2007 - %3, October

Just Say No, Ewan McGregor

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 9:44 PM EDT

Jeff Stark's short, Desserts, starring Ewan McGregor. Warning: kinda graphic, not for the squeamish or sweet-toothed. Warning for ADD viewers: slow paced, until . . . well, you'll see.

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

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Scared Yet? Atmospheric CO2 Levels Growing - Correction, Exploding - Faster Than Imagined

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 8:21 PM EDT

53616c7465645f5f20a59e5ebdd0818648f60e9ae43394d487a319f45e9e54bd.jpg Just in case anyone out there is deluded into thinking we're actually making progress on this issue because it's in the occasional headline, or, now and again, mentioned by a jaw-wagging politician. Here's the latest: Atmospheric carbon dioxide growth has increased 35 percent faster than expected since 2000.

The findings by the British Antarctic Survey and others, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that inefficiency in the use of fossil fuels drove up atmospheric CO2 by 17 percent since 2000. At the same time, the declining efficiency of natural land and ocean sinks drove it up another 18 percent.

The research shows that improvements in the carbon intensity of the global economy have stalled since 2000, after improving for 30 years, due to population growth and the growing global wealth. The decline in global sink efficiency, according to author Dr Corinne Le Qéré, "suggests that stabilization of atmospheric CO2 is even more difficult to achieve than previously thought. We found that nearly half of the decline in the efficiency of the ocean CO2 sink is due to the intensification of the winds in the Southern Ocean".

Hold onto your hats, peeps.

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

California Fires From Space

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 6:55 PM EDT

Here a couple of different perspectives on the wildfires in SoCal. One via Space.com from the International Space Station:

031028_iss_fire_04.jpg

These from NASA's MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center, taken three hours and 15 minutes apart, 21 Oct, show how the Santa Ana winds fanned embers into firestorms:

firenasa.jpg

Wondering where else is burning just now on our warming planet? Interested in the link between mega-fires and climate change? Take a look at the last 10 days. Yellow areas mark fire clusters:

firemap.2007281-2007290.600x300.jpg

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

Massive Voting Fraud in Texas State Legislature

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 6:23 PM EDT

On the blog of the inimitable Lawrence Lessig, we find this gem:

Ya burnt, Texas!

Your Friendly Guide to Crazy New Musical Genres

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 6:18 PM EDT

mojo-photo-genres.jpg

If language, as William S. Burroughs said, is a virus, then music is its most virulent and mutable form, infecting you and transforming itself until suddenly everyone you know is dancing to gabber. Especially in the fast-paced, often producer-centric worlds of hip-hop and dance music, new genres seem to pop up faster than coked-up journalists can assign them names. Here's some names you might have seen tossed around lately, with my completely scientific ratings of their legitimacy as truly "different" than music that came before and their potential for longevity.

US Customs Returns Death Cab for Cutie Bassist's Hard Drive

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 5:04 PM EDT

mojo-photo-chriswalla.JPGThey give it a "6.4." No, seriously, this is kind of odd: last month, a hard drive containing music files belonging to Death Cab bassist Chris Walla was seized by U.S. Customs officials when a studio employee tried to take it back into Washington State from Canada. The story started to make the rounds last week, with Walla joking about his hard drive being "waterboarded" and wondering aloud if the overtly political content of some of the songs might pose a problem. Well that got a Customs guy all perturbed: MTV News quotes representative Mike Milne as saying Walla's comments to the press "got my ire up," that the hard drive was only seized because of commercial merchandise paperwork issues, and besides, they'd been trying to return it. Wow, a couple news stories come out, and suddenly Homeland Security is a service-oriented organization.

Barsuk Records founder Josh Rosenfeld doesn't believe that the album's political content had anything to do with the seizure—after all, how could they have listened to the files beforehand?—but finds the random seizure of personal property a bit disturbing, saying "this is a case of a U.S. artist who went into Canada to record and then wanted to bring the fruits of that recording back home... it doesn't seem like a commercial product to me." Well, in any event, they had master tapes, and the album is coming out on schedule, and now, as Rosenfeld says, "at least everyone knows Chris Walla has a solo record coming out." Hmm, now who's the conspiracy theorist?

Advertise on MotherJones.com

God Bless You, Jonathan Stein

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 4:25 PM EDT

There's one thing that can't be disputed about the evangelicals who attended the Family Research Council's "Values Voters Summit" in Washington D.C. this past weekend: they are all wonderfully nice people. They may view homosexuals as abominations of nature; they may want to run the United States based on biblical dictates; and they may see immigrants as a corruption of American culture, but they will wish God's blessing upon you a million times over.

As a reporter from Mother Jones at the event, I needed all the blessings I could get. My employer was a constant source of amusement to the attendees I spoke with.

