December 29, 2005 | 6:15 PM ET

Alaska Flight #536 - Rapid De-Pressurization and Panic at 30K Feet — If a hole rips open in your plane and you go plummeting, try to have the presence of mind to take pictures, OK?  (What a nightmare.)  And if you decide to attack the person who has enough generosity (not to mention balls) to take pictures and report his story to the world, try not to do it from your work machine.  (What a disgrace.)

Speaking of having the courage to report one's story to the world, I didn't really understand all the upset over this Washington Post story when I read it.  The military notices a blogger who views military operations in Iraq in a favorable light, so he is invited to come to Iraq to see (and write about) things first hand.  Seems pretty cut and dry from the military's perspective.  But reading Bill Roggio's objections, I can understand his frustration at being portrayed as a propagandist.  Regardless of who benefits from his reporting, his character should not be besmirched as a reporter (professional or "citizen").

LaShawn Barber writes about Kwanza, Christmas and Christianity.  If you're not interested in that, the third paragraph about "the most irritating thing about running a blog with commenting" is good for a laugh.

Last night I watched this somewhat entertaining video of a lottery ticket practical joke.  This morning it's all over the TV.  Here's the original in case you're annoyed by all the bleeping of the curses.  NOTE:  If you've not seen this on TV already, the guy curses up a storm when he thinks he's won the lottery.  Strangely, he curses a lot less when he finds out it's a joke.

Speaking of all over the news, this is the site of the body builder couple arrested for murder.

South Korea comes up with another reason not to answer the phone.  "In the new year, prosecutors in South Korea will begin issuing indictments via text message."

Warner Brothers is making a graphic novel into a movie called 300.  The first video journal entry is up.  Lots of blue screen work.

Since wire taps are in the news so much lately, it's fun to listen to these real wiretaps from mob investigations.  It'll make you glad it's not your job to have to sort through it all.

Find the treasure box.

TV news in a post modern world — Keep an eye out for "unbundled" as a buzzword for treating shows and other video as discrete elements instead of part of a schedule.

Speaking of future media, Internet 2.0: the economic, social and cultural consequences of the new Internet — That's the kind of impressive title you'd expect from an anthropologist, but the entry itself isn't that intimidating.  In fact, it breaks down models of the Web future into four categories.  A nice summary of the big ideas out there.

The Corporation — I've seen posters and reviews for this but never actually saw it.  For all the online video news out there, what's most amazing to me is that Google can offer a three hour movie for free like this.  Even though the resolution of their videos is consistently crappy, it's still a pretty amazing offering.

Mothers Against Noise — If I hadn't lived through the ridiculousness of the PMRC in the 80's and lectures on how hair-metal bands were trying to convert me to Satan ("See how he bows before the drum kit and the cymbals look like horns?"), I would think this is a hoax.

Insane January vidding project — I'm not sure what to make of this, but it seems a worthwhile trend to make a note of.  I gather that "vidding" is dubbing music over scenes from favorite TV shows or movies.  I downloaded one of the zips from here to make sure I understood what they were talking about.  I reckon this is the newest incarnation of the mixed tape.

Our humps, our humps, our humps.  "We Three Kings" is officially over.  (I actually waited until I was alone to listen to his, figuring the camels would be perverse or the song would be racist, but in fact, it's cute and funny and even PC - or whatever kind of "correctness" it is when it respects the religion.

Top 50 inventions of the past 50 years

Scientists Discover a Gene That Regulates Lifespan — "Genes that control the timing of organ formation during development also control timing of aging and death, and provide evidence of a biological timing mechanism for aging..."

So you got one of those new video iPods for Christmas.  Now what the heck are you going to put on it?

Speaking of things you might put on an iPod, Librivox -  Books in the public domain read aloud for free download.  Note that there are some in progress and you can volunteer to read a chapter yourself.

And while we're speaking of iPods, I've seen people build their own iPods, but usually the instructions are over my head.  Replacing an iPod hard drive, however, looks within my abilities.

Who knew it was even possible to order 250 pounds of Silly Putty?

Making things invisible is funnier than I would have thought.

Europeans missing their Kyoto targets — Should the U.S. have just signed Kyoto and simply missed the targets like everyone else?

" Electrode-induced happiness" — Could technology do an end-run around drugs as we know them?  (I reckon it depends on who ends up making money on it.)

Jason Kottke's best links of 2005.  A seriously long list.  (Hey look, the Minimiam site is back up.)

