July 22, 2005 | 4:39 AM ET

I open today with an e-mail that came in on Friday:

"Obviously a leak to the press can't come from the press"

Really?  Why not?  History shows us that the press is not above making up their own news.

—Bob Fair

In that case I'd been talking about the Plame leak and the news (?) at the time that it had been Novak who leaked to Rove.  Though I still maintain that it doesn't make sense for a leak of classified CIA information to originate with the press, Mr. Fair's point came immediately to mind when I read this CJR piece about the reporting of Edith Clement's expected nomination to the Supreme Court:

In this case, it was clearly the fault of that villain, "Speculation."

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum wants the source on Edith Clement outed.

And even when the name is finally right, the facts don't quite fall in line.  ( Roberts does not belong to the Federalist Society.)

Mandatory mashups — Downloads galore.  I feel like we've been here before, but that's OK.  If that's the case, I'm glad to be back.

Speaking of music downloads, iTunes art importer — This is one of those things I'm not gadgety enough to use, but the idea of trying to retain the tradition of album art in this age of downloading when even the song exists only in the ether is a noble one.

Word on the street is that Longhorn's official name will be Windows Vista.  As a matter of full disclosure, Microsoft is a parent of MSNBC.com and the source of my paycheck.  I'm sure it was merely an oversight that I wasn't kept in the loop on this.

Of course, if you're looking for inside perspective Microsoft, a good place to go is Robert Scoble.  I don't see any mention of the Longhorn name there, but he does recommend paying attention tomorrow morning for an announcement.

(While there I clicked this funny bit of bribery

And I was interested to see Scoble cheering the demise of the A-List hegemony. (And a little more here.)

Blogging for a liver?

This game is not very thrilling, but what I like about it is that no matter how poorly you do, it will still let you know your score rank.  It only displays the top 1000, but it'll let you know where you fit in the grand scheme.  I'm #7923 thank you very much.

I found the Video of the Day at that site as well:  Japander shows us the videos famous people do in Japan that they think their American fans will never see.  (found via this total weirdness)

NYers to NYPD: 'I Do Not Consent to Being Searched' — and corresponding t-shirt.

I wonder what the t-shirts in Ireland will say.

And speaking of the terrorists successfully forcing the restrictions of freedoms, Billmon sums up objections to the PATRIOT Act.

Lest I get too dramatic about withering rights, NBC's Andrea Mitchell got a rough lesson in lack of press freedom from Sudan.

The Smoking Gun has been on a roll with funny mug shots lately.

What it means to be pooped.  For real.

Top Ten Web Fads

Anecdotal leads for news stories reporting the end of the world

Also, Although I like a good George W. Bush joke as much as the next guy, some of them seem gratuitous and mean-spirited

Awesome bee on a string video.  I was able to do something similar once, though not as dramatic, with a fly.  Soak it in water, tie the string to it, then cover it in salt to draw the water out and it "comes back to life" tied to a string.  I don't know if a bee "drowns" the same way a fly does though.

I'm hesitant to link to this video because it has lots of loud cursing (the visual is totally work safe, the audio, no) and I don't know the background, so for all I know it's a hoax.  But it does seem likely that as the first wired generation comes of age, parents and teachers may find themselves in a new kind of public spotlight. Why I moved.  I remember a similar video not too long ago of a teacher flipping out on a kid for not being appropriately respectful during the national anthem.

I believe the MSNBC.com quote at the top of this blog about good reporting from Iraq comes from Glenn, and it's certainly apt in the case of this entry.  Where else have you seen a report like this?

Speaking of Mideast news, Huge protests in Yemen

The environmentalists are upset about Harry Potter... or at least the American books themselves:  "'If [Scholastic] had printed the book on 100 percent recycled paper, its 10.8-million print run could have saved 217,475 trees,' Greenpeace's Wellner said."

True Color — short, well done animated film

Recently we saw a blogger earning 5 figures in one month from Google Adsense.  Now we get a peek at the Adsense return for the Weblogs, Inc. operation.

