Conservative Hysteria Watch

CONSERVATIVE HYSTERIA WATCH....Shorter George Will: If liberals were trying to do a bunch of things they aren't trying to do, they'd really suck. Next week: If Canadians launch an attack on North Dakota, they'd be real warmongers, wouldn't they?

Late Boomers

LATE BOOMERS....In the Washington Post today, Neil Howe takes on one of my favorite hobbyhorses: The Kids These Days™. Are they really the dumbest generation ever? Howe says no: that honor belongs to my generation, those born between the late 50s and mid 60s:

On both the reading and the math tests, and at all three tested ages (9, 13 and 17), the lowest-ever scores in the history of the NAEP were recorded by children born between 1961 and 1965.

The same pattern shows up in SAT scores....It fell steeply for 17 straight years, hitting its all-time low in 1980, when it tested the 1963 cohort

....According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans born from 1958 to 1962 have the highest share that has never completed high school among all age brackets between 25 and 60. They also have the lowest share with a four-year college degree among all age brackets between 30 and 60.

....Once early Xers entered the labor force in the 1980s, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noticed something else: For the first time in decades, the share of young adults entering professions such as law, medicine and accounting began to drop.

This isn't exactly conclusive evidence, mind you, but I don't think Howe is far off the truth. If I were giving out awards for the least educated, least motivated, and least engaged recent generation, mine would certainly be a top contender.

Battleground "Ad" Nauseum

Despite the fact that as a presidential candidate Barack Obama ran several national ad buys that brought campaign advertising to California, Utah, and a number of other states that hadn't experienced the excitement/overkill of campaign season in quite a while, battleground states still dominated ad purchases. According to Fair Vote:

Percent of all presidential campaign related television ads that took place in [Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvani and Vriginia] from September 24 to November 4 – 54.5%

The campaign was consolidated in other ways as well:

Percent of all 300 campaign events by major party presidential candidates between September 5 and November 4, 2008 that took place in the states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia – 57%
Number of states where 99% of all campaign visits and 99% of all campaign spending took place: 16

And the effect of this? Just over 10 percent in voter turnout.

Voter turnout in the 15 states with the most campaign activity: 69%. Voter turnout in the remaining states: 56%

Cheering the Ouster of Democrats, Continued

I've called for Charlie Rangel's removal, despite the fact that he's great on the issues. It should be no surprise, then, that I'm cheering "Dollar Bill" Jefferson's defeat. Not a hard decision — anytime someone's been indicted on 16 charges of corruption by a federal grand jury and the FBI has found $90,000 in cash in his home freezer, it's time to go.

Jefferson leaves a very Democratic Louisiana district in the hands of a Republican. Should be a targeted pickup for the Dems in 2010.

Salvation Army Strong-Arms Marriage

red_kettle.jpg Next time you see the dingaling bell ringers on the sidewalk, and before you drop your coin in the red kettle, consider this: If you're an officer for the Salvation Army, you also live Salvation Army. Meaning the country's second largest charity (behind the United Way) mandates that their leaders (not priests, mind you, business professionals) don't drink or smoke, and that they marry only other officers. This all because the charity is a devoutly religious one, founded by an evangelical Christian in 1865. Still, Salvation Army gets a hefty chunk of its budget from government funding (via faith-based funding that Obama says he'll expand) so the marriage restriction seems to fly in the face of employment discrimination principles.

Take Captain Johnny Harsh, the head of Salvation Army's Oshkosh, Wisconsin chapter. His wife, also a captain, died of a heart attack in June. Johnny has since fallen in love with a nurse he met on a Christian online dating site, a nurse who, incidentally, is not a Salvation Army officer. Still, they got engaged. (The harsh consequence after the jump.)

Cell Phones Fry Memory

Rats exposed to mobile phone radiation for two hours a week for more than a year suffered memory loss. The findings may be related to earlier findings that microwave radiation from cell phones affects the blood-brain barrier.

The team from Lund University in Sweden previously found that albumin, a protein that acts as a transport molecule in the blood, leaks into brain tissue when lab animals are exposed to mobile phone radiation. Now they find damaged nerve cells in the cerebral cortex and in the hippocampus, the memory centers of the brain. Although the albumin leakage occurs directly after radiation, the nerve damage takes four to eight weeks to manifest.

