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Party Ben's Top Ten Albums of 2007

| Fri Dec. 21, 2007 12:25 AM EST

mojo-photo-rifftoptenweek.jpgI know: I have a problem. It's serious, and it's not getting better. I'm obsessed with "Best of" lists. I love them! I collect them, compare them, fold them up into little squares and rub them against my cheeks. Not that last one. But I do read a lot of them, and yes, now mine does look pretty familiar: my Top 3, at least, is a lot like everyone else's. But I swear it: these are the albums that I enjoyed the most, and felt were the most significant, of the year, and just because I kind of agree with Pitchfork, does that make me a bad person? ...Don't answer that.

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Top 10 Science Stories of 2007

| Thu Dec. 20, 2007 10:55 PM EST

Big year all around. Many stories that will influence the future of all life on Earth, intimating just how intimately science nowadays is tied to environmental ills, inspirations, solutions. This is not your father's science. Live Science posts an insightful top 10 of 2007, which I've taken the liberty of riffing on:

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#10 Peak Oil: A new study this year predicts that global oil production could peak as soon as 2008, and likely before 2018.

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#9 Antarctica: A host of surprises this year. Satellite lasers detect a series of...

Al-Qaeda's Number 2 Answers Journalists

| Thu Dec. 20, 2007 10:10 PM EST

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Al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgent groups are known for their media savvy. Several of them have sophisticated multi-media websites complete with videos, news updates, and manifestos in English. The Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI) for example, has a "reporter" who posts "special films" and "unique releases."

But Al Qaeda has decided to try something new: Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's second-in-command, will answer written questions from "individuals, agencies and all information media outlets" in an "open meeting" before January 16: "Anyone who would like to ask him a question must be concise and precise," said a press statement quoted in Al Jazeera. Al Zawahiri promises to respond "as much as he is able and at the soonest possible occasion."

This is a break from the past. Usually, its' a one way street —bin Laden and Zawahiri issue their communiqués, and journalists are left to dissect minute details, such as how bin Laden was "looking fit with a full beard of dark black hair, no gray at all." So what gives? Maybe by going interactive Zawahiri hopes to build credibility and accountability. Is Al Qaeda engaging in its own brand of psyops to win hearts and minds?

The war of ideas continues.

— Neha Inamdar

Huckabee: The Search for a Sobriquet

| Thu Dec. 20, 2007 7:28 PM EST

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Mi·chael Huck·a·bee. It's a hell of a name, the best by far of the Republican field. And now that Huckabee is an anointed member of the top tier, the search for a viable nickname is on. Entries so far include:

The Huckster. Used by: Rush Limbaugh, various right-wing blogs. Verdict: Too obvious.

Tax Hike Mike. Used by: The Club for Growth. Verdict: Lame, uninspired.

Triple Wide. Used by: Arkansans punning on Huckabee's erstwhile heft and the extra large trailer his family lived in during renovations at the governor's mansion. Verdict: Dated.

The Huck. Used by: Headline-writers everywhere. Verdict: Scores points for simplicity.

Since none of those entries quite cuts it, I had high hopes for a new Huckabee appraisal by Paul Greenberg, grizzled Arkansas media eminence (he editorializes for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and has a Pulitzer under his belt—from 1969), and coiner of "Slick Willie." Alas, Greenberg tosses a handful of darts—"one Michael Dale Huckabee," "Brother Huckabee," "this year's Man from Hope," and, of course, "the Huck"—but none really hits bullseye. So, readers, what should we call this guy?

—Justin Elliott

Red Velvet Goldmine, or, Christmas With Bowie

| Thu Dec. 20, 2007 5:43 PM EST

If you're still singing to yourself, "I hurt myself today pa rum pum pum pum," then you might want to change your interior Muzak track with this gem. Here's what happened when David Bowie dropped by Bing Crosby's place for some Christmas cheer:

(Via The Poop)

All I Want for Christmas, Part 3: Cassette Bag

| Thu Dec. 20, 2007 4:41 PM EST

mojo-photo-cassettebag.jpgFrom the World Wide Fred website: "Time to unwind and rewind with this low-tech cassette tote bag. Full-color printed flexible plastic, complete with handles that look like the tape is unraveling (didn't you just hate it when that happened?). Casual and roomy, our Cassette Tote is the perfect way to pack your important stuff (like your leg warmers, mini skirt, and jelly shoes). What a feelin'!"