Iran executes 2 gay teenagers — The image of two people about to be hanged is remarkably powerful.

In a telling blog post, Tim Worstall, covering this morning's bombs in London, starts off concerned and ends with a cricket report.

How the lack of constraints killed the quality of Star Wars

Upcoming movie to be excited about: Seven Swords This trailer is pretty heavy to download, but the subtitles are hard to read on the smaller versions.  Strangely, I can't seem to get at the trailers from the English version of the site, but I did find this back door.

Mailbag!  Mailbag!

Hi Will!
Thank you so much for including the link to the Japanese sausage site. It brought me back memories of my childhood when my mom used to make boxed lunches and include little weiners cut into the shape of octopodes and crabs and rabbits.
-Erika H.

Dear Erika,
I bet you did well when it came to trading lunches.

Not to give you a history lesson but shouting "Bang, bang!" was common for soldiers in training for WWII. There is even the tragic story of a paratrooper named Blithe who, while he was the point man on a raid in Normandy during the early days of the invasion of France, "reverted to his training". Instead of firing his weapon he pointed his finger and shouted "Bang, bang!" and was shot in the neck as a result. Happily, he survived. You can read the story in The Biggest Brother by Larry Alexander and also in Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. No Monty Python punch line there.

I do enjoy your blog though. In fact, it's the only one I read regularly.

Dear Hawki,
By all means, I'm always open to a history lesson.  Thanks for the context.

Zooming in on the Google moon map winds up with a picture that is obviously fake... it's not green.
—P. Michael Bowden

Dear Michael,
Another scandal exposed at the hands of a blog!
Well done,

Interesting column.  In your 'about' you write about Blogdex, Daypop and blogburst as sources.

You should really try: BlogsNow.com

Since you seem to use those tools for a living I don't need to bore you with the differences of BlogsNow and all those old style crap.

Enjoy, and yes, once you switched to BlogsNow as your almost only source, as I am sure you will do, just mention it accordingly.

Dear Andreas,
Yes, as a matter of fact, I use BlogsNow often, not only the main links page but for the video rankings (in fact, I was pretty bummed when you took those out temporarily).  I really need to update that "about" page.  I don't think blogburst even exists anymore.

just fyi.
re creative commons, the license attached to the subway image did give permission for:
"You may distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform the Work only under the terms of this License, and"  etc

that's saying you have "unlimited worldwide nonexclusive reproduction rights" to his image, but you don't have copyright.

sounds nice, but would Will want to give away all those rights to his works?  for $0.?

for comparison, here's the BBC's license for submitted images, which TAKES similar rights and more on all submitted images.

Since they want rights equivalent to those of the copyright holder, they actually become effectively co-copyright owners, for $0.  If i read it right, you can send them an image and get $0., but they can sell it and sublicense it, for $X.

But don't miss the clause where you waive any "moral rights" to your submission!


Dear dlr,
Yup, it sounds like you got that exactly right.  Basically the guy gave away his photo for anyone to use as long as they gave him credit for the photo itself.  So while he got no money, he did get a big spike in traffic to his site (I assume).

As chance would have it, today I clicked this response to the item you're talking about.  You may find this a more persuasive explanation than I was able to give.

July 21, 2005 | 1:19 PM ET

Why are Movie Theater Revenues Declining?  My neighborhood theater just raised the price of a ticket again to $10.75 and you can't get any popcorn for less than 6 bucks.  I'll never pay that much for popcorn, and I'm too cheap to see any but the most talked-about movies at that price.  Home theaters always seemed excessive to me, the ultimate admission that yes, TV watching is my hobby, but I may be driven to that.

Speaking of movies, Blurb Racket is a "weekly roundup of misleading review blurbs—in ads for movies, books, theater, and more."  The most recent one I can find is from the end of June, but I love this idea.  I always wonder what's left out of those ellipses-filled quotes?

