Newsletter 146 – November 2008


Number 146 – November 2008 – ISSN 1470-1863

Music, Arts, Culture, and Technology
as seen from digital hub Manchester UK

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If you’re wondering what happened to the
newsletter for October – there wasn’t one.
Pressure of work, dear readers: that’s why.

0—– “Hallelujah Junction” – new book

John Adams is American’s best-known classical
composer. You’ve probably heard his often-played
piece “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” or heard
of his opera “Nixon in China”.

This is his autobiography, written at the
age of sixty. It documents his complete
immersion in music – from American jazz
and blues, via a radical past in the 1960s,
to his pre-eminence today as a champion of
his own new-minimalist music and the
compositions of his contemporaries.

He’s commendably generous towards other
composers such as Philip Glass, Terry
Riley, Aaron Copland, and one of my own
(little known) favourites – Conlan Nancarrow.

He comes across as a cultivated and humane
individual, with a great feeling for the
topography of the country he has come to
represent – particularly that part of
California where he now lives.

Of course he is regarded as a dangerous
subversive by the US authorities. Even though
he is internationally renowned, they check
and search him at airports- just like they
did with Copland, whose own music is now used
as a symbol for the country which once hounded
him as a communist sympathiser.

redbtn Hallelujah Junction

0— Pub Quiz Question #1

How many valves does a flugel horn have?

0— “Parallel Lives” – misery in Victorian marriage

I missed this book when it first appeared, but
have just caught up – and can see why it has
become so widely read.

It’s a study of five Victorian marriages –
those of Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Charles
Dickens, John Stuart Mill, and George Eliot.

All of them offered a challenge to society
in one way or another – or they had to work
out ‘accommodations’ in order to survive.

Ruskin we know took frit on his wedding
night; Mill’s was ‘une marriage blanche’
[no sex]; Dickens ditched his wife but
couldn’t admit to his admiring public
that he had a lover; and Eliot lived ‘in
shame’ with a married man.

Of the Carlyles it was said that the best thing
about their being married to each other was
that only two people were miserable, not four.

redbtn Parallel Lives

0— Pub quiz – Question #2

Who painted ‘The Raft of the Medusa’?

0—– The Manchester Review

Literature and creative writing continue
to thrive here in Manchester. There are
any number of writers’ groups, blogs, and
public readings. Both of our universities have
postgraduate writing programs, and now the
‘old’ university has launched a new literary
review which features established writers
and newcomers.

Not only that – it’s free – and on line.

“The Review will nurture and promote the
best emerging talent as well as featuring
new work by leading writers and artists.

It will depart from the medium’s conventions
by existing only online, with new issues
appearing each spring and autumn. These will
often include broadcasts of new music, public
debates and video pieces, as well as visual art,
fiction and poetry.”

redbtn Manchester Review

In fact at the risk of teetering into parochialism,
I’ll mention that Manchester has also just given
birth to a new writer’s web site. It’s called
Rainy City Stories.

It’s a website that publishes new writing set
in Manchester. A Google map of the city is used
to organise stories or poetry linked to particular

They’ll be publishing more commissioned writing in
2009, and expanding the site to include photography,
graphics, and audio and video readings to accompany
the words.

redbtn Rainy City Stories

0— Pub quiz – Question #3

What does an Archimedes screw do?

0— Mon Asus Nouveaux est arrive!

After months of waiting I finally took
delivery of my spanking new netbook.

The Asus is small, it runs on open
source software, and the latest version
has a battery life of up to six hours.

Such is the popularity of these nifty
little bits of kit, they’re going for
above the market price on eBay!

If you’ve never seen one, have a look
at this video presentation.

I’m still exploring all its features,
but my chief delight is plugging in
earphones and marvelling at the high
quality reception I get on

It makes going to bed at night something
to look forward to!

redbtn Asus Netbooks


0— Pub quiz – Question #4

Who wrote the lyrics to ‘West Side Story’?

0— “Intellectual Property and Open Source”

Karl Lindberg’s new book explains all the
legal issues connected with the digital
revolution. In fact his clarifications of
copyright, trademarks, logos, rights, and
ownership apply equally to those in bricks
and mortar type enterprises.

You’ll be amazed at what can and cannot be
copyrighted – and the differences between
copyright and a patent.

He’s particularly good at unravelling the
legal status of those developments and
inventions which are made whilst in someone
else’s employment. In brief, they’ve got
you all ways up.

In order to protect yourself, he offers all
sorts of sample agreements and contracts, as
well as the legal tools you will need to
prove your ownership of a particular idea.

redbtn Intellectual Property and Open Source

0— Pub quiz – Question #5

Who directed the film ‘The Spanish Prisoner’?

