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25/06/08 - 30/06/08

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Snuffy Smith Defends McCain, Denounces Clark
By Tommy Christopher (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/30/2008 4:03:00 AM

Filed under: Republicans, Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 President Barney Google, however, could not be reached for comment. As reported here by Mark Impomeni, General Wesley Clark made several references to John McCain's military service on yesterday's "Face the Nation." The McCain campaign released the following statement, via email: ARLINGTON, VA -- Admiral Leighton "Snuffy" Smith, USN (Ret.) today issued the following statement on Gen. Wesley Clark's attack on John McCain's military service record today on CBS' "Face the Nation": "If Barack Obama wants to question John McCain's service to his country, he should have the guts to do it himself and not hide behind his campaign surrogates. If he expects the American people to believe his pledges about a new kind of politics, Barack Obama has a responsibility to condemn these attacks." It is unclear, at this time, whether John McCain was standing directly behind Smith, shouting, "Yeah!" Was General Clark out of line? Does Barack Obama have the "guts" to question John McCain's military record? Which

candidate does Beetle Bailey support? Update: Barack Obama addressed the issue, if obtusely, in today's speech on patriotism: For those who have fought under the flag of this nation - for the young veterans I meet when I visit Walter Reed; for those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country - no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides. First of all, I don't think anyone would argue that General Wesley Clark lacks standing to discuss McCain's military service, which is exactly the point of Smith's statement. Is it a fair topic of discussion during a political campaign? All things being equal, I would say no, but if McCain raises the issue, that's a different story. You know, like when he didn't support Jim Webb's GI Bill, and had this to say: I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did. Now, of course, if you're John McCain, you want to be able to wield your military service for political gain, while forbidding anyone to examine it. It is up to the news media to referee that fight. First of all, does what Clark said

constitute an "attack?" Here's the text quoted in the McCain email:· Clark: "I don't think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 6/29/08) · Clark: "He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That

large squadron in the Navy that he commanded -- that wasn't a wartime squadron." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 6/29/08) Hey, your mother's not a wartime squadron! True, his first statement is inartful and, perhaps, dismissive, but hardly the stuff of " Swiftboating." In fact, perhaps Clark should be commended for omitting that crashing 4 other planes is not qualification

to become president. On the other hand, the statements by Clark are bad politics. I understand the aim here. McCain's last shred of hope in this election rests on his heroic, tough guy image. He needs to be able to run around saying, "I'm a hero!" while preventing anyone from saying, "You're not running for Hero!" Clark tries to deflate the significance of the McCain Myth, but he also punctures the myth itself. He would have done better to stick with his candidate's strategy of praising McCain's service, then pointing to his platform. There are plenty of outsiders working on exploding the myth. The Obama response to this will be important to watch. The predictable response would be to denounce Clark's statement, while praising both men for their service. However, if Obama can somehow make McCain sorry he bit at this, it could set the table for the rest of this election. The Obama campaign has not returned requests for comment, as yet. Obama is giving a speech about patriotism today, in Independence, MO. Expect Obama to address this issue then. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

'When Does Life Begin' - New FRC Video
By Greg McNeilly (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/30/2008 12:44:00 AM

Filed under: Barack Obama, Ads, 2008 President The Family Research Council(a pro-family lobbyist group), launched a :30 ad titled "When Does Life Begin." They

report to have placed the spot on cable TV. The size of the broadcast or cable buy is not reported. The video features the organization's president Tony Perkins and his son Samuel. The out-of-context use of Barack Obama's word's used in juxtaposition to an

important moral question is clever. And, while not in the context of abortion, I'm sure no one in the Obama campaign will dispute his opposition to protecting unborn babies. If this ad actually made TV air time, I suspext most voters would be left

wondering who is this middle-aged white guy with a baby on his lap. As a prop, using an unknown personality with a title from a group is fairly distracting and ineffective. I dont' recall seeing the heads of the NRA, SEIU, Teamsters, NEA or the UAW in their ads of late.

Yet, the video stil posses a great question. One that I doubt we'll see the Obama handlers allow at any of his public staged events. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

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Congress OKd Covert Action in Iran
By Liza Porteus Viana (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/30/2008 2:10:00 AM

Filed under: Bush Administration, Senate, House, Iran, 2008 President A New Yorker magazine article out today, citing current and former military, intelligence and congressional sources, says Congress late last year agreed to a request from President Bush to fund up to $400 million for a major escalation of covert operations against Iran to destabilize the country's religious leadership and gather intel about its suspected nuclear-weapons program. The ops were described in a highlyclassified Presidential Finding signed by Bush. While clandestine operations against Iran aren't new, the New Yorker says the scale and scope of the operations, which involve the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded. The magazine says some Finding details are sketchy, and some congressional leaders are questioning what exactly they agreed to. Covert intel operations Findings must be disclosed to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of the intelligence committees, so money can be shuffled around as needed. The part of this story

that cries hypocrisy is that it says even though some lawmakers were troubled by parts of the Finding, the money was still approved. The article notes: Some members of the Democratic leadership-Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections-were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party's presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy. "It's the Democrats [leaders] in Congress who basically looked the other way and said, 'take the money and run' - they did not stop this money," Hersh told CNN last night. Video is below, more after the jump. Apparently some Dems now think their understanding of what the new ops entail could be different from the White House's, and one source said the oversight process has been "coopted" by the administration. "The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we're authorizing," the source said. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., said that the administration had once promised to keep Congress better informed about clandestine military activities, but that's not happening. "I suspect there's something going on, but I don't know what to believe. Cheney has always wanted to go after Iran, and if he

had more time he'd find a way to do it. We still don't get enough information from the agencies, and I have very little confidence that they give us information on the edge," Obey told the article's author, Seymour Hersh. The article says there's a split between the military and civilian communities about whether military action against Iran is necessary - even some military leaders have said diplomacy is a much better option. Adm. William Fallon, who was the head of U.S. Central Command before he resigned in March, told Hersh that he had heard people in the White House were upset by his public statements opposing an attack on Iran, but inferred that the attitude toward Iran at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue isn't a constructive one. "Too many people believe you have to be either for or against the Iranians," he said. "Let's get serious. Eighty million people live there, and everyone's an individual. The idea that they're only one way or another is nonsense." On what he thought of the Iraq war, Fallon said: "Did I bitch about some of the things that were being proposed? You bet. Some of them were very stupid." Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Army Report: Iraq Occupation Understaffed
By Mark Impomeni (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/30/2008 4:30:00 AM

Conservatives Warming to McCain?
By Dave (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/30/2008 1:15:00 AM

Filed under: John McCain, 2008 President, Supreme Court Yes, there is a little bit of a thaw, as this article at the Politico points out: "Conservatives have been comfortable with assurances that I've given them and Sen. Brownback has given them," said Olson. A factor that weighs heavily in McCain's favor is his Senate record. Judicial issues haven't been his trademark, but he has consistently supported conservative Supreme Court nominees. In 1987 he spoke on behalf of embattled Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork,

saying he supported him "without any hesitation." In recent years McCain has voted for every one of Bush's judicial nominees. "He voted for Alito and Roberts despite the fact that he had to know they would vote to strike down McCain-Feingold," said Levey. "That addresses the concern that he might not appoint strict constructionist judges who are more likely to oppose McCain-Feingold." While it's helpful to point that out, it doesn't do that much for me. The fact is, that supporting the president's appointments to the Supreme Court is the very least that should be expected from a Republican senator, it would be unthinkable if he didn't. Roberts was

confirmed by 78 senators out of a 100 and all Republicans. Alito drew one Republican defection, Lincoln Chaffee, who later on became officially the Democrat he already was. So yeah, no points from me for McCain's stock vote on the Supreme Court. Far more important was his service as part of the gang of 14 to derail many of the Bush appointees in trade for Democrats willingness to appoint a few. And it's exactly that crossing the aisle trademark that has conservatives edgy. Oh they'll come around, but warm is a relative term. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Filed under: President Bush, Bush Administration, Featured Stories, Iraq A 700-page study of the Iraq war and its aftermath by the United States Army released yesterday concludes that the postwar occupation phase of the conflict suffered from under-staffing and from incorrect assumptions by commanders as to just what the Army's role would be. "Few commanders foresaw that full spectrum operations in Iraq would entail the simultaneous employment of offense, defense, stability, and support operations by units at all echelons of command to defeat new, vicious, and effective enemies. [The] post-war situation in Iraq was severely out of line with the suppositions made at nearly every level before the war." That means that the Army was operating in a "liberate and go home" mindset in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in Baghdad, and expected Iraqis to take control of the country in very short order. Critics of the Bush Administration's prewar planning will seize on the report's conclusions as proof that the president led the nation to war without adequate preparations for the aftermath. That charge

is necessarily informed by hindsight, however. Everyone agrees that the postwar occupation plan turned out to be insufficient to handle the conditions in the country, but that is not proof that there was no plan. Criticism of the Administration's reaction to events after the war is more accurate. Widespread looting and general lawlessness in the days after the fall of Baghdad was not immediately suppressed, for example. And the decisions by Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer to officially disband the Iraqi Army and bar former Baath Party members from civil service positions led to high unemployment and provided an opening for the Sunni insurgency to take root. Despite past mistakes, however, the change in strategy that the president ordered at the beginning of 2007, the troop surge, the Anbar Awakening, Gen. David Petraeus's brilliant leadership, and the growth and maturity of the Iraqi government has set Iraq on a path for real success in the months and years ahead. But the report is a useful exercise. Lessons learned from the report will help the United States military, its commanders, and civilian leaders adjust tactics for future armed conflicts. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

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3

Jim Gibbons Is America's Worst Governor
By Ken Layne (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 6:43:00 PM

Filed under: Republicans, Featured Stories, Scandal, Ken Layne's Outrage Have you heard of Governor Jim Gibbons? Unless you live in Nevada, chances are you don't know about this insane doofus and his pathetic, philandering "personal" life -- which is nothing but a very public, very shameful series of alcoholic altercations and battles with his soon-to-be ex-wife Dawn. The hilarious thing about Gibbons is that he has absolutely no "saving grace." He was never a talented politician like Bill Clinton, he has no legislative achievements, his silly speeches are plagiarized, and his smug stupidity is legendary in the Silver State. The longtime do-nothing congressman won the Nevada governorship after one of the most dismal campaigns in American History, notable only for the story of his drunken rampage against a cocktail waitress in a Las Vegas parking garage weeks before the election. Dingbat Jim is in the news again, just when the political world needs a laugh. Since his swearing in -- a corrupt and paranoid midnight affair held in his Reno living room -- Governor Gibbons has shown utter ignorance of Nevada governance. Whether it's education or energy, he doesn't understand his own administration's policies. He doesn't even know the people who run his administration, having infamously been unable to name his Turkish-born energy adviser, Hatice Gecol, because she was"Indian." As a half-dozen major corruption scandals continue to haunt him and the FBI continues to investigate the kickbacks he received from Nevada businessmen, Gibbons has provided non-stop burlesque

Bill Clinton Mad
in the form of his second marriage, to former state legislator Dawn Gibbons. Dawn now lives in the Governor's Mansion, in Carson City, and won't budge. Gibbons is back at his house in Reno. Their divorce proceedings became public last month, via lurid legal complaints by Dawn, while even more evidence of Drunken Jim's running around was found in hundreds of lewd text messages he sent to the mobile phone of one of his many special lady friends. What can the governor with 20% approval ratings -- lower than George W. Bush! -- do for an encore? Be photographed in the parking lot of the Reno Rodeo canoodling with a woman who, twenty years ago, was naked in Playboy magazine, that's what! The Nevada Appeal sent someone to the rodeo to take pictures of cowboys and their beloved cows. But in the parking lot, the photographer found a more interesting subject: Jim Gibbons humping on some gal who wasn't his wife, again. Already despised by both parties in Nevada's legislature thanks to his awful handling of the state's budget nightmare, Gibbons' latest public idiocy could only be made worse by Gibbons' own mouth. This was his bizarre explanation for groping this latest lady in public: Gibbons explained to reporters that he was just hugging his special lady friend and it certainly wasn't romantic, because if there's anything that "takes the romance out of a friendship, it's being there when her child is born. I held her hand when her child was born." WTF? Ken Layne is the managing editor of Wonkette. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

By Dave (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 1:03:00 PM

Filed under: Barack Obama, 2008 President, Bill Clinton Wow: Mr Obama is expected to speak to Mr Clinton for the first time since he won the nomination in the next few days, but campaign insiders say that the former president's future campaign role is a "sticking point" in peace talks with Mrs Clinton's aides. The Telegraph has learned that the former president's rage is still so great that even loyal allies are shocked by his

patronising attitude to Mr Obama, and believe that he risks damaging his own reputation by his intransigence. A senior Democrat who worked for Mr Clinton has revealed that he recently told friends Mr Obama could"kiss my ass" in return for his support. You stay classy, Mr. Ex-President. Now what do you think are the chances of Obama doing anything like this. I'm pretty sure his response would be, "You first, Bill." Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

'Seal' - New McCain Video
By Greg McNeilly (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 12:32:00 PM

Filed under: Ads, John McCain, 2008 President John McCain's campaign

released a :30 web video titled "Seal." Essentially, its message is that the only "change" Barack Obama will bring is Photoshoped. Hitting Obama for being faux change is a

fair and important point. It's difficult to imagine a critical thinker actually envisioning any positive change - or anything but the staus quo with new marketing - from Barack Obama.

But let's face it, this web video "Seal" from the McCain folks is silly and stupid. It doesn't really make the point. It's done inartfully. It's sophomoric.

Hopefully, the next time, their message won't get in the way of their art. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

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Clark Takes Swipe at McCain's POW Captivity
By Mark Impomeni (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 5:00:00 PM

The week in preview: End of the quarter earnings
By Trey Thoelcke (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 5:30:00 AM

Filed under: Barack Obama, John McCain, Featured Stories, 2008 President Appearing on CBS's Face the Nation, Barack Obama supporter General Wesley Clark, the former supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe and former Democratic presidential candidate, made some particularly vicious remarks about Sen. John McCain's fitness to be president. Clark, speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign, questioned whether McCain's military experience was sufficient to qualify him for president. Clark said of the 23-year Navy veteran, "He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded - that wasn't a wartime squadron." But Clark's most controversial comment referred to McCain's imprisonment in North Vietnam's Hanoi Hilton. Clark ventured that McCain's experience as a prisoner of war should not be a qualification for office. "I don't think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president." The McCain campaign released a statement from Admiral Leighton Smith, the former commander of allied naval forces in Europe, focusing not on Clark, but on Sen. Obama. "If [Sen. Obama] expects the American people to

believe his pledges about a new kind of politics, Barack Obama has a responsibility to condemn these attacks." This is not the first time that an Obama supporter has made mention of McCain's military career as a way of questioning his fitness for office. In May, Obama supporter Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said that McCain's military experience was properly viewed as a dis-qualifier for the office of president rather than a resume enhancement. "He's running for

commander in chief, and our Constitution says that should be a civilian," he said. Prior to that, Obama supporter Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said in April that McCain's particular military experience, as a Navy aviator, may have made him callous towards people. "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet," he said. "He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues." Rockefeller later apologized. But Clark's comments stand out as perhaps the most despicable of all the attacks on McCain's service record. He at once implies that McCain was a substandard pilot, by noting that he was shot down in action; and disparages his five and one half years of service to the country as a POW. Clark's logic necessarily discounts the torture McCain endured and the heroism he displayed during his captivity. The comments do not detract from McCain's service, but they do make Wesley Clark, and by extension Sen. Obama, look very small by comparison. Clark will most likely issue an apology to McCain, and perhaps to Obama for the damage his obnoxious statement has done to the Obama campaign. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Filed under: Earnings reports, Forecasts, Ford Motor (F), H and R Block (HRB), Family Dollar Stores (FDO), Economic data Given that it's the end of the quarter, as well as the U.S. Independence Day holiday on Friday, next week looks to be pretty quiet as far as earnings go. But there are a few things of note. Tax preparation company H&R Block(NYSE: HRB) is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth-quarter results Monday after market close. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial on average expect the company to report net income of $2.03 per share on revenue of $2.5 billion. That's an increase of more than 10% over EPS a year ago. H&R Block has tended to fall short of estimates recently, and rival Jackson Hewitt(NYSE: JTX) missed its EPS estimates earlier this month. Still, analysts recommend buying HRB. Shares have risen 12.1% year to date, and the long-term EPS growth forecast is 11.7%. Alcoholic beverage maker and distributor Constellation Brands(NYSE: STZ) is scheduled to report its fiscal firstquarter results Tuesday morning. Analysts are looking for earnings of 31 cents per

share, up 32.3% from the same period of the previous year, on revenue of $906.1 million. Constellation has tended toward positive surprises recently, by 8 cents, or 33.8%, in the previous quarter. However, analysts recommend holding STZ and have for more than 90 days., even though the long-term EPS growth forecast is 12.3%. Although shares have risen 9.0% in the past three months, they are down 16.8% year to date. Phoenix-based education company Apollo Group(NASDAQ: APOL) is scheduled to report its fiscal third-quarter results late Tuesday. Analysts on average are expecting the company to report net income of 78 cents per share -- the same as in the year ago period -- on revenue of $806.9 million. When it comes to meeting expectations, lately Apollo has a mixed record-- it fell short by 11 cents, or more than 20%, in the previous quarter. Analysts recommend buying APOL and have for more than 90 days. The long-term EPS growth forecast is 14.0%. Though shares have risen 4.2% in the past three months, they are down 31.6% year to date. Continue reading The week in preview: End of the quarter earnings Permalink| Email this| Comments

Sunday Funnies: Analyst -- VLO up 61.5% in next 12 months
By Sheldon Liber (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 6:40:00 AM

Filed under: Rants and raves, Valero Energy (VLO), Sunday Funnies A few days ago I posted Chasing Value: Valero -- when is a downgrade an upgrade? and since then I have become even more disturbed with our government and the stock analysts, as well as the companies they represent. Eitan Bernstein, an analyst with Friedman, Billings,

Ramsey & Co downgraded his expectations for the major oil refiners Wednesday and lowered his price target for Valero Energy(NYSE: VLO) from $77 to $65. How can this be? The stock was trading around $40 per share and closed Friday at $39.96. As a shareholder who has watched this stock go down, any signs of optimism have to be welcome I suppose, but what in the world is this guy saying. He is saying he has concerns about the sector, but

believes VLO will be 61.5% higher this time next year any way! This makes no sense. He can't be too concerned, can he? If you believed him you would buy all the VLO shares you could get hold of -- and so would he! Maybe he did? Or maybe he is trying to pump up the stock to help a big client? Or maybe he is clueless and does not know what he is talking about? What might his e -mails reveal? Anyone can predict anything, and they

have a right to be an idiot, but what responsibility does he have to eat his own cooking? VLO started the year near a high that is between Bernstein's old and new projections, and I for one have hopes of it rebounding, but I do not have the level of certainty to broadcast such an exact figure. What is the purpose? The change in his projections of 15.5% is indicative of the silliness of this analysis. We have seen this before and will see it again ... so buyer beware.

Sheldon Liber is the CEO of a small private investment company and the principal for design and research at an architecture & planning firm. He writes the columns Chasing Value and Serious Money. DISCLOSURE: I currently own shares of VLO. . Permalink| Email this| Comments

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5

Chimps and Chumps
By Justin Paulette (Political Machine)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 10:21:00 PM

The next Sony is Vizio
By Georges Yared (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 9:00:00 AM

Filed under: Foreign Policy Spain's socialist government- which has in recent years abandoned the Catholic Church, imposed gay marriage and cowered before world terrorism - has now charged ahead as the flag-bearer of a novel monstrosity of confused and distorted liberal philosophy. Though it bristles with outrage that Spaniards still cling to the Catho-superstitious notions that a 9 month child-in-the-womb might dare apply for the human right of life, the Spanish government has gleeful proclaimed the inalienable "human rights" to life and liberty ... of apes. Legislation expected to pass in the near future would ban the use of apes in circuses and film (dashing the dreams of aspiring primate actors everywhere). More alarmingly, the law would also prohibiting all forms of animal testing (producing hopeful glances from Reese's monkeys, whose contributions to the polio vaccination will likely earn them a national day of mourning and a Holocaust-style Museum of Remembrance). Zoos will be permitted to retain their primate population, but the latter must immediately be provided with basic cable and weekly conjugal visits from the neighboring urang -utans. (Note: The union of Spanish fighting bulls is expected to appeal for similar rights as soon as they evolve opposable thumbs.) As a vegetarian of 12 years, who refrained from eating meat produced in

industrial farms due to moral disagreement concerning the treatment of animals therein, I deeply sympathize with Spain's underlying motivation. However, the philosophical error which has inspired this legislation is an inability to distinguish humanity from the animal kingdom. Human rights extend from the peculiar claim of humanity to intellectual reason and moral consciousness - perhaps more properly referenced as the soul, the image of God. If reduced to mere physical constructs, humanity would differ from animals only in degrees of genetic faculty. Absent an appreciation of humanity's distinction, house-cats might be

institutionalized for bad behavior and bugzappers may become the moral equivalent of landmines. Animals do not possess rights, save insofar as human responsibilities toward them may be so construed. The rights and responsibilities accorded to humanity reflect the dues and duties demanded by our unique nature. Spain's legislative apotheosis of primates may prove the first attempt to establish a sub-species of humanity. Permalink| Email this| Linking Blogs| Comments

Filed under: Forecasts, Consumer experience, Competitive strategy, Dell (DELL), Wal-Mart (WMT), Sony Corp ADR (SNE), Circuit City Stores (CC), Sears Holdings (SHLD), Costco Wholesale (COST) This post is part of my series featuring established companies and the smaller, more aggressive or innovative rivals that may eventually succeed them. Who would have thought that privately held, 2002 upstart Vizio could upset the LCD TV market and knock giant Sony(NYSE: SNE) off of its perch? The world of televisions is transforming itself to flat-panel, high-definition and big screens. Vizio was founded in 2002 and is taking major market share from Sony and former second fiddle Samsung. Vizio's promise to its customers is simple -- small is big. The company has only 85 employees, mostly in sales and marketing, and outsources the manufacturing to other suppliers. The key to the Vizio story is getting the product through as many retail doors as possible. The company has signed up a couple of big wigs in the retail sales channel: WalMart(NYSE: WMT) and Costco(NASDAQ: COST), to go along with Sears(NASDAQ: SHLD) and Circuit City(NYSE: CC). Vizio is also available from Dell Computers e-commerce web site (NASDAQ: DELL). Vizio understands it's all about distribution, distribution, distribution. Vizio has taken the marketing position

that television decisions typically are the domain of the male of a household and, as such, has partnered up with the NFL. Football and big screen TVs are synonymous. Vizio has signed All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers to be its spokesperson. Tomlinson is regarded as both a fine gentleman and perhaps the greatest running back since Barry Sanders. His wholesome image is magical to Vizio's marketing program. Continue reading The next Sony is Vizio Permalink| Email this| Comments

Big company, small town: McIlhenny Co., Avery Island, Louisiana
By Kevin Shult (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 10:10:00 AM

Filed under: Products and services, Consumer experience, Marketing and advertising This post is part of our Big Company, Small Town series, featuring large companies and the small towns in which they are headquartered. In a remote section of Louisiana, nearly 140 miles west of New Orleans, lies the land of Tabasco. Avery Island is home to

McIlhenny Co., the family owned and operated makers of Tabasco since 1868. The island is home to only 160 residents, mainly McIlhenny workers, as well as the McIlhenny family. Paul McIlhenny, the current president, is the sixth McIlhenny to continue the Tabasco legacy of its founder, Edmund McIlhenny. McIlhenny Co. is a leader in hot sauce products, labeled in 22 languages and dialects, and is sold in more than 160 nations. According to Jeffrey Rothfeder, author of McIlhenny's Gold: How a

Louisiana Family Built the Tabasco Empire, the private company earns nearly $250 million in annual revenues. In

addition to Tabasco, McIlhenny also cobrands and produces various forms of products, from salsas and Tabasco lollipops to cookbooks and clothing. They even make a 1-gallon glass jug of Tabasco for all of those who can't get enough of the hot sauce. This spicy condiment can be found in millions of restaurants around the globe, in soldiers' rations overseas, and is proudly used in my kitchen. Two of the three main ingredients of Tabasco -- Avery Island salt and Capsicum frutescens peppers -- are found on the

island. The pepper sauce is still made practically the same way it was 140 years ago, except the aging process has been extended to three years, not 60 days. Continue reading Big company, small town: McIlhenny Co., Avery Island, Louisiana Permalink| Email this| Comments

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The next Applebee's is BJ's Discover Financial looks Restaurant and Brewery for some credit from investors
By Georges Yared (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 5:00:00 AM

Taking Suggestions: What Else Should We Ban While Driving?
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 12:33:00 PM

Filed under: Forecasts, Products and services, Consumer experience, Competitive strategy This post is part of my series featuring established companies and the smaller, more aggressive or innovative rivals that may eventually succeed them. Applebee's is the largest casual dining restaurant chain in the United States, with nearly 2,000 units spread out over 49 states. Applebee's changed its formal name back in 1986 to Applebee's Neighborhood Bar and Grill to give it a local appeal. In November 2007, International House of Pancakes -- IHOP -- now formally known as DineEquity, (NYSE: DIN) bought out Applebee's for $2.1 billion. It's hard to imagine Applebee's and IHOP as DineEquity! The casual dining sector is embracing a newer player with aspirations of a national roll out. That player is BJ's Restaurant and Brewery(NASDAQ: BJRI) based in Huntington Beach, California. BJ's offers an on-site brewery with its own beer recipes or a trusted third party's recipe.The chain serves gourmet salads, steaks, chops, fish, poultry and several other popular dishes. It also makes superb deep-dish pizza for both in-house dining and carry out. BJ's has 72 units in the chain spread over 13 states with enormous room to grow.

