MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/favicon http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Merry Christmas! http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/merry-christmas <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We all still miss the late, much beloved Inkblot, but I figured this year it's time to celebrate the new cats in our family. So we have an all-new Christmas ornament. I did my best to retain all the charm of the <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/12/merry-christmas" target="_blank">old ornament,</a> but this one features the new, much beloved Hopper. Merry Christmas, all.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hopper_christmas_ornament.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 5px 150px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 25 Dec 2014 12:35:04 +0000 Kevin Drum 267286 at http://www.motherjones.com The Top 14 MoJo Longreads of 2014 http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/12/top-14-mojo-longreads-2014 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>While conventional wisdom suggests that people won't read lengthy magazine stories online, <em>MoJo</em> readers have regularly proven otherwise. Many of our top traffic-generating stories are heavily researched investigations and deeply reported narratives&mdash;stories which our readers stick to till the bitter end. So here, for your holiday enjoyment, is a selection of 14 of our best-loved longreads from 2014.&nbsp; (Click <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2013/12/top-10-mojo-longreads-2013" target="_blank">here</a> for last year's list, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2012/12/top-longreads-2012" target="_blank">here</a> for our 2012 list, and finally <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/12/top-10-mojo-long-reads-2011" target="_blank">here</a> for our 2011 list).&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/science-of-racism-prejudice" target="_blank"><img alt="Are you racist?" class="image" src="/files/racist-fade200%28thumbnail%29_0.gif"></a></strong></div> <p><strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/science-of-racism-prejudice" target="_blank">The Science of Why Cops Shoot Young Black </a></strong><strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/science-of-racism-prejudice" target="_blank">Men</a></strong><br> And how to reform our bigoted brains.<br><span class="deklet">By Chris Mooney</span></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/swat-warrior-cops-police-militarization-urban-shield" target="_blank"><img alt="Seal Team Six" class="image" src="/files/Militarized.gif"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/swat-warrior-cops-police-militarization-urban-shield" target="_blank"><strong>The Making of the Warrior Cop: Inside the Billion-Dollar Industry that Turned Local Cops into SEAL Team Six</strong></a><br> Do police really need grenade launchers?<br><span class="deklet">By Shane Bauer</span></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/china-us-fracking-shale-gas" target="_blank"><img alt="The great frack forward" class="image" src="/files/Frack.gif"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/09/china-us-fracking-shale-gas" target="_blank"><strong>The Great Frack Forward: A Journey to the Heart of China's Gas Boom </strong></a></p> <p>US Companies are salivating over the biggest shale gas resources in the world. What could go wrong?<br><span class="deklet">By Jaeah Lee and James West</span></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/robert-dowlut-nra-murder-mystery" target="_blank"><img alt="NRA" class="image" src="/files/NRA.gif"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/robert-dowlut-nra-murder-mystery" target="_blank"><strong>The NRA's Murder </strong></a><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/robert-dowlut-nra-murder-mystery" target="_blank"><strong>Mystery</strong></a><br> Was the NRA's top lawyer railroaded&mdash;or a "bad guy with a gun"?<br><span class="deklet">By Dave Gilson</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/bail-bond-prison-industry" target="_blank"><img alt="bail industry" class="image" src="/files/Getout.gif"></a></div> <p><strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/bail-bond-prison-industry" target="_blank">Inside the Wild, Shadowy, and Highly Lucrative Bail </a></strong><strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/bail-bond-prison-industry" target="_blank">Industry</a></strong><br> How $550 and a five-day class gets you the right to stalk, arrest, and shoot people.<br><span class="deklet">By Shane Bauer</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/computer-science-programming-code-diversity-sexism-education" target="_blank"><img alt="Coding" class="image" src="/files/coding.gif"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/computer-science-programming-code-diversity-sexism-education" target="_blank"><strong>We Can Code it: Why Computer Literacy is Key to Winning the 21st Century</strong></a><br> Why American schools need to train a generation of hackers.