Blogs

Mika Not the First to be Coy About His Sexuality

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 7:41 PM EDT

mojo-photo-mika.jpgUK pop sensation Mika recently topped the charts in the UK with "Grace Kelly," a bouncy slice of "Queen lite" that some found grating. Despite the, well, glammy nature of his music (and a song about a gay love affair on his CD), Mika has famously refrained from revealing his own sexuality, recently appearing on the cover of Out magazine beside the headline: "Gay/Post-Gay/Not Gay?"

But, of course, Mika's not the first guy to play the "sexuality is a private matter" card, and it's interesting to note that many of the musicians we now take for granted as torch-bearing homophiles were just hinting at it for years. Logo's After Elton site has a fascinating look at male rock and pop stars who have "straddled the closet," as they put it. It's actually kind of depressing: does every gay artist have to blather endlessly about not wanting to be "pigeonholed" as a "gay artist?" Even Jake Shears of gayer-than-a-thousand-Liberace-candelabras combo Scissor Sisters has the eye-rolling quote of "I'm not a gay man first and foremost." Jeez, lighten up! Do ya wanna make out, or not?! It's heartening to see up-and-coming musicians like (super-cute) Dan Sells of The Feeling who's utterly blasé about it, saying he marched in his first pride parade at age 4. Check out the article here.

And yes, just to be clear, your writer is absolutely a gay man first and foremost. Before being a geek, and a fan of snack foods, even. ...Okay maybe not before snacks.

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Elevated Leukemia Rates In Children & Young Adults Near Nuclear Facilities

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 7:28 PM EDT

Leukemia rates in children and young people are elevated near nuclear facilities. The research, published in European Journal of Cancer Care, came from a meta-analysis of 17 research papers covering 136 nuclear sites in the UK, Canada, France, the USA, Germany, Japan and Spain. Death rates for children up to the age of nine were elevated by between five and 24 per cent, depending on their proximity to nuclear facilities, and by two to 18 per cent in children and young people to the age of 25. No clear explanation exists to explain the rise. The authors say it's "possible that there are environmental issues involved that we don't yet understand" . . . Right. Like chronic underreporting of mishaps, accidents, and releases &mdash as recently as yesterday, by golly. JULIA WHITTY

The Stork Is The Bird Of War

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 6:34 PM EDT

Worried about too many Homo sapiens? Wanna help with a (gentle) reset button? Check out the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.

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This post comes to you thanks to a blog comment of note (no, not the eejit ones…) JULIA WHITTY

White Stripes Mock Canadians With One-Note Show

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 5:30 PM EDT

mojo-photo-whitestripes3.jpg Well, the Canadians seemed pretty happy about it, actually. The White Stripes had been performing at odd venues all over Canada in a quest to play in every province and territory in our great northern neighbor; yesterday, realizing that they were one province (Newfoundland) away from achieving this goal, and that "playing a show" would really only require them to play a single note, they did exactly that. Here's video from the one-note show, yesterday in St. John's, Newfoundland:

Yes, the audience is chanting "One more note!" But don't worry about the poor Newfoundlandians: the Stripes did a full two-hour gig for 'em later that night. Check Stereogum for some awesome pictures of the roadies tuning up the gear before the one-note performance, go here for upcoming US dates.

Utada Hikaru Scores Biggest Digital Hit Ever

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 4:20 PM EDT

mojo-photo-utadahikaru.jpgVariety is reporting Japanese superstar Utada Hikaru has achieved the record of largest-selling digital single ever, with "Flavor of Life" moving over seven million units. Label EMI made the claim despite the fact that there's no real official body who counts these things, so it can't be verified; however, the next-highest-sellers (O-zone's nightmarish "Dragostea Din Tei," with four million units, and in the US, Daniel Powter's almost-as-horrific "Bad Day," with two million) are so far behind, I guess nobody's questioning it.

"Flavor" was available in a format to anyone's, er, taste: mobile phone ringtones, mobile downloads, home computer downloads, ring videos, and "ringback" tones (the new thing where you hear it instead of a ring when you call somebody). Perfect for Japan where people basically live out of their cell phones.

Who is Utada Hikaru, you may be asking? It's understandable: despite her massive Japanese success, an attempt to market her in the US as "Utada" failed miserably, and much of her best material still isn't available domestically. You can listen to excerpts of both versions (the regular and "ballad" style) of "Flavor" on her official website here, but you can't buy it. Unfortunately you also can't buy the single that, in my opinion, is her best so far: the charming Madonna-reminiscent "Traveling," which I'm admittedly partial to since it was utterly omnipresent during a brief trip to Tokyo six years ago. So, check out the awesome (if slightly overwhelming) video and an mp3 below.

Utada Hikaru – "Traveling" (from Deep River, 2002, on Toshiba/EMI)

Campaigns Fail to Adapt to New Primary Schedule

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 1:49 PM EDT

Via Brad Plumer at The Plank, I spotted this neat New York Times graphic on where the major candidates have campaign offices. The most significant observation, other than the fact that the Democrats are running far more developed campaigns than the Republicans, is that all of the campaigns seem to be missing the significance of the new primary calendar.

