March 17, 2006 | 12:41 PM ET

I'm having one of those days when half an entry is sitting on my desktop while I go through my pile of "I'll read that later" items from the week.  Here's what I clicked so far...

We had a pretty good discussion about this on the shuttle to work this morning, though I'm not sure I have any better idea what to make of it than when we started:  White House revises sexual orientation language on granting clearance

Here's the meat:

The administration rewrote a 1997 regulation that had said sexual orientation “may not be used as a basis” for denying clearances or determining whether individuals should be eligible to access classified information unless it could make them vulnerable to coercion or exploitation.

President Bush’s updated language says security clearances cannot be denied “solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual.”

What's the difference?  Obviously, sexual orientation didn't used to be a basis for denial and now it is, but if it can't be the sole basis, why would it be any basis?  And if it still means you can't deny a person just for being gay, why bother to change the language?  It feels like this has a back-story.  The gay Arabic language translators maybe?  Gay escort/White House reporter Jeff Gannon?  What am I missing?

A 6 stroke engine — This is lighter on details than I'd like, but the idea is that the exhaust is used to heat water so there's a steam power stroke in the cycle.

"One of the world's most powerful supercomputers has conjured a fleeting moment in the life of a virus. The researchers say the simulation is the first to capture a whole biological organism in such intricate molecular detail."  Basically they built a virus simulator.  Cool new occupation I wasn't aware of:  " computational biologists."

Coming soon to a medical drama near you, QuikClot — Which is not to say it's fictional.  It's a blood clotting powder and this article mentions a couple others including something called "bioglass."

Free money from Microsoft for New Yorkers.  If this wasn't in a newspaper I'd think it was a hoax.  The date on the actual site is the 7th, so maybe this made bigger news while I was on vacation.

Speaking of things I may have missed while on vacation, is there a reason why Taheri-azar isn't being charged with terrorism?

Dremel has a new tool called the Stylus that looks a little like a Dremel pen.  Commence making dust!

Ford: "Indy 4" Script Ready — I thought this headline was about auto racing, but no, that's "Indy" as in "Indiana Jones" and Ford as in... well, you know.

Fastest Human, Under Construction — "Record holder Oscar Pistorius Prosthetics may zoom amputees past 'able bodied' sprinters."  I never understood why this wasn't already the case.  Science fiction has been imaging replacement limbs that are superior to natural limbs since the dawn of time.

Mexico discovers 'huge' oil field — In related news, President Bush today named Mexico as part of a "sphere of malevolence" threatening America.  We invade next week.  (Just kidding.)

Tests find DRM shortens player battery life by up to ~25% — Apparently having rights protection on a file requires that much extra processing power.  I wouldn't have guessed that.

Ireland, as much of the world knows it, was invented in 1991.

Megnut advises that you read the numbers on your fruit.

Speaking of food, everyone is linking to the new New York Times wine blog, The Pour.

Poverty-stricken Africans receive desperately needed bibles

Government food: call for entries — They're looking for people to submit photos of attractively prepared MREs.  I've got some "Beefsteak, restructured, grilled with mushroom gravy" here at my desk, so this could be a good excuse to finally try it.

Web 2.0 or Star Wars?  It's probably not coincidence that companies started by people of a certain age have names that sound like Star Wars characters.

How many gems have come from live broadcasts of QVC?  You can see this one coming a mile away.

March 16, 2006 | 4:54 AM ET

Do bloggers break news?  Apparently according to the new State of the News Media report (which I've not read) they don't.  Naturally, I disagree.  News is often broken by bloggers, but then, the news itself is usually defined by what the news media covers.  It is in the interest of the news media to cover the stories they break themselves.  This would seem to leave bloggers out of the loop except for the fact that the audience is draining from the traditional news media.

Africa will eventually lose its horn.  A new ocean is forming there with staggering speed -- at least by geological standards.  They're calling it "speed geology."

Snubster appears to be part of an only-half-joking backlash against all the sites devoted to helping people make social connections.  This site helps you build lists of people you don't like.  Another anti-social site that is purely satire is Isolatr.

But not everyone is sick of social networking.  Irish bloggers are entertaining the idea of interviewing each other in the spirit of building a closer community.

