The Washington Post

Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web

Jun 13, 2013

A weekly chat about the best ways to kill time online. Our Web Hostess, Monica Hesse, sifts the Internet so you don't have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme.

Afternoon, everyone, and thanks for stopping by.

I think that our guided discussion poll is pretty obvious this week, no? In just the seven days since the last chat, we've learned that the NSA is cozying up to everything we do online. (Hellooo, NSA!). What I find particularly interesting are people's various responses to this news. My colleage Neely Tucker had an interesting piece yesterday about a poll in which 45 percent of Americans said that they believed the government had the right to monitor emails, if it would help prevent terrorism.


Do you:

A) Agree with the 45 percent. The government should be able to monitor emails in the name of terrorism prevention.

B) Disagree. Personal privacy is paramount, and should supercede potential terrorism concerns.

C) Agree, but for different reasons not related to terrorism.

D) Disagree, but for different reasons than personal privacy.

And Part II:


If I found out that the government was accessing my email or Facebook, my biggest concern would be:

A) Concerns that my private information or correspondence would be leaked.

B) The broader implications for personal privacy and government intervention.

C) I would not be concerned; I'm not doing anything illegal, and if you're not doing anything wrong, you shouldn't be worried either.

D) I would not be worried. I wouldn't like it, but would view it as a necessary security measure.

(And we'll get started at 2)

Have the clocks gone haywire? Have I suddenly switched to Polynesian time? The link to your chat says 2 pm, but also "LIVE NOW." I'm *so* confused. Is the NSA involved?

No, the NIST, obviously (Aren't they the ones in charge of clocks?)

The chat always starts at 2 -- but sometimes I try to put up questions and discussion topics early, so people have a chance to think about them before we go live.

Very interesting issues. My response: Part I: (B): Personal privacy is paramount. If the goverment wants to monitor the online activity of specific terrorists, they should get a warrant or subpoena tailored to those individuals. They should not be allowed to collect, maintain, and index the online activity of American citizens.


I wonder if people would feel differently if the government was opening our snail mail, or getting copies of the pictures we used to send to the developer. It seems like people are more willing to give up their electronic information because it's not tangible.


Part II: (A) and (B). As a lawyer, I'm concerned about the attorney-client privilege implications of having a third party collecting our emails, so I'm concerned about leaking private information of my clients. And B, I don't like the broader implications of the government infringing on personal communications. I hate to get all Cold Warry on people, but the thinking that "If you're not doing anything wrong, then you shouldn't mind being monitored" reminds me of justifications for East German and Soviet secret police. We believe our government is benign now, but that doesn't mean we should allow it to broadly monitor us.

The snail-mail comparison is an interesting one -- and I do wonder if people are less worried about online information because it's so intangible. It doesn't feel as though it belongs to us in the same way that a letter or package on the front door would.

I'm not sure how we ever thought we had privacy on phones and Internets to begin with? For my whole life my phone bill included a complete list of every phone interaction I had. This was generated by computer, of course. I assumed they kept it, at least for a while. Even cop shows in the 70's would rely on phone records to make the 'final collar'. Same the internet. Who thought this was private?

Does that bother you? Does it impact how you live your life? (Is privacy overrated, anyway? Our current sense of it is probably a pretty modern, Western construct. Less privacy in the frontier days, when we lived in one-room houses and family entertainment might consist of everyone reading letters out loud.)

I'm submitting early because I will spend the rest of the day on Some of those desolate country roads without buildings or road signs could be in any country. Curse you Google Street View!

I want to play this game for the rest of the afternoon, forever and ever. Excellent find.

One of the problems of the US being a police state where we are all monitored is that federal laws on crimes have expanded dramatically in the past few decades. a former federal prosecutor estimates that the average person violates 3 federal laws per day. If the federal government knows of all those violations, it is pretty easy to start picking on certain groups of people for enhanced enforcement (ala the IRS and the tea party groups).

I wonder which federal laws we collectively violate the most. Are they all traffic-related?

I am opposed, not because of a sense of personal privacy, but because of a duty to enforce the Constitutional provision that requires a warrant based on probably cause before government can searcha nd seize records. The late 70's court case saying no warrant was needed for digital phone rcords is attrocious and must be over turned.

