July 30, 2005 | 11:31 AM ET

A San Francisco photoblogger is accosted on a public sidewalk by a security guard trying to prevent him from photographing a building... thus spawning a contest New York City photobloggers are also familiar with this kind of treatment.  I have been yelled at twice in the course of photoblogging, once by a cop while taking almost this exact photo and another time by a random ferry worker while taking a photo of the city skyline from New Jersey.

I know the terrorists are everywhere and out to get us, but there is definitely such a thing as over-policing. 

Totally related:  Daily Pundit points out all the training the government is doing of ordinary citizens to watch out for potential terrorists.  Though my first (cynical) reaction is that it's only going to get worse and vigilante groups will be making citizen arrests of photo snapping tourists everywhere, it could also turn out that this training is exactly what will prevent that scenario from happening.  Here's hoping.

Here's some background on that guy who photoblogged the removal of his brain tumor.

Andrew Sullivan is supportive of the idea of Muslim Moderates finding their voices.

But elsewhere... The American Islamic Leaders' "Fatwa" is Bogus (The story they're talking about is here .)  Disclosure:  Steve Emerson (and actually a bunch of guys on the Counterterrorism Blog) is an analyst with the cable folks.  I was in meetings all day so I didn't notice if he made this point on the air.

Shoot someone? Not Smith & Wesson's fault. Copy a movie? Grokster's fault.

"A disgruntled Harry Potter fan has released a "corrected" version of J.K Rowling's latest installment in the series, The Half-Blood Prince, prompting a storm of curiosity and support from many fans who disliked the direction of the story in the book. It has also, not surprisingly, prompted a storm of legal activity from Rowling's publishers."  — The most believable parody I've read in a while.

Movie preview corner:

  • The new Doom trailer is out.  I'll wait for HBO.
  • Look for a new underwater documentary film, Deep Blue, this summer.  ( Via)
  • Nick Cage is a gun runner in Lord of War.  This looks good, unless all the funny lines are in this trailer, in which case, you just saw all that matters for free.

"Please tell me what one word best describes your impression of George W. Bush. Tell me just the ONE best word that describes him."

Commuter Click:  The Heroes of the Pentagon's Interrogation Scandal -- Finally, the JAG Memos — As I began to read I realized I haven't been following this story well at all.  I'll have to print this up so I can pay better attention to what he's talking about.

Commuter Click for people who are sick of war and politics and torture all the time and isn't there something else interesting to talk about for a change?!?!:  Human-Centered Design Considered Harmful

Egyptians almost had an officially permitted anti-terrorism rally Friday.  The Sandmonkey tells a troubling story of what it's like to get permission for a protest in Egypt.  I'll be interested to read his follow-up.

Video of the Day:  Mint Royale: Singin' in the Rain

Bad writing contest awards announced

Awesome Chemical Brothers game — only one button to play and still manages to be fun.

Show me DQ — Virtual (collective) sketch book.  Nice drawings.

I listened to Radio Indie Pop while writing today's post.

English translation of Al Qaeda manual — "The attached manual was located in Manchester (England) by Metropolitan Police during a search of an Al Qaeda member's home."

Fourth Amendment messenger bag

Why you get stuck for hours at O'Hare — This is from way back at the beginning of the week, but since I do know someone who recently got stuck at O'Hare for hours, I decided to include it.

A Nonist public service pamphlet: Blog Depression

Speaking of public services: Lance's Guide to Man Grooming, Part 4: Clothing Optionals

"Instead of using live viruses to destroy diseased cells, why not send in man-made, nanoscale molecules with tiny tendrils that scientists could engineer to battle specific types of cancers?"

How to kiss hello in France

You may be aware that Monty Python's Michael Palin is now a travel guy .

His travel books are available free online.

Check out optical illusion number 3.  The other two you've probably seen before.

Guidelines to development on the Hollywood Operating System — This is like the "things that only happen in the movies" page we saw recently, except is just about computers.

Coca-Cola is planning to launch Enviga, a soda that is said to burn 50 to 100 calories just by drinking a 12-oz. serving, next year, per one executive.  The Farkers have labeled the story "unlikely."  Maybe the can weighs 200 pounds?

Speaking of unlikely, Senate Democrats are asking for suggestions on what to ask John Roberts in his confirmation hearing.  Like a big online chat I guess.  I wonder if they're really reading through all this mail.

Blind teen amazes with video-game ability — no word on how mean his pinball is.

