Blogs

Mitt Romney's Gay.com Snafu

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 6:02 PM EST

The newly homophobic Mr. Fantastic is claiming that he advertised on gay.com by accident. I think he's just trying to make nice with these folks.

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Wolf Controversy Resurfaces

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 5:41 PM EST

wolvesnew.jpgA few years ago, a 22-year-old student was killed in the wilds of Saskatchewan, and evidence suggested that wild wolves were the culprits. The incident was widely reported in the media, since there had never before been a documented case of death-by-wolves in North America. Last week, the coroner's inquest finally finished, and the wolves were found guilty. But some wildlife experts still have their doubts. Goat, the blog over at High Country News, has a good summary of the controversy.

The debate about the Saskatchewan incident reminds us that we've never had an easy relationship with wolves in North America. They loom large in our mythology—both Native American and European—and they've come to represent a truly wild part of our landscape. We tend to romanticize this wildness, casting wolves either as mystical beasts or angry killers. (And some of us want them in our bedrooms—WTF?)

Amidst all the T-shirts, sheet sets, and other wolf propaganda, we tend to forget that wolves are, um, actual wild animals, too. During the westward expansion, we hunted so many gray wolves that the species was nearly extinct. But thanks to protection under the Endangered Species Act and a reintroduction program, these days, wolves have made a comeback. In 2004, gray wolf populations in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and parts of other states around the Great Lakes were officially removed from the federal list of endangered species. Sizable wolf populations in the Rocky Mountains have some people cheering and others up in arms, literally. Ranchers in the Rockies have trouble protecting their sheep, and a few hunters have reported that their dogs have been attacked, too. Right now, wolves in the Rockies are listed as "non-essential experimental populations," and the EPA is currently considering revising the wolf rules for these areas.

High Country News points out that the decision in the Saskatchewan case "bolsters those who continue to oppose wolves in the West." It'll be interesting to see how everyone reacts—the mystical wolf T-shirt crowd and the angry wolf T-shirt crowd alike.


How To Stop Fishermen From Killing Captured Dolphins

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 5:40 PM EST

slaughter.gif BlueVoice reports from the frontlines of the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan. After 8 days of not hunting, the fishermen have brought into Hatajiri Bay 7 dolphins which appear to be Risso's Dolphins, reports Hardy Jones:

Traditionally there are 2 sets of nets across the bay and this one seems to have been thrown together very quickly. But they have got the 7 Risso's dolphins here, which if previous experience is a guide, they will kill tomorrow morning. Now is the time for you to fax or telephone Japanese embassies and consulates near you. Faxes are great because they can't forward you to voice mail. Emailing is not so effective because they can set up spam blockers. But please make your voice heard. Let them know that these atrocities must not proceed. Contact your Japanese embassy or consulate and protest vigorously.

Past protests have worked.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Pat Robertson is to Giuliani as Cindy Sheehan is to...

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 5:25 PM EST

One final thought on the Giuliani endorsement made by Pat Robertson today. I find it completely wacky that Robertson, who made his career speaking out on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, chose to ignore those issues when making his choice. Here's how Ed Kilgore put it over at Democratic Strategist:

I've tried to think of a Democratic analog for the unlikeliness of this particular endorsement, and the best I can come up with is Cindy Sheehan joining Hillary Clnton's campaign out of admiration for her energy proposals.

Spot on.

MoveOn Takes On Fox. . .With a Little Help From the Wingers

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 5:06 PM EST

A little more than six months ago, a vast right-and-left-wing conspiracy launched a campaign to make the footage of the Republican and Democratic presidential debates free. Not free of advertising, that is, but free in the sense that anyone could take the footage and use it as they wished—to criticize, to mock, to celebrate. Most of the networks, surprisingly, agreed, although many people didn't get the point of asking for "free debates" in the first place. "Oh come on. Do you really think a network is going to threaten a presidential candidate over a copyright claim?", a friend wrote to intellectual property guru and internet Thomas Jefferson Lawrence Lessig.

Turns out, of course, that a network really is threatening a presidential candidate over a copyright claim. The candidate is John McCain, who used a clip from a debate in one of his ads, and the network, of course, if Fox. As TPM reported, MoveOn.org Civic Action and a coalition of right-wing bloggers (including the inimitable Michelle Malkin) are taking on Fox for their uniquely silly and counterproductive position. Lessig elaborates:

It is time that the presidential candidates from both parties stand with Senator McCain and defend his right to use this clip to advance his presidential campaign. Not because it is "fair use" (whether or not it is), but because presidential debates are precisely the sort of things that ought to be free of the insanely complex regulation of speech we call copyright law.
Indeed, as the target of the attack, and as one who has been totally AWOL on this issue from the start, it would be most appropriate if this demand were to begin with Senator Clinton. Let her defend her colleague's right to criticize her, by demanding that her party at least condition any presidential debate upon the freedom of candidates and citizens to speak.

Indeed. And if you don't think this is a key moment for "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," you should really watch that McCain ad again.

Carrie Brownstein : NPR :: Party Ben : The Mother Jones?

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 5:00 PM EST

mojo-photo-brownstein.jpgOr maybe it's the other way around. National Public Radio has recently taken your tax dollars and contributions and thrown them at another kooky artist: Carrie Brownstein, guitarist and vocalist for the toweringly-awesome on-hiatus Portland trio Sleater-Kinney. The "Monitor Mix" is NPR's second music blog after "All Songs Considered," and Brownstein gets it all to herself, and even gets a picture of herself and her dog up at the top. Lucky! A first glance over there shows she's into Curb Your Enthusiasm, the Ramones, and bands with "cat" in their name. Me too!

