Faith in fiction

May 13, |

spots a UFO.  Yes, there are some rational explanations offered in the comments, but what fun is that?

Speaking of preferring fiction,

Speaking of parodies, is amusing a lot of people today.

Somewhere at CBS there is surely a dartboard with a logo taped to it.

Speaking of , the easiest way to avoid spinning the facts is to simply not report them.

Flickr photos tagged with "."  They're mostly the covers of old girlie magazines.  What's funny is that the diet ads on show more flesh than the pin-up girls do.

Guys into a giant video game.

Philosophers Magazine , but it's more like a morality quiz.  The instructions have a sexual warning, but it's no big deal, no photos and not even remotely graphic.  The results are a bit of an anti-climax, but this is the kind of thing that's fun to do and talk about with others.

Kos on the .  He argues that if people really supported the war, this wouldn't be a problem.  My thinking was that at least it shows that people take war seriously and understand its implications.

I'd heard that was in some kind of mental hospital, but I didn't realize he flew to South Africa to check himself in.  I wonder what that's about.

" that you can make yourself. Just print them out, cut, glue and enjoy."

:  "Using a simple laser pen pointer, a few misc parts, and about 15 minutes, you can make a simple laser communicator that converts a sound source into light that travels across a room, and back into sound with very little quality loss."

Related:  -- I wonder how that works with writing.

Video(s) of the Day:  -- Game dice, gadgets, mint condition Transformer figures, math... and some girls or something.  (I don't know why there's been so much making fun of nerds this week, it must be the Star Wars buzz.)

There are culinary adventures and then there are .

Movie trailer of the day: -- Another cool looking movie coming this fall.

Since I clicked those motorcycle crash videos yesterday I thought it was funny to see a flier at the bike shop today for --  and yes, they have a video too.


At the beginning of the week we saw Dave Winer at a blog conference talking about respectful disagreement and getting caught up in a bit of disrespectful disagreement.  What I didn't realize was that he and Glenn got in a fight over the matter.  sides with Winer but includes enough links and excerpts that you can follow the story yourself and choose your own side.

Speaking of picking fights, the posted a bit of an attack on blogger Roger L. Simon, who has distinguished himself as a leader in following the UN food for oil scandal.  They seem to think Simon is covering the subject as a means of pandering for blog traffic.  Strangely, the UN Dispatch also appears to have sent e-mails to lots of Simon's blogger friends to draw attention to what they'd written.  I don't know what they thought would happen, but I clicked through so much scorn thrown their way I found myself cringing involuntarily.  is a commonly linked example.

(As a side note, I was surprised to read CQ's claim that "Bloggers have no sympathy for arguments that start, 'Why don't you write about what ____ does right?'"  Actually, I see bloggers start arguments against media like that all the time.)

And I clicked still more fighting over here at .  The argument seems to be over whether formal or semi-formal journalism training would help citizen journalists or indoctrinate them into the mindless zombie cult of the media.  There's also an interesting tangential question of whether someone is a journalist even if they don't think they are one, aren't trying to be one and don't want to be one.

As chance would have it, as I write this, has written that of proposed base closings has been leaked to the Web.  Journalism?

And before we get too far away from talking about people who are angry, recent WWII anniversary events have inspired some essays that are seeing some heavy link action:

  • Pat Buchanan asks .  As tonight, a lot of folks aren't taking that very well. 
  • On the other side of the spectrum, Counterpunch has an essay saying, among other things, that the allies were in the course of winning the war.

As we've seen before, something link popularity does not purely indicate blogger agreement.

I forgot to mention the Daily Show segment on cable news blog shows yesterday.  If you missed it, on the poor man's tivo.  I think I'll stop at that.

If you've been checking up on the newly launched Huffington Post, you're probably aware that a lot of people don't consider the a settled matter.

But it's not just Ohio.  Wisconsin is having some as well.

And speaking of resolving issues from the election, you may recall the accusation that the White House was trying to manipulate the public with terror alerts.  Recent comments by Tom Ridge to USA Today have made at least in that claim.

Speaking of politics, the folks at Pew to show you where you are on the political spectrum.

Speaking of surveys, here's ranked by popularity.

I'm not sure what has brought into the spotlight lately, but it's (still) a fun read.

Some folks see the news of United dropping their pension as a sign of things to come for Social Security, , if you will.  Looking through the trackbacks, I found of compelling of the matter at Asymmetrical Information.