Between the new development in the Plame case and this morning's new attacks in London , I'm not sure how much John Roberts is still on the news radar, but since I had to do some clicking on the matter for the TV folks yesterday, I'm happy to share:

"Out of several million trials, they've detected small but 'statistically significant' signs that minds may be able to interact with machines."

I've only been to a few parties full of bloggers, but while they were socially awkward, they were generally friendly and nowhere near as depressing as the girl in this comic.

Sausage origami — Don't worry, you don't need the Japanese, the pictures speak for themselves.

Video of the Day:  I keep running into videos of the Michael Jordan of quarters.  Before you see him on Letterman, you can say you saw him when he was just an Internet viral video.

Square America - A gallery of vintage snapshots & vernacular photography

What color do you associate with each day of the week?  These guys took a poll and made t-shirts based on the results.  I'm not sure I agree.  Friday is definitely not green.

Why Bush smirked — I just thought he was gleeful at the idea of nominating a Supreme Court Justice.  Also here and here.  Nightline ran the video of it Tuesday night and the Daily Show did a funny segment ("Dancin' Jack") last night, so I'm sure we'll see more than still shots online any second now.

Are the Rolling Stones really planning a new Bush-bashing album?  (And if so, why is everyone linking to a local Rochester, NY version of the story?)

Enough people are pointing to You Blew Me Up You Bastard that it hit its bandwidth limit and crashed, but I found this explanation at the Register.  The idea is that you submit a photo of how you want to be displayed on TV if you're killed by terrorists.  Why you'd submit a photo to a site with such finite bandwidth is just one of many questions that make me suspect the whole thing is a hoax.

Speaking of speculating about hoaxes, could this shark be real?  They really get that big outside of Hollywood?

Commuter Click: Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic

"I've never walked off the set of a TV show in disgust before, but this week I did."  A video game expert walked off a CNBC show after realizing the show was not about what he'd been told.  CNBC is related to MSNBC.com, but this is the first I've heard of this story so I have no inside perspective to add.

CBS also blows it with the gamers.

Folks are waiting to find out why this blogger was taken by the Iraqi secret police.  His brother explains more though he doesn't explain how they manage to have a secret police at all.  Don't they only barely have regular police?

"The Defense Department quietly asked Congress on Monday to raise the maximum age for military recruits to 42 for all branches of the service."

" 13 pounds of gummy bears, sorted out, melted, and layered into an empty tub"

Moon panorama

Gallery of Computation — Click them, they're animations.

As you probably saw, James Doohan, Star Trek's Mr. Scott, died yesterday.  Wil Wheaton, a Next Generation Star Trek cast member and iconic blogger offers a brief but poignant note.  In an interesting aside, we received this letter to the editor:

NEVER, in the entire Star Trek series or movies, did ANYONE ever say "Beam me up, Scotty" as reported by AP.

A little baffled by this, I forwarded it to whose research seems to mostly agree with the letter.

Scientists worry about Pentagon's new ray gun — "Less lethal"?  Isn't that like less pregnant?

"PhotoMuse.org, the collaborative Web site of the George Eastman House and International Center of Photography Alliance, is currently under development. ... When completed, the site will provide in-depth access to the extensive photography resources of both institutions."

Tipping Point — the net version — None of the links work here, but that's OK, if you haven't read the book and want to just make sure you're familiar with the concepts, this is handy.

July 20, 2005 | 12:05 PM ET

The dust is still settling in the wake of the president's nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.  In the early goings there were a lot of bios and histories posted ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and now we're seeing some reaction round ups.  Glenn is doing what he does best.  Blogs for Bush is also gathering reaction.  And The Truth Laid Bear has set up a John Roberts blog tracking page.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media can't wait to let bloggers do the dirty work of trashing the nominee.  While some are certainly willing to oblige, others feel it's too soon to start bashing Says Kos, "As Roberts answers all questions posed, we can then decide whether it's worth opposing or not."

