Blogs

Pineapple Express Ad Propels M.I.A. Into Top 40

| Fri Aug. 1, 2008 5:07 PM EDT

You've seen the ads (if not, click "play" above). The latest Seth Rogen/Judd Apatow adventure, this time with a slightly darker sensibility, is called Pineapple Express. From the commercials, it looks to be some sort of tale about drugs or witnessing a drug-related murder or being on the run from thugs who saw you witnessing the murder, or something. But apparently nobody's paying attention to the images, they're only listening to the music: most of the spot is soundtracked by M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," a Clash-sampling and Wreckx N Effect-referencing track from last year's Kala, and based on this exposure alone, the song has rocketed up the charts. It's up to #4 on iTunes today, and based almost entirely on these online sales, it broke into the official Billboard charts, climbing to #36 this week. Holy moley, M.I.A.'s Top 40!

After the jump: is it just cause you're all baked?

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What's in Anti-Viral Kleenex?

| Fri Aug. 1, 2008 2:43 PM EDT

Do all KLEENEX boxes come with federal warnings against misuse?

I hadn't intended to leave Walgreens with any kind of virucidal paper product, but in a fit of summer cold snuffles I accidentally bought a box of polka-dotted germ fighters equipped with directions against wiping up spills and an active ingredients list.

Promises the KLEENEX Anti-Viral tissue box: "[The] tissue has three soft layers, including a moisture-activated middle layer that kills 99.9% of cold and flu viruses in the tissue within 15 minutes."

Wow! Would eating one cure a cold altogether?

Tragically, this goes unanswered on the KLEENEX website. But here's my favorite question from the FAQ:

Alleged Anthrax Attacker Commits Suicide

| Fri Aug. 1, 2008 10:59 AM EDT

anthraxletter250x200.jpg

Bruce E. Ivins, an anthrax scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, died Tuesday at a hospital in Frederick, Maryland, after ingesting a massive dose of prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine. He was 62. According to the Los Angeles Times, he was among the nation's leading experts on the military uses of anthrax. A native of Lebanon, Ohio, Ivins received his doctorate in microbiology from the University of Cincinatti, had worked in the Fort Detrick laboratory for 18 years, and, in 2003, was honored with the Pentagon's highest civilian award for resolving technical problems afflicting the Army's anthrax vaccine. He sat on USAMRIID's protocol and animal rights committees. He lived in a small white house near the laboratory with his wife. And on Sundays, he played keyboards at his church. He also, according to the FBI, is the man responsible for the anthrax attacks of 2001.

Ivins' apparent suicide occurred after he learned that the Department of Justice was preparing to file criminal charges against him for mailing a series of anthrax-laden letters in fall of 2001 that killed five people, sickened another 17, interrupted mail service, and shut down a contaminated Senate building for several months.

Solar Nirvana

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 8:03 PM EDT

Dish_Stirling_Systems_of_SBP_in_Spain.JPG Science is publishing an MIT paper (in press) outlining a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal boutique energy source into the mainstream.

The breakthrough revolves around storing energy when the sun isn't shining—an expensive pitfall until now.

The new method uses the sun's energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Like photosynthesis.

Later the two can be recombined inside a fuel cell to create carbon-free electricity. Like running a fuel cell backwards.

The good part is the system would work day or night. The other good part is it requires nothing but abundant, nontoxic natural materials.

"This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said senior author Daniel Nocera. "Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon."

For those who want to know how it works…

McCain Finally Gets His Very Own Song

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 7:35 PM EDT

mojo-photo-mccainandrich.jpgWith all these terrible tributes to Obama, it has seemed unfair that McCain hasn't had any unintentionally hilarious tunes penned for his campaign. But now that imbalance has been rectified, and it's almost too good to be true: it's a song called "Raising McCain" and it's by John Rich of Big and Rich. Honestly, this is the kind of stuff that makes me glad to be alive. Billboard has this quote from the song's lyrics:

He stayed strong,
Stayed extra long,
Til they let all the other boys out.
Now we've got a real man
With an American plan
We're going to put him in the big White House.
Refrain: We're all just raising McCain.

Does "house" rhyme with "out?" And is anybody else getting a weirdly homoerotic vibe? "Extra long," "real man," "raising"... no? You don't want to go there? Okay, but either way, it's just spectacular. Rich told Billboard that he'll debut the song tomorrow at "Country First," a festival in Panama City, Florida, with McCain in attendance. "The entire world is looking for a way to sucker punch us," said Rich, "I think John McCain is the guy to keep us safe." But who will protect us from terrible country-rock ballads?

