Mixed Media

Nowhere to Hide: Googling in Space

| Fri Dec. 7, 2007 12:31 PM EST

The New York Times:

Starting next week and over the next few months, several American airlines will begin testing Internet service on their planes.

On Tuesday, JetBlue Airways will begin offering a free e-mail and instant messaging service on one aircraft, while American Airlines, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines plan to offer a broader Web experience in the coming months, probably at a cost of around $10 a flight.

Tuesday, 7:05 am, JFK to DFW, JetBlue Flight 263:
Seat 5A: Dude, what u doin? just took off. drunk off my ass by 1 PST HELL YEA. Flyin suks.
Seat 14F: hi mom.just tok off. $10? tis connectn so lame.
Seat 17C: wassup? jus tk off. i thot stewardss wer supposed 2b be hot? pilot has a lisp. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!
Seat 19D: i wanna divorc. jst took ff.
Seat 22B: just tuk off. r u there?! OMIGOD. Loser in 5A watchng porn!!!!!!!!! its 7:06 in THE MORNING!!! Flyin is he wurst. ths connectn suck bg tme. shudda brout a book....


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Bad, Baaaad Santa

| Fri Dec. 7, 2007 12:27 PM EST

From the AP:

"Last year, Microsoft encouraged kids to connect directly to "Santa" by adding northpole@live.com to their Windows Live Messenger contact lists. The Santa program, which Microsoft reactivated in early December, asked children what they wanted for Christmas and could respond on topic, thanks to artificial intelligence.
The holiday cheer soured this week when a reader of a United Kingdom-based technology news site, The Register, reported that a chat between Santa and his underage nieces about eating pizza prompted Santa to bring up oral sex."

It went downhill from there. Oddly, Microsoft doesn't suspect this was the result of an employee prank. Meaning someone consciously programmed AI Santa to discuss bj's? No wonder everyone wants to work there.

8 Grammy Nods Enough For Kanye?

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 3:15 PM EST

Rapper Kanye West's hunger for accolades never seems to dwindle, so I'm wondering how he's feeling about receiving EIGHT (Yikes!) Grammy nominations this year. Amy Winehouse also topped the nominee list. Other nominees included folks you would expect (Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Foo Fighters), and a few more interesting candidates (Corrine Bailey Rae and Herbie Hancock).

For the full low-down, check out the AP story here.

Racist like Mommy?

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 2:09 PM EST

Via Salon's Broadsheet, we learn today that white mothers, more so than white fathers, teach their kids to be racist. Or, white kids get whatever racism they learn from their mothers. Or something like that.

The study focused on white kids 4-7. Since I have two half-white kids in that age group I have to agree with the broads at Broadsheet that any info gleaned from them has to be taken with a boulder-sized grain of salt. What about the other kids at school, regular babysitters, movies, TV, toys and just plain listening to what adults do and not just say? Bravo to researchers for studying weird stuff like this, but what about the racism and or racial attitudes of non-white kids?

Only an abstract of the study is available (for free), so we cheap bastards can only know so much about this finding, but I spend a fair amount of time with black folks. Let's just say that we tend to be pretty straight forward with our 'observations' about white folks. Racism or hard-won knowledge gleaned from centuries of 'interaction'? You be the judge, but I'd bet that a study of black kids' racial attitudes would make for some pretty interesting reading.

I Think We're All Turning Japanese

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 1:47 PM EST

Check out this poor bastard. Only 30 and dead from over work, a problem so common in Japan it has a name and a legal remedy. Others aren't 'so lucky;' in 2002, six hundred and fifty suicides there were deemed work related. Japanese 'salary men' are clocking 100-160 of over time per month with email, black berries and home offices all helping to make work inescapable. Probably on top of all that after-work drinking they're forced to do to schmooze clients.

Throw off your blackberries, America (and Japan). We have nothing to lose but...ok, our jobs. But what good is a job and no life?

The 'Mo with the MoJo: Yet Another Reason Why I love Dan Savage

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 1:28 PM EST

A while back, I got myself into deep doodoo trying to send a love letter to Dan Savage. Came out all kinds of wrong. Dan forgave me so I won't go there again; just believe me when I say that I love that little faggot. He's my main gay and here's why; he has a BS detector that could pinpoint nonsense in outer space and believes, as do I, that not only are there such things as stupid questions but that those who ask them should be summarily informed of same.

I never miss his column and often am plain old flabbergasted by his wit, wisdom, ill temper, arcane sexual knowledge and, most of all, his fearlessness. Homey can be mean though and, when I first began reading him, I thought he was one of those dinosaur fags who had to hate women to love men. But, read him regularly and you realize that he doesn't hate women. He hates hypocrites, BS artists, double standards and cowards. Which brings me to his sneaky side. He's just pulled one of the most dastardly tricks ever witnessed in the blogosphere.