But as we wait for the blog distillation process to take effect, I'd like to mention the big story that occupied most of yesterday, the nomination to the Supreme Court of Edith Clement.  As everyone " heard" she was to be the pick, we learned who she is, what her decision history, blog reaction to her, and even checked out another Edith for good measure.  To be clear, everyone pointed out that it was just speculation and not definite, and everyone is allowed to muse, so there's no fault there.  But if there was ever any doubt that the entire media world could be manipulated from the hottest-shot TV anchor to the lowliest blog, that thought can be put to rest.  I don't even fault the White House.  Perhaps the misdirection served some useful purpose.  But the media definitely ran after it like a dog falling for the ol' fake tennis ball throw.

Chicks dig DVR

China to send pig sperm to space — This can only mean one thing.

The first Podcast awards

Soldiers forced to shout 'bang' as the Army runs out of ammunition — I'm looking for the Monty Python copyright that must surely be on this page, but I don't see it.

Folks in Toronto were surprised to learn that Miss Universe couldn't participate in a festival in a public square in town.  Leave it to a blogger to point out the inconsistency of the application of the law.  (Note: Are pasties on a transsexual work safe?)  Meanwhile, that totally reads like a law with a story behind it.  I'd love to know caused the town legislators to draft it.

The post office explains how to mail a hippo.

How Google Maps got me out of a traffic ticket

Speaking of Google Maps, Hot or Not participants mapped — This seems like a stalker's dream.  I fear we may be running out of good Google Maps ideas...

...which may explain why they've moved on to mapping other planetsUPDATE:  Reader Pedro Farinas recommends you zoom all the way in.  Hysterical.

This PC Magazine article tears Creative Commons to pieces.  I agree that Creative Commons is hard to understand, however, I can think of one recent example when the CC system worked and was easily understood whereas I had no clue about the otherwise applying copyright law.  Remember this shot from the London Bombings?  The blogger released it under a specific Creative Commons license and I was able to click it and understand clearly what permissions and conditions he was allowing.  Maybe there's already a copyright equivalent of what he did, but I've never seen it presented like that.

"Terrorism generally implies attacks against unarmed civilians for political, religious or some other ideological reason. But it's a highly controversial term that can leave journalists taking sides in a conflict. "

Is being generous good for business?  Yet another article on how Costco is rejecting greed in favor of lower prices and treating employees better.  I think this is the third one of these I've seen.

That poor Star Wars Kid is never going to be able to live down that one fateful day.  (Note:  Bikini girl ads on this site.  If you keep clicking you'll likely find yourself in un-worksafe waters.  You'll find some cool videos too though.)

While there I played with this cool Flash animation called Flow.  It's interesting to note that the original file no longer exists, so this is just floating around the Internet with a life of its own.  I was able to find some info about it on this cool game blog.

What was it like to report the story of the guy who died having sex with a horse?

Scamorama — They taunt and play games with spammers.  Good.

How do you find new music worth listening to?

An interview with Jeeves

A lot of folks are interested in The Infinite Flickr movie.  I only played the mpeg because I don't want to play games downloading yet another media random player, but it looks like they've done something similar to the HP commercial with the photos that turn into frames.

Bassline baseline — History of the Roland TB-303 Bass Line music machine, which it turns out you hear in music all the time but would never think to identify as an instrument.

Moongirl coming soon News from April speculated about wrapping in June, so they're right about on time.

Boing Boing makes fun of the Japanese movie poster for The Passion of the Christ but ends up with a really interesting string of comments from readers.

To the mailbag!

"Books on the Bitwaves"

I used to be involved in finding, and tracking down the sources of, books posted online.  This was all centered on intellectual property protection.  There's plenty of material available to explain the copyright protection side of the argument.

The other side of the argument is presented best, both by word and deed, by Charles Stross. His most recent novel was posted online for free, the same day the paper version was released.  It is accompanied by explanations of why he did this, and by something we couldn't have foreseen from the "nay" side of the argument, links to an online glossary, an extension of his scenario into a GURPS role playing system, a "technical companion" article on Wiki, and more.

