Blogs Crawl All Over Cyber-Insects

"American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert performed "Going Nowhere" on The Early Show. CBS

With millions of sites floating through the blogosphere, who really has time to peek at even a fraction of them? Blogophile reads them for you and presents a weekly roundup of the buzz on must-read blogs. Blogophile appears new each Wednesday, and is written by CBSNews.com's Melissa P. McNamara.


The Pentagon's looking for a few good insects, and bloggers are skeptical. Plus, Duke University's coach has bloggers giving new meaning to March Madness. Find out why. And bloggers fight back when a former New York Times reporter says they're the reason she got fired.


The Pentagon's Bugged

The Pentagon's defense scientists are hard at work, trying to create an army of cyber-insects that can be controlled remotely to check out explosives and send transmissions, the BBC reports. Scientists plan to insert micro-systems at the pupa stage, when the insects can integrate them into their body.

The new scheme is the brain-child of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). And it's not the first time DARPA has had its eyes on insects. Its previous experiments to get bees and wasps to detect the smell of explosives failed when their feeding and mating behaviors got in the way.

Most bloggers are highly skeptical, but intrigued nonetheless, making the story the 20th most cited link on Blogpulse.

"Butterflies that shoot laser beams? Spiders that capture people in their webs? Creeepy," Adam blogs on Adam's Life.

Others, like Pharyngula, are leery the Pentagon has the know-how to pull this off. "Although the idea of having a remote controlled dragonfly is very cool, I am very pessimistic, and have to dash a little cold water on the plan ... We don't have the understanding of insect neurodevelopment to be able to even come close to what they want," Pharyngula writes. "It's a ridiculously pie-in-the-sky idea, and someone in the Pentagon has clearly abandoned the reality-based community to come up with this one."

Some view it as a waste of American tax dollars. "I'd call this another example of 'your tax dollars at work,' but it's so incredibly ridiculous and embarrassing, I couldn't bear to do even that," David Austin at Quaker Agitator blogs.

But Julian Ravage is a fan. "I have always liked the idea of cybernectic insects working on mass or as simple spies. They are pretty much like simple machines (compared to larger, more complex creatures). If I had to choose an insect to control with implants, I would go with ... Monarch Butterfly ...;) No one would suspect the butterfly!" Julian writes.

Does Coach K Need Money?

Say what you will about the team, but Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is a smart guy when it comes to milking March Madness.

During last year's march to the NCAA title, Coak K was featured in ubiquitous American Express commercials. As Adfreak writes, "OK, you're a teacher who happens to coach basketball. If we accept this and sign up for AmEx, will you please stop showing us that ad?"

Now, Coach K is back to cheer Chevrolets. Bloggers are not rushing out to buy them.

"I love March Madness, love college basketball, love the upsets. But are we in for a new annual tradition in March: the Coach K commercial blitzkrieg?" Tom Sherman at Underscorebleach blogs. "God I hope not. After American Express pounded us into submission last year with a sappy tribute to Duke's nasal numero uno, this year Chevy is putting the full-court press on with their 'Nothing's Stronger than the Truth' carpet bombing," he blogs.

Milbarge, however, seems to have the best solution for those annoyed with Coach K's commercials. "Do what I do -- ignore the commercials and run to the kitchen during timeouts," he writes on Begging the Question.

North Carolina's News & Observer has mocked the ads with its own amusing fake pitches,"Coach Kommmercials," which include a dancing Coach K hawking the iPod, or rather, the "kPod."

But Stormbringer offers a cautionary tale. "Coach K has ANOTHER COMMERCIAL?!," he blogs. "He just doesn't know when to quit ... then again, perhaps this bodes well for my Heels. Afterall, we all (should) know what happened in the last NCAA Big Dance during which commercials featuring Dook's head coach were shown."

And speaking of March Madness, Tim Nudd praises CBSportline.com's "Boss Button" feature on its media player. "The idea is, if you're watching at work and the boss comes by, you can click on the Boss Button, and an innocent-looking spreadsheet magically appear," Nudd explains.

  • Melissa McNamara

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