A new study from New York University shows that your political preference is more than just a preference: part of it is written in your DNA. "40, perhaps 50 percent of our political beliefs seem to have a basis in genetics," said Josh Hibbing, political science professor at University of Nebraska, who contributed to the study.
Hibbing's research showed that identical twins were more likely to share political beliefs than fraternal twins, regardless of how they were raised. But DNA does not "hardwire" the belief itself, it merely affects how a person responds to a given situation. A control-happy neat-freak is far more likely to be a conservative because he or she prefers order and the comfort of the familiar in their life, whereas a touchy-feely, globe-trotting artist is more likely to be a liberal because he or she enjoys new experiences.
But the environment is just a strong a factor as genes, especially when personal security is threatened. Thirty-eight percent World Trade Center survivors, said they grew more conservative after 9/11; only 13 percent said they were more liberal.
Al Gore's Live Earth concerts (the lineup of which I controversially dissed a while back) are getting some more negative publicity. First up, last week, a surprisingly coherent Roger Daltry of the Who told England's The Sun that "the last thing the planet needs is a rock concert." Well now! How do you feel, Mr. Daltry, about using a notoriously wasteful type of event to raise environmental awareness? "I can't believe it," he says, "let's burn even more fuel." Daltry did of course play both LiveAid and Live8, which were apparently not powered by fuel but by magical unicorns on treadmills. Speaking of LiveAid, Sir Bob Geldof himself was even more harsh on Live Earth, saying "everybody" already knows about global warming. Knows about, and rejects, Sir Bob, just like that crazy idea we evolved from monkeys.
Good news for dancers and copyfighters: the creator of the Electric Slide has just taken a step back and agreed to allow non-commercial use of the disco-era dance which, as Wikipedia helpfully explains, "is still done frequently at social occasions to virtually any music." Ric Silver, the man behind the moves, had been sending legal notices to people who posted videos of the dance, asserting his copyright over it. Now, he's going to license the dance through Creative Commons (which apparently includes letting Spiderman and a Transformer do it, as they do in this image from his website). There's no word, however, on the Funky Chicken patent dispute.
Back in New York City, and I wish I could say this week's list is influenced by the hot new trends sweeping the metro area, but unfortunately I've been hard at work the whole week and haven't really been hitting the Williamsburg night spots or anything. Sorry, Riff readers. So, the New Yorky stuff in the Top Ten is pretty superficial, but the music is good, I promise.
10. DJ Medhi - "Signatune" (Thomas Bangalter edit)
France is making my favorite electro jams right now, and one hopes Sarko won't quash the locals' efforts in a misguided attempt to Americanize the music scene. This track from Paris's DJ Medhi is an exhilerating take on the hyper-compressed cut-up sample-based techno style pionneered by fellow Frenchmen Daft Punk, and in fact one of the Punks himself gives it an extended edit that allows the song time to build.
9. A cool picture of lightning striking the Empire State Building on Wednesday 5/16
At the time I was safely ensconced at the CBS Upfronts at Carnegie Hall a few blocks uptown (which, unfortunately, I can't really cover, ethically at least, because I was hired by them for some music production and DJing, but I have some really good stories if you buy me a beer). It was still an exciting storm. Amusingly the rain kind of ruined the CBS after party at Tavern on the Green, where all the suits and CBS stars were forced to squeeze into the limited indoor spaces, while a couple of the video crew and myself huddled outside under an umbrella with some bartenders, desperately trying to smoke our damp cigarettes, as the rain poured down and the wind seemed to bring the topiary elephants to life.
8. Rhythm Scholar vs. Queen vs. The World - "Another One Bites the Dust" (Blasted Breaks mix) (mp3 from his site)
This stuttery, extended mix uses Queen as its basis but then launches off into samples from Rob Base, Spin Doctors, Joan Jett, and many others. It ends up not being a mashup so much as a kind of acid-house approach to classic rock: recognizable clips reorganized over an insistent beat, aimed at the dancefloor.
7. Ratatat - Remixes Vol. II (self-released CD)
The New York electronic duo jump into the mixtape world again with this fantastic compilation of their takes on the biggest names in hip-hop. Young Jeezy, Jay-Z, and Kanye all make (unauthorized) appearances, and their reworkings of the backing tracks are often revelatory, giving rockist "oomph" to the insistent rhymes from the rappers. Grab an mp3 here of their take on Notorius B.I.G.'s 1993 hit, "Party and Bulls***."
6. Low - "Hatchet" (Optimimi version)
The Minnesota trio's recent album, Drums and Guns, is turning out to be one of the year's highlights; its move towards more quirky, electronic production hasn't changed the band's signature emotional intensity. Low remixes have always seemed kind of strange -- like the Smiths, their songs seem somehow untouchable and perfectly formed. But this simple rework of "Hatchet" brings a plaintive, soulful vibe to Mimi's vocals, making Low sound almost... funky?
