Monday, November 29, 2004

What makes an award winning magazine?

Some award-winning editors give their answers to The Media Guardian here.

Now everyone really is a journalist

I'm very excited to hear that the creators of Wikipedia* are to move into news. Even at this early stage the demo of Wikinews looks like it could be very useful, with 'citizen reporters' able to report, edit and discuss current events. The discussion of the site itself makes particularly interesting (if bizarre at times) reading.

More comment on blogsperiment.

*Wikipedia is already a fantastic online resource for those wanting an expert and up to date encyclopedia. One of those ideas that makes the most of the net's potential, it's a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, so of course it evolves over time and with people's additions and corrections. Less well-known are sister sites Wiktionary, Wikisource, and others accessible from the Meta-Wiki page.

Open government on the web

Good to see that, while the print and broadcast media may often be cowed by the government, the WWW can at least enable a citizen to hold the government to account - or so says this thoroughly informative article in Wired News, which includes dozens of very helpful links. Sadly they're all American, so once again I'm left looking for a British equivalent...

Meanwhile, over here the Institute of Public Policy Research has suggested that online communities could encourage public debate and build trust, according to the BBC. Interestingly, the suggestion comes on the Manifesto for a Digital Britain blog, set up by the IPPR and where you can post your own comments (or indeed subscribe for updates). If only more government thinking was done this way.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

NYT quotes blog as "expert source"

Very interesting posting from Blogsperiment demonstrating how blogs continue to become part of mainstream journalism.

Free images, video, sound...

I'm still struggling to find the Creative Commons search engine apparently integrated into Firefox, but the Creative Commons search site is just as useful anyway. Use it to find 'free to share' images, video, sound, text and "interactive" elements - but also links to useful royalty free archives.

More about why no one reads Newspapers anymore

Following my post a week ago, here's an interesting Wired article about how the Washington Post looked into their dipping circulation and found their young readers wouldn't have a subscription even if they gave them away, so much did they prefer their own raft of online news sources.

The wonders of RSS

It seems little icons are springing up alongside my blog like Christmas decorations. A week ago I added myself to Technorati (the benefits of which - other than having my really quite strange image on one more webpage - I'm still not entirely clear on), and now I have a proud Bloglines badge to go with it.

Now the benefits of Bloglines are a little clearer. Once you've registered, if you see a nice blog (say, this one), you click on my lovely new button and it's added to your list of feeds (or, if there's no button, you can use this clever feature to subscribe anyway). What does this mean? Well, effectively you're creating your own news website (there's that Daily Me again - I've already decided to set it as my homepage.). Every time you log onto Bloglines you get a list of blogs down the left hand column, complete with the number of postings added since you last checked. You click to see those new postings.

Now this is very similar to RSS Reader, another nifty bit of software I've been using for some time. You install it, select which 'feeds' you're interested in, and how often you want an update. Then, say twice a day, a little window appears in the bottom right corner of your screen with a list of the latest headlines.

And this is where I come back to Technorati. Now that I'm a 'member', I can subscribe to my blog watchlist through them. This is basically a list of any sites that link to mine (as long as they're a Technorati member). So if you want to know who's linking to your blog, or indeed any blog you like, log into Technorati, click on Settings, and in the 'Add a Watchlist' box type the address of the blog in question. Click 'Create' to generate a URL, switch to RSS Reader, click on the + sign, and paste the address into the window that appears.

And one more button has appeared since I began writing this post: My Yahoo! now incorporates syndication too.

An American response to Creationism

As The Most Powerful Country On Earth (TM) becomes more strangely gripped by religious fundamentalism, and insists on science textbooks including a disclaimer that suggests religious alternatives to the theory of evolution, at least we can assuage our mild terror by looking at witty responses like this one. Also contains a useful link to a survey that found only a third of Americans believe Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. And to think these people have the right to bear arms written into their consistitution...

(I shouldn't mock. The CIA may be listening in.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Online journalism 'not good enough'

Organisers of the 2005 British Press Awards have said for the second year running that they will not be making awards in the categories for best online news site and best online journalist. Apparently this is because they attract too few entries, and the standard of entries is not high enough. Someone should show them the Guardian and BBC's best work, which has been winning awards in America.

