Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lubin Odana vs Lord Boyzici

I sometimes wonder what makes Lubin Lubin. Are there certain uses of my language which suggest preoccupations or obsessions, that I'm not aware of? One way of working this out is to use a computer analysis tool which looks at your language use, comparing two "texts" together, and coming up with lists of words or phrases which occur statistically more often in one text when compared against another. There's a whole academic body of literature surrounding this, and it's a technique I use quite a lot at work. It has its limitations, but it's also quite a bit of fun.

So, out of interest I made a text file of all my blog entries for Jan and Feb 2007, and compared that against another text file of another blogger, Lord Boyzici (I know him in real life so hopefully he's not offended that I chose him for my comparison.) I deleted all the comments, any passages where we'd quoted other people, or stuff on menu sidebars. Obviously these are small recent samples, and had I used someone else, the results would have been different - but not as different as you'd expect them to be. Having done a lot of these comparisons, they do tend to be quite good at revealing people's linguistic "tendencies", no matter what you compare them against.

Here's what I found:

Words that I use more than Tom:

Pronouns: her, she, you, they, their, my

Adverbs: particularly, eventually, sometimes, anyway, however, probably, really

"people words": students, people

"Gay" words: mother, gay, male, diva

"Comedy" words: joke, hilarious, parody

"Negative" words: mental, unhappy, crisis, depression, cynical, crime, poor, hate

"The media and celebrity": cinema, book, website, books, magazines, fans, cast, characters, famous

"The body": attractive, weight

I also tend to use the following phrases a lot: "one of those", "in the world", "in the film", "some of the" and "you are so".

Tom's words:

pronouns: I

"game/leisure" words: game, quiz, poker, players, league, won, questions, scores, luck, played, chips, round, pub, top

"time" words: weekend, friday, evening, last

adverbs: rather

Random gramamtical words: this, which, will, am, was

Tom uses the phrases "I ended up", "If you can" and "If you have" a lot (compared to me).

So what does it all mean? Some of it confirms what I'd already thought - Tom writes about his poker games a lot while I write about films and books. Tom likes to write about his free time. I don't seem to have that focus (maybe I just have more free time so it's not a big deal!) I like the Tomism "I ended up" which I initially thought implies that Tom tells stories about things that recently happened to him, but then didn't go according to plan - a kind of fun spontaniety which I, in my tightly controlled world, do not have. However, when I looked at all of Tom's cases of "I ended up", most tend to occur at the end of stories about the outcome of his poker games (though two relate to drinking stories).

Along with the focus on poker, Tom also does a weekly quiz, so that suggests a focus on competition at his blog, which I don't have. On the other hand, I write about being gay quite a bit and various women (usually female celebrities that I'm interested in - oh dear - just call me a big gay stereotype!) My use of the words "attractive" and "weight" also suggest a slight superficiality, which I'm more than aware of thankyou.

But I didn't realise that I tended to have so much "negativity" in my blog. Though maybe that's just in relation to Tom, who describes himself as "usually happy" I can confirm that he is). I had also suspected that I tend to over-use adverbs that don't really have much of a proper function, other than suggesting a slightly (there I go again) pompous, long-winded or hedged style. And now I have proof that I do. Oh well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Getting to know Jamie4U

Jamie4U is a fake blog that I write. He's kind of distillation of everything that's wrong with gay culture. Vain, thick, spiteful and superficial, I'd hope it'd be obvious that he's not real, although with that said, almost all of the events and people that I write about at Jamie4U are based in reality. If my mother had not read to me every night as a child and drummed the 12 times table into me then I probably would have ended up just like him, rather than a little bit like him.