Question: Are there any parts of the Constitution you don't agree with? Your rationale seems to be that it's wrong because its in the Constitution. What if there was something in the Constitution that you believed to be morally wrong? Would you still feel compelled to defend it because it is the document on which our country is founded?

I read the first three chapters of Stray online - it is wonderful, congratulations! As someone living in the US, how do I buy it? (I did try to go to but it redirected me back to the US site.)

You were almost there -- it's not, it's Here is a link!

I'm AMAZED by how lightly people have taken the NSA snooping "scandal," with reactions ranging from "duh, of course they are" to "I'm not doing anything wrong." I'm the opposite of a governmental conspiracy theorist, and I'm taking this as an extreme violation of personal liberty and privacy. And don't get me started on the whole whistleblower vs. treasonist argument on Snowden.

"I assumed they were spying on me all along" is the reaction I've heard the most frequently. I'm not sure how surprised I am by the reaction, since it's similar to the one I had myself.

I'm with Benjamin Franklin: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” And "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are."

"I'm with Benjamin Franklin" t-shirts would sell really well, don't you think? if the government is reading my emails that they will announce to the public how boring I am, to which I will then criticize them for the waste of tax dollars for taking the time to read my boring emails.

It's a vicious cycle.

First question: B) (without nuance); second question: B) (also without nuance). I keep hearing Gen. Alexander say these programs are necessary to "keep us safe," and I'm fed up with that argument. It's not about being safe, it's not about no. of plots that have been thwarted (and therefore presumably deaths/injuries that have been avoided). Even if the latter were true, there are many many things the govt could do to "keep us safe" which we, the people, don't allow. Prime example would be taking away citizens' guns. That would keep 10,000 folks "safe," i.e., alive, each year--and that's just the actual murders. But we don't allow that (nor do I think we should)--because it's our right as Americans. Well, I feel just as passionate about not having the govt monitoring me as the 2nd Amendment folks feel about holding onto their guns.


Answers: B and B. I'm so surprised people aren't more upset about this. You can't just say "We're preventing TERRORISM!" and get away with any level of intrusion. If it were framed as preventing car accidents I don't think people would be so OK with it, and yet car accidents kill more people every year than all the terrorist incidents combined. For the record, I have nothing to hide. I'm dreadfully dull and lacking in scandal. The NSA would fall asleep about 10 seconds into a phone call with my dad ("Hi, Dad. How are you?" "I'm fine, how are you?" "I'm good. Nothing new here." "Nothing new here either." Looooooooooooong pause. "So how's the weather?") But the government doesn't have a right to know how boring I am.

"The government doesn't have a right to know how boring I am" would also be an excellent t-shirt and/or bumper sticker slogan.

So after you talked about it a few times here, I finally read it and enjoyed it. Didn't *love* it, but I enjoyed it. So, does the series continue to be good? Should I read the next book?

I'm not sure what to tell you. Ender fans have really disparate views. The next two books in the series -- "Speaker for the Dead" and "Xenocide" -- barely feel like sequels at all. They take place years later, when Ender is grown up. Some people like them better; I happen to like them less. Either way, they don't feel much like the Ender canon. If the Ender canon is what you're looking for, then you're better going to the spin-off Bean series.

So I have Stray coming from a friend who was in London this week and picked it up for me. Would you sign it for me?

Of course I will. (Where do you live? How do I get it from you? Email me at

I am guessing you are talking about the 2nd amendment. If you think it is morally wrong and that the government should be able to imprison people forkeeping and bearing arms, then that also means that people can be imprisoned for excericing the rights you cherish, such as the right to engage in political free speech. I see it as a chain which is only as strong as the weakest link. The protections for all rights only go as far as the protection for the weakest right. If you are opposed to it morally, then advocate for an amendment.

Wait, are you talking to me, or to the previous poster? I was actually thinking of the Constitution in pre-slavery amendment days. And the conflict between defending a document you believed in theory, when it contained practiced you abhored in fact.

I seriously want this on a t-shirt now. Someone needs to get on that. (Not me though - I don't want the government tracking me because of it.)

Original Poster: Get on this. We will all buy copies.

