Blogs

Late Night TV Hosts to Make United Return?

| Fri Dec. 14, 2007 3:59 PM EST

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And yes, that's really David Letterman up there on the left. Jeez. "Late Night With Beardy McSantapants?" Wow. Anyway, Variety is reporting that some or all of the big network late night hosts could be back on the air in early January, perhaps at the same time. Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Craig Ferguson have all stayed off the air since the beginning of the ongoing Writers Guild strike in support of their joke-penners, even paying the staffs out of their own pockets. But with the shows in reruns, ratings are taking a nose-dive, and the hosts are getting antsy:

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Double Trouble: China and the U.S. Gang Up on the Environment

| Fri Dec. 14, 2007 3:17 PM EST

bali-conference.jpgChina and the U.S. have been quite the bosom buddies lately, both on economic and environmental issues. But is it any wonder? As we discussed in our current feature article, "The Last Empire," China's booming economy is based on a high-consumption, capitalist, American model.

Just yesterday, the two countries concluded the annual conference between high-ranking Chinese and American economic and environmental officials, the Sino-U.S. Strategic Economic Dialogue, in which they discussed economic policies for upcoming years. According to government-run Chinese newspaper Xinhua, during the talks the two countries set up Chinese manufacturing and inspection regulations to prevent mishaps like the tainted pet food and toy recalls. Xinhua also reports that "China and the United States agreed to conduct extensive cooperation over a 10-year period to focus on technological innovation, adoption of clean technology and sustainable natural resources."

The promise to adopt clean technology seems like nothing more than a false gesture, considering both China and the U.S. refused mandatory emissions cuts of 20 to 40 percent by 2020 at the U.N. climate change conference in Bali this week. (Japan, Russia, and several other countries also rejected mandatory emissions limits.) Instead, the U.S. suggested emissions cuts could be "voluntary." While such a response is typical for the Bush administration, it could potentially derail the Bali agreement entirely and basically tell any nation, including fast-developing ones like China and India, to keep on polluting.

European Union representatives have said they won't attend next month's American-led climate conference in Hawaii if the U.S. does not sign up for mandatory cuts because it would essentially be "meaningless."

Friday Have a Seat on the Lanai for Music News Day

| Fri Dec. 14, 2007 3:08 PM EST

Music News

  • The iTunes year-end charts should have been a warning: Billboard's official tally of the year's biggest-selling albums is out, and ladies and gentlemen, your #1 album of 2007 is: Daughtry. The "American Idol" guy. Rolling Stone points out that "in what has to be further proof that the recording industry had a terrible year," the top seven best-selling albums of 2007 were all released in 2006.

  • Perhaps due to this terrible year for the music industry, there's been a bit of a shakedown at major record labels, with Geffen and Interscope (both subsidiaries of Universal Music) laying off 15 employees yesterday; the last few weeks saw layoffs at Sony BMG and Island Def Jam as well. Rumors had been circulating that Geffen was about to close its doors but CMJ says now "that seems unlikely."
  • In an investigation into the still-unsolved murder of Jam Master Jay, MTV News uncovers a mystery about a missing security camera tape that might show the identity of the assailant or assailants; Jay's friend Randy Allen hinted in an interview that he knows the whereabouts of the tape but isn't talking.
  • Singer Tori Amos (or an alter ego?) had a bit of a fit at a gig in San Diego on Wednesday night, evicting two fans from the venue. "Get the f*** out of my show," Amos shouted, reportedly because the two women had been repeatedly getting up and down from their seats in the front row. "It's a privilege to sit in the front row and I reserve those seats for people who appreciate music," continued Amos. Ulp! Watch the excitement here:
  • Steroids: Why We Can't Live Without Them

    | Fri Dec. 14, 2007 1:17 PM EST

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    Alright, so there's steroids in baseball. With the Mitchell Report (spearheaded by former Senator George Mitchell, who is also on the board of directors of the Boston Red Sox) hitting the public yesterday, the world is aghast. This morning President Bush said both that, "My hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us," and that "we can jump to this conclusion: that steroids have sullied the game."

