Sorry for the length of this one, this has been one of those weeks where I've had time for notes but no time to write them up.
Africans to Bono: 'For God's sake please stop!' This is a really long version of the "teach a man to fish" maxim. Interesting to hear about China's role in Africa.
Speaking of Africa, I don't recommend scam baiting unless you know what you're doing but they've got some really satisfying stories. There's a weird thread of sympathy for these scammers when they're humiliated by the baiters. Heck with that, they get no sympathy from me.
Speaking of the death of e-mail, "Pownce is a way to send messages, files, links, and events to your friends. You'll create a network of the people you know and then you can share stuff with all of them, just a few of them, or even just one other person really fast." What's drawing attention to it is that it's from Digg creator Kevin Rose. Particularly helpful, I found, is this comparison of Pownce with Twitter.
The reason I mention this in the context of e-mail is that a lot of people agree that e-mail is broken. Too much junk, too much wasted bandwidth. When RSS first appeared there was an idea that it would take the place of e-mail so you'd only get messages from people whose feeds you've added to your reader. Increasingly, IM and its variants like Twitter are looking like a good idea - still working from that list of trusted friends.
News of a Harry Potter worm is not really all that remarkable. I think it happens every time there's a new book. I will say that last time there was a new Potter book there were a few headlines about the eBook advocates taking turns typing it manually into a document and publishing it on the Web. I have one of those because I thought it would be cool to one day find a really fancy font and print the thing out a foot thick with a hand-made binding. Anyway, right now it's just a zip in a random folder on my desktop but I tell that story to point out that people do trade in digital bootleg Harry Potter books.
Speaking of writing books online, it seems the ultimate display of social media mob-wisdom to come up with system whereby the population of the Internet can write a book together, one word at a time, with each new word subject to a vote. Check out Add One Word to see how well it works. (Note: I'm being a little snide here. It doesn't work. The thing makes no sense and when it does make sense it's obscene.)
Speaking of the wisdom of the mob, Commuter Click: "A single ant or bee isn't smart, but their colonies are. The study of swarm intelligence is providing insights that can help humans manage complex systems, from truck routing to military robots."
Beach click: We are meant to be here - "People are not the result of a cosmic accident, but of laws of the universe that grant our lives meaning and purpose, says physicist Paul Davies." But apparently it's not an Intelligent Design argument either.
Speaking of books working in gray areas of religion, a new book called Mad Church Disease appears to be taking some parts of the Web by storm. From what I gather, it's about loving God (Christian, I think) but hating church.
Robert Novak Dishes on Valerie Plame and Hubby - Some sneak peeks at his forthcoming book.
I'm not so shocked by the Google/Sicko scandal, but that may be because I never really drank the "Google does no evil" Kool-aid. In short, an ad sales person at Google blogged that healthcare companies who feel maligned by Michael Moore's movie would do well to buy ads against Moore-related search terms so they might make their case against more to people who are searching for his movie. This sounds exactly like how ad sales people think, but I guess the idea that Google would offer its services in support of a greedy, corrupt industry push some people over the edge. The best thing to come of it is this handy Company Blogging 101 tip sheet about how not to create a scandal like this when posting to the company blog.
Speaking of making a fuss over Sicko, "Outside the restroom doors… the theater was in chaos. The entire Sicko audience had somehow formed an impromptu town hall meeting in front of the ladies room." I haven't seen the movie. Has anyone else experienced this at their theater?
Taking the top off a small cumulus cloud. These airplane cloud swirl photos are increasingly common online. I wonder if it has to do with more pilots carrying personal cameras.
I was catching up on my John from Cincinnati DVR and last week's episode ends with probably the best cover of Feelin' Good I've heard (with Nina Simone's version being the standard to beat). There are a lot of tepid versions of the song out there from jazz people who try to sing it pretty. One such version has been torturing me in an advertisement in heavy rotation on MSNBC lately. But it's not a pretty song, it's a butt-kicking energy triumph song. As should be the case with a good cover song, the HBO version (by a band called Muse) does something very different with it but does a good job preserving the energy.
