I occasionally read a web essay or a newspaper article where a man—so far, always a man—owns up to the “guilty pleasures” on his iPod. You've seen this too? Kelly Clarkson, let's say. Or a song by Maroon 5.

The structure of the argument:

  1. I, the author, am an extraordinarily intelligent and cool person;
  2. But I do listen to music that is considered to be shit;
  3. However, this music (pick one):
    1. is actually good, and you, dear reader, are too much of a snob too enjoy it; or
    2. is not actually good, but despite my impeccable taste I deign to listen to it for amusement.
  4. In either case I am awesome.
  5. Deerhoof.

Over and over editors commission this story. Over and over I read myself into a froth, sketching a mental picture of the essayist as a scruffy fucksimper who suffers from chronic index-finger-swelling brought on by speed-dialing through all the music he shat onto his 500G jizz-hued iPod. After he gmails his guilty-pleasure opus to his editbot, who will rewrite it into a charticle, he heads to the bar to meet a friend and pulls the pod from his pocket. “Bro,” he says to the friend, “you'll never believe how much Devendra Banhart I have on this thing. All of the Devendra in the world.” He touches the cool white control disc, swirling his finger teasingly, and his friend nods wide-eyed at the flashing list of songs—until finally they reach the end of the Devendra listing and wander into Devo, and then, consumed, they run to the bathroom and passionately tug each other's beards—“rejoicing in the hands,” it's called—until they both reach mutual, musical ecstasy and cry out from the sweetness.

But Justin Timberlake is not a guilty pleasure. Putting oven cleaner in your daughter's Similac is a guilty pleasure, or smearing birdseed on your balls and visiting an aviary. Having a thing for Sting's lutework—

Goddammit. As I was drafting this my web server, which resides in Texas, was hacked into by Spaniards. Spamming Spaniards, or at least someone coming in through a machine in Spain. Off I go to set up a new, clean, new device that will present more of a challenge to intruders. If this site disappears into the ether—it was nice while it lasted, and send all complaints to the mysterious Iberian IP address




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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