    Say what?

    Steroids may be dangerous, and cheating, but make no mistake about it: The steroid era is what brought us increased revenues, fancy new stadiums, and a renewed interest in what, when Bush was owner of the Texas Rangers, was a serious flagging interest in America's favorite pastime.

    Predictions are now that the blacklisted players, 85 in all, will be summarily booed when they hit spring training (or the signing circuit). Glass houses, folks. The accused, surely not a comprehensive list, includes seven MVPs, two Cy Young Award winners, and 31 All-Stars. Remember, we the fans vote for All-Stars, so we essentially have been voting for steroids, cheering on the muscled, big-headed, giants who give us what we pay the big bucks for: home runs, strikeouts, monster moments.

    Text You and Everyone Who Looks Like You

    | Fri Dec. 14, 2007 11:56 AM EST

    Like K-Fed, one in seven people report having been dumped via text message or email. Another 4% simply cut off all communication. What a flock of cowards. Back in my day, we had a little something called integrity. Whatever happened to the old-fashioned backbone required for dumping someone via voicemail?

    You know the drill: call the loser's office - reception, not his direct line - to make sure he's at work. Then, fire up that fake, unplaceable accent normally reserved for dodging the collection agencies and student loan folks ("wha? who? no De-ba Deek-son he-ah. You got-ta baad num-ba. No De-ba he-ah. Call some more, me curse you whole fam-ly."). With him safely away for nine or so hours, bravely enumerate his failings and let his machine know exactly how dumped he is. Next, block his number or screen like a son of a gun whilst hiding at an out of town girlfriend's for a few days til you have enough contact attempts for a restraining order. But text and email? Ah, for the good old days of American forthrightness.

    Reason 4,321 To Hate Wal-Mart

    | Fri Dec. 14, 2007 11:50 AM EST

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    Panties found by a reader of Feministing.com in a North Carolina Wal-Mart—in the section that caters to 12-year-old girls.

    After Feministing posted the photo and it made its way through the blogosphere, Fox News reported on Wednesday that outraged parents had prompted Wal-Mart to pull the $2.96 panties off the shelves.

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    Will Jeopardy Host's Heart Attack Make Him Stop Frontin'?

    | Fri Dec. 14, 2007 10:35 AM EST

    Jeopardy host Alex Trebek had a minor heart attack this week and is recovering at a LA hospital. Given that recovery, I might as well admit that I dislike Trebek. Intensely. I'm sure he's a great guy. So why do I always want to smack him on sight?

    Who does he think he is peering over those little half-glasses at the contestants, sniffing out the answers as if from his own brain and not those little index cards that underpaid liberal arts majors labored over for sub-union wages? No one else in Hollywood wears glasses in public; you know he's had laser correction and just wears those to fake being brainy. And that smarty-pants, high falutin' attitude when delivering the answers - what a poseur! This is America, you Canuck: the ability to read someone else's work aloud isn't much of an accomplishment. If they ever spin-off a medical Jeopardy, I guess he'll be fronting in couture scrubs with a stethoscope dangling from his neck. Imagine the hours he'd put in learning to pompously pronounce all those complicated words so he could pretend to be as smart as the contestants. Or his own staffers. Not even this killer X files cameo can make him bearable.

    I've never understood the allure of TV game/quiz shows, and Jeopardy even less since you have to endure Trebek's smug fakery to get to the questions.

    But, dude, get well soon.

    Wikileaks vs. Gitmo Security Phreaks

    | Thu Dec. 13, 2007 11:06 PM EST

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    This is my new favorite story. It seems that the folks at Wikileaks"an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis"—have busted the "mass communications specialists" at Guantanamo for, wait for it,

    "conducting covert propaganda attacks on the internet. The attacks include deleting detainee ID numbers from Wikipedia last month, the systematic posting of unattributed "self praise" comments on news organization web sites in response to negative press, boosting pro-Guantanamo stories on the internet news site Digg and even modifying Fidel Castro's encyclopedia article to describe the Cuban president as "an admitted transexual" [sic]."