By Tom Taulli (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 4:40:00 AM

Being a California-based company, BJ's stronghold is California, but the concept has become popular in key restaurant markets like Florida and Arizona. The casual nature of the chain has an appeal in many large markets not yet penetrated. BJ's has yet to open a unit in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Georgia or Tennessee. Continue reading The next Applebee's is BJ's Restaurant and Brewery Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Earnings reports It's been about a year since Discover Financial Services(NYSE: DFS) became a public company. Unfortunately, the stock performance has been miserable -- going from $31 to $13.57. Yet, the company keeps making money. In the latest quarter, Discover posted net income of $234 million, or $0.48 per share, which compares to $209.2 million, or $0.44 per share in the same period a year ago. The company got a boost from its unloading of its Goldfish card division (a UK credit card company). No doubt, Discover must deal with the slowing U.S. economy. But, the good news is that the company has been relatively conservative with its credit standards and has long-time customers (which helps provide more stability). However, there is

still a rise in delinquencies and chargeoffs. For example, overdue loans (for the past 30 days) has gone from 2.71% to 3.54% over the past year. Now, Discover does have key asset advantage; that is, it operates its own processing network. This is certainly a solid business as people increasing use credit cards and other electronic payments. In fact, Discover recently purchased Diner's Club International, which also has its own processing network. Unfortunately, Wall Street isn't interested. The belief is that -- as the economy remains sluggish -- there is likely to be a drag on the growth of Discover. Tom Taulli is the author of various books, including The Complete M&A Handbook and The Edgar Online Guide to Decoding Financial Statements. He also operates MergerBook.com. Permalink| Email this| Comments

With California's law banning driving while talking on a mobile phone without a handsfree device set to take effect next week, the author of the original bill is already working on a followup to ban driving-while-texting as well. He says this is necessary because driving-while-texting "wasn't an issue" when the original bill was put forth. Of course, there are an unlimited number of different driving distractions -- so if we really need to come up with a law for all of them, why don't we put our heads together to come up with a list. After all, we've already heard of worries that involve driving while using a laptop, driving while using OnStar, driving while faxing(which also includes something about driving while playing a video game). And, of course, everyone's favorite: driving while having sex. Rather than coming up with all these laws banning each particular action, why not recognize that you can't ban stupidity, and just focus on already existing laws against reckless driving? If you're doing something other than driving that puts others at danger, that should be plenty. We shouldn't need a list of "banned" activities while driving. We should just be focused on teaching people to actually drive when they're driving. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

California drivers go hands-free: Will it mean anything?
By Tom Taulli (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 6:10:00 AM

Filed under: Industry, Law, Technology Driving on the LA freeways yesterday, there was a message on the periodic amber signs. That is, drivers will need to use hands-free mobile devices if they want to talk on their cell phones. And, yes, it's caused a stir (LA folks love their cars and cell phones -- hey, it's a lifestyle here). At the same time, I've

almost got into a few accidents because of another driver's cell phone use (and, in some cases, texting). But, will the new California law make any difference? Well, according to a piece in the Daily Breeze, the answer may be: it depends. For example, Larry Rosen, who is a psychology professor at the California State University, Dominguez Hills, believes that the law doesn't address the core problem. Basically, cell phone use --

whether hands-free or not -- is a distraction (known as "inattention blindness"). Of course, there are a variety of studies on the topic. Unfortunately, the conclusions are mixed. In other words, it's

pretty tough to isolate cause-and-effect on a large scale. There is one thing that's certain: the new law should result in a boost in hands-free device sales by such makers as

Motorola(NYSE: MOT) and Nokia(NYSE: NOK). So, to learn more about the new law, you can check out CA Hands-Free. Tom Taulli is the author of various books, including The Complete M&A Handbook and The Edgar Online Guide to Decoding Financial Statements. He also operates MergerBook.com. Permalink| Email this| Comments

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7

Big company, small town: Virgin Mobile buys Helio for JB Hunt, Lowell, Arkansas chump change
By Sarah Gilbert (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 7:10:00 AM

Add a Second Hard Drive to Your Laptop [Weekend Project]
By Adam Pash (Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 12:00:00 PM

By Tom Taulli (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 8:10:00 AM

Filed under: Industry, Hunt(J.B.) Transport (JBHT), Entrepreneurs This post is part of our Big Company, Small Town series, featuring large companies and the small towns in which they are headquartered. Johnnie Bryan Hunt, eponymous founder of J.B. Hunt(NASDAQ: JBHT), was, like so many Depression-era children, a jack-of -many-trades. He picked cotton, harvested grain, sold lumber, auctioned livestock, sold lawn sod, and drove a truck. He was a handy soul, inventing a rice hull press and designing a unique poultry truck. It was the rice hulls that would be the start of J.B. Hunt. J.B. came up with the concept of using rice hulls for chicken bedding. He and a partner used the rice hull business as seed money to buy five trucks and seven trailers and in 1969 started J.B. Hunt Transport. Today the company operates 11,000 trucks and about 47,000 trailers and containers, though its founder died in 2006 -- in time to see his little transport business become the largest publicly-traded trucking company in the world. It's fitting that J.B. Hunt, which made its start on the profit earned from chicken

Filed under: Deals, Sprint Nextel Corp (S) I've seen it many times: a cool product that finds few customers. That seems to be the case with Helio's mobile phones. Basically, customers didn't want to pay premium prices for such things as access to MySpace and other new-fangled features. It's a tough lesson (and expensive). SK Telecom and EarthLink(NASDAQ: ELNK) formed Helio as a joint venture in 2005 with start-up capital of $440 million. SK Telecom invested an additional $270 million in the venture last year. Yet, in the end, Helio turned out to be a big dud. That is, the company sold out for a measly $39 million to Virgin Mobile farmers, should be based in rural Arkansas -- the land of poultry. Lowell, Arkansas is a tiny town, made up of only about 5,000 residents, so J.B. Hunt is a big force. With 16,000 employees, the company could triple the town's size based on its payroll alone. Be sure to check out more Big Company, Small Town posts. Permalink| Email this| Comments

USA(NYSE: VM). In fact, the space is full of dead companies, such as Disney Mobile and Amp'd Mobile. I had a chance to interview Frank Dickson, the co-founder and chief research officer of MultiMedia Intelligence. According to him: Honestly, the merger is a desperate move. Overall, the MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) model makes sense in a limited number of situations. For example, if a cable MSO wants to leverage its customer base and offer triple or quadruple play offering, there is a clear distinctive competency and the MVNO route makes sense. Continue reading Virgin Mobile buys Helio for chump change Permalink| Email this| Comments

Adding another internal hard drive to your desktop computer isn't difficult, but a notebook is a whole other ball of wax. Still, blogger Fewt details how he got the job done and came out the other side with a second 100GB hard drive in his laptop. The process requires an extra notebook drive, a toggle switch, some elbow grease, and a good dose of soldering, but the results are impressive. Granted, a simple external hard drive is a lot easier if you're willing to carry it around in your laptop bag. If not, check out the details of how Fewt did it. Laptop Hacking - Just a little more space[fewt@blog:~$ via Hack a Day]

Widening Circle of Friends
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 5:00:00 AM

Entrepreneur's Journal: Virtualizing your business
By Tom Taulli (BloggingStocks)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 11:00:00 AM

Filed under: Cisco Systems (CSCO), Small business Darren Shafae operates PaperCheck.Com, which is a proofreading business. Without web-based technologies, his business would probably be far smaller. "I have taken the best of ideas I have seen, and refined them to meet our needs and improve work flow and customer and employee satisfaction," said Shafae.

So, what kinds of applications does Shafae use to improve his business? Well, let's take a look: GotVMail: Basically, this is a virtual PBX system. In other words, there is no need to manage hardware or pay for consultants. Instead, Shafae pays for the

service on a subscription basis. Some of the features include custom greetings, multiple extensions, music-onhold, toll-free numbers, Dial-By-Name Directory and so on. According to Shafae: "GotVMail offers professional voice talent that gives the impression that there are thousands of operators standing by to address client needs and concerns." Continue reading Entrepreneur's Journal: Virtualizing your business Permalink| Email this| Comments

Who says it's lonely at the top? Angelo Mozilo may be the busy chief executive of the nation's biggest mortgage lender, but it turns out he had time for many, many friends. Two weeks ago, Daniel Golden reported on Portfolio.com how a little-known program at the lender Countrywide Financial provided mortgages at favorable terms to former cabinet members, a former ambassador, and two senators, including Christopher Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Countrywide's V.I.P. program waived points, lender fees, and company borrowing rules for its "friends." ( For Portfolio.com's complete coverage of the Countrywide loan scandal click here.) But it was not only elected officials and the powerful and politically connected who received the V.I.P. treatment. James Hagerty and Glenn Simpson of the Wall Street Journal report today that the program helped a number of others, including the daughter of a casino manager, former Indiana Pacers center Rik

Smits, and former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Harris Barton. While the possible motivation for favorable loans to the politically connected is apparent, it's not why Mozilo might have recommended these customers. The Journal says: "Mr. Mozilo regularly lined up loans for people he met, according to several current and former Countrywide executives. Said one: 'Angelo would call in and say, literally, My maid needs a loan.'" The paper notes that while there is nothing illegal in offering loans at favorable terms, it is not necessarily in the interest of shareholders. That problem will soon be Bank of America's, as its acquisition of Countrywide closes next week. On Thursday, the bank said it would eliminate about 7,500 jobs, or more than 12 percent of the two companies' mortgage, home equity, and insurance businesses, after the merger. Related Links Plod to Judgment Angelo's Ashes Overcoming a Toxic Resume

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Pump and Dump
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 5:00:00 AM

A s American consumers begin to face the prospect of $4-a-gallon gasoline, one thing's for sure: They want a head, and Big Oil, President Bush, or Wall Street will suffice. This month, the CNBC/Portfolio Wealth in America survey asked 801 Americans to name one or two things they felt were "most to blame for the current high price of gasoline;" topping the list of replies were oil companies (28 percent), President Bush (26 percent), and speculators (23 percent). Democrats in Washington would be inclined to agree. Ebben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesman for the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, believes consumers are expressing righteous disapproval of how oil companies choose to use those record profits that we hear so much about. "Oil companies could be making better decisions in terms of what they're investing in," said Burnham-Snyder. "Exxon invested $32 billion in stock buybacks last year. They're investing somewhat in exploration and production, but not enough. The best fuel engineers are working for oil companies, and they're not looking for ways to invest in biofuels." Yadda, yadda, yadda. Big Oil, the president, institutional investors, the Masons, whomever…the truth is, when it comes to playing the blame game for energy prices, there are lots of eloquent arguments and few agreedupon facts. The specter of $140 (and counting) oil has left blood on many different hands—so what about our own? When asked about the cause of gas prices, demand from India and China (17 percent) and U.S. consumer demand (13

percent) didn't make it onto the top half of the list of responses. That fact is shocking to economists, many of whom believe that politically motivated finger-pointing and sensationalist media coverage have misled consumers' understanding of the situation. "The problem is too much demand and not a lot of supply," says Henry Lee, a lecturer on energy issues and public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "We keep seeing people on TV raging against speculators, and it's very hard because every day all you get is people telling you it's evil people behind the prices. No one wants to say, ‘Maybe it's all of us that caused this problem.’" In Washington, that’s a very pedestrian idea. Dan Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank, places the oil blame on President Bush for issues ranging from his weak dollar policy to his failure to develop a credible energy policy. "It is the policies of Bush that have gotten us into this," says Weiss. "We've had no energy policy since 2001, and the weak dollar, for which he's responsible, has started a run on oil from institutional investors." And don’t forget the speculators. "There was a report by a Senate committee that found it's responsible for up to $30 a barrel," Weiss says. Kenneth Deffeyes, oil expert and Princeton geology professor emeritus, agrees with Lee that market speculation is only a minor reason for today's oil prices. He also discounts the conspiracy-theory approach—that oil companies are sluggish in production and new exploration in order to prop up prices. "Geologists are not finding any oil. We're dealing with the leftovers now," says Deffeyes.

Production reached a plateau in 2005 at around 85 million barrels a day, and many (including Deffeyes) believe that represents a production peak from which we will eventually decline. Meanwhile, as India and China continue to grow an oil-guzzling middle class, demand in those countries is forecast to grow almost 5 percent this year alone. "The standard economists' view revolves around increasing demand from emerging markets, which has not been an important factor until the last several years," says Craig Burnside, a professor of economics at Duke University. "We are on the part of the supply curve that is inelastic." Which, in plain English, means economists believe we've hit a wall and are producing as much as we possibly can. While Lee, Deffeyes, and Burnside discount the idea that cracking down on oil companies and market speculators will solve the oil-price problem, they do see a prominent role for everyday consumers. Deffeyes says while we wait for longerterm solutions like efficient cars and alternative fuels, immediate conservation steps like reducing driving speed and carpooling will be the most effective in making a dent in demand. Lee says that even a 5 percent reduction in oil demand from the United States alone would have an effect on price. "The problem in America is that we've had this Faustian bargain where between 1980 and 2003 we had low oil prices, so we benefited from this and built our lives around cheap oil,” he says. "We had 23 years of low energy prices, and now we're paying for it." Related Links The Coming Oil Crash The New Oil Shock Peter Peterson

The He Said, She Said Economy
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 5:00:00 AM

What Are Your Best Alternatives to Soda? [Ask The Readers]
By Adam Pash (Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 6:00:00 AM

Student weblog College Being recognizes both how delicious and bad for you many sodas are, so they're rounding up a few

tasty alternatives to the addictive beverages. None of the suggestions are terribly original—they just fall under the other-things-you-can-drink category—but sometimes a good alternative is all you need. We've suggested that you can break

a soda habit with better water, but let's hear your favorite alternatives to an unhealthy can of soda—even if it's just a healthier can of soda—in the comments. Alternatives to Soda[College Being]

I nflation, energy, home prices, and tax rebates. Ordinary Americans and Wall Street professionals are at odds on issues like these and others at the center of the current economic malaise, according to the CNBC/Portfolio Wealth in America survey. And these differences have implications for both the Federal Reserve and this year's congressional and presidential candidates. For example, while Wall Street forecasters predict inflation will be fairly tame in the next year, at about 2.5 percent, 71 percent of the report’s respondents think prices will rise by at least 4 percent, and 50 percent expect inflation to run at or above 6 percent. In the past month, the Federal Reserve has been trying to put a lid on inflation expectations, culminating last week with what was seen as a benign outlook for price pressures in the statement following its monetary policy meeting. Still, Americans don't seem to be hearing that message. On energy prices, many economists on both sides of the ideological divide believe higher demand has been the primary driver of the recent run-up in prices. But Americans think otherwise. Twenty-eight percent blame oil companies, 26 percent point the finger at President Bush, and 23 percent believe speculators are at fault. Sentiments like this will surely bode well for Democrats come November, as party members in the Senate have tried to increase taxes on oil-company profits and House Democrats last week pushed forward legislation which would have the Commodity Futures Trading Commission using its emergency powers to curb speculation in energy markets. As for home prices, futures traders see nationwide values falling into 2010, but only 23 percent of Americans share that view. That's not to say homeowners haven't turned pessimistic during the current housing-market collapse--in

February, 20 percent of respondents thought housing prices would go down-but the results stand in stark contrast to recent data showing home prices in April fell by the largest amount on record. But Americans’ seemingly optimistic view on the prices their own homes will fetch doesn’t reflect market realities, says Lehman Brothers economist Michael Hanson. "The vast majority of Americans aren't actually in the market,” Hanson says, and that likely leads them to be "more backward-looking and more hopeful rather than facing the reality that demand is soft." And on tax rebates, recent consumerspending data suggests that a sizable chunk of the $107 billion stimulus package is being spent, but only 9 percent of respondents said they had used their rebates to make purchases. The surprisingly strong spending numbers led Richard Berner, the chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, to admit that the results "suggest that tax rebates are probably lifting consumer spending sooner and by more than I’ve expected." And this appears to be a repeat of the last round of tax rebates in 2001. Back then, many Americans also said they would save or pay down debt with their stimulus checks. However, recent research has shown that consumers actually wound up spending up to two-thirds of those rebates. This might be the one piece of good news in the survey for Republicans: If the rebates help the economy avoid a deep recession, Republican candidates can use their early support for the stimulus to highlight their economic know-how. So which side is the correct one on these issues: the average American or the number-crunching pro? Even though it’s too early to tell, in the end it probably won’t even matter. As the Fed’s antiinflation campaign illustrates, it’s often perception that can lead to reality. Related Links Not a Bad Job Hoping for a Fed Encore It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

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9

Gene Genies
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/26/2008 12:30:00 PM

Cargo Cult
on biotech. A few days later, Maryland added another $500 million to the pot. Meanwhile, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California talked up his state's $3 billion stem-cell initiative. Passed by voters in 2004 but delayed until last year by legal challenges, the massive public initiative is already pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into biotech and basic science in the Golden State. This comes on top of $1 billion committed last year in Florida to biotechnology projects, and billions more in other states, not to mentions dozens of nations around the world. What is the reason for this largess, public and private, for an industry perennially in the red? For private investors, there is the Hollywood blockbuster mentality: Most movies lose money, but a few make a killing. Likewise, biotech is a high-risk, high-reward venture, and a hit, like Amgen’s Epogen, can rake in billions of dollars a year. In a report issued at the San Diego conference, the accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young compared biotech to gambling. “With such steep odds,” it said, "successfully commercializing a product is, in effect, the equivalent of winning the drug-development lottery." For states, there is the hope of becoming a “biotech cluster,” as San Diego and San Francisco have done. For a lucky few localities, biotech has indeed attracted thousands of highly educated workers with high salaries. Biotech also is innovative and mostly clean, and brings with it something politicians love to bask in: a high-gloss focus on the future. Never mind that creating a biotech cluster has proven to be extremely tough, requiring a critical mass of world-class research institutions, risk-loving investors, and entrepreneurial moxie that few locales have been able to muster. If this were any other industry, it’s hard to imagine billions flowing from venture capitalists and states given the risks and perpetual losses, even if there are a few huge hits. But biotech creates products that are designed to treat and cure the sick, a motivation that overrides rational business calculations for some people. Schwarzenegger made this point during a lunch keynote at the BIO conference when he talked about how Alzheimer’s disease has afflicted his father-in-law, Sergeant Shriver, the close aide and confident of President John F. Kennedy. On bad days now, he can’t remember his daughter and Arnold’s wife, Maria Shriver, or much else that matters. No cure exists for Alzheimer’s, but more than 40 drugs are currently in human testing. Perhaps it’s the nature of the science that 40 attempts are needed to get one or two successes, though there is no guarantee that any of the 40 will work, though everyone is rooting for success. Historically, there are periods when investors flee biotech, but for the moment biotech is hot – so was dealmaking, partying, and swag-collecting at BIO. It's all either a testament to human hope, or to our ability to believe that if one rolls the dice enough times they can come up a winner. Also on Portfolio.com: Natural Selection David Ewing Duncan's biweekly column on the intersection of science and business. Related Links The Fire This Time Digital Movie Datapoint of the Day San Diego Officials Charged In Muni Bond Fraud

(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/26/2008 10:30:00 AM

O ver the past 35 years, the biotechnology industry has produced a number of modern medical miracles and has generated a great deal of hope for more. But it has never turned a profit. In the past decade, losses have averaged $4 billion to $5 billion a year, peaking in 2006 with a net loss of $7.3 billion. The deficit shrank to $2.7 billion last year, although if one were to remove the few (hugely) profitable companies, such as Genentech and Amgen, the industrywide losses would have been much worse. Losses are only a symptom of a deeper problem: A shrinking number of new drugs to show for all the investment. The Food and Drug Administration approved only 17 new drug entities last year, compared with two or three times that number 10 years ago. The failure rate in biotech now stands at almost 9 out of 10 drugs that enter human clinical trials. Despite all this, biotech posted an alltime global high in 2007 of venture-capital investments, $7.5 billion. And the industry is growing: It has more than 4,000 companies in operation running 400 drugs in human trials, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization. If this enthusiasm for an unprofitable industry seems misplaced, consider one of the big stories coming out of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s annual bacchanal last week in San Diego: State governments are racing to invest billions of taxpayer dollars in biotech. On the first day of the meeting, Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts touted his recent signing of a $1 billion biotech bill for his state. Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland was there, too, talking up the $1.1 billion his state is planning to spend

Airlines and price-fixing sometimes seem to go hand in hand. In the annals of antitrust enforcement, a great chestnut is the tape-recorded conversation of Robert Crandall, the chief executive of American Airlines, who, in 1982, infamously told the chief executive of Braniff: "Raise your goddamn fares 20 percent. I'll raise mine the next morning." The taste for price-fixing seems to extend to rates for air cargo. Today, the Justice Department announced a settlement with five major airlines, which agreed to pay criminal fines totaling $504 million for participating in a multiyear conspiracy to fix prices for air-cargo rates. Air France-KLM is paying $350 million—the second-highest criminal fine levied in an antitrust prosecution. The other airlines pleading guilty are Cathay Pacific Airways, which is paying $60 million, Martinair Holland N.V., which is paying $42 million, and SAS Cargo Group, which is paying $52 million. Air cargo may sound like a decidedly unglamorous corner of the airline industry, but the Justice Department prosecutors noted that fixing these prices has a wide impact on the American economy. "Millions of American consumers and thousands of businesses—from the corner store to the biggest corporation—rely on the transportation industry to provide the

products we buy, sell, and use every day. This price-fixing conspiracy undermines our economy and harms the American people who, due to lack of true competition, end up footing the bill," Kevin O'Connor, the associate attorney general, said in a statement announcing the charges. The conspiracy began as early as January 1, 2000 and continued through February 14, 2006, according to the criminal information filed today. The guilty pleas are the latest in a continuing investigation of the transportation industry. In August 2007, British Airways and Korean Air pleaded guilty, and each agreed to pay a $300 million fine for fixing cargo rates on international shipments. In January, Qantas Airways pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $61 million fine. And in May, Japan Airlines pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $110 million. Last month, Bruce McCaffrey, Qantas' former highest ranking executive in the U.S., pleaded guilty and agreed to serve eight months in jail. Also on Portfolio.com Airlines in Crisis Faced with rising oil prices and falling profits, the airline business is under attack—and transformation. Related Links Cartel Members, Beware Jail Time for Price-Fixing Executive Late Takeoff

easyJet Wants To Sue Websites That Send It Business
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 11:15:00 AM

I'm always amazed at people who get pissed off at anyone who makes their products more valuable-- especially when they threaten to sue. Like the whole ridiculousness surrounding the Associated

Press threatening a blogger for sending more attention its way, for example. The latest case is even more bizarre, as European discount airline easyJet is threatening to sue various travel websites that send it business. It's difficult to see how this could possibly make any business sense for easyJet.

Now, obviously, some will claim (as easyJet does) that easyJet should have the right to only sell flights off of its own website. But if these other sites are merely scraping the content and then linking back to easyJet, then what's the problem? These sites are sending more business to easyJet, and it wants to sue them. The lawyer

quoted in the article discusses copyright issues (which again, seems to go against what the company should want) and also database rights -- which is recognized in Europe rather than the US. But even if it's true that easyJet has a legal right to block these sites, it still seems like a bad business idea to sue sites for giving you free

advertising -- especially when those are the sites people go to when they want to buy airplane tickets. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

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Aspen City Guide
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/25/2008 9:00:00 PM

Clouds Over America
types. If you can't snag an invite, try Belly Up (also owned by Michael Goldberg), a nightclub that during the Ideas Festival hosts seminars instead of rock bands. On a given night it might be Arlen Specter, Andrea Mitchell, or Thomas Friedman. Go Local: Aspen's Fourth of July parade is quirky, funny, and sometimes out of control. Consider the year there was a golden retriever march and someone threw a bucket of balls into the fray. Each year, Leonard Lauder, president of Estée Lauder, and his family show up dressed in red, white, and blue. For outdoor recreation, hop a bike. The year Lance Armstrong came to the festival, he led a group of attendees on a ride up Independence Pass. Former Harvard president Larry Summers likes to sit on the lawn outside the music tent for a Sunday afternoon concert during the Aspen Music Festival. Buy Cashmere and Cowboy Boots: Prada, Dior, Gucci—they all have Aspen outposts. Cashmere and frocks are found at the tiny boutiques of Nuages and Distractions, patronized by celebs such as Goldie Hawn. Everyone shows up at sports store Performance Ski, even in summer, when owner Lee Keating brings out sexy bikinis and surf lines. Queen Noor recently picked up a pair of cowboy boots at western shop Kemo Sabe. For the real bling, join Paula Zahn in picking up a pearl necklace by local jeweler Susan Walker at Cindy Griem Fine Jewels. Related Links Government-Sponsored Trust Funds Is No News Really Good News? Deficit, Schmeficit

I t's no longer Aspen's best-kept secret. Visitors have discovered what locals have always known—though the town's average temperature is 75 degrees, summertime is really hot. More than 50 years of cultural events, from the nine-week Aspen Music Festival to Dance Aspen, have encouraged C.E.O.'s such as Michael Eisner and Les Wexner to build homes here. But perhaps no warmweather happening is as much of a draw as the 4-year-old Aspen Ideas Festival, an offshoot of the Aspen Institute, which has been a gathering place for world leaders since 1949. This year the weeklong meeting of the minds takes place from June 30 to July 6. More than 250 speakers are expected, including Supreme Court justices, actors, generals, scientists, and leading journalists. Tickets sell out a year in advance. But the size of the town (one square mile) means it's easy to run into speakers in the grocery store, a local shop, or a favorite restaurant. Here's where to: Park the Plane: Aspen's Sardy Field is small, but it rates as one of the busiest airfields in the state. The "Aspen Air Force"—corporations such as General Mills, PepsiAmericas, Whirlpool, Johnson & Johnson, and Hilton Hotels—all use the private-aviation section of the airport, along with Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch, and many more. Commercial planes also fly into Aspen, but direct flights from cities other than Denver are few. Rest Your Head: Ideas Festival speakers generally stay at the Aspen Meadows Resort, a Herbert Bayer-designed, Bauhaus

-style hotel located on the Institute campus. If you can't get one of its 98 suites, try the Little Nell, Aspen's only five -star hotel; it has regular shuttles to the Institute, less than a mile away. The St. Regis is another hotel at which to see and be seen, particularly for those who can pay. If you can't, try the 35-room Annabelle Inn (formerly the Christmas Inn) right on Main Street, completely remodeled in 2005. Dine Alfresco: Dining outside in summer is a good way to increase your visibility. Forget about privacy on favorite patios such as the one at Cache Cache, a hugely popular French bistro. Just next door, Campo de Fiori draws a beautiful crowd who pick at fish and authentic pastas. Or try Bill Clinton's favorite sushi spot, Matsuhisa, where he's often found holding court with owner Michael Goldberg and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Find a Meeting of the Minds: The place to find festival speakers is (appropriately) at Plato's bar and restaurant, right on the Institute campus. Not only does it have the best views of the Roaring Fork Valley, but you're bound to run into Mort Zuckerman or Institute head Walter Isaacson entertaining anyone from Colin Powell (a regular) to Katie Couric to Justice Stephen Breyer. Party: The Crown family, which owns the Aspen Skiing Company among many other things, throws an annual Fourth of July party that is absolutely the place to be. At the top of Aspen Mountain, you'll find former United Airlines C.E.O. Gerald Greenwald and journalist and Harvard professor David Gergen mixing with local waiters and a wide variety of socialite

(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 5:00:00 AM

I n the past year, Americans have been increasingly battered by gloomy economic news. They are feeling the pain when they shop for groceries, pore over real estate classified ads, and most certainly, when they pull up to the gas pump. For the first time, Condé Nast Portfolio has joined CNBC as a partner in its quarterly Wealth in America report. The survey reaches out to people across the U.S. to see how they feel about their financial prospects and the nation's. This year, the survey interviewed 801 adults between June 19 and June 21. Participants’ feelings reflected the harsh reality of the nation’s economy. Last week, oil rocketed to $140.61 a barrel and the Dow Jones industrial average fell to 11,346, its lowest level since September 2006. Roughly 73 percent of those surveyed said they drove less to do routine errands, and 43 percent, pinched by high food prices, said they were spending less on groceries. It's important to note, as well, that 15 percent of the people who responded live in households where annual earnings top $100,000. Whom do they blame for their pain at the pump? The oil companies and President

Bush. Twenty-eight percent said oil giants were most responsible for high gas prices, while 26 percent pointed the finger at Bush. Not far behind him, though, were speculators and investors—vilified for the trading frenzy that seems to push oil prices higher on a daily basis. Portfolio.com writer Liz Gunnison examines why, though, more Americans don't see their own use of gas as a reason for higher prices. When it comes to salaries, the surveyed don't look any more cheery. More than half—56 percent—said they didn't think they'd be getting a raise during the next year. Eleven percent said they thought their salaries would rise no more than 3 percent, and 6 percent thought they'd be making less. The CNBC/Portfolio survey shows 11 percent of those making $100,000 thought their salaries would fall. Is all the gloom justified? Zubin Jelveh, the Odd Numbers guru at Portfolio.com, takes a look at the disparity between what Americans think about the economy and what actual economists see coming. Related Links Pump and Dump Global Warming Takes Center Stage Research Roundup: Spring Is the Season to Ignore Forecasts

The Bicycle Tutor Explains Just About Every Kind of Bike Fix [Outdoors]
By Kevin Purdy (Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 1:00:00 AM

Lean for Lehman
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 5:30:00 AM

Batten down the hatches: More Wall Street executives are saying they will give up their bonuses. In the wake of losses sustained in the credit crunch, John Mack of Morgan Stanley gave up his 2007 bonus, as did top executives of Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch.

