Mixed Media

Coolest G-20 Leaders Forming a Band?

| Thu Apr. 2, 2009 5:07 PM EDT
Anybody else notice the similarity between the arrangement of four of our world leaders at the G-20 conference in this picture, and a famous shot of one of the world's greatest bands? Because we did. I'm trying to think of a joke about "Obama met the queen and now he wants to be in Queen," but it's not happening. So, what instrument do you think each of them plays? Hu Jintao's got the Freddy Mercury position, but he just doesn't seem like he's got lead singer charisma. Sorry, but it's true. Belusconi, on the other hand, thinks he's in the Monkees. You're supposed to try and look cool, dude! Medvedev is so the drummer. By the way, how pissed is Sarkozy he didn't get in this shot? That'll teach him to be late to dinner. Although five members does make your musical combo much more likely to be a "boy band," so maybe he got a "non, merci" from the clearly-intent-on-musical-integrity Medvedev? Our own Dave Gilson didn't see "rock band" in this picture, he saw Japanese Photo Booth. He has a point. Check out his enhanced version of the shot after the jump.

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Web 2.0 Expo Gets Recessionified

| Thu Apr. 2, 2009 3:57 PM EDT

The theme of this week's Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Silicon Valley's annual geek family reunion qua idea show and tell, is "The Power of Less." Here in the Texas-sized Moscone conference center (hike toward the panel just over the hallway horizon!), recession is definitely the new green.

Many of this year's talks are grim soup lines doling out tips on how to hang on to a slippery website dollar among fickle, fickle users, or wring a few pennies out of Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media enterprise.

And forget the Wii-filled, bass-thumping blogger room and the eco-idealist exhibit swag of 2008. Nothing but coffee urns and industrious laptop-tappers here in the media room this year, people. Thank God.

One app I'm liking today: Gawkk, which bills itself as a 'Twitter for videos,' "where members discover, share, and discuss videos from around the web with their friends by answering the question: What are you watching?"

Coming Friday: etsy! Threadless! And more counter-intuitive hipster business models that seem to work better than AIG's.

Is Having Children Stupid?

| Thu Apr. 2, 2009 1:31 PM EDT

Yes. It absolutely is. But I did it anyway. Twice.

OpenSalon ran a thought provoking piece the other day: Does Having Children Ruin Your Life?

Well, we know it ruins the planet, but between now and Armageddon, why have them at all? A childless 31-year-old wonders, seemingly sincerely, why people do it, meaning: Why should she? She doesn't really want to but knows her bio clock is ticking. With her egg timer running out, she muses:

The parents I know seem, as a general rule, to be less happy than the non-parents. They are more stressed out, more exhausted, more worried, less fun, less funny, and much more interested in their personal/familial lives than the outside world—at least compared to those without children. Now of course, this is all perfectly natural. Raising a child (or more than one) takes a huge amount of physical and emotional energy. Anything that sucks up your physical and emotional energy will lead to the previously enumerated list of characteristics. So I understand. But my question is, why do people become parents when parenthood seems so awful?

Why do we have kids? We no longer need them to help around the farm. We no longer expect them to go off to the work in the big city and send home money, nor can we expect them to care for us in our old age. Hell, we can't even expect to stay married to their other parent, in which case everyone involved thoroughly suffers. They're cute and adorable, but so are our nieces, nephews, students, and the babies we can volunteer to cuddle down at County General. We all know the havoc they're going to wreak in our lives, and we still move heaven and earth to have them (see octo-mom, or the material mom, Madonna).

I was always ambivalent about having kids. Growing up where I did, it was quite obvious to me that children were the supremo recipe for ensuring a miserable life for myself, at least until they were grown. My motto was: I can be one kind of happy with kids and another kind without them. But my ex wanted kids and it took me all of a minute to cast off 40 years of 'no kids, no way'. There was no rationality, no weighing of the pros and cons involved, and they make my life extremely difficult. Miserable, sometimes.

Yet, I'm glad I had them and I can't wait to see who they grow up to be. Hard work as they are, it's still like living with unicorns—unutterably beautiful creatures who nonetheless destroy the carpets, gore the walls with those horns, and embarrass me in public with their lost bowel control.

But I think I'd just be a different kind of happy without them.

So, to that author, don't do it if you don't want to. Either way, it's up to you how your life turns out.

Or, just be French about it. Check out French Vogue's take on motherhood. Talk about ambivalence.

