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article imageTopFinds: From a Right-Wing Media Conspiracy to Banning Monkey Pets

By David Silverberg     Jul 4, 2008 in Internet
A judge asking for YouTube user data. Why social networks can hurt a teen's real life. A "black national anthem" causing controversy in Denver. These are the top stories making headlines around the world.

Technology & Internet

How are DIY fonts surging into a viable online business segment? It's a question Paul Wallis answered in a fascinating piece tracking how custom font sites are attracting legions of obsessive fans. Eye-opening factoid: essay papers written in Georgia earned A, compared to essays written in Times, which earned Bs.
What other tech and Net stories are worth your attention? eBay has to fork over $63 million for selling fake goods over its auction site, Michelle D. reported; citizen journalists can avoid China's Net censorship policies by writing backwards, Kesavan Unnikrishnan said; a new video showcases the features in Apple's upcoming iPhone 3G, Saikat Basu wrote (Canadians, circle July 11 on your calendar, that's when iPhone hysteria begins); a judge has ordered Google to hand over to Viacom YouTube user data, Chris V. found; speaking of the Big G, Sue D. reported that bloggers accused Google of shutting down anti-Obama blogs, encouraging these writers to move from Blogspot to Wordpress; and an article on cellphones' radio frequency consequences says brains can be damaged by talking on a mobile. According to Rajannya Lahiri, "The electromagnetic waves emitted from mobile phones can seriously damage brain tissues of users." What happened to pagers? Those cute gadgets seemed harmless and inexpensive.


Barack Obama & John McCain
Barack Obama & John McCain
Illustration by, photography courtesy Flickr users soggydan and jurvetson
Talk about tech paranoia. The Bhutan government has barred its politicians from using laptops because they fear time will be wasted on video games, Chris V. told us. Some politicos are resisting the law, saying their laptop is more convenient to carry around than a bundle of papers.
Several other political stories caught our eye: Michelle Obama says her everyday life is "boring," Can Tran quoted; the Obama fans are likened to the Marxist movement, Mr. Garibaldi boldly claimed; a "black National Anthem" is causing torrential outrage in Denver, Samantha A. Torrence wrote; former Romney supporters are vouching for McCain, Cynthia T. found; and a new bill introduced by a pro-Israeli lobby group would authorize tougher U.S. sanctions against Iran, phree said. He direly predicted: WWIII is around the corner. Are we smart enough, civil enough, or strong enough to prevent this catastrophe?
Still on politics, the Top Blog Post of the Week is given to Michael Billy for his insight (and caustic commentary) on presidential candidate Bob Barr. Billy is disappointed in the Libertarian Party for spewing buzz words like "freedom" without backing up its arguments. Good job.


A king penguin in an aquarium
A penguin swims in a four-metre deep pool
Photo by Kanko*
The traditional milk jug is about to get boxier. Chris V. wrote about a milk jug retrofit that is seeing its shape resemble a square so it can be better stacked and shipped. These new jugs have already saved Sam's Club on labour and travel costs.
A few other environmental stories should be on your green radar: some U.S. states are offering cash incentives to drivers who trade in their clunkers for more eco-friendly vehicles, Nikki W. reported; climate change is threatening the lion population, Aditi Chengappa wrote; penguins are also dwindling due to increased snow and rain which reduce breeding possibilities, Bob Ewing posted; and world leaders don't want to cut emission output for fear of hurting their economic stability, mridulc opined. He offered an example: Russia has categorically refused to cut back on its carbon emissions under any future binding goal, putting the success of the 2012 emissions in doubt even before any comprehensive talks can begin.

TopFinds Awards

TopFinds Awards for July 4  2008
Topfinds award winners for the week ending July 4, 2008.
Illustration by
It might be a hard pill to swallow for many Obama fans, but John McCain could be the next president because of an "elite media run by pro-conservative individuals." Not my words, but G. Robert M. Miller's, who takes home the TopOpinion Award for his powerful portrait of a media system supposedly slanted towards the right. He compared media coverage of the Gulf War to the Iraq War, and then claimed "the media is a lot harder on Obama than McCain." Look at the non-stop coverage of the Rev. Wright scandal, he pointed out. His passion for the topic comes through well, and it's an argument perfect for debate. Head over to the article to have your say on whether you think the media is biased one way or the other.
Is Facebook or MySpace bad for your health? According to the TopInternet Award-winning article by Eric S. Wyatt, social networks can mislead teens into putting more emphasis on their online identities than their real lives. People who enjoy the fast pace of online living may find the real world motionless and boring, researcher said. Wyatt also offered an opposing view, like any solid journalist should, explaining how a psychologist says social networks are simply an extension of what these teens are doing anyway. Expect this issue to remain in the digital conversation for years to come, and kudos to Wyatt for pointing us to this idea's direction this week.
Human trafficking may get some play in the mainstream press but what goes under-reported are the scare tactics perpetrated by these shady criminals. Thanks to Sue D., who definitely earned her TopCrime Award, readers can now learn about the travesty of a beheading used to intimidate other girls into succumbing to their rapists/smugglers. "Is anyone paying attention anymore?" Sue asked. It was a valuable question that sparked a firestorm of comments on the media complacency in reporting this tragic story. Another successful journalistic project, Sue.
For anyone curious about the rules and operations of who receives an Order of Canada, its history and its scandals, Sykos Masters' article on the honour is essential reading. It also wins the TopWorld Award. He traced the history of the Order of Canada to its roots while also highlighting some of its more notable honorees, like David Suzuki and Paul Anka. He also raised the recently contentious issue of Dr. Henry Morgentaler receiving the Order and why moral qualms have put the Order in front of a major debate. Hmm, I wonder if a new media company can receive an Order of Canada medal for helping its citizens access timely news?
It's always encouraging to see a Citizen Journalist predict the future. That's what happened in a TopSports Award-winning post, where Navin Vaswani predicted the Toronto Maple Leafs would pick up free agent goaltender Curtis Joseph. Days before the transaction, Navin called it, but he deserves congrats for also profiling several other key free agents in his lengthy piece. He padded each profile with stats and insight, giving readers a good sense of each player's value to their next team. Another fine piece of sports journalism.
New York: Smoking  cigars.
New York: Smoking, cigars.
Steve Zak
Tom Johansmeyer introduced us to a cigar shop's inventive way of circumventing New York's restaurant smoking ban: a pre-cigar meal. Filled with poignant quotes and precise details, the article takes home the TopLifestyle Award for strong original reporting and underscoring the importance of finding a story among the nooks and crannies of a major city. Tom's conclusion was tight, the headline was attractive and the photos nicely complemented the text.
Pets fans, you've been warned: no more monkey business for you. That's the crux of an article winning the Top Offbeat Award for explaining a law that would make monkey trafficking a crime. Dave G. wrote: "You have to be licensed to own [a monkey] and some states have breeding restrictions while others have complete bans." This obscure piece of legislation would have passed us by if it weren't for Dave's keen eye. In the comments section, he also wondered whether it's the feds' responsibility to restrict the pets Americans can own. What do you think?
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