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(Dis)appointments

Josh Marshall and his Talking Points Memo Cafe are drawing attention to the turnover in offices of US Attorneys around the country.  "Okay, so we already know that the White House has now taken the unprecedented step of firing at least four and likely seven US Attorneys in the middle of their terms of office..."  Also:

What 1.2 Trillion can buy - In case the word "squander" wasn't already ringing in your head, the author outlines things the Iraq War cost could have bought.  There's a handy graphic if you don't feel like reading it.

Speaking of criticizing the war, what was the argument made by the anti-war left at the war's outset and has that argument been vindicated by the results we see?  The piece focuses on objections to preemptive/preventive war and decides that the failures in Iraq do not prove that attacking first is a bad idea.  Maybe, but it does prove the difficulty of assessing a threat and the cost of making the wrong assessment, which is ultimately the reason to reject preventive war.  If it was guaranteed to always be correct and always work, there wouldn't be any objection (on those grounds).

Speaking of looking back at the history of the lefty blogosphere, MyDD looks back on a graph of pundit blog linking patterns in the few months before the 2004 election and speculates on what such a graph would look like now for bloggers on the left.  It might get a little more specific than most people care about, but if you're interested in political anthropology (digital political ethnography?) this and the related links make for some essential reading.

Speaking of thought provoking MyDD posts, this one tallying blog and media mentions of potential presidential candidates is fun to digest.  The more free media you get, the less your campaign has to spend to get your name out.

I don't think this LonelyGirl show gets near enough credit as an online serial.  I know video blogs get their fair share of hype, but a long running serialized fictional drama online for free with a huge following is pretty unique.  It's remarkable that no mainstream site has come up with a Web soaps concept.

You've seen this on TV, but kudos to KING TV for offering this with natural sound in full screen with just a little logo in the corner.  No TV anchor talking over it making stupid puns, no loops of just the dramatic parts, no setting it in a TV graphic fake computer browser.  (Oh, it's the video of cars skidding on icy roads.)

Speaking of rubbernecking, The Jawa Report finds yet another Saddam execution video.  This one is after the event, when his body is put into an ambulance and taken away.  No blood or anything, just him in a white sheath, his head exposed.  There's so much amateur video of this you'd think he'd been executed in Times Square.

Geni is a new cool family tree maker.  The idea is really neat.  You start with your name and your e-mail address and add the names and e-mails of the family you know.  When you add their e-mail they're invited to add to the tree.  Hopefully they know some family members you don't, and the tree grows.  From there you can flesh out the profiles to share more information with your family.  There's a note in the "about" demo about the tree being private.  One of the most forehead-slapping personal security tips I ever read pointed out that people who build family trees on public sites are publicizing their mother's maiden name or the mother's maiden name of other family members.  What does the credit card company ask on the phone when they verify your account?  You mother's maiden name.

More on the legacy of Robert Anton Wilson.

Wrong winner chosen twice by same voting machine - Hey, what are they doing reporting on voting machines?  We're not supposed to worry about that until the week before the election when it suddenly becomes clear we have a broken system.  (As for the actual story, it's more reasoning than hard proof and has to do with an unusually large number of people in very specific districts deciding not to vote in the main race of the local election.)

100 impressions in four minutes.  Some are better than others.  Once the vicarious embarrassment wore off the most dazzling thing was the array of characters.

The 250 in this headline refers to the 250 km/h speed at which the car hit the bird, which looks like it may have been a chicken.  NOTE:  Since I've learned that some readers like to pick apart the URLs of some of these links, I'll add that I did so with this one and did end up clicking one thinly covered image of an erect penis.  However, enduring that did bear fruit.  Carved fruit to be exact.  Unless you speak the language, play this click roulette at your own risk.

3D morphable model face animation - I'm not sure what the source of this is, it's basically a software demo.  Amazing stuff.  Plus, we learn that if Tom Hanks lost a lot of weight he'd become Michael Stipe.

Fighting the Front - This is an account of a protest staged in Second Life against a conservative French political party at their virtual headquarters.  Though I should caution you that you may suffer a strain from rolling your eyes, it's still pretty interesting.  Plus, after reading the entry I popped open SL and went to Porcupine to check it out.  There are still some protest signs spinning in the air.

Eye-contact device for webcams - It takes the image of the person you're talking to and reflects it on a mirror in front of the lens of your Web cam.  So when you talk to their image, you're looking directly into the camera without having to feel like you're talking to a camera.

Would legalizing (or actually licensing) opium in Afghanistan solve the drug problem there?

Hacking TiVo: 23 Tips to Turbocharge Your DVR - Includes links to assorted tips and tricks from around the Web.  NOTE:  I have not tried any of them and I have little doubt that screwing around with your DVR is not welcomed by any official company involved.  I'm linking because it's cool to see what could be done (and probably will become available commercially eventually).

Speaking of cool stuff I haven't tried, "Packet Garden captures information about how you use the internet and uses this stored information to grow a private world you can later explore."  If it looks like the IT guys are in a good mood tomorrow I'll try to install this on my work machine.

"iJigg is the place for you to find those rare addictive tunes from musicians worldwide."  I'm not sure what the restrictions are but I'm enjoying playing with it, particularly the quick load time of the songs.  I read in the blog that they're working on playlists, but in the mean time, quick load time means it's not that big a deal to flip over to that tab in the browser and click the next song that strikes your fancy.

"How to enter this highly creative flow state, the state where you lose all sense of time, your ego vanishes, and you become one with the task in front of you."  (Seven rules)

Eyebrow raising tales of a young man's Burger King employment.  Perhaps even weirder than the stories is the fact that it's in a bodybuilding forum and they appear to say "reps" as an expression of showing approval.

Speaking of exercise (well, almost), remember the guy who was going to try to lose weight playing with his Wii?  He's reached the six week mark and shares his results - a nine pound loss.

Commuter Click: "In the bedroom, Natalia was a superstar, an escort in demand by Wall Street traders and NFL quarterbacks alike. Her boss, Jason Itzler, who called himself the "King of All Pimps," wanted to turn his brothel into a Playboy-style national empire, with Natalia as its crown jewel—and his wife. A love story."  The thing clicks through 12 pages (talk about click whoring!) but the first page was good so I'll print it and read it on the bus.

A round-up of Sci Fi Channel shows in development.  I should disclose that NBCU owns Sci Fi and is a partner in MSNBC.com.  I actually know a guy who went over to work for the Sci Fi Web site, but I haven't talked to him in a while.