July 20, 2006 | 12:19 PM ET

I'm traveling out to the Redmond mother ship for a few days, I should be able to get online a few times while out there, but since today's a travel day, it's a good time to highlight the last couple of weeks in the mailbag.

Hey Will,
Not sure if you saw this... baseball team allows fans to make game time decisions... and the players aren't happy about it.
—Adam

Will replies:  Thanks Adam.  It sounds to me like these players need to "join 'em" because they're not going to beat 'em.  If they don't like the decisions that are being made by the fans, they should make the case for other decisions to be made.  In case it's not clear from the article what the Fan Club site is, here's the press release I got from MSN about it last Tuesday:

Today, the MSN Entertainment and Video Services team is proud to launch "Fan Club: Reality Baseball," a one-of-a-kind interactive entertainment series that is the first content to launch as part of the new MSN Originals initiative.

"Fan Club: Reality Baseball" stars the Schaumburg Flyers, a real professional minor league baseball team based in a suburb of Chicago. Before today’s launch of “Fan Club: Reality Baseball,” fantasy baseball leagues were the closest fans could come to owning and managing a baseball team.

Now, in collaboration with LivePlanet, the Los Angeles-based production company behind the Emmy-nominated series “Project Greenlight” for HBO and Bravo, MSN ushers fantasy baseball into the digital age with content and interactivity that puts the MSN audience at the center of a unique entertainment experience.

From the "Fan Club Reality Baseball" website, MSN's audience gets to run the Schaumburg Flyers team in every game for the entire second half of the 2006 season.  The “Fan Club: Reality Baseball” website goes live today at http://fanclub.msn.com, so fans can join the Flyers in the dugout as they push to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Fans will be in charge of key managerial decisions, including:

  • Selecting the team roster — who takes the field and who “rides the pine”
  • Determining the batting order — from “lead-off” and “clean up” to the “nine hole”
  • Choosing the pitching rotation — which ace starts and which reliever closes
  • Making off-the-field calls — everything from on-the-road roommate assignments to potential player trades and free agent pickups

“Fan Club: Reality Baseball” online content also includes videos detailing the first half of the Flyers’ season, player profiles, game highlights and behind-the-scenes vignettes. Team players, family members and friends will blog on MSN Spaces, allowing fans to live with their ball club and learn about the dreams, demons, triumphs and difficulties of the players, coaches, wives, girlfriends and colorful clubhouse characters, on and off the playing field.

MSN sells all of the advertising tied to “Fan Club: Reality Baseball” including display and streaming video, as well as sponsorship packages incorporating MSN media and in-content integration.

Go to http://fanclub.msn.com and vote for your starting lineup. Then check back tomorrow to see how the team performed.  Later this week, MSN will launch deeper interactive field manager technology that will enable more enhanced controls for our audience as they manage the first baseball club ever run exclusively by the fans.
__________________

Hi Will,
Love your blog/column here!  So, I listened to that crazy woman with the telemarketer, and I just have to say, it takes quite a bit to make me feel bad for a telemarketer, but that did it!  Either she's got some issues that should be clinically diagnosed, or she's never heard of DoNotCall.gov.

Thanks for all your work!
—Sarah

Will replies:  Hi Sarah.  I reckon that telemarketer could have hung up and I'm guessing he's the one (or his company) who released the recording to the Internet, so I don't feel too bad for him.  I agree though that the lady does sound a little unstable.  I think the real answer to the telemarketer problem is with the phone itself.  I often resent the idea that a random stranger can make me stop what I'm going and talk to him just because he made a piece of plastic on the wall ring.  It makes my wife crazy, but I almost never answer the phone.

Hi Will,
For a few reasons my BS meter is going off the scale on the Cheating Husband blog, That Girl Emily.

It's just too strange she started the blog in late June and all was blissful and their sex life was great, and then she introduces the "laura" element. Never mentions any doubts until her brother reminds her of her appointment with the PI. Who instantly has proof, and good video. Seems very contrived. Do we know if shes for real, is the billboard real? etc.

A Clicked fan.
—John

Will, I was reading that this was a fake and these billboards are in the 2 largest cities all over, LA and NYC?  Can anyone confirm?
—Ken

Will replies:  Sorry, in case I wasn't clear at the end of yesterday's post, what I've read is yes it's a hoax, yes, there's one of those billboards in L.A. too, and yes, Court TV is behind it, I suspect as part of their Private Investigator show like maybe this one.

Hi folks,
Just to let you know that I and the Bird #28 is now live here.

Hope you like it.

