October 31, 2005 | 11:58 PM ET

Iran has been the subject of a lot of online scorn lately because of hostile statements made about Israel.  Now one blogger is drawing attention to recent anti-U.S. sentiments from the Iranian president.  I was pretty alarmed when I first saw it, but then, we put them on a very short list of evil countries and have already forcibly overthrown a third of that list.  I'm not trying to say we started it, I'm just making the point that big talk is not without precedent.  The trick is to know when to ignore it and when to head for the fallout shelter (or spider hole).

Speaking of Iran: Ten very surprising things about Iran — "Surprising" because they don't make Iranians look like dangerous religious fanatics.  I wonder how seriously the folks described by this piece take their president's threats... or, for that matter, ours.

Scoble has a vision of the advertising future in which everything we do is kept in a database to better market to us.  I can understand why people might think that's a scary prospect, but I also think it would be annoying, like the aunt who keeps offering you food when you're not hungry.

Video of the Day:  Bottle juggling bartender — Of course, now the entire bar is bathed in tequila, but she looked good doing it.

A dot for every second of the day (clock)

"An increasingly globalized world became even smaller on Thursday when Carnegie Mellon University and German scientists unveiled technology that makes it possible to speak one language, yet be understood in another."  Larger photos from here.

I want to... — Finally a site that keeps all of all those little web tools on one big list.

Wal-Mart hit twice: critical film, activism; 6,800 sites to host DVD premiere by 'Outfoxed' director — I haven't followed criticisms of Wal-Mart very closely, but what really stands out to me in this article is this:  "'Wal-Mart' DVDs will screen at more than 6,800 locales, including house parties, churches and labor halls."  Is there a precedent for media being distributed this way (other than this guy's other movie)?  I can't think of one.

Border opens as police nab kidney thieves — Included bizarre details of Afghan organ thieves and the human organ black market.

Pictures of green flashes — I never noticed, but a setting sun shows a bit of green or sometimes blue light in its last gasp before disappearing below the horizon.

For sale: Britain's underground city — I wonder if they'll one day put Cheney's undisclosed location on the market.

Commuter Click:  Control Freaks: Modding and the Clash with Law — You'll recall that "modding" refers to the modification of video games with customized programming.  I can understand video game companies wanting fans of their games to be so passionate that they'd want to contribute to it.  But I can also understand the feeling of possessiveness about a creative product.

Speaking of games, for some reason I've run into a glut of them:

This year's Nikon small world gallery winners — As you might guess, photos of really small things.

Speaking of photos, you may know that digital cameras can automatically number photos, which means you can search Flickr based on that numbering system to see a collection of "first pictures."

How do our brains keep track of time? — I never considered how much we rely on a sense of time to use language.

Classic Movie monsters meet classic art

Josh Marshall offers the first of a multi-installment report on the source of the Niger forgeries.

Why does God hate amputees? — This is an online book devoted to arguing that religion is fantasy and people of religious faith are delusional.  In the pieces I read, he oversimplifies religion and its tenets in some of the arguments.  (Like if a coin flip doesn't go your way after you pray for it, prayer doesn't work.)  If you're really into fighting about this sort of thing, the site comes with a forum which will no doubt be roiling soon. (It's still kind of new.)

During Hurricane Katrina we got mail asking for footage of the pentagram thought to be seen in the storm's eye.  Now the folks at a Florida NBC affiliate have found another message in the eye of a hurricane.

Speaking of that local station, they're also reporting that volunteers were withholding water from Hurricane Wilma victims because the water was donated by Anheuser-Busch.  This stands in interesting contrast to a woman in Alabama quoted on NBC Nightly News tonight who said that FEMA and the government hadn't been much help in Katrina's wake, but the church groups had been invaluable.  The group that withheld the water in Florida?  From Alabama.  Go figure.

Speaking of NBC News, does the biography of NBC's Pete Williams make him more qualified to cover the Plame investigation or should it disqualify him?

Billmon compares Bush campaign promises about integrity in the White House with current public opinion of integrity in the White House.

