The Null Device
With the Olympics, that natural showcase of totalitarian regimes, approaching, the Chinese government is making sure that nothing is left to chance, and preemptively banning all sorts of things, just in case:
Beijing police have been visiting bar owners in the popular Sanlitun area and asking them to sign pledges agreeing to not serve black people or Mongolians and ban activities including dancing.
And in a separate move, the Ministry of Public Security announced at the start of the month that from October 1, discos, karaoke bars and other entertainment venues must install transparent partitions in previously private rooms, and ensure staff dress more modestly as part of an effort to crack down on prostitution and drugs.
Beijing CBD businesses are reporting increasingly bizarre restrictions on couriers. This includes a ban on transporting CD-ROMs through the city, and mobile phones or GPS devices can only be sent if their batteries are delivered separately. This is on top of postal restrictions on sending liquids and powders.
As the north polar ice cap shrinks, some scientists are thinking that the last chance of saving polar bears may be by relocating them to Antarctica. Others are wary of this:
"Antarctic penguins and seals aren't adapted to surface predators," explained Steven Amstrup, the chief U.S. Geological Survey polar-bear researcher. "The bears would have a field day for a while, because they could walk right up to them and eat them. For a short period of time, it would be great, but in the end the whole system would probably collapse."See also here.
A previously unknown cache of audio recordings made by BBC Radiophonic Workshop composer Delia Derbyshire has come to light. The tapes, recorded in the 1960s, include a sketch for a documentary score, using cut-up fragments of Derbyshire's voice as an oboe-like instrument. Most interesting, though, is a fragment, introduced by Derbyshire as "for interest only", consisting of a few bars of glitchy electronic beats in 5/4 time, with a pad sound. (The fact that all this was made without synthesisers as we know them, but with purpose-built arrangements of circuits, makes it even more impressive.) The fragment sounds like modern IDM; if someone told you it was a Warp release from the 1990s, you'd believe it. The world of the late 1960s, though, wasn't ready for IDM, hence Derbyshire's dismissal of it.
"I find it spell-binding," says Hartnoll. "I've got a shedload of synthesizers and equipment, whereas Delia Derbyshire got out of the Radiophonic Workshop when synthesizers came along. I think she got a bit disheartened and a bit bored with it all when the synthesizer came along and it all became a little too easy."