Dave Gilson

Senior Editor

Senior editor at Mother Jones. Obsessive generalist, word wrangler, data cruncher, pun maker.

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

Howard Zinn, R.I.P.

| Wed Jan. 27, 2010 8:04 PM EST

Historian Howard Zinn has died at age 87. Zinn was best known for A People's History of the United States, which turned the glossy, textbook version of American history on its head by pointing out that far from being an unbroken chain of political and economic progress, our history was one of conflict along class, racial, and gender lines. Though Zinn's radical, bottom-up approach cast aside the America-first tone of mainstream texts, it was still guided by a deep sense of commitment to what he saw as often-neglected American ideals. As he wrote in 2004, "History, looked at under the surface, in the streets and on the farms, in GI barracks and trailer camps, in factories and offices, tells a different story. Whenever injustices have been remedied, wars halted, women and blacks and Native Americans given their due, it has been because 'unimportant' people spoke up, organized, protested, and brought democracy alive." Still in print after 30 years, A People's History has removed the scales from many an undergrad's eyes, and has won its fair share of famous admirers, from Viggo Mortensen to Matt Damon (who name-dropped it in Good Will Hunting and just opened a stage adapation of it.) For more of Zinn's recent writing and thinking, see this 2005 interview or his commencement address at Spelman College, where he was fired in 1963 for—amazingly—his civil rights activism.

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Filipino Prisoners vs. Michael Jackson, Part 2

| Tue Jan. 26, 2010 12:33 PM EST

The King of Pop is gone, but the Filipino prisoners who became an online hit with their faithful recreation of his "Thriller" video are back. Michael Jackson was reportedly a fan of the Cebu Provincial Detention And Rehabilitation Center dancers, and now his choreographer has taught them the routines from his posthumous concert flick, This Is It. It's pretty slick, but not real exciting unless you like giant human peace symbols made up of guys half-assedly fist pumping. Compared with the exuberant original, the thrill is gone.

Econundrum: 10 Free Eco-Apps for Your iPhone

| Mon Jan. 18, 2010 7:00 AM EST

At last count, there were more than 100,000 applications for the iPhone. The vast majority are useless timesucks, but a few are environmentally-minded timesucks. Here are 10 free ones that are be worth taking a break from playing Tap Tap Revenge to check out:

iRecycle: Looking for a place to drop off tough-to-recycle stuff like bubble wrap or tennis balls? Type in your debris of choice and iRecycle will list nearby disposal spots. It can even suggest resting places for your iPhone—just in case it breaks after falling from your cold, dead hands. (If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, EcoFinder is an excellent alternative.)

GoodGuide: This app's built-in bar-code scanner is pretty nifty. Snap the UPC symbol on, say, a box of cereal, and voila—you'll get its scores from GoodGuide, a website that rates products' health, environmental, and social impacts. You can also search its online database of more than 70,000 items.

Seafood Watch: A handy app for getting the dirt on the catch of the day, sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Includes a sushi guide filled with dismaying facts such as the true origins of unagi. Eel farms? Say it isn't so!

Label Lookup: Eco-labels are supposed to make shopping easier, but they can be downright baffling. This app from the Natural Resources Defense Council makes it easy to look-up labels on the fly and get a quick sense of which ones are the real deal and which ones are covering something up. (Or just print and save MoJo's eco-label guide.)

Al Gore Gets His Own Font

| Mon Jan. 11, 2010 5:09 PM EST

He didn't invent the Internet, but Al Gore does have the power to redesign typefaces at will. Typotheque, the foundry that created Brioni, recently got an interesting call from the designers of Gore's upcoming climate-change book, Our Choice. The pages were being laid out in Brioni, and the former VP had a teeny problem with it:

“Basically, he wants you to change the numeral one.”

“Interesting”, I said. “And how did he come to this conclusion?”

“Well, in the book there’re a lot of examples of scientific nomenclature and this particular numeral one is causing confusion when it’s combined with capitals.”

Sure enough, Gore was right. So Typotheque changed its typeface—not just for Gore, but everyone who uses it.

Now if only Gore could rid the world of Papyrus. Or implement a cap and trade system to phase out Comic Sans...

The Bonus Boom

| Mon Jan. 11, 2010 8:00 AM EST

If you want to know how Wall Street coasted through the recession, make sure you check out MoJo's Kevin Drum and David Corn's recent chat with Bill Moyers. But if you want the short version, check out these charts and infographics from our current issue. We've crunched the numbers on the real size of the bailout (try $14 trillion and counting), how Wall Street barons lined their nests while the sky fell around them, federal aid for the lenders behind the subprime mess, and Big Finance's favorite members of Congress. And there's more (see below). Make sure you've taken your blood pressure meds first. 


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