I'm coming to the following conclusion. If we the people had been able to have a discussion about this before it was implemented, there's a good chance I could have been persuaded of the need (I'm liberal). However, we were not given this chance and so I am glad that he brought it to light. Part II, my answer is definately C.

Thanks. And yes, I think that the fact we weren't aware if it is probably what most people find chilling (if indeed they find it chilling).

Australia looks like South Africa which looks like Brazil (who knew?). You'd think I'd get it right about a third of the time, but nooooo.

My first round, I got all of them within 400 miles and felt smug. My next round, I identified Finland as Nebraska and it all went downhill from there.

I think we have become all too willing to give up our fundamental rights in the pursuit of "terrorists" even though, even with the best computers, there is no way the government will be able to sort through all that data and proactively find the "bad guys" out of all the noise. And I say this as someone who works with network data and has done work on its uses/abuses and thinks that it does have value in a lot of other ways. That being said, a friend sent me this yesterday. It's hilarious and creative, but really only shows that, yes, after the fact all this data can be used to say: "Aha!"

Using Metadata to find Paul Revere. Excellent!

I think B and B. While I am not personally worried about getting in trouble, I am uncomfortable with the idea that anything goes (or almost anything goes) in the name of security and I think that in the long term it doesn't make us more secure.


I was an intern aid worker in the West Bank around the start of the second Intifada and remember traveling from Bethlehem to Jerusalem in a minibus on the Fourth of July. Although we had already had to show our papers at the border checkpoint, we were later stopped not far into Jerusalem and the everyone on the bus had to get out and were questioned and check over again. We had a British woman with us who wasn't used to the drill who started ranting at the Israeli officers about how their rude and rough treatment was what was creating the hostility, while of course they answered that their concern was safety and preventing attacks.


While it was true that their policies might in the short term might be preventing violence, it seemed that the woman had a point as well that in the long run the result was increased hostility and violence. Not that I have a solution, but the more distrust we create of the US government both at home and around the world the less safe we will ultimately be. Terrorists can use it as more justification for the belief that the US is evil. Other governments may be less likely to work with us. And those people up the road who are building and arming their bunkers for when the government comes after us feel that they are vindicated in their paranoia.


I am married into a local law enforcement family and I understand that investigations often need a level of secrecy to be effective in catching criminals, but there also needs to be transparency (i.e. here is the evidence and how we got it using the proper legal procedures) at the time of prosecution so people trust the system is doing the best in can and has checks and balances that hopefully minimize abuses or power and honestly to avoid jury nullification.

There's a lot to unpack in here, and thanks for your thoughts. I'm most interested in your observation that the more we react to our fear, the more afraid we may become. When I was in Norway a few years ago, I remember being stunned by the fact that tourists could walk practically to the front door of the Royal Palace. A few months later was the terrorist attack that left dozens dead at a youth camp, but Norwegians were outspoken in asking not to drastically change security in the country. I thought it was fascinating, and not a reaction I could have easily pictured in the United States.

Slightly OT: Could you set up your polls the way Weingarten does his? I'd like to see the tally, plus I wouldn't have to keep scrolling to the top of the chat to remind myself what A, B, etc. stand for. TIA!

Alas, alack, probably not. Gene has a producer for his chat, and it's the producer who sets up his polls. I have only myself -- and even if I had the technological capabilities, it would require extra babysitting that I don't have time to do durin the chat because I'm talking to all of you.

Besides, I never think of my "polls" as polls so much as I think of them as guided discussion topics. I like it best when people write in, "Well, it's a little bit of A, but also I think you forgot about this other point, Q, which..."

I have begun reading "Stray". It is good. When I finish I will write a review on I have one bizarre question, and maybe you may confirm this, or maybe this is a fluke that will be corrected by the time you do this. I searched under books for "Stray" by "Monica Hesse" and the book has disappeared. It used to appear under the American but now I can't find it. I can find it on the British site. What happened, or what did I do wrong, or hopefully this is a fluke and it is back being listed again.

So glad you're enjoying it! If there is a fluke, it's that you ever saw it on It should only be available on, because it is only available through a British publishing company, at least for now and for the forseeable future.

Just because we aren't surprised that the gov't is monitoring calls and emails doesn't mean that it's ok that they are. We've become really complacent in allowing "terror" to be this big ooooh ahhh excuse for government over stepping. I'm still not sure how I feel about drones and all that, but I know I have specific rights here that allow for my personal privacy.