Thanks,
Katie

Hey Will!  Every Monday on my blog, The Viral Garden, I publish a list of the Top 25 Marketing Blogs, based on traffic rankings from Alexa.  This list has become wildly popular with my readers, and was even recently mentioned in the Boston Globe and Atlanta-Journal Constitution!  I thought your readers might find it an interesting resource, especially for those that are trying to 'get up to speed' on which blogs they should be reading.

Here's the link to this week's list.

Thanks!
Mack Collier
The Viral Garden

You wondered about using cruise ships to evacuate people. Look up USS AP 23 on the web (google it). The liner was used during the 2nd world war to evacuate people and deliver soldiers all over the world. It put on a staggering 350,000 miles during this service.
—Roger

Will replies:  ...or the Wikipedia entry, where it's listed under its civilian name of SS America.  Thanks Roger!

My wife, during her training as a therapist, tended to learn strange things. I'm not going to complain about the time she spent learning about sex therapy, but she's also amazingly well versed in serial killer pathology, the Yanomami, and feral children. Somewhere along the way, I wound up learning about sex therapy, serial killer pathology, the Yanomami, and feral children. We have a good marriage that most people find bizarre.

The story told in that article is typical of feral children, except that the woman is very high functioning, by feral children standards. As the article mentions, she did learn some language before she was raised by dogs. Dogs, as opposed to wolves, have a genetic basis for recognizing some human actions. It's possible this programming enabled her to retain a bit more of her humanity than is usual. We also know that dogs laugh (it's inaudible to humans (again, something that's probably genetic, as dogs that can be heard to laugh do not survive) and so her sense of humor is to be expected.

I cannot tell you if the story is real. It is consistent with what we know of feral children. Could it be faked? The dog barks might well be an amusing skill picked up. Were standardized tests used to determine the functional age of 6, or was that an estimate? The sense of humor and even desire to show off are reasonable for someone influenced by dogs, although I'm not sure someone attempting to fake this would have included them.

If this is a hoax, it's an amazingly well-done one. My basic impulse is to believe it. As always, further tests would be instructive.

More important is to realize just how much of what we call "human" is created through socialization. Many like to argue "nature or nurture," but feral children teach us that it is more like "nature and nurture."

Rob of UnSpace

Will replies:  Thanks Rob.  Given what you're saying, it's fun to think of what humans could be capable given the right "upbringing."

Random Will note:  Did anyone else get an "access denied" error on those lightning photos?

Dear Will:
Interesting links about "online incivility", I noticed a thread a few nights ago on AmericaBlog where the blog's author stated his view on the current dust-up in the Middle East; now also known as HELL, and the vitriol escaladed from a simple give and take to almost war itself in a manner of minutes.

What I see is that someone can say anything they want without fear of retaliation. If some of those views were expressed in a bar or in a public forum, there is little doubt that violence would ensue in short order.

The Internet, preventing butt kicking and saving lives since 1998....
—Donald

Will replies:  Interesting point.  I've been thinking that the incivility is from the start, but it could also be that there's greater provocation online.  More bait to take, so to speak.

Re:  PVC Pipe Rocket Launcher

Am I the only one who immediately thought that the real issue is that it LOOKS like one and THAT is what makes it very dangerous?

Imagine a police officer seeing someone holding it after a launch. If that isn't a "shoot first ask questions later" situation I don't know what is.

Imagine the scorn heaped on the cop after he files his report-  "I saw what looked like a rocket launcher and a projectile exiting it but waited to question the individual. Soon after that the airliner was in flames... my sincere apologies".

YIKES!
-Sean

Will replies:  Thanks for bringing that up Sean.  I know here in NYC the toy guns are required by law to have bright orange tips to avoid exactly what you're describing.  Certainly if you're going to make your own fake weapon that should be a consideration even if there is no law in your area.

Here is the link to this video with Ted Stevens net neutrality speech mixed a music video. What took so long?

Enjoy!
—David

"In case it's not obvious, the point of critics is that if you're in such close proximity to the enemy while they're actually engaging the U.S. military, you should be doing more than just taking pictures."

I believe the photographer, Joao Silva, is Portuguese-South African. He's a contract photographer.

He doesn't have a dog in this hunt.
—Manhattan

Will,
Just so you know, people who criticized the photojournalist for not stopping that sniper need to take a reality check.  Embedded journalists are not allowed to engage enemies under any circumstance.  I'm sure you are familiar with Michael Yon, as an ex special forces (Navy Seal if I recall correctly) he was probably better trained than any of the soldiers he was embedded with, but he was still censured for firing at enemy soldiers, even if it saved the life of a US soldier.  So the journalist not doing anything was the military's choice, not hers.
—Isaac

Will replies:  I understand the points you're making, but given that ultimately being angry at the photographer is a means to being angry at the New York Times, I don't think many minds are going to change on this issue.