Water ice in crater at Martian north pole

Astronomers say they’ve found the 10th planet

The new Carnival of the Recipes is up.

10,000 superballs were dumped on the street in San Francisco during the filming of a commercial.  Follow Sem's photostream for more.

Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity — In Words of Four Letters or Less

Michael Yon has an interesting new report on the immigrant make-up of American troops.

How to create a vodcast — That's Video-on-Demand-cast.  Basically it's about how vloggers can create a feed for subscription in iTunes.  "Podcasts are so last month."

Speaking of digital media introductions, Mashing for Beginners is basically instructions for how to be a digital DJ.  The notes on this page say it's from 2004, so what brought it back to life?  Looking at the Technorati info, two days ago a hugely popular Spanish language blog picked it up.  There's a lesson there somewhere.

A very cute story of a six-year-old's efforts at programming a video game

Mailbag! [trumpets]

Don't know if you'd ever seen this.  If you've ever been tagged by one of the top ones, you'll understand.
Bill Bilbro
Las Cruces, NM

Dear Bill,
No, I didn't even know there was a bite pain scale.  Somehow the job of doing this research seems like something Homer Simpson would get stuck with.
D'oh!
Will

With regards to that "Christian Paradox" essay...I read that early yesterday (before I saw you'd linked it)...I don't know where this fable comes from, that the U.S. is "...the most professedly Christian of the developed nations".  According to the CIA (scroll down until you see "Religions" for each entry):

Maybe the CIA is lying for their own nefarious purposes (probably inflating U.S. Christianity in my opinion!), but anyway that idea that Europe has advanced beyond religion while the U.S. is provincially mired in evangelical trappings just doesn't hold water.  And the statement that we're the "least Christian in behavior"...um yeah I guess burning a few million people in ovens is pretty Christian, so long as they're Jews???  But wait, that's ancient history, right?  My what difference a few decades can make.

This myth of European moral superiority is gauche amongst the left-wing intelligentsia in the U.S. and in Old Europe, but it's a load of crap as far as I'm concerned.
—Jason

Dear Jason,
Yes, I imagine that's exactly the kind of mail that guy is getting right now. LOL!  I can't pretend I have any insights into global religiosity.  As culture goes, there is probably a way Americans have of expressing religion that is different from how others express it.  Since the essay was about whether America acts as Christian as it claims to be, he probably should have left out the line comparing it to other developed nations.  As your letters shows, that's another essay.
Cheers,
Will

Don't know if you can use this without offending a few people. I'm not the religious type, but I got a good laugh when I found the video a couple months ago, and it fits in with your rap theme the past two days.
Paul

Dear Paul,
That was a Video of the Day quite a while ago, but since we've picked up some new readers since then I'm happy to revisit it.
Thanks,
Will

Will,
I should have e-mailed this yesterday, but Anheuser-Busch wasn’t the first to use aluminum bottles.  They were used here in Pittsburgh by Iron City Beer in an agreement with Alcoa (also headquartered in Pittsburgh).  Here’s a link to Alcoa’s press release regarding the bottles.

It should be noted that the Japanese have been seeing aluminum bottles for a while.
Cheers,
Jason

Dear Jason,
Thanks.  My only remaining question is, "Why?"  (And where are they selling these in NYC so I can try it, but I can probably find that myself.)
Regards,
Will

July 28, 2005 | 4:00 PM ET

Scoble says the MSN Virtual Earth folks are working hard to update the satellite images (which he says are from 1991).  It's an interesting problem:  As we get better tools for processing information, there's a new demand for more and better information to process.  Sure, bloggers produce tons of content every day, but how often does someone take a photo of the entire planet?

Virtual Earth and Google Maps compared side by side

David Galbraith takes a look at what people search for and concludes "the battle between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo will involve maps."

A funny cricket video game (reminds me a little of Yeti sports)

A CD's worth of indie bands covering top 40 songs — Not included is my current favorite, Nina Gordon's Nobody's Fool Cinderella cover (#13 in 1987).

Arianna Huffington writes a lengthy entry about Judith Miller's role in the Plame affair.

Teens and Technology: Youth are Leading the Transition to a Fully Wired and Mobile Nation — Seems obvious, but Pew has made it official with a survey.

On the heels of yesterday's nerd rap item: Chaucer's tales become rap songs

I've seen the other video of President Bush giving the finger to the camera when he was younger, but I didn't see this one yesterday.

