Various and sundry unrelated (or are they?) newsbits

The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. has put together what looks to be a totally awesome exhibit.

The beauty and humor that he pictured on the road between two great cities brought fame to Utagawa Hiroshige, one of the greatest Japanese artists of the 1800s, and influenced French and American painters from Paul Cezanne to James McNeill Whistler.

The Phillips Collection has put together a rare exhibit of all “53 Stages on the Tokaido” Road, first published in 1863-4 as an accordion-like album, but now widely scattered. There are in fact 55 woodblock prints in the set: an additional one from Edo (Tokyo), the start of the trip, and another at the terminus, Kyoto, nearly 300 miles to the southwest.

Curator Susan Behrends Frank has matched the Hiroshiges with 41 European and American pictures to show how he changed Western ways of looking at things. “East Meets West” will be on view through September 4.

Road trip!

The glottis strikes again:

“We conclude that a major difference between a novice and an experienced player is a learned, but usually subconscious ability to reduce the glottal opening,” said Joe Wolfe, who headed the research team, in the science journal Nature. A didgeridoo is about 1.5 meters (yards) long and was traditionally used to accompany chants and songs. Its unusual sounds are produced by interactions among the sound waves of the instrument and in the player’s vocal tract and the motion and air flow between their lips.

The movement of the lip sends a sound wave into the instrument but it also travels back into the vocal tract which can act like a resonator – boosting some sounds and repressing others.

Already my mind is whirling with thoughts of how that “small tube” and microphone could be used to study language :>

Asbestos-related deaths are making the news in Japan right now.

I went to this article purely because of the title: Wee shops turn out flat TVs. I wonder if you can meet a leprechaun there!

The RIAJ attacks!

In a first for Japan’s beleaguered music industry, five individuals have agreed to pay compensation to five record companies for unauthorized distribution of music on the Internet through file-swapping programs.

According to the Recording Industry Association of Japan based in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, the five agreed to a total of about 2.4 million yen (about $21,600) to five record companies.

The five individuals expressed remorse and apologized for their illegal activities, the association said Wednesday. They also submitted written promises not to conduct similar acts that violate copyright laws.

Meanwhile…have I mentioned that Koizumi loves Elvis? Well, he does.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi joined in a 59th birthday tribute for U.S. President George Bush Wednesday night, joining other G-8 leaders to sing “Happy Birthday,” and then did a brief solo of a song by Elvis Presley.

And here’s a story that might turn even the pieman‘s stomach…

In a bustling market in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, dogs, cats, chickens, frogs, snakes, turtles and palm civets are stacked on top of each other in crates, wire cages and water buckets ready for sale.

Customers peer at the caged animals before choosing their meal of the day. They watch as the butcher cuts up the animal with knives and machetes, spreading blood, guts, faeces and urine all over the market floor.

People from South China believe that eating wild animals is good for their health and vitality, and gulping down such exotic fare as cobra and Asiatic brush tailed porcupine is seen as a symbol of social status.

Indeed, there is a saying in South China that “anything with four legs, except a chair, and anything that flies, except an aeroplane, can be eaten.”

But hey, at least Leonardo DiCaprio has purchased himself an island.

Hmm. $1.75 million isn’t really all that much. I bet I could save that if I went couch-diving every few weeks…!


And lastly, here’s something nice. Learn the Tanabata song!