Will,
What's the easiest way to hack into the computer systems of a credit union?

It turns out that all you need to do is copy a virus/Trojan onto USB drives and scatter them around the front door of the credit union. This was how a recent security audit was performed at a credit union where the employees had actually been tipped off to the audit. Security experts collected 20 old USB thumb drives and filled them with images and other data along with a Trojan that would collect sensitive information and e-mail it back to them. Early one morning they planted the thumb drives around the entrances to the credit union as well as other public places where the employees were known to congregate. In very little time 15 of the 20 USB drives were plugged into company computer systems and started e-mailing user names, passwords, etc. back to the auditors.

Regards,
- J.O.-

Will replies:  I remember reading about a similar security test in which the virus was put on a free CD and handed out as a promotional device like "free sneak preview of a hot new primetime show."  They handed them out in office areas and sure enough people went back to their offices and popped them into work machines, spreading the test virus.

RE: SUV rubbing. Interesting, odd, but as an archeologist in a former life, it really looks more like a fifth-grade class art project than an archeological dig.
—L. S. Kirkland

Will replies:  Yeah, I guess it wouldn't look like a dig to someone who's actually been on one.  I was thinking more in terms of the size and my general feeling that SUVs as we know them are headed for extinction.

About the animated Obesity map - what would a map of hormones given to milk cows in the U.S. look like? I bet you a million dollars in will be tied to the obesity map...I bet you see the states where it first started and see it spread. I don't know enough about other additives to cow and injections, but I bet its tied together. Also try it with fluoride.
—Kathie

Dear Will,
I Clicked this. As I am an avid female (yes a real girl ) gamer, I was not surprised by this. Some of my closest compadres are guild members I have never met. Yet I have known them well for years in some cases. The game may change but the Guild remains the same. Few people who do not live another live in a virtual world understand how I could be so close to these folks.  It is because of things like this.

Keep Clicking I am becoming quite the addict of your blog.
thanks.
—K.C.

Will replies:  Thanks K.C.  These stories are important to keep in mind as I go off posting "incivility online" links.

In your July 3rd entry, you wrote about, "Inventor who lives in what appears to be a Tardis describes a "Crystal Power Cell" that never runs out of juice."

This guy has been puzzling people for a very long time with his bizarre "antigravity" effects.  Real, or clever fakery, I don't know. It's alleged that some big companies as well as governments have expressed interest in his "achievements" (for lack of a better word). Here is a site which documents what is known as the "Hutchison Effect" -- anti-gravity of some kind as well as molecular structure effects upon metal. I'm certainly not a scientist, but the video clips at the bottom of the page seem pretty good if they are faked. Do I believe it?  I guess it's equivalent to seeing unexplainable UFO footage. Something is obviously happening but since we weren't present to witness it firsthand it will remain a mystery.

Having said that, the entry here and the discussion page there puts it in a brighter light. The "H-Effect" is right up there with that car which runs on water.  Google will bring up a lot about Hutchison's claims. I'd bet he has been discussed on the Art Bell radio program (if not actually a guest).
—Tim

Hi Will,
First of all, just want to say I'm a big fan of Clicked. I'm an alumni relations Webmaster by day, but political junkie by night, and you provide a great service by letting me in on what's going on with the Web outside of the political blogosphere.

But, I do want to quibble just a little bit about your characterization that the Netroots grew out of the Dean campaign. I was an on-site volunteer at Dean HQ during the campaign and it surely was revolutionary...

And while the online community that grew up around the campaign is certainly part of today's Netroots, there was a lot of activity that preceded it and happened along side of it... Like the Draft Clark effort, Daily Kos, MyDD, etc...

Finally, in shameless (but on-topic) blog promotion, I write a locally-focused political blog in Vermont called What's the Point?

And I just helped organize an event that brought together bloggers, activists and politicians. I wrote a diary on MyDD about it called "Vermont Bloggers BBQ with Photo," which contains numerous links to further commentary and photos here.

Thanks again for all you do...
—Neil

Will replies:  You are correct sir!  I pinged a friend of mine in the NBC research library to see when netroots came into usage.  The first usage of the term was actually the name of a company.  From a December 1997 NYTimes piece: 

"The latest rage in lobbying is the Internet. Jack "Bombs Away" Bonner, whose Bonner & Associates has been a leader in call-'em-up- and-patch-'em-through tactics, has opened a new subsidiary, called NetRoots, dedicated to creating Websites for lobbying campaigns. NetRoots' site on global warming, paid for by companies that oppose President Clinton's mandatory cutbacks in carbon emissions..."