Following on yesterday's letter from Chris Choate about the illegalities of using a Wi Fi signal that isn't yours:

A recent court case, which saw a West London man fined £500 and sentenced to 12 months' conditional discharge for hijacking a wireless broadband connection, has repercussions for almost every user of wi-fi networks.

Not many details, but it looks like they caught him because he was sitting in his car in front of someone's house.

"A photolog of brain tumor removal. Beware, it's pretty gross."  Both true.

Bloggers are linking to the Technorati round-ups that began running on Newsweek stories on Monday.  I'm surprised to see it only because it's not often to see a lot of people linking directly to Technorati searches, which is what those pages basically are.

Awkward moment for the boss — The inventor of ctrl+alt+del explains its origin and ends up insulting Bill Gates.  The best part of the video is the awkwardness afterward.

Pepsi has a new (to me) ad seeing viral distribution

Russia to offer trip around the moon — Tourist price with space station stay: $100 million

Speaking of visiting space, " The Mars Foundation has completed its programming study of the first permanent settlement on Mars" — Not exactly Total Recall

Speaking of Philip K. Dick, Japanese develop 'female' android — Bladerunner, here we come.

Paper forest — A paper models (among other things) blog

Productivity Tips For Avid Blog Readers

I like drawing

What's that bug? — entomology blog

The Citizen's Guide to Refusing New York Subway Searches

The Christian Paradox — "America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior."  I can't imagine what this guy's e-mail box is going to look like.

Video of the Day: Rubik's Cube Jedi  (If you get impatient, scroll ahead to about the one minute mark to see why this is special.)

Massive Harry Potter Spoiler, don't even mouseover this link or the end of the book will be ruined for you.  If you've read the book and are suffering some trauma as a result, reading through this site may be sufficient to ease your angst.  [ Link]

Other Harry Potter items:

On the heels of the recording of the December earthquake: The eerie sounds of Saturn's radio emissions — Sounds strangely like theremin music from 50's sci fi movies, which makes me a little suspicious.

You've probably heard the news that Lance Armstrong is interested in getting into politics next.  Some folks read his criticism that the money spent on the war in Iraq would have been better spent on cancer research as a sign of his political leanings.

Racism, literature, and online conversation — It's advice and encouragement on keeping online communities civil and worthwhile for news organizations to foster.

Blogs solving crime

The Founding Fathers roll over in their graves as a new witch-hunt against the First Amendment is launched — Mature rated video game shockingly found to be, well, mature

"People who illegally share music files online are also big spenders on legal music downloads, research suggests."  I wonder if the same goes for movie downloaders.

New phrase: " camp fire talk":

Around the fire, after a day of grubbing for grubs or dancing between the legs of a woolly mammoth, our ancestors didn't harangue cavemates about how their new improved spear thrower would jump-start their sex life.

There are no stupid questions... well...

Speaking of Snopes, let's go to the mailbag:

Hey Will,
Love the semi-daily collection of links. I couldn't tell if you already knew, but the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe is a hoax.
Josh W.
Chicago, IL

Hey Will,
FYI the Neiman Marcus Cookie is one of the oldest urban legends around.  I ran into it when I was 10, in 1983 :)
—ncrmncr

Hi Will.  Your link to the Neiman-Marcus story leads me to give you this link.

Any time I hear a story of comeuppance, or unusual celebrity quotation these days, I run it against the Snopes Urban Legend database.
Take Care,
-Davin

Dear everyone,
Thanks for emphasizing that and ensuring that won't get a call from the Neiman Marcus legal department.  I didn't realize they'd created their own cookie recipe in response to the legend.
Cheers,
Will

Will,
I appreciate this column very much.  It helps out with my midnight shifts.

Anyway, in regards to the aluminum Coke bottle story:  Aluminum bottles are already on the market.  Anheuser-Busch has released a few of their beers in aluminum bottles to retailers as well as bars/clubs.  Here’s a link from their parent company.  I guess plastic isn’t cutting it anymore.
Patrick Duff

Dear Patrick,
Now I want to find one.  I wonder if aluminum bottles are more likely to be recycled and if they can be redeemed like cans.
Regards,
Will

Thanks Will.
I am Trey Jackson and I wrote the piece you linked today entitled "24% of all Americans over 18 have been exposed to ID theft in the last 100 days".  Like you, I would love to see this topic "dragged" into the mainstream media, and I hope your efforts will help shed more light on this growing and dangerous trend.