Lately, Lehman Brothers has been the Street's problem child, and Yalman Onaran of Bloomberg News reports that its C.E.O., Richard Fuld, and its president, Herbert (Bart) McDade, told the firm's managing directors this week that they will forgo 2008 bonuses. The bonus is typically the majority of a Wall Street professional's annual compensation. But these are hard times, with credit markets mired and with deals

and offerings chilled. "I'd be surprised if other C.E.O.'s didn't give up their bonuses this year," Jeanne Branthover, the New York-based head of the financial-services practice at Boyden Global Executive Search, told Bloomberg. Don't shed any tears for Fuld, however. The chief executive received $40 million last year, and nearly all of that was a bonus. Allan Sloan in Fortune recently calculated that Fuld has gained nearly $500

million from stock options and restricted stock awards since Lehman was spun off from American Express in 1994. Related Links Mark-to-Model on Wall Street: The Numbers Awaiting Citi's Big Number Bear Funds Being Liquidated: Who Wants to Buy?

If your two-wheeled transport is in need of a seasonal tuneup or any kind of fix, The Bicycle Tutor can clearly explain what you'll need to get it done. Run by a photography enthusiast and serious bike geek, the site offers plain-English tutorials in both hi-res video and full text. The streaming videos are free to watch on the site, but you can buy QuickTime videos for a buck or two to load on your iPod and bring out to where the work is. It's a good bookmark for everything from changing a flat to replacing your chain rings. The Bicycle Tutor[via Get Rich Slowly]

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Nothing to Smile About
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/26/2008 12:00:00 PM

Shadow of the Bear
(Portfolio.com: News and Markets)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 4:30:00 AM

For equity investors, the first half of 2008 will officially be remembered as a wash. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 358 points today, bringing it to a new low territory for the year, and its lowest level since September 2006. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes also fell, but they both remain above their lowest points for the year so far. A fresh round of concerns in the financial and automotive sectors fueled the sell-off. Goldman Sachs analysts downgraded shares of Citigroup, which fell more than 5 percent. The research analysts predicted that Citigroup will post another $8.9 billion in write-downs during the second quarter and will cut its dividend. Goldman also downgraded its view on the entire brokerage sector. Goldman Sachs experienced some of the pain itself as well, after analysts at Wachovia Bank downgraded its rating on the investment bank due to overall weakness in the capital markets. Its shares lost more than 4 percent. Shares of General Motors fell to their lowest level since 1955 after Goldman Sachs issued a rare "sell" rating on the stock. The analysts believe the troubled automaker will be forced to raise capital as

the conditions in the automotive market continue to worsen. G.M. shares tumbled more than 10 percent. Indeed, one of the pressures on the auto industry is the rising cost of oil, which also contributed to the selling frenzy on Wall Street today. The price of a barrel of oil jumped more than $5 to just past the $140 mark this afternoon after Libya said it may cut its oil production and the president of OPEC predicted prices reaching $150 to $170 a barrel later this summer. This news comes just a day after the Federal Reserve left short-term interest rates unchanged, but cited inflationary pressures as an ongoing concern, as downside risks to economic expansion seem to have diminished. Plenty of Fed watchers had predicted that it would raise rates during the next meeting in August to combat rising inflation. But they may reconsider that forecast if these economic concerns continue to mount, making the possibility of a recession a greater worry on investors' minds than inflation. Related Links Hoping for a Fed Encore The Great Depression Debate The Man Who Saved (or Got Suckered by) Wall Street

Welcome to the lair of the bear. Friday afternoon the Dow Jones industrial average was down 1.2 percent, putting it 20 percent below its high of October 9, 2007—the definition of a bear market. This month alone, the Dow is down 10 percent, its worst June since 1930. The Dow ended the day down 107 points, or 0.93 percent. The decline comes amid signs that banks and other financial institutions are still struggling to escape the credit quagmire. Shares of the insurance giant American International Group tumbled after Bloomberg News reported that it plans to absorb as much as $5 billion of losses from insurance units. Roger Freeman, an analyst with Lehman Brothers, has estimated that Merrill Lynch will need to take write-downs of as much as $5.4 billion in its second quarter, much higher than other analysts' estimates. "We did a deeper review of Merrill's monoline exposures on non-A.B.S. C.D.O.'s [asset-backed security and collateralized-debt obligation assets]," Freeman said, according to Reuters. "This incremental $1.7 billion of write-downs

constitutes the majority of our adjustment." Financial shares have led the recent market slump, assuming the role that internet stocks had in the bursting of the Nasdaq market bubble, notes E.S. Browning of the Wall Street Journal. "The past months' cascading fall is reminiscent of how technology stocks led the way to the last bear market after the dotcom boom," Browning says. Today, crude oil prices surged to nearly $143 a barrel for the first time before settling at $140.21. Asian markets closed sharply lower, while many European markets were lower at midday. The Shanghai index tumbled 4.5 percent, while markets in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea all fell more than 2 percent. "We've still got bad news on the credit crunch, we've got bad news about consumers," Garry Evans, an equity strategist at HSBC in Hong Kong, told the BBC. On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 358 points. Related Links Mark-to-Model on Wall Street: The Numbers Wall Street Requiem Nothing to Smile About

No, Grand Theft Auto Isn't To Blame For Dumb Teens Getting Violent
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 9:57:04 AM

It's been shown over and over again that violent video games don't lead to violence -- but that hasn't stopped anti-video game crusaders from looking for any example that suggests otherwise. It appears they're having a field day with a bunch of stupid teenagers on Long Island who went on a rampage saying they were acting out scenes from Grand Theft Auto. The mistake here is to blame GTA for the acts. These kids were bored and decided to go on a rampage. If it wasn't copying GTA, it would have been for some other reason. Furthermore, just because the kids blame GTA, doesn't mean that GTA was responsible. Of course kids will blame GTA if they think that will get them out of jail: "It wasn't my fault, you see. I was under the influence of some video game..." It's an easy way to deflect blame, but doesn't mean that the blame shouldn't rest squarely on the shoulders of those kids, rather than the video game. Millions of people play GTA every day and have no intention of acting it out in real life. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Selling To The Long Tail Doesn't Mean You Ignore The Hits
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 8:40:01 AM

There's an interesting new article in the Harvard Business Review that looks to challenge Chris Anderson's well-known theory of "the long tail." In it, a Harvard professor, Anita Elberse, talks about how hits still make a lot of money, and the idea that all the money is now over in the long tail doesn't seem supported by reality. Chris himself makes some very good points in response, noting that some of this depends very much on where you "draw the line" between the hits and the tail. Since there's a sort of "fat middle," small changes in where you draw the line of what counts in which category can have a

big impact. Chris makes a compelling argument that Elberse chose to draw the line in the wrong spot. He uses the inventory of various brick-and-mortar stores to determine where the line should be drawn, rather than at the somewhat arbitrary 10% and 1% lines that Elberse used. However, I'd like to argue from a different angle as to why the HBR piece is missing the point. I don't think that anyone ever said that you completely ignore the hits. Perhaps it's a problem of the name "the long tail" but it starts to make people focus all the way at the end of the tail -the part that is the least profitable. It's the point where only one copy of something is sold every so often. The companies that

suddenly announced they were going to focus on the long tail seemed to think that you focus only on that tip at the end. That was not the point at all. You don't ignore the hits -- you just recognize that with infinite shelf space, you can now supply much more beyond the hits -- and that aggregate amount can add up to a substantial sum that no store with limited shelf-space can match. So, Elberse is completely correct in suggesting that companies don't just focus on the tail end of the tail -- but anyone who did so in the first place was misinterpreting the point of the long tail concept. Even more to the point is that the concept of the long tail changes the shape of the market. When shelf space was

limited, it made it that much more difficult to even get a creative work produced at all. You had to be able to convince someone that your work would make it into the "hits" category, and then get them to finance the creation of the work. And, anything that didn't actually become a hit fell off the chart completely. You basically had a bimodal distribution of content: the hits that sold, and the crap that didn't and was no longer available. But there was a hidden third category that most people didn't think of: the stuff that didn't get created at all because it wouldn't sell enough alone to justify it. Yet, with the combination of cheaper tools for content creation, combined with cheaper distribution tools and infinite shelf

space, that third "hidden" category started to exist in the open, where it was invisible before. And, on top of that, many of the works that fell into the "crap" end of the old model, could migrate into the long tail and make enough sales to be decent. But the point remains that it spread out the distribution, made it possible for much more content to both be created and sold -and there are plenty of companies capitalizing on that. That doesn't mean that the hits go away or that the long tail concept doesn't make sense. It just means that you don't focus on the long tail by only focusing on the crap end of the long tail -- but on the entire distribution. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

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Hacking The Facebook Platform For Data Portability
By Guest Author (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 2:17:12 PM

The following guest post was written by Dan Birdwhistell, founder of people directory Bigsight(reviewed here) and creator of Hacking Facebook, a website that teaches developers how to pull user data out of Facebook. There’s one thing about Facebook that most people still seem to have wrong: that it’s a walled garden. Quite the contrary, the Platform allows for full data portability and has since its inception. It actually isn’t a walled garden at all. The problem is that this knowledge is buried deep within the FB documentation, a place few developers have wandered. For whatever strange reason, legal documents are like amusement parks for me, so I’m now fairly well acquainted with the ins and outs of porting data (and users) out of FB. So that’s what this whole post is about: To show you how it’s done. Background Once we got our heads around the Platform back in October, 2007, we hacked together FriendCSV as a demonstration. This is an app that allows you to export your full social graph (and all friend data) to your hard drive. This is all done in accordance with FB policies. After people got comfortable with this, we took it a step further by allowing users instantly port their own personal data into bigsight to create a new profile and account. Test out our importer here. Why Facebook and the Platform are important We believe FB is architecting the next version of the web. This is a bold claim – no doubt — but here’s the thinking: • FB has the users: 80mm and growing, with huge international membership and no age bias. • Users enter their real information: Users enter their real name and affiliations. This moves the web away from (and makes users comfortable with abandoning) aliases. • Users express themselves by connecting to entities that are “outside”: Users articulate their identity by claiming lasting elements like cities, companies, schools, and groups (or pages) that exist outside of FB. • These entities are increasingly moving

“in”: These groups are connecting to the same users and establishing broad footprints through ads, Pages, and Applications. • The Platform and FB Connect are building the “between”: All the nice-happy -fun going on between Users and entities inside FB will start to extend back out into the web as developers learn how to build data/interaction bridges with the Platform and Connect. The result is a web based on users and not content, with an individual’s FB ID ultimately serving as his chief tour guide, passport, and keymaster (but not like Vinz Clortho) around the rest of the web. So if I am right, FB will become king – not as a social network, but as the architect, owner, and manager of the next version of the web. So the point: you need to know how FB works and how you can leverage the Platform to grow your site or business. So here we go… Understanding how FB Data is structured Before you go messing around in the pool house, you’ll need to get your head around how everything is structured. It’s best to first focus entirely on non-user data given that these are the permanent structures users “claim”. Each of these elements has a unique ID and entry fields are typically auto-complete to ensure data alignment. • Location: There are ~540 regional networks and ~24,000 city/state/country listings. Cities in the US are expressed as “City, State abv.” while cities in other countries are expressed as “City, Country Name”. Regional networks outside of the US, Canada, and the UK are typically expressed just as a country. Users claim locations through networks, current city, hometown, work cities, groups, pages, events, and photo albums. • High Schools: There are ~23,000 worldwide high schools in FB. Users can enter up to two high schools, with graduation year for one of them. High school name and year is expressed on the profile. • Colleges and Universities: FB recognizes ~5,000 institutions. To streamline search during data entry, FB allows for multiple aliases for the same school. For instance, a user can search/find/select “UCLA” or “University of California, Los Angeles”. Whichever

one is selected displays on the profile, though both are linked to the same ID. This makes data integration a bit dicey, but there’s a fix we’ll get to later. Users can enter up to five schools and can ascribe graduation year, type, concentration, and degree type (if it is a grad school). • Companies: You’ll find ~25,000 different companies. FB allows for multiple aliases during search, but it filters them out to the same display name across all profiles. We’re clueless as to why they did this for companies but not schools. Users can enter up to 15 jobs and can ascribe position, description, location, and duration. So exactly how much data can you export? Stated simply, you can touch basically everything but a user’s contact information. So here’s the list, including how the data is structured in its output. We’ll address friend lists and data in a moment. Data Element Export Format UID Permanent First name Free form (ff) Last name ff About me: ff Activities: ff Birthday Day, Month, Year (1900-2008) Books ff Colleges Up to five: name, type, degree, concentration, grad year Hometown“City, State” or “City, Country” if outside the US High school Up to two: name, grad year Interests ff“interest sex” Male or female“interest meeting” Friendship, Dating, Relationship, or Networking Location“City, State” or “City, Country” if outside the US Movies ff Music ff# of notes## of wall posts# Networks(up to four) Region, High School, College, Work Photo albums All pictures + tags, titles, etc. Pictures Misc. pictures + tags, etc. Political Affiliation: Party name Profile pictures: 50×50, 50×150, 100×300, or 200×600 Profile update time: Date, time Quotes: ff

Relationship Status: Single, in a relationship, engaged, married, it’s complicated, open relationship Sex: Male or female ID of Significant Other: UID Status message: ff + date/time Timezone:# offset from GMT: “-6” for Nashville, for instance TV shows ff Work History: Up to 15 companies: name, position, description, location, duration In addition to these core profile elements, you can also make calls for and then export huge amounts of data through: • Events: Title, location, date (duration), picture, type, members, etc. • Pages: Name, type, location, hours, members, etc. • Groups: Name, type, description, location, members, etc. Now about friend lists: As you’ll see when you use FriendCSV, you can not only access all of the above for a single user, but you can also access the same data from their friends. Pretty crazy, right? This means that by touching one user you can instantly touch thousands more. But hold on now…time to talk Privacy. Understanding FB Privacy, Terms of Service, and Platform Documentation There are five key documents that come into play re: data portability on FB. Taken alone, each is hard enough to understand – taken together, it’s downright labyrinthine. As a developer, though, there are really only four things you need to know: • The Onus of Privacy is on the User: While FB puts restrictions on how you can access and store information, they ultimately put the onus on the user when he interacts with an application. This means that users interact with apps at their own risk. From the Privacy Policy:“If you, your friends, or members of your network use any third-party applications developed using the Facebook Platform, those Platform Applications may access and share certain information about you with others in accordance with your privacy settings……in addition, third party developers…may also have access to your personal information (excluding your contact information) if you permit Platform Applications to access your data.” • The 24-hour Clause: Most of you have heard of this. It basically states that you can suck out any data, but you can’t store it for more than 24 hours; however, there are two key things that people overlook: 1)

There are some elements that can be stored indefinitely and 2) if there is a disclaimer on the application, the developer can do almost anything with the data. • The “Storable Indefinitely” Properties: FB allows us to store User ID, Network ID, Event ID, Group ID, and Photo ID. • The Gold in the Mountain — “Full Disclosure Opt-Ins”: As a clear extension of FB putting the onus on the user, they have included a clause in their documentation that says that developers can do almost anything with the data they touch if they have full disclosure. Taken from 2.A.6 of the TOS:“You may retain copies of Exportable Facebook Properties for such period of time (if any) as the Applicable Facebook User for such Exportable Facebook Properties may approve, if (and only if) such Applicable Facebook user expressly approves your doing so pursuant to an affirmative “optin” after receiving a prominent disclosure of a) the uses you intend to make of such Exportable Facebook Properties, b) the duration for which you will retain copies of such Exportable Facebook Properties, and c) any terms and conditions governing your use of such Exportable Facebook Properties (a “Full Disclosure Opt-In”).” This is a bit wordy, so we’ll translate: If you outline which data you’ll use, how you’ll use it, for how long, what other terms the User might be subject to, and get User consent, then you can keep and use profile information for as long as you want. So the main lesson here is that you shouldn’t be afraid of the various policies and documents because they are outlined to help you rather than restrict you. But again… a note about friends’ data. FB has been incredibly aggressive in policing how developers are accessing and using these data, and rightfully so. Last week they shut down the Top Friends app for allowing too much data access and earlier this year they canned Google Facebook Connect because it didn’t operate in accordance with their policies. I’ll say again that they were right to do this and when thinking through how to port users, you should be mindful not just that FB might shut you down, but that a secondary friend who doesn’t opt-in to HACKING page 13

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HACKING continued from page 12
your site probably should be left alone. More than likely, he doesn’t want what you’re selling. Of course, there are ways around this if you want to brute force it, but we’ll just keep that to ourselves. So let’s keep going… Setting up the Application(s) and managing the exports Your importer can be inside FB as part of an application or it can exist as a standalone. We do it both ways. With FriendCSV, users install the app and we then direct them to their new profile as an add-on; meanwhile, out in the ether, we have a dedicated portal at http://fb.bigsight.org that directs users to FB for initial authentication, but then kicks them right back to our web app. If you already own a great app with lots of traffic, start there. If not, it’s probably best to set up your porter out on the web. Exporting the key data for a single user doesn’t take too long, so you can typically create a new page/account for them instantly. However, if you plan on exporting an element like friends lists (careful, hoss) or photos, you’ll need to batch up FQL requests when possible and also be open to allowing some processes to happen in the background. The FB API is “REST-like,” which means it can be used by anything that handles standard HTTP requests. Libraries exist for PHP, Java, Ruby, and other languages that make the API easier to use. The following example code is for Ruby on Rails and the Facebooker library, as that’s what we use at bigsight. No matter which language you choose, writing FB applications to extract data is surprisingly easy. One line of code will tell your application to authenticate with FB. S i m p l y a d d “ensure_authenticated_to_facebook” to your Rails controller and it will send your user to the FB login page if needed, and return them to your application. From that point on you have full access to the FB user and all exportable data. Here’s one example of how to extract educational history: def gather_schools # Create a local copy of the Facebook user @user = User.create(:name => @fb_user.name, :fb_uid => @fb_user.uid) # Load the user's schools for fb_school in @fb_user.education_history School.create(:name => fb_school.name, :user_id => @user.id) end end For a full view of the FQL queries, check out this page in the documentation. Integrating FB Data into an Existing Third Party Site Ok so now you know what the data look like and how to access it, you need to think through a few things to figure out how to integrate it all with your site or widget. These are the questions to ask: • What are the basic data elements you need for a user to interact with your site? Start by isolating the variables you need to a) successfully port a user to your site and b) give them enough active features that they instantly get a taste for your offering. Design your integration so that it is as simple (though complete) as possible. You might also consider including an “instant remove” link so that a user can quickly exit and take back his data. • What deep database elements do you need to align? This might take a bit of work depending on what types of information you need. For instance, we suck out and integrate city, company, and school data. This sounds easy enough, but it gets dicey: There are quite often many names for the same entity. So if you want to align these elements, you need to: a) figure out what FB calls them and then b) use that naming system or make it line up with yours so that your importer can identify multiple aliases. • How can you enrich user data in a novel way? There’s tons of win to be had if you can figure out a way to enrich a user’s data. We do this in two ways on bigsight: • We match their school data against our own database and add the school logo to their profile pages. Furthermore, our school links go to pages that instantly show them people they may know. Here’s my alma mater, for instance: http://bigsight.org/school/wlu • We built an algorithm that constructs full biographies based on a user’s profile data. This is fully dynamic and can have up to 140 different combinations depending on which school, company, and city data the user has and how he has structured it. Basically, get creative. It’s almost silly how many cool things can be done here. • Is there any way to leverage group, page, or event data? Check this out: http://bigsight.org/city/nashville_tn/events. This is a display of the events that I RSVP’d to in Nashville over the past year. Sucking out this data is fully legit. It doesn’t take long to realize how entirely new sites can now be built based on even one or two User imports. • How can you set up a User account? You might have to get creative when it comes to getting information (namely email) that isn’t directly available, though often needed to set up a working account. We ask for a user’s email up front and assign them a temporary login and pw based on this. • Are you going to store their raw data output? We highly recommend your discarding their original raw data, even if you have a full disclosure. It’s just better for everyone involved and is better for the user and the web. Remember that you can keep the User ID and if you codify the information in some way, you’re in the clear. Conclusion Like I said above, we believe that FB is on the path to doing something amazing with the web, and we believe that everyone in the industry needs to know how to not just adapt to it, but also thrive from (and alongside) it. It should be an interesting summer re: the web as Facebook Connect launches and more and more people begin leveraging this and the Platform for utility rather than blind user engagement. Our opinion is that while FB Connect will offer some amazing functionality in regards to quick user integration and synching, it likely won’t be as powerful as the Platform in terms of data access. Either way, these developments will not only change how users interact with third party sites, but they will also raise the bar for user experience as individuals accustomed to the FB UI will begin to demand increased alignment. Soon we’ll likely see businesses start to build sites on the back of FB rather than a) going out on their own or b) doing what could prove to be complicated integration. Additionally, we’ll probably also find resolutions to a few ongoing discussions and questions such as who owns a friends’ list and how what FB calls “dynamic privacy” actually works out in the wild. It’s all pretty interesting stuff to think through and incredibly fun to see it all come together so quickly. Creative destruction all around, you know. Lots of warriors in the arena. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

Can Your Employer Read Your Personal Email After You Are No Longer Employed There?
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 12:32:00 AM

While we already know that plenty of companies have systems in place to monitor your corporate email, what about your personal email accounts? And, just to make it more interesting, what about your personal email accounts after you are no longer employed at the firm? That's what's at stake in a new lawsuit, filed by a guy who was fired from a company, and later learned that they were reading his personal Yahoo email -- including messages he sent to his lawyer about responding to the firing. Apparently, he left a computer at the office logged in to his Yahoo account, and that made it easy for the company to read his email -- and the company claims that since it's on a company computer, it's fair game. It's not exactly clear how he found out they were reading his email, however. Also, the company claims that the reason they looked at his email was because after getting fired, he used a computer (in plain view of other employees) to send himself various confidential company info. Even if that's true, it's not clear that the company should still be able to read emails in his personal account. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

This Week On TechcrunchIT
By Nik Cubrilovic (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 4:42:58 PM

Our first week is over on TechcrunchIT and it has been a busy one. Steve Gillmor and I spent time with Salesforce, Sun, at Velocity with a super-smart guy about to join Twitter and with two other smart guys

who have a new Javascript platform called SproutCore that Apple has taken a keen interest in. It was also a big week for Open Source as a business as we heard about rapid growth at RedHat and MySQL now at Sun talking about their $100M revenue rate, strong growth and future plans.