Dolls are scary enough

Another one for my Xmas list: a doll that looks just like me. The power of interactivity is being put to its best use at, where you can make your own doll, including choosing hair, skin, and eye colour as well as experiment with face shapes and hair styles. Oh, and you can also have a freckle pattern replicated from a photo onto the doll. All for only $119. Now if I can get it to talk in a creepy voice, ideally during the small hours...

Copyright Bill scaled back

Interesting comment on a revision to the Intellectual Property Protection Act in America, as Big Business seeks to protect its copyright. There's a mention here about a person potentially getting three years for filming in a cinema - I wonder if anyone's ever done a comparison between sentences for this type of crime, which harms big business, and those that harm actual people?

Outsourcing 'actually affects journalists' shock

The Independent reports staff at Reuters fearing that management will outsource their jobs to Asia. The editorial reference unit is one area bound for Bangalore, along with a news diary service and some financial reporting. CNET's Charles Cooper isn't that sympathetic.

Someone just wrote my Xmas list

How helpful of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, an investor advocacy group, to release its list of the 10 most violent games. This is supposed to be a warning to parents, but as a side effect it was very nice of them to help me out with my Xmas list.

My favourite quote comes from Dr. Martha Burk, president of the Center for Advancement of Public Policy: "The retailers have standards for other products," she said. "Would Wal-Mart sell a board game where a player has to have sex with a prostitute to move forward four spaces and then kill her to move forward another six spaces? I don't think so."

Grand Theft Auto Monopoly, anyone?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Google Scholar helps you find offline stuff too

As Google launches yet another arm to what is becoming an octopus-like operation, I'm yet again impressed by what looks like a very useful search tool for academic writing. Google Scholar ranks results by how many articles reference it (among other things) rather than how many sites link to it - and it even pulls out references within texts and presents them as separate results, even if these are books or publications not available offline. I did a search for Online Journalism and immediately discovered some very useful stuff.

Meanwhile, bigger fish Microsoft is looking to challenge Google with its own search technology, expected to be bundled in its next OS (a la Explorer) in 2006. Apparently if you type in "more evil than Satan" Google comes up top, partly because the Google motto is apparently 'Do no evil', which is better than those bland corporate mottos you usually get (although the company is doing a good deal of its own gobbling, including and Usenet).

Pay-as-you-go computer power

For those animation students struggling with the limitations of their hardware, here's a novel solution to the problem: processing power you can tap into, via your network.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Blogs as media watchdogs

While tidying up my office I came across this posting on the excellent Poynter website about blogs devoted to watchdogging the media. Useful links include Regret The Error (strangely addictive), CJR Campaign Desk (from Columbia Journalism Review) and ChronWatch, which focuses on the San Francisco Chronicle. Time to find something similar in the UK...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Conspiracy theory

Conspiracy theories flying around re: 9/11 and a compelling video (with at times hilarious hard rock soundtrack) launched by multi-millionaire Jimmy Walter as part of a campaign to re-open the 9-11 investigation, and who claims that there is no evidence of a plane crashing into the Pentagon.

For more background, see this debate between author Jimmy Walter and Gerald Posner.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Losing readers to the Net

Two recent articles have raised the old spectre of the internet taking readers away from printed newspapers.

One concerns a recent survey which found that Europeans were spending nearly twice as much time online (20% of media consumption) as they did reading newspapers (11%). Of course, this was conducted by the European Interactive Advertising Association, so they do have a vested interest, and while most people went online to check email (88%), only 61% used the web for news.

Meanwhile, the eminent Roy Greenslade twins the decline in newspaper readership with the increase in newspaper website use, and envisages "a potentially disastrous situation for printed newspapers in which their sales have fallen to levels that are hard to sustain, yet their website offshoots will be hugely popular. [...] Just as worrying", he notes, "is the fact that many people get their news from net sources unconnected to newspapers, especially the BBC. There are hosts of sites offering news of varying quality and integrity, including those famous solo journalists known as bloggers."

Roy quotes Pete Picton, the Sun's online editor, as believing that the balance between what appears in print and online requires investigation. "The question of cannibalisation", Picton told last month's Association of Online Publishers' annual conference, "is worthy of a whole separate debate in our industry."