Speaking of social security, opponents of the president are already calling the issue a defeat for the White House.  David Sirota finds uncanny prescience in an old quote from .

Speaking of opponents of the president, here's .  Even without the politics it's interesting to see what the ad rates are.  One thing I don't understand though:  Don't you think those blogs have a lot of overlap in their readership?  Isn't it kind of redundant to advertise on a bunch of blogs that have the same audience?

Commuter Click: .  (And .)

This is 100% creepy.  I understand that some people can't have cats because of allergies or maybe a too-small apartment, but we are not yet so advanced technologically that a is an acceptable alternative.  I'm sorry.

Speaking of Asian, here's tips on giving yourself a .

-- This is like citizen journalism for coders.  The BBC makes its content available to the public and the public (the part that knows how) programs new ways of organizing that content.

.  Is this new or am I just slow?

(and not in a good way)

made of legos - with an mp3.

" wrote hundreds of inspiring letters, often to strangers. Below, his daughter Michelle Feynman introduces an edited selection - published here for the first time"

that takes many popular text blogs and converts them to audio so you can download them as podcasts.  There are some samples.  Sounds a little robotic, but not bad.

When NBC Nightly News ran a story about , right away we got letters to the editor from bikers saying there'd be fewer motorcycle accidents if cars would stop running into them.  While clicking through some video today I saw that while motorcycles can be dangerous, especially if you , sometimes there's no accounting for the of the cage drivers.

Either of the above might qualify for Video of the Day, but there's another that really captured my heart.  It's singing some kind of nerdy math song a capella.  First of all, the song is catchy, but also, there's something really compelling about watching people having fun with something they're really into.

Speaking of math, if it were possible to calculate the maximum number at which one could shake a stick, Tofu Hut's would be more than that.

-- And as if to prove the point, today I clicked another torrent based .

For fans of unusual radio:

"A few weeks ago, I posted five excerpts from a legendary underground cassette called ,  which captured some amazing radio from an Eskimo janitor and his friends who allegedly took over a Canadian radio station when the regular staff went on strike from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation."

May 12, |

Let's start today with a Video of the Day in the same viral marketing vein of those we looked at yesterday.  In this case I clicked a (actually there are ).  I reckon part of why this was such a popular link today was that superstar blogger Andrew Sullivan linked to it.

I think it's pretty huge that companies can make 2 minute short films and get (by "get" I don't mean they hired him, they just appealed to his sensibilities with the film they made) to link to them and have huge numbers of people (smart, educated people with jobs) watch their commercials voluntarily without requiring any media ad buy.  This is part of what has the marketing world so excited about blogs.  That said, I'm sure there are no small number of people who hate the idea of commercials replacing content outright.

Speaking of replacing content...

Speaking of marketing:

Speaking of better-than-a-commercial, Nokia takes advantage of online media and some viral word of mouth to .

Sensor brings to mind Dodgeball, which I noticed today was .  The idea behind these things is to help people (friends or strangers) find each other while they're out and about.  I don't have the social energy for something like that, but I can see why people enjoy it.

I clicked this who are part of that is basically it's a compilation of blog posts made into a book.  And so the list of ways to make money with a blog grows.

Folks who've been wrinkling their nose at the daily Star Wars links may find some pleasure in from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog mocking the nerds standing on line.  (I'm probably obliged to disclose here that Conan is on NBC and the NBC in MSNBC stands for... er... NBC.  Also, I once saw Conan at a restaurant.)

Speaking of mocking nerds and poor man's tivo, this clip from had us laughing out loud.

And as long as we're dabbling in nerdery, is speaking to a lot of wary Star Wars fans.  (In case you can't quite place the name in that punchline, .)

-- Best quote: “Christ is not speaking to the press at this time.”

Speaking of marketing tactics, :

No coupon needed.  No purchase necessary.  Just come in and say "Free Frosty."  A "please" would be nice, but no required either.

I'm really pretty amazed that the found-a-finger story is doing so much damage to Wendy's that they need to pull a stunt like this.  Do people really think that there's some kind of machine back at the plant that's adding body parts to the food as it's shipped?  Has the story really created such a negative association with Wendy's that even people who know the story can't bring themselves to go back?

of police using a taser on an 8-months-pregnant woman caused quite a buzz around our water cooler, so it was not terribly surprising to see it show up as a popular blog link.

service makes me wonder if we're in for an mp3 price war.

.  "The burst has been named GRB050509b."  Um... yeah, real catchy guys.

