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Twitter

| Sat Dec. 20, 2008 7:56 PM EST

TWITTER....Today the New York Times christens "The Buzzwords of 2008," and one of them is:

This is designed to memorialize all forms of the word Twitter, whatever they may be. So as long as we're on the subject, can someone help me out with the whole twitter phenomenon? I'm pretty used to things that I'm not personally interested in but that I still get (like, say, texting), but twitter is something that I don't even really get. So if you're a twitterer, tell me in comments what you use it for, why you like it, how it makes your life more worth living, etc. I'm just curious.

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Shoes Make the Man

| Sat Dec. 20, 2008 2:21 PM EST

SHOES MAKE THE MAN....Bloomberg is on the case with news you can use. The original shoes tossed at George Bush in Iraq last Sunday may have been destroyed, but there are plenty more where those came from:

The brown, thick-soled "Model 271" may soon be renamed "The Bush Shoe" or "Bye-Bye Bush," Ramazan Baydan, who owns the Istanbul-based producer Baydan Ayakkabicilik San. & Tic., said in a telephone interview today.

....Baydan has received orders for 300,000 pairs of the shoes since the attack, more than four times the number his company sold each year since the model was introduced in 1999. The company plans to employ 100 more staff to meet demand, he said.

....Baydan has received a request for 4,000 pairs from a company called Davidson, based in Maryland. He declined to provide further details.

Maybe Barack Obama needs a pair or two?

Pew Releases "Final Verdict" on Bush

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 9:35 PM EST

As Bush's reign of error winds down, his supporters are working hard to sugarcoat his legacy, first with the Bush legacy project, and then the "Speech Topper on the Bush Record." But as Karl Rove and Bill Kristol recently discovered when arguing against the motion "Bush 43 is the worst president of the last 50 years," it's an uphill battle.

Pew's "final verdict" shows that Americans aren't falling for these last-ditch efforts. That is to say, only 24 percent of Americans currently approve of the administration, down from a high of 86 percent following 9/11.

bush-approval.png

Here are a few highlights, including how George W. compares to Clinton, Bush Sr., and Reagan:

  • Nearly three-quarters of 18-29 year olds disapprove of President Bush, the most of any age group.
  • More than one-third of respondents believe that Bush will go down in history as a poor president, as compared to Clinton (11 percent), Bush Sr. (4 percent), and Reagan (5 percent). (The options were outstanding, above average, average, below average, poor, and don't know.)
  • Approval of state and local government has declined 3 and 4 percent respectively since 2002. The federal government's favorability rating has fallen 36 percent.
  • 83 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Independents, and 33 percent of Republicans believe the Bush administration will be best known for its failures. In 2001, only 13 percent of Democrats, 27 percent of Independents, and 43 percent of Republicans said the same about Clinton.
  • Blacks disapprove of Bush more than whites by a fairly wide margin, 83 to 64 percent. And women disapprove more than men, 70 to 65 percent.
  • Interestingly, college graduates are slightly more approving of Bush than Americans with no college education.

Methane Leaking Into Arctic Ocean

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 7:56 PM EST

800px-East_Siberian_Sea_map.png The carbon pool beneath the Arctic Ocean is leaking. A study on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf found an increase in methane bubbles rising from chimneys on the seafloor in 2008. In fact more than 1,000 measurements registered the highest dissolved methane concentrations ever seen in the summer Arctic Ocean. Methane is a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

These new data from the International Arctic Research Center indicate the underwater permafrost is thawing in one of two (or both) ways. First, thawing permafrost initiates the decomposition of previously-frozen organic material, releasing methane and carbon dioxide. Second, ice-like methane hydrates trapped underneath the permafrost seep out when the permafrost thaws.

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a shallow continental shelf stretching 900 miles into the Arctic Ocean from Siberia. It's known to be a year-round source of methane to the globe's atmosphere. But until recently scientists believed that much of its carbon pool was safely insulated by underwater permafrost. Not anymore. Now the fuse is lit on the methane time bomb. . . . And we're still talking about drilling for new sources of oil? WTF? Listen up Barack Obama: The promised change has gotta be faster than the melting methane.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the PEN USA Literary Award, the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal.

U2 Set to Release New Album in March

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 6:53 PM EST

U2Irish combo U2 will release a new album, No Line on the Horizon, on March 3, the band's label announced yesterday. Horizon was originally expected this year, but there were some false starts: material recorded in 2006 with producer Rick Rubin was tossed, and longtime U2 collaborators and producers Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite were brought back in; then, as the album was nearing the finishing stages, the band decided it needed two more songs. But I guess they finally finished the thing, and Billboard quotes a source as calling the material "amazing and a little out there." Okay!

Horizon will be U2's twelfth studio album, the follow-up to How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which has sold over 9 million copies worldwide since its 2004 release. The band is also planning a 2009 tour as part of its crazy-lucrative stock deal with Live Nation.

After the jump, RX's brilliant edit of George W. Bush doing "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

Christmas Carols Get 8-bit Makeover

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 6:32 PM EST

mojo-8bitsofxmas.gifWhile most music genres race forward, absorbing new sonic technologies like a giant music-box Borg, the 8-bit phenomenon clings proudly to the past—specifically, the restrictive palette of classic computer and video game consoles. Even artists like Beck have seen the appeal of their buzzy, blippy tones; witness the 8-bit remix of "Hell Yes", renamed "Ghettochip Malfunction":

If you liked that, get ready for a very bleepy Christmas.

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One (Really, Really) Cool Thing About Rick Warren

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 5:04 PM EST

I have serious disagreements with the man, but I respect Rick Warren for living out some values that he shares with me and that he likely shares with many readers of this blog. For example:

He reverse tithes, giving away 90% and keeping 10%.

Of course, when Warren publicly preaches against Prop 8, he's living out values that he doesn't share with me. But that little factoid is still pretty awesome. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't do the same if I made what he makes. That's from the Huffington Post, where you'll find a progressive defense of Warren.

Update: Man, this ruins the mood. Gays "unwilling to repent" are banned from Warren's church.

The Coldest Town on Earth

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 4:51 PM EST

If you're miserable because your Friday afternoon is gray and frigid, be thankful you don't live in the Siberian town of Oymyakon (map), where -31 Celcius is the sort of day when kids are happy to go out and play. It is, officially, the coldest continuously inhabited place on Earth.

From A Welsh View, via Boing Boing.

*Friday Cat Blogging - 19 December 2008

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 3:53 PM EST

FRIDAY CRITTER BLOGGING....Since we're now living in the post-partisan Obama era, it's time for cats and dogs to live together. So today you get both. On the right we have Kona, my friend M's German Shepherd. (Right? Looks like a German Shepherd to me, anyway. But I'm not all that handy with dog breeds.) I told M I'd introduce Kona to the blogosphere if she sent me a picture, and this popped into my inbox a couple of days later. An impressive critter indeed.

And you get cats too! Inkblot and Domino are taking the week off again because I was over visiting my mother a few days ago and took lots of pictures of her new kittens. On the left is Lily, the shy one, catching some rays on the window sill. On the right are Ditto and Tillamook, curled up together in a little sibling pile of fur. Ditto is the black-and-white one who looks just like Lily (duh), and he's busily grooming a blissed out Tillamook in this picture. A few minutes later I went upstairs to bring down the Christmas tree, and shortly after that both cats were entranced. No breakable ornaments on the tree this year!

Quote of the Day - End of Year Edition

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 3:32 PM EST

QUOTE OF THE DAY — END OF YEAR EDITION....Top 12 conservative insights of the year here, courtesy of Greg Anrig.