<br><span class="deklet">By Tasneem Raja</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank"><img alt="Children on the boarder" class="image" src="/files/boarder.jpg"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/child-migrants-surge-unaccompanied-central-america" target="_blank"><strong>70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?</strong></a><br> Officials have been stunned by a "surge" of unaccompanied children crossing into the US.<br><span class="deklet">By Ian Gordon </span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/koch-brothers-family-history-sons-of-wichita" target="_blank"><img alt="Koch" class="image" src="/files/koch.jpg"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/koch-brothers-family-history-sons-of-wichita" target="_blank"><strong>Koch vs. Koch: The Brutal Battle That Tore Apart America's Most Powerful Family</strong></a><br> Before the brothers went to war against Obama, they almost destroyed each other.<br><span class="deklet">By Daniel Schulman</span></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/governor-susana-martinez-new-mexico-2016" target="_blank"><img alt="Palin" class="image" src="/files/Palin.jpg"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/governor-susana-martinez-new-mexico-2016" target="_blank"><strong>Is New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez the Next Sarah Palin?</strong></a><br> Petty. Vindictive. Weak on policy. And yet she is being hailed as the Republican Party's great new hope.<br><span class="deklet">By Andy Kroll</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/03/newsweek-ibt-olivet-david-jang" target="_blank"><img alt="Newsweek" class="image" src="/files/Newsweek.jpg"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/03/newsweek-ibt-olivet-david-jang" target="_blank"><strong>Who's Behind Newsweek?</strong></a><br> The magazine's owners are anxious to hide their ties to an enigmatic religious figure. Why?<br><span class="deklet">By Ben Dooley</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/iran-hostage-hikers-iraq-prisoners" target="_blank"><img alt="Iran" class="image" src="/files/iran.jpg"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/iran-hostage-hikers-iraq-prisoners" target="_blank"><strong>Kidnapped By Iran: <strong>780 Days of Isolation, Two Dozen Interrogations, One Marriage Proposal</strong></strong></a><br> How we survived two years of hell as hostages in Tehran.<br><span class="deklet">By Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe" target="_blank"><img alt="BPA" class="image" src="/files/BPA.jpg"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe" target="_blank"><strong>The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics</strong></a><br> And the Big Tobacco-style campaign to bury it.<br><span class="deklet">By Mariah Blake</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/common-core-education-reform-backlash-obamacare" target="_blank"><img alt="Common Core" class="image" src="/files/common-core_0.jpg"></a></div> <p><strong><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/common-core-education-reform-backlash-obamacare" target="_blank">Inside the Mammoth Backlash to Common Core</a></strong><br> How a bipartisan education reform effort became the biggest conservative bogeyman since Obamacare.<br><span class="deklet">By Tim Murphy</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/sudan-fbi-informant-naji-mansour-terrorism" target="_blank"><img alt="sudan" class="image" src="https://www.motherjones.com/files/sudan200.jpg"></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/05/sudan-fbi-informant-naji-mansour-terrorism" target="_blank"><strong>This American Refused to Become an FBI Informant. Then the Government Made His Family's Life Hell.</strong></a><br> Plus, secret recordings reveal FBI threats.<br><span class="deklet">By Nick Baumann</span></p></body></html> Media Longreads Thu, 25 Dec 2014 11:00:06 +0000 267241 at http://www.motherjones.com Today Is the 100th Anniversary of the WWI Christmas Truce http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/wwi-christmas-truce-history-celebration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175932/" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com/" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p>Go to war and every politician will thank you, and they'll continue to do so&mdash;with monuments and statues, war museums and military cemeteries&mdash;long after you're dead. But who thanks those who refused to fight, even in wars that most people later realized were tragic mistakes? Consider the 2003 invasion of Iraq, now widely recognized as igniting an ongoing disaster. America's politicians still praise Iraq War veterans to the skies, but what senator has a kind word to say about the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/17/world/threats-and-responses-news-analysis-a-new-power-in-the-streets.html" target="_blank">hundreds of thousands</a> of protesters who marched and demonstrated before the invasion was even launched to try to stop our soldiers from risking their lives in the first place?