Blogs

New Pyramid Scheme Traps Wastes & Tourists

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 9:49 PM EDT

800px-All_Gizah_Pyramids.jpg Here's a whacky idea you gotta love. A Dutch engineer suggests solidifying toxic wastes into concretelike slabs and building urban pyramids that trap wastes and tourists alike. Schuiling rightly suggests that it's dangerous and unsustainable to simply bury solid toxic waste in lined deposits underground, the current best practice. He says such waste should first be immobilized by mixing with a cement and immobilizing additives to reduce the possibility of toxic materials leaching into the earth and ground water. Cities could vie for the best ways to display their neutered toxins:

Great and award-winning works of art have been made from the most outlandish of materials from Chris Ofili's depiction of the Holy Virgin Mary encrusted with elephant dung and Damien Hirst's pickled tiger shark representing life and death to the unmade bed of Tracey Emin and the unspeakable bodily fluids of avant garde duo Gilbert & George. But all of these works will pale into insignificance if a plan to dispose of solid domestic and even toxic industrial waste by building solid monuments to waste is undertaken.

Brings to mind those municipal "art" projects (cows on parade, party animals), where many of the same blank sculptures are decorated by different stoners, er, artists. Think of it. Pyramids jauntily decorated with skull-and-crossbones, international biohazard symbols, warning signs, or logos of corporate polluters. Although if you really want to trap tourists, giant halftone images of fallen celebrities, or laser light show screens.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal Award.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

European CO2 Cuts Working

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 8:23 PM EDT

eu_Img.jpg Listen up, slacker senators. The EU's "cap-and-trade" system for carbon dioxide is working well and has had little or no negative impact on the overall EU economy. This according to an analysis for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change by MIT researchers. They conclude that although the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (pdf) was fast-tracked 3 years ago to criticism of its wobbly start, it quickly worked out its own kinks. A. Denny Ellerman, senior lecturer in the MIT Sloan School of Management, suggests the system doesn't need to be in perfect working order before start up. "Obviously you're better off having things all settled and worked out before it gets started," he said. "But that certainly wasn't the case in Europe, and yet a transparent and widely accepted price for CO2 emission allowances emerged rapidly, as did a functioning market and the infrastructure to support it. This important public policy experiment is not perfect, but it is far more than any other nation or set of nations has done to control greenhouse-gas emissions—and it works surprisingly well."

Okay, if I believed in the Imaginary Friend I might be inclined to say God Bless Europe. Instead, how about, thanks, and may our next president and our next Congress look to the Old World now and again for better ways to build a new one.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal Award.

Study: Canadian Musicians Would Like You to Pick Up the Tab

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 7:45 PM EDT

mojo-photo-canadaguitar.jpg

The average Canadian musician makes only $16,500 ($16,000 US) per year from their craft and is largely against free file sharing, according to a survey of 700 musicians conducted by Pollara, a Toronto-based research firm. The survey was released as part of a new report on the Canadian music sector conducted by Dr. Douglas Hyatt of the Rotman School of Business in Toronto. The survey found that with retail sales of music declining, Canadian musicians typically make around $25,000 ($24,555 US), but pay $8,300 in expenses.

- Billboard

The study also found that, when broken down into categories, "expenses" included the following:

-- Molson's: $5700
-- Donuts at Tim Horton's: $1200
-- Trying to keep warm by burning crumpled bills: $650
-- Replacing antique bar lamp after getting a little excited during guitar solo at a gig in Edmonton: $350
-- Poutine: $250
-- Rush box set: $130
-- Arcade Fire T-shirt: $20
-- Health care: FREE!

So, do your Vancouver guitarist buddy a solid and give him 99 cents for an mp3 today. That's only 97 cents US!

Vishnu Ad Death Threats? An Onion Editor Responds.

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 7:39 PM EDT

onion%20vishnu%20150x300.jpgThe Onion's website recently featured a four-armed, blue-hued Vishnu incarnated as a serenely multitasking Indian call center operator. Thank Allah that Onion editors had enough sense not to exploit images of the prophet Muhammad instead to hawk its latest hardback collection of ironic misinformation.

But although there are no bombed embassies to speak of, the Onion ad has sparked controversy among Indian journalists.