Naturally, this headline has online folks concerned: 

That reminds of me of this story about , and again I get the feeling that a cyber war is something we should be prepared for.

Speaking of war, that the run up to the Iraq war is officially a dead horse as far as the media is concerned.

-- Let me first say that this is an interesting piece about the lessons a journalist learned while in Iraq researching and reporting on the insurgency.  What else strikes me about it, however, is how revealing it is about the reporter's mental state in covering the story.  I'm thinking that when folks call upon the media for greater transparency, this is what they're talking about.  I wonder how it would change the reception of news if more reporters explained themselves in this way.  On a more troubled note, does the tone of the piece seem a little defensive to you?  It would be bad if reporters always felt like they had to explain themselves.

Speaking of Iraq, a traditional anti-war slogan remarks that America's priorities will be in a more appropriate order when schools have all the money they need and the Pentagon has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.  However, I don't think states to raise money for armor for troops is what anyone had in mind.  .

Speaking of automotive activism, the is one of those things that might be a parody, but I don't think it is.

For all the analysis of what editors are doing wrong that's causing newspaper circulation to decline, points out that newspapers are a flawed invention to begin with.

gives a loud heads-up about Kevin Sites being interviewed on NPR.  I think .  Last I knew, Sites was reporting for NBC and we were putting some of his stuff on this site.  I'm not sure what he's been up to lately though, so I guess I'll have to listen to the interview.

Speaking of Boing Boing, they also offer a set of links related to .  I don't know why I thought Bigfoot was just a trendy thing in the '70s.  If you watch the video, let me know if you figure out why the blond former rock star turned chainsaw artist with the implants and the tank top is going on the expedition.  It looks like some kind of weird reality show.

.**  I didn't know anything about nano-fibers or that anyone even cared enough about it to launch a protest.  But thanks to their stunt and the resulting coverage, I'm now at least passingly familiar with the matter.  (Note: someone from THONG gets into the mix in the comments section.)

**Personally, I wouldn't call this a NSFW link because the flesh displayed is not really sexualized, but rather than play games with labels I'll say this first click has one thonged butt, several naked backs with body paint writing, and a photoshopped rendering of Michelangelo's David's lower half from the front.  Clicking deeper could reveal a bare breast or two, but hey, that's what you clicked.

I remember playing with this uncanny program some time ago but it had a different appearance.  It took 28 questions to get motorcycle but only 23 to get motor scooter first and in the end it disagreed with me on 4 of my answers.

-- I don't want to sound like a new age mush, but why does everything have to be a competition?  Doesn't it run contrary to science to want results that are more aesthetically competitive?

: "An online community of constructively creative folks who exchange ideas, stuff, and services."  It's like a Craigslist for people who are into building weird stuff. 

" finds the shortest paths between any two things."  It's like playing the six degrees of Kevin Bacon game, but it draws from some kind of search database.

" is a regularly updated collection of thoughts, writings, tips, tricks and information on personal productivity, work/life balance and getting things done."

(Part 1) -- This article is way over my head, but I understand just enough to see what's involved in breaking into a "secure" wifi connection.

To the mailbag:

Note: this was originally a letter to the editor, not to Clicked specifically.

Hi, I’m from Québec, Canada.  I wrote a book ten years ago on how to teach a cat to use the toilet.

To see more:   (French and English)

Thanks you
Francyne Gilbert

Dear Francyne,
That is sheer genius.


For a while it seemed to be the case that when news was slow, the news links would be replaced by video games links as the popular clicks in the blogosphere.  Lately however, with the news being somewhat slow, the slack is being taken up by blogs-in-business links.  I don't know if it was that that did it or what, but it seems like suddenly everyone is trying to figure out how to use blogs to make money.  (I should say that business blogging has been around for a while, but not this much of it.)  Here's some of what I clicked today:

  • -- Tristan Louis takes some of the stats from the article about Gawker Media we saw yesterday, and compares the pay per word to the pay rate for freelance journalists.
  • ""
  • -- Shorter version: transparency is good.

Speaking of business, for today's Video(s) of the day we find a sort of viral marketing duel.  They don't really address each other, but you can't help but feel like they're competing when you see who the players are.  Firefox offers a on a single page.  Interestingly, I also ran into three from mothership Microsoft: , Paper cut and .  You be the judge, but in the end, realize that they got you to watch six commercials.

Speaking of viral video, I'd heard about this on TV, though it's a safe bet it was born online.

