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Mission of Burma, Way Out There, Payola Pays Off

Very Short List delivers one excellent item to your inbox, daily: Books, films, music, web-things, and dispatches on science and technology. Today, meet the world’s bravest journalists, see excellent experiments performed in outer space, and download thousands of free and legal MP3s.


Mission of Burma
The Digital Journalist The Gate of Heavenly Peace Letters From Burma

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Burma VJ

Two and a half years ago, three Burmese journalists risked their lives to document the massive demonstrations breaking out against military misrule in their country. Anders Østergaard’s new documentary, Burma VJ (in limited release May 20), uses the raw video they shot to maximum effect.

The journalists had to conceal their digicams in bags while filming; the clips were smuggled out of the country. Airing on CNN and the BBC, they gave the outside world its only glimpse of the ensuing crackdown. Burma’s thuggish government did everything it could to suppress the images you’ll see here (and Burmese soldiers shot and killed a foreign journalist who was trying to capture the same footage). Many of the cameramen were arrested after the protests. Others remain in exile. But this gripping film is a testament to their courage and patriotism.

VISIT the website for Burma VJ

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Way out there
Sticky water Microgravity University Where is your space station?

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“Saturday Morning Science”

Don Pettit spent four months on the International Space Station, and more than a few hours videotaping the experiments and demonstrations he came up with in his downtime. Now NASA has collected them online.

You’ll see Pettit eating tea with chopsticks and using a CD Walkman (remember those?) as a gyroscope. But the astronaut’s best experiment involves water: First, Pettit uses a wire and a straw to build a solid, bubble-shaped sphere of the stuff — H2O all the way through, held together by its internal molecular attraction. Then he pushes an Alka Seltzer tablet into the sphere and makes it bubble. It’s half science, half magic trick — and amazing to witness.

WATCH “Saturday Morning Science”

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Payola pays off
imeem WFMU Lux and Ivy's Favorites

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Free Music Archive

Back when he was a crusading attorney general, Eliot Spitzer won a settlement against record companies and radio stations involved in pay-for-play arrangements. Fittingly enough, that money was used to set up the Free Music Archive. The site’s still in its beta stage, but we like what we’re seeing so far.

Visitors can browse by curator (DJs at WFMU and KEXP do much of the selecting) or genre (Rock alone has 19 subcategories, including Garage, Krautrock, and Power-Pop). Indie stalwarts like the Silver Jews, Low, and Daniel Johnston are well represented; so are up-and-comers (like the Vivian Girls) you’ll want to know about. Better yet, Creative Commons licensing lets you share or use the 5,000-plus recordings you’ll find here in any way you see fit.

VISIT Free Music Archive

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