December 10, 2004 | 5:48 PM ET

The "Hillbilly armor" story is the subject of a lot of discussion on the Web.  The conventional wisdom is simple enough to understand: The more armor the troops have, the safer they are, so anyone who cares about the troops, including the troops themselves, wants them to have more armor.

So we go to the Web to find what the conventional wisdom is leaving out.  Bush loyalists are pushing the fact that there was a reporter involved in getting the question asked as proof that Rumsfeld was "set up."  I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean as far as the actual armor issue, and frankly, the implication that the soldier and those who applauded the question were all under some kind of Jedi mind trick by the reporter is pretty offensive.

Others aren't crazy about the reporter's involvement but don't deny the importance of properly protecting the troops.  What seems to draw the most resentment is the idea that some people are trying to make political hay of the matter.  Says one blogger, "In short, unless you have suggestions on how to improve the armoring process, you’ve done nothing more than made an observation that was already made."

To that end, bloggers point to one suggestion.  ( Here's a related link.  I'm not sure if it qualifies as "political hay" or "suggestions," but at least we can guess who's going to show up on the Sunday talk shows this week.)

Of course, few have a stronger reputation for resisting the conventional wisdom than Glenn Reynolds.  My one-sentence summary of his round-up is that armor isn't a magic solution, but good for Rumsfeld for taking a tough question.

SEC RUMSFELD: And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. 

( He's not lying.)

One more on this topic:  There are already homeless Iraq vets??

Speaking of Jedi, here's a fascinating look at what's keeping your kid so quiet while playing that video game.

"The last time you played a board game you got the Adam’s apple caught in the funny-bone slot and then you couldn’t pass GO or collect $200."  New board games reviewed.

Yet another cool tool from Google.

"Federal safety regulators want 600,000 Dodge Durangos and Dakota trucks recalled because their wheels could fall off, but the auto maker doesn’t believe the defect is dangerous , a company spokesman said."  Looks pretty dangerous to me.

Video of the Day  This comes from Media Matters, which is a liberal media watchdog, so it's basically their job to make the media look conservative, and conservatives look bad.  That said, I'm not not sure if conservatives actually disagree with what's being said in the video, but the point is that it's meant to be fodder for an American liberal argument.  What's particularly interesting to me is that the video isn't on the Media Matters Web site.  Part of the reason why we do a daily video of the day is that online video propagates virally, by a sort of word of mouth, or in this case, word of link, so it's interesting to see what spreads through recommendation or discussion.  In this case, I have to wonder if the people who view it through this site understand who Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson are and the context of the shows the clips are taken from.  Actually, even as an American I'm not sure I understand the context of the Wolf Blitzer segment.  Doesn't that guy do news anymore?

Commuter Click: The picture problem

Weekend Click:  History of safe cracking

Why ruin a perfectly lovely execution with facts?

You might as well learn who they are if they're going to be deciding what you see on TV.  Afterall, as Americans, we validated their mission.  Right?

In what's shaping up to be a banner day for turning conventional wisdom on its head, slavery wasn't so bad after all.

You decide the top legal thinkers in America.  Or you look at the list and lament the fact that you've never heard of these people.

A lot of folks are interested to see Howard Dean become the new chairman of the DNC, so it's no surprise that when he writes and essay it draws clicks.

What happens if you combine yesterday's cell phone cards with driving?  (Flagrant F-word warning!)

Speaking of rage... There's an old riddle that asks, if convenience stores are open 24/7, why do they have locks on the doors?  In what I would argue is the buried lead of the day, the question is extended to ask, why does a convenience store have locks on the doors if the clerk won't even close the store to take himself to the hospital for treatment of a BURNED EYEBALL?!?!

Online etymology dictionary

Is America primed for a class war?  (I should point out that almost every link I followed to this page was disagreeing with it in some capacity, reinforcing the point that link popularity does not equal endorsement of the views expressed by that link.)

Since the human race has managed to prosper in spite of these photos, I'm starting to wonder if the creationists don't have a point. 

Speaking of changing opinions...  Atheist finds God.

Salon sparks new anger over toruture.

Blog history, an alternative.  (Some of the parallels are uncanny.)

Warm a mixing bowl and sieve the flower into it.

After a while one has to wonder if CBS has decided to make a marketing strategy of picking fights with bloggers.

One more click... I don't know if you've been following the guest blogging David Kopel has been doing for Glenn Reynolds (, but he's done an interesting job of outlining the case for defending one's home and the Judeo-Christian foundations of self defense.  Since he mentioned the debate taking place in the U.K. right now, I'm thinking he was inspired at least in part by the case of John Monckton.  Belmont Club has further details on that specific issue.

December 9, 2004 | 3:31 PM ET

If, as we learned yesterday, computers make people stupid, the effect of corporate workers spending their whole day on computers would be...

