2008...essiah-complex - %2

Artist Drives Mass Consumption Home

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 6:31 PM EST

handguns.jpg

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Chris Jordan's photo illustrations are worth 200,000 cigarette packs, 170,000 disposable batteries, eight million toothpicks, two million plastic beverage bottles, and 426,000 discarded cell phones. (Not that you can tell from the tiny reproduction, but the image accompanying this item contains 29,569 handguns.) In his humbling exhibit titled "Running the Numbers, An American Self-Portrait" the accomplished Seattle-based artist uses these subjects and others to depict our consumer culture's troubling stats. The smoke-packs illustrate the number of Americans that die every six months from smoking-related illnesses; the batteries represent fifteen minutes worth of Energizer's product output; the toothpicks show the number of trees harvested annually to create mail-order catalogs. You get the picture. So rather than blather on for another thousand words about these fascinating images, perhaps I'd better just send you to look at them.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Is Ron Paul a Bigot?

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 5:37 PM EST

James Kirchick has the Paulites in a fuss. The onetime Marty Peretz assistant (and, some say, political doppelganger) is now a newly-minted TNR assistant editor, and his latest effort is a revealing investigation into Ron Paul's past.

Rumors of Clinton Demise Abound; Let's Take a Deep Breath

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 5:30 PM EST

The Hillary Clinton campaign may be at its nadir. It is reportedly running low on cash, considering skipping the Nevada and South Carolina caucuses because of anticipated losses, and weighing the idea of mixing up its staff at the top level. And on the campaign trail, it seems rudderless and lacking in message. Harold Meyerson spent time with the campaign here in New Hampshire and wrote that it is missing "a theme, an emphasis, a sorting of priorities, a touch of context, some urgency, a larger raison d'etre, a grand -- dare we say, presidential -- purpose."

Anyone who looked all the "inevitable" talk/spin/mythology in the face six months ago and called it phony is unbelievably prescient. But don't count Clinton out. She has a team of politics' best people, and she personally has more grit and resilience than perhaps any other public figure in America. People said McCain was toast last summer, and he will likely cruise to a victory today.

Hillary Clinton might be a better underdog than any of us know. Barack Obama might be a worse frontrunner than any of us know. And Republicans, knowing that Clinton is more polarizing than Obama and thus an easier opponent in the general, might weigh in with a dirty trick to derail Obama.

Update: It doesn't help that Bill Clinton is lashing out in ways that don't seem to be helping.

Stewart and Colbert Return Without the Prompter

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 4:59 PM EST

mojo-photo-stewcolb2.jpg

As the writers' strike continues, Comedy Central stalwarts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's returns to the screen without their scribes last night were highly anticipated. Would they be able to talk, or would they just stare wide-eyed at the screen and stammer helplessly for 30 minutes? Well, both shows were entertaining (if slightly off) and definitely strike-focused, which in the current moment of political frenzy seemed kind of weird.

Patagonia Deconstructs Your Clothes

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 4:34 PM EST

gen2_footprint_site_2.jpg

Okay, I already covet their gear more than is morally good for me. Now Patagonia has launched a cool interactive website called The Footprint Chronicles. At the moment it's more evolving prototype than matured design. Still, it enables you to follow the environmental footprint of a handful of their products. "The impact of an unexamined life is far more serious than it once was—deadly so," says Patagonia, turning their own practices inside out and letting us pick at the seams. Their long-sleeved Wool 2 Crew shirt, for instance, is both environmentally good and bad: good comes from sustainably ranched sheep in New Zealand, dyed without heavy metals, sewn in the US; bad comes from a 16,200-mile-long footprint between New Zealand and Los Angeles via Malaysia and Japan. Not sustainable.

The site is designed to "ignite conversation every bit as much as corporate introspection," and encourages viewer feedback & discussion. "We've been in business long enough to know that when we can reduce or eliminate a harm, other businesses will be eager to follow suit," says Patagonia… Let's hope so.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Record Turnout Predicted Today in New Hampshire

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 4:18 PM EST

The record for turnout in the New Hampshire primary is 393,000, set in 2000, the last time the state had a contested primary for the Democrats and the Republicans in the same year. The current prediction for today's turnout is 500,000, a number pumped upward by clear skies, warm temperatures, and Obamania. The Secretary of State is sending more ballots to Democratic polling places because they have been running out.

Shaping up to be a very, very big day.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Tuesday's Bemusing Music News Day

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 3:56 PM EST

News

  • The Kinks' Dave Davies is denying rumors that the band may reunite; his brother and ex-bandmate Ray had told the press that the band members were considering "getting back together." Dave told NME that he and Ray "haven't even spoken in over 6 months… a tour hasn't even been discussed." Dave suffered a stroke four years ago but has continued a solo career.

  • Rappers Lupe Fiasco and Rhymefest are exchanging a war of words over support for Barack Obama, and of course it's all on their MySpace blogs. Fiasco told hip-hop news site SOHH.com that Obama "doesn't impress me" because of "his agendas the bombing of Iran and all that stuff." When confronted by Fest, Fiasco expressed cynicism about the democratic process: "I have no faith in it."
  • The former Jamaica Broadcasting Corp seems to have lost a "massive collection" of 1970s music, including original recordings by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh as well as videos of historic concerts and events. The archive was apparently stolen, with a former program manager for the JBC calling the theft a "national disgrace."
  • Eminem was in the hospital over the holidays due to complications from pneumonia. Huh?
  • Flu Deaths Run in the Family

    | Tue Jan. 8, 2008 3:45 PM EST

    1918Flu_photo.jpg Everyone gets the flu. Some are more likely to die from it, reports New Scientist. A study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases looked at death certificates and family records going back 100 years and found that blood relatives of flu victims were more likely to die than nonrelatives, even during different flu outbreaks. Risks increased with relatedness: siblings were 74% more likely to die than unrelateds; blood uncles 22%; first cousins 16%. Victims' spouses were also more likely to die, probably because they lived in the same house. The team is tracking relatives of people who died recently to see if they too are at increased risk, and if flu vaccinations help…. Good question.

    Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

    Some Biofuels Worse Than Fossil Fuels

    | Tue Jan. 8, 2008 2:51 PM EST

    bio-fuel_6648.jpg Burning biofuels emits less greenhouse gasses than burning fossil fuels. But producing some biofuels is far more environmentally costly, according to a new study commissioned by the Swiss government and reviewed by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Science. In particular, sugarcane, US corn, Brazilian soy, and Malaysian palm oil may be worse overall than fossil fuels in environmental destruction, pollution, and damage to human health. The new study calculates the relative merits of 26 biofuels based on relative reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions and an environmental-impact index. The best alternatives include biofuels from residual products, such as recycled cooking oil and ethanol from grass or wood… Hmm. What are the chances we can be smart about this?

    Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

    The Danger of Having 'Civilians' Speak at Campaign Events

    | Tue Jan. 8, 2008 10:10 AM EST

    A former Edwards supporter, Francine Torge, introducing Hillary Clinton yesterday in Dover, NH:

    "Some people compare one of the other candidates to John F. Kennedy. But he was assassinated."

    The expected Clinton campaign disavowal came from Phil Singer, a spokesman:

    "We were not aware that this person was going to make those comments and disapprove of them completely. They were totally inappropriate."

    Whoops.