Someone left 14 comments on Jamie's blog this morning. They had started from the beginning and worked their way through each post. I suspect they're American from the choice of words they use. I also suspect that they didn't realise that Jamie4U isn't real. Although it's difficult to say, sometimes people "get" the joke straight away and then respond as if they think he is real. Other people "get" the joke and think that makes them intelligent. They then get a bit cross that someone has tried to "trick" them and sniffily complain that it's not a very good parody: "I saw through it straight away - it's obvious he wouldn't know how to spell 'eventual'. I've seen much better parodies!" My response is usually not to respond. I write Jamie4U 4 me. And I try to make it obvious it's not real as I'd hate for anyone to be really suckered by him. I guess they've missed the point if they think I was out to trick them.

For some reason, a lot of Alistair Appleton fans got very offended when Jamie4U claimed that their beloved Alistair was 47 (he was born in 1970). Outraged Alistair-lovers leapt to his defence, pointing out Jamie's poor ability at arithmetic: "Time to go back to school and take math AGAIN!", "Glad to see basic arithmetic is still alive and kicking - not! Who is this idiot?", "Wow, can you not do math? If he was born 1970 that would make him 37. Ten years is a big difference on how a person looks. WOW", "Born in 1970? This is 2007. Yeah, ok... that makes him 47.", "He is 37... He was born in 1970, not 1960." I found it slightly worrying that these posters all felt the need to state exactly the same point as the one before them. But maybe they were "in" on the joke. I hope so. Maybe they hoped that Alistair would somehow read their passionate defence and fall in love with them, whisking them off on one of his "worthy" holidays in some cultural capital or third world paradise where they could have Buddhist sex, watch interpretative dance and write poems to each other. (My meanness surprises myself sometimes.)

Anyway, back to the person who left 14 comments. They made me laugh, as they indicate the reader's gradually worsening state of mind towards poor Jamie. They start off almost supportive, but end up spitting bile and vemon everywhere. Whoever you are, I really hope you realised he was made up.

1. I was not overly impressed by Appleton's looks or his website. After the descriptions, I expected him to be amazing. First time I have ever heard of him. I suppose he is kindof cute.

2. I hope you don't die from AIDS or something with all of the "shagging" you describe. You like to say you are so picky about the looks of your partners, but I wonder how you will look in 10 years with the way you are treating your body -- with multiple partners, smoking, drugs, and thinking everything is funny. I hope you are not one of those depressed people who has to make a huge build-up of the little stupid things to have just a little joy in your life.

3. I would watch Big Brother to see you, because you are funny. I find it hard to believe that you're "straight-acting," because you sound gay just from the word choice in your posting. I think that your boss did the right thing to separate you from Debbie, from the perspective of the employer. You probably play around whenever you are together. You're young. One day, you will get serious.

4. Brian should be pissed off. I hope he did have the common sense to leave you FOREVER.

5. Good grief! Can we get more melodramatic!

6. Hilarious! I think you asked for it, based on the description of the people you chose to hang with. I'm sure the druggies thought they were not doing anything really wrong and were having a good laugh. They just gave you some of the drugs they do. After reading some of your other postings about the fun you had with Ms. Thang and her friends, you should have seen it coming. What about the prank you played on your friend. Was it Keith? Don't remember, but as they say, "Don't dish it out if you can't take it." What do you expect from hanging out with druggies and being so careless with your lifestyle? The diseases you are in danger of getting are much worse than a bald spot and lost credit cards.

7. Disguisting!

Tim's version really puts things into perspective. Hilarious! It is interesting to find out that you are really in your late 20's, at least. Poor Brian. I read your older postings first. I thought he had dumped you. I hope he eventually begins to work on his self-esteem and start moving up in the world.

9. Is Tim "posh" or is he really just normal... average. If he is really just normal and average, what does this make you? Are you a kid, who needs to grow up, or are you that unsophisticated?