Pepper component hot enough to trigger suicide in prostate cancer cells — While it's interesting to see how they quantify a pepper's hotness, the quantity a person would have to eat to self-administer this treatment might cause more suicide than just among cancer cells.

"The TV series spin-off of the Stars Wars film franchise will run to at least 100 episodes, according to producer Rick McCallum."

You - Gorgeous... Me - A Gamer... - m4w-25 — I wonder if this guy is familiar with MSNBC's Monica Crowley.

Why is water assumed to be a precondition for extraterrestrial life?  One argument not presented here is that if you believe that life on earth came from microbes sprinkled by a passing meteor to incubate in Earth's water, then it's not a very distant leap to believe that another planet with water might have received the same microbes.  So water isn't a prerequisite for life necessarily, but if you're guessing at where life would be, Earth-like conditions, including water, is a safe bet.

At first glance I wasn't very impressed by action figures made from wire, but after the photos downloaded, I was really taken with how artful they are.

In2TV is the new AOL site that hosts a lot of old TV shows for your free viewing pleasure.  I was about to enjoy a bit of Wonder Woman when I got an error that my Windows Media Player needs to download a DRM in order to watch anything.  I'll try it tomorrow on my work machine.

I was excited to see my colleague Alan Boyle getting some link traction for his post on the discovery of a " starry river ."

Obviously I couldn't care less about Paris Hilton, but I have had the pleasure of seeing a Mercedes McLaren SLR in person and in the wild (not even at a car show).

Speaking of cars, "Volkswagen and Google are working together to develop a revolutionary new navigation system."  As you might guess, it's based on Google Earth.

Speaking of gadgets for cars, I also clicked this item about Microsoft working with Fiat to integrate mobile devices into the car.

(The good stuff on the video comes at around 2:40 after the guy stops talking.)  Presumably that street level map we saw a couple weeks ago would eventually become a driving tool as well.

Google Joe Bruno — Political activists in New York have purchased ads on Google for all searches associated with the names of the state representatives.  They give each representative a grade for how they vote on "middle class" issues.  I like the idea in theory, but it does seem like something that could get ugly.

Speaking of politics online, here's a new legal buzz term to learn:  HR 1606, also being called The Online Freedom of Speech Act.  Bloggers from all parts of the political spectrum are rallying for what they see as a protection from bills that would consider political blogging the equivalent of a campaign contribution and therefore impose limits and restrictions on political blogging.  The Times has called it an Internet campaign loophole.

Speaking of new terms to learn, I keep reading about slivercasts.  "A slivercast is effectively a television programme broadcast over the web. Nothing new really. However, these programmes don't attempt to gain as wide an audience as possible."  The niche is the point.

A guy tapes together a torn up credit card application, enters a new address, and the credit card company still sent him a credit card.  I saw Bob on TV earlier today talking about this very link.  While the emphasis is on protecting yourself, I think it's insane how irresponsible banks are with other people's credit.

Ten reasons small spaces are better than big ones

Why are We So Helpful? Explaining Pro-Social Behavior — "According to standard economic theory, people should take advantage of any opportunity to exploit society or another individual-but they do not."  (The original paper is a 30 page pdf, plus end notes.)

Philips Smokeless Stove Uses 80% Less Fuel, Saves Lives — Perhaps more interesting than the energy efficiency of the stove is that the efficiency is managed electronically and the electricity is generated by the stove itself, with enough extra to power other devices.

Commuter Click:  "Chongqing is the fastest-growing urban centre on the planet. Its population is already bigger than that of Peru or Iraq, with half a million more arriving every year in search of a better life."

What is the case for Iran supplying IEDs (or components) to the Iraqi insurgency?  This is one of those things that seemed so obvious I didn't even question it.  Of course Iran is helping attack Americans, and of course the Shiites there are helping kill Sunnis.  Right?

Did you see the photo of Cindy Sheehan getting arrested with her belly hanging out?  I remember thinking that it would have been nice for the photo editor to crop the shot a little differently.  Apparently al Jazeera had a similar reaction.

