Thursday, 27 September 2007

Music and the Brain

tales of music and the brain

Musicophilia. Metafilter's own digaman interviews Oliver Sacks on his forthcoming book and a lifetime's worth of loving music and studying its effects on the human mind.
Music therapy for persons with Alzheimers (pdf).
Just in Time by the Grunyons, the a cappella vocal group referenced in the article.
Grainy 1986 interview with Dr. Sacks on The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (worth watching for his glorious beard alone).
Wonderful NPR segment on Williams Syndrome.
Brief article on hallucinogens, healing, and music.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

CD: Autorickshaw (Carnatic/Jazz)

Carnatic Jazz Journey


So the Journey Goes (Tala-Wallah Records, 2007)

The latest album by Canadian band autorickshaw continues in the direction of combining Indian music with jazz forms. The leading instruments are the vocals of Suba Sankaran and the electric bass of virtuoso musician Rich Brown.

Suba Sankarann has a subtle voice that can easily switch from jazz stylings to rapping and classical Indian techniques. Her vocals are followed by Rich Brown's bass. At times...

NOVA goes bust?

(I used to work at Nova when I first went to Japan... Glad I got the chance to get established there before this happened.)

The biggest employer of foreign nationals in Japan BUSTO?

Nova eikaiwa is the biggest foreign language school in Japan, teaching predominantly English through a network of over 600 branches across the county and employing over 7,000 foreign nationals. After adverse rulings to a number of complaints regarding Nova's refund policy, the Japanese Government imposed a 6 month ban from July to prevent the company from selling large lesson packages to students. The company has experienced a severe downturn in cashflow as a result and there are reports of late payment to Japanese staff and suppliers in the last two months. Foreign teachers were unaffected until salary payments for the 15th September were paid late, and more senior teachers have not yet been paid. Despite not being paid, many staff face a tough decision: quit, or continue to show up to work in the knowledge that if the company goes bankrupt they are eligible for unemployment benefits. Despite this, CEO Nozomu Sahashi declared last Friday "The dark clouds that have been hanging heavily over us will be cast aside... I said previously 'the darkest time is before the dawn,' and finally the first light of dawn can be seen". Five days later and some teachers are still waiting to be paid.

Monday, 24 September 2007

TED Talks - Apes that write, start fires and play Pac-Man

Found this post (below) on MetaFilter, which lead me to find TED Talks on - "Ideas Worth Spreading". There are some excellent talks available as video and audio on a whole range of topics. The talk linked below is by Susan Savage-Rumbaugh and entitled "Apes that write, start fires and play Pac-Man". She's not talking about humans, but bonobos.

Pan homo culture

I laughed, I cried, and I welcomed our new Pan-Homo Culture
From the always edumataining TED talks. Now Dawkins free.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Interview with Tibetan Singer Namgyal Lhamo

Interview with Tibetan Singer Namgyal Lhamo

World Music Central recently interviewed singer, songwriter, actres and performing artist Namgyal Lhamo, winner of the Best Female Singer award at the 2007 Tibetan music awards.

How was life in Dharamsala (North India)?

My ancestors originally hailed from Shigatse in Tibet but I was raised in the Himalayas near Mustang. I was born into a family with a rich cultural background and when I reached 8, I was sent straight away to a transit school in Dharamsala for young Tibetans where I was chosen to enroll at The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts which was founded by His Holiness The Dalai lama.

At what age did you join the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts?

World's Most Amazing Islands

World's Most Amazing Islands

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Online free video site

I recently found the TV Links site while searching around on the Floating World Web. TV Links has an extensive directory of freely downloadable movies, docos, TV shows and more. Last night I watched episode 1 of Supernatural : The Unseen Powers Of Animals - great stuff.

If you're looking for eclectic video, the Video pages of the Floating World Web are well worth checking out too.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

CD: Taraf de Haidouks (Gypsy)

Riotous Gypsy Extravaganza

Taraf de Haidouks

Maškaradă (Crammed Craw 40, 2007)

Maškaradă is Taraf de Haidouks' fist recording since the famed "Band of Gypsies." Pooling the exceptional talent of Taraf de Haidouks's 12 member group, ...

Saturday, 8 September 2007

CD: Namgyal Lhamo

The Tibetan Diva Rises

Vienna, Austria - Tibetan music to western audiences have often symbolized meditative mindscapes and spirituality, often luring them into experiencing the mystical with the appeal of it's otherworldly chanting and sound.

