Friday, 12 November 2010


Tom Lehrer's wonderful satire. This time it's Sexually Transmitted Infections!


  1. Ha! Still a very pertinent message, I fear.

    I have a lot of time for Tom Lehrer - my father had an album of his that I played through my childhood and many of the lyrics are still with me... for some reason the one that most often springs to mind is 'I hold your tiny hand in mine'. And the 'Masochism Tango', of course...

    Random fact: as a mathematician, Lehrer has two publications to his credit:
    "The distribution of the number of locally maximal elements in a random sample", with T Austin, R Fagen, and W Penney, Annals of Mathematical Statistics vol. 28 (1957)
    "Random walks with restraining barrier as applied to the biased binary counter", with R Fagen, Journal of the Society for Industrial Applied Mathematics, vol. 6 (March 1958)

    Other random facts:
    - many of his songs were political satire. However he was once quoted as saying that awarding the prize to Kissinger made political satire obsolete.
    - on the usefulness of political satire: 'I don't think this kind of thing has an impact on the unconverted, frankly. It's not even preaching to the converted; it's titillating the converted... I'm fond of quoting Peter Cook, who talked about the satirical Berlin kabaretts of the 1930s, which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the Second World War.'
    - on his musical career: 'If, after hearing my songs, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while'.

  2. Thank you Fulani -- isn't Tom wonderful! I knew he was a mathematician of note -- but I didn't know he'd had stuff published. And I love the idea of being cruel, if it's only to WAKE US UP it's inspiring!

  3. I've been looking at his publication titles and wondering what a piece of erotica might be like if it had a similar/mashed-up title: 'The distribution of locally maximal orgasms during random walks with restraints', for example? I might actually write a piece with that title, just to see if I can...

    Which immediately makes me think of Pynchon's 'Gravity's Rainbow', where one of the characters - this is set in World War II - is a US serviceman in London who, it turns out, is an unwitting signal of where V2 rockets will land, because every place one lands is one where he had an erection a few hours previously. Sorry - that's just the way my mind works...

  4. Excellent! Can I post it here when you've finished it?