0—– Online magazines – worth a look

I can’t guarantee the quality of
the content, but the pages of this
new daily/weekly magazine The First
Post look pretty smart to me.

redbtn The First Post

The layout seems to be modelled on my
all-time favourite web magazine, the
New Yorker. Make sure to check out
the animated cartoons at –

redbtn New Yorker

I’ve also added two other magazines
to my list of favourites. The first
is the venerable Atlantic Monthly.
This features the world’s most widely
read blogger, Andrew Sullivan.

redbtn Atlantic Monthly

The second is Vanity Fair, one of
whose regular contributors is the
controversialist Christopher Hitchens.

redbtn Vanity Fair

0— Pub quiz – Question #6

Who composed the music for ‘The Maltese Falcon’?

0— “Words of the Year” – new book

Susie Dent is best known as the resident
dictionary expert on Channel 4’s long-running
game show ‘Countdown’.

Every year she publishes a book which gives
examples of new words to appear in the previous
twelve months.

Many of these are slang and technical jargon,
and only a few survive to make it permanently
into the dictionaries.

This year’s A to Z format runs from ‘adventure
running’ (extreme sports) to ‘YAOI’ (Japanese
gay manga p.o.r.n)

redbtn Oxford University Press

0— Pub Quiz – Question #7

Who was the bully in ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’?

0— Online radio stations

Whilst we’re discussing f.r.e.e online
services, I came across a radio station
the other day that specializes in
electronic dance music.

Digitally Imported runs from trance, to
Electro House, Techno, Progressive,
Ambient, Drum n Base, and Chillout, to
something called Goa-Psy Trance.

No, I don’t know what it means either.

redbtn Dance Music

0— “The New Spaniards” – new edition

Did you know that there’s a village just
outside Madrid which only got electricity
in 1996 – yet Spain is the second largest
country in Europe and now one of its most
technologically advanced nations.

This is a very popular book which looks at
the nature of modern Spain and explains
such odd contradictions.

It offers a survey of the history and
politics of the post-Franco era, and
shows how Spaniards have catapulted
themselves from the old into the modern
world in less than fifty years.

redbtn The New Spaniards

0— Pub quiz – Question #8

Who designed the Guggenheim museum in New York?

0— Beautiful examples of Moleskine Art

Moleskine are those seductively attractive
notebooks featuring an elastic strap and
a kangaroo-type pouch at the back for your
extra notes and visiting cards.

They are not made out of mole skin by the way,
nor are they the same objects as used by
self-mythologising writer Bruce Chatwin.

But this gallery of art works produced in
their tiny pages is definitely worth
scrolling through.

redbtn Molskine Notebooks

0— Pub quiz – Question #9

Who created ‘Nude descending a staircase’?

0— TechnoJeeves – computer support

Are you based in the south-west of the UK
and in need of computer support?

TechnoJeeves is a service specializing
in cost-effective solutions.

It offers f.r.e.e software via Open Source
solutions, anti-virus protection, network
fixes, plus email and broadband solutions.

redbtn TechnoJeeves

Email –

Phone – 01373 812804

0— Pub quiz – Question #10

On which island did the Minotaur live?

0— Pub quiz – ANSWERS

#1 How many valves does a flugel horn have?
ANSWER: Three – same as a trumpet.

#2 Who painted ‘The Raft of the Medusa’?
ANSWER: Theodore Gericault

#3 What does an Archimedes screw do?
ANSWER: Raises water

#4 Who wrote the lyrics to ‘West Side Story’?
ANSWER: Stephen Sondheim

#5 Who directed the film ‘The Spanish Prisoner’?
ANSWER: David Mamet

#6 Who composed the music for ‘The Maltese Falcon’?
ANSWER: Adolf Deutsch

#7 Who was the bully in ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’?
ANSWER: Flashman

#8 Who designed the Guggenheim museum in New York?
ANSWER: Frank Lloyd Wright

#9 Who created ‘Nude descending a staircase’?
ANSWER: Marcel Duchamp

#10 On which island di the Minotaur live?

0— Reader’s Letters and Corrections

John Roston writes from Benfleet, Essex to say

“Which highly insoluble substance is
opaque to X-rays?” The answer you gave was Barium.

The element Barium is opaque to X-rays, but cannot
be described as ‘insoluble’; it reacts with water!

You probably have in mind salts such as Barium
Sulphate (Barite) which is widely used in radiography
as a ‘barium meal’ to make the gastro-intestinal tract
visible to X-rays.

And classicist Charles Johnson writes from Mells
in Somerset to say that in our question “Whose temple
was sited at Ephesus?” our answer of Diane should be Diana.
Moreover, that the temple at was also that of Artemis.

So – now we know!

0— Coming soon

‘Writing for Scholars’

‘Damp Squid’

‘A Smile of Fortune’

‘Carlyle’s House’

‘The Platform of Time’

‘Memoirs of a Novelist’

Josef Albers on Colour Theory

Copyright (c) 2008, MANTEX
All Rights Reserved

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ISSN 1470-1863
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