Fear destroys what bin Laden could not

CIA, Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual - 1983 — It looks like Part 2, Page 46 is the part you're looking for if you want to read the descriptions of coercive techniques, but the whole thing is really interesting.  (Of course, I may think that because I've been gorging myself on reruns of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, so the interrogation techniques and personality profiles all have a familiar ring.)  Lots of similar documents on this page.

Mailbag!

Hi Will -
What do you use to get past the subscription requirements on those articles you click?
Thanks

Will replies:  Dear Terri, I regularly use BugMeNot, and when I do, I always check whatever "remember me" button I can find on the sign in page so I don't have to do it again.  The unfortunate result is that I sometimes don't know when I'm linking to a site that requires registration because I've been there before and already have the cookie.  The only exception is Salon.com.  For those links I click for the free day pass and just go do something else while I wait for the commercial to play out.

Will -
First, in the spirit of full disclosure, I teach motorcycle riding at a Honda facility, using Honda motorcycles.  But that doesn't really play into this memo over the airbag on the new Honda Goldwings.

I actually agree with you about the airbag vests/jackets, since it moves the protection to the rider.  I had the exact same thought about setting it off by forgetting to disconnect it from the lanyard when I first saw it, but I'm not the inventor.  If I remember correctly, Evel Knievel was going to demonstrate its safety by wearing one during a jump.  I don't think it ever happened, though.

But, about the airbag on the Goldwing - this is actually a good idea.  When I first read the headline about a month ago, I had the "Oh, no!" thought.  When I read the article, I have to agree with the engineers at Honda.  The object isn't the same as an airbag in a car.  This airbag it to reduce the injuries from hitting the windscreen and the object you hit as you come off the motorcycle.  In essence, the purpose is to slow you down a bit and to redirect you over some of the things that will cause more severe bodily harm, such as broken bones and impact injuries to vital organs.  Yes, there will be injuries, but this is an attempt to lessen the severity of them, from what I read and have seen.

(Since I work with Honda, maybe I'll go try one out........... yeah, not gonna happen!)

Keep up the clicking!

Stephen Bobic

Will replies:  Hi Stephen, In the spirit of full disclosure, I have crashed a Honda.  My first bike was a '93 Shadow VLX.  While I think an airbag that moves with the rider makes more sense, I don't think a bike-based airbag makes no sense because a crashing rider does have some impact with the bike.  I had a lay-down, not a collision, but I still ended up (involuntarily) smacking a mirror off the handlebar with my own hand so I can imagine how an airbag might help guard against the bike doing damage to the rider, especially with a faring like the Goldwing's.

December 29, 2005 | 2:39 AM ET

Jason Calcanis makes some of the most discussion-generating predictions for 2006.

Elsewhere, tech trends for 2006.

Bands I'm excited about in 2006 (Part 1)

And for more general thoughts on the future, the new Carnival of Tomorrow.

But if you're not ready to move on quite yet, a few look-back links I clicked:

Everyone's playing the sand game.

I can't actually read this, but it looks like it's discussion and photos of Italian mushrooms.  I'm not even sure why a lot of people would link to this, but then I found myself flipping through and finding the whole thing strangely engrossing, so I'm sharing them with you.

Speaking of languages, "Language affects half of what the human eye sees, a study suggests."

Speaking of seeing things differently, How to drink vodka and stay sober — I love that this is written in English but with a Russian accent.  I worked with a Russian guy for a while and he would describe dinners with bottles of Stoli frozen in blocks of ice.  It's funny that this writer doesn't understand the idea of trying to get drunk on the least possible alcohol.  I still have trouble understanding why anyone would drink a whole bottle of vodka and spend the night trying to resist the resulting intoxication.  Why bother?

I always keep an eye out for names I don't know in the Technorati search list.  Today I clicked Jane Creba.

Stuff doesn't make you happy — "It's not the toys, it's the playing."  (And being from Barry, it comes with charts.)

World's first motorcycle airbag — Actually, I have to quibble with that.  It may be the first bike to come with an airbag, but the airbag idea for motorcyclists is already out there in the form of CO2 loaded vests and jackets.  The idea is that you tie yourself to your bike so that if you're thrown, the caps are ripped off the CO2 cartriges and your clothes fill with air.  The bad part is if you forget your tether and just get off the bike and inflate yourself.  D'oh!  Still, I think it makes more sense than putting the air bag on the bike.