By now you know that the Casey case is the one about whether a woman needs her partner's permission to get an abortion (or something like that).  From Patterico's Pontifications:

They will say: “Judge Alito thinks that women should have to consult with their husbands before having an abortion. Evidently he views married women as nothing more than their husbands’ property. Also, he is insensitive to the fact that battered women aren’t going to get an abortion if they have to tell their husbands about it first. If Judge Alito is confirmed, the right of married women to obtain abortions will be severely restricted.”

As a matter of fact, that's exactly the way I heard it, which is why I was glad to click that link to get another perspective.

Here are 7 foods that truly require a fearless stomach

Carve a pumpkin

" Wabi-sabi is the Japanese philosophy that embraces a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble."  ...so it has naturally drawn the interest of Web designers.

October 30, 2005 | 11:50 AM ET

"Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective." [login help]  Forbes takes a very public (it's their cover story) swipe at blogs and naturally, blogs don't take it lying down.  I can't think of any example of anyone ever successfully fighting blogs.  We've seen companies successfully launch their own blogs, and we've seen companies fire individual bloggers, but I can't think of anyone who's ever gone to war against bloggers and didn't come out looking worse by the time it was over.  One question some are asking, however, is how splogs and corporate PR/marketing blogs will change the character and reputation of the blogosphere.

There's such a flood of coverage of the Plame situation that it seems pretty redundant to pile on with more from blogs.  I did, however, click Glenn's round-up.  Josh Marshall is drawing a lot of attention for this brief post interpreting a piece of the indictment.  And Jeralyn isn't finished speculating.

The food for oil investigation has also produced a report — though of considerably greater length.

Introduction to the fascinating patterns of visual math — Wow, check out the main page.

Video of the Day:  El baile de Yoda — Nothing particularly Spanish about it.

Free sharable white board

Photos comparing gamers and their online avatars.  More links at Kottke.

Eye hand — Take a picture of yourself and draw it.

Have archaeologists discovered a pyramid in Bosnia?

Why the White Sox aren't the White Socks

Following yesterday's mention of Bubble 2.0... "This is premature, cover-your-ass babble."  (I didn't know there was a Bubble blog.)

"A Japanese company has developed technology to transmit a two-hour movie in 0.5 seconds..."

Worst jobs in science

Tiny robots could perform remote surgery — Remote surgery also means that surgeons will have some new options as well.

Detecting gunfire at the speed of light — They've invented something that can spot snipers in a flash.  Anyone working on a Terminator prequel script will like this line:  "Kimzey said such an invention could be problematic because military rules of engagement require that a human being, and not a machine make firing decisions in the field of combat."

"Last year, I began work to retrofit my home in San Francisco to generate most of its own energy (both heating and electric)."  Includes a cost breakdown, which is rare for these kinds of pieces.

Commuter Click:  "It's been celebrated as a muse and banned as a poison.  Now an obsessed microbiologist has cracked the code for absinthe - and distilled his own."

Death in Sakkara: An Egyptian Adventure — This is one of those games in which you have to read a lot of clues and advance yourself through the story.  They're only up to episode one, so now's a good time to jump in.

A brand new cartoon video podcast — About fifteen minutes worth of cartoons including a really well rendered story of the origin of a certain popular tradition between men and women.

A knitted digestive system

As the Miers withdrawal has left headline writers across the country with unused "Harriet the Spy" puns, it also left Gary Trudeau with a bunch of useless Doonesbury strips.

Speaking of comic strips, when Betty of Archie Comics fame goes goth...  well, "cringe-worthy" is all that comes to mind.  If Archie starts blogging, I don't want to know.

Speaking of scary: extreme pumpkins.

Mailbag!

Hey Will,
Just wanted to pass this along.  Thanks to you, and your Blog. I found the link to UpYourBudget.com early, and well.  I won 10,000 dollars because I had such a head start.  Thank you very much.  Your Check for $10 should be in the mail some time soon.

Will replies:  WOW!!  Great!  Congratulations!  On the heels of the Operation Eden news, this blog is feeling some pretty good mojo this week.

Speaking of people sending me stuff...

All right, Will.

It's me again, but I'm not going to complain about your tired transitional phrase today--I, for one, try to avoid repeated redundancy.  You're welcome.

You did inspire me, however, to put together a little something in honor of you.

