What is 'Sexy,' Anyway?

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 2:21 PM EST

Ira Glass' voice? Jeffrey Wright's widow's peak? And Owen Wilson's nose? I would argue that none of none of those features are inherently sexy, But the folks over at Salon, who have just released their second annual list of the sexiest men alive, disagree.

Salon's list is surely a welcome reprieve from those annoying sexy lists put out by the likes of People, FHM magazine, and who knows who else. Why? Because it's full of random choices like the cartoon character Strong Bad, novelist Javier Marías, and Cate Blanchett in her portrayal of Bob Dylan, and there are no signs of the likes of Justin Timberlake or Matt Damon anywhere on the list. Hey, there's nothing wrong with being sexy, but who's to say, as Salon demonstrates, that lantern jaws, bulging biceps, and Seacrest hair are prerequisites? So who's got nominees for a more creative, sexiest female alive list?

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No One Wants to Blog for Bush Anymore

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 11:42 AM EST

blogsforbush.jpg Once upon a time, writing a right-wing website called Blogs for Bush must have been easy. But now, when the president has lost the confidence of the American people, alienated even his far-right base over the issue of immigration, shepherded a war in disastrous fashion, and failed to achieve a single significant and lasting domestic policy victory... what to do?

Bail on Bush, of course. Blogs for Bush is changing their name to Blogs for Victory. They're saying that it is in anticipation of Bush's departure from the White House, but let's not miss the PR aspect. Check out this very suspicious correlation:


How Ugly Will the Democratic Race Get (Tonight and Afterward)?

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 9:37 AM EST

How nasty will it get in Vegas?

Tonight, the Democrats will gather in family-friendly Sin City for yet another debate, and as they prep for this face-off, John Edwards and Barack Obama must be calculating how far to go in assailing front-runner Hillary Clinton. And she must be wondering how sharp to be in return.

The latest Iowa poll from The New York Times and CBS News depicts the race in the Hawkeye State as virtually a three-way tie (Clinton, 25 percent; Edwards, 23 percent, and Obama, 22 percent). Such results presumably scare the Clinton machine. If she falls in Iowa, so too does her campaign's double-sided argument of inevitability and electability. These poll numbers are obvious encouragement for the two men with the best shot of toppling her--and a sign that their recent moves might be working.

In the past week, both Obama and Edwards have intensified their attacks on Clinton. At the Jefferson Jackson Day dinner in Iowa on Saturday night, Obama, in a fiery speech, declared:

The same old Washington textbook campaigns just won't do in this election. That's why not answering questions 'cause we are afraid our answers won't be popular just won't do. That's why telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of telling the American people what they need to hear just won't do. Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we're worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won't do. If we are really serious about winning this election Democrats, we can't live in fear of losing it....

I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over....They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House....

I am sick and tired of Democrats thinking that the only way to look tough on national security is by talking, and acting, and voting like George Bush Republicans. When I am this party's nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran....I don't want to spend the next year or the next four years re-fighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s.

Whether or not the tired Iowan Democrats realized it, this was all an attack on HRC the hawkish, triangulating, hyperpartisan kingpin of conventional, lobbyist-fueled Washington politics--though Obama never mentioned her by name. He was offering a contrast deeply unkind to Clinton without coming across as a slasher.

Metal/Reggae: Music Designed to Confuse You

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 1:15 AM EST

I'm going out on limb here and guessing that few Mother Jones readers are big fans of heavy metal, but I'm not going to let that stop me from recommending a listen to Dub Trio's newest release, Another Sound is Dying, put out by Ipecac Recordings.

Ipecac was created by Mike Patton, the lead singer of the late-80s, early-90s rock band Faith No More, which scored the big MTV hit, "Epic."

Dub Trio mixes reggae with metal, which might sound like a pretty dumb idea, But this New York City-based group pulls it off, in part because this band has talent. They've recorded with hip-hop artists like 50 Cent, Mos Def, Common, the Fugees, Tupac (RIP), and Matisyahu, and toured with Gogol Bordello, Clutch and Helmet. This definitely isn't music to dance to, but it's a risky hybrid of two genres on the opposite end of the musical spectrum; which is why I like it.

Hip Hop Celebrates Itself This Month

| Thu Nov. 15, 2007 12:39 AM EST

I had no idea, but apparently November is Hip Hop History Month, according to hip hop event organizers at Hip Hop Elements and hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa's outreach organization Universal Zulu Nation.

If you're too busy to go out and support local hip hop performers (not a bad way to show the love) this month, get a crash course from some recent coverage of hip hop culture: The San Francisco Chronicle has a good coverage of an independent hip hop collective in Oakland, Mother Jones gives a new take on hip hop as a new civil rights movement, hip-hop historian Davey D offers up a history of hip hop, and VH1 gives top honors for hip hop in 2007.