Speaking of making changes with Islam, How Islamic inventors changed the world

" Vast is a search service that crawls the entire web and structures the data that it finds so that it can be categorized fully and indexed."  Remember the idea that instead of making submissions to hub sites like Craigslist, you'd post to your own site and a search engine or other aggregator would come find it and group it appropriately for others to find?  That's what Vast proposes to do.

What I like most about the wrist PC is that it's not a fat ugly wrist watch.  It would probably make your arm all sweaty, but it definitely looks cooler.

Whizzball is a dangerously time sucking game.  Actually, it's more than one game, and what's cool is that you can create your own puzzle and you play other people's puzzles.

Hard Candy trailer.  Looks like the subject of online predators will come up a lot in April.

George Clooney bashes Democrats

No he didn't.

Yes he did.

The conservative case against McCain — Some of these have more to do with politics than conservatism, but it's a good list so later you don't say, "But I thought everyone on the right loves McCain."

Senator Debbie Stabino made the mistake of giving a speech while standing next to a large and very photoshop-able sign.  Her political critics are having a field day.

I mentioned SketchUp yesterday in the context of it being purchased by Google, but I didn't actually point out the site.  It's a 3-D rendering tool.

In Lieu of a Video of the Day, you must try this Flow game.  We've already seen that the idea of evolving through gameplay is gaining prevalence and this is a great example.

March 15, 2006 | 4:24 AM ET

I've returned my beige rental Buick for my beige work cube and the Florida sun for some flourescent tubes.  I'm back.  This is what I clicked to catch up.

Google Inc. has acquired @Last Software.

Writely has also been acquired by Google.

Fox to buy NewRoo which was also being considered by Yahoo.

And yet Rupert Murdoch says the Internet means the end for media barons.  OK guy, whatever.  No media barons, just a few massively wealthy companies buying up powerful Web tools in an effort to corner the market on the media consumption of millions, maybe billions of people.

25 things I hate about Google — A more serious list than I was expecting.

Online dating for sci fi fans.  I am not offering this as a recommendation, I just think the idea is funny (though not necessarily bad).  Caveat dater.

Simple ways to make yourself far cleverer

My Eyeball Just Fell Out of Its Socket.  What should I do?  Answer: put it back in.  This article needs pictures.

Speaking of eyeballs, "Rodents blinded by a severed tract in their brains' visual system had their sight partially restored within weeks, thanks to a tiny biodegradable scaffold invented by MIT bioengineers and neuroscientists."  Like the bone lattices you may have read about, the idea is that the nano structure gives new cells something to grow on.
BBC has a cool picture.

The New York Times is on a campaign to get rid of the electoral college.  Since other media seem to follow the Times pretty closely and everyone is looking for ways to fill air time while waiting for the coming elections, don't be surprised if this enters the national discussion.

Daytona Prostitutes Hunting Serial Killer — Three women have been killed in Daytona in the last three months and the general consensus is that the killer is murdering prostitutes (although one of the women might not have been a prostitute).  The expectation is that since there's been a killing every month for the past three months, there will be a fourth killing this month.  Though given this headline, maybe this month's killing will be the killer himself.

I find this one a little hard to believe, but there's no shortage of proof, so I may have to give in.  College basketball fans seduced a player on the opposing team through AOL IM and then taunted him with the fake online lover's details throughout the game in chants from the stands.

Amazing mouse trick — There's one pretty horrifying moment before I realized what it was.

Video of the Day:  These kids do a great job with a light saber battle.

Computer ads should just state plainly how good a machine is in terms of its porno capacity.

Speaking of porn, How to Porn Surf, Safely — This page has no porn on it but other pages on this site do, so I can't guarantee the results of any extra clicking.  SFW as long as no one is reading over your shoulder.  Part of why I think it's worth sharing this page is that it has applications beyond porn to generally surfing safely.  If your surfing habits are at all like mine with often blind clicking on sites that may not even be in a language I understand, it's important to be as safe and aware as possible.

How to celebrate Pi Day (which was today, in case you didn't notice)

Pi Day is past, but you have all week to celebrate Sunshine Week.  (P.S. Hear! Hear! to government transparency being key to effective democracy.)

While we're on the subject of there being time to celebrate special days, since I was too late to post about the free pancakes on Pancake Day, here's one I'm not too late for:  "Starbucks will host its first-ever National Coffee Break, inviting customers in for a complimentary cup of freshly brewed coffee, on March 15 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m."