I'm mailing out a "Speaking of" mousepad to you on Monday.  You're welcome again.  I'll try to build up some more "Speaking of" blogger stuff in the store soon.

Until then, I should prove that I too am a blogger.

It's an education blog about my career/passion--the design and evaluation of elementary mathematics textbooks--THAT'S how big the blogosphere is.  It even has room for things no one cares about.
—Josh

Will replies:  Josh, that is hysterical.  I can't imagine you're going to sell many of those things.  P.S. I bet the folks who read the Carnival of Education would care about the content of your blog.

If you liked the story of the 500 mile email, you might like this story on my Web page.
- John -

Will replies:  Woah, 1983?  This one is a little harder for me to understand, but I can't certainly admire the history and culture it contains.

October 28, 2005 | 12:37 PM ET

In case you're wondering, the site for Patrick Fitzgerald is here.  I don't know where or how his documents will be released but if the answer is "online" then presumably this will be the focus of the rush.

October 28, 2005 | 11:09 AM ET

Trent Lott says he'll never read a blog like that's punishing someone.  "Blog" isn't some kind of company that can be boycotted.  What a strange thing to say.

Speaking of blogs and legislators, Dennis Hastert has begun blogging.  It's only one day old, but so far the voice sounds pretty authentic.  One could almost start to feel a little hopeful about transparency in government.

These Revenge of the Sith masks are meant to be downloaded and printed up for Halloween, but I'm not sure attaching a piece of paper to your kid's face is going to work so well.  They do make nice office cube decorations though.

Speaking of Halloween, the Worth1000 folks are doing a pumpkin decorating contest.

Speaking of scary, there was some upset recently about a photo on the USA Today Web site.  They rendered Condi Rice with weird demon eyes.  This blogger gives the matter a pretty even handed analysis.

Forbes has a huge package on communication, technology and culture.  Very interesting, lots of big names.

A lot of folks are excited by the possibilities represented by the scanned books in the Open Library.

Billmon displays 2000 flag draped coffins.

19th century circus photos

"Early nerve damage caused by repetitive strain injuries can trigger "sick worker" syndrome -- characterized by malaise, fatigue and depression, and often mistaken for poor performance..."  Remember this one for your next evaluation.

"Can a computer game teach players how to defeat real-world adversaries – dictators, military occupiers, and corrupt rulers – by bypassing laser rays and AK47s and choosing instead a non-military strategy and nonviolent weapons?"

Video of the Day:  Since the Numa Numa kid , I feel like " camaoke" has been done to death.  (I may have made that word up, but it seems appropriate for karaoke on a Web cam.)  But I still have a soft spot for candid spontaneous dancing on a security cam.

Also on Hedonistica is this video of a very I, Robot parking garage in Japan.

If Fox News had been around throughout history.

Flickr is launching a print-ordering feature.

Catholic School Principal To Students: Thou Shalt Not Blog — I've said before that the (weirdo-ridden) Internet is no place for kids, but knowing what little I do about adolescent psychology (from having been one), banning them is probably not the best idea.  Educating parents is an idea I could get behind, however.

A while ago we had a Video of the Day in which a guy solved a Rubik's Cube in just a few minutes with a blindfold on.  Today, by way of a link to a solution to a 20x20 cube, I learned that there's such a thing as " Speed Cubing."

Spray on sensors — "Thousands of Specks, scattered or sprayed on a person or surfaces, will collaborate in programmable computational networks called Specknets."

The case of the 500 mile e-mail.  I'm not sure how old this is, and frankly, much of the tech language in it is over my head -- but then, much of the technology in forensic thrillers is over my head too and I'm still able to enjoy the story.

Where's the ambition?  In addition to a lot of discussion of "Web 2.0," many tech bloggers are also speculating about whether we're in the midst of "Bubble 2.0."  This blogger offers a taxonomy of new "flip-it-quick" companies.

Furthering the point is this Web 2.0 company name/idea generator.

A list of academic lecture podcasts — Some, like "Survey of Global History" sounds like it would work as audio, but some of those science ones surely require a visual element to understand what's being discussed, don't they?

Speaking of learning through podcasts: podcast Photoshop lessons.