The cloud is getting more crowded and competitive with a serise of announcements this week starting with Cloudstatus, new stuff at Mosso and a new

cloud-based video encoding platform. Bill Gates finished his last fulltime day at Microsoft and we wrote up a list of things he can now get around to now that he has all that time on his hands, while Steve analyzed the future at a Microsoft now without Gates. To subscribe to TechcrunchIT hit up the

feed, or follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/techcrunchit. To get in touch with us with stories, news or tips visit our contact page. Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

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Google Inches Toward Wikified Maps
By Timothy Lee (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 3:31:00 AM

Rhapsody Agrees DRM Is Dead; Launches MP3 Store
By Mark Hendrickson (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 9:00:06 PM

Streaming music service Rhapsody has joined the likes of Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Napster by launching an MP3 store. Its move to offer unprotected music downloads has been anticipated since last Fall when Real Networks joined forces with MTV and Verizon. The Rhapsody MP3 Store offers music from all four major labels (Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, and EMI) at 99 cents per single and mostly $9.99 per single disc album. While Rhapsody specializes in streaming music to paying subscribers ($13 per month gives you on-demand access to its entire music collection), this is not the first time Rhapsody has offered downloads in addition. Most of its downloads have been protected by RAX-formatted DRM, although lately MP3 files have been mixed into its collection as well. But with the launch of its MP3 store, Rhapsody fully endorses the idea that DRM is dead. And it goes toe-to-toe with the aforementioned DRM-free music stores, as well as iTunes Plus (whose files

are actually in AAC format, not MP3), by providing over 5 million tracks that can play on virtually any music player without any restrictions. All songs will be provided with a 256 bit rate. The Rhapsody MP3 Store sits to the side of the regular Rhapsody streaming music service on its own subdomain, but the two are also integrated with one another. Shoppers on the MP3 store site who are also paying subscribers can play fulllength samples (non-subscribers can also play up to 25 full length samples per month). And subscribers have the option of buying and downloading the files they’ve enjoyed streaming but want to play when not at their computers (or connected to the internet). The purchase experience is mostly browser-based; however, Rhapsody also provides a download manager that can automatically load songs into iTunes. Only Windows is supported at launch, with Mac support coming later. Rhapsody is also working over the next couple of months to integrate its streaming and downloading functionality into Viacom’s network of music sites, including MTV, VH1, and CMT. It has

teamed up with iLike as well to power music across all of that startup’s social networking apps and on its main website. Expect the same level of integration that we’ve already seen on MOG. On related notes, Rhapsody is putting the finishing touches on its powering of Yahoo Music, which should go live soon so that Yahoo users aren’t simply redirected offsite. And it has just helped launch a new Verizon VCAST music service for getting its songs onto mobile handsets. With all of these partnerships, Rhapsody is working to become not only a destination but a platform for music distribution as well. Streaming music may be the way of the future - especially when reliable and fast wireless technology becomes ubiquitous but the launch of Rhapsody’s MP3 store goes to show that consumers still want to own their music - and control when and where they can use it. Also see our round up of DRM-free music providers from last fall, which includes some of the more indie-focused services like Amie Street. Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

I've been saying for a few months that Google should begin wikifying Google Maps, so that users can make corrections and add missing information to Google's map database. Google took a tentative step in that direction this spring when it allowed people to edit business locations. But now John Battelle reports that Google has unveiled technology that would allow Google to turn Google Maps into a fullblown geographical wiki, with "roads, lakes, parks, points of interest, businesses, cities and localities" all fully editable. Not surprisingly, Google is rolling this out cautiously, making the functionality available first in obscure places like the Bermuda, Grenada, and Jamaica where Google hasn't been able to acquire good map data of its own. Playing around with the site, the technology is a little clumsy to use, but it works and I'm sure it will get better as Google's UI wizards get some user feedback. The really hard part, I think, will be cultivating the community that's required for a successful peer production effort. People tend to think of Wikipedia as a website, but as Clay Shirky points out, it's better to think of Wikipedia as a bureaucracy for arguing about edits that happens to produce a website as its byproduct. Wikipedia depends on a dedicated core of Wikipedians who referee the editing process, combat vandalism, and resolve disputes. Without them, Wikipedia would dissolve into chaos in a matter of days. So Google needs to figure out how to

cultivate an analogous community of Google Map editors. There's a chicken-and -egg problem because they need to let people edit their own neighborhoods to really draw on local knowledge, but the site could be destroyed quickly if they don't have enough public-spirited editors in place beforehand. The incremental strategy they're pursuing so far seems like the right one: get people familiar with the technology, recruit people interested in map editing, and most importantly develop the processes and principles that allow the editing process to proceed smoothly. Google will also want to think hard about licensing. Wikipedia uses the GNU Free Documentation License, which gives anyone the freedom to reuse Wikipedia content. This serves as a kind of social contract with users, ensuring that the data generated by the community continues to be available to the community. Google may find that it needs to make similar commitments before a significant number of people would be willing to participate in the editing process. On the other hand, freeing the map data might prove different if the vendor currently selling Google mapping data sees it as a threat. In that rather sticky situation, Google might be forced to start from scratch, creating a parallel site created entirely by users. Timothy Lee is an expert at the Techdirt Insight Community. To get insight and analysis from Timothy Lee and other experts on challenges your company faces, click here. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

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Posterous Beats Tumblr In Simplicity
By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 3:39:21 PM

New Y Combinator startup Posterous launches today with what might be the simplest blogging platform to date. Yes, it’s even easier to use than Tumblr, which has a cult-following of users who like to post lots of pictures and short messages. Here’s how you create a blog on Posterous - email something to post@posterous.com. You’re done. Here’s how you post something new on Posterous - see paragraph above. The subject line of the email is the post title, the text area is the content. You can also email photos, videos and sounds files, which will be displayed in a custom Flash player on the site. My new Posterous blog, for example, is here. Is this a lot like Tumblr? Yes, although account creation by a single message to a generic email is a great way to help this spread via mobile devices (you have to create an account on Tumblr’s website first, then you can start emailing to a unique email id). Posterous also has comments on posts, something Tumblr is just starting to roll out to some users. Another great thing about Posterous you can choose to have comments emailed

to you, and you can reply to the comment by simply responding back to the email (I wish Wordpress had that feature). If you choose to register your account at Posterous (which means creating a password), you can also follow other Posterous bloggers. The services are otherwise somewhat similar. Both are excellent for simply emailing in vacation photos and videos. One problem Posterous may have is fake posts via masked emails (it’s relatively easy to mask emails so that they appear to

be sent from anyone you like). Posterous says they’ll watch header information like IP address, email client and other data points to sniff out fakes, and users can also request a unique email. We’ll see how they do with that - and we’ll give a free TechCrunch Tshirt to the first person who manages to do a fake post on our Posterous blog (but it can’t be off color, disgusting, or NSFW in any way) ( Update: ok, we have a winner). Tumblr is a lot more feature rich than Posterous, which make sense since Posterous is only two months old and has two employees. But Posterous is dead simple to use and does the mobile blogging thing very well. New features will be launched over the summer, says cofounder Sachin Agarwal, including customized CSS and the ability to cross post to other blogging platforms. Both Posterous and Tumblr compete with services like Twitter, Friendfeed and a slew of mobile/photo blogging platforms like Mobog and others mentioned here. Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

Patent Battles Make It That Much More Difficult To Keep People Healthy
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 7:21:02 AM

The problem with the view that patents should be given out for every little improvement (most of which would have come about naturally thanks to market demand) is that you end up with "patent thickets" where a ton of different companies all claim patents on some small part of a larger offering. This isn't just an argument about "ownership" or "rights" in some cases. It can also have direct impact on keeping people alive. For example, just witness the patent battle going on in the medical device market concerning Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic and... famed patent hoarder Acacia. Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic have all been suing each other concerning various patents used in stent and catheter technology. Acacia has now jumped into the fray by acquiring patents

from Datascope and setting up yet another shell company called Cardio Access. In all of these cases, everyone is claiming ownership over some piece of the technology used in stents and catheters, basically suggesting that others can't use that part of the technology without paying them. The end result is that we're all put at greater risk. Either stents and catheters won't be able to be as useful as they should be because they can't use the best possible technology -- or if they do use that technology, they get priced much higher to pay for all of these licenses from everyone else. And, of course, with all of these patent lawsuits (and rewards -- since Boston Scientific has already had to pay out the two largest patent fines this year, totaling $750 million), money that could have been spent on making a better product is instead going into lawsuits. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

That Weird Compulsion To Put Info On Wikipedia
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 6:08:00 AM

With all the questions zipping around about whether or not Wikipedia is "good" or "bad," one thing that often gets lost in the shuffle is the question of why people contribute to Wikipedia. Toronto's Globe and Mail has a fascinating column written by, Ivor Tossell, the guy who edited the Wikipedia page about Meet the Press to add in the fact that Tim Russert died. This isn't the guy who got fired for editing Tim Russert's Wikipedia page, but someone who went to the Meet the Press website soon afterwards and noticed that it hadn't yet been updated. What's most fascinating is that he's not

sure why he edited it, but he felt compelled to. It wasn't so much to make sure that the public was properly informed -- but more for personal gratification: the fact that he was "the first" to get there and notice it. As he says, "it was more like the primal instinct that makes people shout "First!" on online forums, a recognition of the improbable act of stumbling across a special place at just the right time." In other words, it's not about some grand social consciousness or need to participate -- but for wholely selfish reasons: to be able to say that he was the guy who did it. To make him feel special. What is it about breaking news that can turn bemused onlookers into frothing fan-boys? The ability to edit Wikipedia should have lost

its thrill by now. People having been fraudulently offing each other on Wikipedia for ages; the comic Sinbad appeared on the public radar for the first time in years when he had to insist that his Wikipedia page exaggerated reports of his own demise. A British Web magazine called B3ta.com ran a competition last year to see whose virtual celebrity assassination would last the longest on Wikipedia. But those were just diversions. The action is in writing history as it happens. As Noam Cohen of the Times observed, Wikipedia guarantees its readers a large audience. There's no shortage of ways to publish things online, most of which will start with readerships of precisely zero. The Internet gives

everybody the power to be ignored. But editing a Wikipedia page that's at the heart of a breaking news story will affect thousands upon thousands of readers. So, despite all those who claim that those who give up their "free" labor are being exploited, or even those who suggest that such endeavors are "communist," it appears that it really comes back to your basic capitalist instincts: self-interest rules the day. If there's a personal benefit, no matter how silly, for someone to feel like they were the first to provide the info, it will get provided. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

WPanorama Turns Your Panoramic Photos into Videos and Screensavers [Featured Windows Download]
By Adam Pash (Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 10:00:00 AM

Windows only: Freeware application WPanorama turns your panoramic photos into videos or screensavers. We've already shown you how to stitch your photos into beautiful panoramas, but once you've done that, there aren't a lot of great ways to show them off. WPanorama animates the image as though you're a viewer standing in the center and looking around the full 360 degrees. If your panorama doesn't make the full 360-degree trip, it just moves back and forth from one side of the photo to the other. WPanorama is freeware, Windows only. WPanorama[via CyberNet]

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Want Some Facebook Stock When All Else Fails, Sue At A $3 Billion Valuation? For Patent Infringement We Know Who To Call.
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 2:11:00 AM

By Michael Arrington (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 12:25:04 PM

Facebook may have talked a few investors, including Microsoft, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing and Germany’s Samwer brothers, into investing in the company’s preferred stockat a$15 billion valuation. But that’s a hard number to justify given Facebook’s revenue projections and comparisons to other big networks, and a lot of people think it’s vastly overvalued at that price. And at least one stockholder is quietly looking to sell some stock at a value significantly lower than that $15 billion. It’s probably more than one, actually. We’ve been chasing rumors (none confirmed) for months that some vested non-exec employees have been trying to sell common stock, that some early VCs are trying to move preferred stock, and even that founder Mark Zuckerberg explored selling some stock at a $6 billion valuation. Now, though, we’ve got our hands on a smoking gun of sorts. Bill Dagley, the Managing Director at a firm that manages money for high net worth individuals called Private Wealth Partners in Larkspur, California, has been sending out feelers to venture capitalists and wealthy individuals who may be interested in buying stock from a Facebook shareholder at a value far

less than $15 billion. We’ve been forwarded one email conversation from a source, where Dagley asks if they’d be interested in “buying shares of Facebook from current holder?” Another person who was approached said the asking price was $3-$4 billion. A third source says the total amount of stock being sold is around $30 million. The seller was never disclosed, but it’s likely a current or ex-Facebook exec who wasn’t required to sign special agreements with investors during the venture rounds. That likely means they can theoretically sell their stock once it’s vested and paid for. Everyone we’ve talked to has turned down the offer, although it’s my guess that there are buyers at this price. Heck, I’m in for at least one share. If you’re interested in Facebook at that price, give Dagley a call. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to hear from you. Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

We've seen it all too often over the years. After a technology company has failed to get anywhere in the market with its products, it decides to sue everyone possible for patent infringement. As has been said: Those who can, innovate. Those who can't, litigate. The latest to join the bunch is a failed multimedia device company, e.Digital, who is suing a ton of companies, claiming to hold a patent on using removable flash drives in portable devices. Seriously. It's already sued Casio, LG Electronics, Olympus, Samsung, Sanyo, Vivitar, Avid and Nikon (all in Texas, of course) and says that's just the beginning. The patents in question are as follows: • US5491774: Handheld record and playback device with flash memory • US5742737: Method for recording voice messages on flash memory in a hand held recorder • US5787445: Operating system including improved file management for use in devices utilizing flash memory as main memory • US5839108: Flash memory file system

in a handheld record and playback device • US5842170: Method for editing in hand held recorder To think that others weren't thinking about removable solid state storage on devices seems rather ludicrous. The real innovation in the space may have been the creation of flash memory, but to claim that using removable flash memory is an innovation worth limiting with patents just doesn't make any sense. But, once again, this shows how the patent system is being used for the exact opposite of what it's supposed to do. The company that failed in the marketplace gets to hold up those who are succeeding because they made a better product. For additional irony, by the way, it should be remember that one of e.Digital's failed media devices looked almost identical to the iPod, and was named the "Treo 10" -- quite similar to the Treo mobile phone device. I would think that charges of "copying" would apply a lot more to that device than anyone using the fairly obvious idea of using removable flash storage in a mobile device. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

Snackr: A Tasty RSS Reader
By John Biggs (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 8:20:56 AM

It’s slow this weekend so let’s offer a bit of service “journalism” by pointing you all to Snackr, an Adobe AIR-based RSS reader that pulls stories from your feed list or pre-made OPML file and displays them in random ticker along your desktop. It works in OS X and Windows. I’m a NewsFire man myself, but I’ve been looking for a good, unobtrusive RSS ticker for a while now so I’m glad to find Snackr. Sadly, the icon - an RSS feed icon with a bite taken out of it - makes me think the application is broken whenever I look at my task bar, wasting valuable brain cycles until I realize the author, Narciso Jaramillo, is just being funny and ironic. Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

Is It Really So Bad If A Student Plagiarizes A Speech?
By Michael Masnick (Techdirt)
Submitted at 6/27/2008 4:50:04 AM

We've discussed how silly the concept of "plagiarism" is in many contexts once you look at the details. It's a concept that needs to be rethought-- as it often really represents someone reimagining a work in a different, and potentially valuable context. In fact, we've seen a few

plagiarized defenses of plagiarism that are pieces of art by themselves. It can be especially silly in school, where what some people consider plagiarism is really no different than collaboration. And, in fact, what people complain is "plagiarism" in schools is the sort of thing that can often be considered perfectly reasonable as an adult. When a newscaster reads someone else's script, is that

plagiarism? What about when a politician reads a speech by a speechwriter? In both cases they're "passing off" someone else's work as their own. And, of course, in the stand-up comedy world,"joke stealing" is considered a part of the business (the same is true in casual joke telling) -- and that's fine. Because the words themselves aren't always what's important. It's the delivery. Or the message. Or the actions to back up

the words. That's why it seems rather overblown to read about a local controversy in Palo Alto, California, as some graduation speeches apparently borrowed heavily from others. In the details provided, it sounds like the "plagiarism" mostly consisted of jokes. Again, repeating and sharing jokes is a crucial part of culture. Pretending that only one person can ever say a joke seems

ridiculous -- especially on something where the delivery and presentation are so important. So, rather than condemning these kids for seeing some funny stories and incorporating them into their talks, can we start recognizing that maybe, just maybe, "plagiarism" isn't really as bad as some make it out to be. Permalink| Comments| Email This Story

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Grou.ps Pulls In $1.1 Million, Opens Up Code To Take On Ning
By Mike Butcher (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 1:00:05 PM

Grou.ps, a startup based in San Francisco, has secured a $1.1 Million Series A financing round in a deal led by Golden Horn Ventures. Grou.ps will also now be open-sourcing a restricted version of its code, with a view to spreading its collaboration tools. This move is based around the idea of commoditizing the platform faster and then taking advantage of the fact that they can then hire the best programmers out there. Currently Grou.ps has about 200,000 active users worldwide, after launching a public beta in April. The site offers chat, blogs, wikis, forums, mailing lists, photo albums, bookmarking, calendaring and maps among other features. You can run all of your group’s collaboration tools from one Grou.ps domain using a single login. It also will mash with content from Flickr and YouTube. In fact if it sounds a little like Ning or Wetpaint, then that’s because it

has several aspects in common with those sites. One of the main differences are that Ning - with $104 Million in backing - has a much larger number of users and also runs ads, whereas Grou.ps doesn’t (apart from the AdSense code group owners can add). Grou.ps founder Emre Sokullu, orginally from Turkey, was in Istanbul for the TechCrunch meetup this weekend (organised in association with Webrazzi, the leading Turkish Web 2.0 blog), so I interviewed him about the announcement. Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

The Smoking Gun
By Steve Gillmor (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 2:01:17 PM

MetroPCS MetroFlash welcomes Verizon, Sprint customers -- and their devices
By Ryan Block (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 12:08:00 PM

Governator to Help Announce New Tesla Sedan Tomorrow
By John Biggs (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 8:14:23 PM

Filed under: Cellphones MetroPCS may not have the largest wireless footprint in the States, but they did take a jab at the larger two CDMA carriers by announcing their intention to take on any Verizon and Sprint customers ready to jump ship -- as well as any "compatible" devices they may want to bring along with them. Sprint already supposedly does this(although we've still yet to hear of it actually really happening), but the specifics of MetroPCS's MetroFlash seem equally unclear. It doesn't sound like they'll

reprogram just any CDMA device that walks through their doors, though, just the ones they've had a chance to test on their network. Definitely kills the buzz (and the number of devices that can be ported), but a little open is still kind of better than totally closed, right? [Via Seattle P-I and Mobility Site] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is holding a press conference tomorrow with Tesla Motors, makers of some of the coolest electric cars on the planet, to announce a 4 door, 5 passenger sedan slated for release in 2010. Not much information right now but rumor has it that it will be called the Whitestar and should be as efficient as the Roadster model now making the rounds. The Roadster costs $109,000 but the sedan should be slightly less given its “green family” appeal. We’ll be there

tomorrow for some on the scene reporting. Here’s hoping Gov. Schwarzenegger screams“Come with me if you want to live” to the assembled press and then says“Do it, do it now” to the plan to increase the number of electric cars on California roads. Update: The new sedan will not be called Whitestar. Also, this is some sort of partnership with the state of California, it isn’t just an endorsement or random appearance by Schwarzenegger. Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.

As Bill Gates closed the door for the final time Friday on his ex-office ( Ballmer takes over Monday) the rhetoric about continued one day a week doesn’t match the reality. Whether you believe Bill will have an ongoing role in Office and Windows futures, I bet most of Bill’s input is already factored in by the owners of those two dominant sources of Microsoft revenue. What comes next depends on whether Microsoft can pivot to the open Web paradigm as predicated in the Live Mesh strategy, or meander along while attempting to catch up in search and failing to buy Yahoo. You can find plenty of the latter analysis elsewhere, but here we’ll go for the throat of Microsoft’s disruptive opportunity by using a time-honored approach when faced with few facts but a lot of clues. Namely, building a case out of circumstantial evidence. And a smoking gun. Continue reading on TechcrunchIT >> Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

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Stuck With a Gen 1 iPhone? Flipswap It
By Peter Ha (TechCrunch)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 1:03:50 PM

Sending in your old phone or iPod for money isn’t anything new, but I recently found Flipswap and they’re a little bit different than other services out there. For one thing, everything is free and they even pay for your shipping costs. I’m not sure how their algorithm works, but they claim to give the highest trade-in value for your

phone. Simply input your info, answer a few questions about the device and the phone’s IMEI and they’ll give you an estimate of your device and send the check right out. First gen iPhones are currently fetching around $190. Read more… Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0

Been itching to overclock your Mac Pro? No problem.
By Ryan Block (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 7:09:00 AM

Mitsubishi's new iSP 149 series LCDs have it all in one place
By Paul Miller (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 5:01:00 PM

Filed under: Desktops Well what do you know, ZDNet's German bureau has apparently released a functioning overlocking tool (ZDNet Clock) for Mac Pro s and Xserve s. Vater Steve doesn't look kindly upon such things, but with a little luck (and a lot of cooling) you might be able to eke out a few hundred

extra MHz from your aluminum clad box without tipping off any Geniuses the next time you bring it in for repair. Unfortunately, for the time being it only appears to work on newer Pros and Xserves -- not laptops or iMacs -- running the latest release of Leopard. [Via Computerworld] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Displays, HDTV, Home Entertainment If you're a lazy ass consumer (the very best kind), bent on pulling a device out of the box, plugging it into a wall, and never messing with another bit of "setup" again, you're certainly not alone. In fact, most folks never lift a finger to calibrate their displays, plug better speakers in, or place those speakers in actually advantageous spots. To that end, Mitsubishi is debuting its new LT-46149 and LT-52149 LCDs

with integrated 16-speaker sound projectors. Similar to the sound bars offered up by many home audio manufacturers, the "Integrated Sound Projector" (iSP) is designed to bounce sound off walls and around the room to give the illusion of surround sound. The perk of TV integration is an easy to use room configuration on-screen tool to specify your room's dimensions, couch placement and preferred sweet spot size. At the end of the day, your sound is all coming from one spot, so directionality isn't going to quite match a for-realsie surround sound setup, and the system we

listened to was a little sharp in the high end, but it's certainly a unique and appealing offering from Mitsu to the everyman TV watcher. The TV itself is CableCard ready, can support sound over HDMI and PCM inputs, and offers Mitsu's 120Hz film dejuddering -- that rather awkwardly makes your favorite films look like they were shot by a TV news crew. The 46-inch and 52-inch LCDs will sell for $3,299 and $3,699, respectively. Gallery: Mitsubishi's new iSP 149 series LCDs have it all in one place Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Guitar Hero: Aerosmith gets unboxed, rag-covered mic stand not found
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 9:53:00 AM

Three WD VelociRaptors get setup in RAID 5 array, testing ensues
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 5:24:00 AM

Filed under: Storage Western Digital's hasty VelociRaptor already got reviewed by its lonesome, but for those thinking of getting a RAID system into their rig, HotHardware has taken a trio of 'em, setup a RAID 5 array and put the drives through their collaborative paces. The configuration was made possible thanks to an Areca PCIe X8 hardware RAID card, and the results were

rather impressive -- to no one's surprise, might we add. Across the entire volume, performance was generally linear save for a few small valleys along the way, burst speed was 598MB/sec and average read speed was 209.4MB/sec, which pretty much blew the doors off of everything that came before it. Number lovers, there's more where this came from in the read link below. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Cizmo's CX1730M gaming laptop packs a wallop
By Darren Murph (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 4:05:00 AM

Filed under: Gaming Well, what do you know? That Guitar Hero axe that was spotted a few months back on How I Met Your Mother was actually a sneak peek of the six string that comes bundled with the new Activision title. The unwavering rockers over at FW Labs were able to secure a copy of the game in Chile before most everyone else on the planet, and rather than enjoying their fortune without telling a soul, they decided to snap a host of photos and even upload a few videos of the experience. The new toys in the attic are right there in the read link. [Thanks, David] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Laptops Okay, so maybe Cizmo's CX1730M is based heavily on Clevo's M570TU, but it's still one beast of a machine. This 17-inch monster packs a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, a 160GB SATA hard drive, WSXGA+ panel, a 2megapixel webcam, dual-layer DVD burner (or optional Blu-ray drive),

NVIDIA's 512MB GeForce 8800M GTX and a plethora of ports. Amazingly, this one tips the scales at "just" 8.7-pounds, which actually isn't half bad for a unit this potent. Additionally, it looks as if you can order this puppy in a variety of hues -including the above pictured camouflage -right now starting at €1,427 ($2,249). [Via NotebookItalia] Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Local public school students get assigned Zunes
By Ryan Block (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 2:16:00 PM

Filed under: Portable Audio, Portable Video The latest edu-gimmick to hit smalltown America: Liberty, Missouri's handing

out a hundred and change media players -Zunes, to be specific -- to local high school and middle school students for listening to lesson-supporting podcasts in the hopes of saving them "lost class time." Surely this will raise test scores, right? Or at least

improve the Zune's cachet? Who knows -even the district superintendent said, "Is it

the next great thing? I don't know. Maybe. But it is another tool." Maybe the Kindle might make a better tool, but either way, Microsoft apparently intends to release data on the case study later this year. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Why MOO Cards Look Stupid in a Suit [Video]
By Pete Cashmore (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 7:48:19 PM

Hello? McFly 2015 Nikes to be resurrected as Nike Hyperdunks
By Joshua Fruhlinger (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 3:03:00 AM

Filed under: Misc. Gadgets Remember those cool Nike high-tops that Marty McFly wore in Back to the Future? The ones that laced themselves and you wished you had a pair just like them? If so, listen up: Nike is releasing the Marty McFly 2015's as the Nike Hyperdunks. They won't lace themselves,

unfortunately, but will be made of Nike's super light-weight materials. They'll be shilled by Kobe Bryant in black, and we'll be surprised if the Back to the Future roots of these shoes will be shown the light in order to keep the cool young'ns interested, but we all know the truth behind these bitchin' kicks. Hoverboard sold separately. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Sony Vaio FW and SR series show up on Circuit City
By Ryan Block (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 8:14:00 AM

Filed under: Laptops We'd already heard the Vaio FW and SR series were due in short order, but they've since apparently shown up on Circuit City's site. The pages are down now, but the shots of the 16-inch FW (which looks pretty reminiscent of the old school Vaio Z

-series) and 13.3-inch SR are still live, indicating model designations VGNFW140EH and VGN-SR140EB. We'll keep you in the know. [Via Notebook Review] Gallery: Sony Vaio FW and SR series show up on Circuit City Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

GLaDOS GPS voice pack just wants to help you find your way. To the morgue.
By Ryan Block (Engadget)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 3:18:00 PM

MOO.com, maker of the unique and stylish “ MiniCards” that hit it big with the Flickr crowd, is going corporate: the company is set to launch standard sized Business Cards. There’s high demand for the product, the company says; but isn’t bigger…kinda boring? I discuss with the aid of a small horse. --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: YouTube Holiday Video Cards. Seasonal Viral Boost? Get Your Personal Social Network Card At Zazzle Leverage. Sounds Like a Holiday Gimmick to Me. Make “Business” Cards from Your MySpace Profile Moo Your Facebook Photos Swap Mobile Trading Cards. Win $1000 YouTube Comments Don’t Need a Thumbs Up Button

Filed under: Gaming, GPS An enterprising nerd by the name of Ryan VanMiddlesworth is clearly a bigger Portal fan than you, since he's cobbled together a GLaDOS-simulating voice pack

for Garmin Nüvis. Just don't try to prevent "GLaGPS" from constantly trying to divert

you to cake-related points of interest, else you may find yourself tossing your Garmin into an incinerator. Video after the break. Continue reading GLaDOS GPS voice pack just wants to help you find your way. To the morgue. Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

NBC’s Web Coverage Of Olympics To Clash With TV
By Paul Glazowski (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 5:20:58 PM

NBC’s online coverage of the Summer Olympic Games is expected to be immense in both the quantity of live and on-demand video. But it appears there will be exceptions made for watching August’s events in Beijing through a Web browser. As David Bauder of the AP describes it, NBC will be offering roughly 2,200+ hours of live competition online. That in addition to live blogging services, as well as 3,000 hours of replays. Quite a lot of of material, yes? Absolutely. More than you

could possibly view while maintaining a semi-normal lifestyle. There is a particularity some sport fans might should be aware of, however. NBC will not offer for computer users live video of any events also delivered live via traditional TV broadcast methods. So, say you look upon the Olympic schedule and see that cycling or track and field events are occurring in real-time. And they get shown on NBC stations. That means you with your Web browser and requisite Microsoft Silverlight plugin will need to wait until after the statistics come in. Because NBC doesn’t want to encroach

on its decades-old territory, evidently. Not to call this inconsistency substandard to NBC’s televised coverage, since it’s only logical to think NBCOlympics.com will provide a much broader view of competition in China later this summer. But the disallowance of continuous live coverage on the Web, regardless of what is and what is not shown on television in the US, is patently absurd. Are NBC and its affiliates somehow convinced that a shut-off of live broadcasts over the Web will drive those viewers to turn on their televisions - if they even have them within reasonable distance - to

continue consuming the network’s feed? A very peculiar assessment of viewers’ inclinations indeed. Of course, viewers aren’t likely show popular frustration with NBC for this, unless it is brought to very public attention in the final weeks preceding the games. The sheer volume of video offered via the Web, I suspect, will diminish the impact of any disruptions to Web feeds. Which is quite unfortunate for Olympic fans eager to consume live events by way of their computers. --Related Articles at Mashable! - The

Social Networking Blog: Microsoft, NBC Join for Olympics Coverage Online Blogs are Going to the Olympics NBC Chooses TVTonic to Provide Downloadable Olympics Coverage Olympic Trials Hooking Younger Viewers with Free Online Coverage Google Helps You Follow The Olympic Torch Route NBC’s Online Olympic Channel: Will Costs Outweigh Rewards? Fantasy Sports Matrix: Meeting All Your Fanboy Needs?