The winners of the homeschool blog awards will be announced shortly.

Cory Doctorow has released his second free downloadable book after the success of his first try at it.  It's already available in a staggering number of formats.  (This link might actually belong with the predictions links above.)

Sometimes entertaining Ana Nova stories turn out to be hoaxes, but this one is woth a good for a thought.  Was the photographer obligated to ruin his shot by warning the bicyclist about the hole?  (I don't buy his argument about needing to take the shot to convince the government.)

December 23, 2005 | 1:14 PM ET

Catching up on some recent mail....

Will,
You asked "What the heck is Ghost Rider?" in Today's Clicked.  FYI, Ghost Rider is an old 1970s Marvel comics character about a stunt biker who was cursed into becoming a flaming-skulled demon.  It was hokey and cool all at once.  More info is available here.
— Adam Frey, Capt, USAF

Will replies:  Ah!  I did collect Arak Son of Thunder by the same writer when I was young, but I guess Ghost Rider was before my time.  Thanks for the tip.

Hi, Will,
I liked your recent blog post about people working VERY hard, it seems, just to show up as a couple dots on Google Earth.  Who knows what those satellites will pick up?  I myself had an interesting run-in with Google Earth, back when it first came out.  I’ll let you be the judge as to whether or not it’s blog-worthy, but it may be freaky/eerie/interesting enough. Take a look.
Cheers,
Monty Nicol
Calgary (formerly New York City)
Canada

Will replies:  Monty, that may be the most amazing satellite map story I've heard yet.  I don't imagine anyone would want to set their apartment on fire just to show up more clearly on Google Earth, but the fact that you get to see what happened while you were away is pretty incredible.  I hope the CSI/Law & Order writers are reading this because that would make a great plot device; a crime or clue spotted on a blurry public satellite image.  At least you have proof for your insurance company.  Thanks very much for sharing this.

Dear Will,
I think you overreacted by pulling the link to " The Real Story of Christmas" from your recent blog entry .  Yes, the authors have a Jewish perspective (or "agenda" as you called it.)  Given today's hubbub about the "War Against Christmas," however, it might be useful for Christians, including Messrs. O'Reilly, Gibson et. al., to understand the pagan origins of the holiday, and the anti-Semitic uses to which it has been put.  In particular, it could show them why some Jews are not just being 'politically correct' when they are less than thrilled about being wished a "Merry Christmas."  (I do not count myself among them, perhaps because my birthday is December 25.)

I think the comparison to "Hitler's Birthday" is a bit overblown, but it is not completely unjustified.  Over the centuries, millions of Jews have been murdered and persecuted in Christ's name.  And, as James Carroll (a Catholic) points out in "Constantine's Sword," Hitler's Final Solution was a logical outgrowth of seventeen centuries of European Christian anti-Semitism.

As an aside, the common short form of "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!" has always been "Happy Holidays!" with no political correctness implied.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Marty Cobern

Will replies:  Thanks Marty for giving me a new context in which to re-introduce that link.  My reason for taking it down was not to deny the points made by the page, but rather that it did not suit the editorial point I meant to make with that item.  I initially highlighted the link because the history of Christmas is such a bizarre amalgam of (non-Christian) traditions that it's almost funny.  But as you point out, the bit about Hitler's birthday is somewhat overblown and the suggestion that Christmas be celebrated with atonement for Christian crimes against Jews is not what I meant to say when I wrote up the item. 

To be sure, crimes have been committed in Christ's name throughout history, but that's Christian history, not exclusively Christmas history.  Though the last part of the page argues against allowing that particular meaning to be forgotten, I think the larger point to be taken from the history of Christmas is that its meaning is consistently forgotten.  How else could so many remote pieces of culture be continually (right up to modern times with Rudolph and Frosty) incorporated into a single holiday?

Regarding ‘Passing Cars to Generate Power’

This is a clear abuse of conservation of energy — Gas in the UK is already amongst the most expensive per gallon in the world, and the extraction of power from passing traffic is basically just reducing the average mileage of each vehicle (which are already rather inefficient at extracting energy from gasoline).  This is far less efficient than say using a purpose built generator or power plant to extract energy from gasoline or say a more appropriate greener fuel like natural gas.  Even modern coal plants are more efficient than automobiles.  Crackpot ideas like this should be staunched, not funded.  Unfortunately no one with signature authority seems to recall high school science.  Or possibly more insidious, this may have been funded by some oil company or consortia to purposely sap more money from the gasoline purchasing public should this device become more widespread.