Last gasp for Yangtze dolphins doomed by industrial revolution — I've seen a few of these "those heedless Chinese and their out-of-control industrial growth" articles.  It's oddly liberating to realize they're not talking about the U.S.

" Keep the change."  I haven't heard about this anywhere else, but apparently Bank of America has a program through which the cost of your purchases are rounded up and the difference is deposited in a savings account.  It's like throwing your spare change in a bucket, minus the middleman.

Josh Marshall is of great assistance in trying to keep up with developments in the investigation into the Niger forgeries.  This is the most recent item I clicked.

• October 26, 2005 | 5:28 PM ET

The cable folks called this morning to ask me to talk on TV about blog reaction to the Miers withdrawal.  A TV segment for me is usually very brief, so we only mention a few sites, but I did do a fair amount of clicking in preparation.  This is some of what I clicked:

  • A good gauge of blogosphere regard for Miers is the informal tally on The Truth Laid Bear.
  • Even though there was a lot of opposition to her nomination, there wasn't a lot of specific animosity toward Miers herself, so many are posting respectful notes of thanks to her for withdrawing.
  • Much of the blogging now is focused on looking forward to a new nominee.
  • As much as it may have been a curse for Miers that bloggers were so aware of other candidates (because her being chosen came in light of who wasn't chosen), there does seem to be a spirit of helping.
  • Something that was interesting about following the gradual decline of Miers' candidacy was the way you could see individuals dropping their support - falling off the fence and landing on the side of the opposition.
  • The folks writing the Harriet Miers parody blog can take some time off now.

Being cable news, there was naturally an emphasis on "both sides" so while I don't generally think of the Miers nomination has having been much of an issue for the left, I did poke around for some of that perspective:

  • The message from the left on Miers seems to echo what Harry Ried said, which is that Bush gave in to the radical right.  Lefties may have thought she was a crony and opposed her for that reason, but the right opposed her because she wasn’t extreme enough for them.  Lefties say this shows that Bush is in the pocket of the extremists in the party.
  • Kos points out that this is the same criticism that was leveled at Democrats who opposed the Roberts nomination.
  • Following the criticism that Bush nominates his friends and cronies, Blog for America is suggesting that everyone nominate their friends to be the new Supreme Court justice and offers this nomination form.

I'll have a regular Clicked up later this evening.

October 26, 2005 | 5:28 PM ET

Yesterday's "2000 deaths" number has set off a round of discussion not unlike what took place when there were 1000 deaths.  Some of the points I clicked:

Mudville Gazette points out that in spite of the 2000 number, reenlistment in the Utah National Guard is pretty high (80%).

The coolest Google app I've seen in a while, it plots chat room participants on a map in a very dynamic way.  Last night the chat rooms were pretty crowded, and this morning the whole thing seems slow.  I'm hoping it's just firewall problems here at work and not because the site is broken.  (Folks from Digg, Slashdot, and probably every other major site are slamming it right now.  This guy has some screen grabs of it until the traffic eases.)

Speaking of Google Maps apps, Frappr offers shared maps for online social groups.  Click the "browse other maps" button and you'll get the idea.

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was running for governor his opponents produced a number of flash parodies.  Looks like they're back.  (Even if you don't like people making fun of the Bush administration, the voices and names ["Rover"] are pretty funny.)

Video of the Day:  The superball commercial is here!  Remember the Flickr photos this summer of the huge load of superballs being dumped on the street in San Francisco?  This is the resulting commercial.  (Took a while to load on my machine so be patient.)

There's a new Strongbad out.  (Flash animation that plays automatically.  Total safe for work, but a little silly.)

Everyone is buzzing about something called Google Base.  "Base" means "database" and it's generally agreed that Google is about to get into classified to compete with Craigslist, eBay, etc.  Screen shots.

The latest in the war on pigs in the UK to keep from offending Muslims: School bans pig stories.   Glenn suggests (sarcastically) that this is incentive to other religions to bomb things and be generally threatening so that governments will go out of their way to placate them as well.  Is all of this pig suppression really being done out of fear of Muslims?  I had the impression that it was more like political pandering, though this particular story appears to be rooted in well meaning "sensitivity."