    Following the trail of IP addresses and "traceroutes," Wikileaks states that most of these changes were made by Guantanamo "mass communications specialist" Richard M. Wolff, who also goes by usnavymc1 on Digg.

    Wikileaks has quite a bit of fun at Wolff's expense, including posting his query to a muscle fitness group at Yahoo:

    Hi all! I am new to the group and in need of some help. I am in the military, did 9 years active-duty, then for the past 5 years I've been in the reserve. When I left AD, I got a little lazy and gained a few pounds, ok more than a few... lol. Anyhow, I've lost most of the fat I gained before, but I also lost a lot of muscle. I've tried combinations of weight gain and intense workouts, even some ripped
    fuel, I do a good amount of cardio as well. Does the cardio hurt me from gaining muscle max? Would I be better off just lifting?
    I've been in this routine of getting back in shape for about a year now and I'm looking much better than I did, but I feel I'll never get back into that really ripped form I used to have. I am 5'6", 165lbs, 34 years old. Of course my age might have something to do with it since my metabolism might not be as good as it used to be, but I try to eat healthy and things that digest easily. Should I be eating more red meat? I don't at the moment at all, but I do take a multivitamin everyday so I do get all my vitamins.
    Any advice would be great! Also, if anyone knows if I should take something besides ripped fuel to help me gain mass more please let me know. Also, what more can I do (like in the other post) to get rid of the little layer of fat over my abs? They're defines pretty good but can't be seen through that damn little layer of flub. Thanks! Rich

    We've all been there Rich. Anyway, if you want to geek out on how Wikileaks tracked Wolff to his meatless, sweaty lair, enjoy. And while you're at it read up on the project, which "was founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists....Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations."

    Mission accomplished.

    Update: Dave had a great post that lists some of Wikileaks' other greatest hits.

    New Jersey Cans the Death Penalty; Lawmakers Go Against the Masses

    | Thu Dec. 13, 2007 9:29 PM EST

    New Jersey joined 13 other states and most of the world's industrialized democratic countries when it banned the death penalty today. It's general assembly voted 44 to 36 in favor of a law that will end the practice, and Governor Jon Corzine is expected to sign it next week. Eight men are currently on New Jersey's death row; their sentences will now be changed to life without the possibility of parole.

    Lawmakers were swayed in large part by a report drafted by the Constitution Project's national Death Penalty Committee. The committee, comprised of death penalty proponents and opponents alike, came to one unanimous and startling conclusion:

    "Around the country, procedural safeguards and other assurances of fundamental fairness in the administration of capital punishment have been revealed to be deeply flawed."

    Funny thing is, most New Jerseyans support capital punishment. A recent poll found that 53 percent oppose ending the death penalty and a whopping 78 percent want to see child molesters and serial killers executed. This is a rare case of our political leaders taking a bold and decisive action because it's morally right, not because it will please the masses.

    —Celia Perry

    Reality Check From Bali

    | Thu Dec. 13, 2007 8:44 PM EST

    This Washington Post article conveys in short and sweet style how serious the U.S.'s refusal in Bali to accept emissions caps is.

    Europe: frustrated, vowing to boycott Bush's distracter tactic, the "major economies" meetings he's hosting on global warming. Brazil—home to the world's largest intact forest—threatening not to comply with rules that only apply to developing countries.

    Most disturbing of all, Americans support carbon emissions caps because they're the only way of fending off catastrophic climate change.

    As Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's minister for climate and energy, put it, the targets don't come from "figures taken at random," she said. Rather, the 25 percent by 2020 "reports very specifically back to what the IPCC tells us."

    Compare the sanity of that remark—we're doing what the best scientists tell us we have to—to the childish churlishness of this one, made by James L. Connaughton, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, explaining why the U.S. refuses to do the right thing and accept the caps: "We will lead. The U.S. will lead. But leadership also requires others to fall in line and follow."

    Despite Americans' political will, our government is standing in the way of the best documented solution for the greatest problem the world has ever faced.