December 17, 2004 | 4:33 PM ET

First click of the day was Yahoo's new video search.  I like to stumble upon video based on blog recommendations, but this was fun to play with since the results can be pretty random.  Of course, this is another good reason to keep your kids away from the computer when you're not watching.

And here's another video search engine (seeing a trend yet?).  This one doesn't work very well, but to be fair, it's still in beta.  I had to to try a lot of random terms to find the MSNBC video of the big waves in Hawaii .  Right description, wrong video.  And MSNBC video in Real Player?  The lawyers'll love that!

Speaking of TV on demand, free TiVo box in San Francisco today.  Merry Christmas.

Lest you think all Christmas presents are free... Grumpy Santa.

After all that, here's the actual Video fo the Day.  No, it's not a suicide club.

The close runner-up:  The devil wears red socks and you made a deal with him.

Meanwhile, back on the ground...

This story sent some alarm through the blog community.

I think this is the first poll I've seen of Iraqi thoughts on their coming election.  I'd like to see a question on the role of religion, as well as one about which candidate they favor.  Then again, I reckon all the cart-before-the-horse public poll beard-stroking we do in this country may ultimately do more harm than good, so maybe it's better if we just wait for the actual news to happen and then report it.

Wasn't this one of the Bad Boys movies?

The ups and downs of documenting the biographies of people whose life stories are still being written.

I made a scarf, what'd you.... nevermind.

Scott Rosenberg explains the significance of Google's library initiative and emphasizes an important element of the long view that I haven't seen in any other coverage.

I thought those " neat geometric shapes" looked familiar.

This cool idea would make me skeptical if I wasn't already familiar with the succes of Where's George.

Today's Commuter Click:  I had fun reading this until I ran out of eyeball energy so I'm going to print it up and read the rest on my couch, at which point I'll know something I didn't already, which, after all, is the whole point of this, right?

What do you mean, " Annoying"???

Political extremists find recreation in pointing out how outrageous and offense their counterparts can be, and I generally try to avoid those battles.  That said, this entry is an interesting example of what might be called search sabotage.  We've seen Google bombing campaigns, and we've seen amusement over what search terms return what results, but I think this is the first time I've seen a site predict its own impact on another site's search results.

Making science make sense:

"Dear Lord, please allow the bacteria in Group A to unlock the antibiotic-resistant genes that You saw fit to give them at the time of Creation. Amen."

"...physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets..."

December 16, 2004 | 4:53 PM ET

Clicked Quiz:  This story ( here without the annoying registration, or here on video) is a sign of

  1. Satan's sinister plot to snatch our vulnerable schoolchildren.
  2. Religious hysterics symptomatic of the rise of the American Taliban.
  3. Local media contributing to the public's floccinaucinihilipilification of news by carefully not telling the real story because doing so would reveal what a non-story it is, thereby preventing them from using the sensational "Scool Distributes Satanic Sex Calendar" headline.

Speaking of Satan, he's in Canada.

...Or is he in East Dallas?  (Commuter Click #1)

Video of the Day: Dry quicksand.

A close second on sheer entertainment value -but only if it really is a parody.

Half-life 2 (video game) cookies continuing in a long tradition of overzealous geek desserts.

Speaking of seasonal treats...

This guy is a Lego ninja.  The site is fun, even if, like me, you don't understand a sentence like, "A few people have designed boolean logic devices using LEGO pneumatics and gone on to develop fundamental computer devices such as full-adders and flip-flops."

In this space we've become acquainted with podcasting, now here's podpublishing.  (The point is that you read it on off your iPod.  Don't worry if you don't care about that particular item.  Someone will surely eventually come up with something you do want to read off your iPod.)

There's drinking yourself nearly to death and then there's drinking yoruself nearly to death.

Too bad he's not a red-tailed hawk.