There's no price and I can't find anywhere to actually buy it, so maybe it's not real, but it sure does bring me back to the days when home taping was killing the music industry. You know, when it unravels you can fix it with scotch tape (the cassette, not the industry).

(Via AudioPorn Central)

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Mashup Roundup: Tasteless Ike Turner Mashup, Tasteful Christmas Mashups, Obvious Jay-Z Mashup Album, Super Zep Mashup

| Thu Dec. 20, 2007 4:18 PM EST

Santastic

  • First of all, let's get this out of the way: I can't even bring myself to say the name of the song that's been combined with an old Ike & Tina Turner number, but I bet you can guess it. (via Mashuptown.com)
  • Okay, clean your ears out with some lovely and innocent holiday-themed bootlegs: it's another "Santastic" compilation, edited by Boston's DJ BC and featuring the work of Go Home Productions, Freddy King of Pants, and a special "Dick In a Box" mix from A Plus D! Come to think of it, maybe this isn't so innocent. (Santastic3)
  • Not street enough for you? Well, SoCal's DJ Skee has put together a version of Jay-Z's latest album American Gangster using music from another well-known gangster movie: it's American Godfather, and while I'm a bit put off by Skee's ego ("often cited as the definitive DJ for the West Coast"?!) Radar seems to like it. (Download at SendSpace)
  • Now here's what mashups are really all about: actual musical craft. Lenlow's smooth combo of Led Zeppelin, Buffalo Springfield, and a bunch more stuff feels like a whole new song, so shut up about this being a "cringe-inducing fad," Radar. You're cringe-inducing. Nyah! (Via Lenlow's site)
  • Coming Soon to Texas: A Master's Degree in Creation Science

    | Thu Dec. 20, 2007 4:18 PM EST

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    Because Baylor University is not doing enough to plumb the seas for Noah's Ark, an advisory committee of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has recommended that the Institute for Creation Research be given the authority to grant Master's degrees in science education. Perhaps the training will help graduates stay employed in the Lone Star State, rather than getting fired like the state's former director of science curricula, a shameless Darwin booster.

    Is Texas devolving? Not at all. According to the Institute's mission statement, it will only enroll the self-motivated, responsible student who "is more self-disciplined ('whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God;' I Cor. 10:31) and takes education seriously ('And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;' Colossians 3:23)."

    The Texas Observer reports that the same guys brought us the Creation Museum in Kentucky (see Adam frolic with the dinosaurs!), and are at work stumping for Mike Huckabee in Iowa.

    Larry Flynt Doesn't Know Whether Rudolph Giuliani is Gay or Not

    | Thu Dec. 20, 2007 3:33 PM EST

    mojo-photo-flynt.JPGHustler publisher and aspiring political muckraker Larry Flynt has given an extensive interview to Vanity Fair in which he continues to promise the exposure of juicy tidbits about "hypocritical" politicians, although it's his comments about Rudy Giuliani that are raising eyebrows:

    Bush Administration to California: Eff You

    | Thu Dec. 20, 2007 1:44 PM EST

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    You know how the Right loves states' rights? Turns out that only applies when "states rights" means "persecuting minorities." It turns out that "Trying to avert near-certain global climactic doom," is not, apparently, a "state right."

    Earlier today, the EPA denied California's request for a waiver that would allow the state to regulate automobile emissions. (This comes after a court fight that forced the EPA to rule on the request). The decision, according to the lede of a must-read Washington Post story, "overruled the unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs." Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of course promised to take the decision to court. David Bookbinder, the Sierra Club's chief climate counsel, told the Los Angeles Times, "These guys are 0 and 4 in court," he said. "And they're about to go 0-5." That's the part of this story that really says "Eff You": The EPA knows it's going to lose in court. From the Post story:

    William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents officials in 48 states. . .[said the EPA] "has issued a verdict that is legally and technically unjustified and indefensible."
    EPA's lawyers and policy staff had reached the same conclusion, said several agency officials familiar with the process. In a PowerPoint presentation prepared for the administrator, aides wrote that if Johnson denied the waiver and California sued, "EPA likely to lose suit."
    If he allowed California to proceed and automakers sued, the staff wrote, "EPA is almost certain to win."

    So in this one, the good guys will probably win again. But victory will mean delaying important greenhouse gas regulations for a stupid, petty, pointless court fight the Bush administration already knows it will lose. Chalk up another point for auto industry lobbyists and bad government.