I think this can be taken as an important object lesson in intellectual property in the present and the future.  I don't mind being proven wrong.  I don't mind that I put more work into this than I put into my 'real' work at the time.  I DO mind that the better answer was this simple, and I didn't see it.

Dear D,
I just clicked something similar from Cory Doctorow the other day.  I have to wonder if these free online releases will be as successful once they become more common and don't make news just by virtue of their existence.

Sixty years ago, on July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated.  That started a series of aboveground nuclear tests that lasted until 1963---or until 1970 if you count a spectacular venting by underground shot Baneberry.  Much of that nuclear fallout came down with
the rain.  Here's a video I made about nuclear tests and fallout (full disclosure: I wrote a history book about it).
Richard Miler

Dear Richard,
Thanks.  By the way, did you see the recent Simnuke event?

July 19, 2005 | 11:23 AM ET

The new Harry Potter has already been pirated.  How could this happen and how does one pirate a book anyway?  It starts by deciding not to present an official eBook version of the book, leaving those interested in such a format with no recourse but to do it themselves.  So, working together they assign chapters or part of chapters and proofreaders and they assemble it into a file — actually, they assemble it into files.  I found a zip file containing a .txt, .doc, and .pdf version of the book.  And somewhere out there the audio book version is being passed around.  I haven't heard it, but speculation is that it's a more traditionally pirated version of an official audio book.  What other kind of pirated audio book is there?  Not long ago, fans shared the effort of reading chapters of Lawrence Lessig's book out loud into a microphone to record a collaborative unofficial audio book.  That was with the author's permission, but given how quickly it occurred to Potter fans to transcribe hundreds of Half Blood Prince pages, it's not beyond comprehension that they'd be capable of an audio book as well.  (P.S.  I did actually purchase the book on Friday, and as you know, I hate reading a lot off the screen, so my pursuit of a bootleg was purely academic.)

Speaking of Harry Potter, online fans are spreading the word:  Don't spoil the ending!

Speaking of spoiled endings:  The Book Spoiler — A site dedicated to spoiling the endings of books.  The first click was just book covers, no spoilers.  From there you click the book you want to know the ending to.  Note:  This site has pop-ups like crazy.  I got three in one click and I have the blocker on.

Speaking of endings, today's Video of the Day comes from How it should have ended.  The re-ended Star Wars is hysterical.  It never dawned on me that Darth Vader could have used the Death Star to blow up the planet that was in the way of blowing up the rebel planet.  (It's a BitTorrent file.)

Speaking of sharing a book with the reading public, here's the latest version of Gaping Void's " How to be Creative."

You know you're an incurable blogger when you photoblog your own heart attack.

From the blogware article we linked to in the last entry, many folks are finding this blog software comparison chart handy.

TalkLeft explains the difference between civil and criminal contempt (as pertains to Judith Miller).

Speaking of Judith Miller, E&P has a short piece on how she's doing in prison.  The lesson seems to be that prison's harshest punishment is the food.

When I saw the link text to a New York Times article that a nanny had been fired for her blog, I thought it was just another in a long string of that type.  Then I started reading the article and after only a few sentences was reading about breast touching and I thought it was just another in a long string of THAT type.  But to me, the most interesting aspect of the piece is about how reading a blog makes the reader feel about themselves in association with the blogger.  And then the clicking got really good...

...Following a link from this blog (where there's considerable and thoughtful analysis), I found the blog of the nanny described (not flatteringly) in the Times piece.  She writes quite an impassioned response, and let me just say, thank God for blogs so she could have the opportunity to do so.  Having read this far, my head was swimming with the themes and lessons and complexities in the story — only to be further compounded by more interesting blog commentary.  I had planned to lead today's entry with this, but even after putting Clicked aside and sleeping on it I'm digesting, so I'll leave it as a recommendation, if you have the time, this set of links makes for some good food for thought.

