台北有個麵食連鎖店,叫「甘泉魚麵」,它的招牌甘泉魚麵,相當不錯。圖中的自家製品,水準有過之而無不及 :-)


Sony Walkman cheapened music? (II)

My friend Raymond wrote in a comment on my previous entry on Norman Lebrecht that: "Following his logic, gramophones, radios and LP hi-fi are also cheapening music".

Good point! This is exactly what I am planning to write as a follow-up on Mr. Lebrecht's snobbish view on technological innovations which he regarded as cheapening music.

No one would dispute that listening to a Bruckner symphony by the Vienna Philharmonic in the Musikvereinsaal is a wonderful experience. But how many people can have the time and money to do that? Should we not also experience Bruckner by other leading orchestras in leading concert halls in other parts of the world? How many people can do that? What if we want to "re-live" a certain memorable concert performance we attended years ago?

The numerous audio technological innovations over the past hundred years of ago served more or less the same purpose - greater accessibility - allowing more people to listen to more good music without having to be physically there (including music performed in the past). That many people use them to listen to "trash" music is not the point. No one forces you to follow them.

Sure, Mr. Lebrecht attends lots of live performances. But he does listen to the Walkman as well, since he said in his article that "I once heard Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony on a vertical Alpine train as a thunderstorm crashed all around. In unforgettable settings, music acquired unsuspected dimensions." Exactly, if a man of good musical taste uses such technological innovations to his advantage, music does acquire unsuspected dimensions in unforgettable settings.

As for the other billions of ordinary people, you can't rule out that some might, for whatever reason, come across a piece of classical music and fall in love with it. I was one of those.

If critics including Mr. Lebrecht do a better job in bringing classical music to the mass, may be one day you would find millions of people listening to a Bruckner symphony, using Walkmans or iPods, on their way to and from work. Wouldn't it be wonderful?

(Incidentally, he wrote about Carlos Kleiber in his latest column: Carlos Kleiber: Not a great conductor)


digihouse.com.au is a web site by an industry veteran, which "contains information designed to assist people who want to find out and assess the basic requirements needed for a domestic, network centric home automation management system". For a newbie with strong interest on this subject, I must say he has done a wonderful job!

The best find so far in my intense web surfing on this subject.


Sony Walkman cheapened music?

Norman Lebrecht, writing in the Evening Standard (21 July 2004), argued that "No invention in my lifetime has so changed an art [music] and cheapened it as the Sony Walkman, which first infiltrated our culture 25 years ago this month.". Such crime, of course, is now being perpetrated mainly by the iPods and other portable digital music players.

To quote him further, "25 years of Walkman usage has destroyed any sense of a piece of music having a place in the world, in time, in our personal lives. Music, made portable, is removed from any frame of reference. It becomes a utility, undeserving of more attention than drinking-water from a tap." Well, I thought being able to drink water from a tap is one of the greatest achievements of mankind!

"The decline in classical concert-going may be partly ascribed to the Walkman, which devalued magnificence and rendered it utilitarian. A Bruckner symphony buzzing away while you brush your teeth is an altogether different experience from attending a Vienna Philharmonic concert in the Musikvereinsaal." I don't need you to teach me that! In my opinion, classical music can live and thrive without snobs such as Mr. Lebrecht.


Structured Wiring - How To

Just found an excellent (and long) article - Structured Wiring - How To - on how to self-install structured wiring to your home. It gives a newbie like me an invaluable introduction to this subject. While I definitely can't do it myself, it helps me selecting the systems/products and service providers when and if the project goes ahead.


Picasa - what a wonderful program

I have just downloaded Picasa - a photo management program - and played with it for a while. What a great program! It is versatile and easy to use. Above all, it is free! Try it!


Seafood Paella

First attempt, great success!

Smart Home, Sweet Dream

Wouldn't it be nice if the entire house is interconnected like this? The wiring needs to be done when the house is being built. It would be very difficult to do this afterwards.


Smart Home

While currently living in the stone age of Internet access (dial-up), I am already dreaming of installing a "smart home" system - interconnected and automated - to my future new home, something along the line of that produced by Clipsal. This is going to be my pet subject in the near future :-)


Comments, please

I have corrected the wrong setting. Now everyone and anyone can comment on my posts.