A new Dilbert blog has been launched.

Following on speculation that the Plame investigation would lead to an investigation of the forged Niger documents, many bloggers are pointing to this report that the source was a French agent.  Also here.

Cows make fuel for biogas train — Though it conjures a funny mental image of cows in the engine car of a train, it's not much different from other stories we've seen of biogas power from other animal (including human) waste.

Speaking of animal power:  Fish powered vehicle (Surely a joke, and a funny one at that.)

Speaking of fish in bowls, Rome bans goldfish bowls , orders dog walking; Italian capital also backs feeding of the city's stray cats — What a weird story.  Gold fish bowls make fish blind?

"ABC has ordered a script and five script outlines for " America's Next Muppet," a reality TV parody in which viewers may actually get a chance to pick Kermit and Miss Piggy's latest colleague."  Hysterical already.

I don't know where you're getting your Plame news now that it's just about everywhere.  I've been trying to keep Plame links light for that reason, but here's a good one from Tom Maguire on why it's a big deal that Cheney told Libby about Valerie Plame.

If you liked yesterday's Star Wars animated gif, you'll appreciate today's Empire Strikes Back animated gif.  (Where the heck are these coming from?)

A "coverpop" of Mad Magazine covers.  When I clicked the one with science fiction book covers, I didn't realize there was a whole collection of these.  They're fun to play with, but the navigation is so random I can't really think of a good use for them.

How much can you earn through Google AdSense?  He breaks down the math on how much traffic you need on how many pages to earn $100,000 a year through AdSense.  To be frank, the mention of "profitably keywords" makes me think the intended audience is the makers of spam blogs, but still interesting info.

Chris Jordan photography:  Portraits of American Mass Consumption — New to me, but not exactly new, the photos are basically of big piles of stuff.  Not quite as shaming as the title would suggest (although the artist's statement lays it on pretty heavy.)

Is sex necessary?  That question isn't exactly answered, but health benefits of sex are reviewed.  The real question it seems to be answering is whether abstinence is unhealthy.

Top ten richest men of all time.  (Note:  AskMen is a "men's portal" so clicking around the site could result in a screen full of uncomfortable-for-work bikini girls.)

Comedy Central, perhaps sick of seeing their clips traded online by other people, is going to launch a massive broadband network at the start of November.

M.C. Escher collection online

A pre-sorted search for Microsoft eBooks that are free.

" A virtual space resort being built in the online role-playing game, Project Entropia, has been snapped up for $100,000."

Remote control humans — I think we've seen video of this before.  It's not quite like a '70's action TV show where someone is suddenly sent on a crime spree by remote control.  It uses signals to affect your balance to make you move in a certain direction.

Commuter Click: Google hacking

Where art meets science — The 2005 Novartis and The Daily Telegraph Visions of Science Photographic Awards

Here's a better explanation of that treasure hunt link from yesterday.

Oolsi is a blog about free/cheap stuff.

Angry face/Calm face illusion.  You have to get up from your desk to make this work.

Mailbag!

Will,
Re: Lone Star Statements:
I have picked up a general theme to the comments made about all of these great books.  While some of the comments were well written and some of the books I also found to be terrible, Most of the comments show a lack of compassion. I felt I was reading a bunch of neocon reviews of great social commentary.  The reviewers seem to ignore the great themes and instead focus on the author's use of setting, story.  Particularly disturbing to me were the reviews of The Grapes of Wrath, A Clockwork Orange, and 1984.  I wonder, do people understand anything greater?
-Andrew

Will replies:  Hi Andrew.  I saw those too and wondered if they were meant to be jokes.  I will say, however, that my experience in sorting through a lot of opinions and feedback over the years is that some people enjoy the authoritative feeling of criticizing something, regardless of the content of their criticism.

Hey Will,
Thanks for being my first read of the day, every day!  As you say, “Time spent clicking is time well spent.”

I’m sure you’ve seen this, but I wanted to make sure this gets as much exposure as possible.  I picked it up off of Eric Alterman’s Altercation.
— CTodd

Will replies:  Thanks.  I actually hadn't seen it until I read it on Alterman today as well.  (Note to readers, the video plays automatically when page loads.)  I haven't had a chance yet to look for what the response was to that testimony.  Since the video is from the end of 2004, presumably there's been some fallout since then, no?