This is a great non-partisan issue where the MSM could really use its influence to help every American.  This needs to be stopped.  Like I said in my post, I fear that people will not address it until their ID is stolen or compromised. By then, the nightmare has already begun.

Thanks for your help.
Best,
Trey Jackson

Hi Trey,
I got yelled at by Lori the Tech editor for not mentioning the huge amount of work done in this field by friend and colleague Bob Sullivan:

"24% of Americans over 18 have been exposed to ID theft in the last 100 days. — I would love to see bloggers drag this onto the national political radar."

Um, as opposed to our site, which broke half these stories to begin with and led to congressional hearings????

Like you, I think the more attention the better, but it’s already on the national political radar. This is one where the MSM (ie, us) has been leading.

For the sake of clarity I'll add that while I do agree that this story has been well covered (and led) by mainstream media, and particularly our little corner of it.  I don't see it as being on the national political radar because I don't see it as part of the national political dialogue I see every day in the blogosphere.  As you point out, Trey, people don't seem to get it.

The reason I'm glad to see the blogosphere getting involved is that blog coverage of a story has a higher degree of activism than regular media coverage of a story - maybe it's a different audience or the degree of outrage with which blog posts are written. 

The fact that Trey is writing that he hopes the mainstream media will use its power and I'm writing that I hope the blogosphere will use its power is either a sign of the shifting tide or a sign that the special interests involved are impervious to media influence.
-Will

A couple of weeks ago you reported that the 6th Harry Potter book had already been put online.  So why hasn’t anyone just taken that book and dumped it into Babelfish ?  And have you finished it yet? What did you think?  I agree with you that the teenager drama was a bit much.
Thank you.
Dale E. Hanks

Dear Dale,
That's a sound theory, but neither Babelfish nor any other translation service I've seen can pull that off in a way that produces a genuinely coherent result.  I often use that service to translate foreign language blogs, but it still takes some guessing to figure out what they're writing.

As it happens, I recently clicked a funny example of how translators have a ways to go:  Revenge of the Sith translated into Chinese and then back into English subtitles.  Hilarity ensues.
Cheers,
Will

Branson and Rutan Form "The Spaceship Company"

Today, Sir Richard Branson (Founder, Virgin Group of Companies) and Burt Rutan (President, Scaled Composites) announced their signing of an agreement to form a new aerospace production company to build a fleet of commercial sub-orbital spaceships and launch aircraft. … The Spaceship Company will manufacture the new launch aircraft, spaceships and support equipment and market them to spaceline operators, including the launch customer, Virgin Galactic...

Thrilling to a long-time science fiction reader.  Such a cool and simple name. It's like this one and this one.  Wikipedia has a whole list.
—Clay

Dear Clay,
I wonder how long it took them to come up with that name.  As I sit here thinking of what I'd call a spaceship company if I owned one, it's hard not to come up with something that sounds like science fiction. 

Alan's got tons about this new company on Cosmic Log .
-Will Out

July 27, 2005 | 2:32 PM ET

Here's part 2.  Thanks for your patience.

Missing Pregnant 25 YO Mother Alert (Non-White Division) ( follow-ups here)  This is a snarkily written item to Nancy Grace, but regardless, it's hard to think of a good reason why this woman shouldn't get the typical news hype treatment.

Speaking of pregnant women making news, Pandagon has had enough "Sleeping Beauty rehashment" - which is to say, the romaticization of brain dead women.

Woman admits having sex parties for teen boys — These stories are always popular, but frankly, it gets less sexy and more creepy the more you read.

The XUFO highest tech r/c toy

The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die — Basically meaningless, but what a fun basis for a road trip

A lot of bloggers are really drawn to this ABC News story about the police arresting illegal Egyptian immigrants with NYC subway maps.  I see the similarities, but I think you have to make a few leaps that aren't in the article to get to a "parallel terror plot."

Blogathon 2005 is happening on August 6th.  It's like other "thons."  You get people to sponsor you to blog for 24 hours straight and the money goes to charity.

Video of the Day: Family Guy takes on Ah Ha  (The site referenced briefly in the clip appears to be work safe as well.)

How's that Iraqi constitution coming?  Iraq the Model blog has a look and isn't sold on it.

