Cultureteca 13.03.16

A new week for Cultureteca brings a drugs ban for Maria Sharapova, International Women’s Day 2017, minimal music courtesy of a La Monte Young reissue, news on the Myanmar presidency, the latest in Hyperloop technology, Game of Thrones, a solar eclipse, To Kill a Mockingbird, and more.

* * *

Maria Sharapova Has Tested Positive for the Prohibited Substance Meldonium

This week Maria Sharapova – a career Grand Slam winner in tennis and the highest-earning female athlete in the world for each of the past eleven years – revealed that she failed a drugs test on 26 January during this year’s Australian Open. She tested positive for meldonium, a drug also known as mildronate which she has been taking since 2006 for health reasons. Meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list on 1 January. The International Tennis Federation has announced the Sharapova will be provisionally suspended from 12 March.

* * *

International Women’s Day 2017

Tuesday was International Women’s Day, an event which has been celebrated annually since 1909. The theme for this year’s iteration was ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality’, setting a timetable for the achievement of gender equality worldwide.

Female role models were celebrated via Twitter; in India the ministry of women and child development opened one-stop crisis centres in Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, with more to come in the ensuing months; Air India claimed the ‘world’s longest’ all-women operated flight between Delhi and San Francisco; and Robyn spoke to Noisey about the upcoming Tekla Festival, which provides modern technology workshops for girls aged between 11 and 15.

* * *

La Monte Young’s Dream House 78′ 17″ Receives Reissue

Belgium’s Aguirre Records, in collaboration with Boomkat, this week reissued Dream House 78′ 17″, one of the few recordings made by the seminal minimalist composer La Monte Young, who on this occasion performed alongside Marian Zazeela and the Theatre of Eternal Music. The record was originally released in 1974 by Shandar, but has never been reissued on vinyl.

Using sine wave generators, the record’s two droning compositions each last just under 40 minutes. Drift Study 13 shows Young’s interest in the kirana vocal tradition of Pandit Pran Nath, featuring the cadences of Zazeela alongside Garrett List on trombone and Jon Hassell on trumpet. Drift Study 14 meanwhile dwells on the interaction and interference between three sine waves, ‘determined and tuned by La Monte Young using oscillators custom designed by Robert Adler to generate specific frequencies and voltages of great stability‘.

* * *

Total Solar Eclipse Across Indonesia

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, skygazers in Indonesia were able to witness a rare total solar eclipse, with a partial eclipse visible across parts of southeast Asia and Australia. The eclipse coincided with Nyepi, a public holiday in Indonesia and the end of the Balinese saka calendar, a day usually reserved for fasting and silent self-reflection.

* * *

Game of Thrones Season 6 First Official Trailer

HBO unveiled this week the first official trailer for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. Season 6 will premiere on 24 April.

* * *

Premier League Away Tickets Capped At £30

On Wednesday – after debate, protests, and the introduction of the Away Supporters’ Initiative in 2013 – Premier League football clubs agreed plans to cap away ticket prices at £30 for the next three seasons.

* * *

Constitutional Clause Prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi from Standing for Post of Myanmar President

As expected, on Thursday Myanmar’s National League for Democracy confirmed that party leader Aung San Suu Kyi – who led the NLD to an absolute majority in both houses of Myanmar’s bicameral legislature last Novemberwill not stand for the post of president. Despite her attempts to persuade the military, which remains a powerful force in Burmese politics, a clause in the constitution was upheld which prohibits her candidacy because both of her sons are foreign citizens.

The NLD instead named Htin Kyaw as its lower house nominee for vice president, and Henry Van Thio, an MP from the Chin ethnic minority, as its upper house nominee. The winning candidates from each house will face one another in a run-off for the presidency, with Htin Kyaw, a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, the strong favourite.

* * *

Mass-Market Paperback of To Kill a Mockingbird Forced to Cease Publication

In an ongoing controversy pitting academics and publishers against Tonja Carter, the lawyer of Harper Lee and the executor of the late writer’s estate, it appears that the estate will no longer allow publication of the mass-market paperback edition of Lee’s high school favourite To Kill a Mockingbird.

The decision in 2015 to publish Go Set a Watchman – now widely considered an earlier draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, despite its events being set twenty years after those in the completed novel – was best by confusion and strife. Carter claimed to have discovered the manuscript and to have sought Lee’s permission before moving ahead with the publication, but Lee was at the time 89 years old, nearly deaf and blind, living in a nursing home, and just months removed from the death of her sister, attorney, business manager, and caregiver Alice. More, for decades Harper Lee had insisted that To Kill a Mockingbird – published in 1960 – would remain her only novel.

Harper Lee died on 19 February, and a couple of weeks later, on 29 February, a motion filed on behalf of Carter saw a judge in Monroe County, Alabama, seal the writer’s estate from public view. Hachette currently publishes the only inexpensive mass-market paperback version of To Kill a Mockingbird, but has been asked to cease publication and liquidate its stock. HarperCollins will continue to publish trade paperback, hardcover, and special editions of To Kill a Mockingbird, having also published Go Set a Watchman last year.

* * *

Hyperloop Heads to Slovakia

As the scarcely distinguishable Hyperloop Technologies and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies vie to develop the first Hyperloop – an ultra high-speed transportation system first conceived by Elon Musk, which would fling pods full of passengers through reduced-pressure tubes moving faster than the rate of air travel – HTT head Dirk Ahlborn announced on Thursday an agreement to explore building a Hyperloop system in Slovakia.

Confirmed by Miriam Žiaková, spokeswoman for the ministry of economy, the system could connect the Slovakian capital of Bratislava with Vienna and Budapest in a travel time of no more than ten minutes. The first stage of the project will run within Bratislava, and is estimated to cost between $200-300 million, hopefully to be completed by 2020.

* * *

AlphaGo Defeats 18-time World Champion Lee Se-dol

The ancient Chinese board game of Go is often considered more varied and complex than chess, estimated to possess more possibilities than the total number of atoms in the visible universe. This week – in a battle which has been compared to the 1997 chess match between Deep Blue and Garry Kasparov – the AlphaGo computer program defeated 18-time world Go champion Lee Se-dol after taking the first three games in a five-game matchup. Lee Se-dol did however gain some measure of revenge, beating the computer for the first time in the fourth rubber.

* * *

Paris Saint-Germain Claim League Title In Record Time

Four goals on Sunday from Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped Paris Saint-Germain to a 9-0 thrashing of Troyes, in the process confirming for PSG the Ligue 1 title with eight games of the season remaining, a new European record. With his contract set to expire, Zlatan is expected to leave PSG in the summer, but after the match against Troyes he suggested he would stay if the Eiffel Tower was replaced with a statue in his image.