The New York Times has from an internal investigation on how they can increase their readers' confidence.  has some explanation.

-- why it won't work.

in another follow-up to an item from yesterday, it looks like there is a to voice objections to blog hierarchy lists.


, the interactive hybrid electric vehicle resource

-- I even annoyed myself with this one.

-- Note, I just click 'em.  Make this stuff at your own risk.

Right Wing News offers .  This is real world, playing the blog game advice, not another one of those mechanical, "how to set up a blog" items.

Speaking of basic instructions, this is a little old, but still useful, the Washington post describes the basics of .

--  Here's a tip, if you're trying to ctrl F for your school and you don't want to turn all the pages, click the "print this" button at the bottom of the page, cancel the print operation, and the entire list will be on one page in the print preview.

-- Bram Stoker's vampire novel, published by its own calendar

Commuter Click: ""

has registered  I wonder if qualifies.

" is a new service that lets groups of people pool money to raise funds or make purchases."  Soon to be followed by Suable, a service that lets groups of people sue each other for their rightful parts of things they bought together.  Seriously though, this looks like a neat idea.

-- This is basically just a proposal for a paper, but it does a nice job of touching upon some of the main elements of online social networking.

?  (What phone service would Jesus use?)

-- Makes me laugh even when he's not saying anything funny.

-- This piece gives me election season falshbacks.  In the end he makes an interesting point about economics and timing.

-- This is not a blog quiz, read the questions.

To the mailbag:

Interesting comments on the pure capsaicin hot sauce.

My company makes tons and tons of hot salsas and such out here in the southwest and I can tell you that pure concentrated capsaicin is NOT a food; it is a dangerous chemical. I think these guys are irresponsible for putting it up in retail containers.

It isn't necessary, for one thing. No one can tell the difference between a hot habanero at 10,000 scoville and pure capsaicin at 100,000 because at this level all it is is painful. There's no flavor involved. What's the point?

In fact, the best use I've come up with for pure capsaicin was to mix a little of it with potting soil to keep my two dogs away from two new baby trees in my backyard. Worked like a charm!

As a food additive, though, forget it.

-Bill Bilbro-

Dear Bill,
Thanks for adding that.  It's interesting that you mention using it to keep the dogs away because I was trying to think of industrial uses for food that disqualifies it from still being considered food.  Pepper spray was all that came to mind.  Maybe vinegar?

May 10, |

It seems like there were a lot of rocks thrown in the blogging bee hive this weekend.  The one I think is most important is naturally the one getting the least hype, but that's part of the point.

Here's a bit of transparent reporting for you.  I began with this post by who seemed to be pursuing the women bloggers/link equality issue from , with particular attention to something called the AOTechnorati100, which seemed vaguely familiar to me because I'd just read Dave Winer ask for links to improve his standing on the .

Later I clicked this item on the same theme, again with an emphasis on "top" lists.

But it wasn't until I clicked the and read the comments that I understood the specific debate, and I think it may be the most important one in the blogosphere, more so than ethics or money making or journalism.

Because blogs are, almost by definition, a social tool, how popular and therefore how influential a blogger is stems directly from how well that blogger is able to cultivate relationships in the blogosphere.  Rare is the blogger who can attain any kind of readership without playing the link game.

But what's happening is that the link-rich end up getting link-richer, especially when there's such an emphasis on who's got the highest traffic and who's the most linked (yes, to some extent this blog is guilty of perpetuating the hierarchy).  Why would bloggers go through the trouble of tearing down the icons and pedestals of corporate media only to mainstream their own iconic figures?

Without going on a rant, there are some elements of blog culture (and maybe human culture) that undermine its own egalitarian nature.

Speaking of the A-list, tops every "most linked" list today.  After what seemed like an eternity of pre-launch hype folks are finally seeing what all the fuss is about.  Though it has detractors for not being interactive --and naturally the "" folks aren't impressed, it seemed everywhere I clicked today people were either liking it or liking hating it.

Seth Godin writes a mostly serious entry about what he calls .  Not only are there computer havers and computer have-not-ers, but there is a divide between the people who understand and utilize the suite of new tools the Internet has to offer, including blogs, and those who check their e-mail and the weather and know how to use Mapquest.  I think part of the struggle that mainstream/mass media is dealing with is how to address both sides of that divide.

