November 4, 2005 | 7:48 PM ET

Gateway Pundit has more on the riots near Paris and includes a link to an al Jazeera timeline of events there.  Though he highlights an article about Mosque leaders praying for calm, he (along with many others) also points to LaShawn Barber's argument that politically correct multiculturalism's tolerance for militant Islam is part of the problem in preventing officials from cracking down.  However, Glenn posts a letter explaining that it's more about poverty than Islam.

The spreading nature of the riots has many concerned.  News to me is all the discussion of Europe's "no go" zones.  I also read Theodore Dalrymple's The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris.

In looking to see if I could find anything from the perspective of the rioters (in English) I clicked this page of two posts from a blogger who has done a number of translations on the riots in France.  (Found while wandering from this post which blames the root cause of the riots on the structure of the modern nation state.)  NOTE:  Clicking the links in this paragraph too quickly after clicking those in the above paragraphs may cause ideological whiplash.  The blogger is not responsible for injuries.

Hysterical parody drug called Panexa.  Looks like it's from Stay Free Magazine.

I'm always happy to find a reason to link to MP3 blog StereoGum.  This time they're drawing attention for a leaked clip of a new Kevin Federline song.

Michael Totten has photos and the fascinating story of " The Ghost City of Cyprus."

The Online Freedom of Speech Act failed to pass the House yesterday.  Those favoring the act think there should be no regulation of speech on the Internet.  Naturally many bloggers support this view.  Critics of the bill are concerned that an unrestricted Internet will become a festering pit of smear merchants.  This criticism reminds me of the Forbes article we saw earlier in the week about how corporations can fight with bloggers.  I also attended a panel discussion last night in which the notion of irresponsible online criticism was broached.  I'm wondering if we're in the midst of a bit of a backlash.  Others might call it a cultural growing pain.

"Earth is orbiting through a swarm of space debris that may be producing an unusual number of nighttime fireballs."

'The Matrix' is a step closer to reality — As wishy-washy as that sounds, it's still an overstatement.  Neat idea though.  They want to identify the neurological patterns in the brain when an object is viewed and then reproduce those patterns to trick the brain into thinking it's viewing the object.

How to spend your marketing and ad budget — This is interesting coming on the heels of yesterday's word-of-mouth marketing article because it could be seen as a strategy to increase buzz around a company.

I'm still liking Google maps better than Yahoo's new map, but this guy's mashup of Yahoo's Map plus Yahoo's Local Events calendar is pretty neat (and actually works).  I couldn't find an easy way to scroll over to New York from San Francisco though.

Are the Hummer dealers in Southern California hiding their inventory to disguise the fact that sales are poor?  This blogger makes the case.

How the Death Star works

"IBM has created a chip that can slow down light, the latest advance in an industrywide effort to develop computers that will use only a fraction of the energy of today's machines."  Gives a good basic introduction of what they hope the technology will accomplish.

In search of Bill Waterson — "With my Sony mic and IRiver in tow, I travel to Chagrin Falls, Ohio and try to track down one of the most influential comic artists of the 20th century."  It looks like the Boing Boing folks have flooded this guy, so the download may be problematic in the near future.

Typography Crash Course Roundup — People who are really into Typography remind me of people who are really into wine.

Video of the Day:  2005 yo yo champion — I love how the crowd cheers the moves.  It sounds like a skateboard competition when all the kids shout "yeah!" every time a move is successfully completed.

Ten questions you never knew you wanted answered

Speaking of death in online communities, Online Funeral for Girl in World of Warcraft — What's the deal with Chinese kids playing themselves to death?  I'm starting to wonder if there isn't a bit of propaganda going on here.

Speaking of World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft hackers using Sony BMG rootkit — The idea is that they're able to take advantage of the hidden nature of the Sony rootkit to also hide other files.

The folks at Fark photoshop the violence out of video games.

MySpace.com creates own record label

Guy tries to patent a fictional story line — Admittedly, it's a good story line.  I'm not clear on why simply copyrighting the story isn't enough for him.

Bush v. Nixon (approval ratings) — I saw other lists today showing other presidents, including Clinton and Reagan who had approval ratings in the 30s at some point.  I'd like to see charts like this one with more presidents included.  Of course, a lot has to do with the circumstances of the presidency, which isn't really reflected in this kind of comparison.

Top 100 Italian blogs — A few English ones in there.

" Steve Inskeep talks with Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, about the influence of Vice President Dick Cheney's office over Iraq war policy."