Neiman Marcus suckers a woman into paying $250 for a cookie recipe.  She gets payback.  (This is actually a pretty old "classic" viral link.  It turns out Jason Kottke has re-introduced a bunch through his blog and this one has re-ignited.)  P.S. Yes, the story itself is a hoax, but I think the recipe does make cookies.

Apparently the war on terror has been renamed.  It's not totally clear what it's been changed to, however.  Something with the phrase "global struggle..."

Forbes.com Best of The Web Summer 2005 — I generally don't think very highly of blog awards, but they do a good job of surfacing sites I might not ordinarily find.

Powerline points out the inadequacy of publishing a correction

14 choice spots to go kill yourself (in Shanghai)

Rap Marketing Comes to Nerdcore — "Nerdcore now refers to artists waxing lyrical about topics as disparate as engineering and Lord of the Rings."  Well, who did you think was playing with all those online drum machines and sound boards?  Here's an example.

Your mom circulates like a public key,
Servicing more requests than HTTP.
She keeps all her ports open like Windows ME,
Oh, there's so much drama in the PhD.

A Comparison of How Some Blog Aggregation and RSS Search Tools Work (Scroll toward the end for a pdf chart.)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coming in 2007

Watch me change — For obvious reasons I was hesitant to include this, but there's no actual nudity and it's pretty cool.  You design the person and pick the clothes they change into and they dance (more silly than sexy), strip to their underwear and put on the clothes you picked.  The cool part is playing with the faces and body types.

Think Progress notes President Bush's support for revoking security clearance from potential leakers.

Cell phone towers near you plotted on Google maps  (Psst, hey guys, that big antennae on top of 1 World Trade Center?  It's not there anymore.)

Canadian lab to test 'sasquatch' hair

New Coke bottles coming soon — The idea of an aluminum bottle is interesting, although that may just be another way of saying "can."

July 27, 2005 | 11:34 AM ET

This is an abbreviated Clicked until I'm able to get the rest of my notes off my other machine later this afternoon.

What does John Bolton have to do with the retirement of Justice O'Connor, and the Plame affair?

With so much legal news going on, now's a good time for the massive law blog round-up called the Blawg Review.

24% of Americans over 18 have been exposed to ID theft in the last 100 days. — I would love to see bloggers drag this onto the national political radar.

Is Your Printer Spying On You?

DNA 11 creates abstract art from a sample of your DNA — I know the definition of art is pretty loose, but even hanging on a wall in a frame these look medical to me.

Is the labor split a big deal? — Read down through the comments for more perspectives.

Harry Potter spoiler alert, but if you've read the book or don't care, this is pretty funny: "Have you ever wondered what might be accomplished by someone with eighty billion dollars and ready access to Google Maps?"

Radio open source — I'm not sure whether this link was spreading before or after the NY Times write up.

Commuter Click: New David Sedaris (This guy is pretty much an automatic commuter click for me.)

Unprecedented: Climate Change Research Controversy on Capitol Hill — Excerpts from letters in the battle over the politicization of climate change science.  Not too different from evolution debate really.  I almost wrote that science and politics don't mix well, but I don't believe it has to be that way.

Microsoft tracks WiFi for new mapping system — The idea is that you'll be guided by Wi Fi nodes instead of by signals from satellites (GPS).

Meanwhile, WiFi Cantennas now “illegal”

Which brings me to this letter:

Hey Will,
I'm surprised anyone leaves their Wi-Fi connection open to the public.  Not only is it a security hazard, but it leaves them susceptible to potential civil or criminal liability.  If a person uses a file-sharing program while they piggy-back on someone else's connection, there is a good chance that the provider of the Wi-Fi will be the one that litigators focus on, because that is the IP address that they see, not the file-sharer's.  And yes, it is a crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (2005) to access a computer without authorization.  What constitutes access to a computer, is of course, open to interpretation, but leaving your Wi-Fi connection open to the world is a risky proposition.
All best,
Chris Choate
P.S.  Yes, I'm a lawyer.

Dear Chris,
Thanks for the explanation, it certainly makes me think I should thinking about turning on my WEP.  But I do have some problems with how this is all reasoned.  If someone is doing something illegal on my signal, am I really liable?  If someone steals my car and commits a crime with it I'm not at fault, am I?

And if I'm just using the signal of someone else to get online, I'm not accessing their computer in any way that I know of.  I guess a case could be made that I'm accessing the ISP's computer without authorization, but that seems pretty thin.