This is certainly an issue. I buy a paper perhaps a couple times a week these days, but most of my news consumption comes from electronic sources: my two homepages are the Guardian NewsBlog and the website of the journalist George Monbiot; I receive email briefings from the Guardian, and the Online Publishers Association to name a few; and I've installed RSS reader on my computer, which duly chimes in twice a day with headlines from the areas that interest me.

We're getting closer to that Daily Me that Nicholas Negroponte talked about almost ten years ago, but rather than being supplied by media organisations it's being crafted by ourselves out of available sources. The important factor here is what those sources are. RSS Reader, for instance, leans heavily on American feeds, and when writing a blog it's easy to fall into the trap of "If it ain't online, it doesn't exist" - because you can't link to it.

This is perhaps the more immediately important debate. The low resolution of computer screens and the portability of newspapers will ensure they remain popular for a time yet. It may also be that online sources are offering something that newspapers are not. Newspapers face a journalistic and technical challenge; readers and bloggers face one of trust and reliability.

Changing my browser

I have to admit to being one of those stubborn types who insisted on using Netscape despite those occasional problems when websites didn't display or work properly. For some people Internet Explorer represents the horrible dominance of Microsoft, but with Netscape now owned by one of the biggest media organisations in the world (TimeWarner AOL), that really is no reason for continuing to stick with Netscape.

So my reason is this: a cute little function hidden away in Netscape that allows you to have more than one homepage. This is how you do it: open up all the webpages you want as your homepages (the other nice thing about Netscape is the way it allows you to have a series of pages on different tabs, rather than as separate windows as in Explorer). Go to Edit > Preferences and select the Navigator tab. Under Home Page click Use Current Group. Want another reason? How about security issues with IE?

The one problem is it does mean your browser takes longer to boot up (which is why at home I use Explorer and set the homepage to Blank).

Meanwhile, Mozilla's Firefox is making up significant ground on the two big names, as it hits version 1.0. It includes a clever little search function, apparently. I finally tried it today and have to admit to being an instant convert. It's fast, intuitive in design and combines the best of both Netscape and Explorer. This includes multiple homepages too.

UPDATE (23.Nov.04): Firefox is already cutting into IE's market, according to CNET - although IE still has 90% share.

BBC News site wins award

The BBC News website won the main award for general excellence in journalism in the Online News Association Awards in Hollywood - this at a time when the broadcaster is due to cut investment in the web and reinvest in other areas (interesting comment on that by the Guardian's Emily Bell). Other categories included (with links to winners):

  • Creative use of the medium
  • Enterprise journalism
  • Breaking news
  • Online commentary
  • Service journalism
  • Specialty journalism
  • Best student journalism
  • Best student Web site
  • Contest judges

  • There's some excellent work here from both winners and nominees, giving a good sense of the great potential of the web for reportage. Particularly mindblowing is the Washington Post's interactive feature on the Israel-Palestine barrier, combining video, animation, an interactive map, panoramas, and sound. More amusing is the Gotham Gazette's games and quizzes illustrating topical issues and showing how a small news site can compete on creativity. Likewise, JournalNow's piece on a controversial murder case where the (black) suspect was wrongly imprisoned - including a wealth of original documentation.

    At the same time one writer bemoans big media companies eating up the competition in new media, as Dow Jones takes over CBS MarketWatch.

    Flash comics

    More and more web-based Flash comics are making it onto DVD, as this posting on Slashdot reports Broken Saints' release on a four-disc set. You can view the original series by going here and clicking on 'Classic Site' (top right). Pretty mind-blowing stuff. The same posting mentions a less sophisticated online comic that made it onto DVD, Strong Bad.

    Any other examples, stick a comment in.

    Online advertising standardised globally

    As the internet advertising industry continues to grow, a set of standards have been agreed "globally" (that's Europe, US and Asia apparently, in a typically Western piece of geography). This includes simplifying the buying and selling process, a definition for counting an ad impression, and a recommendation that server technology is audited.

    Expect this post to be updated as I add more stuff about online advertising.

    Monday, November 15, 2004

    Faces of the fallen

    Sober piece of interactive journalism at the Washington Post website, where you can click through a line up of US fatalities in Iraq, browsing by name, date range, or military branch. Somehow I don't think you'll find an equivalent for the estimated 100,000 or so Iraqi civilian fatalities.