I can't quite figure out if this is a game.  You can make things happen, and some things won't happen unless you do other things first, so it has a puzzle-like quality.  But I'm not sure if there's an actual goal.

Computer in a pumpkin

Nature Magazine is offering a collection of articles on sleep.

Popular blogger and stay-at-home mom Heather Armstrong explains why adding ads to her blog isn't selling out.  (Wow, she supports her whole family with her blog??)

November 3, 2005 | 4:06 PM ET

Yesterday I briefly mentioned the new product from Mothership Microsoft called Live.  Today I finally got around to reading the considerable amount of commentary about it and I understand a little better what's going on.  First of all, I should have linked to the ideas page because that lists the various elements of this Live initiative.  Everything is still in beta and some of it hasn't been released yet, but at least you can see what's planned.

I was interested to read this blogger's comment, "The initial experience is poor; the site has little or no value until it is customized."  My experience was similar in that I looked at the blank page, played with it a little, realized it required a lot of personalization that I wasn't interested in playing with at the time, and moved on.  That's not to say, however, that someone looking for a personalizable page to serve as their Web starting point wouldn't find the service useful.  Anyway, in getting acquainted with what Live is and its larger context, this is what I found useful:

A human skateboard

A relatively new blog by a female New York City cab driver with a quick camera finger.

Commuter Click:  The Suicide Bombers Among Us — I've only read a little so far, but it looks like an examination of the psyche of suicide bombers and the culture of young Muslim males in the UK.  No doubt an essay like this is offensive to someone, but I'll have to print it out to read later to find out who.

Commuter Click that no one finds offensive:  Adweek’s feature story on Measuring Buzz.  Word-of-mouth, of which blogging is a part, derives its credibility from the fact that it doesn't come from paid marketers.  I remain skeptical that the professionals can co-opt the process — though they're certainly trying.

Speaking of angry youths, they've been rioting in a Paris suburb for a few days now. (Also here.)  Tim Blair has started a scorecard.  [Update:  Earlier reports had described this as Muslim rioting, but now they only point out that the areas are "mainly north African Muslim communities," which I take to mean that the rioting has spread beyond having anything to do with Muslim issues.  For this reason I changed the phrasing of this entry a little.]

Does Harry Reid's call for a closed session in the Senate earlier this week represent a power shift?

"Research into an unusually high prevalence of a particular set of genes in China has suggested that 1.5 million Chinese men are direct descendants of [one man]."

" Blindsight allows people to use visual information they get through their eyes even though they have no consciousness of the visual experience."  Temporarily blinded test subjects were able to (more) accurately guess at things flashed before their eyes that they couldn't consciously "see."

Speaking of losing vision, Laser rifle provides blinding force the source for that entry has a few more details and confirms that it's not a hoax, but I'm still not clear how/why it works.  If the subject doesn't look at the light, does it still blind him?

An automotive journalist compares virtual (video game) racing to real racing using the same kind of car on the same track.

Rancher offers reward for stolen bull semen — Reminds me of that Keen Eddie show that caused all the fuss.

Sound pulses can be made to move faster than the speed of light.  This slows time for the sound and allows us to communicate with the past.  (Just kidding.  The article doesn't really mention any practical applications.)

Milblogger BlackFive is rallying bloggers to raise money for something called Valour IT, whose mission it is to provide voice controlled software and computers for injured soldiers who can't use their hands.

The Looming Attention Crisis:  "A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention."  If you're a business competing for people's attention, you're feeling some distress at the sheer number of attention grabbing outlets in this day and age.  This particular post is about Internet attention, but surely there was the same thing written by TV folks who watched the number of channels skyrocket, or magazine editors who watched the number of titles multiply.  Are there new lessons to be learned by this happening in a Web context now?

Almost Video of the Day:  "The pressure inside the pipeline is 0 psig, while the pressure outside is 2700 psi, or 1.3 tons per square inch.  Then a crab comes along..."  (Was it Alien 3 that ended that way?)

Actual Video(s) of the Day:  Air traffic as seen by the FAA.

Speaking of video, I've been trying to keep an eye on sites like Castpost for any breakout viral videos.  This one has me stumped.  Is it some kind of green screen trick?

Move over sudoku. There's a new grid on the block

Responsible spam

Star Wars: Episodes I-VI; The greatest postmodern art film ever.

I can understand the motivation behind building a bicycle camera mount, but it does seem like an accident waiting to happen.