He's gullible enough to believe that Orthodox Jews have sex only through a hole in the sheet, and gullible enough to repeat that myth in his latest book. Ok, ok, a lot of people fell for this one, including Hitchens' editors, reviewers, Larry David, and me. But we're not Christopher Hitchens, and we didn't write The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice. Mark Oppenheimer blogs:
As a lie, it's not as bad as the blood libel, but it's not so far from the old tales of sexual perversion in Catholic monasteries and convents -- it's a lie meant to discredit a whole people by making them seem sexually bizarre and far outside decent society.
Seeing Jews in religious neighborhoods hanging their "talitot katan" out to dry. This poncho-like garment is about two feet by four feet, has a fringe on each corner, and a hole in the center for the wearer's head, and it looks somewhat like a small sheet with a hole, and many people have vivid and warped imaginations.
Hey Hitch! Did you know "gullible" isn't in Wikipedia?
Do not fret, my sweet liberal media blog enthusiasts -- I have not deserted you! Yes, yes, I sauntered off to Coachella and then galavanted halfway around the world for a silly DJ gig, and yes, I know, I could have used my shiny new laptop to post something for you, but these other places had piña coladas, by the pool, see, and what do you, oh Riffers, offer me, besides angry comments? Which are not refreshing or coconutty, by the way, and do not get me sloshed! But I still love you! Never think I don't love you! I love you so much, that I want us to share the following Top 10 Things, which this week are vaguely influenced by Jamaica, which is where I was for a couple days, and yes next time you can come.
9. Sunshine (upcoming film from Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, out this Fall at the earliest, from Fox Searchlight)
My motto, as far as B-movies are concerned, is "The Earth Must Be Destroyed." Any scenario that involves the potential destruction of humanity or our planet or our solar system, and I am so there. I mean, I dragged everyone I know to see The Core, on opening night, on IMAX, and that may be the worst movie ever made. So finding out that the inventive director Danny Boyle is taking on a film about an (ill-fated?) voyage to re-start our dying sun how am I going to wait six months for this?!?!!!
8. DJ Joven Live at Zizek, Buenos Aires, Argentina (mp3 via Disco Shawn)
My expat buddy Shawn has written some intriguing things about the new avant-Cumbia scene in Buenos Aires, but I didn't really get it until I heard this brief but awesome set that includes a crazy version of Justin Timberlake's "My Love," as well as some oddly ambient-sounding electronic reinterpretations of this traditional Latin style
Apparently this Ukranian drag sensation (real name, Andriy Danylo) is set to win the Eurovision Song Contest, an event that continues to amaze me with its, um, existence. In any event, this bonkers performance appears to be mostly in German, with some Ukranian asides ("Dance," "Where are your hands, hands, hands?"). IT doesn't make any sense to me at all... but I can't stop watching...
6. Interpol "The Heinrich Maneuver" (from Our Love to Admire, out July 10 on Matador)
Okay, in my Coachella preview, I got the album title wrong, so sue me. But really, this track is so great, they could have named the album after it. With a seemingly in-joke title, a weirdly casual intro line ("How are things on the West Coast?" Um, on fire, thanks, Interpol), and what appears to be a stuffed leopard on the cover, this song from the most Joy Division-y of indie bands makes some counterintuitive moves but still ends up majestic
Here's a prime example of a story the MSM is self-interestedly neglecting to cover. CBS fired General John Batiste, who had served as a consultant for the network, after he appeared in a VoteVets ad opposing the war in Iraq. CBS claims the ad damaged Batiste's credibility by undermining his apparent objectivity. But CBS has now been revealed to allow consultant Nicole Wallaceformerly of the White House communications operation, now on John McCain's campaign staffto comment on Bush's policies, McCain's beliefs, and life in general. Not only that, but the ad in which Batiste appeared was pretty objective and analytical. Could anyone seriously be accused of diminishing their credibility by saying that we were led to war on false pretenses and don't have an effective strategy for winning? I mean, these are facts.
Michael Moore's latest attack film, Sicko, will skewer U.S. health care: a fitting target at an opportune time, you have to admit. In true Moore fashion, he proves his point with well-executed sensationalism: He takes workers whose health deteriorated after they participated in the 9/11 cleanup to get care they can't get in the United States in Cuba. Take that, conservatives. Only thing is, the Bush administration now has film footage of Michael Moore committing a crimeor, well, violating a trade embargo, but either way, they were not about to pass up an opportunity to make the filmmaker pay for Fahrenheit 9/11. In a letter dated May 2, Moore was notified by Treasury that the department is conducting a civil investigation into his violation. We wish him luck, even though he was a notorious a-hole during his brief tenure as editor-in-chief of Mother Jones.
There's already some derisive buzz about QubeTV, the video sharing site for conservatives who claim that liberal media giant YouTube won't let them play in its digital sandbox. I haven't had time to wade into its archives, but I notice that it's off to a great start by appropriating part of its logo from Altria (A.K.A. Philip Morris). Are the Qubers just lazy graphic designers or image-remixing copyfighters? We'll see what happens when the first cease-and-desist letter arrives...