    Yet another technology to help us spend money

    It appears if you have a favourite member of Busted or Girls Aloud (personally I laugh out loud every time the ginger one appears) you will soon be able to click on them and - wow - be able to buy t-shirts or gig tickets. This is all thanks to Universal and the features of MPEG4.

    Now that may be easy with the slow pouty pans in a Girls Aloud video but you'll have to time it just right to catch Charlie Busted in between guitar-slashing jumps.

    Using mobile phones to take news pictures

    A few months ago I toyed with the idea of giving online journalism students mobile phones with cameras built in, and sending them out to take web-ready images. At the time the idea was rejected because of the poor quality of images taken this way and, of course, cost.

    But it seems things may be heading in this direction: the BBC reports that one tabloid newspaper in LA is giving photographers camera phones to catch celebrities, while some picture agencies are already paying for exclusive phone pictures.

    The same article lists a number of stories where mobile phone photography featured. This included:
    • The daily Amsterdam newspaper De Telegraaf publishing a mobile phone-photo of murdered film maker Mr van Gogh's body taken moments after he was killed. The BBC quotes the editor as saying, "The picture was the story".
    • A flight from Switzerland to the Dominican Republic which turned around after someone took a picture of a piece of metal falling from the plane as it took off from Zurich (reported by the Swiss daily Le Matin).

    • Two crooks who robbed a bank in Denmark were snapped before they carried out the crime waiting for the doors of the building to be opened (reported by the Danish regional paper Aarhus Stiftstidende).
    And while I'm lifting wholesale from that BBC article, it also gives some useful links to mobile photography blogs Reiter's Camera Phone Report and, and 'moblogs' (that's a blog using mobile photography) BlueHereNow and Buzznet. Like most neologisms, 'moblog' is open to different interpretations - it could also include blogs posted remotely (ie. while mobile) via PDAs, email, or mobile phones (see definition).

    In a related story, how about this great photographic response to Bush's election victory at Here the half of America who voted for something less vague than 'moral values' express their sincere apologies to the rest of the world for messing up our lives and environment for another four years. In the true tradition of the Net, it didn't take long for a response from the unapologetic half. Quite a few images seem to consist of toddlers posed with pro-Bush statements, which I'll leave you to make your own conclusions about.

    UPDATE (16.Nov.04): In a timely move, the Consumer Electronics Association in America has issued a code of conduct regarding use of mobile phone cameras (PDF version here). This includes not using them where cameras are normally not allowed, and using 'discretion' when taking images of under-18s. The article that reports this move also mentions the fact that Saudi Arabia banned mobile phone cameras two years ago.

    UPDATE 2 (18.Nov.04): Meanwhile, this Slashdot posting mentions a BBC news report that Privacy International is asking that all camera phones incorporate an automatic flash to prevent covert pictures being taken. The same posting mentions "In Korea, the government would like phones to make a loud sound when taking a picture".

    Friday, November 12, 2004

    Kofi Annan resolves Sesame Street dispute

    Thanks again to the Guardian Newsblog for pointing out this one. Kofi Annan appeared in 2001 on Sesame Street to resolve a dispute when "Elmo and his friends argued over who would get to sing the alphabet song". You can find the link to the video (and a little bt of script) here, or the video itself here. Of course, it would have been even better if Kofi had worked with Bert & Ernie.

    Reporting environmental stories

    Thought-provoking speech by George Monbiot to the Enviromedia conference in Johannesburg, where he highlights the compromises that journalists often make in reporting environmental stories, including the cliched ending "clearly what we need is more research" (a more professional twist on the student classic cop-out "only time will tell"), when more than enough research has been done, and the implications pretty clear. Prepare for a rough century.

    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    Blog resources and stats

    Miscellaneous interesting/useful blogs/resources include:

    • Guardian Newsblog: Has useful links to different blogs every day.
    • David Neiwert, winner of the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.
    • – visual diaries, often a picture a day.
    • Technorati: "a real-time search engine that keeps track of what is going on in the world of weblogs". Has a nice feature where it lists the top 100 sites, books and news items of the moment (based on blog links). "Technorati tracks over three million weblogs, up from 100,000 two years ago. The Pew Internet study estimates that about 11%, or about 50 million, of Internet users are regular blog readers. A new weblog is created every 5.8 seconds, which means there are about 15,000 new blogs a day. Bloggers — people who write weblogs — update their weblogs regularly; there are about 275,000 posts daily, or about 10,800 blog updates an hour." So now you know.