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Why Less Is More And How To Unlock the Web
By Stan Schroeder (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 8:32:13 AM

Features, I’ve recently come to realize, can be obstacles. Problems. The more powerful an application is, the more specialized it is, and thus with increased power its intended audience shrinks, and ironically, it becomes more, not less, vulnerable to competition. Specialization, traditionally, is a good thing. But, as Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist argue in their Netocracy, those who overspecialize will not do very well in the age of the Internet. Want to succeed? Be influential in as many important networks as possible, they argue. Even in this fast moving age specialization can be ok if you’re a person, but what if you’re a service, catering to thousands or millions of people? Sure, if the conditions around you don’t change much, you can satisfy the needs of a certain group very well, but if you exist in a fluid, everchanging medium such as the Internet, where everything shrinks and expands and overlaps all the time, the power that you offer might work against you in the end. From this notion a new paradigm has arisen. Less is more. Simplicity is power. Create a solid foundation, and let others build a thousand different houses, each catering to a different need, and you’ll never go out of fashion. Simplicity is the key that unlocks the web. Bear with me. The Twitter Dilemma I, as many other authors, have bashed my head against the wall thinking: how is it possible that Twitter remains popular despite their frequent technical problems and the fact that there are other similar services out there which offer more? It is an unprecedented situation: normally, a service with solid competition which has the advantage of not having technical difficulties that prevent their user base from using the service (whether or not Twitter’s competition is better with this regard is debatable, but based on current data anything seems to be more reliable than Twitter) would have been dead and buried ages ago. Twitter, however, endures. Why? The answer is simple: Twitter belongs to a new breed of services, perhaps accidentally discovered, that win by doing

less, not more. It’s a foundation upon which hundreds of new applications were built, yet, in itself, it is little more than an API for a simple one-to-many short message broadcast system. I, myself, have thrown my hands up in frustration and tried to find an alternative I can stick with Pownce, Plurk, and countless others. Unfortunately, it seems, all these services are too good to be a viable alternative. Unlocking The Web How can this be? The web, most experts agree, is a platform - a platform for any service that has to do with information of any kind. Unfortunately for developers, as far as platforms go, it’s a very undefined one; there is no universal API for the Internet. Furthermore, the damn thing changes all the time. Web portals were once huge; now they seem clumsy and cluttered, because many new applications have created more elegant ways to start your online day. If you want to develop an application for the Internet, you must first find a way to channel and organize the information that’ll flow through; if you jump on the wrong train here in the very beginning, your application might be doomed. Some smart developers have thus began to understand that it’s better to build a very simple service that caters to a very basic need, and slap an API on top, than to try and create a specific, complex service that does a lot right from the start. The first type of service, if executed well, has shown to be very resilient: once it breaks the initial attention barrier, competing against it is practically impossible. By catering to a basic need, creating a service that satisfies it in a simple way and opening it up through an API, you’ve unlocked, or perhaps deciphered, a small part of the web as a platform. You’ve created a mini platform which everyone is going to use because it’s, simply put, good enough. As long as people have a need to send short messages to other people from wherever they are, Twitter is going to be a highly sought for commodity. Unless someone else makes it even more simple. Less Is More Add a couple of features to Twitter and it’s Wordpress. Why is a Wordpress minus a couple of features so popular? You have to stop thinking in the traditional way and adopt the new “less is more” philosophy to

understand that. By far the most popular application that thrives from being simpler than its competitors is Google Search. Remember the way search engines looked before Google? Yahoo, with its unbelievably crowded homepage at the time of Google’s advent was probably the worst offender, but Lycos and others were no better. Google Search was very, very good at what it did, and that’s the reason it became so popular, but even beyond the inner workings of its algorithm it was very difficult to compete with it because the site consisted of almost nothing, sans a text form, a logo and some text. How do you top that? Apparently, no one has come up with the answer to that one, yet. Another such application is FriendFeed. Having come to the game of lifestream aggregators late, it swept everyone off their feet and competitors like Profilactic and Second Brain have received very little press ever since. This is because, again, it does very little: it takes data from your various social profiles, creates a stream out of it and lets users comment and “like” single items. In fact, it’s eerily similar to Twitter, and now - just like in Twitter’s case - applications that bring new functionality to FriendFeed, like NoiseRiver, have started to appear. Would FriendFeed have done better if they provided this exact functionality from the

start? I’m betting no, and here’s why. Distribution Vs. Complexity Once upon a time, if you wanted to create a successful application, one of the keys to success was to offer a lot of features your competitors don’t have. Adobe’s Photoshop is one such application. If you need to edit some photos, it’s the best, period, because it has every tool you could possibly need. But this is the disconnected world we’re talking about. On the web, things change. It’s not only important what you can do; you also want to be able to do it from wherever you want; you want to plug in into other services, you want to work together with other people. Furthermore and this goes even more for mobile applications and services - on the Internet, complexity is looked down upon. People don’t want big applications that can do everything; they want simple, widgety applications that cater to a specific service. Partly, this is because complexity makes web applications slow and clumsy. Partly, it is because the attention span of an average Internet user has shortened, and partly, it is because his willingness to learn the nuts and bolts of a complex application has diminished. Most importantly, it is because the Internet constantly changes and it’s really hard to build something big and complex on such shaky grounds. Is it thus smart to create a lot of small

apps, each aimed at a different niche? It’s definitely a sound approach. But I think an even better one is to find the lowest common denominator, an underlying basic need that connects all these various niches, cater to that, open it up and let mashups do the rest. This way, people can choose exactly which features they want to use, and your application becomes a fluid, modular service that can be as simple or as complex as the use wants it to be. The Magic Formula Determine a basic need -> Create a service that satisfies it in the simplest way possible -> Open it up. It sounds simple, but it’s not; determining a basic human need, like the need to share photos or the need to communicate with short text messages is a hit and miss affair. A service like FriendFeed could not have existed 15 years ago; explaining it to someone 30 years ago would sound like science fiction. Yet, today, the need to aggregate all your social networking data in one place seems to be a very important need for many humans. Will it ever be a basic human need, like the need to communicate? I can see the naysayers shake their heads in disgust, but it’s hard to predict what the future will bring. Aggregation and organization of data might play a very big part in our lives really soon. The other part of the equation is equally elusive. How much is too much? Would Twitter be as successful as it is if it had looked more like Twhirl from the very beginning? Who knows. But I believe now that in many cases it is better to reduce the number of features to a minimum, open the application up via an API, and let the community build on what you have started. This synergy will make your application far more valuable than it would be if it had all these extra features itself. The few that manage to get this formula right will build mini platforms upon which everything else on the web will be built. By unlocking little parts of the web they will each cater to a different need, and as long as that need is shared by a large number of people, it will be impossible to compete against them. And I’m sure that’s a position everyone wants to be in. [All images courtesy of sxc.hu] WHY page 23

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The YouTube Election Is Happening And It’s Not Just For Show
By Paul Glazowski (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 10:14:35 AM

Conventional wisdom says politics is ugly, politics is blood sport. And conventional wisdom is spot on. But the field of play is no longer reserved only for the Washington Beltway. Nor is it the sole domain of London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow or Beijing. Now the YouTube set have ample ammunition as well. Just how much they have in store is key to determining whether we’ve reached a tipping point in favor of the populist power bequeathed by Google, et al. I’ll posit that we have. The table has most definitely turned. Not entirely, mind you. The lobbyist class is in no way a vanishing breed. They’re still very much ingrained in legislative organization and debate. And political power unchecked will inevitably corrupt. So on the whole, if any “change” is to occur, it will likely move at snail’s pace. But we are in a very interesting position here today. We now see Google, and other technology companies of similar making, holding substantial weight when it comes to influencing the campaign season. And it is the portfolio billions of dollars large that is the most outstanding indication of Google’s heft. That, for all intents and purposes, makes Google - in particular its increasingly powerful video service - a platform virtually unchallengeable by government and those associated with government. Published today in The New York Times is a piece by Jim Rutenberg, in which he describes independent video producers as having effectively supplanted some advocacy groups, many known by the now infamous “527” moniker, to take the reigns as the drafters and manipulators of deeply impactful messages tossed about the campaign trail in the US, and beyond. Indeed, the negative connotation of the term “manipulators” (which, just to note is my own, not Rutenberg’s) is important to highlight here, because, as with the Web’s truth seekers, evasions from fact and the viral promotion of fictions also employ

YouTube to great effect. YouTube brings the good with the bad, as it were. But the mere establishment of YouTube(and its competitors) as a channel by which civilians can learn for themselves very quickly and easily the ways of political practice and discover up close the two-sided monster electioneering has become, surely indicates a shifting of the tide. The ingenious craftwork by professional video producers and amateurs alike has proven with ever greater punch that the virtual democratization of media access on the Web, coupled with the very active trend toward ubiquity of Web services, is now a more or less insurmountable and irreversible reality. The movement toward the tipping point, specifically here in the U.S., began roughly around the time of the 2004 and 2006 elections. And it generally all began with scandalous captures. One recording, taken by a member of Virginia state senator Jim Webb’s 2006 campaign of then incumbent George Allen denigrating loosely the man with the camera, was subsequently pushed to YouTube, where it took on a life of its own. That is only one of the many videos to get this ball rolling, of course. And while the recipe for the creation of a viral video is not precise and is somewhat amorphous, the fact is that such clips do grow legs and do manage, with an able social networking

effort, to surface and flow into the mainstream, where they now have ample opportunity to help direct popular opinion one way or another. The reason Web video has transformed from a political nuisance to something which requires of candidates and elected officials to dust off the damage control alarm is, as I said earlier, because of the trend toward ubiquitous access of Web services. That is obvious enough. The cat is out of the bag. But what’s critical to point out here is that the non-lobbyist crowd can now compete for eyes and ears with historically vested interests involved in the political situation in and around D.C. That wasn’t the case pre-2000. Or even pre-2004. YouTube has risen to become not just a message box complementary to one-way street that is television. It has become something akin to “Fact-Check Central.” Video producers may of course propagate lies and distortions on YouTube just as quickly as the so-called change agents. But one would presume the consumer crowd is not looking for misinformation - unless it is to blacklist the slander. Anyone dealing trash is labeled accordingly. This goes for elements on all sides of the division segmenting Democrats from Republicans from Independents and others. Internet users instead seem to be latch onto things to which tags of reason and

accuracy can sensibly be affixed. And preferably with as little varnish as possible. Call it a simple eagerness to know, if nothing else. So I’m one to believe that the era of gamesmanship for gamesmanship’s sake is all but finished. Yes our heavily filtered ignorance-is-bliss lifestyle as a society is little more than something left for scavengers to pick over and for historians to document and embellish. And that past had its benefits, even if it was something of a dead-end fantasy. What’s more, there is a bit of a downside to this feverish drive for “gotcha”-style investigations. Mistakes are made. In spades. Reputations can be irrevocably tarnished if maligned messages manage to flourish in the cloud. But the free-use platform of YouTube and those of similar ilk acts as an open correctant as well. YouTube has no allegiance to one vantage or another. It’s a sparring ground for all sides. Most importantly, it’s a sparring ground with no concern for the financial details of its users. Have a thick purse? A thin one? It’s all the same. One’s content is judged almost entirely by the size of one’s audience. With a pool of viewers many millions strong stretched across the globe, there seems to be little room left for the old -style tactics of silence, secrecy, and deception. Which I happen to welcome wholeheartedly. How about you? --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: YouTube US Election Page Adds More Sources To Video Catalogue Spigit Adds Presidential Elections to Simulation Engine Site The YouTube Election: Same Old? Truveo’s Election Video Site is Sooo Late. John Howard’s YouTube Plea for Votes…Without a Video. Politicians Come To Facebook for Election 2006 Viral YouTube Political Video Makes It To TV Ad

Shel Israel (The Puppet) Goes Out On A Sour Note
By Paul Glazowski (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 1:22:43 PM

The puppet will live, but the dream will die. So says Loren Feldman of 1938 Media and the technorati favorite, ShelIsrael.com, a domain now purported to be in transfer to the man who inspired the spoof. If Feldman’s blog post yesterday, written to the effect of an angered end to the real Shel Israel’s clash with the puppet master, is to be taken at face value, the message is quite clear: “ It’s over.” I’m of two minds about this. For one, the journey was quite a laugh, at least for the first several clips. Feldman’s portrayal, whether accurate at points or unusual at others, was a hoot for some time. But it seemed to have lost its zing along the way. It was no longer fresh. It grew a little tired. Perhaps an ongoing joke dealt at the expense of an individual whose outrage at the effort was very noticeable can only be pushed so far before the viewership starts to show disinterest and begins to fall off and move to something new. The plush toy won’t be given up, however. As Feldman tells it, “The puppet will live on forever…I just like the little bastard, he makes me and a lot of people smile.” --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: 1938Media Doesn’t Acquire CNet Last.fm Now Promoting Books? SNAP Summit 2.0 on March 25: Get Your Tickets Now Amp’d Customers Saved by Prexar Clearspring Gets $18M to Make Smarter Widget Ads It’s About the User, Stupid! Shel vs. Shel: A Throwaway Joke Comes of Age

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23

Watch The Euro 2008 Championship Match Online!
By Paul Glazowski (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 7:35:07 AM

AdSense Becomes a Video Distribution Network with Help from Family Guy
By Adam Ostrow (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 7:35:03 PM

WHY page 21 continued from
--Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: iPhoneSIMfree Acquired: Resolves Software Unlock Issues For your iPhone iPhone Apps Can Void your Apple Warranty Steve Jobs Will Fight iPhone Unlocking Hacks Unlock Your iPhone, Like, Right Now My LATimes, Unlock Austin, Google Librarians, Technorati Down, YouTube Overkill iPhone SIM Unlocked 3G iPhone Confirmed for 2008

Today’s the day. Spain v. Germany. Vienna, Austria. Are you ready? After weeks of footwork by national football teams competing in the Euro 2008 tourney, but two forces remain. They begin their battle for top honors at 2:30 EST. If you live in the United States, you could turn your telly to ABC or ESPN’s Desportes channel to watch the game happen in real time. Or you can spring for some Web video coverage. Choose the latter, and your options are several. SAI’s Michael Learmonth has a fairly solid compendium of links to services broadcasting the game over the Net, with nine URLs to try, including ESPN 360, a media hotspot for sports fans that delivers streams freely to U.S.-based viewers for a variety of national and international events. Unfortunately, all American viewers won’t benefit from ESPN’s Web-based coverage, as the network only grants access to certain ISPs. (Some cable companies, as well as Verizon.) So those denied entry will have to go elsewhere. Some of these sites may not be the most beautifully appointed sources for video. But they’ll get the job done. Probably. A few might perform better than others. A number of the most promising looking venues are: - RAI’s Euro 2008 site. (Silverlight install required. And it’s in Italian. Need direction on what to click? The “La Diretta” link is where you need to go.)

- Channelsurfing.net. (Works on PC and Mac.) - MyP2P.eu. (Mac users can watch in browser with Flip4Mac video converter.) - LiveSats.com. There are sites like Live Footy and Veetle as well, which require Sopcast, a Windows/Mac/Linux download. Or, if you’re familiar with Cyrillic, LiveTV can give you what you need. Wagers on today’s champion, anyone? --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Google, Netvibes Help Football Fans Follow Euro 2008 Joost Announces Partnership with Major League Baseball Netvibes Rugby World Cup Widget for Vista Cyworld and GSN Give Back to the Community Takkle Launches America’s Best Branded Group CBS March Madness Facebook Application. Get Ready. CBS Offering Free, Live, Online Coverage of Entire NCAA Tournament

What do you do for an encore once you’ve built the largest contextual advertising network on the Web? Apparently in Google’s case, use it to air cartoons. According to The New York Times, the Google Content Network will soon launch, debuting with short webisodes of a show called “Cavalcade” developed by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. The shows will be distributed via the thousands of web sites that run Google AdSense code, featuring pre-roll advertising and a few other formats so the publisher still earns revenue. Here’s the really interesting part though: the web sites where Cavalcade will be shown are being selected by Google’s existing contextual algorithms. That means that Google will be able to display the show only to those likely to be interested – in Cavalcade’s case “typically young men” according to the Times. The potential for this type of system is pretty massive because everyone wins. Publishers serve something way more interesting than a typical banner or text ad, advertisers get to reach their target audience with video, and Google gets more data based on how the shows perform on different web sites. Also, video ads traditionally have much higher CPMs than

text or display ads, meaning it’s potentially a lot more money that can be pumped through the AdSense ecosystem if the format proves successful. As for Cavalcade, the show will have 50 different two-minute episodes. Presumably, short enough so people will watch the whole thing, but long enough to squeeze in a few ads. It will certainly be an interesting experiment to watch. --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: Advertise on Google’s Content Network with Your Choice of Software Google Mobile Maps Updates = Lots of GPS Love Google Earth’s Social Network, Complete with Avatars? Google To Bid For Wireless Spectrum More Options for Google Maps Social Network Google Spreadsheets Adds More Advanced Features Weren’t Google Ads Already Live on MySpace?

Introducing the New Cinematical Widget!
By Erik Davis (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 1:02:00 PM

@mashable, Twitter Replies Are WORKING!!
By Pete Cashmore (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 7:43:12 PM

This is a public service announcement: Twitter replies are working! The popular messaging service has brought its core “replies” feature back to life after days of downtime. Will this be enough to resuscitate the

maligned startup and keep you away from the temptations of FriendFeed? Why don’t you head over to Twitter and Tweet your opinion to@mashable… while you still can?! --Related Articles at Mashable! - The Social Networking Blog: How Messed Up Is Twitter For You

Right Now? [Poll] Chatterous: Reach All of Your Friends on their Communications Weapon of Choice

Twitter: Vulnerable to Spammer Invasion? Streem: A Better Tumblr? Twitter Spam Spirals Out of Control Twitter Local - Find Out Who’s Tweeting Near You Snitter Twitter on Your Desktop

Filed under: Site Announcements, Fandom "As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to have a widget" -- Erik Davis in a scene from the upcoming Widgetfellas. For those times when you really need to catch up on your Cinematical without doing much of anything. Yes, everyone has a widget these days, so it was only a matter of time before we here at Cinematical made life just a tad easier for you. As you can see, this widget houses a number of our most current stories, it's pretty to look at, and if you're nice to it, the thing might even sing you to bed at night (your choice of movie soundtrack not included). Additionally, feel free to snag this sucker and throw it up on your own website, or blog or whatever. Give your readers a little bit of the Cinematical... and make sure you tell them the first taste is free. Enjoy! Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Start Page MySurfPad Attempts To Swim With Big Fish
By Paul Glazowski (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 12:05:29 PM

Quick And Easy Questions And Answers With Defuddle
By Paul Glazowski (Mashable!)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 3:11:03 PM

Start pages come in all shapes and sizes. There is the very simple and straightforward Google.com that many Web users maintain. Others prefer the more general-purpose Yahoo.com domain. Some segments, though, enjoy customizable, widgeted palettes like Netvibes, PageFlakes, iGoogle. That last pick was especially popular with the Mashable crowd, in fact, winning top honors at the inaugural Open Web Awards, held in January. Alas, another party enters the fold. MySurfPad is its name, and while it is not the most visually appealing item to come about as of late, it is useful. If the color wheel suits, and you’re a fan of tabbed categorization, this one might make you stick. By default, MySurfPad presents you with a variety of components, including a calendar, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, and Wikipedia search options, a mixed news feed, Weather Channel widget, notepad and calculator. Plus Google Maps and a simple app for bookmarks to finish the front page. Across the top of this set of devices are seven tabs, each with their own

purpose. The ‘News’ option displays - you guessed it - lots of news headlines. ‘Email+’ runs the gamut of email, instant messaging, as well as MySpace and Facebook connections. ‘Tools’ will likely go into relative disuse, because, well, how often do you require a currency converter, a stop watch, or a global time tracker? Or for that matter a widget-bound spell checker? Also, the ‘Music/TV’ section is a bit lacking in real utility as well. The same goes for the ‘Fun’ tab, in my view. The last option, ‘Travel,’ might be worth a look, if only for its flight tracker apps. The site could use some extra refinement, for sure. Attention to detail is requirement in this business, with browser real estate being a precious commodity. MySurfPad’s competition vastly exceeds it on that count. Still, according to Waleed B, the site’s self-described “chief surf officer,” the strength of MySurfPad is its out-of-box variety. Users can edit their own SurfPad, too, so if you don’t like the standard setup, you can always pick and choose to suit your preferences. There are north of 200 widgets listed in the site’s ranks.

The volume of sites and services on the Web doing their thing on the Q&A circuit is quite extensive. There is Yahoo Answers of course. Yedda is another. TickerHound is one which is geared exclusively to financial queries. LinkedIn Answers is a quality forum, too. (Let’s not forget Shouldi, either.) But say you want to simplify the whole question-answer process. You’ve got a quick question, whose subject is perhaps best described as miscellaneous. And you ideally want answers delivered quick. Enter, Defuddle. A site started by Oliver Bolton and Edward Dowling of Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, it has been around for a few months now, and it’s already showing to be a real treat to use and aesthetically pleasing to boot. Defuddle works completely intuitively. After you’ve registered an account, you have several options on tap. You can offer your wisdom to those in need. You can post your own questions for consideration by the crowd. You can browse the growing archive of data nuggets. Or you can refer to your account for your activity history at the “your stuff” section. If you’re starting out, your account’s largely barren. So maybe you’re curious

about something to do with business, fashion, science, sport, travel, or topics to fit any of 8 other listed categories. Click ‘ask something,’ and you’re given a window in which to write anything question that can be delivered in 200 characters or less. In addition to a chosen category, tags can be administered to your post-in-progress as well. Next, you’re given the option to allow others free reign for answers they provide, or your can specify set options to be chosen by readers. To bring popular opinion to your comparison, for example. Then you’re allowed to specify a time by which you wish to receive an answer. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, or 24 hours, or as much as 7 days. You decide. New users will find there’s nothing at all complex to Defuddle. It’s meant to be easy, and relatively quick to satisfy. As the site copy explains, it is “a place to ask questions and make up your mind.” It’s very linear both function and presentation. And that, I think, is what really makes it an enjoyable service to use.

