Blogs

The Police Rake It In

| Tue Aug. 7, 2007 10:11 PM EDT

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As we've reported here on the Riff, the reunited Police have had some good and bad nights on their recent tour. But you know what makes interpersonal issues or musical struggles seem a little less important? I'll tell you what: one hundred meeellion dollars. That's right, Billboard magazine is reporting the 38-date first leg of the Police tour has already grossed $107,592,002, and was attended by 929,941 people. And that doesn't even include the Bonnaroo or V festival stops in Tennessee and Baltimore, so add in a couple zillion to both those numbers. The two July dates at Chicago's Wrigley field grossed $9,494,248 on their own. Gulp. I made $50 at a DJ gig once. Anyway, the tour continues at the end of August, returning to the US Halloween night at Madison Square Garden. The band then plan to continue touring until they have all the money in the world.

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Kids Say Food in McDonald's Wrappers Just Tastes Better

| Tue Aug. 7, 2007 7:47 PM EDT

Whether it's milk, carrots, or apple juice, kids ages 3-5 think food just tastes better when wrapped in the golden arches of McDonald's, a recent study finds.

To learn more about the study, continue reading this post on our science and health blog, The Blue Marble.

Kids Say Food in McDonald's Wrappers Just Tastes Better

| Tue Aug. 7, 2007 6:23 PM EDT

mcdonalds_tokyo.jpgWhether it's milk, carrots, or apple juice, kids ages 3-5 think food just tastes better when wrapped in the golden arches of McDonald's, a recent study finds. The study was aimed at low-income children enrolled in San Mateo, CA's "head start" programs, but the author of the study, Tom Robinson of Stanford University, believes the results would be similar for higher-income children. Quite simply, Robinson states, a child's sense of taste has been "physically altered by the branding."

While the extensive marketing of fast food products to young children has been decried by health advocates and in movies like Supersize Me, the fact that children prefer a branded food is probably heavily influenced by the larger advertising industry, not just McDonald's. I would guess that children prefer a branded grape juice to any generic grape juice, just as I'd guess that most people would give higher ratings to a Prada purse or Calvin Klein underwear than to their generic counterparts. Much of this can be explained by the connotations of happiness, wealth, and enjoyment that the ads convey.

On the other hand, some ads don't seem to convey much of anything, like this recent McDonald's commercial discussed by Slate.

MTV Nominates French Techno for Video of the Year

| Tue Aug. 7, 2007 3:46 PM EDT

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Super-hot Paris duo Justice's single "D.A.N.C.E." has been nominated for MTV's "Video of the Year" alongside regulars Beyonce, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and Kanye West, as well as newcomer Amy Winehouse. One might be tempted to see this nomination as an acknowledgement of grungy Francophile nu-rave's dominion over dance floors worldwide (and it is a pretty good video to boot, featuring cute animated T-shirts); but really, it's just a publicity stunt. It was just last year when the quirky video for Justice's remix of Simian's "Never Be Alone" upset Kanye West's "Touch the Sky" for Video of the Year at the MTV Europe awards in Copenhagen; Kanye, famously, crashed the stage and gave an expletive-filled rant about why his "million-dollar" video should have snagged the award instead. So, as Idolator points out: MTV America is just concocting a cheeky little rematch between the hot-headed rapper and the hapless Frenchmen. Having Kanye actually present at the announcement in New York today, joking (?) he's "still mad" about the loss, adds to the feeling of a setup. Whatevs: anything that gets Justice in front of more eyes and ears is a good thing—although I suspect MTV won't exactly be putting "D.A.N.C.E." into heavy rotation.

The MTV Video Music Awards are on your TV September 9th; check out the rest of the nominees here. (The only other sort of interesting nod is Peter Bjorn & John for "Best New Artist.") Watch the video for "D.A.N.C.E." below.

House Energy Bill Marks Significant Progress on Environmental Goals

| Tue Aug. 7, 2007 2:53 PM EDT

I mentioned a few days back that the Democratic House leadership skipped YearlyKos in order to pass a sweeping energy bill. I would be remiss not to point you to some details of the legislation. Here's a news story on the bill, here's an in-depth summary from Nancy Pelosi's website, and here's the bill's actual text in pdf form.