    Suppression of Indymedia

    Worrying shenanigans going on at Indymedia, whose servers were seized by the FBI with no reason given. They've now been returned, although it's a worrying indication of the power of governments to suppress media, apparently across international borders. More information here.

    Industorious Clock

    This great Flash clock was sent as part of a joke about the invention of an Irish digital clock. Great use of Flash regardless of the quality of the joke.

    A silver lining

    As if to prove that the internet is actually making the world smaller (with the American election helping out by creating a common topic of conversation), one of my online scrabble opponents (who, by the way, is routinely slaughtering me with seven-word scores) forwarded me the following email from his brother, a rather inspiring reflection on Kerry's glorious defeat:
    "Yeah I'm bummed. Four more years of the pseudo-Christian Taliban, I fear for my country and I fear for my family. But I can tell you, I'm also elated. When I started working on this election my main and only goal was to keep my dear and beloved state of Wisconsin out of the neo-con grip of the Bush administration. We had a thousand volunteers in Superior and Northern Wisconsin with the same thought in mind. These beloved people gave their hearts and souls to this very cause. Signs went up everywhere, no phone was left uncalled and no door unknocked. My time canvassing for Kerry was some of the hardest and most fulfilling work I had ever attempted. I talked to the affluent and I talked with the poor. The young and the old. The people struggling in quiet desperation just to put food on their table; working three jobs so their kids would have shoes and their house would be heated. A ninety year old gentleman in a trailer court who had just lost his wife of 63 years but still had voted his absentee ballot because in all of his many years he had never seen this country in such crisis.

    "This was all inspiring and I' ll never forget it. Seeing my daughters get involved, to sense that this was their future being squandered and to watch them campaign for peace and justice brings tears to an old man's eyes. I've never been prouder.

    "And the good news is their work was rewarded. Superior and Douglas County had the biggest most unexpected turnout in history. They had to photocopy ballots because they ran out. People stood in line for hours to cast their ballot; and the end result was that the home of fighting Bob Lafollet, Gaylord nelson and Bill Proxmie stayed in the Dem. column. Kerry won by 10,000 votes in Northern Wisconsin and that was his margin of victory. We kept Frank Boyle and Gary Sherman in the Assembly. Two of the most progressive and brilliant representatives that this state has ever seen. And who can forget Russ Feingold; the most courageous man in the Senate.

    "It was a good fight and we did good.

    "Northern Wisconsin was not fooled by the politics of hate and fear. We were motivated by a vision of peace and hope. God I love it here. Rick."
    Meanwhile, for another silver lining, check out this response to the Bush defeat by underfunded scientists in California, although if you read further into the article, you'll see it could actually harm science for decades to come, as government may withdraw funding generally as they leave states to raise their own funds. Also worth reading to see how those states concerned about environmental policy are making their own policies.

    Sex, Lies and Rainbow

    When someone sent me an innuendo-ridden script from 80s children's TV programme Rainbow, I thought it was one of those urban myths that are so easily propagated on the web. But, days later, from a different source, I received a link to the actual video of that programme (sample quote: Bungle: "Rod and Roger can get their instruments out and Jane has got two lovely Maracas.").

    So unless someone's done some particularly amazing lip-synching, or they made this but never broadcast it, I find my sceptical self corrected.

    How the actors kept their faces straight, I don't know.

    Wind farms not environmentally neutral

    According to the Globe and Mail:
    "A group of Canadian and U.S. scientists reported Tuesday that computer simulations show that a large-scale use of wind farms to generate electrical power could create a significant temperature change over Earth's land masses.

    "While the precise tradeoff between the climate changes from wind farms versus that from carbon-based power systems is still a matter of contention, the fact that wind power isn't climate neutral leaps out of the simulations."