No plans to strike, says SAG president
By Richard Keller (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 11:01:00 AM

Some of my favorite So You Think You Can Dance routines VIDEOS
By Kristin Sample (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 7:24:00 AM

Filed under: OpEd, Video, TV Squad Lists, So You Think You Can Dance At first, I was a little disappointed with this season's So You Think You Can Dance. I found most of the routines underwhelming. Furthermore, Mary and Nigel constantly telling us that it's the "best dancers they've ever had" and the most "competition

they've ever seen" is a red flag. I think most viewers, those with dance training and without, know what they like and why they like it. And viewers don't like being told they should like something. So I started thinking about my favorite pieces from past seasons. I thought about how I got goose bumps when Anya and Danny did the Viennese Waltz. I remembered how Benji's solos always put a smile on my face. I'll concede that season

four hit it's stride after this week. But, you can't argue that previous seasons,

especially two and three, left a lot for these new dancers to live up to. Some of my favorite pieces from Fox's hit show are after the jump. I'll probably come up with more but here's something to start you off. Enjoy! Continue reading Some of my favorite So You Think You Can Dance routines VIDEOS Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Industry There's good news and bad news coming from the on-going talks between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The bad news is that there has been very little progress in talks between SAG and the studios concerning a new contract. With their current contract expiring on June 30th, SAG members are looking for higher pay for "middle-tier" actors, those making less than $100,000 a year, and a greater cut of profits from DVD and new media sales -- a main sticking point during this past winter's Writers Guild strike. In addition to those woes, there are bitter splits taking place between SAG members and those of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) after the smaller union ratified an agreement with the studios. The good news, at least for film and television viewers, is that SAG has no immediate plans to strike. Continue reading No plans to strike, says SAG president Permalink| Email this| | Comments

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TV* Tech Tips*

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Another football guy to Dance Urkel (and Myrtle Urkel, with the Stars Urkel-Bot, andStefan Urquelle) come to Nick at Nite
By Allison Waldman (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 12:02:00 PM

Pocket Wikipedia is a Condensed Version for Offline Browsing [Featured Download]
By Kevin Purdy (Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 8:00:00 AM

By Richard Keller (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 9:41:00 AM

Filed under: Other Comedy Shows, Celebrities, Retro Squad, Reality-Free I know many of you have been waiting for this moment, so I'll get right to it. Tonight begins the official entry of Family Matters onto the Nick at Nite schedule. Starting at 9 p.m., there will be a marathon of the series that began as a spinoff of the ABC sitcom Perfect Strangers. For those unfamiliar with the show, Family Matters was a traditional sitcom about the Winslows -- Carl, Harriet, Eddie, Laura, the other daughter that mysteriously disappeared mid-way through the series, Grandma Estelle, Aunt Rachel, and, eventually, cousin Richie. Of course, all of these characters became second bananas to one Steve Urkel, who eventually became the star of the show. Face it, you didn't tune in to see what wisdom Carl would pass on to his son Eddie. You tuned in to see Urkel breaking something at the Winslow home, fawning over Laura, inventing transformation chambers and Urkel-bots, and uttering the now-famous

phrase, "Did I do that?" To get you warmed up for Urkel specifically and Family Matters as a whole, Nick at Nite has provided an UrkelO-Meter on their website to determine how much of the suspenders-wearing nerd we have in all of us. By answering a few questions the Urkel-O-Meter tells you if you are suave like Stefan Urquelle, a belle like Myrtle Urkel, or a true, lovable nerd like Urkel himself. After taking the quiz it turns out that I am a true Steve Urkel. Well, no surprise to some of you readers out there, is it? Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Sports, Dancing With The Stars, Casting How would you like to watch this man do the mambo? Don't be stunned. It could happen. Professional athletes have done well on Dancing with the Stars. Kristi Yamaguchi, ice skating star; Apolo Anton Ohno, Olympic speed skater; Helio Castroneves, race-car driver. It's also true that pro football players have done very well. Former Dallas Cowboy great Emmitt Smith won in 2006, and Miami Dolphins' Jason Taylor came in second this year. Therefore, it's not surprising to hear that the producer of DWTS are courting another grid iron great, but this one? Warren Sapp, a recently retired defensive tackle, says that he's been invited to Dancing With the Stars and he's thinks he's going to do it. Warren says he's been asked, but I'll

believe this when it's announced by ABC. I'm not saying he's lying, I just think something may have been lost in the translation. Continue reading Another football guy to Dance with the Stars Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Windows/Linux/Windows Mobile: It's not the whole world-knowledge shebang, but Pocket Wikipedia drops 14 million and 24,000 images onto your PC or Windows Mobile device. The articles are handpicked to cover the widest array of material you can fit into 175 MB, and the interface is condensed to offer quick searching and indexing on mobile devices. Great for knowledge-digging or betwinning when you're offline or on the go. Pocket Wikipedia is a free download for Windows, Linux, and Windows Mobile systems. Looking for the whole of massedit knowledge? Try Encyclopedia( Original post). Pocket Wikipedia[Free Soft via Best Freeware]

What's On Tonight: Singing Office, Army Wives, Law and Order: CI
By Bob Sassone (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 9:05:00 AM

Project Runway gets new producers for Lifetime
By Allison Waldman (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 10:16:00 AM

Filed under: Industry, Project Runway A couple of months ago, I interviewed Lifetime president of entertainment Susanne Daniels for TV Week, asking her about Project Runway jumping from Bravo to her network. "We know for certain that Heidi (Klum) and Tim (Gunn) are returning. We would love to see the judges back, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia...but we're working on that," she said.

She went on to say that the show will look and feel very much like it did on Bravo; it will be airing in the same time slot, the same day of the week. And she

secured Kors and Garcia, so the four important Project Runway principals all will be in place. Now comes word that in an effort to keep Project Runway as much a hit on Lifetime as it's been on Bravo, Lifetime is bringing in the veteran production team Bunim-Murray to take over as showrunners. Continue reading Project Runway gets new producers for Lifetime Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Programming, What To Watch Tonight, Reality-Free • At 7, NBC has more U.S. Olympic Trials, followed by a new Dateline. • At 8, CBS has a new Password. • TCM has Harvey at 8, then The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. • At 9, PBS has a new Masterpiece. • TLC has the premiere of The Singing Office at 9. • USA has a new Law and Order: CI at 9, then a new In Plain Sight. • There's a new Ice Road Truckers on History Channel at 9. • HGTV has a new Design Star at 9. • At 10, Lifetime has a new Army Wives. • Food Network has a new Next Food Network Star at 10. • Also at 10: Bravo has a new Denise Richards: It's Complicated, followed by a

new Living Lohan. • At 11:30, Cartoon Network has a new Venture Brothers, then new episodes of Metalocalypse, Fat Guy Stuck in Internet, and Assy McGee. Check your local TV listings for more. Permalink| Email this| | Comments

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James and Dule talk Psych
By Richard Keller (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 11:40:00 AM

What's On Tonight: Robin Hood, Naruto, Graham Norton Show
By Bob Sassone (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 9:02:00 AM

Filed under: Interviews, Celebrities, Psych, Reality-Free Psych is coming back! Starting on July 18th, the comedy starring James Roday and Dule Hill will be returning to USA Network with all new episodes. The third season of this series looks to be a very interesting one, as viewers will finally get to meet Shawn Spencer's long-lost mother as well as get to see a more dramatic side of the character ... something we got a taste of during the last few episodes of last season. The two stars of Psych got together with the press last week to touch on a number of subjects. Topics included a preview of the upcoming season, a discussion about the duo's"Ebony & Ivory" commercial,

Roday's appearance on the NBC anthology Fear Itself, and the never-ending 1980s references that the two spout during each episode. Continue reading James and Dule talk Psych Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Five TV stars who've exceeded expectations
By Allison Waldman (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 6:24:00 AM

Filed under: Programming, TCA Press Tour, What To Watch Tonight • At 8, NBC has more U.S. Olympic Trials. • Food Network has the special Treats of the Trade: Candy, then an Ace of Cakes marathon. • Disney repeats Camp Rock at 8. • TCM has The Spiral Staircase at 8, followed by The Paradine Case. • At 9, FOX has a new America's Most Wanted. • CNBC has a new Suze Orman Show at 9. • Lifetime has the new movie The Tenth Circle at 9. • BBC America has a new Robin Hood at

9, followed by a new Graham Norton Show. • Also at 9: Cartoon Network has two new episodes of Naruto. Check your local TV listings for more. Permalink| Email this| | Comments

LAFF Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army
By James Rocchi (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 11:32:00 AM

BSG podcast recap: Episodes 408, 411 & 412 commentary
By Keith McDuffee (TV Squad)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 3:19:00 AM

Filed under: Celebrities, TV Squad Lists, Reality-Free When I look at some of the people who have emerged as today's biggest stars on TV, I scratch my head and wonder, "how did that happen?" There are a few stars who have completely exceeded my expectations -- and I bet yours, too. In fact, after you read my five (no cell phone pun intended), I'm betting that you'll have a few more overachievers to add to the list. 1) Ty Pennington I'm not ashamed to admit that for a couple of years I was hooking on TLC's Trading Spaces. It may have been the perky Paige Davis, the home improvement on a $1,000, the cool things that the designers did in just 24 hours -- whatever it was, I was a regular viewer. Oh, yes, there

was also a carpenter on the show named Ty Pennington. Gallery: Overachievers on TV Continue reading Five TV stars who've exceeded expectations Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Filed under: Battlestar Galactica, RealityFree Now that the show is over (for the time being), Ronald D. Moore got back with releasing podcasts this week. However, he seems to have skipped a couple in the middle. As I've done in the past, I'll just summarize some of what I thought were the more interesting parts of the podcasts. If you're interested in learning more about Moore's insights and details about each episode, you really should take the time to listen to the podcasts yourself. Now if only someone could sync up these podcasts with the Hulu videos, that would be awesome.

Here are the highlights ... Continue reading BSG podcast recap: Episodes 408, 411 & 412 commentary Permalink| Email this| | Comments

Get Drunk Faster [Book Excerpt]
By LISA KATAYAMA (Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 9:30:00 AM

Dilemma: It's a Friday night after a long week at work, and you just want to kick back, unwind, and get trashed. Problem is, your friends want to go to some posh bar

downtown, and you have only a twenty on you. How in the world are you going to get drunk on twenty bucks at a bar that sells ten-dollar martinis? Solution: Buy an energy drink at a liquor store and use it as a mixer. Why this works: Energy drinks have

caffeine in them, which causes your veins to expand, allowing the alcohol the beverages are mixed with to circulate faster. A lot of energy drinks also have an amino acid called taurine in them, which helps speed up your metabolism. This causes you to feel the effects of the alcohol

faster than you would under normal circumstances. For more urawaza, see my previously posted five secret Japanese tricks to make life better. Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan[Amazon]

Filed under: Action, Universal, Theatrical Reviews, Festival Reports, Comic/Superhero/Geek I stumbled out of Hellboy II: The Golden Arm y feeling as if my imagination had eaten too much. In terms of sheer spectacle and visual invention, Hellboy II is an absolute knockout, frames stuffed with bizarre creatures and mystic runes and arcane weaponry and wondrous design. And yet, Hellboy II has more than a little heart to it; it's scrappy and self-aware, and never out of touch with what it is. Adapting Mike Mignola's post-superhero retro-styled comic series Hellboy for the second time, writer-director Guillermo del Toro corrects some of the mistakes of the first Hellboy, makes a few mistakes of its own, picks itself up, keeps going. And, on the way, knocks the back of your eyeballs for a loop. As our British friends say, Hellboy II: The Golden Army does what it says on the tin: It is a sequel about a character named Hellboy ( Ron Perlman), and yes, an army of golden warrior-robots is involved, the mystical weapon of mass destruction that the elf-prince Nuada (Luke Goss) hopes to seize control of so as to wage war against humanity ... I know I'm getting ahead of myself. Then again, so does Hellboy II, right from the jump, and it doesn't slow down. Continue reading LAFF Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army Permalink| Email this| Comments

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27

Warring Tentpoles: 'Gods' vs. 'Titans'
By Scott Weinberg (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 4:02:00 AM

Cocoalicious Is Your Dedicated Del.icio.us Browser [Featured Mac Download]
By Adam Pash (Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 11:00:00 PM

Discuss: Do Politics Belong in Kids Movies?
By Eric Kohn (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 11:32:00 AM

Filed under: Animation, New Releases, RumorMonger, Celebrities and Controversy, Scripts, Newsstand, Politics A couple of people have been griping about Wall-E director Andrew Stanton's refusal to admit that his cute little movie about a robot in love actually contains some pretty upfront green politics, but there's a far more polarizing reference in the film than its harmless pro-environment agenda. It's no major plot spoiler to reveal that, about an hour or so into the story, Fred Willard appears in a recorded message as the mysterious president of Earth's corporate government and orders the ship's captain ( Jeff Garlin) to "stay the course." Wait, we've heard this one before: It was the go-to statement used by the Bush administration for about three years or so when describing its modus operandi in Iraq (the term was abandoned when

staying the course started to sound like a bad idea). In Wall-E, the context is quite different -- it's an order to not do something, rather than take action -- but hard to ignore nonetheless. Certain critics with (surprise!) conservative slants have taken issue with this. At Dirty Harry's Place, John Nolte expresses his disappointment in the first paragraph of his review: "Have we lost the wonderful studio who brought us The Incredibles and Ratatouille to Bush Derangement Syndrome?" he asks. New York Post critic Kyle Smith picked up the rant and decided to write his own, even though he hadn't seen the film yet: "This kind of crack, lame as it is, also breaks the spell of the movie by hurling you out of the theater and back into reality." Continue reading Discuss: Do Politics Belong in Kids Movies? Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Action, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Comic/Superhero/Geek, Remakes and Sequels, War I love when stuff like this happens: Armageddon vs. Deep Impact. 1492: Conquest of Paradise vs. Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. Umm, Vice Versa vs. Like Father Like Son. You know what I mean: When two very similar movies from two very different movie studios hit the theaters at just about the same time. And according to Variety, it looks to be happening again, this time with a pair of Greek Mythology-type movies. Of all things. We get none of 'em for two decades and then all of a sudden everyone wants to bang one out. It's good news for me, though. I love this stuff. In one corner we have WB's Clash of the Titans remake, which will be directed by Louis Leterrier and written by Lawrence Kasdan. We all know a bit about Clash of the Titans, or at least I hope we do, so let's focus on the other corner: Here we have the very intriguing War of Gods, which Relativity Media is prepping for Tarsem Singh to direct. According to Variety, it's "a mythological tale set in war-torn Ancient Greece, as the young warrior

prince Theseus leads his men in a battle against evil that will see the gods fighting with soldiers against demons and titans." Whoa. Yes, please. Both flicks are looking to use the 300style approach to bring their ancient worlds and creatures to life, both aim to start production before the end of the year, and both will probably make a whole lot of money. I mean seriously: We need more epics about Greek Mythology. Call me a nerd, but those stories are freaking cool! Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

Mac OS X only: Free, open-source application Cocoalicious is a dedicated browser for navigating your bookmarks from social bookmarking site del.icio.us. The app provides a three-pane browsing interface similar to many newsreaders, with tags on the left, bookmark titles on top, and a browser window below displaying each bookmark as you click on it. You can quickly search your bookmarks—including title, description, and tags—through an as-you-type search box, and adding a new bookmark in Cocoalicious will automatically sync up to your del.icio.us account. The download page even has a bookmarklet you can use to send bookmarks directly to Cocoalicious, which supports tag autocompletion and all that good stuff. Cocoalicious is free, Mac OS X only. Cocoalicious[Sci-Fi Hi-fi]

What Did You Think: 'Wall-E' and 'Wanted'?
By Erik Davis (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 10:02:00 AM

Filed under: Action, Animation, Drama, New Releases, Fandom, Family Films, Comic/Superhero/Geek The numbers are in, and both Wall· E($62.5 million) and Wanted($51.1 million) absolutely rocked the box office this weekend. We'll save the full report for tomorrow morning, but we here at Cinematical wanted to know what you thought of each film. A Cinematical poll last week -- asking which movie you planned on seeing over the weekend --

showed that 40% of you were interested in watching both flicks. Since these are two completely different movies, we're not asking which one you liked better (though

feel free to offer up that info). Instead, what did you think of each? How doe s Wall· E stack up against the previous Pixar efforts? Was it better than Toy Story or The Incredibles? (Speaking of, don't forget to vote in our Best Pixar film poll, which currently has The Incredibles kicking total ass.) What about Wanted? Did it rock your socks? Or did style get in the way of substance? Sound off below ... Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Your Favorite Death Scenes of All Time?
By Richard von Busack (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 8:32:00 AM

LAFF Review: Largo
By James Rocchi (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 7:02:00 AM

Filed under: Documentary, Music & Musicals, Theatrical Reviews, Festival Reports, Los Angeles Film Festival Operating out of a small space on Fairfax, the nightclub Largo quickly became more a legend than a venue. Intimate and loose, part of the appeal of Largo is that you literally never knew (I only use the past tense as the club has moved from its Fairfax location to a larger venue on La Cienega in the past month) what, or who might turn up. Largo's where Jack Black and Kyle Gass did some of their earliest work as Tenacious D; Jackson Browne's dropped in to sing a few songs. John C. Reilly has hosted casual, extemporaneous chat shows there; composer Jon Brion (best known for his work on Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love) has held

shows where he alternates constructing songs out of intricately arranged loops of instrumental figures he records live and composes and conducts on-stage with spirited cover versions of requests shouted out from the audience. Co-directed by Largo manager and coowner Mark Flanagan and Andrew van Baal, Largo recreates the Largo experience; loose, smart, random and unique. Mixing concert musical performances with snippets of comedy, the final film makes you feel like you've been to Largo, even as the more elegant notes in the black-and-white composition and the vignettes of the club's rhythm and tempo between the acts make it abundantly clear you're watching a film that was constructed and not just a tape that was turned on. Continue reading LAFF Review: Largo Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Fandom, Peter Jackson, James Bond, Lists It's official: more actors need to die. Debra Winger figuratively kicking the bucket in Terms of Endearment, or Jimmy Durante literally kicking the bucket in It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World... Harold Sakata reaching for his unfortunately uninsulated derby in Goldfinger, Bugs Bunny grabbing for Oscar gold after being mortally wounded by Elmer Fudd in Tex Avery's short "The Wild Hare" ("It's gettin' dark, Doc ... gasp, choke"). One of my favorites: James Mason making it until daybreak during an entire movie-long death scene in Odd Man Out, or the death by, eh, inspiration in Hot Fuzz. The list goes on at Gawker.com, where a poll got a lot of people talking. Male posters aired out plenty of excuses for crying in movie theaters like whipped little girls. One correspondent has a likely explanation for shedding his unmanly tears at the end of Armageddon: "a piece of meteorite got in my eye." I know how he felt. Ambient radiation made my eyes run when Spock got broiled at the end of The Wrath of Khan. And all that Middle Earth

pollen played hell with my sinuses right when Boromir keeled over, begging apology with his last breath. What's your own favorite demise? Cinematical's Monika Bartyzel lists her 7 best here, from an '07 column, mentioning one time Steven Seagal didn't pull through. Incidentally an outfit called movie deaths.com insists on that the one 100 percent rating is the demise of the pugnacious black knight (above) in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Get out the kleenex and weigh in ... Read| Permalink| Email this| Comments

'Crazy Love' Story to be Fictionalized for HBO Films
By Eric D. Snider (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 5:32:00 AM

Filed under: Documentary, Drama, Deals, HBO Films One of my favorite documentaries last year was Crazy Love, about a New York couple named Burt and Linda who have been together off and on for 50 years despite some serious setbacks, e.g., the time Burt hired a man to throw lye in Linda's face and blind her. These are

The Exhibitionist: The Comfort of 'Strangers'
By Christopher Campbell (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 2:03:00 AM

Filed under: Horror, Universal, Exhibition, Columns This week, I don't want to talk about anything new. I don't want to discuss the good news about studios and European exhibitors finally agreeing on a virtual print fee. I don't want to comment on Nielsen's research showing the strong consumer appetite for 3-D films (I'll be talking enough about 3-D next week in

anticipation of Journey to the Center of the Earth). I don't want to even get people's hopes up about Microsoft's supposed "manners device" that silences cell phones

instead of blocking them (signal blocking was recently found to be illegal in the U.S.). I really don't want to comment on Mark Gill's "The Sky is Falling" speech from the L.A. Film Festival loosely concerning the state of art house cinema (the speech is more related to film making and financing, plus I already played Chicken Little last week). Continue reading The Exhibitionist: The Comfort of 'Strangers' Permalink| Email this| Comments

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Harry Potter Update: Pics of Young Voldemort, Looking Cute and Mostly Harmless
By Kim Voynar (Cinematical)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 10:33:00 AM

'CRAZY 28 continued from page
people who should hate each other -- she for the way he physically harmed her, he for the way she nags and pesters him now - and yet they are in love. And yet I, a normal person, remain single. Life is bizarre and unfair, that's the message I got from the film. Crazy Love did well enough for a doc, but of course a non-doc would reach wider audiences. So now Variety reports that the doc's director, Dan Klores, will make his narrative debut writing and directing a fictionalized version of the story for HBO Films. There's no announcement yet on whether it will premiere on HBO or open theatrically, but either one is a possibility. Crazy Love premiered at Sundance, as have many other HBO Films productions, and sometimes the level of success on the festival circuit determines whether it goes to theaters or straight to cable from there. Continue reading'Crazy Love' Story to be Fictionalized for HBO Films Permalink| Email this| Comments

Filed under: Casting, Fandom, Movie Marketing, Harry Potter, Images This morning I got an email from Snitchseeker.com, a Harry Potter fansite, pointing me to some pics they have up of young Hero Fiennes-Tiffin(nephew of Ralph Fiennes, who plays the evil Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise). Fiennes-Tiffin is playing Young Tom Riddle (aka the Future Dark Lord, Voldemort) in Harry Potter and the HalfBlood Prince. Nice call on the part of the casting director to have a relative of Fiennes play the younger character. You can see all the pics over on Snitchseeker; they're apparently from another film the young actor is in, Bigga than Ben. Fiennes-Tiffin looks oh-so-sweet -and-innocent -- he hardly looks like the sort who'd grow up to wreak havoc on the wizarding world, tossing around Imperius curses at his enemies and plotting to rid the world of good guys like Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter. But then

This Week's Top Downloads [Download Roundup]
(Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 10:00:00 AM

again, it's always the innocent looking ones who sneak up on you and turn out to be evil dark lords trying to take over the world, isn't it? Continue reading Harry Potter Update: Pics of Young Voldemort, Looking Cute and Mostly Harmless Permalink| Email this| Comments

• KeyScrambler Encrypts Browser Keystrokes(Windows)"If you've got that paranoid feeling that something's monitoring what you type into your web browser—like a private email or online banking login—protect yourself from keyloggers with free browser plug-in KeyScrambler." • AltTab Fingertips Brings the Window Switcher to Your Mouse(Windows)"Free, open-source application AltTab Fingertips switches between open windows from wherever your mouse cursor is located." • Firefox KeyFixer Makes Home and End Keys Work Like Windows(Mac)"Freeware application Firefox Keyfixer changes the default behavior for your Home and End keys in Firefox." • Dexrex Stores Any IM Conversation Online(Windows)"Dexrex, a free set of plug-ins for most popular IM clients, lets you store transcripts of your IM

conversations from any system online for later reference." • CookiePie Logs into Multiple Gmail Accounts Simultaneously(Windows and Linux with Firefox)"Free Firefox extension CookiePie manages Firefox's cookies—small bits of text stored on your computer that tell a site you're logged in, for example—in such a way that you can log into the same site multiple times." • Free Keynote Objects Spice Up Your Presentation(Mac)"The IT designers at iPresentee offer a package of 100 attractive icons and objects for download and use in your slideshows and documents." • RSS Bandit Syncs RSS Feeds Between D e s k t o p a n d G o o g l e Reader(Windows)"Free, open source application RSS Bandit is desktop RSS newsreader that syncs directly with Google Reader." • Boxee Is XBMC with Newer Look and Social Flair(Mac)"Boxee completely reskins XBMC and adds a new social element."

• Evernote 3.0 Polishes Interface, Adds Mac Client(Windows and Mac)"Evernote 3.0, the latest version of the note synchronization service, has opened up to public beta." • Open It Online Sends Documents Straight to Your Online Editor(Firefox)"Open It Online, a free Firefox extension, cuts out all the middle steps between finding a document in a Google search, in your web mail, or anywhere else online, and getting it open in a web-based office/editing suite." • Surfkeys Navigates Web Sites from the Keyboard(Firefox)"Firefox extension Surfkeys scrolls web pages, switches tabs, and executes common browser actions from the comfort of your home row." • Bookmark Previews Creates Thumbnails of All Your Bookmarks(Firefox)"Firefox extension Bookmark Previews creates thumbnail previews for all of your Firefox bookmarks."

Expert Predictions on When to Get the Best Airfare [Travel]
By Gina Trapani (Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/28/2008 9:00:00 AM

Wired magazine interviews Oren Etzioni, creator of Farecast, a service which uses aggregated airfare data to predict when the best time to buy your plane ticket. He offers a few expert tips the data's shown,

like: Common wisdom is wrong...The lowest price tends to hit between eight and two weeks before departure. Buying tickets farther in advance usually doesn't save money. This rule holds except for during peak demand, like Thanksgiving and spring break. You can't get your tickets

power traveler's checklists, part one and two. Photo by Cubbie_n_Vegas. Tracking Air Fares: Elaborate Algorithms Predict Ticket Prices[Wired] early enough for those. Hit the article for more airfare travel tips. Then see our

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The Books That Changed Your Lives [What You Said]
By Jason Fitzpatrick (Lifehacker)
Submitted at 6/29/2008 2:00:00 AM

On Thursday we asked you what books have changed your life, and over 250 thoughtful comments later, it's clear you all have book shelves stuffed with meaningful tomes. Now it's time to share the love. Today we've compiled some of the titles that you mentioned the most, with summaries and links to Amazon so you can check 'em out further—and get a glimpse into the minds and lives of Lifehacker readers. The Bible(25 votes) Far and away our biggest vote-getter, we're not even going to try to describe what the Bible is and what it means. Thank goodness Wikipedia describes the Bible for us thusly: The Bible is the collection of religious writings of Judaism and of Christianity. The exact composition of the Bible is dependent on the religious traditions of specific denominations. Modern Rabbinic Judaism generally recognizes a single set of canonical books that comprise the Tanakh, the Jewish version of the Bible. The Christian Bible includes the same books as the Tanakh (referred to in this context as the Old Testament), but usually in a different order, together with specifically Christian books collectively called the New Testament. Among some Christian traditions, the Bible includes additional Jewish books that were not accepted into the Tanakh. There are multiple editions and versions of the Bible; the one pictured here is the King James Version: 1611 Edition. The Works of Ayn Rand (23 votes) Several authors had multiple works mentioned by our readers, but none had such a strong showing as Ayn Rand. Most influential was The Fountainhead, followed by Atlas Shrugged and Anthem. From Wikipedia's The Fountainhead page: The Fountainhead is set in the world of Architecture and examines Howard Roark, a young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. He refuses to pander to the prevailing 'architect by committee' taste in building design. Roark is a singular force that takes a stand against the establishment, and in his own unique way, prevails. The manuscript was rejected by twelve publishers before a young editor,

Archibald Ogden, at the Bobbs-Merrill Company publishing house wired to the head office, "If this is not the book for you, then I am not the editor for you." From Wikipedia's Atlas Shrugged page: The theme of Atlas Shrugged is the role of the mind in man's existence and, consequently, presentation of the morality of rational self -interest. The main conflicts of the book surround the decision of the "individuals of the mind" to go on strike, refusing to contribute their inventions, art, business leadership, scientific research, or new ideas of any kind to the rest of the world. Society, they believe, hampers them by interfering with their work and underpays them by confiscating the profits and dignity they have rightfully earned. The peaceful cohesiveness of the world disintegrates, lacking those individuals whose productive work comes from mental effort. The strikers believe that they are crucial to a society that exploits them, denying them freedom or failing to acknowledge their right to self-interest, and the gradual collapse of civilization is triggered by their strike. From Wikipedia's Anthem page: Anthem is a dystopian, science-fiction novella by philosopher Ayn Rand, first published in 1938. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age as a result of the evils of irrationality and collectivism and the weaknesses of socialistic thinking and economics. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated (for example, the word "I" has disappeared from the language). As is common in her work, Rand draws a clear distinction between the "socialist/communal" values of equality and brotherhood and the "productive/capitalist" values of achievement and individuality. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (15 votes) by Douglas Adams From Amazon.com: Join Douglas Adams's hapless hero Arthur Dent as he travels the galaxy with his intrepid pal Ford Prefect, getting into horrible messes and generally wreaking hilarious havoc. Dent is grabbed from Earth moments before a cosmic construction team obliterates the planet to build a freeway.

