Friday, March 31, 2006

Moog's Little Phatty™ now available online

'Introducing the Little Phatty Analog Synthesizer. Hand-built quality and that unmatched Moog sound, at a price every musician can afford, Little Phatty was designed with portability, expressive and intuitive playability, and the timeless quality only found in a Moog. The Little Phatty boasts a 100 percent analog signal path, 100 user editable presets and a 37-note keyboard with +/-2 Octave Transpose. Additional features include:
- 2 Ultra-stable Oscillators
- 1 Low Pass Filter (Patented Moog Ladder Filter)
- 4-Stage Analog Envelope Generators
- RACT Real Analog Control is a proprietary technology enabling the performer to directly interface with the analog circuitry via the knobs on the control panel, without any digital processing...' Price: $1,375.
Link / More on the new moog

John Peel tapes and stuff

There's loads of stuff here to download: The John Peel Tape & File Project

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cambodia cool again with backpackers

'Enjoy your stay, the natives are really nice, but don't ask too many hard questions...' More

Study fails to link navy sonar with whale strandings

'A year-long study has failed to explain why 36 whales stranded themselves along the North Carolina coast in January 2005. At the time the mass stranding attracted much media attention because of possible links to military sonar...' More

When it comes to intelligence, size isn't everything

'Intelligence has more to do with when and how the brain grows rather than its overall size, suggests a new study...' More

Asleep or awake, we retain memory

'Sleeping helps to reinforce what we've learned. And brain scans have revealed that cerebral activity associated with learning new information is replayed during sleep. But, in a study published in the open access journal PLoS Biology, Philippe Peigneux and colleagues at the University of Liege demonstrate for the first time that the brain doesn't wait until night to structure information. Day and night, the brain doesn't stop (re)working what we learn...' More

Soft Machine - Land of Cockayne (1981)

Interesting if somewhat bland jazz-inflected prog-rock. Not quite in the league of their classic '70s albums.

* Jack Bruce - bass
* Stu Calver - backing vocals
* Allan Holdsworth - lead guitar
* Karl Jenkins - keyboards, synths
* John Marshall - drums, percussion
* Dick Morrissey - tenor sax
* Alan Parker - rhythm guitar
* John Perry - backing vocals
* Tony Rivers - backing vocals
* John Taylor - electric piano
* Ray Warleigh - alto sax, bass flute

I / II

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Absence makes the heart grow weaker

'Loneliness is bad for the heart, suggests a new study. It shows that loneliness increases the blood pressure of those nearing retirement age to the same degree as smoking or a sedentary lifestyle. Chronic feelings of social isolation are associated with as much as a 30 mmHg rise in a person’s systolic blood pressure by the age of 65, which could easily push their systolic blood pressure over 150 mmHg, the medical definition of hypertension. The study showed that this is independent of other confounding variables such as smoking, drinking, socioeconomic status and body mass index...' More

Another Google goof: Official blog deleted!

'Google has pie on its face after staffers accidentally deleted the company's main official blog Monday night and a user unaffiliated with Google temporarily took possession of the Web address. This is just the latest in a recent string of embarrassing mistakes made by Google employees while handling company data...' More

Auction deal saves £1m manuscript

'A last-minute deal has been struck to stop a "lost" science manuscript from the 1600s, which charts the birth of modern science, being auctioned. The hand-written document, by Dr Robert Hooke, contains the minutes of the Royal Society from 1661 to 1682. It is thought to have lain hidden in a house in Hampshire for about 50 years. The script was expected to fetch £1m at Tuesday's auction but an agreement was made for it to be sold to an anonymous bidder on behalf of the Royal Society...' More

Celebrity death watch

'We don’t yet have the technology to create a collective fantasy realm with the seamless verisimilitude of 'The Matrix', but this is another large beta step in that direction. Today as never before, tens of millions of American women inhabit Celebrity World. "My generation," says Us Weekly editor Janice Min, who’s 35, "thinks of celebrities as their peers—like neighbours, or people you went to high school with. They’re on a first-name basis with them." And for her generation, an iconic movie was 'Single White Female', in which Jennifer Jason Leigh’s nutty character appropriates Bridget Fonda’s clothes and look and life...' More

A Nobel Prize for Donkey Kong?

