The Null Device
Struggling major record label EMI (you know, the one whom a venture-capital firm bought out a few years ago) has come up with another plan for snatching defeat from the jaws of slightly more prolonged defeat: to cut costs, they are now going to distribute records only to big "one-stop" retailers like Wal-Mart. Independent stores wanting to carry EMI-signed artists (like, say, Sigur Rós or M83) will now have to send someone down to Wal-Mart to pick the records up at the retail price. Of course, anyone wanting non-current back-catalogue material not likely to be found on the shelves of a big-box retailer is out of luck. Way to go, EMI.
The BBC is making a TV "comedy drama" about the rivalry between the ZX Spectrum and the BBC Micro. Or, more precisely, between their makers. The working title is "Syntax Era", and it will start Martin "Arthur Dent" Freeman as the BBC Micro's creator, Chris Curry.
Soviet Russian national airline, has not traditionally been an airline associated with quality or customer service, to say the least. But now, all that's about to change:
Travellers report mixed experiences on Aeroflot, with reasonable service and new planes on flights to western Europe and the US, but horror stories about flights to other destinations. "On flights to London the service is okay," said a British accountant working in Moscow. "But I recently flew Aeroflot to Warsaw, and it was a nightmare. The seatbelt on my chair was broken, the crew were rude and spoke virtually no English, and the only meal option was an unspecified 'meat'. When I asked what kind of meat it was, they simply shrugged."
As part of the retraining, a number of Aeroflot hostesses have been sent to Singapore to receive training from Singapore Airlines. "The passenger is always right!" said Mr Savelyev, voicing a concept that often seems to be alien to Russian flight crews. "We have fired a lot of stewardesses for being rude to passengers," he admitted.The changes promise to bring Aeroflot into the 21st century, or, at the very leat, the early 1970s:
The new Aeroflot CEO Vitaly Savelyev said all new stewardesses would be "very striking, very eye-catching girls", who would not exceed Russian size 48 – roughly a British size 12.
The legend of aerial misogyny was born in the 1960s and '70s, when airlines would routinely use the glamour of their air hostesses as a selling point. Many airlines had "no-marriage" rules for their female staff. "Being beautiful isn't enough," American Airlines proudly said. "We don't mean it isn't important. It just isn't enough." Meanwhile, the now-defunct National Airlines ran a series of ads with a pouting stewardess proclaiming: "I'm Mandy. Fly Me." As the world moved on, the term "air hostess" was replaced with the gender neutral "flight attendant". But recently some suspect sexism has crept back into the industry's advertising. Virgin drew 29 complaints over an ad campaign in which passengers gawped at a glamorous all-female flight-crew. Ryanair even published an all-female calendar of its flight attendants – wearing bikinis.I wonder whether they'll keep their charmingly anachronistic flying hammer-and-sickle logo.