Will replies:  I'll grant you that further reducing fuel efficiency and automotive emissions would be counter productive, but since you mention conservation of energy, how about if we just do it on downhill stretches when a driver would have to apply the brakes anyway?  Or maybe in the approach to toll booths or red lights?  That's obviously the reasoning behind hybrids that generate power from the brakes.  I just can't help feeling like there's some baby in that bathwater.

Will, I was wondering if there was another web address besides  that would reach your blog.
Thanks!
Rebecca

Will replies:  Hi Rebecca.  This page does have a "name" URL as well:  Clicked.MSNBC.com.

Odd that a video of light bending from extreme velocity doesn’t include basic concepts like blue-shift.  Or am I just being too much of a nerd?

The view straight ahead at those speeds would slowly turn more and more blue/violet as you accelerated, eventually becoming “black” as it shifted off the visible spectrum into ultra violet.  An interesting effect of this is that the “infra red” radiation from heat in the structures and such would become visible red, then move up through orange, and on up the scale.  Eventually, the electrical wires in the buildings might become visible, as long-wave radiation from them would shift up towards visible red.  (I’m not certain that would happen at the speed listed at the bottom of the screen.  I haven’t got the needed math.)

This effect would have a gradually decreasing strength starting at a point directly ahead of the point of view and being 0 directly to the sides.

Of course, even if this were shown, the video only points straight ahead, and would miss the opposite effect behind the point of view.  There, colors would shift towards red (violet becomes blue, blue moves down to green, and so on), with reds disappearing into invisibility first and eventually the only thing visible would be ultra violet, perhaps even X-radiation (not a lot of either of those inside the atmosphere, which is a good thing, but would leave the view directly behind as mostly black).

So, the video was an interesting exercise, but it certainly could have been even more interesting.  At least, to me it would have been had the creator done more than just use a fish-eye lens effect.

Though I’m probably granting the whole thing WAY too much importance.

Gus

Will replies:  Gus, when it comes to simulated light speed, there's no such thing as being too much of a nerd.  Thanks for the further explanation, very neat.

Hey Will,
I just read this article from your site from Reuters about making a standard for swapping programs between digital devices.  And all of a sudden it occurred to me, what does this mean for ratings?  If you can record/download 2 or 3 programs from the same timeslot on the same night, how can Nielsen keep track of those ratings?  Has Nielsen taken into account that people can watch one program and record another at the same time?  CNet asks the same question here.

Patrick Duff

Will replies:  Hi Patrick, the most compelling thing I've read about the future of ratings is something called " Portable People Meters."  The idea is that all media, from TV to radio to billboards, would broadcast an extra signal - similar to how radio already broadcasts extra information so newer radios can display call letters and song information.  The extra signal would be picked up by a pager-sized device worn by people who would be the equivalent of a Nielsen family.  There'd be no manual recording of what a person watched.  Instead, the meter would record all the signals to which the person was exposed to give a more exact idea of the person's overall media exposure.

December 23, 2005 | 12:25 AM ET

A line from yesterday's Josh Marshall link has been stuck in my head.  "The president may well find himself or herself in situations that the Congress could not have anticipated or ones where the well-being of the country requires the president to ignore the letter of the law."  Not long ago, popular blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote against legalizing torture by also arguing that in the ticking bomb scenario a president might choose to break the law.  He drew a connection to civil disobedience, which is also a sort of principled breaking of the law.  (Use the new improved BugMeNot for the TNR link if you don't want to bother.)

And today we saw the end of a union strike in New York City that also was against the law.  I don't know enough about demographics to know what makes an official trend or even what that trend might be, but I feel like the subject of ignoring the law in favor of principle is coming up a lot lately.

Speaking of yesterday's links, Jeralyn Merritt posts comments from one of her readers about the nature of the "spying" or "snooping" in question in the NSA story.  Like Kevin Drum's post, the suggestion is that the government is using an online information harvesting tool that analyzes data exchanged to look for keywords and traffic that might indicate foul play.

One such harvesting tool is something called Echelon, and this new interest in how and whether it's being used would explain why an old 60 Minutes transcript on the subject has resurfaced.

Walid Phares at the Counterterrorism blog argues that the problem is not too much spying on Americans but not enough spying on terrorists and asks, "Are we or are we not at war with the terrorists?"

Bruce Schneier on why it's not about too much spying on Americans but too much power in one place over Americans.