Furthermore, the team discovered alterations in the activity of a large number of genes after cell phone radiation—not in individual genes but in groups that are functionally related. "We now see that things happen to the brains of lab animals after cell phone radiation. The next step is to try to understand why this happens," says Henrietta Nittby. She has a cell phone herself, but never holds it to her ear, using hands-free equipment instead. . . The lab animals, lacking opposable thumbs, have no choice. Oh, wait, aren't we all lab animals, in our own special way?

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the PEN USA Literary Award, the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal.

MOJO VIDEO: Rallying to Unelect Obama

Obama-haters, conspiracy theorists, and old fashioned Constitution devotees that question Barack Obama's eligibility for the White House due to his birth status reached their collective apogee Friday morning in front of the Supreme Court. The justices were considering whether to put on the docket a New Jersey case that alleges Barack Obama was a dual American and British citizen at birth, and that he thus fails the ill-defined "natural-born citizen" standard demanded of presidents by Article II of the Constitution. Legal experts doubt that the case will move forward, but that didn't stop roughly 20 people from gathering on the steps of the Supreme Court building to wave flags, pray, say the pledge of allegiance, and generate as much media attention as they could.

— By Jonathan Stein and Tay Wiles

Joe Satriani Sues Coldplay for Plagiarism

mojo-photo-coldplaysatriani.jpgPoor Coldplay. They just got word that they had the biggest-selling album of the year on iTunes and the second-highest number of Grammy nominations, and then a little thing like copying somebody else's song has to go and get in the way of their celebration. Guitarist Joe Satriani has brought a suit against the British band, saying that the title track from Viva la Vida plagiarized one of his recent songs. From Reuters:

Satriani's copyright infringement suit, filed on Thursday in Los Angeles federal court, claims the Coldplay song "Viva La Vida" incorporates "substantial original portions" of his 2004 instrumental "If I Could Fly." The 52-year-old guitar virtuoso is seeking a jury trial, damages and "any and all profits" attributable to the alleged copyright infringement.

I'd just like to point out the Satriani song is from an album titled Is There Love In Space, a title that might actually be worse than Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. Did Coldplay steal the idea for "crap" too? Anyhoo, the two songs are in the same key and have the same melody line; check out a YouTube video comparing the two songs and review previous plagiarism claims against Coldplay after the jump.

Friday Cat Blogging - 5 December 2008

FRIDAY CATBLOGGING....Last week, you'll remember, I told you that I bought a cat-shaped pod for my mother's new kittens, but when I got it home both of my cats immediately claimed it. So here they are. As you can see, it's mostly Domino who curls up in their latest new toy, but occasionally Inkblot eyes it covetously (the tenth commandment doesn't apply to cats). No fights yet, though.

In other news, Alex Massie insists that chicken-blogging will be the new sensation of 2009. Perhaps in socialist hellholes with national health services that will be true. But here in the land of the free? Please.

Email Madness From the Afro-Sphere

Authorities are planning to open the entire length of the National Mall for Obama's inauguration, a historic first. Planners are estimating that 1.5-5 million folks will be visiting DC for that occasion. (Nice ballpark figure, huh?)

I got the following joke email about it from one of those relatives. The kind who fill your inbox with miracle cures, urban myths Snopes wouldn't dignify with a debunking, and Protestant chauvinism too appalling to reply to. (Yesterday's was a shaggy dog joke about atheists suing for a holiday of their own and being informed by the judge that, as non-believers, they already had one: April 1. Hardy har.) But now I'm glad I hadn't blocked their address. This one made my day.

Since Obama's election, the afro-sphere has been abuzz with joyful outbursts, but this one is the only one to really touch me. It's a trifle, but it's so exuberant and paints such an eloquent picture of blacks' sense of validation as Americans and their sense of family with the Obamas, it makes its own gravy. Pretending to scold, it is instead a clever, jubilant way of celebrating black culture and bragging about having a homey Prez, and makes its peace with individual blacks' inability to lay hands on the magic brother. It says: We can't all be with you there, Obama. But we're there in spirit. There's a party going on in black America.

Here it is; enjoy.