Speaking of bridging divides, Dave Winer takes a run at listing "" between bloggers.  Though the list is meant to serve the cause of respectful disagreement, it didn't necessarily .  In the course of Dave (I don't actually know him, but since I'm linking to him so much in this post I feel like I'm on a first name basis) also outlines the "" social cancer infecting public discourse lately:

Most red state and blue state people can get along, even like each other, were it not for a very small number of people who won't let the conversation take place.

The above links came out of a blog conference in Nashville this weekend.  a pretty broad round-up, with video.

Speaking of uniting the blogosphere, did a pretty good job of that with his piece in the NYTimes calling for a set of blog ethics.  Unfortunately for Cohen, what united bloggers was their distain for his suggestion (actually for his whole argument).  saw the bulk of the rebuttal reference links.

Also in the Times, tries to throw some cold water on all the blog hype.  Does anyone know how long it usually takes for something to be introduced to the mainstream?  Is it just me or does it seem like it's taking a particularly long time for blogs?  Just when you think things are calming down, a new segment of the population is introduced to the tool and a whole new set of "blogs, short for Web logs" articles.

-- This is how I look in all my wedding photos.

National ID opponents are campaigning .  C|Net .

-- 16 would be getting the latest info.

Some folks are still trying to make a news story about but aren't getting much traction as far as I can tell.  I wonder if they'll manage to bring it to some critical mass by the 2006 elections.

Movie corner, three trailers I clicked today:

  • Hoo!  coming in November (movie, not book).  Here's the .  Parents may want to note the Halloween costume they're going to be buying/making next year.
  • trailer
  • And the movie (Is this really what the show was like?  How come I only remember the car, Roscoe and Flash the dog?)

Today's Video of the Day is a short inspired by Persian architecture.  After you watch it you can click through the guy's site to learn more about 3-D animation.

This anti-George Lucas rant has some spoilers about the new movie, but if you don't mind or you've already seen it, it's a pretty funny look at how Star Wars fans see the movie and the series as something that exists separate from its creator.  It's not yours George.  (, again, may reveal some things about the new movie.)

Web games -- Find out how little you know about the planet you live on.

", a master plot, for any 6000 word pulp story. It has worked on adventure, detective, western and war-air. It tells exactly where to put everything. It shows definitely just what must happen in each successive thousand words."

This makes me question at what point something stops being food.

More cool .  I say "more" because I remember clicking a sand sculpture site .

in one minute.  (...or however long it takes to read the instructions on how to use their little cheat chart.)

-- As I figure it, you click on a box on the bottom, that's an old song, so it shows you the new songs that use pieces of that old song.  Click on a box on the top, you're clicking a new song and it will show you the old songs it samples.  The whole thing is laid out over time, so you can see who sampled and got sampled over time.  Cool interactive.

Speaking of cool interactives, calls itself "a new way to look at search."  It took a long time to load on my machine.  I thought it was going to crash outright, but it was worth the wait, what a neat display.  Their didn't actually make any sense to me until I played with it.  I always test things like this with the search term "."

Speaking of searching, it's ironic that at the same time I click Grokker's cool way of displaying search, I also click that what "search" means to people is finally solidifying.  This is particularly important to user interface designers who have to know the answer to the question of what people expect when they use an online search tool. 

Stat junkies will love .  At least, liberal stat junkies will.  At first I thought it was just basic almanac data updating in real time, but as I read through some of the categories I got the feeling they're trying to make a political point.

Who would have thought there'd be so much mail about concrete?  Here are just a couple:


I saw your comment on "what we need is porous concrete..."  Well, it already exists.  In fact, Google(tm) it and you'll get a long string of citations.

Basically, it's a fairly "clean" mix of aggregate (read: pebbles) with lots of cement and not a lot of sand.  This makes is strong enough, but it will lack the filler between the rock.  Water does indeed flow through it relatively unimpeded.  It's colloquially called "popcorn" and works great as a base under, say, pavers.

It doesn't work so great under roadways or vehicular traffic.  It tends to lack the necessary strength, and - more importantly - would pass all the oils and other pollutants directly into the soil or groundwater.  It's generally considered a good idea to collect and treat this water before letting it out into the "natural" environment.  That being said, there are numerous examples of permeable pavements in use today. 

Just thought you might want to know.

P.S.  Thanks for calling it "concrete" and not "cement."

-Jay Shafer

Dear Dave and Jay,
Thanks for the feedback.  I just figured if porous concrete (or asphalt) existed we'd already be using it.  I didn't consider the complications involved.  I love the name "Pervious Pavement" though.  Anyone looking for a name for their rock band?