</p> <p><a href="http://www.tomdispatch.com" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="http://motherjones.com/files/images/tdispatch-notch.jpg" title="" width="100"></span></a></p> <p>What brings all this to mind is an apparently heartening exception to the rule of celebrating war-makers and ignoring peacemakers. A European rather than an American example, it turns out to be not quite as simple as it first appears. Let me explain.</p> <p>December 25th will be the 100th anniversary of the famous Christmas Truce of the First World War. You probably know the story: after five months of unparalleled industrial-scale slaughter, fighting on the Western Front came to a spontaneous halt. British and German soldiers stopped shooting at each other and emerged into the no-man's-land between their muddy trenches in France and Belgium to exchange food and gifts.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/12/wwi-christmas-truce-history-celebration"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics International Military Tom Dispatch Top Stories historical memory Thu, 25 Dec 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Adam Hochschild 266361 at http://www.motherjones.com Christmas Movies Are Now Just As Horrible As Everything Else Related to Christmas http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/christmas-movies-now-just-horrible-everything-else-related-christmas <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_theater_christmas.jpg" style="margin: 8px 0px 15px 30px;">Well, this answers a question for me. Dan Drezner describes the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/24/the-war-on-jewish-christmas-must-be-stopped/" target="_blank">standard Jewish ritual for Christmas day:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Chinese food and a movie. Perfectly pleasant rituals, made special by the fact that <em>the Gentiles are all at home or at church</em>....</p> <p>No longer.</p> <p>I don&rsquo;t know when it became a thing for Christian families to also go see a movie on the day commemorating the birth of Jesus, <strong>but personal experience tells me this is a relatively recent phenomenon&nbsp;&mdash; i.e., the past 15 years or so.</strong> All I know is that what used to be a pleasant movie-going experience is now extremely crowded.</p> </blockquote> <p>Several years ago I naively decided that it might be nice to see a movie on Christmas. I figured the crowds would be really light and we could just slip right in. Needless to say, I was disabused of this notion quickly, and headed for home just as fast as my car would take me. At the time, I wondered what was going on. Had things changed? Was I just unaware that Christmas had always been a big movie day? Or what?</p> <p>I guess it's the former. There really was a golden era when Christmas movies were uncrowded, but it disappeared before I even knew it existed. Sic transit etc.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 24 Dec 2014 20:02:58 +0000 Kevin Drum 267281 at http://www.motherjones.com The Hotel Industry Is Apparently Hellbent on Screwing Its Guests http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/hotel-industry-apparently-hellbent-screwing-its-guests <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The sheer venality and barefaced contempt for its customers that's so often displayed by corporate America never ceases to amaze me. <a href="http://recode.net/2014/12/22/google-wireless-industry-not-down-with-marriotts-wi-fi-blocking-plan/" target="_blank">I had no idea this was going on:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Microsoft and Google don&rsquo;t agree on much, but they&rsquo;ve presented a united front against the hotel industry, which is trying to convince government regulators to give them the option of blocking guests from using personal Wi-Fi hotspots</strong>....In October, Marriott settled an FCC complaint about the practice for $600,000 but argued that it hadn&rsquo;t broken the law and was using technology to protect guests from &ldquo;rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber attacks and identity theft.&rdquo;</p> <p>....<strong>Opponents of the proposal basically argued in filings late Monday that the hotel industry is just trying to keep guests and exhibitors dependent on pricy hotel wireless networks.</strong> They suggested hotels have other options for protecting Wi-Fi networks than jamming personal hotspots.