You'll never read funnier science fiction; Adams is a master of intelligent satire, barbed wit, and comedic dialogue. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (9 votes) by Robert M. Pirsig From Amazon.com:... Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live . . . and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Here is the book that transformed a generation: an unforgettable narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America's Northwest, undertaken by a father and his young son. A story of love and fear — of growth, discovery, and acceptance — that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life's fundamental questions, this uniquely exhilarating modern classic is both touching and transcendent, resonant with the myriad confusions of existence . . . and the small, essential triumphs that propel us forward. The Stranger (8 votes) by Albert Camus From Amazon.com: The Stranger is not merely one of the most widely read novels of the 20th century, but one of the books likely to outlive it. Written in 1946, Camus's compelling and troubling tale of a disaffected, apparently amoral young man has earned a durable popularity (and remains a staple of U.S. high school literature courses) in part because it reveals so vividly the anxieties of its time. Alienation, the fear of anonymity, spiritual doubt—all could have been given a purely modern inflection in the hands of a lesser talent than Camus, who won the Nobel Prize in 1957 and was noted for his existentialist aesthetic. The remarkable trick of The Stranger, however, is that it's not mired in period philosophy. The Works of George Orwell (8 votes) Another early 20th century author who received reader acclaim for more than a single book, George Orwell appears on the list both for 1984 and Animal Farm. From Amazon.com:[1984 was] published in 1949 as a warning about the menaces of totalitarianism. The novel is set in an imaginary future world that is dominated by three perpetually warring totalitarian police states. The book's hero,

Winston Smith, is a minor party functionary in one of these states. His longing for truth and decency leads him to secretly rebel against the government. Smith has a love affair with a like-minded woman, but they are both arrested by the Thought Police. The ensuing imprisonment, torture, and reeducation of Smith are intended not merely to break him physically or make him submit but to root out his independent mental existence and his spiritual dignity. Orwell's warning of the dangers of totalitarianism made a deep impression on his contemporaries and upon subsequent readers, and the book's title and many of its coinages, such as NEWSPEAK, became bywords for modern political abuses. Anti-utopian satire by George Orwell, published in 1945. One of Orwell's finest works, it is a political fable based on the events of Russia's Bolshevik revolution and the betrayal of the cause by Joseph Stalin. The book concerns a group of barnyard animals who overthrow and chase off their exploitative human masters and set up an egalitarian society of their own. Eventually the animals' intelligent and power-loving leaders, the pigs, subvert the revolution and form a dictatorship even more oppressive and heartless than that of their former human masters. The Works of Richard Dawkins (8 votes) Dawkins is the most contemporary nonfiction author on the list to be voted in with multiple books. Readers were most influenced by The Selfish Gene, followed closely by The God Delusion. From Amazon.com: Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life. In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect

the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk. ... [The Selfish Gene] is a celebration of a remarkable exposition of evolutionary thought, a work that has been widely hailed for its stylistic brilliance and deep scientific insights, and that continues to stimulate whole new areas of research today. In his sensational international bestseller, the preeminent scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins delivers a hardhitting, impassioned, but humorous rebuttal of religious belief. With rigor and wit, Dawkins eviscerates the arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of the existence of a supreme being. He makes a compelling case that faith is not just irrational, but potentially deadly ... This brilliantly argued, provocative book challenges all of us to test our beliefs, no matter what beliefs we hold. The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings Trilogy (7 votes) by J.R.R. Tolkien From Wikipedia: The Hobbit or There and Back Again is an award-winning fantasy novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, written for children in the tradition of the fairy tale. Tolkien wrote the story in the late 1920s to amuse his three sons. It was published on September 21st 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. More recently, The Hobbit has been recognized as the "Most Important 20th-Century Novel (for Older Readers)" by the children's book magazine Books for Keeps. The book has sold an estimated 100 million copies worldwide since first publication. The work has never been out of print since the paper shortages of the Second World War. Ender's Game (7 votes) by Orson Scott Card From Wikipedia: Ender's Game (1985) is one of the most well-known novels by Orson Scott Card. It is set in Earth's future where mankind has barely survived two invasions by the "buggers", an insectoid alien race, and the International Fleet is preparing for war. In order to find and train the eventual commander for the anticipated BOOKS page 31

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third invasion, the world's most talented children, including the extraordinary Ender Wiggin, are taken into Battle School at a very young age. The book takes place around the year 2135, and its sequels Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, A War of Gifts, and Ender in Exile: Ganges follow Ender to different worlds as he travels far into the future. "Ender's Game" was the very first novel given away online before its publication. Card posted the novel on the DELPHI online service in 1984, inviting anyone to download and enjoy it. Dune (7 votes) by Frank Herbert From Amazon.com: This Hugo and Nebula Award winner tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the "spice of spices." Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence. The troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privilege, though, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what's rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium. Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels ever written, and deservedly so. The setting is elaborate and ornate, the plot labyrinthine, the adventures exciting. Five sequels follow. Here's a table of the titles that got three or more votes in the comments thread. (Note that this tally was taken on Friday, so new comments may have been added since then.) Thanks to all the commenters for sharing their life-changing reads with us.

Town criers on the Pew report
By dpulliam
Submitted at 6/26/2008 2:35:57 PM

One of the greatest aspects of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life report released Monday was the state-by-state data. Unfortunately, the coverage in my morning newspaper, The Indianapolis Star, was lacking. A combination of the Associated Press and USA Today made-up the above-the-fold front-page story while the jump had a small graphic comparing the Indiana data to the entire United States. Some non-national newspapers such as The Dallas Morning News focused on the big headline of the report: “Most Americans say many religions can lead to eternal life.” According to a reader, the story received “big-middle-above-the-fold” placement Tuesday morning. In addition, the article has a helpful section on the report’s limitations. (Also see an online chat with the reporter Jeffrey Weiss on the subject.) Next door to me in Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch gave their locally reported story similar front page above-the-fold treatment. Similar to the IndyStar, The Dispatch focused on the national story and included a breakout graphic on the state data. The Chicago Sun-Times did a similar article. According to a reporter friend of mine, there were a large number of journalists on Pew Forum’s teleconference regarding this study. Based on what I’ve seen about the report, newspapers now have an tremendous resource to better understand their communities. An excellent example of a reporter taking advantage of the advance time Pew gave journalists on this report is the story by the Orlando Sentinel’s Jeannette Rivera -lyles: Floridians aren’t jumping out of their beach chairs to go to church.

In fact, among Bible Belt states, Florida ranks last in church attendance among residents who consider themselves religious, according to a new study of more than 36,000 Americans. Another great example is the article by the Tulsa World’s Ryan Strong: A national survey proves that Oklahoma continues to be a vital buckle on the Bible Belt. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public

Life released on Monday the second half of its U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which indicated that a majority of Oklahomans are active participants in a faith-based community. Surprisingly, The Los Angeles Times also led with the state perspective. The reporter Duke Helfand knows his audience. He puts the fact that 42 percent of the state’s population thinks that “Hollywood is a corrupting influence.” Not surprisingly, considering recent events, the issue of homosexuality appeared in the third paragraph: Californians, long known for their propensity to buck convention, have apparently done it again: A national survey released Monday revealed that they are less religious and less certain about the existence of God than the nation as a whole. Residents of the Golden State do not pray as much as people in other parts of the country. They are less inclined to take scripture literally. And they are likelier to embrace “more than one true way” of interpreting their religious teachings. Fifty-nine percent of them say that homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared to 50% of people nationwide who hold that view, according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Local journalists should take advantage of the advance time they receive with indepth reports such as this and prepare an article that helps their readers better understand the nature of their community’s religious make-up. The national perspective is nice, but often that is something that readers have already heard about. Photo of Peter Moore, Town Crier to the Mayor of London and The Greater London Authority, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Bookmark to:

How to Make Fruit Leather
By Elise
Submitted at 6/28/2008 7:12:49 PM

When you have your own fruit trees (or access to someone else's) sometimes you can feel a bit buried in fruit, whatever happens to be dropping off the trees at that

time. Summer becomes a mad dash of canning, jamming and freezing, trying to preserve the bounty to enjoy throughout the year. One thing you can do with excess fruit of the season is to make fruit leather, sort of the beef jerky of fruit. I used to love this stuff as a kid, made for a great snack

and instant energy, and was easy to pack.

Last fall I made fruit leather with the leftover grape mush from making grape juice, and this week it was fruit leather from our neighbor Pat's apricots (Pat's apricots are so ripe that when you go to pick one, two more fall off the branch). What follows is a general guideline to

making fruit leather, no set recipe. So much of it depends on the specific fruit you are working with. Continue reading "How to Make Fruit Leather" »

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Back to the military God wars
By tmatt
Submitted at 6/26/2008 7:37:30 PM

Here is the latest news from the still raging culture wars at America’s military academies, as reported by the Baltimore Sun. A national civil liberties group is renewing a push to end mealtime prayer at the U.S. Naval Academy, where a group of midshipmen recently complained to officials that they felt pressured to participate in the longtime practice. The tradition, believed to date back to the college’s founding in 1845, now involves a chaplain’s leading grace before a noon meal that all 4,200 midshipmen must attend at King Hall. Midshipmen are not required to pray, though they must stand during the recital, and most bow their heads. Nine students recently approached the American Civil Liberties Union for help in getting the academy to end the practice. In a letter recently sent to the academy’s superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler, the ACLU threatened legal action. “The government should not be in the business of compelling religious observance, particularly in military academies, where students can feel coerced by senior students and officials and risk the loss of leadership opportunities for following their conscience,” Deborah A. Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland, wrote. A spokesman for the academy says that it will stand its ground — again. Now, our purpose at this blog is to debate the media coverage of these kinds of tricky stories. However, before you click “comment,” please know that my own position on this church-state issue is not what many of you would think. I don’t think the academy is on solid footing here. I would have trouble even if it was a “moment of silence” situation. How are Muslims supposed to take part in a standing silent prayer facing West? That’s equal treatment? And here is the problem with the mainstream coverage of these ongoing fights — click here for a GetReligion flashback on earlier coverage — about free speech and freedom of association. People are mixing all kinds of apples and oranges together with little or no content about the

actual laws involved. Suffice it to say that there are some evangelicals out there who want to play by the rules and a few who do not. There are also some high-energy people on the religious and/or secular left who want to change the rules or ignore them, tossing “equal access” laws out with the bathwater. You can read story after story about these fights and never find out what is legal and what is not. If someone at the academy wants to hold a voluntary evangelical banquet and read the whole Book of Acts, that’s just fine, as long as other religious and secular groups have the same right. The environmental club can serve veggies and dip while

hearing dramatic readings from Al Gore. It’s called equal access. Both groups can put up event posters on bulletin boards and send out emails on the academy listserv. If you ban one, you ban them all. It’s called equal access. Now, if there are officers who are forcing people to attend events — whether its the charismatic Catholic rosary meeting or the gender-equality book circle — then that is out of line. That should be stopped. Yet campus ministers have a right to share their faith and even take part in discussions of public affairs over coffee in public places. If students don’t want to hear what they have to say, the solution is for the students to have the power to tell

them to leave them alone. You don’t discriminate against the free-offensivespeech rights of the religious believers to a degree that is stricter than other people who talk about hot-button topics. And officers have a right to quote religious classics in their public speeches if they wish, just as much as they have a right to quote the wit and wisdom of John Stewart or John Stuart Mill. They do not have a right to public evangelism — unless an event is truly voluntary. But there is another reality here that must be addressed. America’s military establishment knows that there are more Southern Baptists and Pentecostal believers who are willing to serve in Iraq

than there are Unitarian Universalists and United Church of Christ folks who are ready to enlist. Someone is going to have to work this out, focusing just as much on the positive rights that religious believers have as well as the rights of the nonreligious and the secular to be left alone, once they have voiced an honest objection. Consider this passage in the New York Times story that has opened up this new round of debates. We’ll walk into this one step at a time: Three years after a scandal at the Air Force Academy over the evangelizing of cadets by Christian staff and faculty members, students and staff at West Point and the Naval Academy are complaining that their schools, too, have pushed religion on cadets and midshipmen. The controversy led the Air Force to adopt guidelines that discourage public prayers at official events or meetings. And while those rules do not apply to other branches of the service, critics say the new complaints raise questions about the military’s commitment to policies against imposing religion on its members. Well, what do public prayers have to do with the “evangelizing of cadets”? Apples and oranges, again. Religion in the military has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, especially because the close confines of military life often put two larger societal trends — the rise of evangelicals and the rise of people of no organized faith — onto a collision course. That summary statement by Neela Banerjee is right on target. Now, has anyone done any survey work lately to tell us how many traditional religious believers there are, of various faiths and denominations, in comparison to those who are outspoken secularists or religious liberals? That would be a great statistic to show readers the challenges faced by the leaders of the various branches of the military. Here’s another key paragraph: In interviews at West Point, seven cadets, two officers and a former chaplain said that religion, especially evangelical Christianity, was a constant at the academy. They said that until recently, BACK page 39

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“On Fog” — A Meditation
By tmatt
Submitted at 6/27/2008 5:51:17 PM

It’s a question that has been bugging me for a long time: What, precisely, is that sprawling“On Faith” site over at the Washington Post Online? It’s a question that I’ve been asking ever since that site opened, as you can see by clicking here. You may recall that the very first “On Faith” question to its Parliament of Religions panel was this: If some religious people believe they have a monopoly on truth, then are conversation and common ground possible? If so, what would be the difficulties and benefits of such a conversation? Great question. But is that a news question? It has become clear that “On Faith” is, in reality, a gigantic and very ambitious oped page for discussions and arguments about issues, beliefs and feelings linked to religion. What is not clear is what all of this has to do with news coverage of religion news. I, for one, really wish that there was some way for the “On Faith” site to at least — this would cost nothing, really — gather together all of the news reporting that takes place in the Washington Post newsroom and in its wire -service offerings (Religion News Service, for heaven’s sake) and put it together in a one-stop shopping grid on the weblog so that there is more interaction between the opinion and essays at “On Faith” and, well, the world of facts, doctrines and events that drive religion news. That’s N.E.W.S. Or is this op-ed-only approach actually the message, implying that there are no real facts to report about religious life, doctrine, history and events? That religion is, in reality, a subject in which everything is opinion and fog and that everyone should just accept that and move on? Thus, there is no transcendence and revelation that is not completely and utterly personal and private. Thus, it is hard to do hard journalism in this realm — other than op-ed opinion. You can see signs of this approach in founder Sally Quinn’s famous — for the Divine Ms. MZ that was infamous— essay on the weblog’s one-year anniversary. Remember this paragraph? When we started this I knew practically

nothing about religion or the internet. I was not a believer (Jon Meacham is an Episcopalian, a practicing Christian) so I felt secure that I had his experience and knowledge to give us the grounding we needed. Even so it was such an unlikely subject for me to get involved with that even my husband was in shock. My friends still report people sidling up to them at cocktail parties and saying, “What’s with Sally and this religion thing?” If you don’t know the identity of her husband, then you don’t know Washington, D.C. Anyway, there is now a new discussion taking place near the often troubled intersection of Catholicism and journalism, linked to Quinn’s affectionate online essay entitled “The Faith and Joy of Russert.” The key section is linked to the recent funeral for the NBC politico, who was an active and outspoken Catholic: Last Wednesday at Tim’s funeral mass at Trinity Church in Georgetown (Jack Kennedy’s church), communion was offered. I had only taken communion once in my life, at an evangelical church. It was soon after I had started “On Faith” and I wanted to see what it was like. Oddly I had a slightly nauseated sensation after I took it, knowing that in some way it represented the body and blood of Jesus Christ.. . . I was determined to take it for Tim, transubstantiation notwithstanding. I’m so glad I did. It made me feel closer to him. And it was worth it just to imagine how he would have loved it. As you would imagine, traditional Catholics were not amused, in part because one takes communion in an evangelical church and Communion in a Catholic parish. Thus — no surprise — Bill Donohue at the Catholic League quickly expressed displeasure and that reached The New Republic: “Just reading what Sally Quinn said is enough to give any Christian, especially Catholics, more than a ‘slightly nauseating sensation.’ In her privileged world, life is all about experiences and feelings. “Moreover, Quinn’s statement not only reeks of narcissism, it shows a profound disrespect for Catholics and the beliefs they hold dear. If she really wanted to get close to Tim Russert, she should have found a way to do so without trampling on Catholic sensibilities. Like praying for him

— that’s what Catholics do.” TNR called Quinn and she had just received a really nasty voicemail. The conversation, in effect, led to this Quinn statement to the press and her public: I’m very pluralistic about religion, and I feel that everyone should respect everyone else’s.. . . I was really close to (Russert), and I was grieving. And I thought me taking the Eucharist would be a thing that

he would really enjoy. And all these things are what religion should be about.. . . There’s no sign out there that says you’re not allowed to take Communion. [The Catholic Church is] like, “Everyone is welcome. This is God’s house.” God doesn’t turn people away, supposedly. I think it’s really an important issue. The Pope doesn’t want people who are prochoice to take it. John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi,

Chris Dodd, even the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, and others were not allowed.. . . Frankly, none of that was going through my mind. I was feeling absolutely destroyed. It felt right to do it as a tribute to him. I wasn’t thinking politically at all. I’ve become a champion of pluralism and a spirit of inclusiveness. Any religious people who purport to be Christians, or whatever faith you might be, would do everything they could to welcome others — in the case of Catholics, to welcome others the way Christ would welcome others. This is a perfect example of WWJD. Would Jesus have said, “No you don’t, Sally Quinn. You’re not going to get away with this one!” This kind of more-Catholic-than-thepope logic tends to make pro-Vatican Catholics upset. To read an essay on the traditions and doctrines linked to “closed Communion,” click here for a few words from Mark Shea. Also, one of the nation’s best-known Jesuits, Father James Martin, said just about everything that a Catholic would want to say to non-Catholics on this topic in a quick online response for America. Yes, on the one hand, Jesus was all about inclusion and welcome, especially when it came to healing and invitations for repentance and forgiveness. However: On the other hand. . . Catholics believe in the “real presence,” the actual presence of Christ in the elements of the Eucharist: the bread and the wine. It is a central element of our faith, and reception of Communion is something that a Catholic does not do lightly. Which is something of an understatement. “First Holy Communion” is an important passage to adulthood; and even afterwards adults are asked to approach Communion reverently and without being conscious of any grave sin. Catholics also know that the very word “Communion” means that you are in “communion” with the rest of the Catholic church, and accept its beliefs. Therefore, it is probably not too much to expect that the co-founder of a prestigious online blog about religion run by two of the nation’s premier journals, would understand something about the most basic “ON page 34

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God-fearing atheists
By Mollie
Submitted at 6/26/2008 9:08:01 PM

“ON from page 33 continued
troubling. In my confession of faith (Lutheran), we’re taught that all of these things are gifts from God and that we are to use all of these things to order our daily affairs. Our religious teachings and beliefs come from both revealed and observed truth. They work together. Or take this aspect of the study as summarized by Jacqueline Salmon of the Washington Post: The poll, by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, found that nearly threefourths of Americans believe in heaven as a place where people who have led good lives will be eternally rewarded. And almost 60 percent believe in hell, where people who have led bad lives and die without repenting are eternally punished, the poll found. Look at the question that was asked: Do you think there is a heaven, where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded? I honestly have no idea how would I answer that question. The “heaven” in the question in no way resembles Lutheran teaching about heaven. We don’t believe good works gain people salvation (see: the Doctrine of Justification). It’s a minor point, but one worthy of considering as reporters head off to write big think pieces about what these numbers mean. Reader Chris Bolinger wrote: I fear that, with MSM articles on the the latest Pew Forum survey and report, we have the perfect storm of: * An overreaching survey that tries to cover too much ground and includes many questions that are poorly constructed * A summary of the resulting 276-page report that tries to boil down results that, frankly, are all over the map * MSM reporters who are obsessed with politics, know little (and care less) about how surveys are conducted or what flaws may exist in this one, and are itching to call characterize the survey results as “proof” of what they have been reporting for the past few years These Pew surveys are wonderful and highly addictive for religion reporters. But reporters should be careful about the conclusions they draw from the data given the limitations of the survey. Bookmark to: practices of the Catholic church. Most intelligent people know a few facts about the Catholic church: this is one of them. And even if one doesn’t know this, one would know to act with great care when in the midst of a worshiping community not your own. (For example, I am always exceedingly careful not to offend anyone’s sensibilities when in a synagogue, a mosque or a Christian church or meeting place not affiliated with the Catholic church.) An essential element of respect for another religious tradition is approaching their holy places, people and ceremonies with sense of reverence, even awe. And right there is the point that makes this subject crucial to your GetReligionistas, rather than simply piling on with others who want to knock Quinn for her emotion-driven approach to what it means to partake of a Sacrament in an ancient, doctrinal, Sacramental Church. There are facts that matter here. Facts about history, doctrine and courtesy. Facts matter when you are covering religion news and trends. Facts matter when you are interviewing religious people — left and right, members of major world religions and members of lesser known bodies that some would be tempted to call “fringe.” Facts and doctrine matter to religious people, even to people who are very specific and highly creedal about the doctrines that they reject. I have interviewed many an atheist who had more doctrines in his anti-creed than I recite in the Nicene Creed. This isn’t about emotions and feelings. It’s about getting the facts right and showing respect for the people for whom those facts, doctrines and rituals are a matter of eternal life and death. Facts matter in journalism, religion and journalism about religion. Amen. Bookmark to:

A few days ago, Terry looked at a few of the initial stories that came out of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life megastudy. In the comments, a few of you noted one particularly odd statistic from the survey. Here’s how Ed Stoddard of Reuters put it on the news service’s blog: There seems to be some confusion among self-described U.S. atheists, at least according to the second part of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s monumental “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey” that was issued today. It found that 92 percent of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, with 71 percent of those surveyed saying they were “absolutely certain” on this score. Curiously, more than one fifth — 21 percent — of those who counted themselves as atheists said they believed in God while eight percent expressed absolute certainty about this state of affairs. One thing does seem absolutely certain: at least a few U.S. atheists must be confused. My “Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions” (Wordsworth Reference Series, 1992) begins its definition of the word “atheism” in the following manner: “The denial of the existence of God or gods.” Indeed, the very definition of the term atheist seems to preclude a yes answer to the question of belief in God or a universal spirit. Whenever I read stories about surveys, I’ve found that going to the original source documents helps. But not in this case. Here’s how the surveyors asked the question: Question: Do you believe in God or a universal spirit? [IF YES, ASK:] How certain are you about this belief? Are you absolutely certain, fairly certain, not too certain, or not at all certain? For atheists, eight percent were absolutely certain, seven were fairly certain and 6 weren’t terribly certain. Fifty -five percent of agnostics, who by definition claim ignorance about the existence of God, believe in God. Seventeen percent are absolutely certain, 23 percent fairly certain and 15 percent are less certain. While atheists and agnostics gave very

low marks to the importance of religion and whether they went to church frequently, when asked whether they pray, 21 percent of atheists and 56 percent of agnostics said they did. In fact, a small percentage of atheists said that they received definite answers to prayer at least once a week. Steve Waldman at Beliefnet has a theory about the numbers: The Spirituality of Atheists- 21% of Atheists believe in god. What this means is that Atheism has become a cultural designation, rather than a theological statement. Some are likely declaring themselves atheists as a statement of hostility to organized religion, rather than to God. This might help explain polls showing rising numbers of Atheists. That may very well be, although there is no way to know that for certain from the data. Particularly considering respondents had the option of saying they weren’t affiliated with any organized religion. But even if it were certain, what would that say about the rest of the numbers? It doesn’t really inspire confidence, for me at least, in the survey’s methodology, accuracy or utility. Certainly a survey so wide — 35,000 random Americans — is by necessity very shallow in it’s theological depth. Particularly when so many of the questions were political instead of religious in nature. In fact, the first 20-plus questions did not discuss religion at all. Steve Waldman, this time writing for the Wall Street Journal, analyzed another part of the survey: —On the big culture-war issues, Catholics seem only marginally influenced by the Church’s positions. While 50% of the population as a whole say homosexuality should be accepted, 58% of Catholics say it should be. A narrow majority (48%-45%) of Catholics believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Part of the explanation: while most Catholics say they have strong views about right and wrong, a paltry 22% say they get their views about morality primarily from religion while 57% say it comes from “practical experience and common sense” — and only 9% of Catholics say religion is the major determinant of their political views.

