2008 - %3, October

Google Goggles, YouTube Snobs, and xkcd, Oh My!

| Fri Oct. 17, 2008 4:16 PM EDT

resize.jpgFirst webcomic xkcd tossed off a funny about a virus forcing YouTube commenters to listen to their comments out loud before posting them. (Apparently there are those who believe hearing oneself sound ridiculous will stop one from using asinine words—clearly not true.) Then YouTube actually debuted something similar: Audio Preview, a non-mandatory feature that might make comments more coherent.

Still, there's no guarantee. Annoyed by X number of spelling mistakes, all or no capital letters, or extreme punctuation? Try YouTube Comment Snob, a program that lets you censor the comments you deem idiotic.

If all of that isn't web-nannying for you, check out Google's new drunkmailing prevention feature: Mail Goggles. Requiring you to answer five math questions before you can send an email, the program can be set to watch your back for whatever hour you tend to stumble home. (Its default is Friday and Saturday 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.)

—Brittney Andres

Image from xkcd.com.

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Antidote to Too Much Politics on the Riff: M.I.A. Update!

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 10:11 PM EDT

mojo-photo-miapreg.jpgSure, I'm as guilty as anyone. All of us here tend to get all whipped up into a frenzy every time something silly about Palin pops up over at HuffPo, for instance, but come on, doesn't that say "Arts & Culture" up there under "The Riff"? Commenters (and even other MoJo contributors!) may find this arty little blog a lightweight intrusion into their serious non-profit matters, but I say we take a breather from the campaign and focus on what's really important: what M.I.A.'s been up to. OMG, she's got a wee Arulpragasam in the oven! The singer confirmed her pregnancy to Pitchfork, naturally, over the weekend, saying she's "creating a baby," assumedly with the help of her fiancé Ben Brewer. By the way, not only is Brewer the singer for New York band the Exit, he's also the son of Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman. Hmm, is M.I.A. pulling a McCain, marrying up, for a little bit of—oh, damn, sorry, I promised I wouldn't talk about politics.

Back to M.I.A.: while the singer grabbed headlines when she appeared to announce her retirement onstage at Bonaroo in June, she emerged from this brief hiatus on Saturday at a Diesel-sponsored shindig in New York to do a few numbers as well as her part in T.I.'s amazing "Swagga Like Us." The party, which also featured Franz Ferdinand and N.E.R.D., was apparently the hottest ticket of the year, with thousands (!) of partygoers reduced to tears when they couldn't get in. Vulture's roundup of the event positively oozes with self-satisfaction at being one of the lucky V.I.P.'s who made it inside, but I admit I'm secreting massive amounts of jealousy. Ahem.

After the jump: More about M.I.A.!!!

Weirdest. Mississippi Political Ad. Ever.

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 8:37 PM EDT

Lately McCain and Palin (McCalin, if they were a celebrity couple) aren't the only leaders fanning the flames of prejudice among their constituents.

Mississippi's Exhibit A: Republican Sen. Roger Wicker's "zany" ad bashing Democratic rival Ronnie Musgrove for being supported by, (of all people!), The Gays. Who apparently all look like Village People, as imagineered by Walt Disney. (Oh, and cows also support Musgrove. We don't know why.)

Anyway, you can catch the rather surreal video here:

Can Halloween Mask Sales Predict the Election?

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 7:19 PM EDT

Obama%20mask.jpgMcCain.jpg According to Fortune magazine, more than one Halloween mask retailer has claimed they can correctly predict who will win the White House. Spirit Halloween, the largest seasonal Halloween vendor in the US, says Bush outsold Kerry two to one in 2004, Gore sold 14 percent fewer masks in 2000, and Clinton masks won with 71 percent in 1996.

We decided to update Fortune's presidential mask findings for 2008 thus far; here's what we found.

Breaking: McCain Almost Missed Tonight's Letterman Appearance

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 4:48 PM EDT

mojo-photo-letterman.jpgThe New York Times Caucus blog is reporting that John McCain was nearly forced to miss the taping of his "make-up" apperance on "The Late Show With David Letterman" as flights out of Philadelphia were experiencing delays. Dave would have blown his freakin' top. But they turned around and hired a helicopter:

The last time Mr. McCain canceled an appearance on "The Late Show" Mr. Letterman was not amused, and he has not let go of his fury... So when Mr. McCain found himself stuck on the tarmac here in Philadelphia, with what aides described as a two-hour delay on planes flying to Newark, he knew he had to act.
Mr. McCain's campaign plane turned around, and the campaign hired a small helicopter to whisk him, his wife, Cindy, two of their aides, and two Secret Service Agents, to their rendezvous with comedy.

McCain famously cancelled an appearance on Letterman's show three weeks ago as part of his Operation Pretend to Suspend the Campaign, but then turned up on a CBS internal feed preparing for a chat with Katie Couric. Letterman has mocked the senator ferociously since then. Tonight's appearance was to be a last-ditch attempt by McCain to calm Letterman down, but like just about everything these days, it sure seems like a lose-lose for poor old John. After the jump, a couple of choice McCain-skewering moments from recent Late Shows.

Top 5, October 15: New Music

| Wed Oct. 15, 2008 8:48 PM EDT

mojo-photo-top5-101508.jpg

In this edition: apocalyptic hip-hop, sweeping indie-rock, an inevitable mashup, soaring electro-pop, and, uh, quirky Marxist lounge music, I guess.

1. T.I. feat. Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil' Wayne – "Swagga Like Us"

Every great rapper working today? Check. A menacing electronic buzz reminiscent of nothing so much as the avant-garde synth soundtrack to '80s cult hit "Liquid Sky"? Check. Auto-tune turned up to "11," forcing the voices into unnatural, robotic stutters? Check. A so-hip-it-hurts sample loop from M.I.A's "Paper Planes," with her always-hypnotic voice providing the only organic counterpoint to the machines in this profoundly strange and apocalyptic piece of music? Check.

2. Margot & the Nuclear So & Sos – "A Children's Crusade on Acid"
At first, it seems a brief flirtation with backwards drums will be the only real reference to LSD-tinged psychedelia on this track from the Indiana combo. But then the simple piano chords suddenly give way to a huge, distorted bass noise, and lead singer Richard Edwards sings, "The children lose their minds/In such uncertain times." Plus it was featured in "One Tree Hill"! (mp3 from The Yellow Stereo)

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Obama, Sure. But Will McCain Hit Your Xbox Too?

| Wed Oct. 15, 2008 8:12 PM EDT

obama%20xbox.jpg

As Jonathan Stein pointed out earlier, the Obama campaign is leaving no constituent behind. The campaign has purchased ad space in a slew of online Xbox 360 games, including Madden NFL 09 and Burnout Paradise, in 10 battleground states.

If the Obama ads nudge swing-state gamers to participate in early voting, will McCain then follow Obama's online lead?

Click here for one blogger's rendition of what McCain's Xbox ads might look like. Once he gets over that pesky case of technophobia, anyway.


Nichole Wong

Devo Returns to Akron to Help the Democrats

| Wed Oct. 15, 2008 4:26 PM EDT

mojo-photo-devo.jpgNew wave innovators and silly hat proponents Devo are coming together to play their first show in their hometown of Akron, Ohio in 30 years, and it's a fundraiser for the Democratic Party.

Over the years, the band has performed several times in Cleveland and at Blossom Music Center, but, by Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh's recollection, the band's show on Friday at the Civic Theatre will bring the band full circle as the theater was the setting of their final Akron concert in 1978. The show, called Duty Now for the Future — the title of Devo's sophomore album — will be a benefit for the Summit County Democratic Party. … "Ohio is in our blood," said Mothersbaugh, "you can take the boys out of Ohio but you can't take Ohio out of the boys.''
The band, which also includes Mothersbaugh's brother, Bob; brothers Gerald and Bob Casale and Josh Freese, is not touring, but Mothersbaugh said the election was too important to stand by and do nothing to inspire folks to get to the polls.
"I think our fans are like us in that they are pro-information and anti-stupidity,'' he said laughing heartily.

Devo members, in addition to being anti-stupidity and wearing those funny hats, have also been active proponents of the Church of the SubGenius, which in this day and age is probably considered a terrorist group, so it's probably best if Obama himself doesn't show up. But apparently the Black Keys and Chrissie Hynde might. Go, Ohio! Are there any direct flights to Akron from here?

What Would an Obama Administration Mean For Rock 'n' Roll?

| Wed Oct. 15, 2008 2:56 PM EDT

mojo-photo-obamanirvana.jpgI know, I know: don't jinx it. But seriously, have you seen the latest polls? With a 14-point lead, I think a little creative visualization is allowed. So, a Democratic president takes over from an unpopular Bush-led administration after an Iraq war doesn't quite turn out as hoped, as the economy goes spiraling into the pooper. Sound familiar? An eerily similar set of circumstances was at play 16 years ago, and at the same time, an edgy, independent new genre of punk-inflected rock came to dominate American culture and redefine the notion of "alternative" music. Grunge was both idiosyncratically local and an inevitable product of its time, an expression of anguish and frustration at the world: the failing economy, monolithic pop culture, an out-of-touch government. Granted, Nirvana's Nevermind hit #1 on the Billboard album charts in January, 1992, just as candidate Bill Clinton was fighting off the now-almost-quaint-seeming Gennifer Flowers scandal, and clearly, the Northwest grunge scene had been bubbling under for a few years before that. But right now, rock, as such, seems primed for a revival: charts are dominated by hip-hop and American Idol winners, and the underground is all electro, all the time. Could a generation of kids be about to lose their jobs and pick up guitars?

On Bitch Magazine, Female Bodyguards, and More Feminist Superheroes

| Tue Oct. 14, 2008 7:17 PM EDT

Over the last few days, quite a few articles about women have been messing with my mind. In a good way. With all the gloom and doom out there, it's crucial to be reminded that we chicks are still in the trenches making art, fighting the power, and refusing to shut the 'f' up.

First, Bitch magazine. Sadly, and to my chagrin, this is a mag I've never read, though I keep reminding myself to. Running after two kids and living the vida loca freelance life, I pretty much only read print mags I'm comp'd for (meaning: They send it to me free either because I've written for them or because they hope I'll reference them in my own work). My beloved New Yorker is the only magazine I remember to pay for anymore. I actually sigh with pleasure when it arrives, carve out precious time to read it in peace, and feel sad when I get to the cartoon contest at the back. (More is another must read. I love it so much, I spoofed it. I've written for them, so when my comp runs out I'll move my keister to subscribe. There's also MoJo, of course, which goes without saying). Pre-munchkins, I subscribed to 12 mags, read books galore, and saw every indecipherable foreign movie, too. Damn, where'd my life go? I can't wait to get old and be a burden to those two life-drainers. Maybe I'll fake early onset...something.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Bitch magazine.

From womensenews: