The Null Device


Once again, Apple come up with a piece of industrial design that makes one think "now that's nifty": this time, it's AirPort Express, a wireless base station, USB print server and analogue/optical audio output (for streaming iTunes audio from your Mac to your stereo/speakers), all in the form factor of one of those doovy white international power adaptors that come with PowerBooks and iPods. And it's only US$39 (which should come out at about A$70 or so). (via bOING bOING)

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The next casualty in the list of disappearing ad-free surfaces: potato crisps. (via bOING bOING)

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A look at the stigma attached to women keeping cats. After all, everybody knows that people who keep cats are emotional basketcases; normal, healthy people either keep dogs (a proper, well-adjusted person's pet) or fish (which are more of a hobby than a pet) or don't need the emotional crutch of keeping animals:

Supposedly, to look into the female singleton's trolley is to gaze upon human despair in its purest form. The meals-for-one, the glossy magazines shrieking their self-help messages so loudly people three aisles away can hear, those furtive bars of high-quality chocolate brought as a substitute for the low-quality sex they were having before they decided enough was enough. All these items could be exhibited as evidence in the socio-emotional kangaroo courts that even today persist in judging the solitary female as worthless and hopeless simply because she is mate-less. However, the real clincher is the six-pack of top-of-the-range cat food. A kilo of heroin couldn't be more socially incriminating.
Militantly anti-cat Melanie Reid wrote recently; "Feminism has been blamed for many things but there is no doubt that it is also partly responsible for the rise of the cat."
It's very easy to deal with boyfriends who complain you treat your cat better than you do them. Just say: "Once you've produced evidence that an ancient civilisation worshipped you, then perhaps we'll talk." It could even be argued that some men end up being very poor cat substitutes. ("I just couldn't meet the right cat so I decided to have a relationship instead.")

The article also has a list of famous cat-haters, including William Shakespeare and King Louis XIV. They left John Ashcroft off the list.

Btw, what about men who keep/prefer cats; are we they also considered to be psychological liabilities, or perhaps cat-fanciers are Not Real Men (see also: vegetarians, Belle & Sebastian fans, non-followers of sports teams)?

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Public Enemy's Chuck D and Hank Shocklee on how copyright law changed hip-hop; or the impact that the increasingly greedy demands of owners of samples had on the evolution of hip-hop:

The first thing that was starting to happen by the late 1980s was that the people were doing buyouts. You could have a buyout--meaning you could purchase the rights to sample a sound--for around $1,500. Then it started creeping up to $3,000, $3,500, $5,000, $7,500. Then they threw in this thing called rollover rates. If your rollover rate is every 100,000 units, then for every 100,000 units you sell, you have to pay an additional $7,500. A record that sells two million copies would kick that cost up twenty times. Now you're looking at one song costing you more than half of what you would make on your album.
We were forced to start using different organic instruments, but you can't really get the right kind of compression that way. A guitar sampled off a record is going to hit differently than a guitar sampled in the studio. The guitar that's sampled off a record is going to have all the compression that they put on the recording, the equalization. It's going to hit the tape harder. It's going to slap at you. Something that's organic is almost going to have a powder effect. It hits more like a pillow than a piece of wood. So those things change your mood, the feeling you can get off of a record. If you notice that by the early 1990s, the sound has gotten a lot softer.
Stay Free!: So is that one reason why a lot of popular hip-hop songs today just use one hook, one primary sample, instead of a collage of different sounds?
Chuck D: Exactly. There's only one person to answer to. Dr. Dre changed things when he did The Chronic and took something like Leon Haywood's "I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You" and revamped it in his own way but basically kept the rhythm and instrumental hook intact. It's easier to sample a groove than it is to create a whole new collage. That entire collage element is out the window.

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