Hey wait a minute, why am I talking about competing liberal media blogs with superstar (ahem!!) guest writers? Don't go over there, stay here on the Riff! Besides, Brownstein hasn't figured out how to post pictures yet, and we have way more of those, and even videos. Speaking of, Sleater-Kinney, how awesome? For a few years right around 1996-99, they were absolutely the best band in America. Throwing a dart at the board of my 1000 favorite S-K songs (or, more accurately, doing a quick video search) brings us:

Sleater-Kinney – "Get Up" (from The Hot Rock, 1999)

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Marxism in the Eye of the Conservative Beholder

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 4:06 PM EST

At least, in the eyes of those who find out that being an apologist and fellow traveler to rapacious capitalism still won't provide you access to that which is being conserved. Doing 'the club's' dirty work just isn't the same as being invited to join 'the club'. Even worse is realizing that you've only be invited in to clean it. Wonder how long it took these worshippers of the fat-cat capitalist class to convince themselves that this isn't utter hypocrisy?:

Five authors have sued the parent company of Regnery Publishing, a Washington imprint of conservative books, charging that the company deprives its writers of royalties by selling their books at a steep discount to book clubs and other organizations owned by the same parent company.
In a suit filed in United States District Court in Washington yesterday, the authors Jerome R. Corsi, Bill Gertz, Lt. Col. Robert (Buzz) Patterson, Joel Mowbray and Richard Miniter state that Eagle Publishing, which owns Regnery, "orchestrates and participates in a fraudulent, deceptively concealed and self-dealing scheme to divert book sales away from retail outlets and to wholly owned subsidiary organizations within the Eagle conglomerate."

Imagine these conservatives' horror to find out that a big, profitable business put more energy into deflating their authors' royalties than into publishing more odes to child labor and deforestation. But, then, these are the deep-thinkers who wrote bestsellers swift-boating Kerry and 'proving' that Bush is really winning the war on terror. My, how sudden, how selective, their distaste for fraud, deception and self-dealing. Sorta like the slaves who narc'd on runaways only to find themselves still put to the lash for minor infractions. No honor among thieves, guys. Certainly, there's no intellectual consistency, not when money's concerned. Here's my favorite part:

"It suddenly occurred to us that Regnery is making collectively jillions of dollars off of us and paying us a pittance." He added: "Why is Regnery acting like a Marxist cartoon of a capitalist company?"

Here's another question: why do they think Regnery's (alleged) business practices are Marxist when it is in fact these authors' critique which is? Where you stand really does seem to depend on where you sit.

Chalabi's What? An Unexpected Tidbit at the End of a Story about a British Murder Investigation

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 3:46 PM EST

Check out the penultimate graph from this excerpt of a British Press Association report today on a shooting in Iraq:

Five Iraqi police officers were identified as murderers by the only surviving witness of a massacre in which a British security worker was shot dead, an inquest heard today.
Former Royal Marine Brian Tilley, 47, was killed when up to six gunmen walked into his girlfriend's house in the lawless al-Dawrah district of Baghdad and opened fire on May 14 2004.
The only surviving witness was a 15-year-old Iraqi girl known as Sarah, who told American military police the gunmen were wearing Iraqi police uniforms. ...

'Ghost Punk' Alive and Well in Brooklyn

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 2:40 PM EST
these-are-powers.gif

My infatuation for the week? Brooklyn's noisy, three-piece band These Are Powers. Their 2007 Hoss Records debut, Terrific Seasons, is loud and creepy, and I mean that in a good way.

The band describes their sound as "ghost punk," I'm guessing because the music is intense, dark, and ominous, and influenced by (as they put it) spiritual mysticism, supernatural phenomena, and the prophecies of a UFO-obsessed cab driver. They also call their sound "future primitive" (whatever that means), which, combined with incomprehensible echo-heavy vocals, make this album sound like background music for a chase scene in a bizarre horror flick.

I can see how that might sound awful, but it's not. It's mesmerizing; and probably best seen live, if these video clips are any indication. Try to imagine a combination of early Sonic Youth mixed with some Bauhaus and a lot of sarcasm.

Now I Feel Dumb For Actually Paying For the Radiohead Album

| Wed Nov. 7, 2007 2:40 PM EST

In Rainbows

And those British Pounds are like real money and stuff. As everybody who has internet access knows, Radiohead recently released their latest album In Rainbows as a digital download via their own website, allowing buyers to name their own price. While the band themselves still aren't talking about how many people downloaded the album (or how much they paid), a consumer research firm did a study and found that a large majority paid, well, zip:

Some 62 percent of the people who downloaded "In Rainbows" in a four- week period last month opted not to pay the British alt-rockers a cent. But the remaining 38 percent voluntarily paid an average of $6, according to the study by comScore Inc. …The results of the study were drawn from data gathered from a few hundred people who are part of comScore's database of 2 million computer users worldwide. The firm, which has permission to monitor the computer users' online behavior, did not provide a margin of error for the study's results.

Interestingly, the percentage of American fans who paid at all was slightly higher than the non-U.S. average (40% to 36%), and amusingly, the average amount paid by people who did pay was way higher in the U.S., $8.05 compared to $4.64 outside the U.S. I'm going to take a guess the exchange rate came into play there: I bet there were quite a few fans like myself whose casual entering of a number that seemed like a nice compromise—say, £5—were in for a bit of a shock when their credit card bill came back saying that turned out to be $10.43. Even those of us with impending European tours who are keeping their eye on the now-so-low-it's-barely-visible dollar (€1.46 today!!) (er, wait, I mean, €1 is $1.46 today. See this is part of the problem right here, Americans can't do math) succumbed to mathematical habit; I mean, paying somebody 3 of anything for an album just seems mean, even though £3 is like $6.25, which isn't bad for ten 160kbps mp3s from a band who doesn't need the money. Ah well, consider it my contribution towards the downfall of the record industry.