NASA puts its weight behind warming signs — The article gives mixed signals on whether it's man's fault or not.

If not humans then what would cause global warming?  How about mesospheric ice crystals?

Remember the video parody of a Microsoft designed iPod box?  It was apparently an internal Microsoft video that leaked out to the public - though they're not exactly upset that it happened.  If it wasn't a leak but an actual release, would it be a bad PR ploy to make fun of themselves in a viral video?

" Shapelock is a plastic that is made moldable with only hot water and is perfect for all kinds of do-it-yourself projects."

"Scientists at the University of California-Irvine have identified the first known case of a new, superior memory syndrome."

"Virus hunters have discovered a new Trojan that encrypts files on an infected computer and then demands $300 in ransom for a decryption password."

You do have the latest model, don't you?  ( Peer pressure revenge animation)

As you may know, the Gawker Stalker feature at is when New Yorkers write in when they've spotted celebrities in their midst.  (I got a Daryl Hannah sighting on there once.)  What makes this a new-again click is that they've added a Google maps feature so you can see where they celebs were spotted that day.  I think they should have made the map more central, but whatever, it works.

Dave Winer, one of the earliest, most prolific and most influential bloggers says he will stop blogging.  In part he cites the amount of work it takes to blog.  I'll believe it when I see it.  Blogging is a hard habit to break.  It's not uncommon to see an active blogger burn out, declare and end to it all and then decide that with his newfound free time he'd like to do a little blogging after all.

Scoble, reacting to Winer's announcement, is also feeling overwhelmed and writes a pretty compelling entry.

The world's first iPod video film festival — (Note:  contrary to what it says in "step 1" you only need Quicktime to watch the movies, not their "free account.")

Commuter Click:  " G/localization: When Global Information and Local Interaction Collide"

OK, this is the last Brokeback link I'm going to post.  It's a pretty definitive collection of all of the Brokeback re-cut parodies.

Kid accidentally Googlebombs himself.  Or, Google News Credibility Foiled By 15-Year Old

Speaking of the fallibility of news automation, Man vs. Machine in Newsreader War — At issue is whether computer code can be written to do a better job of finding the stories you want to read than humans can.

This is the Salon story that busts the New York Times on the identity of the hooded Abu Ghraib guy.  (And strangely it didn't make me watch a commercial to read it.)

" Zookoda enables you to send a daily, weekly or monthly summary of your latest blog posts directly into your visitors' inbox."  So it's a newsletter service.  What I find noteworthy is that this is the second time I've seen an e-mail based star-up with an idea that was supposed to have been made obsolete by RSS.

Some bloggers are raising their eyebrows at the news that the terrorist Zawahiri was in Lodi, California a few years before 9/11.  Folks in New Jersey are already used to the idea that they may have taken a bus with a 9/11 hijacker at some point before that day.

KeepVid lets you download videos from a jillion video sites.  I'm not sure why you'd want to do this instead of watching the video on the page where it lives.  Maybe if you have a slow connection and Web video doesn't load well for you, this would be a good option.

More than you ever wanted to know about zombie muscles

The Berlin Brain-Computer Interface — a Thought-Controlled Interface — A computer reading your thoughts, what could possibly go wrong with that?  Meanwhile, the cap is cool with its wire pony tail.  Even though it's not putting images into your head, I can't help but think of Strange Days.

I'm not too deeply aware of the Claude Allen ( Bush advisor in trouble ) story, but it looks like an evil twin mistaken identity theory is gaining favor online.

Top ten most annoying alarm clocks

Ten Reasons Young People Are Afraid to Start Their Own Business — Along with some rebuttal/encouragement

Speaking of ten, Microsoft has some kind of new Web video show.  It's not clear that they're selling anything with this.  I think it's more about displaying technologies.

I'm running out of steam so I'll do the rest of my catching up in tomorrow's entry.  As a final bonus and a Coincidence of the Day item, I picked up my girl scout cookies today (2 boxes each of Samoas and Thin Mints) only to later click this recipe for making your own thin mints.  (This one happens to be vegan, but substitutions probably aren't hard if you don't care about that.)


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