Blogs

Music News: Winehouse Sings Via Satellite, Neil Young Gives Up, Timbaland's On the Phone, Beck Admits to Nonsense

| Fri Feb. 8, 2008 4:39 PM EST

News - Feb 8


  • Amy Winehouse, denied a visa to come to the States for the Grammys on Sunday, will appear on the broadcast via satellite from London. Winehouse actually used the phrase "raring to go" in a statement.

  • Neil Young either got up on the wrong side of the bed, or has given up all hope for the future of mankind. Introducing a film in Berlin on Friday, he told the audience that "the time when music could change the world is past." Some of us are so cynical we'd make a joke about that time not existing ever, but we got up on the wrong side of the bed, so we don't really care.
  • Hello, Timbaland calling: the super-producer has announced a deal with Verizon Wireless to create a "mobile album," available only on the carrier's service. And you thought mp3s sounded bad! A Verizon spokesman managed to keep a straight face while calling the deal "a marriage of promotional opportunity and a large distribution platform," but I bet he was doing something funny with his fingers behind his back.
  • Beck has confirmed that some of the lyrics on his seminal 1995 album Odelay were "scratch" lyrics, i.e., nonsense meant as a placeholder during the recording process. "We just grew attached to them," said the singer. So you're telling me those years I spent on my dissertation trying to parse "mouthwash jukebox gasoline" were a waste?
  • Advertise on MotherJones.com

    Time for A Superdelegate Pledge

    | Fri Feb. 8, 2008 1:46 PM EST

    As David notes here, the Washington Post's Paul Kane did the math and figured out that it will be basically impossible for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to win enough pledged delegates to take the nomination outright. This is a big problem for the Democrats. Thankfully for them, I have a solution (after the jump).

    Is it Time To Worry about Superdelegates in the Clinton-Obama Contest?

    | Fri Feb. 8, 2008 1:25 PM EST

    Omigod! Here come the superdelegates! The Washington Post's Paul Kane has done the math and reached the conclusion that the Democratic presidential race will be decided by superdelegates--those 800 or so party officials and officeholders who are automatically awarded delegate status and who can vote any which way they please at the convention. Kane explains:

    There are 3,253 pledged delegates, those doled out based on actual voting in primaries and caucuses. And you need 2,025 to win the nomination.
    To date, about 52 percent of those 3,253 delegates have been pledged in the voting process -- with Clinton and Obama roughly splitting them at 832 and 821 delegates a piece, according to the AP.
    That means there are now only about 1,600 delegates left up for grabs in the remaining states and territories voting.
    So, do the math. If they both have 820 plus pledged delegates so far, they'll need to win roughly 1,200 -- 75 percent -- of the remaining 1,600 delegates to win the nomination through actual voting.
    In other words: Ain't gonna happen...And then the super delegates decide this thing.

    Does this mean the contest will be settled in some smoke-free backroom by machine hacks who don't give a fig about the Democratic vox populi?

    A Natural Ocean "Thermostat" Protecting Coral Reefs?

    | Thu Feb. 7, 2008 5:36 PM EST

    pacific_warmpool-mid.jpg

    A Gaialike mechanism may be protecting some coral reefs by preventing sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from rising past a certain threshold. The study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science finds evidence of an ocean thermostat regulating SSTs in an extremely biologically diverse region of the western Pacific.

    Warming sea temperatures in much of the tropical world have led to ocean-wide epidemics of fatal or near-fatal coral bleaching. Bleaching has become increasingly widespread in recent decades, with SSTs in tropical, coral-rich waters increasing 0.3-0.4 degrees C (0.5-0.7 degrees F) over the past two to three decades, and spiking higher.

    But between 1980 and 2005, only four episodes of bleaching occurred on reefs in the Western Pacific Warm Pool—a lower rate than any other reef region. SSTs in the warm pool naturally average 29 degrees C (84 degrees F), close to the proposed thermostat limit, and have warmed up only half as much cooler areas of the oceans.

    Candidates Earn Their Hipster Cred

    | Thu Feb. 7, 2008 5:16 PM EST

    deadhead-obama-200.jpgWalking home from work earlier this week, I came across a ginormous crowd outside San Francisco's Warfield Theater waiting to attend a "Deadheads For Obama" show. Patchouli hung heavy in the air, and radios played jam-band music while eager fans waited to get inside and hear members of the Grateful Dead rock out.

    Maybe I live in a cave or something, but I had no idea that the deadhead scene had become politically engaged, let alone caught Obama fever. But they're not the only ones endorsing candidates:

    Pearl Jam Ensures Clinton Victory With Obama Song

    | Thu Feb. 7, 2008 4:53 PM EST

    mojo-photo-pearljambarack.jpgAlright, perhaps I'm biased: Pearl Jam have always bugged the crap out of me. Back in the grunge era (do I capitalize that?), I was a fan of almost all of the Seattle bands, and even 3rd-level grunge-rock like Alice in Chains and Screaming Trees landed in my vinyl collection. But I hated Pearl Jam: "Jeremy"'s warbling, maudlin self-righteousness and aimless melody grated on me like a Celine Dion ballad, and the highest I've ever rated any of their songs is "tolerable." However, the more I learned about Eddie Vedder and crew, the more I grew to have grudging respect for them; a radio show Vedder hosted in 1995 featured fantastic music, and the band's fight against Ticketmaster was admirable (if fruitless). I realized that I like what they like, just not what they make.

    Advertise on MotherJones.com

    Romney Out; What Will Huckabee Do?

    | Thu Feb. 7, 2008 2:32 PM EST

    Mitt Romney has quit the race. It seems that his money was no good here.