Have you read George R. R. Martin's books, and if so do you agree with whoever it was (I'm googling now but getting conflicting results) who recently wrote about what she perceived as an alarmingly high incidence of rape, especially rape of children, in his novels?

I've only read the first one, so I'm not the best person so ask. I guess I would ask this. Do you get the sense that the violence is:


A) Making some time of moral point? i.e. Rape is perceived as a terrible thing, and that's what we're supposed to take away?

B) Necessary in telling a believable story? i.e. maybe sexual violence is a terrible thing, but it's also a thing that happens, and so he's including it because it feels "true."

C) Coming from some kind of depraved or leering or voyeuristic place?


It's impossible to know what an author's intent is. (If I have a character die in my book, it's not because I'm condoning children dying, it's because it feels like that's what would realistically happen in the story). But I wonder whether questioning why the violence might be there will guide us to different discussions about it.


(And people who have read all the books, please chime in. I'm pretty strictly a show-watching of GOT).

What parallels do you or the chatters see between widespread apathy over the potential risks US government collecting our phone call and email metadata, and the support for or apathy over the McCarthy era witch-hunt?

Interesting question. I'll put it out there.

I'm a B&B person (but in real life I hate having breakfast with strangers) for the polls. I understand the impulse to say "yay, terrorism prevented" but I still think they government should be required to get subpoenas and warrants that are specific in nature instead of just being able to cull through almost everything out there. It is so easy to make that decision and then (warning, inevitable slippery slope argument coming up) apply the same reasoning to the next "worst thing ever." Why have 4th Amendment protections for possible child molesters?

I'm fascinated by the fact that we haven't had a single person write in yet and say that they don't mind the monitoring. I wonder if that's because of differences in how I worded the poll vs. the Pew wording, or if it's because we're all a bunch of paranoid nutters on this chat.

My opinion is, this is exactly like the TV show "Person of Interest". The gov't is building "The Machine" and needs all of this data to create predictive algorithms so they can tell who is likely to engage in nefarious activities. I don't like any of it, but there's nothing we can do about it.

Does this mean I need to start watching Person of Interest?

How ever you feel about the leaks/leakers, can we at least agree the media attention to Snowden's girlfriend is just weird? It would be one thing if she had been aware or involved in any way, but there's no news there. On a side note, calling all venture capitalists! I'd be willing to pay for a service which cleaned up my digital footprint, including an ongoing maintenance plan.

I'm not surprised by the fixation on Lindsay Mills -- she's a beautiful dancer who blogged openly and honestly about lots of things. Just the type of character we're likely to be interested in. But I do think it's ironic that, in this situation where many are outraged with the NSA for obsessing over their personal information online, that's exactly what people are trying to do to Snowden's girlfriend.

When will mobile devices be available that don't have the NSA snoop app on them? Until then, I'm sticking w. notepads and invisible ink. Thanks much. HLB, Mt. Lebanon, PA

Probably wise. Wear a fake mustache, too.

Gets a shout out from Elana Kagan. What's next? Scalia quoting "Welcome to the Jungle" when he starts questioning? Thomas dressing up as the Pinball Wizard?

Ginsburg as the Pinball Wizard. Please.

Not sure how to answer either question because I don't really care that the government is doing it. And I say that as an educated and informed human being. Maybe part of it is answer C to the second question, I am certainly not interesting enough to warrant my own file. I also think that it could be because it is do detached from myself and my daily life. It is far my troubling/annoying that the IT department at my job can and does constantly monitor everything we say and do on our computers. I guess because that feels more real. And of course, there is a guilt factor involved, would my internet browsing or email writing seem so bad if it were all in the name of my job? Probably not.


Part I: I'm conflicted on this. As for Part II, mix between A and C. Meaning, as much as I wish I could I don't really care about my online privacy. I think I understand why people are mad, but I cant conjure up any emotion about it. I guess I always figured that the internet isn't private, no matter what anyone says or what "controls" (which I use) are there. Now, if the government found some way to read my journal I'd be really upset. But my e-mails or facebook? Eh.

"As much as I wish I could I don't really care about my online privacy. I think I understand why people are mad, but I cant conjure up any emotion about it."