"Instead of finding something that we could all laugh along with, the Onion seems content in giving us something sufficiently exotic that some of us can laugh at," writes one commenter on the South Asian Journalists Association's online forum.

"Perhaps some of us have gotten too comfortable here in the US to truly understand what is happening back home and instead respond with the cliche "offended minority" reaction," writes another.

I asked Onion editorial manager Chet Clem if he received any death threats in response to the Vishnu house ad. His response:

CD Review: Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 6:36 PM EDT

mojo-photo-lilwaynecarter.jpgDelays are never, ever a good sign. If the release of your highly-anticipated creative work keeps getting pushed back, it's pretty much a given that when it finally emerges, it'll be bloated and uneven, overcooked in spots and raw in others. I'd hoped mixtape master Lil Wayne would prove the exception to this rule, but the long-delayed Tha Carter III (in stores today) is more mixed bag than mixtape, with brief hints of the head-spinning magic that made his bootleg releases so exciting marred by dull (if financially successful) attempts at mainstream appeal.

Evangelicals Hold Their Breaths as Baptism Numbers Drop

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 4:55 PM EDT
moral-majority250.jpg

In our current issue Debra Dickerson writes approvingly of Christine Wicker's new book, The Fall of the Evangelical Nation, which makes the case that evangelical Christians are not as multitudinous as they—or the media and the religious right—have made themselves out to be. In her number crunching, Wicker found that the Southern Baptists have been making some generous estimates of their flock: They've claimed to be 16 million strong, but she estimates the real number of devoted churchgoers is 4 million or fewer. Now, USA Today reports, there are new indications that the church is losing demographic ground:

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Top 10: Animal Planet Does Father's Day

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 4:45 PM EDT

Animal Planet is celebrating Father's Day with an A-List of Nature's Best Dads.

Top contenders include the golden jackal (monogamous), the seahorse (pregnant), and the Emperor penguin, (good with kids).

But is the lion, (fiercely protective) really a "better" father than Eastern grey squirrels, which routinely eat their young?

Here's hoping Animal Planet will continue anthropomorphizing all year—plenty of holidays await!

Perhaps a special on financially responsible animals (those beavers, saving up all that wood) for April 15? A drone bee retrospective for Labor Day?—Daniel Luzar

Fun With Excel: How Has Age Played In Presidential Elections Since 1789?

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 4:19 PM EDT

There's already been some good examination of how much the age gap between John McCain and Barack Obama will matter in November. ThingsYoungerThanMcCain.com, for example, is doing the yeoman's work of listing the many, many items—like lubricated condoms and the LP record—that are younger than McCain.

And the folks at the Pew Research Center conducted a poll in February that found 26 percent of registered voters think John McCain is too old to be president (the number jumps to 32 percent when voters are told that McCain is 71).

We know that Barack Obama will be 47 on election day and McCain will be 72, meaning that 2008 will see a larger age gap between the top two presidential candidates than any of the previous 55 presidential elections. So here's my question: how has age played in presidential elections in the past? Let's look at a chart (takeaways at the bottom):

Brazen McCain Flip-Flop on the Estate Tax

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 1:46 PM EDT

The Wonk Room has a good catch.

McCain in September 2005:

"I follow the course of a great Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, who talked about the malefactors of great wealth and gave us the estate tax. I oppose the rich passing on fortunes."

McCain yesterday:

"The estate tax is one of the most unfair tax laws on the books."

This of course compliments McCain's biggest tax flip flop. Back when he cared more about principle and less about winning elections, he was against the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Now he's for them, and more.

Former McCain flip-flops here and here.

Should We Care About the First Mrs. McCain?

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 1:33 PM EDT

The UK Daily Mail recently posted a rare interview with Carol Shepp McCain, a woman eager to join the largely forgettable ranks—Hannah Van Buren, anyone?—of almost-first ladies.

So here's what Carol broke her silence to say:

Carol insists she remains on good terms with her ex-husband, who agreed as part of their divorce settlement to pay her medical costs for life. 'I have no bitterness,' she says. 'My accident is well recorded. I had 23 operations, I am five inches shorter than I used to be and I was in hospital for six months. It was just awful, but it wasn't the reason for my divorce.

Yep, scintillating stuff indeed.

Your call as to whether or not some journalist will be able to extract a negative word from the former Mrs. McCain this election cycle. They'll certainly keep trying.

—Daniel Luzer