical ability at all and, I think because of that, as a young person I never credited rock musicians with any character traits at all, assuming that they did music 24 hours a day (with occasional breaks fro sex and drugs) for its own sake. In hindsight I suspect that your option c was the main driver for all of it; that's the way of the world.