New Music: Plastilina Mosh - All U Need is Mosh

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 6:09 PM EDT

mojo-photo-pmoshalluneed.jpgWhen is a band not a band? Okay, the bio says Plastilina Mosh is a duo from Monterrey, Mexico, and they have albums and some hit singles just like other bands. But they sure don't take themselves very seriously. In a recent interview, multi-instrumentalist Alejandro Rosso said they didn't think of P-Mosh as a "career":

At this point, if you think about it, most of the groups that started with our generation, like Molotov, Control Machete, Zurdok, they're no longer here, and we go on with the same idea, that is to not take everything so seriously, we do not believe that we are the truth nor are we an innovative group. We are a project that amuses us and we take this lightly, and somehow it's worked.

It's worked, but it can be a little disorienting. For All U Need is Mosh, the duo's first album of new material in five years, they've reinvented themselves again, with strange, intriguing results.

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Hunting Season is Open on Polar Bears' ESA Listing

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 3:12 PM EDT

Even before the polar bear received "threatened" status under the Endangered Species Act in May, a host of organizations were already laying the groundwork for a legal challenge. As early as last January, Jim Sims, the president and CEO of the Western Business Roundtable, which reps for oil and mining interests, sent an email to colleagues detailing a strategy to "quite possibly reverse" the ruling, if the worst came to pass. Part of it would involve litigation filed by a "truly extraordinary plaintiff": Roy Innis, the chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a decades-old civil rights group that has taken a sharp turn to the right under his leadership, joining forces with conservative activists particularly on issues related to the environment.

It looks like the plan is finally in motion. On Wednesday, the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative legal advocacy group that is representing CORE, the California Cattleman's Association, and the California Forestry Association, has sent what's known as a "60-Day Notice" (which is required before formally filing suit in this case) to Dale Hall, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. "You are advised immediately to withdraw the Final Rule as unlawful and unwarranted," the letter states. "Failure to do so will result in legal action to invalidate the final rule."

Have Your Say on Proposed Government Transparency Legislation

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 2:33 PM EDT

While it continues to press its "Let Our Congress Tweet" campaign, the Sunlight Foundation—a Washington-based non-profit that pushes ways for technology to increase transparency in government—today released a revised version of another of its projects, the Transparency in Government Act 2008. The model legislation, which intends to update congressional disclosure requirements to meet modern technological standards, is the product of a period of public comment hosted electronically at PublicMarkup.org. Since March, interested netizens have been able to use the site to add their input to the bill on subjects like whether Congressional Research Service reports should be made public, whether political action committees and candidates should be compelled to disclose campaign finance receipts, and whether disclosure requirements for lobbyists should be expanded. You are now free to comment on the revised version if you wish, while Sunlight continues negotiations on Capitol Hill for the bills introduction in Congress.

Richest 1 Percent Get Biggest Share of Income Ever; Inequality At Record High: What Do We Do?

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 2:32 PM EDT

In 2006, the richest one percent of Americans garnered the largest share of the national income since 1929, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. The Journal, which based its conclusions on the most recent available IRS data, also noted that in 2006 the richest one percent's average tax rate fell to its lowest level in 18 years. Who are these richest one percenters we hear so much about? Well, in 2008, the richest one percent of Americans make at least $462,000 a year, and the average income of the group is almost $1.5 million. Bush administration tax policies have been especially kind to this group, which has reaped the bulk of the country's economic gains since 2001. That has led to record income inequality, and, of course, to hearings on Capitol Hill. More on that after the jump.

Oliver Stone on the President's Son

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 2:21 PM EDT

The barely credible drama of the Bush family has been compared before to the Kennedys, the Corleones, and even the Macbeths, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before Oliver Stone took it on.

And now he has.

Here's the trailer for W., the new Stone movie that takes viewers through the 43rd president's action-packed life. Josh Brolin—who apparently got really involved in the role—plays our president from his time as a college student through the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

Stone is no supporter of Bush, and the movie is sure to be unflattering.

Still, it doesn't look like there will be any big surprises in W. Bad student, bad businessman, bad governor, bad president. Sprinkle on a little drug use and alcoholism and it's the standard bad Bush presentation. And because this is Oliver Stone, W. will probably be full of lies. That's too bad, because there's not really much need for embellishment in this story.

One made up moment in the film occurs when George Bush Sr. is elected president: "I'll never get out of Poppy's shadow," W. tells his wife. "They'll all keep saying what's the boy ever done … I mean who ever remembers the son of a president?"

The future first lady then reportedly gives a deeply ironic three-word answer: " John Quincy Adams."

W. appears in theaters October 17.

—Daniel Luzer