I don't know if it's coincidence or if the Freakonomics guys wanted to arrive at the New York Times with a splash, but their two part series, If You Were a Terrorist, How Would You Attack? has really made some waves online. While it does seem taboo to speak so openly in a way that almost sounds like plotting terrorism as opposed to fighting it, it's hard to deny the obviousness of what they're saying. I completely agree about the effectiveness of the D.C. sniper (and it makes me nuts when people keep saying there have been no terror attacks on American soil since 9/11 when the anthrax letters and the sniper were pretty significantly terrifying events).
I often find myself muttering "who needs terrorists when..." about problems large and small that would have the country in paroxysms of panic if there was any terrorism associated with them. Most of the ideas in the comments of the blog have to do with planting bombs, but I often think that terrorists could just drive around in unreliable cars on highways, bridges and tunnels and bring the economy to a screeching crawl with the traffic they create when they break down.
Speaking of the thin line between writing about crime and committing it, Crime author charged with murder after the police read his perfect plot. Hmmm... this would make a good book.
Lately it seems like every time I link to a good old fashioned blog gotcha it's pointing to Confederate Yankee, so it may be time to stop thinking of this as a Web phenomenon and just give this guy some personal credit. In this case he's dogging that Beauchamp story and double-checking the double-checking the magazine did of Beauchamp's piece. What he finds is proof of the age-old truth that the answers you get depend on the questions you ask. To me, this item is particularly interesting in the context of the Google News comments story from yesterday. I wonder if this tank expert would qualify as a participant in the story. For that matter, I wonder how hard it would be to find another expert to contradict him. At which point I have a pretty good guess of how long it would take to for the whole thing to devolve into split screen counter-spinners like we see on cable news.
Speaking of pundit fodder, Blogger Finds Y2K Bug in NASA Climate Data - Like the above item, I like this one for they way the error was discovered. Scrolling through the partisan spinning in the comments is nothing short of dismaying, however.
New York Times court reporter refuses to appear on CSPAN - It feels like there's some subtext to this article but I don't know the people or setting involved well enough to pick up on it so I'll twist it for my own interpretive purposes instead: There's an emphasis in the article on the difference between speaking to a small audience and a national audience and the fact of having to "modulate" comments for a national audience. This points out an interesting contradiction in fashionable Web thought. On one hand it's very much out of fashion to imply that the unwashed masses are somehow not capable of understanding what is discussed among "insiders" of specific communities of interest. On the other hand, the whole point of the user generated content movement is that specific communities have better insight into their respective fields of expertise or experience so the media is well advised to be receptive to their contributions to coverage. So while mental alarms may sound when the actions of this report imply that she says one thing to her peers and another to the public, I don't really blame her. (Or maybe she just didn't want to be on TV.)
And just to cap the theme: Internet News Audience Highly Critical of News Organizations
"Virgin America launched its U.S. air service yesterday, and immediately staked a claim as the most geek-friendly airline yet invented." Did I miss the mainstream media coverage of this? The only thing I saw was that the first flight was delayed an hour because of weather. It seems like this is the kind of geek stuff that even non-geeks would be impressed with. Maybe Virgin didn't bother with much mainstream marketing, expecting online noise to do the work for them.
A TV-PC that helps you shave - It doesn't do the shaving, it turns into a mirror.
50 really good indie games - Some are free online. I see Flow on the list. I've wasted a shameful amount of time playing that thing.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt defines Web 3.0. Not the "semantic web" answer we usually hear.
The piss screen is a driving game controlled by urine streams on controllers in a urinal. The idea is that if you do poorly you shouldn't drive home -- or if you do, you shouldn't steer with your penis.
Scientists tattoo themselves with science.
Am I crazy or is this easy money? Google wants to pay you ten bucks a piece to enter your local businesses into their database. I could make a few hundred bucks just walking down the block.
Weirdo ice cream flavors - How do you say "Bertie Bott's" in Japanese?
How to make a tomato glow (and poisonous)
AT&T had already made a bad name for itself among techies when it announced that it would help scour bootleg movies from the Internet - their online standing already tainted by an earlier bit of net neutrality tap dancing - and of course the EFF lawsuit about AT&T spying on its customers for the NSA. The scab was picked again when it was announced that they'd be the exclusive service provider for the iPhone - and their subsequent performance did not put criticism to rest. And now they've been caught censoring criticism of President Bush in a Pearl Jam performance. They're working real hard to live up to that Death Star logo.
By the way, best anti-Bush Pearl Jam performance I know of is Masters of War on Letterman: