The Null Device
As yuppification and noise complaints force venues in Melbourne's traditional live music heartland (Fitzroy and environs) to close, go all-acoustic or become wine bars or boutique apartments, the scene is moving further out, and is apparently about to cross the barrier into Northcote; the people who run the Corner Hotel in Richmond are opening a new venue there next year, and looking for a name for it. Which could be a good sign for Northcote, which has mostly been a folk/roots/blues/feral-techno sort of place until now, though should have the demographics to support a live rock scene. I wonder whether it'll be the seed of a new local scene, or just an isolated venue like the ones which opened up in other "one-further-out" areas (Preston, Footscray, Sydney Rd. and such).
A list of ten things the Chinese do better than us (in this case, "us" being Canada, but it applies equally to the rest of the West). The list specifically excludes anything to do with cheap labour, and focusses on technological innovations.
In Tianjin, a city of 13 million people, traffic lights display red or green signals in a rectangle that rhythmically shrinks down as the time remaining evaporates. In Beijing, some traffic lights offer a countdown clock for both green and red signals.
(In another transit plus, forget those illegible handwritten taxi receipts we get in Canada. China's taxis automatically print out receipts with date, mileage, taxi medallion number, even the start and end times of the ride. That certainly would help you recover the Stradivarius you inadvertently left in the back seat.)
At the Shanghai Grand Theatre, the black granite ticket counter is embedded with a Samsung computer screen which lights up with the event you want to see, showing unsold seats, colour-coded by price, and the sightline to the stage. There is even a bar stool on which to perch while you consider your choices.
It wouldn't surprise me if some of these ideas caught on in the West at some stage.