"Who are you with?" asked a heavy-set attendee from Texas who I chatted with outside a Sam Brownback book signing.

"Mother Jones magazine," I said. "It's a national magazine covering prog—"

He cut me off before I could finish. "I read Mother Jones in college," he said, grinning. "Back when I was around your age, I believe. What did Winston Churchill say? 'A young man who is not a liberal is heartless, an old man who is not a conservative….'" He started laughing. I started laughing. Turns out, the end of the quote is "is an idiot" or "is a fool"—the Churchill Centre says the quote is a false attribution, so end it however you please.

Later, as I was perusing books like Last Days Madness and The Criminalization of Christianity, a skinny man standing nearby spotted my press pass and made a beeline in my direction. "Can I introduce you to a candidate?" he asked, pressing a piece of campaign literature into my hand. "Daniel Gilbert, a fourth-tier candidate who believes ordinary citizens should run against professional politicians and win. A strong conservative." I paused to read the handout, but hadn't gotten past the quote "I love America" before the man asked me what news outlet I was with.

How Often Have You Thought, I Wish I Could Reach Two Shotguns While Lying in Bed?

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 3:33 PM EDT

In case the natives attack...

"It's the smartest money you'll spend in your life." Smarter than paying for college, for example. Or a 401k.

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

Obama and McClurkin: Two for Which Road?

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 3:28 PM EDT

Under siege by the seemingly unstoppable Sen. Clinton, is Senator Obama's campaign heading toward incoherence?

The same man who's worked hard, even bravely, to bring open but tolerant religiosity to Democratic politics, who ventured into Christian, hard right territory for an AIDS conference at Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback church, who underwent a public AIDS test there to help de-stigmatize the disease in black eyes and who surely has heard about the black church's newfound dedication to combatting AIDS - that guy is barnstorming with Donnie McClurkin, gospel star, pastor to the black elite and crusading homophobe? What on earth is he thinking? Like Bill Clinton in his day, Obama is supposed to be the smartest, most intellectual guy in the bunch but this move is dumb as a rock, transparent as Britney Spears' clothes, cynical and desperate. Times are hard for a former super star whose best case scenario now is to argue sloppy staff work.

The normally restrained commentator, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, has lost it over this move and I can't say I blame him, though I'm too busy being confused to move on to anger. Hutchinson notes:

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama ripped a page straight from the Bush campaign playbook with his announced upcoming three date barnstorm tour through South Carolina with notorious gay basher, gospel singer Donnie McClurkin. The Grammy winning black gospel singer's last effort on the political scene was his song and shill for Bush's reelection at the Republican National Convention in 2004. Obama has hitched his string to McClurkin's high flying gay bash kite in part out of religious belief (he purports to be somewhat of an evangelical), in bigger part because he's falling further and further behind Hillary Clinton with the black vote in South Carolina and everywhere else, and in the biggest part of all because he hopes that what worked for Bush's reelection will work for him. Enter McClurkin. He's black, he's popular, and gospel plays big with blacks in South Carolina, especially black evangelicals, and many of them openly and even more of them quietly loathe gays.

Perhaps like this minister who also practices restorative, religious 'therapy' to cure gays who said in defense of McClurkin: "Telling any child that he or she is born gay and cannot change is a death sentence. Gay activists and their blind allies in the mental health, medical and educational professions have blood on their hands for condemning young people to a life mined with such suffering and disease."

So, this guy is sharing a stage with this guy?

If McClurkin doesn't suddenly come down with a sudden "schedule overlap" and 'voluntarily' cancel this appearance (he's not singing at all of them), we'll know that Senator Obama still isn't quite soup yet. If he was smart enough to distance himself from his controversial minister and to even quit smoking, let's see if he's smart enough to get himself out of this one or if he's going to pander to black intolerance.

NASA: You Can't Handle the Truth on Air Safety

| Mon Oct. 22, 2007 3:20 PM EDT

Via AMERICAblog, check out this story:

Anxious to avoid upsetting air travelers, NASA is withholding results from an unprecedented national survey of pilots that found safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than the government previously recognized.
NASA gathered the information under an $8.5 million safety project, through telephone interviews with roughly 24,000 commercial and general aviation pilots over nearly four years. Since ending the interviews at the beginning of 2005 and shutting down the project completely more than one year ago, the space agency has refused to divulge the results publicly.
Just last week, NASA ordered the contractor that conducted the survey to purge all related data from its computers.
The Associated Press learned about the NASA results from one person familiar with the survey who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to discuss them.
A senior NASA official, associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke, said revealing the findings could damage the public's confidence in airlines and affect airline profits. Luedtke acknowledged that the survey results "present a comprehensive picture of certain aspects of the U.S. commercial aviation industry."

Inspires confidence, no?