And they say we’re not open-minded

Boyzone, Irish first inept boyband has finally done something of note (besides holding a tune) – Stephen Gately has a male counterpart in the video.

Won’t somebody please think of the children? Or at least Tom Baxter’s music?


Right Wing Curmudgeon new WSJ Editor

Oh Mr. Murdoch… How you continue to NOT surprise us…

Baker named WSJ’s deputy editor-in-chief

Gerard Baker, most recently at The Times of London, has been named The Wall Street Journal’s deputy editor-in-chief, according to a staff memo obtained by Politico.

During a June masthead shake-up, Baker was rumored to be in the running as a possible replacement for D.C. bureau chief John Bussey, who ended up remaining in the position.

Previously, Baker had worked for Journal editor Robert Thomson at the London paper, and when I asked at the time about going to the Journal, he called the rumors “completely false.”

It would be one thing for Baker to move to the conservative editorial page, but the self-described “right-wing curmudgeon” will have a role overseeing news coverage, a move that surprised some staffers because of his strong right-wing political views.

A sign of the apocalypse

You know celebrity culture has gone too far when….

The Gospel According to Miley

Here’s how the whole thing went down. We’re told the unlikely friends met last year at the White House, where the 15-year-old dared Baldwin to get Hannah Montana’s initials and in return she would let him appear on her Disney TV show since his daughters are huge fans of the series.

Fast forward to yesterday in Nashville, where sources tell us Miley’s little sister, Brandi, heard on the radio that the 42-year-old outspoken Christian was also in town to promote his new book. So Miley, her mom, Brandi and Miley’s boyfriend Justin Gaston decided to surprise Baldwin at a book signing. When they arrived, we’re told Stephen showed off his “HM” tat and asked if he could cameo on her show, at which point Miley (reluctantly?) agreed.

It’s Miley Cyrus’ world and Stephen’s just livin’ in it.

Am I alone in thinking it but when did Stephen Baldwin become literate?
I kid, I kid… Besides that, when did embarrassing ink/parenting become the stuff of kids shows? Though that being said, Miley herself is becoming better known among the older generations as the girl wore a sheet for Vanity Fair, age-inappropriate photos and a boyfriend who’d be charged with statutory rape – hardly the role model herself one would think…

I know what my niece is getting for Christmas

By now, hip-hop has become a mainstream part of the cultural landscape for children on shows like “Sesame Street,” “Yo Gabba Gabba!” on Nickelodeon and “Choo-Choo Soul” and “Handy Manny” on the Disney Channel. But when Rona Brinlee, a bookseller in Atlantic Beach, Fla., first heard about “Hip Hop Speaks to Children,” an illustrated anthology of poems and song lyrics, she worried that prospective buyers might shy away.

With previous volumes of poetry for children, she had noticed that the books were popular among grandparents looking for gifts. “I didn’t know if these same loving grandparents were going to say, ‘Wow, hip-hop,’ ” said Ms. Brinlee, who owns the BookMark, an independent bookstore. “Because some are going to make assumptions that this is violent, or they just don’t know anything about it.”

Ms. Brinlee quickly sold out of the initial six copies she stocked, and she has 10 more on order. “I’m thrilled to say that I was wrong,” she said.

“Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry With a Beat,” which features lyrics by Mos Def, Kanye West and Queen Latifah, as well as poems by Maya Angelou and Gwendolyn Brooks, has become a modest hit, rising to No. 3 among picture books on The New York Times children’s best-Seller list last Sunday .

One of the selling points of the book, which was edited by the poet Nikki Giovanni, is that it comes with a CD of recordings by many of the poets and artists performing their work, including an excerpt from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Ham ’N’ Eggs” and “Dream Variations,” by Langston Hughes. The book and CD conclude with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, followed by a hip-hop interpretation of the speech by Ms. Giovanni and the performers Oni Lasana and Val Gray Ward.

“We wanted to connect some dots, but in a very light way,” said Ms. Giovanni, who contributed three poems to the book, as well as an introduction. “I wanted to find that hip-hop voice that allows children to enter it, because they are listening to it anyway.”