And with Wi Fi spreading so quickly and becoming (in some cases literally) a public service, how can the law start getting stingy about individual accounts?

To cover all of your points, the security part is a little scary.  I've seen a demo of someone reading the signals being transmitted between Wi Fi antennae and laptop.  It's like someone getting your cordless phone conversations on their radio.  Scary indeed.
Yours,
Will

Will,
The Sun Ray blog link isn’t code, it is just trying to find something on a unix/linux based computer using the bash shell. For instance, if you ever opened a DOS prompt on your computer and used cd to change directories, or dir to find a file, this is the same thing, but in the unix/linux world. They appear to be satirizing the search for Bin Ladin and Saddam in the Middle East, code would be much more cryptic.
Regards,
Mike Kelley

Dear Mike,
I meant computer code, not secret code, but thanks, that the kind of succinct explanation I probably should have included when I posted the link.
Cheers,
Will

Where the hell is the outcry from the Islamic world for all these Muslims being killed in Iraq by Muslims.Talk about a disfunctional family.
b.v. harris

Dear B.V.,
It's funny you ask that because Glenn wrote about anti-terror Arabs the other day.  After the 7/7 bombings, the TV folks asked me to go on to talk about Arab bloggers.  Not knowing anything about Arab bloggers I went into a bit of a frenzy, only to have that part of the segment cut anyway.  But I do still have some of the links.  From Juan Cole:

"All the Muslim governments condemned the bombings of London, including Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, along with Iran, as well as Turkey, and even Hamas and Hizbullah."

Open Democracy remarked on what a shame it is to be automatically guilty by association.  And I found this Jihad Watch entry interesting.  Another popular perspective, however, is that what is said in Arabic is not what is translated to the English-speaking audience.
Regards,
Will

Dear Will,
When I saw your mention of personal outsourcing a few days ago, it reminded me of one of my favorite Doonesbury cartoons which predicted this exact business model.  I did some searching, and found a few references to it ( here's one).  It appears to have run in September 2003.  Alas, Doonesbury's online archive only goes back one year.
-Larry

Hi Larry,
Looks like Glenn also had a reaction to it.  Interesting that he predicted outsourcing would be a big campaign issue for the 2004 election.  I'm not sure it was.
Cheers,
Will

July 26, 2005 | 2:07 AM ET

In a battle-of-the-rhetoric, Atrios blames the shoot-first-ask-questions-later rhetoric of the war on terror for the shooting death of the innocent man by police in London.  Protein Wisdom explains why rhetoric matters and points out that hype about prisoner treatment in Guantanamo was cited as a motivation for the 7/7 bombers in London.  (In that vein, Donald Rumsfeld seems to agree in the disruptive power of prison abuse rhetoric.)  Here at MSNBC.com we get letters about how talking about terrorists too much actually encourages them.  Are terrorists (or anyone) really so attuned to all of this talk?

Speaking of rhetoric, " There is no epidemic of youth violence in America.  The whole concept is a lie manufactured, distributed and perpetuated by the media. Kids are not killing each other more frequently than they used to. In fact, it turns out the opposite is true."

Speaking of anti-video game activists, Sims 2 content "worse than Hot Coffee" — You'll recall "Hot Coffee" is the name of the Grand Theft Auto modification that allows sex scene games.

Staying with games: Popular game of the day:  Avoider — Keep the guy from grabbing your pointer.  I don't know how many different tricks he has, he used 5 or 6 different ones in the time I played.

Cooler, but harder video game of the day:  Grow (RPG).  Not long ago, the original Grow was the toast of the cube farm here as we tried to figure out how the heck play it and whether there was any way to actually "win."   The new version operates on the same principle of trying to figure out what order to drop things in, but is a little more rewarding graphically.

Here's a game of a different sort:  This link has a photo of a movie marquee.  Without reading the text, see if you can tell what the blogger is showing.

MSN released its counterpart to Google Maps over the weekend.  It's called Virtual Earth.  Naturally, the first thing you do on these map sites is look up your own house.  Um, guys?  You've still got the Twin Towers there.  While other folks discuss the usability features, for me, the whole joy of Google Maps is the satellite imagery.  Maybe MSN can load an updated map in there easily, but until they do, I'm not a fan.

Scoble gives it a bit of a pre-introduction introduction and lots of links if you scroll up.