A Web site dedicated to bringing down terrorists' Web sites.

Will remarks:  This was actually sent to Letters to the Editor, not to me directly, but I thought it was interesting.  I don't know how much law enforcement relies on terrorist Web sites for intelligence, so I can't say it's necessarily a great idea for vigilante hackers to attack them.  I will say that I've often wondered why terrorists are so freely able to use the Web to communicate when there are so many skilled people in the Web community who are so aggressively opposed to terrorism.  Maybe the new al Qaeda Internet news channel is constantly suffering attacks and I just don't know about it.

Will,
Do you ever wonder about the impact of your having clicked somewhere?

You clicked here and thanks to you I also clicked there.

You should check out what has happened to this family since your first click.

It was through you that this family has a wonderful new beginning.

A BIG fan,
Elizabeth

Will replies:  Thanks very much, Elizabeth, for pointing out that story.  I actually do check in on Operation Eden every now and then.  In fact, yesterday I printed up his entry on the equipment he uses.  It is very gratifying to hear that Clicked contributes to something other than increased bandwidth bills for the people we link to.

October 25, 2005 | 3:37 PM ET

What blogs cost American business — [ ahem] — "U.S. workers in 2005 will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs."  This site's traffic is higher during work hours as well, but "waste" seems a bit harsh.  What did people waste their time at work doing before there was the Internet?  Cigarette breaks?  You'll never convince me that the distraction of the Internet has made workers less productive when balanced with the increase in productivity the Internet has allowed.

How splogs work.  A similar explanation here.

Alarm clocks are bad.  How to wake up and feel good.  His trick is to set an early quiet alarm that can help you wake up in light sleep but to also set a regular alarm just in case.

Calvin and Hobbes snowman jokes — In the past we've linked to photos of real world recreations of these strips, but for some reason, this page is seeing a lot of distribution lately.

Accidental invention could light up the future — Quantum dot mixture takes LED lighting to a new level

Protecting the Presidential Seal. No Joke.  Here's the joke in question.  In short, the White House lawyers sent a note to the Onion objecting to their use of the Presidential Seal.  Just what we needed, another object to politically fetishize.  Will pundits fight with each other over seal burning now?

iBelieve — Christian iPod — Actually, it's a cap that attaches to an iPod Shuffle, making it look like a cross.  It might be a weird idea, but I don't think it's a total hoax.  The order form looks functional.

A very cool prototype car.  (Why can't real cars be as cool as the prototypes?)  Among its features is a USB key that contains personalized info about you so the car adjusts to you when you start it.

Ever heard of Nightwish?  I hadn't, even though some reports are calling them a "legend."  They're a Nordic metal band that just fired their singer, causing enough of a stir for their site to drift onto my radar.

Radio Shark is like Tivo for radio and it records on your computer.  I generally assume that broadcast radio will disappear and be replaced with Internet radio, but I wonder if something like this will flourish in the transition.

All of Star Wars in a little animated gif.

This article seems critical of the idea of spending homeland security money on bingo halls, but I've seen some pretty crowded bingo halls.  A large casualty number plus a strike at America's true pastime seems a likely target.

If You're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - You are Wrong — This essay is a little bit shocking, but if you've seen any Bill Maher specials on HBO this isn't new ground.  Basically he accuses religions of being based on myths.

A rogue researcher challenges scientists to reverse human aging.

Top 100 beers

Budget rent-a-car has employed a treasure hunt blog as a marketing tactic.  Looks fun.

Five reasons why Jack Thompson is right.  (And also reasons why he's wrong.)  You'll recall Jack Thompson is the anti-violent-video game crusader gamers love to hate.

Border Film Project — "We are distributing hundreds of disposable cameras to two groups on different sides of the U.S.-Mexico border:  undocumented migrants crossing the Arizona desert and Minuteman volunteers trying to stop them."

Best ads on TV — I don't know if these are the best, but I clicked three really good ones.  Looks like they're all British.