Put aside the traditional early states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina (all between Jan. 14 and Feb. 2). Florida has moved up to Jan. 29 and a whole slew of states have moved up to Feb. 5: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and on and on.

Let's take the six from that group of newly significant states that have the most electoral votes (i.e. largest populations): Florida, California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Now using the NYT graphic, let's count up the number of campaign offices in each state (count limited to the three frontrunners in each party).

Florida: GOP 2; Dems 2
California: GOP 1; Dems 2
Illinois: GOP 2; Dems 2
New York: GOP 1; Dems 3
Pennsylvania: GOP 0; Dems 0
Texas: GOP 0; Dems 1

That's nothing! Compare this to the fact that Hillary and Edwards have nearly 20 offices apiece in the traditionally important combo of Iowa and New Hampshire. And Obama one-ups them, with almost 30! Obama has around 20 offices in Iowa, and zero in Pennsylvania and Texas. And only one each in Florida, California, and New York.

I know the candidates simply don't have the money to campaign everywhere, and I know it's still early. And I'm aware that the internet has allowed the campaigns to reach people in places where they don't have a physical presence. But it's easy to make the argument the campaigns, run by people who have been part of the system for years and were honchos in presidential elections past, are stuck in an earlier mindset. They have yet to adapt to present realities.

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Straight Talk Express Runs Aground

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 1:32 PM EDT

John McCain's bus, which could be dubbed the "Flip-Flop Express" or the "Endless War Express," will now be called nothing at all. The bus, like the campaign, is out of gas, and McCain doesn't have the money to fill it up. So from now on, McCain will be taking the "Straight Walk Express" (yuck, yuck).

It's worth pointing out, though, that while McCain is seen as doomed because he only has $2 million on hand, Mitt Romney would have the exact same amount if he hadn't given his campaign a personal loan of $10 million. McCain's even doing better than Romney in some polls. The media tends to think and move in packs; maybe we should peel ourselves off the dog pile that is currently burying John McCain and take a look at the GOP's prettiest hypocrite?

Libya: Death Sentences Commuted in HIV Case

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 12:59 PM EDT

It's been long time coming, but, as reported in this morning's Washington Post, the five jailed Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor accused of intentionally infecting 460 Libyan children with HIV may soon go free. They have been languishing in Libyan prisons since 1999 and had been on death row since December. On Tuesday, however, Libya's Judicial Council—great arbiter of justice that it is—commuted all six death sentences to life in prison. Now, one could argue that death is preferable to eternity spent in a Libyan jail, but there are indications that the high court's move foreshadows the extradition of all six health workers to Bulgaria (including the Palestinian, who has been granted Bulgarian citizenship), where they would presumably be allowed to go free.

The long episode has raised passions in Libya and Bulgaria, which have both viewed the case as an issue of national pride. The European Union and the U.S. government have also weighed in, putting pressure on Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to intervene in the case. The Libyan government has long contended that the childrens' infections were the result of a reckless HIV experiment undertaken by the six foreign health workers at medical facility in the Mediterranean port city of Benghazi. But independent investigations have concluded that the outbreak was caused by the hospital's poor hygienic conditions, which predated the foreign workers' arrival.

It now appears that the imminent resolution of the dispute could join the list of other conciliatory notes struck by the Libyan dictator, who in recent years has been working diligently to rehabilitate his reputation. According to the Post, a fund created by the Libyan and Bulgarian governments (under the auspices of the European Union) will compensate the families of the HIV-infected children to the tune of $1 million each; the Libyans had initially demanded $13 million per family.

Morning Trivia for July 18

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 12:21 PM EDT

Today's question is:

What is the largest consulting services company in the world? (Hint: It's a private company, but it's still a trick question).

I'll update this post later today with the answer and let you know if any of us got the question right. If you have a question, submit it to mojotrivia@gmail.com. If it's good, we'll use it and credit you on the blog. Please let us know if you got it from another source.

Guess in the comments, and good luck.

Update:

IBM is the largest consulting services company in the world. IBM's "Global Services" division has revenues of almost $50 billion, a sum that represents more than half of the giant multinational's corporate revenue. Commenter Nicholas Beaudrot was first again, guessing the answer that no one in our DC bureau could come up with. Today's New York Times has more on IBM's consulting business.

— Nick Baumann

Flynt to Reveal Sexcapades of Another Senator?

| Wed Jul. 18, 2007 12:05 PM EDT

On Larry King last night, Hustler published Larry Flynt hinted that another senator may be headed for a David Vitter-like fall from grace. Via Political Wire:

FLYNT: We've got good leads. We've got over 300 initially. And they're down to about 30 now which is solid.

KING: When are you going to print?

FLYNT: Well, the last thing now is we don't know if we want to let it to drip, drip, drip or we want to go with everything at once.

KING: You mean you might release 30 names at once?

FLYNT: A good possibility.

KING: Will we be -- I don't want to get into names yet. Will we be shocked?

FLYNT: Yes.

KING: Were you shocked?

FLYNT: I was shocked, especially at one senator but...

KING: One senator especially?

FLYNT: Yes.