'To get a sense of what the gaming industry is up against, simply check out the official Web site of the Nobel Prize, which actually features video games...' More

Who controls the Internet?

'At its heart, 'Who Controls the Internet?' is about the way national governments turn out to be able to exercise much more control over what people do on the Internet than most "visionaries" in the 1990s thought would be possible.' More

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Anwar Ibrahim on the seeds of democracy

'Although it cannot be denied that U.S. initiatives for reform have contributed significantly to developments in the Middle East, fear is growing that radicals may hijack democracy. Recent Islamist electoral successes in Iran, Egypt and the Palestinian territories have given rise to questions about the ability of liberal forces to prevail against fundamentalism. For the United States, the fear is real, though perhaps tinged with a bit of Islamophobia: How terrible an irony it would be if this grand effort to spread liberty abroad resulted in anti-U.S. Islamic states imposing Sharia, or Islamic law, on their people...' More

Be fast and these 10 must-haves are yours free!

Go grab 'em while you can by clicking on the covers!

How France is saving civilisation

'New legislation in France would force Apple Computer to open the iPod and iTunes to competitors — and that's a good thing for consumers, in the long run...' More

Dimming the lights

'A striking image is featured on the jacket cover of Jay McInerney's seventh novel ['The Good Life']: a simple bowl, a fork, and a spoon covered in what could be volcanic ash or the accumulated tomb-dust of centuries, but which we know to be the airborne detritus of September 11: the ashes of violent and cataclysmic death. Such an image—the domestic made transcendent, the banal made iconic—would seem to be the natural province of the visual artist, for whom a single, swift, and powerful gesture is possible; to translate the equivalent image into fiction, with its very different expectations, of stories enacted in time, "characters" required to be both authentic and mythic, a minutely observed background, or backgrounds, to provide authenticity, verisimilitude, "reality," is a more daunting task...' More

Monday, March 27, 2006

Blogger up for non-fiction award

'n anonymous blog by a young woman in war-torn Iraq has been longlisted for BBC Four's Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. Baghdad Burning, a first-hand account written under the pseudonym Riverbend, is one of 19 books in contention. Others include Alan Bennett's Untold Stories, a biography of 19th-Century cook and author Mrs Beeton and a study of post-war US-Soviet relations. The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced on 14 June...' More

Another 'Apple vs. Apple' court battle

'It's the ultimate battle of the generations over an image of a half-eaten piece of fruit. In one corner Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the ultimate stars of vinyl who defined music in the 1960s. In the other, the creators of a small white box that has revolutionised the way we buy and listen to music. This week the Apple Corps goes to the High Court seeking multimillion-pound damages against Apple Computer, the creators of the iPod, over their hugely successful iTunes Music Store...' More

The thing with feathers

'Despite the possibility of fame—at least among an unglamorous ghetto of bird enthusiasts—and the more slender chance of getting rich off your story, spotting an ivorybill has not always been something you would wish upon yourself. For decades, claiming to have seen one could get you lumped in with folks who swaddle their heads in tinfoil to ward off mind-control rays beamed from outer space...' More

Raising the dead

'At the bottom of the biggest underwater cave in the world, diving deeper than almost anyone had ever gone, Dave Shaw found the body of a young man who had disappeared ten years earlier. What happened after Shaw promised to go back is nearly unbelievable—unless you believe in ghosts...' More

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Woman with perfect memory baffles scientists

'"The woman who can't forget" remembers trivial details as clearly as major events. Asked what happened on Aug 16, 1977, she knew that Elvis Presley had died, but she also knew that a California tax initiative passed on June 6 of the following year, and a plane crashed in Chicago on May 25 of the next year, and so forth. Some may have had a personal meaning for her, but some did not. "Here's a woman who has very strong memories, but she has very strong memories of things for which I have no memory at all," [memory expert James] McGaugh says. That became particularly clear one day when he asked her out of the blue if she knew who Bing Crosby was. "I wasn't sure she would know, because she's 40 and wasn't of the Bing Crosby era," he says. But she did. "Do you know where he died?" McGaugh asked. "Oh yes, he died on a golf course in Spain," she answered, and provided the day of the week and the date when the crooner died...' More

Strawberry Path - When The Raven Has Come To The Earth (Japan, 1971)

Hard to believe that this is an early '70s Japanese band that was more than capable of holding its own against Black Sabbath, Free, Deep Purple, Spooky Tooth and other hard-rock bands of the era. This 1971 effort serves up varied fare that's not only rich in percolating period flavour but also brims with bracing classic-rock vigour. Typically organic, full-bodied, uncompressed '70s hard-rock recording. Download

The strange saga of Dorothy Parker's ashes

'The saga of Dottie and Lilly may be sad, but it's almost comical, too. Probably the first to smile about it would be Parker herself. She always imagined the hereafter as paradise, a sort of luxury hotel with hot and cold running dogs. Little did she imagine that settling permanently would require a Homeric journey of twenty-one years. More galling, her real-life coda—afterlife in a tin can—doomed her to spend fifteen of those years hanging around Wall Street, the symbol of everything she hated, followed by eternal rest in Baltimore, another place not to her taste, a short distance from a parking lot (Parker didn't drive). One of her oh-let's-kill-ourselves verses (aptly titled "Coda") concludes with the polite request: "Kindly direct me to hell." She should have been a lot more careful about what she asked for...' More

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Thai court sets a powerful precedent

With the Supreme Administrative Court ruling against him, and more conflict-of-interest charges likely in the legal pipeline, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's political position seems shakier than ever... More

Sonia Gandhi's 'inner voice' silences critics

The spirit of sacrifice is held as the highest Hindu virtue... By pre-empting the situation and resigning as member of parliament in the Lok Sabha (Lower House), Sonia Gandhi completely caught the opposition parties off guard and in the process has done no harm to her image as a leader who puts high value on morals and probity in public life... More

Starcastle - Starcastle (1976)

I first heard selections from Starcastle's debut album, including the entrancing 'Lady Of The Lake', on a shortwave VOA broadcast in the late '70s. The band's smoother-than-Yes sound — grand vocal harmonies, flavorsome Moog runs, skirling, sweetly sustained guitar solos — intrigued me, but I never really got around to listening to the album in its entirety. Thanks to some free-giving soul, I can finally enjoy this undervalued prog-rock showcase in full: Download

NASA probes 'radiation aging' by astronauts

'Consider a pair of brothers, identical twins. One gets a job as an astronaut and rockets into deep space. The other stays on Earth. When the traveling twin returns home, he discovers he's younger than his brother. This is Einstein's Twin Paradox, and although it sounds strange, it is absolutely true. The theory of relativity tells us that the faster you travel through space, the slower you travel through time. Rocketing to Alpha Centauri—warp 9, please—is a good way to stay young. Or is it? Some researchers are beginning to believe that space travel could have the opposite effect. It could make you prematurely old...' More

The definitive visual guide to the universe?

'Calling a book a definitive visual guide is risky. Often books with this title quickly find themselves in the sell-off bin of the store as they contain little more than stock footage. There is lots of stock footage in this book, but principally because there is only one main source, NASA. Nevertheless, this isn't a constraint, as many other sources like the Galaxy Picture Library and the Anglo Australian Observatory contribute. Further, this book doesn't showcase any source. Images are woven throughout the text to glorify the subject matter rather than the group or machine behind the camera shutter. With judicious editing, it is not the source that sparkles but the subject of the pictures...' More

Getting stoned on Mars

'There was a bit of surprise a few weeks ago when word leaked out that NASA’s exploration plans were the subject of a lengthy article in, of all places, Rolling Stone magazine. It actually shouldn’t be that unexpected: while Rolling Stone is best known for its coverage of entertainment in general and the music business in particular (pop star and “comeback diva” Mariah Carey graced the cover of issue #994), the magazine has built up a reputation for doing in-depth journalism on a vast array of topics. In this case Rolling Stone devoted over 6,000 words, spread out over several oversized pages in dense, small type, to the article “Mars or Bust”. After reading the article, though, space advocates or those simply familiar with NASA’s plans might have wished the magazine had instead expanded its coverage of Ms. Carey...' More

Warbling whales speak a language of their own

'The songs of the humpback whale are among the most complex in the animal kingdom. Researchers have now mathematically confirmed that whales have their own syntax that uses sound units to build phrases that can be combined to form songs that last for hours...' More

Turn on. Tune in. Save energy!

'Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense, has teamed with the Ad Council, which has challenged social norms with such public-service campaigns as "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" and Nancy Reagan's "Just say no." In a series of TV and radio spots that one publicist termed "edgy" - and that a global-warming skeptic called "the ultimate triumph of propaganda over science" - the group is hoping to spawn a massive shift in social awareness that will send millions rushing to turn down their thermostats, inflate their car tires, and recycle their plastic. All in an effort to reduce carbon emissions, which many scientists say contribute to global warming...' More

NASA's Spitzer reveals galaxy on fire

'Where there's smoke, there's fire - even in outer space. A new infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows a burning hot galaxy whose fiery stars appear to be blowing out giant billows of smoky dust. The galaxy, called Messier 82, or the "Cigar galaxy," was previously known to host a hotbed of young, massive stars. The new Spitzer image reveals, for the first time, the "smoke" surrounding those stellar fires...' More

Nanoscience guru's visions of tiny tech's future

'The year Greta Garbo died of kidney failure—1990—was when Ted Sargent decided to become a nanotechnologist. He fantasized about rebuilding the dreamy actress from the atom up. Sixteen years later the now-32-year-old Sargent is being touted as the "Stephen Hawking of the nano world," referring to the field of science that deals with the very small. Creating another Garbo may still be on his to-do list, but so far Sargent's research breakthroughs have been anything but tiny. The University of Toronto professor has invented an optical switch that could make the Internet a hundred times faster than it is today and developed spray-on solar-power cells that may one day run our cars and homes...' More

Flying without wing flaps and without a pilot

'A remote-controlled aeroplane packed with scientific know-how has recently had a test flight in the United Kingdom, heralding a new generation of aircraft. The revolutionary model plane has been developed as part of a £6.2-million programme, involving engineers from the University of Leicester, funded jointly by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and BAE Systems...' More

Fish oil may not be so healthy after all

'Eating oily fish may not be as good for our health as once believed, experts have claimed. Researchers studying death rates, heart disease and cancer found no "clear benefit" of omega 3 fats. However, they said omega 3's should not be ruled out but evidence about potential benefits should be regularly reviewed...' More

'South Park' funnier, edgier, more liked than ever

'One afternoon in February, Matt Stone got bored, turned on the TV and freaked out. Onscreen, thousands of Muslims were rioting over cartoons of Mohammed. "I was like, 'Oh, f*#%, look what we did! We have to get on the phone to a lawyer!'" the co-creator of South Park remembers. As it turned out, the protests had nothing to do with the South Park episode in which the prophet Mohammed plays a superhero; they were about political cartoons in a Danish newspaper. Stone was disappointed. "I was like, 'Danish cartoons? That's our competition? The f*#%$# Danish?'"...' More

Friday, March 24, 2006

Canada's vital Arctic climatic area in danger

'A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years...' More

Global warming on course to submerge coasts

'If current temperature trends continue to the end of the century, the Earth's climate will be warm enough to cause a massive melting of Greenland's ice sheet and a partial collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet, resulting in a torrent of melt water that will raise global sea levels by up to six metres, according to a pair of new research papers...' More

Khan - Space Shanty (1972)

Khan — Steve Hillage (guitars, vocals), Dave Stewart (organ, piano, skyceleste, marimbas), Nick Greenwood (bass, vocals) and Eric Peachy (drums) — recorded only one album, 1972's 'Space Shanty', which stands as one of finest and most underrated British prog-rock albums of the '70s. There's some terrific music here, including extended instrumental passages that stray into fiery jazz-rock territory. Hillage is truly in his element, as is Dave Stewart (no, he's NOT the Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics!) who went on to serve as a superb sideman in Bill Bruford's early '80s fusion outfit Bruford. Download