    And no, I don't routinely read the Globe and Mail. It was linked to by the excellent Slashdot.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    Blog history

    Now that blogs have finally convinced me of their usefulness, I'm trying to put together a brief history, as well as a list of blogs that have made the mainstream news. Current links unearthed are as follows:
    Famous blogs include:
    • The Baghdad Blog: Salam Pax’s diary of his experiences during the bombing of Baghdad became world famous, and have now been published as a book. Also worth checking out is Christopher Allbritton's coverage at Back to Iraq: he set himself up as the war's first independent correspondent, and, with contributions from readers, managed to successfully report from the country without the restrictions that conventional journalists operated under - restrictions such as those of CNN, who asked their correspondent Kevin Sites to suspend his (independently written) blog.
    • Also published as a book was Breakup Babe, albeit somewhat less journalistically relevant.
    • Mariah Carey famously went into emotional meltdown live on her blog.
    • Queen of the Sky: Semi-fictional account of a US air hostess’s life. She was sacked as a result of the blog - not the only one to suffer such repercussions, as this Wired article attests.
    • The blogs that exposed CBS: well, there were a few. This one - not actually a blog, but a message board post - supposedly started it all. This article gives an overview of what happened, but strangely, no links. For those you need to look at this article on the always useful
    • also gives the detail behind blogs that led to the resignation of the senate GOP leader. Yes, it passed me by too.

    If you can think of any more (is anyone out there?) let me know.

    Tuesday, November 09, 2004

    100 words that define one hour of news

    Changing the way we view news? A new method of news surfing for the information age? 10x10 is one of the best ideas I've seen in ages: 100 images from the latest news stories, presented in a grid format and updated on a click. Rollover each image to see a word highlighted to the right (apparently worked out from a linguistic analysis of news text).

    Contrary to first impressions, it is the words that are the most important for the hour, and the images only support those. You can also click on 'history' at the bottom to see snapshots from previous times - although this only goes back to the beginning of November.

    The guy who created the site is also behind Wordcount - "an interactive presentation of the 88,000 most frequently used English words, arranged as one very long sentence." In fact, just go to his site and spend your afternoon browsing through his previous projects. You've nothing really important to do, have you?

    Thursday, November 04, 2004

    Creative Commons licence

    Thanks to a conversation with a colleague who's been doing this longer than I have, I've now added a Creative Commons licence to my blog. This is one of those fascinating developments that digitalisation has produced in the intellectual property area, ideal for those who think information should be free, but are still afraid of being shafted by some upstart in Cheshire.

    Me, I'm not so precious about what I produce. This may be to do with the fact that once upon a time I would be producing thousands of words of copy every week, but it seems to me that the value lies not in what I've put on paper once upon a time, but with what's in my head and RSI-raddled fingers, so I will continue to refrain from putting copyright symbols on the bottoms of pages.

    UPDATE (Nov 11 2004): Creative Commons have now branched out into patents and scientific publishing, in case you were interested.

    A collective groan

    The American election provided some great examples of online journalism. MSNBC produced an interactive map showing which areas had the biggest problems with voting (which was wiped just as I was drafting this - images to come) complete with the previous election's results in those areas. Interestingly, the areas with most (recorded) problems tended to vote Democrat. Their Citizen Journalist pages also recorded voter reactions to the day and there was a blog recording the whole process in real-time. recorded the whole thing beautifully, including the fact that:
    "International election monitors in Florida told the International Herald Tribune that they "had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system." Plus: 'Foreign monitors barred from some US polling stations.'"
    The collective groan around the world at Bush's reelection was recorded best on the BBC site, while The Daily Mirror's hilarious front page ("How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?") was backed up with such subtle journalism as God help America.
    How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?

    The Power of Nightmares

    The third and final (and easily the best) part of The Power of Nightmares documentary was broadcast last night on BBC2. Fascinating stuff about how the terrorist threat has been exaggerated by politicians, this was put together in a collage style that will, in future years, be stored in some multimedia encyclopedia under the entry 'Information Overload'. My brain is now seared with images of a 30-foot genie materialising out of smoke on a beach, 'mad eyes' and a slo-mo shot of a swooping owl.

    Anyway, aside from the style, there were some very useful facts for those debates I've been having recently with people via online scrabble. These include
    • 'dirty bombs' being ineffective and unlikely to kill anyone (Iraq and US tested them years ago but found them to be useless), and
    • despite hundreds of arrests in the UK and US, not one person has been convicted of plotting a terrorist act in connection with Islam.
    Kuro5hin has a nice page about it, which has some discussion and links to more at Crooked Timber and a summary of the main points at iconoplex. Isn't the web just lovely.