The next one after does come in an article about Dean, but clearly refers to Netroots as something that already existed.  From The News Tribune, May 2003:

That's in large part due to a new twist on grass-roots organizing that some are calling "Netroots," a spontaneous Internet-based campaign by folks organizing monthly meetings using a free Web site called www.meetup.com.

For what it's worth, there's also this Q&A with Jerome Armstrong from a May 2006 piece in the Asheville Citizen-Times:

Question: Let's start with the subtitle of your book, "Netroots, Grassroots and the Rise of People-Powered Politics." What are netroots?

Armstrong: "Netroots" is a term I came up with in 2002 to describe what I saw on the Internet with the campaign of Howard Dean and the people who were organizing before any other media ...

Anyone interested in specific citations, I don't have links but I can give you the more detailed bibliographic info.

I don't really see a lot of muscular people walking around on the street -certainly not as many as I see overweight people, but I have noticed that bodybuilding magazines are increasing in number and ad pages, and everywhere you look is one of those vitamin stores selling big jugs of muscle bulking powder.  Could it be that Americans aren't necessarily getting fatter so much as they're getting denser?  (I'm not at all prepared to defend this argument, I'm just floating it out there as something to consider.  The health editor who sits near me says no way.)

I’m 54 years old, 6’4” and 230 pounds.  I have a 50 inch chest and a 36 inch waist line.   I still play basketball with the 20-30 something’s. I recently was photographed for a 24 hours centers fitness commercial shoot.  (I won’t bore you or your “health” editor with my other vitals.  But I can still bench over 300lbs).

Look at the BMI indicator and I’m at a 28-29…almost obese.

They can take that indicator and stuff it,,,straight through the hoop like I still can.  Oh I forgot they can’t reach the hoop.

I agree that most people are not built…but some are…and some are  middle aged of all things…

—J.B.

Your take on the BMI is interesting but I've always wondered about how it discriminates against men as it doesn't take into account your sex.

For example, a 5'9" man will (almost) always weigh more than a 5'9" woman.

Let's say the man weighs 185 pounds. The BMI will calculate his BMI at 27.3 "Overweight". Now let's say the 5'9" woman weighs 160 pounds. BMI = 24.2 "Normal".  If you put these two side-by-side most say the man was normal and the woman is (somewhat) overweight.

The sad thing about the BMI is that insurance companies use it and my premiums are going up because of quirks like this.
—Steven

Hi there,
It's nice to have someone point out something that's I thought was missing from the conversation. 

Schwarzenegger is obese by the BMI standards.  It should be a fat percentage measurement.  It gets even more interesting if you look at something - the going to the gym craze for average people began in the 1980's really.  Remember, Jim Fix and some late 70s-early 80's people got people into fitness, but really it was the racquetball craze of the 80's that brought your average Joe into the gym to lift weights.  And movies like Rocky and heroes like Stallone and Schwarzenegger fundamentally changed things.  Compare the action heroes of the 70's, not a big guy in the lot.  And before the 80's, weights were only for poor guys hoping to be boxers.  Nautilus, Jack LaLane health spas, Bally's, etc. all rolled out during the 1980's racquetball craze - that's when I got my start lifting.

Having said that, we both know - as you've said - that mainly the situation is just that people are fat as hell.  And even if there is some muscle, it is coated with lots of fat.  I was almost 200 of muscle I thought, until I got my eating together and realized I was 180 lb of muscle, 20 pounds of fat to go with it (at 6 ' tall).  And so the reality, even as a fairly large, muscular guy, now that I lost the fat part, I fit into the "normal" of the BMI.

But, in case our opinions mattered, let's just state for the record that though, yes, most people are in our nation are fat and need to lose weight, the BMI is not the best measurement.  In reality, I think you would find the opposite of what you think - rather than finding that there are fewer people out of shape because BMI included muscular people, you would find there are far MORE people out of shape than even the high numbers we have, because even many in the "normal" range are very soft - as in fat, not muscular.  There is almost no one in our country with the "normal" body type we used to have or that you still see in europe, asia, etc.  People are not toned.  So even if the amount of fat doesn't tip the scales past 180, a 175 lbs, 6 ft person, which is "normal" on the scale, is likely carrying about 15 pounds of fat around the middle which they should lose.  A fat measurement would give us a more accurate picture.  I think it would be bleaker though and not better.

Ok, I'm done.

Thanks for the ear,
Tom

Hi Will!
In your July 11th post, you had this video of the day.  This is fake, as you suspected.  It is part of a NASCAR commercial.  Here's the link.  Here's another one for you.  I think it's funnier than the gymnastics one!

Thanks, and keep the blog rolling!
—Jim

Will replies:  Thanks to Jim and a slew of other NASCAR viewers who sent similar notes.

Don't know if you're familiar with the famous OKGO dance, but they are conducting a contest for people to enter.
—James

Will replies:  I must be old or uncool (or both!) because I never heard of this.  Readers should scroll to the bottom of the linked page to find submissions.

[ Link]
-Matthew

Will replies:  Ha!  It's the archive of misheard lyrics.

Will...I live in Delaware and what Biden said, although not politically wise to say, is true! I would say probably 100% of dunkin donuts in New Castle County (where the vast majority of delawareans live) are Indian-owned, as well as 7-11's.
—John

The Bush Sr. singing video reminded me of the newer Bush/Blair Endless Love film.  Google it if you don't remember.
—Dan

Will replies:  I was thinking of W's Sunday Bloody Sunday, but your suggestion is funnier.

Hi Will, I've just today discovered this amazing and innovative guitarist. He was on Brave Pilgrim, which I first linked to from your page months ago. I hope to share him with the world. Maybe you could help me?
—Tim

Will replies:  Sure.  Sounds like Stanley Jordan meets Michael Hedges.

Hey Will - quick comment on the anorexia link/comment. It's totally sad and true - I am a skinny girl, and have been for all my life - I've looked about 2 years younger than my actual age for as long as I can remember (even now, at 21), and I currently am about 5'6" and only weigh 107 lbs. I definitely don't have an eating disorder, unless eating too much junk food or refusing to give up cheese even though I'm lactose intolerant counts as a disorder. But I've been denying accusations of being anorexic since I was 12. While other girls my age were fretting about getting too fat, I spent many teenage years suffering through body image issues due to the fact that I was so skinny and I had no curves, and dealing with other kids that picked on me because they thought I was anorexic. Luckily, middle school is long gone and I'm much more comfortable with my body, but that still doesn't stop me from wondering what the waiter will think of me when he sees that the skinny girl barely ate the food on her plate simply because she just lost her appetite.
—Janna

Will replies:  Those Lactaid pills (and their generic equivalent) work well for me.

Hey there… I absolutely love your blog. I wish it was out every single day.

In my humble attempt to contribute, I send you my very first link.

Have a great day!
—Ivan

Will replies:  Thanks Ivan!

Dear Will,
I sympathize with the apartment moving blues, but seriously, why are you still dealing with Verizon?  This isn't an ad or anything, but I hate the company.  I had their land line go out on me everytime it rained (not an exaggeration).  They'd schedule a visit, which meant I had to stay home, and at one point I was without a dial tone for 14 days -- needless to say the bill that arrived during that time was my last.

I use Vonage, but any VoiP is better than the clowns at Verizon.

Good luck
—Jeff

Will replies:  Thanks Jeff and the many people who wrote in recommending Vonage.  Our phone service choice was actually because of my wife's job, but we are indeed looking into making the switch.  20 days in and they still can't manage to turn the phone on.  (We have cell phones too, which is why this isn't more urgent.)

Hi there -
Just wondering, is there a feed for Clicked without all the other MSNBC weblogs included?  I'm sure they're great, but I'm really only interested in putting Clicked in my feed reader.  Thanks!
—Meredith

Will replies:  I'm hoping it could be as little as a month away.  Stay tuned!!

Hi Will,
I enjoy clicking your links. :)

Have you seen this yet?

A friend sent me the link several months ago, and I remember it being quite entertaining. It's interesting that you can actually get frustrated talking to "iGod", but kind of hilarious, too.
—Aimee

Will replies:  Thanks.  The app locked up when I tried to get him to solve the Middle East problem.

July 19, 2006 | 1:43 PM ET

This summer's hot weather means folks around the country will be seeing some thunder storms and maybe even some heat lightning.  If you're like me, you've wasted a lot of time taking and deleting photos of dark sky in an effort to get one of those cool lightning bolt shots.  We had a storm here last night in the city and I finally bothered to actually look up how to shoot lightning with a camera.  After reading the instructions here and here I still wasted a lot of shots, but I managed this one and this one, which is a pretty good start.

Because it's always fun to hear someone freak out on the phone, here's a lady who has reached the end of her rope with telemarketers.  (Note:  She curses.)

Speaking of freaking out on the phone, remember that phone call of the guy trying to cancel his AOL and getting the run-around?  Consumerist has published a copy of the AOL "retention manual" in case you're curious how the company trains its people to keep you from cancelling your account.

Botched Paramilitary Police Raids: An Epidemic of "Isolated Incidents" — Something that is largely absent from mainstream news coverage but has a considerable (and likely growing) audience online is the aggressive prosecution of the war on drugs within the U.S.