</p> </blockquote> <p>Years ago hotels lost the ability to charge outrageous prices for phone calls, so now they're engaged in a desperate rear-guard attempt to keep charging outrageous prices for Wi-Fi. Here's a suggestion instead: provide decent rooms at reasonable prices, and offer your guests additional services at reasonable prices too. Ho ho ho.</p> <p><strong>POSTSCRIPT:</strong> I wonder what the range of these jamming devices is? If Marriott or Hilton ends up jamming a Wi-Fi hotspot that someone is using on a public sidewalk outside one of their hotels, are they liable for damages?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Corporations Wed, 24 Dec 2014 19:50:32 +0000 Kevin Drum 267276 at http://www.motherjones.com You Can Watch "The Interview" Right Now. Here's How. http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/12/watch-the-interview-or-dont-whatever-how-is-your-holiday-going <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>The Interview </em>is live on YouTube right now. You can rent it for $5.99 or buy it for $14.99.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Ed2kSuKqfz0?rel=0" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Or you can not watch it at all. Or you can watch it later. Or never. Whatever. No pressure. It doesn't make you a bad person. You do you. America is about choice.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Wed, 24 Dec 2014 18:21:39 +0000 Ben Dreyfuss 267271 at http://www.motherjones.com How Much Would You Pay For $4,905 In Pension Benefits? http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/how-much-would-you-pay-4905-pension-benefits <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Adam Ozimek points us to some recent research suggesting that people <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/modeledbehavior/2014/12/24/another-reason-to-dislike-public-sector-pensions/" target="_blank">don't actually value pensions very highly:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The study utilizes a change in policy in Illinois that allowed teachers to purchase more pension benefits in exchange for a one-time fee. This allowed the determination of how much teachers are willing to pay for marginal pension benefits. The authors found that on average, teachers valued each $1 in marginal pension benefits at $0.20.</p> <p>This is useful information for two reasons. <strong>First, it suggests states may be able to save money and make teachers better off by buying back pension obligations in exchange for current lump sum payments.</strong> Second, it suggests that for districts looking to cut costs, decreases in benefits do not need to be offset with equal dollar value increases in current pay in order to maintain labor supply.</p> </blockquote> <p>(Yes, that's 20 cents for one dollar of <em>present value</em>. Specifically, the study finds that on average, teachers are willing to pay only $1,000 for benefits that the pension fund has to pay $4,905 to purchase.)</p> <p>But does this mean that Illinois teachers would snap up a $1,000 lump sum today in return for a <em>decrease</em> of $4,905 in future pension benefits? Not so fast, pardner. A combination of status quo bias, loss aversion, and <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_loss_aversion_napkin_1.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">the endowment effect suggests that things wouldn't be so easy.</p> <p>Status quo bias is just what it sounds like: we all tend to succumb to a sort of emotional inertia that favors whatever benefits we happen to be getting at the moment. Loss aversion is the well known effect that people work harder to avoid the loss of $X than to secure the gain of $X. And the endowment effect causes people to ascribe greater value than normal to things they own, solely because they happen to own them. Put all these things together, and it's highly unlikely that Illinois teachers would be willing to sell off a dollar of benefits <em>they currently get</em> in return for 20 cents today. In fact, it's quite possible they'd only sell it off for more than a dollar.</p> <p>Of course, this applies only to workers who are already vested in a pension system. For brand new workers, given a choice of salary today vs. pension tomorrow, it's quite possible they'd undervalue the pension. In fact, I'd say it's almost inevitable, since most of us do exactly that. Nonetheless, I'm skeptical that this research tells us much about either the size of this effect or whether it would be good public policy to even offer the option. The circumstances are just too different.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Economy Wed, 24 Dec 2014 18:03:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 267266 at http://www.motherjones.com The Wonkosphere's Top Evergreen Stories, Explained http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/wonkospheres-top-evergreen-stories-explained <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>The news business has always had evergreen stories. When <em>Time</em> magazine asks "Why Did Jesus Have To Die?" on its cover, it's following in its own footsteps along with hundreds of others. If it's Easter, we have stories about Jesus.