Blogs

Body Blow to John Edwards: Unions Might Not Issue Endorsement

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 12:52 PM EDT

Bad news for Jedwards. Union leadership is "so happy" with the Democratic candidates for president that it might not endorse a contender in the primary, according to the NY Times. John Edwards, of course, has spent literally years courting organized labor in the hopes of getting its endorsement, which would be a huge boost for him in Iowa, where as many as one-third of Democratic caucusgoers come from union households, and elsewhere.

What's particularly sad is that poor Edwards hasn't done anything wrong. "There's a pretty strong sentiment across the labor movement for Edwards," said Steve Rosenthal, a former political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. "But I think some unions are a little leery of endorsing him without more evidence that he can win."

Ouch. How's that for a catch-22? Edwards can't get the labor endorsement because he can't win, and he can't win without the labor endorsement. It's tough being number three.

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Start Composing Your Own Background Music, Bar Owners

| Wed Aug. 1, 2007 12:34 PM EDT

mojo-photo-ascap.JPGIn a move that says to the world, "no, of course we're not desperate and fearful, as our industry crumbles around us," music-licensing group ASCAP is now going after bars, clubs and restaurants that play any of the over 8 million songs by artists they represent without paying appropriate fees. ASCAP have apparently sued over two dozen venues recently who have failed to pay their royalties. Of course, legally, ASCAP is right: if I charge people $5 to come listen to the new U2 CD, it sure seems like that's money U2 should get. Since, you know, they need more money. But business owners often pay music services for chatter-free background tunes; is that different from just turning on the radio? Most amusing is this statement from Vincent Candilora, ASCAP senior vice president for licensing: "As long as it's [played] outside a direct circle of friends and family, it is considered a public performance." So, how many friends and family can I have before it's not considered a "direct circle?" We need friendship guidelines!

Tuesday is Music News-Day

| Tue Jul. 31, 2007 9:14 PM EDT

mojo-photo-joannanewsom.JPG

  • San Francisco singer/harpist/folk heroine Joanna Newsom to perform with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall November 9th (NME)

  • 62-year-old Debbie Harry reveals her secret to eternal youth is, er, sheep embryos (Us Magazine)
  • Kanye West asks Swedish alt-popsters Peter Bjorn & John to be his backing band (Pitchfork)
  • Faith Hill decries fan crotch-grabbing of husband Tim McGraw (Yahoo! Music)
  • Ozzfest at Red Rocks erupts into cheap-seats-vs-reserved-seats class warfare (MyFox Colorado)
  • The Power of Wind Energy

    | Tue Jul. 31, 2007 8:35 PM EDT

    This Friday, the House is voting on bill H.R. 969, including the Udall-Platts Amendment that will require more of our electricity to come from renewable power sources like wind. In addition to creating jobs, the amendment is designed to keep electricity bills low, reduce our dependence on sources of power that aren't created in the U.S., and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Check it out.

    Big oil & coal are fighting it. Fight them. Renewables are good for all stakeholders on planet Earth. JULIA WHITTY

    The Power of Wind Energy

    | Tue Jul. 31, 2007 8:24 PM EDT

    This Friday, the House is voting on bill H.R. 969, including the Udall-Platts Amendment that will require more of our electricity to come from renewable power sources like wind. In addition to creating jobs, the amendment is designed to keep electricity bills low, reduce our dependence on sources of power that aren't created in the U.S., and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Check it out.

    Big oil & coal are fighting it. Fight them. Renewables are good for all stakeholders on planet Earth. JULIA WHITTY

    Kashmiri War Good For Wildlife

    | Tue Jul. 31, 2007 7:59 PM EDT

    The violence that's killed thousands of people in South Asia's disputed Kashmir region has, ironically, fostered a 30 to 60 percent increase in the population of endangered Asiatic black bears. The bears are the victims of poachers, who hunt them for their fur, paws, and gall bladders, which have mythical medicinal qualities. The WorldWatch Institute reports the story by the Toronto Globe and Mail, that the presence of the Indian military and opposition fighters in Himalayan forests has discouraged poachers from entering the area, allowing the bears to recover slightly. . . Hmm. War. What is it good for? . . . Not to mention which, maybe it's kept a few from the dancing bear (aka slave) trade.

