God bless America!

In the latest episode of the excellent Skeptics with a K podcast, our hosts make reference once again to a certain comic-book image of Captain America (no, me neither).

Being a sceptic with a C, I decided to check up on the story. I am pleased to report that it appears to be true:

W A N K !

So

Fitz is fed up with people trying to be funny by saying interweb on the radio.

I spend over three hours commuting each day, so I listen to a LOT of podcasts. Most of them are made specifically as podcasts, while the rest are normal radio programmes converted into podcasts after they have been aired.

Many of the podcasts I listen to take the form of conversations between two or more people—either as formal interviews or informal chats. Over the last few months, I've begun to notice how many people in these conversations begin their answers to direct questions with the word so—even when what they are about to say is not a consequence of what they've said previously.

"How do you intend to vote in the next election?" a hypothetical questioner might ask.

"So I will be voting for X," might be the hypothetical response.

These sos are not at all necessary and get to be mildly irritating once you notice them. Which is why I'm mentioning them now: so that you will start to notice them, and will be equally mildly irritated.

I think it's an attempt to sound a bit more intelligent. If you begin a sentence with so, it implies that it logically follows on from what you were just saying—SO it stands to reason that you must be making a logical, cogent argument. Even when you're not.

It's not just a British thing. The Americans are up to it as well. In fact, they probably started it knowing them: I don't know why, but it just sounds American to me.

If, by any chance, you have picked up the new habit of using the word so in this way, please stop it. It doesn't make you sound more profound; it just makes you mildly irritating. And if you notice anyone else doing it, tell them from me to stop being so ridiculous.

Pick of the Podcasts

Someone calling themself Intentionally Blank left a comment the other day asking for a list of the podcasts I listen to. Well, Intentionally (if that is your real name), I am happy to oblige [seriously out-of-date list removed].

Finger on the pulse

Jen and I are off work this week and next. The other day, we found ourselves in what I still insist on calling a record shop. Have you noticed how little music they sell in record shops these days? It's all computer games and DVDs. Music is dead. I blame Steve Jobs.

Anyway, when I'm working, I spend about three hours a day commuting in my car. When you spend that much time in a car, the delights of radio soon begin to wear a bit thin. On my way into work, my main listening choice is between Sarah 'Tory Girl' Kennedy on Radio 2, and the Today Programme with the unbearable John Humphrys on Radio 4. Which is why, a few years ago, I bought an iPod. Thank you, Steve Jobs!

With an iPod in your car, you have the best music radio station in the world. Put the thing into shuffle mode, and you can listen to non-stop music entirely matching your own taste. Eat my iPod's shorts, Radio 1!

But, with an iPod in your car, you also have the best talk radio station in the world, courtesy of the podcast. Thank you, Dave Winer! Over the last three or four years, I have become totally addicted to podcasts, be they ordinary BBC radio programmes available for downloading after the event, or programmes put together especially for the internet by talented amateurs. Thank you, Steve Gillmor! (Vanity feed still in good working order, Steve?)

BUT… What with having access to the best music station and the best talk radio station in the world on my iPod, I hardly ever need to listen to traditional radio any more. Buggles were wrong: it wasn't video that killed the radio star; it was the podcast.

On the whole, this is fine, but it does mean that I no longer have my finger on the pulse when it comes to modern-day pop crooners.

Which is why, when I was in the record shop the other day and heard a rather fabulous new tune, I hadn't a baldy clue who it was. Too embarrassed to ask the trendy, young whippersnapper behind the till, I scribbled down a couple of the lyrics for Googling later. It turns out that the song has been played to death on the radio and has been the UK number one for several weeks. Thank you, Duffy:

Perhaps music isn't quite so dead after all.