</p> <p>The wonky blog world has its own odd set of evergreens. These are stories that might have been interesting the first time I read them, but which I'm now heartily sick of. So even though I'm a day late for this to be part of the Festivus airing of grievances, here are a few examples:</p> <ul><li>Does Daylight Savings Time really reduce energy consumption?</li> <li>An economist explains why Christmas gift giving is inefficient.</li> <li>The Declaration of Independence wasn't really signed on July 4th.</li> <li>Christmas and those crazy Asians: KFC in Japan and Spam in South Korea explained.</li> <li>Scientists are adding a second to the year today. Here's why.</li> <li>The Dow is a lousy proxy for the actual state of the stock market.</li> <li>Etc.</li> </ul><p>Of course, if this year happens to be the first time you see any of these evergreens, they're fresh and new to you. It's only the fact that I've seen them so many times that makes them so tired to me. So feel free to ignore my griping on this subject. In fact, feel free to mock me for it if you like.</p> <p>Anyway, I was reminded of this by the inevitable spate of bloggish stories last week about why Christmas is inefficient, and then reminded again by not <a href="http://www.vox.com/2014/12/24/7442485/KFC-Japan-christmas" target="_blank">one,</a> not <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/ts/kfc-christmas-in-japan-colonel-sanders-history-12-23-2014" target="_blank">two,</a> but <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2014_12/do_you_have_your_xmas_chicken053447.php" target="_blank">three</a> bloggy pieces about KFC in Japan that I happened to see within five minutes of each other this morning. (Bad luck, that!) And it got me thinking: ordinary old-school evergreens all seem pretty understandable. But these wonkish blog evergreens seem....a bit odd. So I'm curious: what is it that makes a subject a bloggy evergreen? What do these kinds of stories have in common?</p> <p>Once I figure it out, I plan to write a blog post about it every year. Sort of like the one <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/11/after-year-triumphant-return-my-annual-black-friday-post" target="_blank">I write every year about the origins of Black Friday.</a> Are you sick of that one yet?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Media Wed, 24 Dec 2014 16:01:06 +0000 Kevin Drum 267261 at http://www.motherjones.com Hollywood Backstabbing Over "The Interview" Now in Full Swing http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/12/hollywood-backstabbing-over-interview-now-full-swing <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>We all heard yesterday that Sony Pictures made a last-minute decision to release <em>The Interview</em> on Christmas after all, thanks to pleas from a couple hundred independent theaters that agreed at the last minute to defy Kim Jong-un and show it. So the honor of Western civilization is saved and everyone is happy. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-sony-releases-interview-theaters-20141224-story.html#page=1" target="_blank">Right?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The film's limited release drives a further wedge between Sony and the nation's largest theater owners, who blame the studio for yanking away a potential hit. It was supposed to open on 3,000 screens before Sony and theater chains shelved the movie.</p> <p>Theater owners are also upset that Sony is negotiating to release the movie simultaneously on a video-on-demand platform....<strong>"They could have <img align="right" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_the_interview.jpg" style="margin: 20px 0px 15px 30px;">a full theatrical release. Instead they have a token,"</strong> said one theater executive who asked not to be identified because it could harm his relationship with the studio.</p> </blockquote> <p>Wait. What? I thought this whole fiasco had been driven in the first place by the refusal of big theater chains to show the movie amid fears of terrorist retaliation. So what are they all griping about?</p> <blockquote> <p>The disagreement over a digital release played into larger tensions between Sony and theater owners after hackers last week threatened physical harm on moviegoers who saw "The Interview."....Worried about a potential threat, Sony said it canceled the movie after large chains backed away from the film.</p> <p><strong>But theater owners have been pointing the finger at the studio for originally giving them the OK to not run the film amid the threats. Then Sony blamed the nation's four big theater chains for forcing the studio to cancel the original release</strong>....Representatives of Regal, AMC, Cinemark and Carmike declined to comment on the matter.