Dave Gilson

Senior Editor

San Francisco native, word wrangler, data cruncher, chart drawer, pun maker. Recent areas of interest: campaign finance, income inequality, prison riots.

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Dave Gilson has worked at Mother Jones since 2003. Previously, he worked for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and the Northern California bureau of the New York Times.

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What's Really Inside Your iPhone?

| Wed Mar. 31, 2010 4:10 AM PDT

In just three days, the Apple iPad arrives, buoyed by breathless talk of saving magazines, killing the Kindle, and bringing portable porn to the masses. Steve Jobs' latest gadget may indeed prove revolutionary, but what's inside it is anything but. The iPad, like the iPhone, iPod, and virtually every other electronic device out there, is packed with components whose cutting-edge applications mask their often-sketchy origins. For our current issue, I deconstructed an iPhone 3GS' guts and found that if they could talk, they might tell tales of conflict minerals from Congo, sweatshop labor, environmentally damaging mining, and e-waste. That might not keep you from shelling out for your next favorite gizmo. Just don't expect it to be filled with solar-power unicorns. Click here to learn more about where your electronics' "killer apps" really come from.   

Mr. Tufte Goes to Washington

| Mon Mar. 8, 2010 4:26 PM PST

On Friday, the White House crowned its latest czar: Edward Tufte was named to the newly created Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, making him the Obama administration's unofficial data visualization guru, at least for all things stimulus-related. That's exciting news for graphics and data geeks, who generally revere Tufte as an evangelist of clean yet complex information design, the inventor of sparklines, and the sworn enemy of chartjunk and slideware. For non-geeks who need a translation: He's good at drawing charts. Plus, Tufte has some experience cutting through visual bureaucracy: He did risk-assessment work for NASA following the Challenger and Columbia explosions, concluding that the agency's unthinking reliance on bullet points and PowerPoint helped bring down the Space Shuttles. So what can E.T. (as the faithful call him) do for an administration that, for all its messaging failures, is pretty good at tooting its horn in chart form? His advisory panel is tasked with explaining the use and abuse recovery funds. On his website, Tufte is vague, saying that "I'm doing this because I like accountability and transparency." At the very least, let's hope Tufte uses his time in D.C. to drum up some support for bipartisan chart reform so we never again have to see an abomination like this:

Video: Five Minutes With Michael Moore

| Sat Mar. 6, 2010 5:30 AM PST

Sure, the timing for Capitalism: A Love Story couldn't have been better, but otherwise it's been a rough year for Michael Moore. The re-regulation of Wall Street is spinning its wheels on Capitol Hill while folks in cities like Flint and Janesville are barely making ends meet. Not to mention that his dream of universal health care, expressed in his previous film Sicko, has flatlined. "I don't know what to do! I've never really felt this level of despair," Moore chuckled earlier this week during a quick video chat in advance of Capitalism's DVD release. The Academy Award-winning director and former MoJo editor had plenty to say about why he's more disheartened by the past couple of years than eight years of Bush, his ideas for reforming Washington, D.C., and how the Tea Party has stolen the populist mantle from lefties like himself. And on a lighter note, he also talked about some of his favorite films of 2009 (Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Up in the Air) and some recent documentaries he wishes had gotten Oscar nods. Check it out.

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