How to make a Q-Tip gun — Not exactly a gun, more like a mini launcher.  It's hairspray powered, like a potato gun, though one variation uses gasoline.  Neat.  The first comment says he got his to go 80 feet.  P.S. I feel like I should add some kind of warning like "don't play with fire" or "you'll take an eye out" or something.  You get that these little assemblies are not "guaranteed safe," right?

Video of the Day:  Chad Vader, day shift manager — The funniest part is that he's short and skinny.

This would have been the video of the day, but it appears to be crashed from traffic.  Stop action human space invaders.  Judging by the pictures it looks like its a very cool idea.  I'll try in a couple days when things die down.  UPDATE:  Here's a working version and here's one playing Pong.

OK, this is the real Video of the Day:  A Beginners Guide To Faking Your Death On The Internet

Stephen Colbert on Conan

Science facts people get wrong — Dates back to 2004, but for some reason he's updated it yesterday.  Perhaps in response to traffic and discussion from Reddit.

Chapter One of the Neddiad is online, with a new chapter every Tuesday starting in August.  What's interesting is that the book will have a conventional publishing, but not until April 2007.  I wonder if they'll end up using reader feedback to make last minute edits before publication.

Top 10 Dumbest Online Business Ideas That Made It Big Time

30 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on the Internet — Actually, you probably knew you could do a fair number of these, but still a nice list of interesting links.

Seth Godin argues that the new Wal-Mart personalized pages could be successful even if they're not really the same as the cool Web 2.0 sites they're copying.  I know Wal-Mart has mastered appealing to the fat middle of the consumer market and doesn't need to care about the cutting edge, but I think these pages are universally lame.  I was worried that maybe I was being a snob, but this reaction reassured me.  Ad Age gives it a poor review as well.

Something cool to look for on Monday:  Digg Swarm and Stack — They're traffic visualizations so you can see story popularity grow in real time.

I clicked a few links worked up about the President groping or feeling up the German chancellor.  The still photo does give that impression, but watching the clip on Crooks and Liars, I don't think I agree.  It looks more like he gives her the equivalent of a hair tussle as he walks by.  Her reaction doesn't look like she's being violated so much as making a somewhat awkward gesture to get him back.  The slide show on this German site makes it look pretty creepy though.  Still, that last photo looks to me like she's smiling, like he did something playful.  This blogger doesn't see it that way.

Top 5 Strangest Military Gadgets

Speaking of military equipment, "To  appreciate the thorny, complex, multi-layered difficulties Israel confronts –from house to house battles to the highest levels of international diplomacy– one needs to understand the rather simple Katyusha rocket Hezbollah shoots at Haifa and other Israeli cities."  It's so weird that with each armed conflict we learn about new missiles.  Remember the scud?

Speaking of that whole mess, though I'm late in posting the link, this blogger was ahead of the news in recognizing Israel's " prepping the battlespace."

I don't remember ever hearing about using cruise ships to evacuate people .  Katrina seemed like a unique improvisation.  Now they're going to use them in Lebanon.  Was I not paying attention before or is this something new?  (Or did we not have call to evacuate a lot of people until recently?)

A lot of people are excited by this cam.  I keep reading the phrase "a true-to-life video calling experience."  Could we be at the point where cams stop looking like cams?

Sam Jackson will play the voice of God in an audio version of the Bible.  If he hams it up, it could be really good, though I'm not sure it's right to be hamming up God.  ( audio source)

Panographies:  panoramas on steroids — I don't usually include links with Photoshop instructions because I realize that's a specialized tool, but since it involves learning a new term and it seems likely we'll run into this style of photo in the future, it's worth noting it I think.  If you want to make panoramas of your photos without photoshop, try Autostitch.  I made this one using the free demo model.

There's an animated DragonLance movie in the works and they've signed Kiefer Sutherland.

Speaking of celebrity voices in animation, The amazing screw on head

India is apparently blocking access to blogs, with the explanation that it has to do with thwarting terrorism.  The Indian blogosphere is vast and active, so I ran into a lot of links on this, but Boing Boing seems to have rounded them up well.  One I don't see on Boing Boing's list is this Bloggers Collective group.  There are so many successful collective efforts to skirt the ban that it hardly seems worth it for the government to bother.

How Not to Pay Rent — The short answer:  "[L]andlords ... who rent out apartments in buildings not meant to be residences cannot legally collect rent, sue for back rent, or evict someone for nonpayment of rent. Thus began a long, free ride."  This may be a bit too "New York" for Clicked, but it's interesting for the attitudes expressed like this:

"People think paying rent is a moral obligation of some kind, but it's not. It's a business relationship," he says. "If you don't have to pay rent, don't pay it." 