    Check out some of the lucky few. JULIA WHITTY

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    Sharkrunners Lets You Play Marine Biologist

    | Tue Jul. 31, 2007 7:30 PM EDT

    Here's a blog from publishing house O'Reilly on a Discovery Channel online game called Sharkrunners that lets you play the part of a marine biologist tracking sharks, many endangered. You get a virtual boat and virtual crew but track real-life sharks tagged with GPS receivers. When your boat encounters a shark, you're alerted via email and/or SMS. You get three hours to collect data about the shark, the goal being to collect as much data as possible. (Okay, in the real world more data is not always better, case in point: our overwhelmed intelligence agencies, but…) As Brady Forrest at O'Reilly reports:

    My boat, the Roo, has just left the port of San Luis Obispo. We had our first encounter 15 minutes after leaving port. Now that I have some funding I'll probably get another crew member (which increases the likelihood of my getting data and decreases the likelihood of my crew dying) or upgrade my boat (a better craft allows me to stay out to sea longer). My single shark encounter netted me $2,200. Given that the game launched a week and players already have over $700,000, I think the players really like it.

    Sounds like fun for everyone. Except the sharks. JULIA WHITTY

    Finally Some Progress on Darfur

    | Tue Jul. 31, 2007 5:05 PM EDT

    Reuters is reporting that the United Nations Security Council has authorized 26,000 peacekeepers for Sudan's Darfur region. Member countries will have 30 days to decide how many troops and police they will be contributing to the mission (American ground troops seem unlikely). The unanimous vote came only after the peacekeepers' mandate had been watered down several times, but this is unmistakably progress:

    The resolution allows the use of force in self-defense, to ensure freedom of movement for humanitarian workers and to protect civilians under attack.

    Language that allowed confiscating illegal weapons would have been nice, but being able to act to protect civilians under attack is what is most important. And while 26,000 blue hats probably isn't enough to stop the widespread killing in Darfur, it's a lot better than 7,000 African Union troops. It's a sign that the international community is finally starting to move on this issue. It's a start. We can be grateful for that.

    — Nick Baumann

    Hard-Fi's Cover Art Is No Cover Art

    | Tue Jul. 31, 2007 3:33 PM EDT

    mojo-cover-hardfi.JPGBritish band Hard-Fi have garnered some negative publicity after the cover art for their upcoming sophomore release, Once Upon a Time in the West, was revealed: a yellow field with the words "NO COVER ART" in large type. The band gave a statement about "breaking the rules" or whatever to the NME, but in fact, cover art that's anti-cover art has been around for a while.

    mojo-cover-flipper.JPGFirst of all, the cover that seems to have directly inspired Hard-Fi's art prank: San Francisco punk band Flipper's 1982 release, Album – Generic Flipper. It's the same Generic Yellow, and features a similar font; somehow, though, I imagine Hard-Fi's new album won't be quite as ground breaking.

    mojo-cover-pil.JPGFlipper's generic cover concept was said to have influenced Public Image Limited's multiple covers for their 1986 release, alternately titled Album, Cassette, or Compact Disc, depending on the format. I even own 12" Single, featuring an extended mix of "Rise." Flipper returned the favor by later releasing a live album called Public Flipper Limited.
    mojo-cover-beatles.JPGOf course, the blank concept art-cover basically began with The Beatles; the 1968 release was designed by Richard Hamilton, who had put together a Duchamp exhibit at the Tate the year before.

    mojo-cover-damned.JPGWikipedia says The Damned was the first band to explicitly invert the concept with their Black Album in 1980, although there's actually quite a bit going on here. More literally black covers can be found on later releases by Prince and Metallica; for a list of albums featuring basically blank cover art, check out this list here.

    mojo-photo-malevich.JPGCan we trace this trend back to Kazimir Malevich's 1915 Suprematist masterwork, "Black Square?" The painting was placed in the position on the wall traditionally reserved for a religious icon, usurping the image of Christ; are blank album covers similar denials of their creators? Not that rock stars consider themselves Christ-like or anything.

    Dep't of See to Believe: Professionally Enraged Man in Every Press Photo Ever

    | Tue Jul. 31, 2007 3:25 PM EDT

    Okay, I can't vouch for this site, but it seems to have found an omnipresent Islamic protester who is very angry and has a knack for finding the camera. It's literally the same dude in tons of different photos. Take a second and make your day.