    At the Conservative Political Action Conference, Romney announced he was suspending his campaign. In a fiery speech, he took shots at France, Harvard, and liberal judges. Citing pornography and "government welfare," he thundered that the "threat to our culture" comes "from within." Hailing family values and decrying gay marriage, this past supporter of abortion rights and gay rights positioned himself as one of the GOP's leading culture warriors. He called for tax cuts, deregulation, and tort reform. He denounced Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's positions on Iraq as a "surrender to terror." And he called for beefing up the U.S. military to deal with "radical jihad" and the China challenge. In other words, he reminded the cheering crowd of conservative die-hards at CPAC that he's a full-throttle conservative on all fronts: culture, economics, and national security. He's now 60 years old. In four years, he will be seven years younger than John McCain is today. And remember this: Ronald Reagan failed to win the GOP nomination in 1976 before he nabbed it in 1980. And there's this: if John McCain does manage to win in November, could he run for a second term, given his age?

    Romney's message to the conservatives today was this: I'm your Reagan. He and they may just have to wait a few more years before those pesky Republican primary voters get it.

    One key question now is, what will Mike Huckabee do? Recently, he's become the anti-Romney spoiler--sweeping up non-McCain voters and preventing Romney from becoming a competitive alternative to McCain. It seemed that Huckabee and McCain had an implicit--if not explicit--nonaggression pact, and this has even fueled talk of a Mack-Huck ticket. So with no need any longer for him to block Romney to help McCain, what's Huckabee's role in the race? With his get-Romney mission accomplished, will he withdraw and wait for his reward?

    CIA Director Says We Waterboarded Only Three People - Then Based One-Fourth of Our Intelligence on What They Said

    | Thu Feb. 7, 2008 2:30 PM EST

    hayden.jpg

    The Senate Intelligence Committee picked a hell of a day to hold a hearing on national security. With every news source in the country vying for the most up-to-date primary information and the chattering classes glued to the exit polls, nobody really noticed when CIA director Michael Hayden admitted to Congress on Tuesday that the U.S. has, in fact, waterboarded three terrorism suspects: 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and al Qaeda leaders Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The waterboarding took place from late 2001 through early 2003, he said, and has since stopped.

    Hayden's testimony confirmed what we already knew, though his statement marked the first time that a senior intelligence official has publicly acknowledged using the technique. And he didn't just acknowledge it; he quantified its importance. According to Hayden, the confessions of two of the suspects—Mohammed and Zubaydah—made up a full one-fourth of our human intelligence on Al Qaeda for the next five years.

    Does War Make Iraqi Teens More Self Confident?

    | Thu Feb. 7, 2008 1:05 PM EST

    iraq%20teens%20150.jpgIraqi teens have relatively high levels of self esteem, according to a University of Cincinnati study. Not only that, but "the higher the perceived threat of the war, the higher the teens reported their self-esteem."

    The researchers say that though this finding may seem counterintuitive, it supports their theory that during a war, individuals' sense of self is tied to their sense of national identity:

    "In the presence of conflict-related trauma one generally observes lower levels of psychological well-being (e.g., PTSD, grief reactions), and sometimes lower self-esteem," write the authors. "Our results, however, are consistent with a body of theory and research that predicts self-esteem striving and higher self-esteem among the individuals who face indirect threats to central components of their social identities (rather than directly facing traumatic war-related events). In other words, in a situation where we observe a broad social context involving the presence of foreign forces ( a clear violation of Muslim principles) combined with general violence throughout Baghdad and Iraq, we also observe a heightened sense of self, at least to the extent that one's self is tied to one's nation."

    McCain vs. the Right: Give Peace No Chance

    | Thu Feb. 7, 2008 11:43 AM EST

    Yesterday, John McCain asked his foes on the right to "just calm down a little." He was talking about Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and other conservative big-mouths who in recent days have pumped up the volume of their anti-McCain crusade. Just the day before, James Dobson, a leading social conservative who heads Focus on the Family, declared, "I am convinced Senator McCain is not a conservative, and in fact has gone out of is way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are." (Last year, Dobson also accused Fred Thompson of not being a real Christian.)

    As the Republican Establishment swings behind McCain--each day his campaign sends out several emails noting this or that endorsement from a GOP figure--the conservative ideologues are holding firm. This is setting up a dramatic split between the GOP elite and the conservative movement's leading influentials. The ideologues hate McCain for several reasons. He has pushed bipartisan, Democratic-backed legislation on campaign finance reform, global warming, and, worse, immigration reform. He never got on his knees before the conservatives--particularly the religious right. In 2000, he blasted Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for exerting too much influence over his party. And--egads!--he has been a favorite of Washington journalists, that band of well-known, America-hating liberals. The fact that McCain has been a prominent champion of the Iraq war--the number one issue for most of his detractors--means nothing to these ingrates.

    Today, McCain is appearing at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a gathering of hundreds, if not thousands, of rightwing activists. Imagine John Kerry speaking to a convention of Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth. (My colleague Jonathan Stein will have a report on McCain's appearance later.) But if McCain believes he can make nice with the rightwing talkers, he's kidding himself. This group--especially Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter--have no incentive to be pragmatic. They each earn much money by being provocative. Their first loyalty is to their audience, which expects hard-edged ideological warfare from them. They go soft--or reasonable--and they risk their reputations.

    It's possible McCain could engage in an act of self-flagellation so extreme, his right-wing critics could claim victory and boast that he kissed their rings. But in the absence of such a move, they will keep pounding him. It makes good TV and radio. So if the Democrats are stuck with a months-long battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the GOP could have on its hand a never-ending cat-fight between its nominees and the spiritual leaders of the conservative movement. As of now, the conflict between Obama and Clinton has not gone so far that it cannot be resolved when that race is done. The McCain wars on the right could continue right up to Election Day.