Don't Fear the Reefer

| Tue Aug. 7, 2007 2:46 PM EDT

A story by Dan Eggen in this morning's Washington Post notes that the FBI has abandoned its time-worn policy of automatically disqualifying job applicants who have used drugs. According to the Post:

Old guidelines barred FBI employment to anyone who had used marijuana more than 15 times in their lives or who had tried other illegal narcotics more than five times.
But those strict numbers no longer apply. Applicants for jobs such as analysts, programmers or special agents must still swear that they have not used any illegal substances recently -- three years for marijuana and 10 years for other drugs -- but they are no longer ruled out of consideration because of more frequent drug use in the past...
FBI officials say the move is simply an acknowledgment of reality in a country where, according to some estimates, up to a third of the population has tried marijuana at some point.

Even with its relaxed standards, the FBI remains tougher on former drug users than other federal agencies, most notably the CIA. Those wishing to work for "the Company" are evaluated holistically, "with any history of illegal drug use being one factor considered in a careful assessment process," according to CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano.

Anybody got a lighter?

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Republicans Flub the Facts at Iowa Debate

| Tue Aug. 7, 2007 1:21 PM EDT

Do you use factcheck.org? You should. Its mission is to... well, its mission is in its title. Here's what it had to say about the Republican debate (the millionth debate, right? Or the millionth and one?) that occurred on Sunday.

  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney falsely claimed U.S. job growth had been nearly 17 times faster than Europe's. Actually, European Union employment grew faster than that of the U.S. last year. Romney's source for the information told FactCheck.org that he himself would no longer use the figures.
  • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani accused Democratic candidates of "appeasement" toward Islamic terrorists. In fact, leading Democratic candidates have spoken out strongly against terrorism.
  • Sen. John McCain claimed American families spend $140 billion of their income preparing federal income tax returns. We find no support for that figure, which the Internal Revenue Service puts at $19 billion.
  • Rep. Tom Tancredo claimed illegal immigrants "are taking a large part of our health care dollars." But the independent Rand Corp. estimates that undocumented immigrants account for 1.5 percent of health care spending or less.

The site follows these summaries with longer and more substantive debunkings of the candidates' claims. And, as it turns out factcheck.org has hit the Republicans before and even chided the Democrats. Must-read material after any debate, I would say.

Effective Bullies and Propagandists, Lousy Journalists

| Tue Aug. 7, 2007 12:54 PM EDT

Uh, and how many stories should The Weekly Standard be obliged to recant? Starting perhaps with this Cheney favorite?

More from Ezra Klein.

Choose Music News on Tuesday

| Tue Aug. 7, 2007 12:44 PM EDT

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  • Former Fugees singer Lauryn Hill gives a baffling, reggae- and ska-influenced show in Brooklyn, wearing a crazy pink clown outfit, furthering rumors that she's bonkers. (Rolling Stone)

  • UK singer Lily Allen had her US visa canceled abruptly after being questioned for five hours at LAX, apparently because of her arrest in London in March after allegedly assaulting a photographer. (NME) Update: Her manager denies these reports, saying they're "rubbish," Allen is currently in Las Vegas and her September US tour dates are not in jeopardy. (Again, NME)
  • Busta Rhymes is sued for assault in New York after a 20-year-old man alleges he was beaten by the rapper and his posse after, uh, spitting on one of their cars. Lesson: don't spit on a rapper's posse's car. (Billboard)
  • Universal Records threatens to sue US retailers for selling import copies of Amy Winehouse's 2003 debut album, Frank, since they're about to release it themselves... only 4 years after the fact. (Yahoo! Music)
  • Got Sarin? Here's a Band-Aid

    | Tue Aug. 7, 2007 11:56 AM EDT

    This morning I was among a lucky few DC subway commuters to receive a bundle of safety information from a Metro representative. It included an "Emergency Guide," published by the Washington Post several years ago, several pamphlets detailing what to do in the event of a terrorist attack on the subway, and (my favorite) a pocket-size first aid kit, complete with Band-Aids, antiseptic towelettes, and antibiotic ointment. Now I'm ready for anything!! I suppose it makes sense to raise "awareness," but, geesh, reading the literature does remind you how screwed you'd be if you got stuck in one of those tunnels with a cloud of Sarin. Whatever you do, I guess you shouldn't leave the train car. As the Emergency Guide warns:

    Seen through the windows of a speeding train, a Metrorail tunnel is little more than a blur of blackness and lights. Outside the train, on foot, it's a complex and treacherous place, riddled with hazards that can cause injury or instant death.

    Thank goodness for my new moist towelette...