If Drum Can Cat Blog, I Can Kid Blog

| Wed Apr. 1, 2009 1:11 AM EDT

Out of nowhere, my 5-year-old daughter looks up from her crayons and asks, oh so seriously: "Mom. If I become a mermaid, you'll tell me, right?"

What could I say but, "I promise, honey"?

Update: My 7-year-old is wrestling with my 5-year-old. As I head over to pull the abnormally tall second grader off the average height kindergartener, I hear her say: "Get OFF me! My bootie is soooo important to me!"

Seems he was pushing her down into the couch cushions under which was hidden a huge cache of pointy Legos. 

One Pathetic Tip for Surviving the Recession

| Wed Apr. 1, 2009 1:08 AM EDT

Salon has a piece up about the world of hard core scavengers. It's not as gross as it sounds, once you know what you're doing. And get over your pre-Bush/recession heebie jeebies. It put me in mind of a kinder-gentler dumpster diving con I just discovered.

I stumbled on this scam last week when I scraped up the bucks to take the kids to their favorite restaurant (where they scarf down the bread which I've tried, and miserably failed, to recreate Chez Dickerson). They of course call it, "The Bread Restaurant." When I realized I'd left my reading glasses at home and was playing trombone with the menu, the waitress said "I'll be right back."

Turns out they keep a jar full of left-behind reading glasses. Now I pull this sad fake out at every Chili's and above restaurant. It's only fair: I've lost three pair so far this year and it's not quite April. Someone scored mine, right?

Feminism's Frankensteins

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 10:22 PM EDT

"Feminism's Frankensteins" is Courtney E. Martin's phrase, not mine. And she's right.

Writing in TAP, she argues that, "The era of the singular feminist agenda is over. But that doesn't mean gender-based activism is."

If it's Tuesday, that means the feminist movement has been declared DOA again. This time, though, the analysis is actually worthy. Usually what that means is that women are not, and perhaps never were, discriminated against; the movement is over because it is no longer, or never was, needed. In other words: Bitches, quit your bitching. The absolute worst of these 'feminism is dead' dirges are the ones written by young female wannabees with nothing to offer the world but their quest for unearned fame. Martin's saying something quite different. Attending an old school feminist forum, she writes:

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Madonna vs. Malawi, Part Two

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 7:31 PM EDT

Madonna's been all over the papers this week as she waits for Malawi to finalize legal proceedings for the adoption of her fourth child, a 14-month old girl named Mercy James. This comes on the heels of increased skepticism over the legality of her prior Malawi adoption: her son David Banda, age three, has a birth father who now claims he regrets the adoption. The rules for international adoption in Malawi are vague, but the 12-month mandatory waiting period (which Madonna appears to have bypassed) is not. Thus, because of her star treatment, Madonna's adoptions have been treated with scorn rather than humanitarian envy. She's even been called out by fellow adoption-happy celeb Angelina Jolie.

Though the recent flurry of celebrity adoptions has definitely brought attention to issues surrounding international adoptions, the results have been mixed. It’s hard to focus on the sinister undertones of taking a child out of a poverty-stricken country with high infant mortality rates. In the Republic of Malawi, for example, almost 12 percent of the population is infected with AIDS, medical care is minimal, and life expectancy hovers around a dismal 43 years. 

But cynics argue that the benefits of international adoption, particularly when the adoptive parents are celebrities, rarely outweigh the costs. CNN wrote of Madonna's first adoption of David Banda in 2006:

Regardless of the motives of their adoptive parents, a child picked up from a developing country and dropped straight into the inevitable media spotlight becomes an unwitting poster child for poverty...
Although Madonna has pledged $3 million to the Raising Malawi charity, which aims to provide care and support for the country's one million (out of a total population of 12 million) orphans, even that generosity is tempered by the fact that the multi-million album-selling artist already has a fortune estimated to be worth some $460 million.

And, as Scott Carney reported in our March/April 2009 issue, vaguely worded international laws and cash-hungry adoption agencies make it very difficult to assure that a child in a poor country has been truly surrendered instead of trafficked. A little bit of extra research, Carney suggests, and adherence to international guidelines could save parents, biological and adoptive, a lifetime of regret.

Rachel Maddow Video 8: Who She Trusts to Report the Bailout

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 5:21 PM EDT

If you like this video, don't miss our other exclusive Rachel Maddow videos.