Don't want to blame your beloved computer?  How 'bout your teacher?

If only your brain had been raised in a Petri dish.

This feels related:  The 6 Myths of Creativity

Dark Age Watch

There's a fuss over the celebrity nativity put together by Madame Tussaud's in London.

Speaking of removing God...

DCGI makes clear why the Washington State Republican Party is showing up on blog lists...

Speaking of partisanship, yesterday one of Alterman's correspondents wrote in a list of sites that show the political contributions of stores.  Today I ran into another one.  Buy Blue is meant to encourage Democrats to support stores that donate to Democratic causes.  Insofar as it shows both red and blue retailers, I suppose just about everyone can find some use in it.

It certainly takes some of the effort out of the vote fraud conspiracies when the opposition candidate is actually poisoned.

If you don't get a perfect score you have to move to Canada.  Here's your assimilation kit.  ( Related)

There's at least one similarity to Canadians that American travelers find less advantageous.

So far no sightings of aliens wearing Canada t-shirts.

Breaking News: People don't crash into each other even without signs to tell them what to do.

I saw a comedian on TV the other day who told the story of being on a train and talking on his cell phone when someone interrupted him and told him he was in a designated quiet car.  The comedian looked at his critic, "Then shut up."  Maybe these would have been more effective.

Commuter Click:  Mashing for beginners
(If someone is giving instructions on how to do this, there must be some examples on his... found it.)

Alternate Commuter Click:  If you printed up Monday's Commuter Click and are interested in following the theme, Ornicus follows at length.

From mashing to moshing.  Video of the day: Santa Mosh

Earlier this week, Josh Marshall was pushing the question of why Bernard Kerik left Iraq when he did, assembling timelines in a way that reminded me of how bloggers constructing the timeline of John Kerry's Vietnam service.  I didn't really think much of the matter, but now I'm seeing he's not alone in his skepticism.  I wonder if any of that will show up in his confirmation hearings?

Speaking of echoes of Kerry...

Reporters " way down the list" on perceived honesty.

This week's Grand Rounds points to the continuing struggle of a libertarian physician.

CBS wants to promote its news programming through blogs, but it looks as though it may backfire.  Tsk.  That's just plain clumsy.

Is this cute or gross?

December 8, 2004 | 12:56 PM ET

I ran into a lot of religion links last night.  I'm tempted to try to unite them as some kind of Web dialogue, but with Hanukkah upon us and Christmas everywhere, the newsweeklies publishing issues about Jesus , and the lingering question of the impact of religion on the outcome of last month's election, it's more accurate to list them as individual items that happen to fit a larger theme.  Here's what I clicked:

Pastor Fired Over Sexual Exploitation Charges  Update: That's this .

Was Stephen Williams discriminated against because he was a "Christian"?  (This is the continuation of the Declaration of Independence hoax story we saw last week.)

Walk through the creationism museum

How would you answer the Baby Jesus?

Today's Commuter Click from Digby with a long post on Fundamentalism.

And just this morning, Dave Kopel, filling in for Glenn posted an interesting essay on the story of Judith .

Activists dominate content complaints.  As someone who deals with a large quantity of public feedback, I find this story really interesting.  How many mails does it take to represent significant public opinion?  If most of the mails are part of an organized campaign, does that count?  500 people is a pretty meaningless number in the big picture, but try reading 500 angry e-mails and it feels like the whole world is on fire.  As the Internet exposes individuals to the power of mass media, the question of perspective has yet to be resolved.

The vote fraud conspiracists are not giving up.  Dan Brown, there's a Mr. Stone on the line for you.

Top ten cheesiest film lines

Not to be outdone by the Weblogger awards, now the Warblogger awards.  And again, the awards themselves don't have a whole lot of meaning, but they do serve the useful function of highlighting blogs you may not already know.

When chat and instant messaging were first starting to really take off with kids, I thought for sure it heralded the start of a new era of hyper-literacy.  What could be bad about so many young people writing and reading?  Answer: Computers make you stupid ( and here).  Source article here.

The clandestine subculture of Blue State Bush supporters

HillaryCare in Tennessee  (What?  Did you think Republicans would just sit around and wait for her to run first?)

Did you know there are 156 political parties in Iraq (and counting)?  That's among the tidbits in the latest Good News from Iraq round-up.

Speaking of Iraq, here's the Video of the Day.  I think it's an Iraqi music video.

Armstrong Williams tells an interesting tale of a crisis at the NAACP.  (Does that sound like I don't believe him?  I don't doubt what he says, I just meant it works well as an interesting story even if you don't know or care about the NAACP.)

Speaking of tales: The rest of the Pat Tillman series: Army Spun Tale Around Ill-Fated Mission

How'd they get all that fat in there?