That’s also some great analysis, as one might expect from Waldman. But the survey again has limitations. For one thing, these numbers combine the views of Catholics who go to mass weekly or daily with Catholics who haven’t been to mass in decades. If there are cultural, nontheological atheists, there are certainly cultural, non-theological Catholics. So before journalists extract dramatic conclusions about the results, I hope they understand the limits of the data. In the comments to Terry’s post, reader Ron wrote: I am struck by how hopelessly inadequate the poll’s questions about exclusive truth claims are to capturing the complexity of traditional Christian teaching. Similarly, I found the question that resulted in Waldman’s second paragraph just lacking in general. It asked “When it comes to questions of right and wrong, which of the following do you look to most for guidance?” The choices were: Religious teachings and beliefs; philosophy and reason; practical experience and common sense or scientific information. It’s not just that I would have liked to answer “yes.” It’s the entire premise I find

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What’s in a name?
By Mollie
Submitted at 6/27/2008 3:48:17 PM

Back in April when Texas authorities seized children from a ranch owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we discussed how well the media distinguished between them and the much larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As far as media coverage went, we thought reporters handled the distinction pretty well. We definitely took issue with how well they retained their objectivity with the story. But the LDS church commissioned a survey of 1,000 Americans and found that 36 percent thought the Texas compound was part of the LDS Church or the “Mormon Church” based in Salt Lake City. According to the survey, six percent said the churches were partly related, 29 percent said the groups were not connected at all, and 29 percent weren’t sure. So the LDS decided to do a big public relations campaign and enlist religion reporters help in clarifying the distinction. Whereas Peggy Fletcher Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune ran a rather brief story, the Associated Press’ Eric Gorski used the campaign as a hook to explore the issue in greater depth: As authorities have investigated a polygamist sect in Texas, Mormon church leaders in Salt Lake City have largely stayed on the sidelines, weighing a response. Church officials knew the sect’s similar name and practice of polygamy — part of Mormon church life until it was banned more than a century ago — would cause people to confuse the two. Now the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -day Saints, better known as the Mormon church, is starting a public relations campaign that seeks a delicate balance: distinguishing itself from a small, separate group that claims some of the same history while not denigrating someone else’s beliefs. It’s a sensitive issue for the Mormon church, which was persecuted in its early

years. The initiative begun Thursday also details how it considers its 19th century practice of polygamy different from present-day practitioners like the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. “People have the right to worship as they choose, and we aren’t interested in attacking someone else’s beliefs,” LDS church apostle Quentin Cook said in a statement. “At the same time, we have an obligation to define ourselves rather than be defined by events and incidents that have nothing to do with us.” “Mormons,” he said, “have nothing whatsoever to do with this polygamous sect in Texas.” I love the way that Gorski really makes the most out of each word. There is rarely an unnecessary clause in his prose. The

middle of the story gives a ton of specifics — the LDS took no stance on the April raid of the FLDS compound in Texas or subsequent battles. Gorski explains why the campaign was launched and how it centers around videos on the LDS web site that aim to demonstrate that church members are like anyone else in the community. He also explains how the church aims to explain its former practice of polygamy relative to the FLDS’ current practice of polygamy. He gives the specifics of the public relations campaign, such as an article that emphasizes that most polygamous marriages involved just two wives and that Mormon women in the 19th century could choose whether to marry and could leave their polygamous marriages. He notes a few things that were left out,

such as the fact that church founder Joseph Smith had at least 28 wives, some as young as 14 and that his successor Brigham Young married at least 20 women. But he gets a response from LDS Apostle Cook about why comparisons of FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs to the early Mormon church prophets are unfair. There’s no “gotcha” in the reporting. In addition to another religious scholar, Gorski speaks with historian Jan Shipps, who is a highly-regarded non-Mormon scholar of the Latter Day Saint movement: Although the Mormon church distances itself from polygamist groups like the FLDS, the groups are not unrelated, said Jan Shipps, a historian who specializes in Mormonism. They share common roots, call themselves Mormon and recognize Joseph Smith as a prophet, she said.

“You can see why the (LDS) church is doing its best to draw a line between the two,” she said. “The problem is that by drawing the line, they don’t recognize the shared history both accept.” Shipps said it’s accurate to call sects like the FLDS “fundamentalist Mormons” because she, and other scholars, considers Mormonism a new religious tradition with several expressions. The LDS church, which considers itself Christian, sees it differently. As part of the new initiative to set itself apart from polygamist groups, the church’s general counsel, Lance Wickman, wrote a letter to media executives this week urging sensitivity in coverage and asking that the term “fundamentalist Mormon” not be used. “Decades ago, the founders of that sect rejected the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were excommunicated,” he wrote, “and then started their own religion.” I love how straightforward Gorski is. He doesn’t come down one way or the other, even if he gives the LDS official the last word. His story from beginning to end shows the most important point: the LDS church seeks to distance itself from the FLDS. But he also shows that the church’s goal of getting journalists to refrain from calling the FLDS “fundamentalist Mormons” is not universally shared. The one thing that would have been nice to have included in this story is some perspective from the FLDS themselves. What do they think of the LDS public relations campaign? It would also have been nice to find out what the LDS think the group should be called. All I could find on the LDS site was the not-so-specific “ polygamist sect in Texas” and the clunky“the polygamous group in Texas that calls itself the FLDS,” neither of which are probably going to catch on at copydesks. Bookmark to:

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A new “church within a church”
By Mollie
Submitted at 6/29/2008 6:49:35 AM

Major, major news coming out of the Jerusalem meeting of Anglican primates. The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) has produced a statement with major implications for the Anglican Communion. Before looking at any coverage, you should read the clear and concise statement here. In a section analyzing the current state of affairs in Anglicanism, the GAFCON document says that the church is in crisis over “three undeniable facts”: The first fact is the acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’ (cf. Galatians 1:6-8) which is contrary to the apostolic gospel. This false gospel undermines the authority of God’s Word written and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the author of salvation from sin, death and judgement. Many of its proponents claim that all religions offer equal access to God and that Jesus is only a way, not the way, the truth and the life. It promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right. It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony. In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship. While sexual morality is clearly a major issue at play here, reporters should read what precedes discussions of sexuality when characterizing the nature of the division in the Anglican Communion. The second issue is the realignment of parishes and dioceses in Canada and the United States, joining with provincial bodies in the Global South. The third issues is the “manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy.” The rest of the document offers a confessional statement of doctrine, and the announcement of a new primatial council for development and discipline. This

council will set up an Anglican province in North America for confessing Anglicans who live here. The GAFCON participants have not split from the Anglican Communion, despite what some reporters are alleging. However, they are formally announcing their intention to set up a “church within a church” to deal with the problems being wrought by the division in the communion. So reporters who were claiming that GAFCON was a gaffe-prone failure to accomplish anything might have to backtrack a bit. While the Anglican blogosphere did a great job of covering the event, Ruth Gledhill of The Times was, I believe, the first reporter out of the gate with the big news:

The Anglican Communion will be split tomorrow when conservatives representing more than half its total membership will announce the formation of a new orthodox body to be a stronghold against liberal views. It will be schism in all but name. The new global Anglican fellowship will act within the legal boundaries of provinces such the Church of England that make up the existing Communion but, in North America, it will declare its independence from the ultra-liberal Episcopal Church and from the Anglican church in Canada. A later piece said the GAFCON move is “ in effect a schism.” But one of the sentences from the GAFCON document specifically said, “Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican

Communion.” So what is happening, exactly? Gledhill’s blog has some analysis and asks: When is a schism not a schism? When it is done by Anglicans. George Conger for the Washington Times put it well, I thought: Conservative Anglicans will declare a split from the U.S. Episcopal Church on Sunday, but will stop short of schism with the archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Associated Press religion reporter Rachel Zoll had a rather straightforward story mostly comprised of background on the division in the Anglican Communion, but it’s a good thing to read if you need that information. Gledhill already had some analysis on

what this all means, which is helpful for such a massive story as this: The trigger for the new movement was the 2003 consecration of an openly gay bishop, the Right Rev Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire and the authorisation of same-sex blessings in the New Westminster diocese in Canada. But to the conservatives, these events were merely the logical conclusion to years of movement away from the Christianity of the Early Church Fathers - the writers and teachers in the first five centuries of Christianity - the Anglicanism of the Reformation and the enthusiasm of the 19th century revivals of AngloCatholicism and evangelicalism. . . . [The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter] Jensen said:”American revisionists committed an extraordinary strategic blunder in 2003. They did not think that there would be any consequences. “Now if they did not believe that there would be consequences, that is an arrogant thing, I have to say. But I don’t know them, so I really cannot say. The consequences have been unfolding over the last five years. Now their church is divided; it looks as though there will be permanent division, one way or the other. “All around the world the sleeping giant that is evangelical Anglicanism and orthodox Anglicanism has been aroused by what happened in Canada and the United States of America. It was an act of folly.” Is that an angle that reporters should be pursuing? Did the Episcopal Church made a strategic blunder? Was the strategic blunder the failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to effectively deal with the North American church? I honestly have no idea, but we do need reporters to dig into what all this means. As Terry would say, that goes for the local, regional, national and global implications of this story. Bookmark to:

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CT talks sense on GAFCON
By tmatt
Submitted at 6/28/2008 12:25:09 PM

If you think back to the beginning of this Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem, the assumption was that a pack of fundamentalist rebels was getting together to plan and then announce a schism in the global Anglican Communion. Remember that horrific Telegraph headline? Anglican church schism declared over homosexuality There were all kinds of assumptions built into that early coverage, including a very sketchy notion that all of these different kinds of traditionalists, charismatics and low-church evangelicals from around the world were all on the same page. Try to imagine that. Are Anglican liberals all the same? Of course not. Via media is a road to compromise, but not to any one particular place in the middle of the Anglican spectrum. When it comes to answers, the Anglican voices are legion. Anyway, not the template seems to be that GAFCON— key documents are coming out in the next day or so — has failed because the traditionalists did not achieve the schism that many in the press decided was their goal in the here and now. The tone in a Time magazine piece is perfect, starting with the headline, “Threat of Anglican Schism Fizzles.” The would-be Anglican rebels gathered with storm clouds brewing around them. But now, even though the conservative Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFcon) has not concluded its meeting in Jerusalem, the secession it threatened to bring to the 78 million-member Anglican Communion looks like a confused bust.

This all comes as a bit of surprise to the press, which — with ample encouragement from the Church’s right — had been framing GAFcon as a decisive step toward schism in the Anglican Communion, the third biggest global religious fellowship. GAFcon seems to be falling apart on several fronts. One crucial change is needed. From SOME on the church’s right. I’ve been covering this story for a quarter century and lived in it for 10 and, believe me, I have never seen even a hint of unity on the conservative side of the Anglican fence. That’s part of what makes covering the story so complex.

So who gets it? Pre-Lambeth, I would urge reporters to read the following newsy essay by Timothy C. Morgan. For you reporters out there, here is the key part: If I were writing purely a critique of the mainstream media coverage, my central criticism would be that US and UK media outlets keep driving the political side of the story (Will there or won’t there be a schism?). But they are by and large missing the faith side of the story.. . . But the media are not the only ones who are misunderstanding GAFCON. Among conservatives, no surprise, I am coming across three different kinds of Anglicans

here who often don’t understand each other very well. Let me describe them this way: * The separationists. These individuals wish to create a new Anglican Communion that is global, not centered in Canterbury. * The reformers. These folks are not yet ready to give up on the existing Anglican Communion and have a movement strategy for redeeming and restoring the Communion. * The new paradigm. This is the trickiest one to understand. Under a new paradigm, Anglicanism becomes a global network, locally distinctive, church or communitybased, and centered on the biblical mission of evangelism and discipleship.

And then there is this comment, including some names worth chasing: Last night, scholar Lamin Sanneh, Palestinian Christian Salim Munayer, and Messianic pastor Evan Thomas pointed GAFCON Anglicans toward a future that was global, reconciling, and biblical. Years from now, we might find that the only English element left in 21st century Anglicanism is the English language itself. Keep repeating the GetReligion mantra on this — local, regional, national and global. You have to find a way to get the story right at all four levels. And it also pays to keep the following joke in mind, the way that I first heard if almost 20 years ago (thus, the 2010 reference): The year is 2010 and two graduates of the very conservative Anglo-Catholic seminary called Nashotah House are standing in the back of the Washington National Cathedral as the church’s latest presiding bishop and her lesbian partner process down the long center aisle, carrying a statue of the Buddha aloft while surrounded by a cloud of incense. As they watch this scene unfold, one of the priests leans over and quietly tells the other: “You know, one more thing and I’m out of here.” PERSONAL NOTE: By the way, I am out of here for a week away from my offices. I will touch base now and then, but I’m leaving you in the hands of the Divine Ms. MZ and company. But I still need to write a Scripps Howard column and keep in touch with my students, so I will post a few times. Sigh. The Internet. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it. Bookmark to:

Red Chile Marinated Grilled Chicken
By Elise
Submitted at 6/26/2008 9:52:18 PM

This is some of the best chicken I've ever eaten - grilled, roasted, baked, whatever. Juicy, spicy, tender, lipsmackin' good. Here's the deal, there are two ways to make this recipe. One way entails making your

own red chile sauce from scratch, using dried ancho and guajillo chiles that you can usually only find at a specialty Mexican market. Even our local Whole Foods doesn't carry these dried chiles. The second method starts with a base of canned red chile sauce, which is a little easier to find in a regular supermarket, and saves

quite a few steps. I've made this recipe

both ways. As you might expect, if you have access to the dried chiles and can make the time to make your own sauce base, it's totally worth it for the extra intensity and depth of flavor. The good news is that if you can't get a hold of the dried chiles, or you don't have the time, canned red chile sauce works fine as a base

for this sauce. Red chile enchilada sauce works too, though you may need to add some chili powder to it to increase the heat. In any case you are going to pump up the sauce a bit with ground cloves, cinnamon, and cumin. Continue reading "Red Chile Marinated Grilled Chicken" »

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Pfleger: Pol or priest?
By Mark Stricherz
Submitted at 6/27/2008 1:18:36 PM

ABC News billed it as an exclusive. More than two weeks after being suspended for making fun of Hillary Clinton from the pulpit, Father Michael Pfleger discussed his return to active ministry. Here is how Jonann Brady of ABC News began her story: In an exclusive interview, Pfleger told “Good Morning America” that he does not “apologize for being passionate, I don’t apologize for being free.” “But I apologize when my passion or my freeness and my flawedness of character get in the way of a content which is much more important to me,” he told “GMA’s” Robin Roberts. Though Pfleger promised church leaders he would not speak about the candidates again by name, he insisted he would still talk about politics. “The church has to be the one to be the voice of conscience to the world and can’t be afraid to be that,” he said. “It has to speak to politics and the policies and the politicians and to raise those questions, or we’re not faithful to what our mission is. “ Later in the story, Brady filled readers in about Pfleger’s activities and background: In his sermon on June 22 called “Ain’t Nothing Like a Comeback,” Pfleger told his parishioners at St. Sabina’s Catholic Church that he would not “run and hide, nor allow them to cause me to ‘play it safe’ or become silent.” “We still have an unequal justice system — we still have more people of color in poverty, in jail, in poor education systems, a lack of health care. All those statistics will tell us that we have not come as far as we’ve liked to come,” said Pfleger. Pfleger has been the leader of the predominantly black church since 1981. He has been described as “extremely Afrocentric,” and has called the controversial former pastor at Trinity Church, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a “friend, mentor and

hero.” The two passages apply more to a liberal politician than a Catholic priest. Readers were told of Pfleger’s view of politics and political activities but not his non-political pastoral activities. Brady was not the only reporter who portrayed Pfleger almost exclusively in political terms. So too did Cathleen Falsani, a columnist for Religion News Service and the Chicago Sun Times. In an otherwise interesting profile of the pastor, Falsani emphasized his political activity repeatedly, as in this passage: Along his unique spiritual journey, Pfleger has made a lot of enemies and acquired a few interesting traveling companions, including the Rev. Jesse

Jackson, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, poet Maya Angelou, singer Harry Belafonte, the Rev. Al Sharpton and black liberation icon James Cone. Sen. Barack Obama’s controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is one of Pfleger’s closest friends. In fact, Pfleger credits Wright with teaching him how to preach in the fiery style that landed him in hot water and resulted in an involuntary leave of absence from St. Sabina. Sure, Pfleger’s political activism is a big part of the story. If it weren’t, he would never have made national headlines. But for a Catholic priest, his brand of political activism is highly unusual. He quotes Martin Luther King, Jr. and Paul

Tillich, but not popes John Paul II or John XXIII. He fights against drugs, guns, and prostitution but not abortion, which is an issue of increasing concern among black Catholics. (This would be too much to ask of most reporters, but Falsani and Brady might have asked why Pfleger did not become a Josephite, an order that caters to black Catholics.) Pfleger’s theological views and spiritual experience are also unusual. In the middle of the story, Falsani writes Outside of it, Pfleger, 59, has spent the 33 years of his priesthood among the impoverished black community on Chicago’s South Side creating a ministry that’s based in equal parts on a thoroughly Catholic understanding of the social gospel and its notion of God’s preferential option for the poor, and the not-so-Catholic belief in salvation by grace, through faith — period. At the same time, Pfleger, who says he became a born-again Christian more than 30 years ago, also has built a public reputation for being a loudmouth rebel (some say renegade) — a rabble-rousing, bishop-defying troublemaker. There is a lot to explain there. How do his views and experience comport with his service as a Catholic priest? What’s more, Brady and Falsani failed to note that Pfleger was suspended by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago precisely because he was acting in a partisan (i.e. overly political) way. Yet the reporters continue to portray Pfleger almost entirely as a political activist rather than a Catholic priest. Whatever the two reporters and Pfleger think, there is a difference. Catholic teaching maintains, and Cardinal George reiterated, that priests have a role to play in politics. But priests should not be confused with politicians. When reporters miss this, they don’t get religion. Bookmark to:

Zucchini Muffins
By Elise
Submitted at 6/28/2008 6:10:02 AM

Now that we are living in the land of zucchini plenty (our zucchini plant is well along in its mission of total garden domination) we have ample opportunity to try out zucchini recipes. I've been experimenting with muffins and have settled on this one, a riff on our banana bread recipe. Much like the banana bread, these muffins are insanely good and insanely easy to make. No mixer, wooden spoon only, and two bowls, though you could really even make the batter in one bowl. Very moist. Just sweet enough. I say that the nuts and raisins/dried cranberries are optional because today I watched my favorite 12-year old friend pick out all of them while still declaring how much she loved the muffins. If you like nuts and raisins (or dried cranberries) by all means keep them in. Continue reading "Zucchini Muffins" »

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39

An uncertain future for Iraqi Christians
By dpulliam
Submitted at 6/28/2008 9:10:14 PM

BACK page 32 continued from
cadets who did not attend religious services during basic training were sometimes referred to as “heathens.” They said mandatory banquets begin with prayer, including a reading from the Bible at a recent gala. But most of their complaints center on Maj. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, until recently the academy’s top military leader and, since early May, the commander of the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. The cadets and staff said General Caslen, as commandant of cadets at West Point, routinely brought up God in speeches at events cadets were required to attend. In his farewell speech to the cadet corps this spring, General Caslen told them: “Draw your strength in the days ahead from your faith in God. Let it be the moral compass that guides you in the decisions you make.” You know what? There is no law against “bringing up God” in public addresses that people are required to attend. There is no law against quoting Plato or William Shakespeare, either. Again, we do not know enough about what these evangelicals are saying to know if they are crossing any lines into evangelism. The statement above, read in isolation, sounds like a man giving advice based on his own beliefs. In other words, he was not giving orders. Would you want to silence a woman or man from making personal comments about other issues of ethics, personal conduct and even public life? The issue is not whether people are offended, from time to time. Religious believers are offended all the time by free and offensive speech that goes on around them. The issue is whether coercion is taking place. The issue is whether some religious believers are enjoying rights and privileges that are denied to others. Banerjee does a good job of quoting people on both sides of the issue. For example: In interviews on campus, 15 randomly selected cadets said that they did not feel religion was foisted upon them. “There is a spiritual aspect here that people feel is part of the development of an officer,” said Brad Hoelscher, who graduated last month, “but not a specific brand of religion or even religion itself.” Col. John J. Cook III, head chaplain at West Point, said, “No one is pushing them to believe.” However, once again, the reader has no idea what is right, what is legal. As I have said many times here: Religious freedom is a very messy business, but it beats all the alternatives. Reporters should cover the problems on these campuses, because they are real and they are valid stories. But it is also important to note that many of the “problems,” in the eyes of those who are offended, are actually legal expressions of the beliefs of others. Here’s a suggestion: Whenever you read one of these stories, substitute the word “environmentalist” or the phrase “gender equality” whenever you encounter the word “evangelical.” Does it still sound like a problem? Be careful out there. Apples are rarely oranges. Bookmark to:

As Iraq receives less news coverage for a variety of reasons, the ongoing tragedies that are becoming part of everyday life in that ancient land receive less coverage. Nearly a year ago, we highlighted a Washington Times article on the persecution of religious minority groups in Iraq. Thursday, The New York Times provided a retrospective article on the subject of religious persecution that highlights just how tragic that persecution became: Officials say the demands could be hundreds of dollars a month per male member of a household. In many cases, Christian families drained their life savings and went into debt to make the payments. Insurgents also raised money by kidnapping priests. The ransoms, often paid by the congregations, typically ran as high as $150,000, several priests and lay Christians said. In a paradox, this city, long the seat of Iraqi Christianity, also became known as the last urban stronghold of Sunni insurgents. Another, more painful, paradox is that many of Iraq’s remaining 700,000 Christians paid to save their lives, knowing full well that the money would be used for bombs and other weapons to kill others. The really stunning statistic in this article is that the Iraqi Christian population has fallen a pre-war 1.3 million to about 700,000 today. Those who stayed provided financial backing against their will for the insurgency: These payments, American military officials and Iraqi Christians say, peaked from 2005 to 2007 and grew into a source of financing for the insurgency. They thus became a secret, shameful and extraordinary complication in the lives of Iraq’s Christians and their leaders — one that Christians are only now talking about more openly, with violence much lower

than in the first years of the war. “People deny it, people say it’s too complex, and nobody in the international community does anything about it,” said Canon Andrew White, the Anglican vicar of Baghdad. Complicating the issue further, he said, some of the protection money came from funds donated by Christians abroad to help their fellow Christians in Iraq. Yonadam Kanna, a Christian lawmaker in Iraq’s Parliament, said, “All Iraqi Christians paid.” I should note that the NYT is somewhat behind on this story. The Associated Press ran a story in early May, and CNSNews.com had a story on the subject in late May. Probably as a benefit of being late, the

NYT was able to provide some context to the situation with some stunning details. One subtle angle in their story is that the decreasing violence has allowed a sort of respite from the ransom payments and kidnappings. The missing angle from these stories was what would happen if and/or when the American military presence is either reduced from its current status or removed all together. What type of assurances, if anyone, can be given to Iraq’s religious minorities (about 3 percent of the population) that they will be able to continue to live in their ancient land? Photo of Assyrian child dressed in traditional clothes from Wikipedia. Bookmark to:

Grilled Corn Salad
By Elise
Submitted at 6/28/2008 9:14:50 PM

There are, I think, three essential ingredients to this salad - corn, which you can grill or even prepare by toasting frozen

kernels on the stovetop, onions, and cumin. The rest is a medley of whatever fresh vegetables you might have on hand. In this case I had zucchini and a serrano chile pepper from my garden and a big red bell pepper. I tossed in some cotija cheese for

good measure. Although this is a grilled

corn salad the other vegetables benefit from some searing heat as well. A simple seasoning of cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar or lime juice pulls everything together. I made this for my parents today and my father insisted that "this one needs

to go on the site" while polishing it off. Enjoy. Continue reading "Grilled Corn Salad" »

40

Religion* Food*

Daily -Click and Print- Newspaper

Failing the objective
By dpulliam
Submitted at 6/30/2008 2:05:18 AM

Both The Washington Post and The Washington Times covered a Virginia state court ruling Friday regarding the constitutionality of a longstanding state law that could allow the 11 congregations who have left the Episcopal Church over the last couple of years to keep their multimillion dollar properties. The tone and perspective of the two stories are rather stark. Just look look at the headlines. Here is the Post’s: Episcopal Church Loses In Court And now the headline in the Times: Virginia judge affirms parish property rights I guess the upholding of one group’s “property rights” is another group’s lost legal battle. The Times article, written by friend-ofthe-blog Julia Duin, focuses heavily on the legal consequences of the judge’s ruling, inter-mixing the history of the conflict, while the Post article primarily focuses on the background of the rather complicated story. A reader noted to us that the Post’s reporting unprofessionally uses the word “spat” to describe the conflict and repeatedly refers to the 11 churches as “the breakaway congregations.” Duin on the other hand, refers to the group of 11 churches as “11 former Episcopal churches that left the Diocese of Virginia 18 months ago over issues of theology and the 2003 consecration of the denomination’s first openly gay bishop” and subsequently as simply “the churches.” I know the story is complicated but why can’t neutral terms be used to describe the two groups? The Post goes an extra step further in quoting a seemingly objective “expert” who actually turns out to be taking sides in this legal battle: It was not immediately clear what

Portuguese Salt Cod Stew (Bacalhoada)
By Elise
Submitted at 6/25/2008 6:57:11 PM

happens next in the complex, two-track legal dispute. The conservatives brought the issue into court first, filing a petition activating the Virginia law, called 57-9. The diocese then filed a separate request for summary judgment, asking Bellows to demand that the conservatives leave the property. A trial is slated for the fall to determine who gets the property, and Bellows yesterday asked each side to file a brief in the next few weeks laying out how his ruling affects that proceeding. Robert Tuttle, an expert on church-state law, said the “only way” for the Episcopal Church to win now is for 57-9 to be overturned by a higher court. Tuttle also serves as legal counsel for the regional branch of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which filed a brief in the case

supporting the Diocese of Virginia. Oh, snap! Not such an objective expert after all. In addition, The Post does not seem to have the contact information of anyone associated with those “breakaway,” “conservative,” churches, while Duin quoted sources on both sides of the battle. I don’t envy the reporters covering this highly charged, significant, convoluted religious and legal battle. Efforts at objectivity may seem futile, but thoughtful, consistent choice of language and terms is a good place to start. The Post seems to have particular difficulty in talking to representatives of both sides and avoiding pejorative shorthand terms. Bookmark to:

The first time my friend and fellow food blogger Fernanda mentioned wanting to make a Portuguese salt cod stew, I was skeptical. (Though given how well Fernanda's salmon fish stew had turned out what was I thinking?) Salt cod isn't one of those easily-found-in-the-supermarket items. For hundreds of years codfish

preserved in salt may have been a food staple in North America and Europe, but with the advances of modern refrigeration in the last century, it's been sort of hard to come by actually, for decades. Too bad, as the drying process that preserves salt cod greatly concentrates its flavor. Continue reading "Portuguese Salt Cod Stew (Bacalhoada)" »