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Scrabulous pulled from Facebook

The Escapist : News : Scrabulous Goes Down

Beginning this morning, users who attempt to access the game are greeted with a message saying, "Scrabulous is disabled for U.S. and Canadian customers until further notice." An included email link promises news and updates about the future of the game, but no other information is currently available.

The move comes on the heels of more aggressive action by Hasbro to shut down the game, a blatant clone of the classic Scrabble board game. While the company originally sent a notice asking for the removal of the game in January, Facebook declined to do so, presumably because of Scrabulous' popularity, but earlier in July Hasbro launched legal action against the game's creators and made a second, apparently more compelling request that the game be shut down.

Hasbro's own official Scrabble is now available on Facebook, although early response to the game has been somewhat lukewarm. Scrabulous fans, meanwhile, can still get their fix at Scrabulous.com, which is still in operation despite the Facebook closure.

July 28, 2008

Innocent People Should NEVER Talk to the Police

Stefan Hayden -- Innocent People Should Never Talk to the Police

A fascinating point/counterpoint between a law professor and a cop.

EU wants to register, license bloggers

MediaShift . Regulating Speech::EU Member's Plan for 'Blogger Registry' Is Wrong-Headed | PBS

Estonian EU parliament member Marianne Mikko wants to establish a sort of “blogger registry” which would oblige authors to prove their credentials and reveal relationships and potential special interests. And while her recommendation is far from becoming European policy, the suggestion of such regulation has shocked bloggers around Europe and leads us to the question: what if? Bloggers Must Prove ‘Reliability’ and ‘Quality’

On June 3, European bloggers awoke to a surprising announcement from Europe’s parliament. The Culture Committee adopted a report “on concentration and pluralism in the media in the European Union” which, despite its title, seemed to call for just the opposite. The draft report calls for a motion at the European level to “preserve media pluralism.” At first, the document makes many valid points: European journalists fear for their jobs in an ever more precarious market; media consolidation represents a threat to journalistic quality; consumers deserve a choice in media, etc. But it was “point O” which raised eyebrows across the region:

…whereas weblogs are an increasingly common medium for self-expression by media professionals as well as private persons, the status of their authors and publishers, including their legal status, is neither determined nor made clear to the readers of the weblogs, causing uncertainties regarding impartiality, reliability, source protection, applicability of ethical codes and the assignment of liability in the event of lawsuit…

(via Violet Blue's twitterfeed)

July 27, 2008

Tour de France's lovable last-place loser

How to succeed at failing. lastplace.jpgWSJ | The Tour's Master of Last Place | In Shooting for His Third 'Lanterne Rouge,' Wim Vansenenant Can Achieve Something None of the Tour de France Leaders Can

Wim Vansevenant, a Belgian riding for Silence Lotto (ninth on the nine-man squad) is the favorite to win his third Lanterne Rouge, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since the first official race in 1903. The French phrase, which translates to "red lantern," is used to describe the racer who finishes dead last in the overall standings when the peloton reaches Paris. (The terminology is borrowed from railway jargon for the archaic practice of hanging a red light on the caboose of trains, which assured station operators that no cars had come uncoupled.)

The designation falls somewhere between insult and accolade. Mr. Vansevenant, who after Stage 18 sits in 150th place, some 3 hours and 45 minutes behind Mr. Sastre, is indeed the worst-placed rider in the Tour de France. But, in turn, he has outlasted those who abandoned the Tour through illness, injury or simple exhaustion; those who were eliminated for failing to finish within each day's time limit and are forced to withdraw; and those who were banned or withdrew for doping-related causes. From year to year, about 20% of the riders drop out. In other words, you can't simply coast to last place; you have to work for it.

Wim in fact did achieve his third Lanterne Rouge.

Doctored heroin kills hundreds in Detroit area

Doctored heroin linked to 230 fatal drug overdoses | Freep.com | Detroit Free Press

More than 1,000 overdose deaths across the country -- and 230 in Wayne County -- were linked to illegally made fentanyl, a powerful prescription-only painkiller mixed with heroin and other drugs for street use, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Free Press reporters tracked down chemist Ricardo Valdez Torres, who made fentanyl in Mexico. His fentanyl moved north and was mixed into heroin sold to people of all walks of life. Much of the story focused on Lauren Jolly, a Birmingham Groves High School student who died of an overdose in a Detroit drug house.

The CDC report, which focused on fatal overdoses from April 2005 to March 2007, also links the fentanyl deaths to the Mexican lab. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 1 gram of pure fentanyl could create up to 8,000 doses to cut an illegal drug. At 50 to 80 times stronger than morphine, a tiny amount can kill, said Wayne County Mental Health Medical Director Dr. Michele Reid.