Meanwhile, a lot of people are having fun suggesting that Microsoft left Apple off the map on purpose.  Given the age of other images on the map, I'm inclined to believe MS's excuse.  (Yes, I get a MS paycheck, so if you want to disagree with me and believe Apple was left out on purpose, go right ahead.)

Ten Recurring Economic Fallacies — This is the kind of thing economists love to fight about.  For us non-economists, we can at least appreciate the perspective being argued.

Remember the world's ugliest dog Doc Searles knows him and is trying to get bloggers to improve his (the dog's) Google rank.

This seemed like a local-only story until I kept clicking and saw the sheer volume of bloggers in an uproar over it.  I cannot fathom what would make a politician think it would be a good idea to go to a funeral and pass out business cards.  UPDATE: She has apologized.  It looks like the official excuse is that the business cards were part of her offering help to the family.

The Leaky Cauldron has an interview with J.K. Rowling.  It's about book six, so note the warning.  I'm up to page 455.  So far I'm not fond of all the lovey teenage stuff.

Things I've learned from blogging (with audience participation, of course).

Shop dropping — You buy something, alter its packaging, then sneak it back into the store.  I'd heard this term before, but in a different context.  Small music bands will sometimes take a stack of their own CDs and dump them in the bins of popular artists at CD stores - for free, just for the exposure.

Idle minds are dealing in rumors about John Roberts which are not to be treated seriously.  But... I found myself interested in spite of myself by the rumor genesis described on Reasoned Audacity.  Then I read Ann Althouse who used the exciting phrase " subtly constructed to plant this idea" and her anatomy of a rumor follow-up is good too.  What makes it worth reading is not the rumor itself, which is basically worthless, but being able to see how it spread and mutated.

Bloggers get credit for the firing of a newspaper writer.  (I'm not sure what to call him.  He's a trainee who won a contest, so not really journalist or reporter or columnist...)  The blog post is brief, but the two links provide interesting juxtaposition.  More here.

It's depressing when I don't understand the most traded link in the blogosphere today.  If you understand programming code you'll get it.  If not, you can marvel with me over the fact that these people speak a totally different language.  UPDATE:  Reader "ceverett" writes, "I was happy to say, I did understand this page.  But, there is a link at the bottom that is very useful if you don't."

Speaking of foreign languages:   How to read a menu in Chinese

Speaking of learning an Asian language, these Japanese lessons have something I haven't seen before, an Amazon.com honor system tip jar.

V for Vendetta — This might be worth $10.75.  The trailer includes a brief shot of Natalie Portman getting her head shaved.  I guess you only get one take with that scene!

Video of the Day: It's a big ad

The Sound of a Distant Rumble:  Researchers Track Underwater Noise Generated by December 26 Earthquake — Contains and audio file of the earthquake that caused the December tsunami.

Commuter Click:  Stacks' appeal — I skimmed it already.  He laments the loss of real books to digitized books, particularly in the case of libraries.

Computer helps predict time, place of Yonkers robbery — I watch the show " Numb3rs" all the time, but I'm still skeptical.

I'm surprised to see tapping Wi Fi signals is such a controversy.  I always thought it was a courtesy to leave your Wi Fi open for others to use, for everyone to share.  Heck, I tap open signals everywhere I go.  I've even used neighbor's signals when my cable has been out.

The Museum of Food Anomalies

" The TSA violated federal law when it secretly expanded Secure Flight’s use of commercial data about passengers. It also lied to Congress and the public about it."

Fareed Zakaria is getting attention for his column this week dealing with fighting terror on the level of its ideas.  And this is a good time to mention that Newsweek fired up a new partnership with Technorati today.  Scroll down a ways and look for the logo in the right column.

Needled — a tattoo blog.  (Mostly safe for work when I looked, but you know tattoos, at any given moment there could be a boob... or worse.)

What does your phone number spell?  This does the work of figuring out the possible letter combinations.  I tried by my work and my home number and so far no one's called me, so I don't think it's a telemarketing scam.

Speaking of spam, Russia’s Biggest Spammer Brutally Murdered in Apartment — The name if his product is dismaying.

Office Guns has a new DIY weapon  (I'm going to advise that you DO NOT CLICK THIS AT WORK.  There's no porn or anything like that, and it's not really scary or noisy or gross, but the idea behind the site is how to make weapons (for recreation, but still...) out of office supplies.  It just seems like something that would be hard to explain if you were confronted about it.)

Is it worth getting the extended warrantee for your consumer electronics purchase?

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