10. Jamie, I am thinking more and more that you are an asshole. Just because you are flaming flamboyant doesn't mean that other people want to be the center of attention too. You are so concerned about the closet that you say stupid things and make good gay people look bad.
In some of your postings you refer to yourself as "straight-acting," but I don't get it. Is that term supposed to be in your postings as a joke? Who cares if someone is in the closet. If they are not hurting anyone, let them deal with it on their own. Heaven forbid you be supportive. You can consider yourself lucky that he didn't get so angry as to kill you and then himself. Have you heard of people doing that when they are so upset that they reach a breaking point? He trusted you and thought he had a good thing going and you betrayed him. What a jerk!

11. you can claim that brian was abusive, but have you ever heard of emotional abuse. It is apparent all over all of your postings that you don't seem to care at all about his feelings. it is hard to feel sorry for you. you have probably left scars all over him, and he probably dumped you. do you really thinkk anyone feels sorry for you?

12. Coin shag. I don't feel sorry for Jamie. And I think it was Brian's home anyway. Jamie is a freeloading punk. An overaged, lying, wannabe brat. Waa Waa. And build up some muscle, skinny boy.

13. You're an idiot!

14. Jamie4U is a bitch.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A few memories of Peterlee

I spent the first 18 years of my life in one of Britain's "new towns", Peterlee, designed as a cleaner, shiner utopian alternative for the miners who lived in numerous "pit villages" dotted around East Durham. Built mainly in the 1960s and 1970s, it looked rather odd, definitely influenced by movements in modern art (I sometimes think the architects must have all been on LSD). When a cousin from York visited with her new boyfriend, he proclaimed that we lived in "toytown".

This is the back of the Norseman Hotel in Peterlee town centre. I remember my grandparents taking me down this path, while I was still in my pram. My grandmother was arguing with my grandfather about the pram and I remember being terrified that they were going to lose control of it and I would go hurtling down the hill (I was born neurotic).

This is Peterlee town centre's two-level open air shopping mall. On the left is Gregg's the Bakers, where my mother would buy us a cheese and onion pasty and a cake for our lunch every Monday. If you go up the staircase and turn right, you get to McAuliffes hair dressers' where I always got my hair cut.

When I was 3, and my mother was in hospital giving birth to my sister in November 1975, my grandmother took my town Peterlee town centre. We were standing outisde Fine Fayre (a long defunct supermarket chain) underneath the large building in the photo. She started talking to some neighbour and I wandered off. When I tried to find her, I couldn't. An man said to me "Hello, are you lost?" I said "yes". He took my hand and walked me through the main street of the town centre and deposited me at a police station. I was taken into a brightly lit room full of blokey, jolly policeman and got to sit on the knee of the eldest one, who reminded me of Santa Claus. My grandmother showed up a few minutes later, with a look on her face that I'd never seen before and never saw again. Her and my Dad decided not to tell my mother about that incident for a few months.

This is the Apollo Pavilion, built by Victor Passmore on the Sunny Blunts estate. It's a "brutalist" piece of architecture which I loved to visit and play on as a child. It became a symbol for Peterlee's own fortunes - so good-looking in the 1970s. But by the 1980s it had become overgrown, covered in graffiti and a meeting place for gangs. Local residents wanted it pulled down. At 37 years old, its future is still uncertain.

My parents moved away from Peterlee a few years ago, to posher Durham City. Although it never really lived up to the hopes of its designers, I still have a soft spot for it. Growing up in this ultra-planned, somewhat kitsch environment has probably affected my own sense of taste and aesthetics. And for that I'm grateful (I think).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


My commuting journey takes three and a half hours on the train and involves two taxis at either end (a total of four taxis and two trains) there and back. (Note to train users - the best seats are always the 2 rows at the ends of each carriage - there's a bit more legroom there - not many people seem to know that).

About 70% of the time, taxi drivers start talking to me, which often results in some pretty strange conversations. Yesterday, a taxi driver who had been quiet for 10 minutes suddenly broke the silence by launching into a long unprompted story about how he'd been in a motorcycle accident 10 years ago when driving up from Portsmouth and lost a leg. He had nearly died and had lost his job as a marine. So what did I say? "How long did it take you to get back on your feet?" There goes any claim I had to sensitivity. At least he laughed about it.