Speaking of White House controversy, Karl Rove implicated in yet another identity leak.

The song that opened tonight's CSI re-run was the Gary Jules version of the Tears For Fears hit "Mad World."  And the video for it is today's Video of the Day.

I read through this whole post and I'm still not sure I understand it.  Hackers have found a way to install bit torrent on other people's machines, your machine, and then force movie downloads into your machine.  It's not really clear why, but I imagine it would help speed downloads if you could force other people to seed them.  It also probably throws a wrench in copyright prosecution if you can legitimately argue that you didn't put those illegal movies on your machine.

Speaking of hacking, the hacking of a Diebold eVoting machine described pretty simply here.

Speaking of hacking but not really, Google free proxy — I'm not a hacker.  I understand a little bit of programming, but not enough to do anything fancy.  So when someone finds a hack that involves tweaking a search term or a URL, I'm always gratified that it's something I can try.  Using Google as a proxy is one such hack.  Tinker with the URL and you can access pages that might be blocked by your school or work (or government?).

Speaking of faking it, here's a good lesson for this shopping season:  Fake iPod shuffle.  Know what you're buying.

Has Google Become More "Evil" Than Microsoft?  It may seem odd, but a lot of people are acting like it was Google who sold out to AOL in that deal this week.

What the heck is Ghost Rider?  Nick Cage as a flaming skull biker on a twisty flaming chrome bike?

You may remember the Komar.org guy who lets people turn his Christmas lights on and off through the Web.  If not, the "Why do I do it" video is a good introduction.  Apparently every other year has been a hoax, but this year is for real.

A selection of the most blogged about books of the year.  I don't see the Times mentioning their source technology for this, it looks like a Technorati category.  Interesting that you can click the title and see all the blog reviews of it.  Looks like a good example of the vertical search idea we read about yesterday.

Speaking of the Times getting technical, check out what they did with locals' transit strike reports and Google maps.

Need For Speed… How Real?  I've read about how U.S. broadband is slower than the broadband in other countries, but this the first time I've seen a discussion of a person can actually tell when their broadband is that much faster - and by the way, just because a page loads faster doesn't mean you're going to read it any faster.

"The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity, and see the torture as a 'cool' activity."

Mortal Kombat ad banned — I'm a sucker for "banned" stuff, so of course I watched the ad.  It's gory (funny gory, not angry or scary gory), but since our society is more afraid of boobs than blood, you can probably watch this at work with no problem.

I keep clicking videos of these people dressed as Pac Man running through university settings.  The last one I saw, they ran through a lection hall.  This looks like a library or computer lab.

The Dynamic of a Bush Scandal: How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade)

Michael J. Fox to do Back to the Future 4.

"An attempt by Singapore Adventurer Khoo Swee Chiow to break the existing record of 212.5 Hours underwater" — of course he's blogging it.

Web visionary John Battelle makes predictions for 2006.

Napkin folding - You know you can never figure it out when you try to re-fold the one at the restaurant.

Animated knots — It's not uncommon to see knot-tying instructional Web sites, but this one is noteworthy for animating the instructions.  Actually, I think the mouse-over steps are the most useful.  Of course, the names are what give knots their appeal.

While reading about this frozen giant squid I may a clicked on the new worst job in the world:  cow head picker-upper.

The naturally growing monkey puzzle nut.

A robot that can recognize itself in the mirror has been invented.

Sunrise by season — Summer Solstice, the Equinox, and Winter Solstice photographed on the same horizon.

Kitzcarnival — A massive round up of reaction to this week's Intelligent Design decision.

Dan Gillmor to launch the Center for Citizen Media.

The trailer for the new Mel Gibson movie Apocalypto.  I had heard he was doing an apocalypse movie, but this isn't really what I was expecting.

December 21, 2005 | 2:30 PM ET

Naturally, the NSA wiretap story (which Jonathan Alter is calling Snoopgate ) is tearing up the blogosphere.  But it's also tearing up traditional media and what's more, there seems to be a new development almost every day.  So given that this story is in a state of news gathering free for all, this is what I clicked:

Regarding that other spying scandal, no, the other one , I'm sure it's serious to some people, but there's something funny about the Pentagon seeing a threat in a gay "kiss-in."

Today's bloggernecking items:  You may have read about the teen who was forced to plead guilty to manslaughter because he confessed on his blog.  That's here.