I'll add as a note of interest that after 9/11, folks living in the immediate surrounding area could apply for liberty grants and sign up for the health registry.  Many people trying to do so were rejected because unbeknownst to them, the addresses they were trying to register with turned out to be illegal (non-residential).  (No link here, this is a first hand report.)  My point is that it's not just landlords who take the risk in renting an illegal apartment.

World Jump Day is tomorrow.  Consider wearing a helmet.  You never know, it might work.

Girl raised by dogs acts like a dog.  This stretches my disbelief to just about the breaking point.

Is America's $8 Billion Bottled Water Industry a Fraud?  This story came up last year around this time as well.

Speaking of AOL, Jason Calcanis, speaking for Netscape, is offering a few active online folks a thousand bucks a month to participate in Netscape's new social bookmarking.  For folks who still have a "build it and they will come" attitude about online community, this is an important lesson in user aptitude.  "Reddit, NewsVine, Delicious, and DIGG were all driven by a small number of highly-active users."

As I work this morning I'm enjoying the "Power Craig" music offered at My Mean Magpie.

I don't know why I keep noticing the theme of incivility online but last night I clicked Kevin Drum's explanation for why he isn't blogging much about Israel, and a significant part of the reason could be described as a fear of online incivility.  And I also clicked Glenn Greenwald's criticism of violent rhetoric by some blogging Bush supporters.  I haven't really drawn a conclusion about this theme yet.  I'm open to any interpretations you have.

I'll do a big mailbag post tomorrow, but I wanted to get this one out of the way since I'm seeing this link come up in my surfing:

Will,
Here’s a link to a blog written by an angry wife getting back at her cheating husband.
—Patrick

Will replies:  Though a compelling read, the blog does make a pretty suspicious jump from casual launch to juicy scandal.  The blogroll seems like an odd choice too.  Sure enough, the fine folks at Curbed got to the bottom of the matter in short order.  Apparently it's a Court TV publicity stunt.

July 18, 2006 | 8:39 AM ET

The New York Times Assistant Managing Editor for Photography, Michele McNally, participated in one of their "Talk to the Newsroom" chats.  The transcript is accompanied by a slide show in which she comments on memorable NYTimes photographs.  One photo in particular, along with her comments, has torn the scab off a still-somewhat-raw wound.  The photo shows someone firing at U.S. troops.  In case it's not obvious, the point of critics is that if you're in such close proximity to the enemy while they're actually engaging the U.S. military, you should be doing more than just taking pictures. 

In what seems somehow related, I also clicked Michael Totten having a bit of a falling out with commenters on this blog.  Totten is the widely respected blogger/journalist who recently reported from Lebanon.  The contrast is pretty stark between the journalist who is so dispassionate that he'll take photos of someone engaged in killing his own countrymen and the journalist who is so protective of the people he met while reporting that he'll fly into a very public rage to defend them.  Maybe it's an apples-and-oranges comparison, but insofar as Totten represents the new guard of do-it-yourself journalism I feel like there's at least a symbolic significance to comparing the two.

I did follow Totten's link to his Lebanese friend's blog, but The Truth Laid Bear is the real destination page for blog coverage of the latest fighting in the Middle East.  He has all the various perspectives well represented.

50 albums that changed music

Making a watch by hand — Everything about this is cool.

How does an iPod click wheel work?

Trailer: The Science of Sleep — This is from the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind guy.  Looks good.

Jaiku is a phone book that displays the real-time presence and location of your contacts.  I'm not sure how much different that makes it from Dodgeball.  What I want is one that determines my location for me and reports it so I don't have to be constantly logging in and updating my location.  Of course, I don't actually do anything that would require people look up where I am, but still, if my IM can let all my friends know I'm online, why can't my phone report my location?  Here's another one.

Speaking of social networking sites, if I understand this correctly, this is for pet owners to make friends and network to share pet care ideas and responsibilities.

Prescription4Love is an online dating site for people with "special conditions" from STDs to alcoholism to deafness.  I can't believe this doesn't already exist, but it's the first one I've heard of.  (It's also brand new, so I don't know if there are any reviews of it or even members yet.)

Hellodeo doesn't have an "about" button, but I guess that's because it's so simple.  Plug in your Web cam, hit record, hit submit, and it gives you some code that you can then pop in your blog (or whatever).

While playing with that I finally found a copy of the Ted Stevens "Tubes" song.  UPDATE:  Actually, it's not the song I was thinking of.  That's here, as mentioned here.

Speaking of digital rights, The Pig and the Box, a digital rights fable

Also, "It looks like the strategy to take when sued by the RIAA is to move for summary judgment based on lack of evidence."

This guy picked apart his Nike iPod sport kit and attached it to his own (non-Nike) shoes which makes me think we'll likely see a shoeless kit sometime in the future.

"Somebody has managed to hack MySpace.com with a flash based redirect that exploits what is apparently a gaping wide hole in the MySpace code."  I'm not sure why this isn't bigger news.  I did find a description of it here.  I guess it's not all that widespread, which makes me think it would be cool to see the MySpace social interconnections mapped out visually.  Given the nature of the site I would expect a virus to spread like wildfire.

How I built a rocket launcher— Basically this is a PVC pipe with a handle so rocket hobbyists can launch from within the tube instead of off the ground.  There are a few folks in the comments who discuss efforts to make it the rocket blow up on contact.  This whole thing is pretty fascinating.  Before the mail starts up about educating terrorists, this is really just a window on the hobby of rocketry and the clever people who participate.

Park the beamer by bot — What it really is is a reflector at the back of your garage and the car can focus on that and roll itself forward into the parking space.  Valets around the world can breathe easy.

Playing Battleship with Google Earth - This is not what I thought it would be when I read the title.  In this case you walk the real world and phone into the game and give it a verbal command.  The game reads your phone's coordinates and tells you hit or miss and marks the Google Earth gameboard, which other players can also see.  That's a pretty big game.

Is it unethical to sell to an idiot?  In this story, the customer gives the impression that the tools she's buying at Radio Shak are a waste of money because the customer is too clueless to do what she thinks she going to do with them.  I think I'd be pissed if the check-out person told me I was too big an idiot for him to sell me something, so I say let her waste her money.

" Affordable solar power using auto parts could make this electricity source far more available."  Smartest quote: "You can't afford something that's designed for solar. You have to buy something that's mass-produced for something else -- that way the cost is reasonable."

Wal-Mart's counter attack on its critics is described here on a blog with the tag line, "Field notes on reputation management."  What an Orwellian field that must be to work in.

Speaking of reputation management, Dell has a company blog now.  As you may be aware, Dell has a lot of online critics.  I think they're well advised to address their critics as directly and transparently as possible.  As the comments show, being open doesn't solve the problems, but putting a human face on the company changes the tone of the criticism.  It reminds me of when I first started meeting some of the people on the air on MSNBC.  It took all the fun out of ranting at the TV.

"Microsoft Research has embarked on a new project to automatically seek out search engine spam before it can be used to defraud advertisers on MSN, Yahoo and Google."  This sounds like a good idea.  Rather than try to figure out how to filter search results, have an entirely separate bot crawl the web and create a sort of blacklist (if I'm understanding it correctly).

Smart Girls Need Smart Porn — I couldn't decide if I should include this or not.  It's basically a porn review, so take note of the editor's warning at the start.  Since I spent yesterday morning contributing to Dateline's package on sexless marriage by interviewing a sex therapist , I'm feeling positive about open sex talk, so the link made it to the blog.  On another day it probably wouldn't have.

High quality Internet TV — The sci fi channel didn't load for me, but I was surprised to find NBC in the news tab.  I never watched the NBC News Mobile broadcast before.  I wonder how long the lawyers will let that stay there.

Celestial atlas — Published 1822

3 Easy Ways to Make Postcards from Your Photos (And Brighten Someone’s Day)

One of the challenges of fighting spam is that spam programs can sign up for user accounts the same way a person can.  Lately you've probably been running into CAPTCHA test to prove you're a human.  Hotcaptcha also serves that purpose, based on the idea that a computer can't identify attractive people.  Yes, completely offensive and I played it a bunch of times anyway.

I swear last fall I saw a guy in Union Square with silver/gray skin.  My friend and I thought it was some kind of off duty street performer, but the color didn't look like superficial make-up.  Now that I've clicked this, I'm willing to bet it was argyria.  It looks like this is something you can do to yourself voluntarily (and permanently) without any harmful effects.  I have to wonder if there are big enough fans of Underworld out there to do it on purpose.

CyberNotes: The Analysis of a Digg Effect 4X in 10 Days

How to write a hit article

"A U.S. scientist has developed a process to grow cow cells into full-size hamburger overnight but he can't get anyone to invest in the process."

Star Wars on Earth, or more correctly, in Paris.

" What is it about electronic communication that makes highly intelligent adults behave like arseholes as soon as they sit down to a keyboard?"

Ultra slow motion video of bullets passing through objects.  I've seen photos of this before, but I don't recall seeing video.

How the 'Microsoft iPod' might succeed

" This instructable provides step by step instructions to complete a Sudoku puzzle by simple process of elimination."

Who's Making What In The White House

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