Monday, January 07, 2013

Media Week (V6 N1): Iraq War Fiction, Downton, Reader's Digest UK, Morse +More

The "bullshit" war and new fiction in the age of war (Guardian):
Powers, himself an Iraq veteran, believes that the flood of fiction – and his own award-winning The Yellow Birds – are helping Americans understand the war better than journalism has done. "One of the reasons that I wrote this book was the idea that people kept saying: 'What was it like over there?'," Powers explained. Yet he was puzzled by the question because of the vast amount of reporting. "It seemed that it was not an information-based problem. There was lots of information around. But what people really wanted was to know what it felt like; physically, emotionally and psychologically. So that's why I wrote it," he said.

Powers' book and its powerful descriptions of the impact and experience of modern combat explores two individual soldiers and the hurried promise that one made to the other to keep him alive through their tour of duty. But, as with all great war literature that has examined conflict from the first world war to Vietnam, the experience of individuals becomes a symbolic stand-in for the nation as a whole. It is impossible not to draw a link between the rash promise – which the book quickly makes clear is not kept – and the way America itself went to war in Iraq. "It is a story about making a promise that you cannot keep; promises made in a quick way. Someone who wants to be good but finds it difficult and does not understand the ramifications of what they have done," Powers said.
I'm with James on Downton Abbey (Atlantic):
At what point in the history of domestic service, I wonder, did lords and ladies start saying Thank you to their staff, instead of just kicking them into the fireplace? When did it begin, this treacherous acquisition of personhood by the dishwashing classes? Was there perhaps a single, pivotal moment, deep in some ancestral pile, when a purple-faced baronet looked upon his vassal and experienced—wildly, disconcertingly—the first fizzings of human-to-human recognition? Blame Saint Francis of Assisi. Blame Charles Dickens. By the early 20th century, at any rate, the whole master-servant thing was plainly in ruins. Individuals were everywhere. The housekeeper had opinions; the chauffeur had a private life; and the gentleman found himself obliged to take an interest, however slight, in the affairs of his gentleman’s gentleman. “And what will you do with your weekend off, Bassett?”
And for Lorcan; yes, "sudsy".

Readers' Digest UK (entirely separate from the US company) has been forced to enter insolvency proceedings and last week shed almost all their staff (Guardian):
Three-quarters of the British staff of Reader's Digest were made redundant on Friday after its private equity tycoon owner pulled the plug on the magazine's direct marketing division.

Jon Moulton's Better Capital private equity firm made 90 of Reader's Digest UK's 120 staff immediately redundant as it began insolvency proceedings of the magazine's CD, DVD and bookselling arm. It comes less than three years after Better rescued the monthly magazine from administration and promised to "return the business to its heyday".

Moulton's purchase of the magazine in April 2010 was controversial because he did not take on responsibility for the company's £125m pension fund deficit. The fund, which has 1,600 members, was placed into the Pension Protection Fund, which meant those that had yet to retire lost 10% of their entitlement.

At the time Moulton said Reader's Digest was a profitable business without the difficulty of the pension fund.
The UK has made making mix tapes legal (BBC) and (IP Gov)
Making digital copies of music, films and other copyrighted material for personal use is to be made legal for the first time under government plans.

It has previously been illegal in the UK to rip songs from a CD to a digital player or transfer eBooks, music, films and games from one device to another.

But people will still not be allowed to share the copies with others.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the move was "not only common sense but good business sense".

"Bringing the law into line with ordinary people's reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright, on which our creative industries rely," he said.

"We feel we have struck the right balance between improving the way consumers benefit from copyright works they have legitimately paid for, boosting business opportunities and protecting the rights of creators."
A Pew Report on e-Readers was released before Christmas (Pew) and from the findings:
The population of e-book readers is growing. In the past year, the number of those who read e-books increased from 16% of all Americans ages 16 and older to 23%. At the same time, the number of those who read printed books in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population ages 16 and older to 67%.

Overall, the number of book readers in late 2012 was 75% of the population ages 16 and older, a small and statistically insignificant decline from 78% in late 2011.

The move toward e-book reading coincides with an increase in ownership of electronic book reading devices. In all, the number of owners of either a tablet computer or e-book reading device such as a Kindle or Nook grew from 18% in late 2011 to 33% in late 2012. As of November 2012, some 25% of Americans ages 16 and older own tablet computers such as iPads or Kindle Fires, up from 10% who owned tablets in late 2011. And in late 2012 19% of Americans ages 16 and older own e-book reading devices such as Kindles and Nooks, compared with 10% who owned such devices at the same time last year.
The Inspector Morse/Sargent Lewis ITV franchise is to get some color (Observer):
Long-running ITV crime series do not have a strong track record with black actors. Midsomer Murders notoriously came under fire two years ago when its producer, Brian True-May, was suspended for saying that black faces were not right for his popular village mystery series, while Inspector Morse and its prime-time successor Lewis are dominated by white leading characters.

Until now. The new sidekick to take his place in the Oxfordshire police car alongside Lewis is to be played by Gambian actor Babou Ceesay.

The character of DC Alex Gray, who will be introduced to viewers this month, will put the Lewis franchise on a fresh footing, though Ceesay said he had been unaware of the race row until he appeared on set.
Rare color images of the Beatles to go on sale (Telegraph)

From Twitter:
6 Takeaways From Google's Antitrust Settlement via AP
Neil Young moves ahead with plans for his music service

How the Bar Code Took Over the World

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