The return of the Bush quiz

Physics flash animations

Will the Plame investigation turn into an investigation of the Niger forgeries?


Military blogger silenced This is him.  The trigger appears to have been his essay on Operation Truth.

The Washington Note highlights the Brent Scowcroft New Yorker piece you keep hearing about in which he criticizes the Bush administration.  Is it just me or did we already know this?  Didn't Scowcroft already write something critical on the Times op-ed page back when it actually mattered?  I guess as public opinion shifts there's a new audience.

A double serving of cooking bloggers:  Is my blog burning? and Carnival of the Recipes.

San Francisco done in Jell-o The video suggests an interesting way to address the earthquake threat.

Bolivia wants a free trade pact with the U.S.

The Truth Laid Bear is tracking where bloggers stand on the Harriet Miers nomination.

I happened to get a look at some of the referral stats for MSNBC.com yesterday and a few unusual items stood out to me.  Tracking back I figured out that one story drawing a lot of attention is that author Anne Rice has found Jesus .

Lone Star Statements — Quotes from reviews in which the subject was given only one star.  Funny how much they say about the reviewer as well as the reviewed.

Video of the Day — A fun little French romance.  The maker's name is Louis Clichy.  Beyond that I don't know much. The source site is fun.

An out for Bush on Miers?  The idea is to make a fuss over a different principle so if it falls apart he can blame that issue and not Miers as a candidate.  If it works he won't have to resort to the pardon tactic.

Mailbag!

Hello Will,
Not sure if this is a hoax or if it is really the thing of the future.  I read the article and it seems to be the real thing, but I just wonder if it would really be that efficient.  It seems to me that it would probably cost more to replace a 220lb coil than it would to fill up a tank.
—Kevin

Will replies:  Hi Kevin.  Yes, you've hit upon the primary criticism of all of these hydrogen cars.  The energy required to make the hydrogen is not necessarily less (or cleaner) than just using gas.  In this case it looks like there's also the question of whether getting your coil changed is better than simply fueling your car.  I do, however, think there's an argument to be made that pollution from a central coil plant (for example) is better than a bunch of little polluting cars spread across the land.

Will:
There's an animation of the 4-dimensional sculpture here.

It makes more sense if you keep in mind that all the curves represent straight lines.  But it also makes your head explode.
—Adam King

One more on that:

Will,
Your last blog entry included the following comment:

New mathematics-based sculpture unveils fourth dimension — The explanation makes sense to me, but I can't escape the feeling of skepticism.

I'm puzzled by this comment:  What exactly are you skeptical about?

Sincerely yours,
Jim Belk

Will replies:  Thanks Jim and Adam.  I guess my skepticism is the kind that comes from dealing with anything that exceeds my understanding -or, as Adam says, makes my head explode. 

On one of those new sci fi shows there's an alien ship or something that infects the crew of a submarine with a strange virus.  The investigators find a video tape of the ship and the math genius on the team announces that it's actually 4 dimensional, maybe even 5!  I scoffed.

I showed Adam's animation link to a colleague sitting in a nearby cube and told him it was four dimensional and tried to explain the article from yesterday.  He said flatly, "No it isn't," and then asked if this was when I would ask him for money.

So I'm not alone in my skepticism, but I can't really defend it.  It's pretty simply the skepticism of ignorance I guess. 

Here's an answer to your mailbag question from the 24th.

It seems that they digitally add the numbers to mugshots nowadays. And no more profiles in Texas.
-Stev

Will adds:  Thanks also to Sarah, Laura, Jordan, and Byron for submitting the Slate link on why there are no numbers of the DeLay mug shot.

Someone has created a short Indian Simpsons spoof.  It's easy to find, just Google "the singhsons"  This was the first link I found.
-John

Will replies:  Thanks John.  I wonder if The Simpsons serves to endear Americans to the rest of the world or confirm terrible stereotypes.  Are they laughing with us or at us?

Hey Will,
Scientists Finally Catch Rat With "Fresh Penguin"
Best,
Adam

Will replies:   Thanks Adam.  This explains why there are no penguins in New York City.  The rats must have eaten them all.  My favorite piece of that article is when the rat is found to have escaped to another island and rather than freak out at their near proximity to biological disaster in allowing a non-native invasive species to run amok, they see the silver lining that it confirms theories about rats being good swimmers.