And then in a world where an ancient culture is trying to survive against all odds comes a singer with a petite frame, powerhouse personality and an explosive voice to create music that is a perfect blend of ancient lost world sound gliding along in parallels to upbeat, chic and energetic club grooves.

By preserving the traditional core of Tibet in one (Pure) to transporting its international presence to the most contemporary of platforms with all its flavor intact, Namgyal Lhamo's latest albums are a real treat. Netherlands ...

Pee powered battery

So, you're into renewable energy?

Heretofore experimental, the Japanese have now marketed a battery that is urine-rechargeable.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Australia's Worst Maritime Disaster (353 refugees)

via Ant McKenna...


Last weekend I was honoured and humbled to attend the memorial for Australia’s worst maritime tragedy since world war two in Canberra, performing the incredible song ‘Time and Tide’ by my brother Phill.

The ‘SIEV X’ sank in late 2001, with 353 people drowned – predominantly women and children.

Despite the enormity of the tragedy many Australian’s have never heard of this.

The boat was carrying over 400 people seeking a better life in Australia.

Documented evidence has been presented in the Australian Senate that the Australian Federal Police undertook a project to disable and damage asylum seeker’s boats to prevent them reaching Australia. It has also been alleged in the senate that the Howard government was aware of the boat, that it was overcrowded, that the boat intended to make its way to Australia, where it was leaving from and the approximate time of its departure.

It has also been alleged (again in our national senate) that our government could have undertaken a rescue operation immediately but decided not do so for almost 48 hours.

Many Australians are simply asking – why?

The memorial last weekend was the sixth anniversary of the incident and marks the first time that a physical memorial has been allowed within the Australian countryside – beside Lake Burley Griffin.

353 Poles, painted by schools and community groups from around the country were placed in the ground – one for every person who lost their life.

The federal government holds a list of the names of all those who were on the boat, but refuses to release the names. Recently a motion by the greens to release the list was defeated. Officially this is ‘for security reasons’.
The Howard government has not shown any support for a memorial for Australia’s worst modern day maritime incident. In the past, this memorial has been refused permission. Last year, on the anniversary, over 300 people held a pole each in place during a memorial ceremony - and then the poles had to be taken down and packed away. This year the poles have only been allowed to stand for 7 weeks and then they must be removed.

On the weekend, hundreds of Australians walking / driving past saw the poles and stopped and asked ‘what is this for?’ When they found out they almost all said ‘I had no idea…’ Maybe you had no idea about this either? Or maybe you had heard about this somewhere but did not know the facts. Remember, this is not some conspiracy theory, but based upon documented evidence presented by our federal representatives in the Australian senate and countless documented essays, books, interviews, etc.

This tragedy raises huge questions for us as a nation. How far do we go to protect ourselves? What innocence are we willing to lose to ensure that ‘we say who comes to this country and the manner in which they come here’? What did the federal government really know about this ship and these people? If we hold men in immigration detention, then who is supporting their wives and children? Why did we keep children who survived this tragedy in detention centres? Why is there such bureaucratic red tape and so many hurdles to this important memorial?

The purpose of this email is twofold – to raise awareness - so I would be grateful if you passed this on to anyone you think who would be interested.

The main purpose of this email however, is in the hope that this does not ever happen again.

For more information, go to

All the best to you and your family.

Ant McKenna

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Only in Africa! (funny photos)

Only in Africa!

11 pictures of this things that can only happen in Africa!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

National Geographic webcams

National Geographic has a lot of cool webcams.

National Geographic has a lot of cool webcams. Pete's Pond in Africa is my favorite. (previously) It's up and running again for its third season till mid-December, the end of the dry season. Best viewing times are 4-8 PM EST and 12-4 AM EST. Lots of highlights can be found at youtube, of course. NG also provides the Seal Cam from Año Nuevo, California, Bald Eagle Cam from Maine, the Kakadu Cam from Australia and and the Polar Bear Cam from Canada. There are a lot of grizzly bears fishing right now on the Bear Cam from Alaska, but the Crane Cam from Nebraska is down right now. To view these cams you have to sit through a short commercial at first, but after that it's all live wildlife goodness. There are also very active forums where people share their screencaps and vicarious adventures.