I'm always impressed when I see a lot of people linking to a Meet the Press transcript.  They're not very pretty and they're quite long.  What drew the attention this week is the performance by the coming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.  He showed himself to be a departure from milquetoast Daschle.  He also said 'no way' to any privatizing of Social Security.

Survey: Net file-sharing doesn't hurt most musicians.  Studies like this keep coming out and bloggers keep linking to them, but I'm not sure they do much to convince record labels who are still shaping the conventional wisdom that file sharing is killing music. 

Following the developments of Le Monde's reader blogs ( this time in English).

Alternate headline: Crappy European TV no match for adequately powered Internet

The Business of Blogging.  But I reckon this one could also be called The Business of Blogging.

It's hard to say whether this is getting attention from the space loving tech bloggers or the outraged DeLay bashers, but what strikes me about this story is that the bill passed on Nov. 20 and this story is only coming to light now.  I don't blame the media, I blame our legislative process for being complicated and hard to access to the point of being opaque.

December 6, 2004 | 7:41 PM ET

A significant theme I've run into in catching up from the weekend's links is the questions facing the West in how to deal with Islam.

As many Europeans lose their patience, others question how to maintain a tolerant society amid the threat of an apparently intolerant and potentially hostile immigrant minority.  And just how much of a threat is that hostility?

That last link from Kevin Drum is a reaction to this New Republic piece, which, in being too long to read off the screen but just right to print out and take a look at on the train ride home, is today's Commuter Click.

Part of the "Islam-watch" phenomenon is that all eyes are on Iran where student resentment of religious tyranny seems like it could spark a revolution at any moment. 

Don't expect that to be an answer to nuclear concerns, however.

For some reason these two clicks feel related:

"I guess technically they aren't robots, but mechanized mobility suits."

Speaking of the future, hopefully it won't be too rainy or windy.

I didn't click on any video worth sharing today, but that may be a problem of the past:  " A high-stakes technology arms race in the battle for control of consumers' living rooms.

How about a video game of the day instead?  Old favorite Yeti Sports drifted back on the radar today, perhaps because of its winter theme.  ( Runner up.)

'We will be able to live to 1,000'  I'm seeing this guy Aubrey de Grey all over the place.  I don't know if he has a book coming out or what.  Also on my desk is a review copy of " Fantastic Voyage," so this may be a sign that we can look forward to a lot of talk in the media about living forever (conveniently at a time when baby boomers are reaching an age when mortality is an increasing concern).

But enough about the future, 'tis the season to look backward.

Speaking of backward:

Dear Principal,
I am aware that my gay son may get his ass kicked by his hateful classmates at the upcoming school dance, and I'm fine with that. 

The WhoWhatWhen interactive historical timeline

Further evidence that the concept of user generated content is coming into the mainstream media embrace:  LeMonde is offering to host blogs for its readers.  (Réalisé avec le concours de TypePad. [I use Babelfish, but it does sometimes struggle a bit with French.])

Playing right into the anti-consumerist dread of many citizens of the Internet.  (My first draft of this sentence said "anti-consumerist paranoia" but part of the point is that it's not paranoia anymore.)  Gaping Void has some well formed (and linked) criticism, including a link to the reaction by science fiction writer/prophet William Gibson.

It seems like I'm coming across the popular Boing Boing Weblog on blog lists more often lately.  I'm not sure what the explanation for that is other than that some of the political blogs that were popular through the election are receding.  What I clicked:

Speaking of Iraq, one of the more common recurring e-mails to our Letters to the Editor mailbox is the criticism that the Iraq bodycount does not include Iraqis.  When he returned from Iraq, I asked NBC correspondent Chip Reid ( around 10:50 ) why we didn't hear more about enemy dead from embedded reporters.  He speculated that they were recovering the bodies overnight.  Now, a year and a half later and at a very different phase of the war, many bloggers are pointing to a different argument.

Perhaps the reason the U.S. has to engage in so much nation building is that there are no nice countries left in the world.

Speaking of nation building, many bloggers are captivated by the story of the circumstances surrounding the death of Pat Tillman.  Some see it as a story of heroism and tragedy.  Other's see it as an example of the media lapping up and repeating distorted stories from the Pentagon without question.

More nation building: Citizen processing centers are an important element of democracy.

James Taranto wants to see Rudy Giulliani at the U.N.  I would have thought Attorney General would be a better fit.

"Somewhere in the world, one of the thousands of passengers who passed through the airport will get a nasty surprise when they open their luggage."  D'oh!

Payback.  This must be the healing we heard so much about.

"A white gentlemen's urinal has been named the most influential modern art work of all time."  (Next time, no free coffee for the judges while they consider awarding this prize.)


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