Hopefully he won't be presiding over anyone arrested for selling velvet Jesus paintings on a Sunday.  (#2 and #4, depending)

This morning on the train to work I read Thomas Friedman say of Arab reform, "Yes, there is definitely something stirring out here, but it has miles to go before meaningful changes occur."  But many bloggers are pointing to a more dramatic and specific anticipation of Arab reform by Austin Bay:

Put a circle around Jan. 9.
Draw another circle around Jan. 30. That's Iraq's first election day. Underline the two weeks prior to Jan. 30. That will be a savage fortnight in which terror campaigns and political campaigns collide. Democratic candidates will be assassinated and polling stations will be blown to bits, as Saddamite and Al Qaeda reactionaries -- the Middle East's ancien regime of tyrant and terrorist -- attempt to force an oppressed people to submit one more time to the yoke of fear.

Commuter Click #2:  Josh Marshall has often proved himself to be an effective advocate for his perspective, so in the absence of any political leadership (that I've seen) I'll be printing out his explanation of objections to the Bush Social Security plan.  Democratic leadership might want to ponder why I know the Bush position pretty well, but have to print out notes from a blogger to understand the other side.

Fighting fire with fire

The Digital Photo Effect.  This article is so true I almost wept.  (via Kottke)

This Onion photo of Annan with Obasanjo reminds me of Glenn's piece from last night .

December 15, 2004 | 8:32 PM ET

I know this country was settled by puritans, but give me a break.

Atrios seems to think it's a good idea to drag Rush into the issue.  While I can certainly see how pitting him against the FCC would be advantageous to the cause of putting an end to this ridiculousness, I'm still not crazy about the idea of making Michael Powell think people actually want him passing out fines and generally intimidating the media.

Hoder is a leader in the Persian blog community, a primary focus of which is freedom and reform in Iran.  In today's Commuter Click he responds Jeff Jarvis' question about what can be done to help with this:

"What countries like Iran really need is free, localized blogging services that don't get shut down by oppressive regimes."

Some say this is a question of censorship too.

Changing directions slightly, the Motion Picture Association of America has turned its sites on a file trading program called Bit Torrent.

By coincidence, I downloaded Bit Torrent this past weekend, and I gotta say, it's confusing as heck to use.  Unlike other file sharing software that has a clear field for searching and a clear field of results, this program has a lot of hoops to jump through (and worse, a lot of jargon explaining how). 

The reason I wanted to try it is probably the same reason the MPAA wants to go after it.  I've read that Bit Torrent accounts for 35% of all Web traffic, though I know not everyone buys that figure.  And then there are times like this, when the first commenter announces, "I made a torrent."  There's something happening here...

...what it is may be the future of movie theaters.

Come clean for the new year.

I could never understand why no one did this.  Remember when the Martha verdict was announced and all the media folks came running out of the courthouse waving colored sashes and making hand signs only to have the TV folks get all confused anyway?  Hopefully those days are over.

It's a frog eat mouse world.

Speaking of kinda gross...  Honey?  Have you see my glasses?

Cracking pricing codes  This is another one of those things with a utility that escapes me, but if you're one of those people who hates not knowing things other people know, this will appeal to you.

This would be a good candidate for Video of the Day, but when I logged in this afternoon it told me it would take six and a half hours for my turn to come to play with this guy's Christmas lights.  A fun idea though.

This is the actual Video of the Day.  I love the idea that he made a video as a Christmas gift, and I especially love that we can watch it.

I thought the Apple folks were all about working together and Web compatibility and that's what makes them the antidote to monopolistic Microsoft?

You now have an extra week to " return it tomorrow."

Lately it seems like we could do a "movie trailer of the day."  I'm beginning to get a sense of the buzz-generating strategy studios use.  Though we'll no doubt see total media saturation when the big summer movies come out, I bet there's real benefit to giving movie hounds the scent months in advance.  Woof.  (My biggest concern after watching this trailer, isn't it weird that he's having his powers explained to him in a snowy mountain setting?  Fortress of Solitude anyone?  Maybe it's different in the actual movie.)

The hazards of basing a movie on a book whose author is still alive.

“We may eventually win the war against HIV/AIDS. That would be an extremely rewarding and satisfying outcome,” Dr. Arnold said.  This is from another one of those amazing health stories that show up in the foreign press but we don't even really blink at.  I'm thinking we have an aversion to propping up false hopes. 

The AIDS story playing out here is considerably less heartwarming .

The story of Pale Male the red tail hawk may be a bit too New York-centric for many folks to care about, but this explanation of why it matters has bearing on every community.

Revenge, now on CD.

What do the soldiers see? (Note the warning.)

Latte art  When I was a bartender, it was a point of pride to be able to pour a pint of Guinness with a shamrock on top.  The coffee geeks have definitely taken that concept to a new level.  I traced this link back to Metafilter

December 14, 2004 | 8:44 PM ET

In its capacity as media watchdog, the blogosphere has occasionally exposed the practice of sneaking political operatives into news stories.  Two examples I clicked today are part of the Social Security campaign, here and here.  While these cases seem pretty clear cut, efforts to make similar accusations about bloggers haven't played quite so cleanly.

Case in point:  What made me aware of this issue today was a post on Iraq the Model blog reacting angrily to the suggestion that they are somehow working for the U.S. government to put a positive spin on U.S. efforts in Iraq.  (Iraq the Model is the blog we mentioned yesterday whose writers met with the president.)

Bloggers will fact check each other, argue over interpretations of facts, and occasionally even catch each other with a real "gotcha" correction.  We've seen fake blogs as marketing tools.  We've seen bloggers offering their work in the service of political organizations and causes.  We've seen organizations hire bloggers.  And we've seen bloggers spread unconfirmed rumors that later proved false.  But to my knowledge we've never seen any outright blog deceptions wherein a blogger was paid to write something contrary to what they actually believe in an effort to influence public opinion.  (Am I forgetting anything?  Mail me.) 

Related links I clicked while I was following the story:

The award sites keep coming.  In contrast to the right-leaning results of the WApparently the involvement of the righty Wizbang's 2004 Weblog Awards, lefty bloggers are running their own awards, the Koufax awards.  As I've pointed out with all of these award links, the real value is in the number of sites they highlight that you may not have seen before.

Continuing with awards, the Best Web Comics of 2004 is a good way to get acquainted with an art form that is slowly losing its place in newspapers but thriving online.

Lest we forget punk rock mix tapes.  Right down to the micro-writing on the insert.

Speaking of music...  (via TMN)

Today's video offerings:

I would gladly relieve them of the cause of their troubles.

I'm not sure what to do with this yet, but I'm so impresed with how much work it must have taken to compile a list of RSS feeds from newspapers that I have to link to it.

Howie Kurtz on do-it-yourself news:  " This just in from the guy next door"  I'll say that the local aspect of blogging is what I like the most about them.  My regular blog reading list at home is all local New York City blogs.  What Kurtz and the subject of his piece are missing is that because of RSS I don't need a centralized editor to pull all these local blog reporters together.  I do it myself with an aggregator.  (I use Bloglines.)  I program the feeds of the blogs that I find valuable and delete feeds I'm not deriving a benefit from.  So while this newspaper piece about a former newspaper guy talks a good game about escaping traditional news paradigms, they still don't seem to be able to see past the idea of needing a controling authority:

...the users theoretically will be in charge -- within limits. Abusive posters won't be allowed, though what constitutes abusive remains to be seen. "If you cross a certain line, absolutely we will ban you," DeFife says. Good posters might be awarded a certain number of stars...

Stars????  What am I, five?

Speaking of do-it-yourself news and citizen journalism, the ultimate do-it-yourself news site interviews the ultimate citizen journalism advocate in today's Commuter Click.

Just as there are seasonal commercials that pop up every year around this time, there are seasonal promotional sites that pop up as well.  Make-A-Flake.