I might have skipped this article on video resolution and the new video iPod (because I don't know much about video and I don't own a video iPod), but I was struck by this sentence: "When we hooked up my iPod to our TV, the quality of the video was amazing!"  Video iPod as a TV video player was not a use I'd considered.

Red State blog worries that Democratic opposition to Alito on ideological grounds will mean political battles and litmus tests for all nominees to come.  (Includes lengthy and lively discussion thread.)

Who would have ever expected Kevin Drum to use the expression " That's exactly right" in connection with a quote from Trent Lott?

Mailbag!

Re: "I still don't understand why (these) conservatives would not want to vaccinate their daughters against cancer.  I understand that they don't want to encourage pre-marital sex, but the cervical cancer virus doesn't care if you're married or not."

The moral argument (apparently only held by conservatives) is that if both people entering a marriage are virgins, there is ZERO risk for any STD.  Zero.  That fact has been glossed over for centuries, while we quietly lead our healthy lives and the promiscuous among society cry for medical solutions to their moral failure.  (And lest you ask: Yes there are millions of us moral, chaste people left in America.)
—Unsigned

Hi Will. I love your column -- it is (and you are) a wonderful resource, for which I say "thank you!"

I've been waiting to see the abstinence-only movement's response to the cervical cancer vaccine.  Given religious conservatives' acceptance of studies purporting to show a reduced rate of HIV in circumcised males (not surprising, considering the religious history of infant male circumcision and their view of those who oppose it as being "PC." — see here), the cervical cancer vaccine seems to potentially put them in a bit of a quandary.

If they support infant male circumcision (in spite of the fact that baby males aren't exactly sexually active) and use the HIV connection to justify it, how can they oppose cervical cancer vaccines for females because it might conflict with the "abstinence-only" movement?
Craig
Arlington, VA

Will replies:  Thanks for your explanations.  I hadn't considered that in a 100% chaste community there'd be no STD risk.  Doesn't the abstinence-only movement also include "born again virgins?"  I had always figured abstinence was regarded as a personal virtue and not necessarily one required from a potential spouse - though I admit I haven't studied the culture all that closely.

Hi Will,
Before you give the Iranian government the benefit of the doubt, you should research the recent Iranian government sponsored execution of several gay teenagers.
—Jeff

Will replies:  Yes, I remember linking to that this summer.  Actually the hot link out there right now is a series of photos of a small Iranian (supposedly) boy being held down while a truck runs over his arm to punish him for stealing.  I won't link to it.  My inclination is to give the benefit of the doubt to the Iranian people, not their government, though I imagine there are some readers out there who would regard even that as naive.

Hi Will,
You should own Uranus.
-E.R.E.

Will replies:  LOL!  "Isn't it about time you or someone you love owned a spot on Uranus?"  Maybe I'll consider this once I finish making payments on that bridge I bought in Brooklyn.

Hey Will,
I read with great interest today’s item on Sony's root kit.  I work for a large software manufacturer (use your imagination here).  A few weeks ago some friends and I ran across this new DRM measure and we were quite amused at the new technique.  It is indeed just like a root kit.  Being firm proponents of fair use, my friends and I set about to bust this "rights management" software.  I'm happy to report that in about 5 minutes we had made a non-DRM protected copy of the CD in question.  All you need is a copy of a ripping program that doesn't support DRM.  It's a remarkably weak attempt at DRM and when you add the root kit angle I'm sure that this will cost Sony more in legal costs than the original fair use losses might have been.  Don't get me wrong I am a musician and I think they should get paid...but should they have the ability to wreck my PC in the process?  I've even heard of some bands telling their audience how to get around the copy protection that their record companies use.  Unfortunately the large record companies are relying on the fact that most people don't know much about their PCs and will blindly install anything that comes their way.
Cheers,
An anonymous music lover

Will adds: 

Will,
It wasn't Dave Matthews who instructed fans how to escape DRM.  Notice that the website you posted indicated you should install the software and accept the EULA.  Those are the exact same instructions Sony will provide if you go to their website.

The band in question was Switchfoot, who apologized to fans for the DRM software, indicated that it wasn't their choice, and then told fans how to rip the CD to iTunes without installing the DRM software.  Their instructions were promptly removed by Sony from their official website/message board, though there are still copies of it floating around the net.
Jeff
Pasadena, CA

Will tries again:  Ah ha!  Thanks Jeff.

I have three points that everyone should consider:

Know what that means?  According to the DMCA, it's illegal to remove the rootkit.