Commuting at least means I get work done on the train, and have plenty of time to read. I've been reading Oliver James' latest book Affluenza. It's a bit of a cheesy title, but the central concept, that most societies are becoming obsessed with what Marxists call "false needs": being famous, having social status, acquiring stuff, earning lots of money, looking young or attractive, while ignoring our real needs: namely loving relationships, doing things we find fascinating, is something I can agree with.

He visits a number of different countries and interviews a range of people, particularly rich ones whose wealth doesn't seem to have brought them any happiness at all. Oddly it's places like New Zealand and Denmark that have lower rates of mental illness and depression, whereas America, with its enormous inequalities of wealth has one of the highest rates of depression and mental illness in the world. The UK is only trailing slightly behind.

Speaking from my own experiences, I can point to a number of friends and acquaintences who have what James calls "Affluenza". One friend I have is highly intelligent, sociable, witty and attractive, she has a great job and earns plenty of money. Her parents are obscenely wealthy, although she doesn't get on with them. Her house is full of lifestyle magazines, stacked into piles. She is unhappy with her weight and constantly comparing herself to her friends. I hate to talk about myself in front of her because I can see how any reference to things I've done at work makes her unhappy. She's not jealous, but she's so hard on herself that anyone else's success equals her failure.

James also has a chapter which focusses on education and in particular exam stress - it's not surprising that the most academically successful students are also more likely to be the ones who suffer from anxiety and depression - getting a first at university means you're probably on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Again, I can vouch for that. As part of my job I give out coursework extensions to students, and every year I seem to see more and more students who are depressed and stressed out about their work. At first I was a bit incredulous - after all, students do seem to have it easy - 8 hours a week of lectures, 4 essays a term to write (accounting for 10,000 words - I write more than that in a day sometimes). Student life is very focussed around (binge) drinking and socialising. So what do they have to worry about? Clearly, not all of them are bothered about exam results, but for the ones who care, who's identity is very much tied to their grades, then it's very easy for exams and marks to take over their lives, and they'll always be unhappy, thinking they could have done better, no matter what mark they obtain. I've seen students like that - it seems particularly bad in students who have an older sibling who has already done well at university. The pressure to attain (comparing oneself again) seems to reach fever pitch then.

James advises people to entangle their "wants" from their "needs". He asks, do you really need a new plasma screen? Why do you want to replace your sofa with a new one? Do you need a bigger, more lavish house (taking out a mortgage worth 6 times your salary?) Such things just tie you into a cycle of expenditure, which might give a short-term buzz but distract you away from things that actually matter.

I don't agree with everything he writes, and sometimes he seems to contradict himself, but it's been an enlightening, if not difficult book to read at times (I recognise myself in some of the descriptions). And it's made me want to change.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Face transformer

This wesbite lets you upload a face picture of yourself and then manipulate it so you look older, younger or from a different ethnic background.

Here's me aged around 80 (and wearing what looks like a bad wig). Creepy and wrong.

And as a Manga cartoon.

And as modern art.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Do I have the worst taste in music in the world?

Inspired by Tom, here are my most played 25 tunes on Itunes.

There are a couple in there that I'm not ashamed of, like the Dandy Warhols and Zero 7. But I had no idea that I listened to spaghetti western film music so much. And I know - number 24 - Cliff Richard!

By pure co-incidence, the song that was playing when I did the screenshot was "I'm livin' in Shame" by Diana Ross. I think that says it all really.


An advert for Snickers has been pulled off the air in America after it was branded homophobic.

The ad, which had its first screening during Super Bowl XLI on Sunday, featured two mechanics nibbling at a Snickers bar from both ends. After the bar is eaten and their mouths touch, the men feel the need to - as one of the actors said - "do something manly" - by ripping out their chest hair.

An accompanying website, which featured NFL players laughing at the two men kissing and gave viewers the option to have one of the men beat the other with a wrench after the kiss, has also been taken offline.