Oh, this is intriguing.

I am informed that my copy of Stray has been "dispatched," which is like shipped, but awesome-r. Related technical question--does anyone know of a way to have the Kindle app on my iPad registered to both an account and an account? Apparently the book is being "dispatched" via swimming camel.

I don't think there -is- a way, unfortunately. (And if you figure it out, let me know. I would deeply love to have a way to read the next Sophie Hannah book on my Kindle before going on vacation, but it's not due out in the States for several months).

I'd think this would tend to chill reporters' confidential sources, as the government could check to see who's been in phone or email communication with a journalist who's been using information it finds embarrassing. As for meeting in person: CCTV would pick up either the reporter or the source traveling to meet up with the other.

True -- but most of us on this chat aren't journalists. I was curious to know how non-journos thought about this.

True, but aren't all of us reporters' potentially confidential sources?

I don't know. What kind of amazing jobs do you all have?

You should have a third question asking how often the respondent uses social media, how many facebook friends, etc. I am very private--the only social media I use is twitter, but only to follow certain people/organizations--but I would have answered D to both of your poll questions. Seems odd. I wonder if the reverse is true.

Thanks -- that would have been an interesting angle to explore.

It was not until Monday that I was made aware of the existence of this blog. I can safely say that it is my latest New Favorite Thing Ever On The Internet.

I'm so glad you've found it. I tried to get Ally, the creator, to come visit the chat, but she's booked until her book (Har) comes out. Maybe she will visit us one day and we will be blessed.

I have to admit I changed my views on internet Privacy when I became a Facebook user. Prior to that, I was anonymous user name kind of guy on the internet. Once I saw, on Facebook, how vapid my life, and that of my friends, was, I realized I wasn't that concerned about my day to day data use.


I think the problem is that most people are viewing the snooping as something that will happen with normal human common sense--"My emails are boring! No one would care." But you can't be sure you don't know someone who knows someone who has radical ideas, or criminal intent. You may turn up in the phone list of someone (who maybe hasn't done anything wrong, but is being targeted because of a mistake, miscommunication, someone they once dated, whatever) just because you called to ask what they were bringing to the church picnic. You may be innocent until proven guilty in court, but before you get there, no one investigating this is going to give you the benefit of the doubt. They're not going to say "False alarm! look, she's nice, she gives to tons of charities." They're going to say "We should also investigate all of these charities."


Please. We all know you need to go on "holiday" to be able to get the next Sophie Hannah book....

It is true. Alas, no holiday for me. Just vacation to see Father Cupcake.

I think a lot of the "oh, I have nothing to hide" folks don't really think beyond themselves. All the people who have ethical and work-related privacy oaths can be very damaged by this sort of snooping. Journalists, therapists, lawyers, doctors, folks with high level clearances, Hax. People who discuss people's personal issues on a daily basis. Just because your email is all cat memes this week doesn't mean it always will be.

And even if cat memes are what you're sending out, it doesn't mean that's what people are sending you.

There are a few misses, but overall I enjoy the show. And, in light of the NSA story, it's worth watching because it's so oddly mirroring what is (presumably) happening now. I honestly don't think the gov't is going through this data to find one person or find an odd phone call. I really think it's like the show - they are using data to search for patterns and to create a program that will identify a person who skews from a normal pattern.

I really do need to watch this.

What really bothers me is not that the *government* snoops, but rather that individual people empowered by the government snoop. We all know that absolute power corrupts absolutely. There will always be fallible individuals that are carrying out government actions. Those individuals can be corrupt, malevolent, disturbed, power-hungry, etc. and are in a position to abuse their authority in ways that are extremely private and personal and can cause great harm to an innocent person's life.

Wasn't the Petraeus affair uncovered because one person with the FBI behind him started mucking about?

I'd imagine quite a few of your chat follower work for either the government or educational institutions -- just ask Dr. Father Cupcake about the seamy side of life in academia! -- so there could be lots of interesting misdeeds just waiting to be spilled to a reporter.

