Sam Baldwin

Sam Baldwin

Online Editor

Sam Baldwin is a former Online Editor of Mother Jones.

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The Onion Sells Itself to China, and a New Comedic Genre Is Born

| Thu Jul. 23, 2009 1:26 PM EDT

As you may have heard, The Onion has been sold to the Chinese. Not really, of course, but you could be fooled by their site this week. It's a much-needed comedic shot in the arm after the recent sad news that their California print editions are shutting down.

The funniest bit isn't actually any of the China-related content on the Onion homepage, but the website they set up for their fake Chinese parent company, Yuwanmei Amalgamated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Corp. From the "Company History":

Founded in 1998 without incident or legal complication, what is now a glorious 300,000-square-foot processing center began as a humble 230,000-square-foot warehouse.

Clicking through the Yuwanmei website I can't help but think that we're witnessing the birth of a new—and potentially game-changing—comedic genre: the fake website. While fraud and deception are nothing new to the internet, and fake websites have been sometimes innovative promotional tools for movies and TV, the culture is still barely scratching the surface. Besides the Chinese Onion, the best example I've come across is an extensive spoof website featuring the comedian Charlie Murphy as Leroy Smith, the man who motivated Michael Jordan. Nike is apparently behind this project, which explains the bells and whistles, like the Leroy Smith video game. The ease with which this stuff can go viral (Leroy's website comes fully equipped with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and iPhone apps) has to have entertainment execs salivating.

Look for Hollywood to follow the lead of the website for the new Apatow flick, "Funny People", which features long fake trailers for the fake movies its protagonists star in.

Have a favorite fake website? Leave your links in the comments. But first, watch a video of Charlie Murphy (yes, Eddie's brother) as Leroy Smith, the man who motivated Michael Jordan, after the break.

Update: The Onion has taken it even farther than I had realized. Check out the Yu Wan-Mei Corp. Twitter feed (h/t to commenter Yu Wan Mei).

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How the ICE Kept This Man Locked Up for 7 Months

Immigration and Customs Enforcement used a ridiculous legal argument to keep a reporter behind bars and separated from his son for seven months.

| Mon Jul. 13, 2009 1:35 PM EDT

To those of you that have not already read "We Bring Fear," Chuck Bowden's amazing piece on the plight of Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, well, get on it. For everyone else,  I thought I'd share with you how Immigration and Customs Enforcement used a ridiculous legal argument to keep Emilio behind bars and separated from his son for seven months.

Mother Jones obtained a copy of one of the rejection letters sent to Emilio and his lawyer, Carlos Spector, after they requested Emilio's parole. (See annotated version below). In it, Robert Jolicoeur, Field Office Director at the El Paso center where Emilio was detained, claims that Emilio failed to meet 4 of the 5 criteria required for asylum applicants to receive parole. But the grounds are bogus, as you'll notice—and this is an example of what Carlos Spector referred to as the "Guantanimization of the refugee process." (It's a dirty little secret that during the Bush years asylum applicants from Mexico were held indefinitely to discourage them from pursuing their asylum claims.) The nonprofit Human Rights First released a great report on refugee Guantanimization in April: "U.S. Detention of Asylum Seeks: Seeking Protection, Finding Prison."

See Emilio's actual rejection letter and read a debunking of each provision after the break.

Video: Reporter Emilio Gutiérrez Soto Speaks

| Tue Jul. 7, 2009 3:22 PM EDT

Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, the persecuted Mexican journalist who is Chuck Bowden's subject in the current issue of Mother Jones, recently spoke with the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders. Emilio was detained for 7 months by the ICE after he arrived at the border seeking asylum last June. He is now staying with friends in Las Cruces, still waiting for both a temporary work permit and his asylum trial.

Even These Guys Want to Legalize It!

| Mon Jul. 6, 2009 2:32 PM EDT

In Kevin Drum's excellent "Patriot's Guide to Legalization" he estimates that "Ten years from now, as the flower power generation enters its 70s, you might finally be able to smoke a fully legal, taxed, and regulated joint."

10 years!?!? That's way too long! Too long for Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, our national forests, the overcrowded prison system, the southern border, 259 US cities, and the entire country of Mexico.

Who, exactly, are the forces aligned against the decriminalization of marijuana? Who makes it politically untenable for politicians to sign on to bills like the one California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced? Somewhat surprisingly, it isn't the intellectual right. On the most recent episode of the McLaughlin Group, conservatives Rich Lowry and Monica Crowley agreed with their more liberal co-panelists in coming out for the decriminalization of marijuana. At one point during the discourse John McLaughlin rattles off a long list of prominent conservative and mainstream intellectuals—William Buckley, George Schultz, Milton Friedman, Walter Cronkite—all of whom supported decriminalization. Sure, Monica Crowley stills mouths off some BS about how pot is a gateway drug, but that's more than made up for when Lowry recalls a colleague of his for whom cannabis provided the only relief from chemo. This all comes in the wake of the Cato Institute's publication of Glenn Greenwald's report on the success of drug decriminalization in Portugal.

Watch the McLaughlin Group duke it out, and by duke it out I mean totally agree with each other, after the jump.

The Internet Can Boil Pasta and Heat My Home Too!

| Thu Jun. 25, 2009 5:22 PM EDT

Last November, in our "Top 20 Econudrums," we asked whether it was more environmentally friendly to read the paper in print or online. It's a question with a surprising answer: As it turns out, it's often greener to read dead trees. This is true largely because of the giant environmental impact of servers. But thanks to some techies in Zurich, that could change soon.

Here's a little background: Server farms—also known as data centers—are the enormous housing facilities that make the internet possible. A single Google data center, in Oregon consumes as much energy as a city of 200,000. That's because servers not only have to be on 24/7, they need to be kept cool 24/7.  Up to 50 percent of the power they use is just to keep them from melting down.  Overall, the internet is responsible for 2% of global carbon emissions, about the same as the aviation industry.  And as the internet becomes increasingly prevalent in China and India, well, that means a whole lot more Xiaonei pages and Orkut accounts that will need hosting.

So it is good news, nay, great news, that the IBM lab in Zurich has developed a new cooling technology by attaching teeny-weeny water pipes to the surface of each computer chip in a server. Water is piped within microns of the chip to cool it down, then the waste water is piped out hot enough to make a cup of Ramen, heat a building, or keep a swimming pool warm. The new cooling system will reduce the carbon footprint of servers by 85 percent and the energy use by 40 percent. If this technology were in MoJo's office we could ditch the electric tea kettle and just go to the server closet to steep our chai. Check out a video of the technology after the break.

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