October 24, 2005 | 2:34 AM ET

Podcasting for regular people — I'm seeing the idea of "casual content creation" come up more often among Web thinkers.  The idea is that not everyone wants to be a global media star through their blog.  In fact most people don't, and lately a whole bunch of people who thought they might are figuring out that they don't either.  So there's a new focus on the casual user.  Remember that piece a week ago about all the cool kids switching to LiveJournal accounts to keep strangers away from their blogs? 

I think a similar attitude can be found in Kottke's explanation of what a tumbleblog is.

As long as we're learning new words, how about Aptronymn.

There are The Gravity Games and then there are gravity games.

This is a weird item to pursue, but since I linked to the reverend criticizing the rampant spread of teen lesbianism (so rampant that his teenage son can't get a date) I felt some obligation to report that his son has in fact found a non-lesbian to date.

I suppose it's understandable that the Coburn Amendment didn't get more coverage considering it didn't actually pass.  We don't get a lot of news reports on failed legislation.  In the political blogosphere, however, it was a pretty big deal.  In short, it was the legislative parallel of all the pork-busting the blogosphere has been buzzing about.  Club for Growth blogged the matter extensively here then here.

"The latest broadband delivery system has seen researchers looking to the skies to provide super-fast Internet access via airships."

We no longer have to wait for women-specific news for there to be a round-up of perspectives from feminist bloggers.  There is now a Carnival of the Feminists.

In case you heard folks fussing on the Sunday morning shows about Colin Powell's chief of staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson and his bashing of the Bush administration, we have the FT article without the subscription wall.

The world's smallest car ; Wheels made up of just 60 atoms each — "Eventually the researchers want to build tiny trucks that could carry atoms and molecules around in miniature factories."  Unfortunately for American laborers, the driving of the trucks will be outsourced to Who-ville.

Why bad habits are hard to break — As you might have guessed, it's all in the brain.

"A growing number of cities in the US are treating high-speed internet as a basic amenity for citizens, like running water or the electricity grid. But as the concept expands so does the battle with big business."

Commuter Click:  The sharpest image — A pretty lengthy article about a guy using an aerial camera mounted in his van to take ultra high resolution photos.

New mathematics-based sculpture unveils fourth dimension — The explanation makes sense to me, but I can't escape the feeling of skepticism.

Wizbang explains the origins of the Life's Little Annoyances blog.

Homer becomes Omar for Arab makeover of Simpsons — (Another on this subject here via reader Jon.  Thanks Jon.)

Which way do polls lean? — This guy took the trend line for all of President Bush's approval polls and then compared the individual polls against the overall trend line to see which polls scored consistently higher or lower.

I finally got around to reading about the Puca Project.  The idea is for people of non-trick-or-treat age to still dress up and basically do a little performance art for the benefit of others.  Could be fun if you're the kind of person who enjoys that, but try not to get arrested.

A decade of underrated movies — (Yes, Starship Troopers is totally underrated.  The sequel was terrible though.)

Chinese eBay babies — eBabies?

What's the difference between a liberal and a progressive?

Cory Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town has a feed that reads you a couple pages each day and starts from the beginning no matter when you subscribe.

You may have seen the headline about the 40 top magazine covers of all time.  I must have been looking in the wrong spot because none of the articles I saw actually showed all 40.  This one does.

Then-and-now news translations from Lost Remote.

In the mailbag...

Where in the Delay Mugshot are the booking numbers and where is the profile?

Also, are not most arrestees stripped of street clothes and photographed in jail garb.

This looks like a HS graduation photo.
—Neil

Will replies:  Dear Neil, I'm posting your letter here in the hopes that another reader has a good explanation.  I had the same question about the numbers.  At first I thought that maybe the TV folks had cropped the numbers off to get it to fit on their screen, but the mugshot on the Smoking Gun doesn't have numbers either.  My second theory was that you only get numbers if you go to jail.  Looking at TSG's big list of mugshots, however, I suspect the answer is simply that different places do things differently.

As for your second question, he didn't actually go to jail, so no orange jumpsuits.

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