There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Knifing the baby

Back in March, I wrote about Global Sound, a web site being put together in Seattle by the Smithsonian Institute that would eventually be providing access to some fascinating recordings of indigenous music, in particular the holdings of the International Library of African Music, repository of a staggering collection of recordings by South African musicologist Hugh Tracey. Much of the music he recorded in the 1950s and 60s has vanished as live art forms, making the collection an invaluable window into a disappeared world. Most of the music has never been easily accessible to the public, having been published mainly on records that were made available only to libraries.

Today comes the sad news that a funding crisis has strangled this baby in the crib. The site was apparently finished, but whoever controls the purse strings apparently decided that enough was enough. Global Sound sent out a message to the members of its mailing list pointing to their beta site, where you can listen to samples of the music (sadly, the ability to download entire tracks has been removed). The soon-to-disappear site shows a lot of promise, and I can see that I would have been spending way too much money there. I suppose I should be grateful to an administration that considers no garbage truck too expensive for Iraq but can't find the money for this project; my wallet will be fuller as a result and I'll be able to spend more money on home improvements. There's a possibility that Smithsonian Folkways Records may resurrect the site in some form. I hope so.

Feh.

Posted at 10:43 PM

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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