The Dirtiest Dozen Polluters

| Wed Nov. 14, 2007 8:08 PM EST


Southern Co's Plant Scherer in Georgia is the biggest CO2 emitter in the US and 20th worst in the world

Among 50,000 power plants worldwide, which are the biggest CO2 emitters? The Center for Global Development has analyzed that. Turns out Australians are (still) the biggest per capita emitters (11 tons of power-sector CO2 emissions per person per year). Americans are the biggest overall (>9 tons pp). China (2 tons pp) and India (0.5 tons pp) are still lightweights per capita, though seriously competitive on a cumulative level.

Globally, power generation emits nearly 10 billion tons of CO2 per year. The 8,000 power plants in the US spew more 25 percent of that. Roughly 2.8 billion tons per year. The US's biggest CO2 emitter is Southern Co, the sty (pig or eye, your choice) of the nation, with annual emissions of 172 million tons, followed by dirtbags American Electric Power Company Inc, Duke Energy Corp, and AES Corp.

Here are dirtiest dozen individual plants in the US. All are coal-fired. Any in your hood, parading as do-gooders?

• The Scherer plant in Juliet, GA: 25.3 million tons • The Miller plant in Quinton, AL: 20.6 million tons • The Bowen plant in Cartersville, GA: 20.5 million tons • The Gibson plant in Owensville, IN: 20.4 million tons • The W.A. Parish plant in Thompsons, TX: 20 million tons • The Navajo plant in Page, AZ: 19.9 million tons • The Martin Lake plant in Tatum, TX: 19.8 million tons • The Cumberland plant in Cumberland City, TN: 19.6 million tons • The Gavin plant in Cheshire, OH: 18.7 million tons • The Sherburne County plant in Becker, MN: 17.9 million tons • The Bruce Mansfield plant in Shippingport, PA: 17.4 million tons • The Rockport plant in Rockport, IN: 16.6 million tons.

The least dirty CO2 region in the US is the West Coast, where much of the electric power is generated by nuclear and hydroelectric plants.

Number one worst power plant the world is Taichung Lung-Ching Township Taiwan, at 41.3 million tons a year.

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

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Hard-Working Microbes Make Hydrogen At Record Rate

| Wed Nov. 14, 2007 7:21 PM EST


Bacteria break up fermented plant waste in a microbial electrolysis cell, forming hydrogen

Researchers at Penn State University have coaxed common bacteria to produce hydrogen in a new, efficient way. Using starter material that could theoretically be sourced from a salad bar, the team has charmed bacteria from wastewater into generating abundant, clean hydrogen from cellulose or vinegar with a little zap of electricity. In a table-top reactor, no less.

Other systems produce hydrogen on a larger scale, reports the National Science Foundation, but few if any match the new system for energy efficiency. Even with the small jolt of electricity, the hydrogen provides more energy as fuel than the electricity needed to drive the reactor. The overall efficiency of the vinegar-fueled system is better than 80 percent, far better than the efficiency generating the leading alternative, ethanol. By perfecting the environment for the bacteria to do what they already do in nature, the new approach can be three to ten times more efficient than standard electrolysis.

Good news. And further proof that bacteria are our friends.

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

Stupid in the Eye of the Beholder: The Human Genome and Racial Difference

| Wed Nov. 14, 2007 7:18 PM EST

The decoding of the human genome continues apace and those of us who have latched on to the '99% meme' (e.g. "99% of our DNA is the same so we all live in a yellow submarine of bio-racial sameness la la la," etc.) have to batten down the hatches for the continuing unprocessed info-glut from the science types even as the political types sharpen their anti-intellectual cultural swords.

Here's the good news: "When scientists first decoded the human genome in 2000, they were quick to portray it as proof of humankind's remarkable similarity. The DNA of any two people, they emphasized, is at least 99 percent identical."

Here's the bad: "But new research is exploring the remaining fraction to explain differences between people of different continental origins."

Take Two Aspirin and Call the NSC in the Morning

| Wed Nov. 14, 2007 4:01 PM EST

The hawks in charge of health care reform? Say it ain't so. Okay, it ain't so ... yet. But in this month's Health Affairs, Leonard Schaeffer warns that if we don't act soon--the "we" in this case being the U.S. medical-industrial complex--the national security guys and budget minders will be the ones rakishly calling the shots on our healthcare future. Why, they wouldn't dare! Well, actually they would, because in case you haven't noticed, healthcare spending is turning into the new global warming. (more after the jump)

Mixing Activism With Heavy Rock

| Wed Nov. 14, 2007 3:30 PM EST

When he's not speaking with members of Congress about the Armenian Genocide, System of a Down lead singer Serj Tankian is playing sold-out concerts around the globe. Mother Jones spoke with Tankian about his new solo record, his nonprofit activist group, and Turkey's role in the war in Iraq. To read the full interview, head to MoJo's Media & Culture page.