Ms. Giovanni said she also wanted to reach back to what she sees as the roots of hip-hop in older poems by mainly African-American poets, like Hughes or Paul Laurence Dunbar, as well as to use the familiar vernacular of hip-hop to lure children to more established literary voices.

“I wanted them to see that there are, for lack of a better word, some train tracks with stops and stations along the way,” Ms. Giovanni said. “If you like Queen Latifah and ‘Ladies First,’ you’re going to love Langston Hughes and ‘Dream Boogie.’ ”

A little bit better for the planet – not so much for you

Green Plans in Blueprints of Retailers

CHICAGO — In new Wal-Mart stores, the baseboards and moldings are made of plastic left over from diaper manufacturing. Chipotle, the burrito chain, has installed an energy-producing wind turbine outside a new store in the Chicago suburbs. And a Florida chain called Pizza Fusion reuses the draft from its ovens to heat water.

Across the country, a race is under way among stores and fast-food restaurants to build environmentally friendly outlets, as a way to curry favor with consumers and to lower operating costs. Most chains are focusing on prototypes at the moment, but the trend could eventually change the look and function of thousands of stores.

One of the latest participants is McDonald’s, which recently opened a revamped restaurant in a gritty industrial area on the South Side of Chicago, across from a food manufacturing plant and next to the Swap-O-Rama flea market.

The newly rebuilt restaurant is crammed with energy- and water-saving gadgets as varied as high-efficiency appliances, pavement that filters rainwater, and tables and chairs made out of recycled material. It even has a garden on the roof.

The green building boom is partly being driven by retailers’ desire to capture the attention of consumers who have become fascinated by hybrid cars, energy-saving light bulbs and wind turbines.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t go to McDonalds for their ethical viewpoint – just indigestion.

But more important for the companies, it is a way to shave long-term operating costs at stores and restaurants, which consume copious amounts of energy and water for ovens and fryers, heaters and air conditioners, sinks and toilets.

Just so that they can bring that EuroSaver menu down to 99 cent

McDonald’s, for instance, plans to take the most successful aspects of its Chicago restaurant and replicate them at new outlets across the country.

“You get energy savings, and you can tell customers you are greener. That’s a win-win,” said Neil Z. Stern, a retail consultant for McMillanDoolittle in Chicago.

While customers may like the idea of green buildings, Mr. Stern said he was skeptical that it would lure them into stores. “Ultimately, the reason you do it is it’s a better way to run your business,” he said.

Subway unveiled its first “eco-store” last year in Florida and has opened four more. Target, Office Depot and Staples have opened green stores, and Best Buy has announced plans to do the same.

A few chains are even further along. Recently, Kohl’s opened 45 stores that were built using recycled materials, water-saving plumbing fixtures and on-site recycling. Wal-Mart, meanwhile, has taken the most successful techniques from prototype stores and incorporated them into all new stores, and it continues to experiment with “high-efficiency” stores that save 20 to 45 percent in energy costs when compared with more traditional stores.

While the “green” moniker is ill-defined and vulnerable to exaggeration, many of the chains, including McDonald’s, are seeking certification from the United States Green Building Council, a nonprofit agency in Washington whose rating system is a widely accepted standard.

Called LEED certification, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, it provides a rating for buildings based on human and environmental health, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Under a new program, McDonald’s hopes to obtain certification for its prototype and then build many more restaurants based on that template, without going through the paperwork and expense of certifying each restaurant.

LEED certification, though, is not without detractors, some of whom complain about the cost and inconvenience. Michael Gordon, one of the founders of Pizza Fusion, a Florida chain that has several green restaurants and boasts of its environmental ethos, said a 2,000-square-foot restaurant paid the same certification fees as one five times as large.

Some others say they are uncomfortable with companies promoting their buildings as green.

“There’s no such thing as a green building with a full parking lot,” said Seth Kaplan, vice president for climate advocacy at the Conservation Law Foundation. “That’s just an unavoidable truth.”

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University and a frequent critic of fast-food chains, said the green buildings were laudable but were ultimately intended to make people feel better about eating unhealthful food.

Definitely a step in the right direction but short of an overall change in general practice to being more conscious of the world at large, it really just sound like a gimmick to me – and like they said, a fleet of people-carriers out the front doesn’t even make it entirely green