Masterfoods, the parent company of Snickers manufacturer Mars Inc., has issued a statement saying that no offence was intended but stopped short of issuing an apology.

"As with all of our Snickers advertising, our goal was to capture the attention of our core Snickers consumer, primarily 18-to-24-year-old adult males," Masterfoods spokesperson Alice Nathanson told the New York Times. "Feedback from our target consumers has been positive, and many media and Web site commentators on this year's Super Bowl lineup ranked the commercial among this year's best. We know that humor is highly subjective and we understand that some consumers have found the commercial offensive. Clearly that was not our intent. We do not plan to continue the ad on television or on our Web site."

The response was heavily criticised by gay rights organisations.

"The makers of Snickers and its parent company at Mars should know better," said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. "If they have any questions about why the ad isn't funny, we can help put them in touch with any number of GLBT Americans who have suffered hate crimes. This type of jeering from professional sports figures at the sight of two men kissing fuels the kind of anti-gay bullying that haunts countless gay and lesbian school children on playgrounds all across the country. Eighty-four percent of GLBT students report being verbally harassed at school, and this type of ad only reinforces that."

Referring to an incident in which Grey's Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington apparently referred to gay co-star T.R. Knight as a "faggot," Solmonese continued:

'Is Snickers suggesting that people who eat their candy bars are cavemen? It's an odd market to court, particularly after the Isaiah Washington flap a couple weeks ago, which clearly showed that there's a strong distaste out there for people who portray themselves as anti-gay or holding on to old prejudices and stereotypes."

This story reminded me of something which made me smile. When I was 17 I advertised for gay penpals in Record Mirror (anyone remember Record Mirror?) Anyway, I got this penpal who told me all about things like rimming and poppers which I'd never heard of before. He also liked to write to me about how he'd often stick a Snickers (formerly Marathon) bar up his own bottom and fuck himself with it I could never work out if he was telling the truth - I mean, it must have been very messy.

But that's a very manly use for Snickers. Maybe I should suggest it for their next advertising campaign.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I have one thing to say to you: Kiss. My. Fat. Ass!

Retired model Tyra Banks responds to bloggers and tabloids who have taken glee in her recent weight gain. I guess it's easy to be cynical about this but I love the anger and defiance in her voice. I am so sick of seeing covers of magazines (women's AND men's) where weight and appearance are constantly scrutinised. Most magazines these days should simply be called "Eating Disorder Weekly" because that's what they're pushing.

Just make sure you wipe away a tear at the end of the clip.

A much longer version of the clip is here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

No, I am the real Lubin Odana!

At a gay community website I use regularly, someone has just joined and used one of my pictures as their own profile.

The real me is Paul B. The fake me is using a picture that was taken of me on holiday in Llandudno a while ago. I'm obviously flattered, although a bit disturbed (particularly at the "common" name my doppleganger has given himself). And what on earth would I be doing in Rickmansworth, that's what I'd like to know? Isn't that miles out of London in zone A? I'm sorry but if I was to live in London it'd have to be a nice mews apartment in zone 1.

And what if this person starts posting up messages with controversial opinions about the European Union or other weighty topics? What will that do for my reputation? What if he arranges to meet other people and then doesn't show up? My name is going to be mud in Rickmansworth.

And he is claiming to be 4 years younger than me. I have a feeling that my body double is leading a more exciting life than me. Help!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I don't believe in IQ tests (they're culturally skewed and favour traditionally "male" forms of intelligence such as spatial awareness which I'm crap at. Also, they tend to test your familiarity with IQ tests more than anything else.

But I tried this one anyway at Old Cheeser's recommendation.

This is what I got:

Testriffic IQ test

So what's a "regional genius"? Jodie Marsh incidentally has an IQ of 136. I guess when you put it like that... I don't think I'll be applying for MENSA any time soon anyway. I bet they're all dead boring.