Who's kicking whom out?  Michael Moore makes the case for his political relevance.

What does a glop of Vaseline have to do with a burger commercial?

I couldn't figure out why Jennifer Traig's bio kept showing up on blog link lists.  Now I see why, she's on virtual book tour.  I don't know why this hasn't caught on in a bigger way.  At a recent book release party (that sounds cool, but it's the only one I've ever been to) I was talking with some authors who were struggling with how to promote their books.  When I mentioned virtual book tours, they had no idea what I was talking about.

"Each time you load this page, it checks the most popular keyword for each letter of the alphabet given by Google Suggest, and displays them here for your viewing pleasure."  Some people care about this because they're suspicious that Google may be seeding the results.  Others care because of what it might say about use of the Internet.  For example, News is the most popular N search and CNN is the most popular C search.  Others just think it's neat.

Click here for Santa's lap

Speaking of lap...

The definition of irony

My name is Lord Will.  This is what I clicked.  (Has a nice ring, no?)

December 13, 2004 | 4:45 PM ET

It would appear that bloggers have become victims of their own success.  Democrat activist Jerome Armstrong on his MyDD blog attracts a lot of attention for his outrage over how he and other bloggers were treated at a recent DNC meeting.  Armstrong's outrage stems from what he sees as a lack of respect for the work and achievements by bloggers for the party.  But the reason for his being locked out of a meeting is that as a blogger his status changed from "people" to "press."  We've seen this issue come up before at technology conferences where embargoed material is being discussed.  The charm of blogs is that they're written (usually) by ordinary people, but clearly some quarters are less concerned by the pedestrian perspective than they are with the fact that these pedestrians speak with the reach of global mass media.

Coincidental (?) clicks supporting the idea that bloggers are more "press" than "people":

Reader Don MacGregor writes:

Regarding your 12/12/04 “hillbilly armor” post: How about a follow-up to note DoD’s rejection of several early-on civilian attempts to armor Iraq-bound vehicles?  For example, the Alabama folks who armored some Reserve vehicles but were forced by DoD to remove the armor and told (falsely it appears) that DoD would provide sufficiently armored vehicles for their unit in Iraq. 

One of the criticisms of the "hillbilly armor" story is that the issue itself isn't new, so treatment by the media that it's some sort of scandal exposed doesn't make any sense.  Like Don, when I remembered reading about soldiers installing their own armor.  At his urging I went back for a look.  Here's what I clicked:

Draw your own conclusions.

Speaking of prescious metal...

" That is an amazing phenomenon," he said. "I'm still not exactly sure how that happened."  The quote is from the subject of the obit, but it also reflects my thoughts on his manner of death:  "Self-inflicted gunshot the head" (?!)

What's that song?  In a similar vein, I had more fun trying to guess the songs in this, although there is the downside of Weird Al's high annoying factor.

If we named the Video of the Day according to what everyone's talking about, I think it'd have to be the new Willy Wonka trailer.  Although, when it comes to movie trailers, this is the one that has me holding my breath for next summer.

If I get to pick the Video of the Day on its sheer chuckle factor, I go with this one.

What is your virtual weight?  And get you get a virtual doctor's note for the virtual back-ache you have from carrying it?

How to make teeny little oranges.

Speaking of things I can't understand but are fun to look at...

And speaking of fruit and construction...

A solution to the social security problem?  (Just kidding.  No angry letters please.)

The right to bear Playstation.  (Buried lead:  What's up with that quote?  Too much Playstation?)

Speaking of burglary...  (See "further update" and "yet further update.")

The quintessentially low-tech "secret knock" goes high tech.

In the spirit of the recently announced Junk Science awards comes a lot of linking to Real Climate, which is a little beyond my understanding in some entries, but I gather is about debunking global warming hysteria.

Commuter Click:  Looks like it's about why we love to consume anti-consumerism.  I'll know more when I print it out and read it on the way home.


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