What's this Amazon.com thing called "plog"

The latest and greatest from Amazon.com is called "plog", which is sort of a personalised recommendation service based on one's previous ratings of merchandise.
So far I have received 3 recommendations, which I found largely silly and even ridiculous.
"City of God was released today; We thought you'd be interested because you rated Three Colors Trilogy (Blue / White / Red)". Fair enough, if you treat both as art films.
But what about "Whale Rider was released today; We thought you'd be interested because you rated The Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould Plays Bach"? According to Amazon.com, Whale Rider is "one of the most charming and critically acclaimed films of 2003" which "effectively combines Maori tribal tradition with the timely "girl power" of a vibrant new millennium". What has this got to do with Gould's Goldberg Variations?
But wait until you read this: "My Life was released today; We thought you'd be interested because you rated One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club)". As you probably know, My Life is the memoir of former US President Bill Clinton. I am sure that millions of readers are eagerly awaiting this book. But then, what has this got to do with One hundred Years of Solitude? Just because Oprah likes both? Ridiculous!


The World Movies Channel

One of the "movies" channels of the pay TV service I am subscribing to is World Movies. In very simple terms, it shows non-Hollywood movies. This channel is provided by the SBS, an "ethnic" TV station in Australia.

As I wrote in my page on Kieslowski's A Short Film About Love, "I first encountered Kieslowski's films in the early 1990s when living in Australia. SBS, a publicly funded broadcaster originally envisaged to provide news and entertainment to those whose mother language is not English, offers lots of non-English art films. I remembered on every Thursday, it would show a "Movie of the Week". An old gentleman, David Stratton, would spent a few minutes introducing the film to the viewers. David's opinions are always objective, concise and unpretentious. I learnt a lot from him. He also co-hosts a programme called The Movie Show." Unfortunately, he left SBS towards the end of last year and the "Movies of the Week" show has since been transplanted to ABC, another public TV station in Australia.

I am sure I shall be watching more "world movies" on this channel in the future.

The Princess Blade

Watched The Princess Blade 修羅雪姬 (Japan, 2001). An hour and a half of mediocre entertainment. The comic version must be 10 times more worthy of one's time.

(3 out of 10)


海邊卡夫卡 . 村上春樹 (黃小黛.IS LIFE.blog)


Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement: A Critical View

Australia and Thailand signed a bilateral free trade agreement on 6 July 2004. Christopher Findlay, an Australian economist, was rather sceptical about the significance of this FTA. He said, according to ABC's Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement: a turning point?, that "when you start looking through the 286 pages on the rules of origin, when you start trying to study what the safe-guard measures that have been put in place – that is, the right to cut back on the tariff reductions – and when you look at the phasing periods, some of which run out to 2020, then there's a fair bit of homework to do on what it really means for us", and that "it's not clear to me that this is a good track to regional integration ... I'd see it as clogging up the process and diverting people's attention from the main game".


Finished Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code

Extremely interesting contents fitted into a conventional and not particularly well-written (IMHO) thriller.

Go to Dan Brown's official site for additional materials which should make your reading even more enjoyable (e.g. the intriguing observations related to Da Vinci's The Last Supper painting).

(8 out of 10)


Experimenting with Firefox

I have been experimenting with Firefox, said to be a wonderful web browser. My early experience has been positive. May be some time in the future, Firefox will become my default browser.


Finished reading Ann Pachett's Bel Canto

It won the 2002 Orange Prize and 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award.

On the whole, it was an interesting read, but like many other readers, I was dissatisfied with the surprising and unconvincing ending.

Here's a list of professional reviews of the novel.

(7 out of 10)


Bigger houses, smaller blocks

Just read an interesting article (Lifestyle supersizing - Sydney Star Observer, 1/7/04) which cited a "frightening phenomenon" of "more and more Australians ... choosing to supersize their homes".

In fact, it is not only that houses are getting bigger and bigger, but also that blocks are getting smaller and smaller. As a result, front and back yards are diminishing in size, while houses are being built almost side by side.

The shrinking garden is also consistent with the trend that more and more Australians are now fed up with gardening work and more inclined to living in the concrete jungle (inner city apartments).