I won't give it away; I enjoyed it too much! You simply must read this week's column.

As a militant feminist, I spend lots of time reading, and dismissing, 'critiques' of feminism and the crap that women pull. Gotta say, though, nothing brought home women's BS better than what Dastadly Dan pulled off this week. Once again, my hat is off to you, Dan Savage. You de man.

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Supersize Coup - Morgan Spurlock Finds Osama?

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 7:50 PM EST

spurlockblog.jpg

It's still only a rumor, but word is that the payoff of Morgan Spurlock's new documentary, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, is, well, Osama Bin Laden. Alt-film blog SlashFilm reports that in February, the Weinstein Co. bought the film after seeing only 15 minutes of footage, quoting the film's director of photography as saying that Spurlock "definitely got the holy grail."

While I find it hard to believe that the irreverent Spurlock actually located, spoke with, or filmed Bin Laden, I'm a little worried about his fate if he did. Our government doesn't take kindly to embarrassment, and if he got anywhere near Bin Laden, Spurlock's contact list alone is probably enough to earn him a visit from Homeland Security. Hopefully, though, when it premieres next year at Sundance this film will do what Sicko did for the healthcare debate and help us shift our energies towards where they're really needed.

—Casey Miner


Party With Saddam

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 7:15 PM EST

Fishbone, a ska/funk/metal/rock band that formed in 1979 and has continued to tour and release albums ever since, has a song from their newest CD, Still Stuck in Your Throat, called "Party With Saddam" that is arguably the cheeriest, most hopeful, and most danceable song I've heard about the former Iraqi president.

The song is a standard ska romp, and it's catchy chorus goes like this: "We won't see the end / If we party till our colors blend / Party till Saddam's your friend / Never drop a bomb again / All right / We can break the chains / If we party like our blood's the same / Party till we lose our aim / Never shoot a gun again." The song was actually released in Europe in August '06, but after Saddam's death last December, the band has since been inviteded to talk about/perform the song (a crowd favorite) on radio stations. Here's one acoustic performance:

Fishbone's been around for decades (I've seen them live a dozen times), and despite having only two original members, they keep making socially-conscious, energetic, up-tempo music that most of their musical peers probably can't—or just don't want to—keep up with anymore.

Lefty Think Tank Sells Itself on eBay

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 7:02 PM EST

I've never even sold so much as a lamp on eBay, but the owners of a Bay Area think tank are taking the idea of peddling wares online to a whole new level: They're selling the whole damn tank. Their ad reads: "Own This Think Tank: BACVR for Sale on eBay - Perfect Holiday Gift for Political Junkies."

Allegedly the first to do so (eBay did not return my call or email), the Bay Area Center for Voting Research (BACVR) has garnered a few bids, one at approximately $5,100, according to co-founder Jason Alderman.

"You don't need to be an Ivy League professor or a former administration official to run a think tank. There's an enormous number of smart Americans out there that can do this, and this is a great way to solicit their help," Alderman told me at the end of last week.

"Everyday Math," Every Child a Loser

| Wed Dec. 5, 2007 12:55 PM EST

Who says American education isn't working? Via Slate, I just learned that our children are being taught something called Everyday Math that is going to make every day of their adult lives quite math illiterate. This is so stupid, it's hard to believe it's actually going on right now in class rooms across America. What the f*&^ is our problem? You know things are bad when you have to go to that nutball Michelle Malkin for ammunition (see below) that just adds up all too dismally. From Slate:

The [Everyday Math] authors also firmly believe that children are capable of learning a great deal more than previously expected."

Especially if they use a calculator. Or take a simple multiplication problem and turn it into a "cluster" of five other, simpler problems. Or make a pretty "lattice" box and input numbers. Apparently, like Barbie once said, "Math is hard!" and we have to dumb it down for everyone rather than figure out ways to let the smartest kids excel and provide help to those who need it. This video that Malkin posts is long but well worth watching. The woman in the video--who went back to school to facilitate a midlife career switch and was startled to see the youngsters in her class struggling--shows how bizarre and convoluted this "new new" math is.

As critics are pointing out, kids are not learning better with these techniques. Children aren't learning multiplication in third grade, since they are repeating the addition and subtraction they should have learned in first grade. And check out this sample question from a fifth-grade text:

A. If math were a color, it would be --, because --.

God help me, I put on a gas mask and forced myself to Malkin's site to watch one of the most disturbing videos I've ever had to endure. No wonder people home school; EveryDay Math in action must be seen to be believed. I've saved you the horror of visiting Malkin's site, so click the link above (it's You Tube), then call your child's school and make sure that Everyday Math is not on your child's curriculum unless you want to spend your dotage helping them figure out how to cut a recipe in half or balance their checkbooks.