Speaking of music, Starbucks creates an interesting ambivalence in people. I know in some parts of the country it's the only place to get good coffee. Where I live, there are indie coffee places everywhere, so I avoid Starbucks on principle - because I want my neighborhood to remain distinct in character. But how far does that principle extend? If an uncool place does cool things, does that make it cool or does it make the cool thing uncool? At one point in this Slate podcast about Starbucks CDs Culture Editor Julia Turner asks, "Do I need to feel ashamed of liking music that's spun regularly in Starbucks?"
(It's Feist's 1234 that creates the conflict for her.)
Flip is essentially useless but still strangely attractive. Enter some text and Flip turns it upside-down.
For the new Simpsons movie some 7-11 stores are being done up like Kwik-E-Marts. Folks online are delighting in this Flickr set. Here's a list to find the one nearest you - which may not be very near at all.
It's hard to say the blogosphere is contributing very much reporting to the terror situation in the UK. On one side some bloggers are taking this as an opportunity to highlight the indiscriminant danger of radical Islam. Others are focused on the lack of sophistication of the terrorists (How did these guys get to be doctors and yet be so lousy learning the chemistry of explosives?) and the contrast between how the matter is handled in the UK versus the US. Though it should be said, not everyone agrees the UK press has acted with restraint.
Oh, and there's this... "As at this very moment, 1729 hours BST, in the Paypal account are the names of one thousand and thirty five people who have paid their dues to Smeato." What? John Smeaton is an airport worker who helped police wrestle one of the Glasgow terrorists. There's a bit of a cultural gap that's leaving me feeling left out of the joke, but it appears that he's a pretty regular guy and folks are tickled to see so much attention on someone so pedestrian. The links page helps round out the picture.
Speaking of stupid terrorists, another good reason to wean off cars is that every wackadoo terrorist wannabe appears to be adopting the car-as-weapon strategy.
Speaking of cars as weapons, Car Crashes Kill 400 Times More Than Terrorism
Speaking of saving ourselves from cars, Hey America, Make With the !*~$ High-Speed Rail Already - This line is odd to me: "That the US lacks them is due neither to conspiracy nor accident." Considering how much the public would benefit from a quality rail system, the fact that we don't have one -on purpose- means the decision was made in consideration of someone's interests. To my mind, decisions like that are made by conspiracy lest the public realize what's going on. I'm open to dissuasion on this, however.
Speaking of getting around, how shoes ruin your feet and make you walk wrong.
Here's a classic "blogger beats MSM" story. Bob Owens read a story about beheadings in Iraq and didn't think the sourcing sounded very reliable. It wasn't, and ultimately he got the AP and Reuters to retract their stories.
Let there be web divisions - The overall point here is that companies either don't handle their own Web sites or they see it as an add-on to IT or marketing. From where I sit it can be easy to believe that everyone is busy integrating the Web into their lives and business. It's amazing how distant we really are from that being the case.
"Sony Italy is handing out fake books complete with fake hands to disguise PSP play from those pesky authority figures."
Europeans see US as threat to peace - I recognize that there's a lot of anti-Americanism in the world and I can even understand the opinion that a reckless U.S. would be dangerous to the world at large. But if only 32 percent think the U.S. is the biggest threat, isn't that a small number? That's not most Europeans. And that line about the youngest respondents isn't honest either. 35 percent of young Americans agree with 32 percent of Europeans? I wonder how small a number it would have taken for this story not to have been written. Again, I'm not trying to be a Bush defender here, I'm just saying those numbers don't mean to me what this article is trying to tell me they mean.
Alternatives to anti-homeless benches are benches that homeless people can actually sleep in/under. I have to think there are homeless advocates who aren't thrilled with the idea that rather than house the homeless we just give them better benches to sleep on or what looks like inflated garbage bags.
CNN tries to pull a fast one with their new redesign.
Speaking of silly news, "Police say they've collared the man they believe administered a fatal beating to a peacock because he thought it was a vampire." An easy mistake to make.
And finally... Ark. Cop Cleared of Choking Skateboarder - Basically they didn't think the cop used all that much force. So, with that matter settled, cops and skateboarders can live in peace forever... or can they?