And in the case of the woman accused of killing her Navy Reservist/milblogger husband, his online outlet is here, updated mere days ago.

Speaking of blogs in the news, the striking transit workers in New York City have a blog.

Droidle droidle droidle

I keep linking to everyone else's year in pictures, MSNBC.com's year in pictures is also published now.  Also a photo tribute to those who died this year.

Speaking of year-end wrap ups, Google Zeitgeist 2005  (Janet Jackson was the top search term of the year?)

Tim Berners-Lee starts a blog.  There's nothing too earthshaking there yet, but there's a certain unavoidable reverence for this event nonetheless.  (In case you need your memory jogged, he is generally credited with being the inventor of the World Wide Web.)

Bloke finds self on Google Earth — Basically he and his friend sat in the same place all summer and there are spots in that place in the satellite photo.  I'm not sure this is totally unique because there are probably hot dog carts in the city that are always on the same corner than can find themselves the same way.  It's fun to think of what you'd do if you knew when the map satellite was going to be taking your picture.  A declaration of love maybe?  (Can you believe Google Sightseeing is still finding something new to post every day?)

Technicolor wonderland — Last year I saw something similar to this and they called it snow graffiti.  They made stencils and used food coloring and water and sprayed faces on snow banks.  This is a little more free form.  I wonder how much color lingers when the snow melts.

Video of the Day:  Segway polo

Welcome to the Internet.  1 Billion served.  Drive through please.

Somewhat related:  P2P population nears record high

And as long as we're counting, World of Warcraft surpasses five million customers worldwide.  That's a big game.

These free music lessons are receiving rave reviews.  Though there is some instrument-specific instruction, it primarily explains music theory.

Speaking of music, Iran's president bans western music .  Looks like it's time to initiate operation Kevin Bacon.

America kidnapped me — This would be a little more convincing if it didn't say he was born in two different places in the first two inches of the page, but it does bear striking resemblance to that Canadian guy who was sent to Syria.

Like something straight out of one of those new nanny shows on TV, a token driven video game timer.

"Venezuela has given the world's biggest oil company, ExxonMobil, until the end of this year to enter a joint venture with the state."

A peek at the Xbox scarcity strategy.  I've never worked in sales at a department store, so I don't know how weird this is, but the instructions for what to do when the new Xbox shipment comes seems pretty crazy.  Not exactly, "when the new stuff comes in, put a price tag on it and put it on the shelf."

With all the buzzing about Web 2.0 this year, we (I) haven't heard much from the Semantic Web folks in a while.  But that's not to say those ideas have gone away.

Hand over the car keys because after those two articles you'll be buzzword drunk.  Folks who are enthusiastic about the Semantic Web want people to put categorizing information into their web pages so that otherwise unrelated sites can be collected into categories (vertical searches).  The result is that these search categories take the place of specialty sites (walled gardens).  So you don't go to eBay to list what you have for sale, you just post it to your personal site or blog and label it and it'll show up in a search-created category.

" Matt Groening has faith in the relaunch of Futurama" — This made me realize that I can't remember ever seeing a photo of Matt Groening before.

While I find military matters interesting, I'm not much of an equipment buff, so I didn't expect much when I clicked a link to blackbird airplane diagrams.  That said, it's hard not to be impressed by the cockpit dashboard.

In case you're curious, we have a copy of the judge's ruling in the Intelligent Design case .

December 20, 2005 | 1:36 PM ET

Considering the season, it seems like there's a lot of heavy news going on.  That's making for some dense blog surfing, so while I squint through angry pundit bloggers, this is what else I clicked.

The real story of Christmas - A look at the origins of Christmas traditions.

Speaking of Christmas traditions and their mutations, Santarchy — Crazy Santa partying is officially a global phenomenon.

(You may have read about the Aukland Santas.  Those zombie people also did a Santa theme.)

More Christmas parodies:  It's a wonderful Internet

Pimp my nutcracker  (not as dirty as it sounds)

The Eyemaze folks have a Christmas game.  I think this is the third of theirs I've played, so if you've been reading Clicked for a while you'll recognize it.  If you're not familiar, check out the other games in the margin.  The idea is to figure out the order in which to click the items.

This bit of animated commentary gives new meaning to "liveblogging."  Setting the content of the commentary aside for a sec, the idea of matching running comments against streaming media seems like something that could catch on.  (Comedy Central fans know that Stephen Colbert has already figured this out.)