According to the law, Sony is acting legally, and you, the consumer, are wrong, since Sony can do anything they want to protect their content.  Including, according to the Honorable Senator Orrin Hatch, wrecking your computer.
-Sam Cousins
Portland, Maine

Will adds:  DMCA = Digital Millennium Copyright Act  Also, regarding item #2, I believe that's part of the explanation Sony gave for issuing a patch to reveal hidden files .

You picked up what appears to be the primary site for the finding the Sony DRM root kit code at Mark's Sysinternals Blog.  Just wanted to point out that I am trying to integrate the information, esp. from a legal point of view at BHhayden.blogspot.com.
-Bruce

Will adds:  For folks just catching up on this issue, I also clicked this summary on the Washington Post.

November 1, 2005 | 11:55 PM ET

I was going to lead with Judge Alito links, but I think there's a bigger story for the clicking citizenry today.  This is how I learned about it:

When I got in to work today the new Trey Anastasio CD had been delivered to my desk (I've been trying to schedule an audio chat with him) so I popped it in my machine.  Instead of playing, I got a message asking me to accept some legal terms and telling me that something would be installed on my computer.  I said no and cancelled the whole thing until I could read the fine print later.

That's when I clicked Barry's entry about the new Sony DRM (which is what I'd encountered).  After some effort Barry found out that the DRM was being used "as a competitive economic weapon" and had nothing to do with rights management.

Seemingly unrelated, I learned a new word in the language of computer viruses: " A rootkit is a tool designed to go undetected by the security software used to lock down control of a computer after an initial hack."

Then, in a fascinating bit of click convergence, this guy found that the Sony DRM installed a rootkit on his machine.  And no sooner had I made note of it than reader Rob in Durham, NC wrote in to say that he'd just received the link from a co-worker.  Word was spreading.

I assembled a few links and sent them to Bob, who often reports on this kind of thing.  He had also heard about it and replied with a link to F-Secure's report (with screen grabs).

More later in the day:

Sony's probably going to need some damage control on this one.

Speaking of the recording industry, Netlabels, Branding, Wet Fish, and The $0 Song — And interesting look at the future of the music industry.  Netlabels are online indie labels.  The idea is that bands make money by playing live and use the Web to distribute free music to promote those performances.

How was Harry Reid able to "hijack the Senate?"  Rule 21 Story and video (and check out that main photo!  Nice halo!)

I can already tell that what's going to make following the Alito confirmation online difficult is the sheer volume of material.  And it's not light reading either.  What I clicked so far:

This was crashed last time I tried it but works now.  Enter text and it appears on Einstein's chalkboard.

Scooter's sex shocker — This piece highlights the dirty parts of Scooter Libby's novel and compares them with sexy passages from other conservative authors.  Safe for work because it's just text, but it contains themes including bestiality, so use your own discretion.

His property in demand, former waiter raises asking price to $1.2 million — The punch line comes when you look at the picture.  It's a shack.

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Gets Injected With a Social Issue — I clicked this in a few places before realizing it was all the same syndicated Washington Post story.  Even after talking about it with our health editor, I still don't understand why (these) conservatives would not want to vaccinate their daughters against cancer.  I understand that they don't want to encourage pre-marital sex, but the cervical cancer virus doesn't care if you're married or not.  UPDATE: A few good lines here.

" FeedTier is a web feeds generator for web pages without an existing syndication format."

Essential sites for students

Pokulator — Calculates your odds of being beaten at poker.

Scoble:  " Here’s 12 reasons Web 2.0 entrepreneurs like Ross [Mayfield] tell me that they aren’t using Microsoft’s stuff."

New Google Video blog, meant to highlight their better videos.  So far they've features only really long ones.

How aluminum cans are made — A " cool stuff being made" video.

Golden Gate Bridge suicide map

Koreas 'to unify Olympics teams'

I thought the question of forgery with regard to the CBS Bush National Guard documents was settled.  Apparently Mapes still argues that they were legit.

Microsoft has launched its new " Windows Live."  I had heard about it, but this is my first time seeing it.  The idea is to construct your own home page with feeds and gadgets.  I see there's a site for Office Live now too.

A new digital Nikon has photobloggers buzzing.

On my ride home today I saw a house in Jersey City with Christmas lights on it and a sign reading " Happy Diwali."

The AntiCraft — Knitting punk.  First issue.

Why male mice feel urge to break out into song (Yes, audio clips of singing mice included.)

Speaking of singing, ever heard of making an engine sing?

Video of the Day:  A look inside the coming King Kong movie.

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