BMW adds super-vision to night driving — It pretty much goes without saying that whenever you have "super-" added onto something, it's way better.  In this case, thermal imaging night vision for your car.  Now you'll only crash into cold things.

Having just seen War of the Worlds Sunday, I'm having a hard time making a joke about NASA accidentally sending Earth bacteria to Mars.

Speaking of War of the Worlds, this is a multi-player online Google Map game where you go around New York City killing Tripods.  Not exactly Grand Theft Auto, but it's fun that people are coming up with these.

Speaking of Google games: The new Google Maps game — Fun, but also disappointingly difficult.

Speaking of games, Good Experience Games

Did Washington try to manipulate Iraq’s election?

" The Spidron is a planar figure consisting of two alternating sequences of isosceles triangles which, once it is folded along the edges, exhibits extraordinary spatial properties."  Just click it, you'll see.

ProBlogger made between $10 and $20 grand from Google AdSense last month.  That is to say, 5 figures in a month , for blogging.

Napkin Folding 101 — Oh c'mon, you know you've tried to remake the napkin into what it looked like before you opened it.

A Colorado lawmaker has caused a bit a stir by threatening a U.S. attack on Mecca .  Though we saw some Letters to the Editor supportive of the idea, the blogosphere seems pretty united in regarding the comment as a stupid thing to say.  I clicked Hugh Hewitt and Captain's Quarters.  Reader "RM" submits that the idea is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Information Aesthetics — form follows data - towards creative information visualization

New term:  " enhanced podcasts"

Related:  Apple in talks to introduce videos to iTunes — I don't own the gadget to make this work, but it's worth a peek because it's not hard to imagine the things that could be done with this technology and no doubt we'll be hearing some excited chatter about it.

Making Moonshine — Obviously you shouldn't actually try this.

Speaking of fermenting, Human Feces Powers Rwandan Prison — One of the more bizarre things about it is that the process produces odorless gas and an odorless "residue."

The logic of suicide terrorism — The essay points out a connection between use of the tactic and countries occupied by someone else's military, but doesn't exactly explain the logic of killing yourself for the cause.

To the mailbag!

Hey Will That's not Jesus...It's Jerry!
— Jim Semanko

Dear Jim,
I think we've found Rorschach Mountain.

Thanks for the link to The Sideshow - but, um, I am not a "he".

Dear Avedon,
What?  Do you mean to tell me that someone with a pink blog could actually be female?
(I think my mind went to Richard Avedon and it was all down hill from there.)
Sorry 'bout that,

Hey Will,
As for that ABC News clip linking Saddam and OBL, apparently it's six years old!

You're too good to get caught on something like this.  Hit some late-night parties this weekend?
—Josh Gibson
Ottawa, ON

Dear Josh,
I actually knew the six-years-old part.  I thought that made it more credible because it was before anyone cared about spinning it with relation to the war.  What I didn't know was that the 9/11 commission had shot it down (though I guess I knew implicitly that they'd shot down any collaborative connection), and what else I didn't know is that this thing gets passed around seasonally like the flu.

I Technorati searched the video and Googled the reporter's name and nothing in particular jumped out at me.  The reason I'd Googled the reporter was to see if she'd done a follow-up.  I couldn't find one, but now I'm even more curious about what she has to say.

Thought you might find this amusing, wouldn't want to get Google into political hot water. :)

Dear Richard,
That whole idea of auto-keywording or relevance or whatever they call it when the software takes a guess at how to pair things based on the words it sees on the page is definitely an imperfect science.  You may have seen that some of the ads here at MSNBC.com are based on the same technology.  Unfortunately, sometimes that makes for some unfortunate matches.  We had a story about a stabbing murder and the software placed an ad for steak knives on sale on it.  D'oh!  (By the way, if you ever see something like that on the site, let me know.  We do take the ads off when they're inappropriate.)


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments