2009 - %3, June

140 Characters Mst B Stopt!

| Tue Jun. 16, 2009 4:19 PM PDT

The Twitter craze is insane. Now there's a Twitter conference in New York. Who are these characters? Who are these exhibitors? This post is 141 characters to spite them.

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Letterman Protest Misses Real Rape Crisis

| Tue Jun. 16, 2009 1:24 PM PDT

By the time the crowd gathers outside David Letterman’s studio today, it will be midnight in Iran, and hundreds of thousands of citizens who spent the day peacefully protesting for fair elections will—hopefully—be sleeping safely in their homes. Halfway around the world, meanwhile, a presumably smaller crowd will gather demanding something very different:  They’ll want a 62-year-old comedian and television show host fired.
 
By now, we all know what happened: David Letterman made a crude joke—punchline, inappropriate sexual innuendo—about one of Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughters. And because the joke involved sex, and the daughter is underage, and Palin is a media manipulation machine, this has become a Very Big Deal. Letterman, clearly, loves pedophilia! Sexual exploitation! Rape!  

Chastity Bono's Sex Change=Shrug

| Mon Jun. 15, 2009 7:21 PM PDT

Chastity Bono is having a sex-change. America's reaction? Whatevs.

When Bono was outed by a tab nearly 20 years ago, she called the experience "terrifying"— and mom Cher famously "flipped out."

Yet the reactions to Chastity's evolution into Chaz have veered from supportive (Cher, Hollywood Gossip, Mexican singer Thalia) to ho-hum (even Fox News couldn't muster a negative response).

This on the heels of American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert announcing his (admittedly not-at-all-surprising) homosexuality to a collective yawn.

America obviously has a long way to go when it comes to LGBT acceptance (I'm talking to you, Prop 8). But it seems Chastity/Chaz isn't the only one undergoing change.

Welcome the Chosen Google: Koogle

| Mon Jun. 15, 2009 1:53 PM PDT

It's been a busy week for Israel. First, Obama laid down the law in Cairo, demanding a two-state solution to the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In response, Israel's far-right prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that he *might* be open to the *possibility* of a Palestinian state. Iran *almost* elected a president who doesn't deny the Holocaust, while sporadic protests around the United States sought (ineffectively) to coerce popular supermarket chain Trader Joe's into ditching Israeli products.
But none of that could prepare us for Koogle, the rabbi-approved, egg-noodle-punning Hebrew language search engine for the country's exploding Orthodox population.  
Yes, Koogle—a play on Google and Kugel, a jewish noodle (or potato, or really anything) casserole—is better than all of these. The search engine (currently available only in Hebrew), filters all traif content, from sexually explicit or immodest images, to television, which is forbidden in most ultra-Orthodox communities. It also disables online shopping during the Jewish sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown). Creater Amos Azizoff told The Guardian he hopes the software will help more Hasidim—Judaism's fastest growing sect—make the leap from the 18th to the 21st century.   
Koogle may be the most ambitious web application targeting the Orthodox, but it's not the only one. Top 3 Orthodox-only websites after the jump:

Friday Photoblog

| Fri Jun. 12, 2009 10:41 AM PDT

The new issue of Dispatches is out! This time around the dense, book-sized magazine takes on Poverty. Um, a broad topic to be sure, but given the mag’s already hardy reputation for taking on massive, country-sized subjects, like "Iraq" and "Russia," "Poverty" is likely to deliver the goods.

In their last issue, Dispatches tackled Russia largely by focusing on Putin. (How can you not?) "On Russia" includes essays on Putin & power (by Mark Franchetti), the country’s push to be an energy superpower (by Andrew Meier) the FSB (by Andrei Soldatov), the Putin Youth movement (by Ilana Ozernoy) and, tied more loosely to Putin (because everything in Russia today is somehow tied to the man), the flourishing of computer hackers and the non-punishment of organized crime.

Of course, being a magazine cofounded by VII founding member Gary Knight, Dispatches always features an ample amount of photography. "On Russia" showcases Seamus Murphy’s “East of the Sun” and wonderful collection of Russian photos from 1860 – 2008, curated by Olga Korsunova, Nadya Sheremetova, and Yuri Kozyrev.


There’s a lot to digest.

As a side note, if you sign up for a subscription to Dispatches before Monday, June 15th (hurry!) you have the chance to win an Antonin Kratochvil print from his project “In God’s Country.”

While you’re over at the Dispatches website, be sure to check out the video of a conversation between Susan Meiselas, Gary Knight and Tim Hetherington on War & Photography. They aren’t just some of the best photographers of our day rehashing old stories, but some of the smartest photographers digging into a highly charged subject.

Also, don’t miss former World Press Photo secretary (and current VII Photo Managing Director) Stephen Mayes’ essay on the state of photojournalism, from last April, but every bit as poignant today, a year later. And while you’re at it, if you have 45 minutes to kill, listen to his exceptionally insightful speech from this year’s World Press Foundation awards ceremony, hosted on the Lens Culture website. The takeaway quote (paraphrased): “90% of photos show only 10% of the world.” His list of done-to-death photo essay subject rings particular true to these ears.

Speaking of World Press Photo, the new annual will be available soon (entrants have received copies), with selections from this year’s winning entries. Always a must-see.

While World Press represents the best of the established, working photojournalism community, Magnum photographer David Allen Harvey’s online-only BURN magazine has created a healthy $10,000 emerging photographer grant. The finalists are on the site now. Winning entry to be announced at the LOOK3 Festival of the Photography in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend.

The LOOK3 festival has emerged as one of the best photo festivals in the US. Wish I were there to give a first-hand account of the going-ons this weekend. I hear that the Luceo Images gang (including Mother Jones contributing photography Matt Eich) is there in force, getting a fair amount of attention.

With workshops by Brian Storm (of MediaStorm), Eugene Richards, David Allan Harvey, Larry Fink and James Nachtwey, exhibits by Martin Parr, Gilles Peress, Paolo Pellegrin, World Press Photo, POYi, Redux’s American Youth project and lots more, saying the LOOK3 festival gives you plenty of bang for your buck would be an understatement. Word is they're taking a hiatus next year, so if you can make it this week, it'll be worth the effort.

Alright, that should hold you till next week's snapshot.

Haiku Review: Studs Terkel's Last Interview

| Fri Jun. 12, 2009 9:22 AM PDT

Studs Terkel passed on October 31, 2008. Published last month, this somewhat hard-to-locate pamphlet (Feeney Publications, $8.00; email seneca321 at yahoo.com) ostensibly contains the final Q&A with the late, great American journalist and storyteller, conducted by British journalist Peter Devine. Indeed, it's titled The Final Interview. Length: 22 pages. Review length: 10 words.

Lucky timing, huh?
Terkel is always a hoot
Wanted: editor

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Jon Stewart Mocks, Needs the NYT

| Thu Jun. 11, 2009 10:55 AM PDT

In last night's Daily Show, a "reporter" toured the New York Times with executive editor Bill Keller in a segment called "End Times". The Daily Show predictably went for low-hanging fruit: the Grey Lady is incredibly old, is made of paper, and is starchier than a pot of potato stew. And did they mention it lost $74 million in the first quarter of 2009?

So yes, the Times is having a hard time lately. But though the Daily Show called it a "creaky old rag," Jon Stewart should be grateful for the paper's existence. The Daily Show—like Google News and Digg and Gawker—relies on newswires and newspapers' first-hand reporting. If the newspapers go down, it won't be just the newsstands that will be empty. Blogs and aggregators would also suffer the effects: definitely functionally, and likely fiscally.

Though you couldn't tell by the segment's tone, the Daily Show acknowledged this point in a Q&A with a Times reporter posted today on the newspaper's art blog. Jason Jones of the Daily Show said: "I think the point of the piece is, really, if I could be serious for one moment, that without institutions like yours, the news would not exist." Bill Keller put it more poignantly: "The last time I was in Baghdad I didn't see a Huffington Post bureau, or a Google bureau, or a Drudge Report bureau there, because there isn't one... because it's expensive, because it's dangerous. It's a lot easier to stay home and riff on the work somebody else does."

One point I think both Keller and the Daily Show skimmed is that just because you're a blogger, doesn't mean that you're not also a reporter. Here at Mother Jones, I believe nearly all of our bloggers also do reporting. And certainly, a blog post can BE a piece of original reporting. I don't know what the path forward for the Times looks like. But I do know that I, like the Daily Show, hope they can change their model however they need to to stay afloat. Even if, as Jones pointed out, their lifeboat is made of paper.

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My Voltaire Moment

| Thu Jun. 11, 2009 10:22 AM PDT | Scheduled to publish Thu Jun. 11, 2009 11:59 AM PDT

Yesterday, as I learned that The Donald handed Miss California Carrie Prejean a pink slip, allegedly because she failed to meet contractual obligations to make scheduled appearances, I had a Voltaire moment: "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it."

Since Prejeans's interview at the Miss USA Pageant, she has since become one of the most vilified characters in liberal America (even though San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom defended her), as she went so far as to become a spokeswoman/unofficial lobbyist for the National Organization for Marriage.

To be fair, during the infamous pageant she was questioned about same-sex marriage by Perez Hilton, who likely had an agenda to pursue, and whose website received tons of traffic from the incident. Hilton's question was clearly loaded, because as a judge he was aware that Prejean was a student at San Diego Christian College, a conservative, evangelical school in El Cajon, California. Also, I think Prejean's response was actually quite tactful. When questioned by Hilton, she responded, "Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. You know what, in my country, in my family, I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman." (See the video below)

Video: Five Funniest Gibbs Moments

| Thu Jun. 11, 2009 9:46 AM PDT

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is a funny dude. In fact, Gibbs could be the funniest press secretary in the history of media-crazed presidential administrations. In Gibbs' first four months on the job, the White House stenographer recorded more than 600 separate outbursts of "(laughter)" compared to a paltry 57 laughs during Dana Perino's first four months as press secretary for the Bush administration.

Gibbs has even been criticized for being too jovial in the press room about somber matters. But rather than poking fun at such issues, Gibbs uses humor to deflect difficult questions in an often-obvious and certainly skilled, attempt to keep the media at arm's length.

Behold the list of top five funniest moments in the Gibbs press room (video after the jump).

Fingers Crossed: Saved by The Bell Reunion

| Thu Jun. 11, 2009 3:59 AM PDT

On Tuesday night, my friend Lisa sent me an e-mail with "Amazing clip!" in the subject line. In the e-mail, she included a link and wrote: "This is the best clip ever! Zack Morris brought back to life!" Knowing that Lisa can be a drama queen, I waited a full 36 hours before checking out the e-mail. When I did, I was amazed. I had no idea that Jimmy Fallon had dedicated a significant amount of his life to organizing a Saved By The Bell cast reunion. In my mind, the whole Tonight Show switcheroo has already been trumped by Fallon's single-handed endeavor.

I'd always hoped to meet my childhood idol Zack Morris, and actor Marc-Paul Gosselaar's brilliant in-character appearance on Fallon's show kept my dream alive. For those of us born in the mid-1980s, Saved By The Bell gave us the scoop on high school from the time we entered kindergarten. And while no show is perfect (Chuck Klosterman famously critiqued SBTB's  "Tori Paradox" in his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs), I believe SBTB flirted with perfection.

Three Bayside Tigers cheers to Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, and the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon production team. Without further ado, here it is: