The Null Device


An extensive unofficial fan site for the Pyongyang Metro, the underground railway system in the North Korean capital. (That's right, the last bastion of Stalinism (except perhaps for France, but only if you're a warblogger).) Here you will find photographs of colossal, and eerily empty, stations with massive propaganda murals and details (and recordings) of the propaganda music played in stations, as well as bits of political subterfuge (East German rail cars passed off as local) and details that could only exist in a tightly-run, ultra-paranoid totalitarian cult-state (for example, some stations being closed to the public because they're connected to presidential palaces, the military purposes of various underground lines, and hints at a second, secret Metro system known only to high government officials). Not to mention all the info about vehicles that any self-respecting trainspotter could want to know. (via bOING bOING)

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I was wandering down Bourke St. this afternoon, and upon coming within earshot of a busker, decided to test the live recording capability of my Archos Jukebox, using the unit's internal microphone. Surprisingly, the quality was quite passable; I'd say it would be comparable to my old MiniDisc with the external Sony stereo microphone. And it produces a MP3 file, rather than something locked up in a proprietary container.

Anyway, the proof of the pudding (1.1Mb MP3 file; 1 minute) is here; note the fade between the busker and the top-40 R&B sounds of the HMV store as I walked down the street. Hmmm; perhaps I should do a longer one of these and pass it off as KLF-style "ambient house" or something?


The value of arts degrees has been unofficially questioned in humour and popular culture for decades (at many universities, toilet roll holders are adorned with the graffito "Arts Degrees -- Please Take One"). Now a study in Britain has found that having an arts degree reduces one's earnings; in other words, people with arts degrees (in subjects such as history and English) earn between 2% and 10% less than people with no university degrees.

Professor Ian Walker, leading the study, said: "Feeling warm about literature doesn't pay the rent.

So, if you're planning to do an arts degree for the career potential (as opposed to as a somewhat expensive intellectual hobby), you may be better off calling it off and getting a 3-year head start on your fast-food industry career. Or maybe not.

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