</p> </blockquote> <p>OK, I guess I'm officially confused. Did Sony cancel the Christmas release date of <em>The Interview</em> because malls and theater chains were desperate to back out of showing it? Or did malls and theater chains back out because Sony had implicitly urged them to do so when it gave the chains permission to break their contractual commitments to show the movie? Or are both sides now just furiously trying to shift blame after being called out for cowardice by everyone from George Clooney to President Obama?</p> <p>The latter, I suppose. In any case, now I know what I want for Christmas: A country that doesn't spin into a damn tizzy over every little thing. From Ebola to ISIS to the Sony hack, you'd think we were all at risk of losing our lives to outside forces every time we step off our front porches. In the immortal words of Aaron Rodgers, can we all please R-E-L-A-X?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Film and TV International Wed, 24 Dec 2014 15:14:44 +0000 Kevin Drum 267256 at http://www.motherjones.com What Are the Odds Your City Will Have a White Christmas? http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/12/what-are-odds-your-city-will-have-white-christmas <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/SNOWWWWWW_0.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>The lighter the shade of blue, the higher the chance of a White Christmas. </strong>NOAA/NCDC</div> </div> <p><em>This <a href="http://www.citylab.com/weather/2014/12/what-are-the-odds-your-city-will-have-a-white-christmas/383689/" target="_blank">story</a> originally appeared in </em><a href="http://citylab.com" target="_blank">CityLab</a><em> and is published here as part of the <a href="http://climatedesk.org" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>Those determined to have a <a href="http://www.citylab.com/weather/2014/11/a-climate-model-of-white-christmasesthrough-2100/383143/">White Christmas</a> should grab crampons and a bottle of scotch and prepare for a tough slog. Many places in the lower 48 with a lock on holiday snow are located in rugged, altitudinous climes&mdash;the bony ridge of the Sierra Nevada, for instance, and the wind-burned peaks of the Rockies.</p> <p>That much is clear in this <a href="http://www.climate.gov/news-features/featured-images/are-you-dreaming-white-christmas">delightful NOAA map</a> plotting probabilities across the US for a White Christmas, defined here as a December 25 with more than an inch of snow on the ground. Based on three decades of <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/land-based-station-data/land-based-datasets/climate-normals/1981-2010-normals-data">climate normals</a> from the <span>National Climatic Data Center, the graphic shows a stark geographic divide when it comes to unwrapping presents in snow-globe conditions: A region of zero to 10 percent probability curves from Washington State through coastal California and then explodes in the deep South and Southeast. Parts of the Midwest also are likely to be snowless, with places like Kansas, Missouri, and lower Illinois having only an 11 to 25 percent chance of a White Christmas. </span></p> <p>New York, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., have piddling shots at this charming weather, though their brethren higher on the East Coast fare better: Boston and Providence each have a 41 to 50 percent chance. Chicago racks a (considering its frosty reputation) low-sounding 41 to 50 percent chance, and Buffalo, home to sudden crashing currents of <a href="http://www.citylab.com/weather/2014/11/towering-wall-of-snow-sweeps-through-buffalo/382907/">lake-effect snow</a>, takes it up to 51 to 60 percent.</p> <p>Aside from the West's mountain ranges, NOAA says the best-performing powder points for December 25 are Maine, upstate New York, Minnesota, the highlands of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and almost "anywhere in Idaho." But even these crystal-crusted locales could shake off the holiday snow this year, the agency says: "While the map shows the climatological probability that a snow depth of at least one inch will be observed on December 25, the actual conditions this year may vary widely from these probabilities because the weather patterns present will determine the snow on the ground or snowfall on Christmas day."</p> <p>Here's another version of the map that's less smooth, but clearer at delineating regional probabilities:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/snow2.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA/NCDC</div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> Environment Climate Desk Top Stories Wed, 24 Dec 2014 11:15:05 +0000 John Metcalfe 267056 at http://www.motherjones.com