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Saturday, August 20, 2011

This Week's Media Highlights

Neil Byrne - a very sexy Irish singer, now one of the singers in Celtic Thunder. He's been involved with Celtic Thunder already as a musician and back-vocals, and obviously plays several instruments very well. His 4-track debut album, Sensitive Souls, was released in 2010, and he has been busily making more music since then. I do wish his debut album had been longer. His music videos for "Sadie Jones and I" and at least one other song are available on youtube and elsewhere and are well worth watching. "Sadie Jones and I" and the song on this video recorded with Declan O'Donoghue are both quite catchy and addictive.

Now that Netflix has it available streaming, I finally got my sister to watch The Secret of Moonacre. This is a fantasy film, starring Ioan Gryffydd as the uncle and new guardian of a newly orphaned girl. Unicorns, magical curses, and a family feud set the stage for the girl's quest to save the valley of Moonacre. It is family-friendly, and has plenty of moralizing, about pride and forgiveness, greed, and respecting the gifts of nature, but these morals are couched tolerably well in a beautifully rendered fairy story. The good guys aren't all good, the bad guys aren't all bad, and the orphaned fairy princess is not a helpless damsel-in-distress. Add in Ioan Gryffydd and this is definitely a great fantasy film.

Language in the British Isles, edited by David Britain. This book is great fun for any anglophile with a penchant for British accents. I'm sure there are other books out there that lay out British accents in systematic form, but this book is actually readable and enjoyable without a linguistics degree. I doubt I could reproduce a thick Scottish brogue just from reading a book, but armed with a book like this I might at least know what to listen for to be less inaccurate with my own phony accents.

Cyber Chiefs: Autonomy and Authority in Online Tribes, by Mathieu O'Neil. Any book about the Internet is bound to be a bit outdated after 2 years, and this one is no exception, but while it might need updating soon, the basic arguments are pretty sound. This author is looking at the patterns of authority and power within online groups, and uses several case studies including wikipedia. He examines different forms of authority that occur online, and the interactions between offline and online authority, along with the extent to which decentralized authority works out. After one read-through I am not exactly convinced of any of his particular arguments- much of what he says seems pretty commonplace, for one thing, and maybe an author who grew up with Internet would come up with different, more sophisticated analysis in some places. Still, understanding how people interact in virtual spaces might shed some more light on human nature in general, and this book is a good starting place for thinking about some of the issues in this area.

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