Evidence of global warming: smaller bathing suits.  (May not be appropriate for work.)

Speaking of global warming, Polar bears drown as ice shelf melts

Speaking of animals and environmental damage, How to knit a sweater for a wee penguin — This is apparently not a joke.  I guess penguins damaged by oil spills need sweaters.

Reuters' year in photos.  (Note:  They don't post a warning before showing a dead body.)

The Chapelle Theory — I don't think this is a parody, though like any conspiracy theory, you know how to treat it.  It makes the argument that Dave Chapelle's show was actually the victim of a conspiracy by high powered African Americans who were offended by his comedy.

This face recognition demo is pretty cool to watch.  I chose a photo from a random story ( this one ) and it found the faces and analyzed them.  The results were miserably inaccurate, but it was still interesting to watch.

I published the two most recent chats yesterday.  Jack Klugman was a great guy to interview.  His voice is pretty rough, but he was fun.  The other one, with Aleta St. James , the 57-year-old new mother, was frankly a little too "new age" for my taste, but I can't be too critical because it does seem to work for her.

Speaking of moods as motivation, Get happy and you will get ahead — If you stay happy, you're more likely to be successful than if you wait for success to make you happy.

"A road ramp that uses passing cars to generate power has been developed."  This is a brilliant idea and there should be more like it everywhere.  Obviously we can't get back all the energy used to move a car, but it's such a waste having such huge machines do nothing but move little people.  I'd always thought there'd be a way to use magnets to generate power with cars.  Cars would drive through a tunnel or beside a rail drawing magnets along for the ride, generating electricity.  At the end of the tunnel, the magnet would swing to the other lane to be drawn back to the other end.  Anyway, ramps are fine too.  Good idea.

Speaking of magnets, levitating stuff with magnetic fields.

Still speaking of magnets, a quick trip to the mailbag:

Will,
Love your blog...  Here's a quote from this site:

"Beware - you must think ahead when moving these magnets.
If carrying one into another room, carefully plan the route you will be taking. Computers & monitors will be affected in an entire room. Loose metallic objects and other magnets may become airborne and fly considerable distances - and at great speed - to attach themselves to this magnet. If you get caught in between the two, you can get injured.

Two of these magnets close together can create an almost unbelievable magnetic field that can be very dangerous. Of all the unique items we offer for sale, we consider these two items the most dangerous of all. Our normal packing & shipping personnel refuse to package these magnets - our engineers have to do it. This is no joke and we cannot stress it strongly enough - that you must be extremely careful - and know what you're doing with these magnets. Take Note: Two of the 3" x 1" disc magnets can very easily break your arm if they get out of control."

You may have found this before I came on board a year ago, but I thought it pretty cool myself.
— Roger

Will replies:  Dear Roger, thanks for the link, I love this site, but for the life of me I can't think of what I'd do with a magnet this strong (other than accidentally wipe out every computer gadget I own).  I know folks who build robots that construct flat screen TVs, and part of that process includes magnets that are so strong they'll crush your finger if they're allowed to get too close to each other.

"A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called 'The Little Red Book.'"  I'm afraid to comment.

The Chronic(what?)les of Narnia - New Yorkers rap about buying snacks and going to the movies.

That's fun, but the Video of the Day is playing darts with cars.

If you've not been watching the Fimoculous list update, this blog is also tracking all the year-end wrap up lists.

I clicked this Swedish gadget blog after a weekend Digg blasted it into my click-path.

It seems like I was just clicking a story about a music lyric service getting sued into non-existence, but today I clicked LyricsFly.  Led Zep, yes.  Motorhead, no (but you can submit some if you like).

Why is the guy who invented the Segway drinking his own urine?  Because his company has invented a new water purifier.  (The serious subtext is that a global water shortage is part of the business model.)  No mention of what the distillate looks like.

New buzzphrase to watch, " the probablistic age."  The idea is that the accuracy of some of the most popular Web resources cannot be precisely measured, but can be described with probability.  Thoughtful discussion ensues.

The new Vendetta trailer — Expect controversy. (Not just because Amidala shaved her head but because the hero is a terrorist, sort of.)

Mona Lisa in Rubik's cubes

Speaking of odd art, geranium leaf as photographic paper  (Sort of like writing words on your belly before you go tanning, but different.)

Retouching — I love these every time I find one.  It shows the before and after of how a model was photoshopped.  As I always say, pages like this should be required reading for adolescents with developing body images.  Including boys.

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