Y'all can email me at any time:

You asked, and I delivered. I went to and created a store I, on the spot call StoreMeWeather. I have created a men and women's t-shirt that read "The government has not right to know how boring I am." The products await approval yet I guess they will be available some time in the future, unless the NSA shuts this operation down. If I actually make any money from these sales, the next time I am in DC, I will use the money for a gathering of fellow chatters. I actually expect no one to show up and to only make less than a dollar, which I will spend on a cup of coffee wishing people had shown up. Seriously, some time in the future: the t-shrts should be at

Good work. Please let us know immediately when this project comes to fruition.

We (not this chat, but the public as a whole) need to stop glossing over the creepier implications of "the government" potentially having access to our e-mails by referring to the millions of men and women employed in government positions as a single hive entity with a singular goal and values. Okay, fine, so you live a moral and law-abiding life and it doesn't matter if the government reads your e-mails because you have nothing to hide, and America still, in general, has its citizens' best interests at heart. Noted. But let's say you're a few years out of an abusive relationship that had no police documentation, and suddenly your abuser scores a government position with access to a database like PRISM? Or how about somebody who just doesn't like you, maybe because you're involved with a charity they find morally repugnant for political reasons, or because you married their "one that got away"? Picture this: one e-mail to Mom about how you'll be away for a week on vacation, and you come home to a cleaned-out house.

A more in-depth version of what a previous chatter was saying, I think.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this issue, other than generally uncomfortable. There have been really good points made both pro and con for the NSA's activity and from what the news reports say, they haven't done anything illegal. I am uncomfortable though at how all of this became legal and how the FISA court operates in complete secrecy. We may trust the current government to only be looking for terrorists, but what if in the future we get a president or a congress that has less lofty goals and wants to start spying on political opponents? It may be hard to walk any of this back at that point!


Besides the T-shirts, they could all sing Lesley Gore's great hit, "You Don't Own Me."

Wait, where? Like, in a concert? On the Mall? Wearing the t-shirts? Are we onto something here?

My mother (who may be nearly as wise as Father Cupcake) once explained to me that, yes, it was a big deal to have my car registration and drivers' license up-to-date because even if I was the best driver in the world someone might hit ME. I feel like this is kind of the same issue--maybe there's not really anything on my Facebook I care about hiding, but I also don't want it hyperscrutinized just because I accepted a friend request from a high school acquaintance who does something nefarious.

Frequently used as a curfew justification in my house growing up: I'm not worried about youuuu. I'm worried about everyone ellllse."

Makes my skin crawl. Gratuitous violence, misogyny, sadism. Printed offal with a really reprehensible non-ethos of 'there is no good and evil, only shades of gray.' Not to mention, the man looks like he lives under a bridge. If I met him on the street I would run.

See -- and maybe it's a subtle difference -- but violence and mysogyny in books don't bother me. They exist in real life. To pretend they didn't exist in books would be false and untrue. What would be bothersome is if those acts were expressed not because they were -true- but because they were meant to be -titillating.-


Which, again, is subtle and hard to work out, because what might be titillating to one person might just be gross for another.

It should be zazzle, com, or was that changed for security reasons? You know what it is, spell check changes dazzle to dazzle.

Ahhh, that makes more sense.

This is what I'm talking about. My brain thinks, "Oh, well, that's a problem. Yikes." The rest of me goes, "Meh." I've been troubled by this disconnect all week.

That you're troubled by it means that your brain realizes you're working through difficult issues, I think.

A flashmob, what else? Unless NSA finds out first, and shuts it down.

But of course.

I was once driving near Camp David. We were wondering how far Camp David was from where we were so we put "Camp David" into our GPS, just out of curiosity. About a minute later, we noticed a helicopter flying over us. We thought little of it until we stopped to get gas and we noticed it was hovering above us as we got our gas, Morale of story: do not put "Camp David" into your GPS if you don't want the government checking out who you are.

I think I think this is a coincidence. But I'm not sure.

garcia on criminal minds can get any information about anyone at any time. we have known these things for years.

It's true. But if you had to choose between being Garcia and being Spencer Reid, who would you be? (Spencer Reid, obviously).

The thing that is most scary and mystifying to me about the PRISM revelation is the number of people who blithely say "I'm not doing anything wrong so..." Are they really that quick to give away their basic constitutional rights? Can you imagine if we set up laws based on that standard? And let me tell you, if you are intensely monitored you will be found to be doing something wrong.


There's more than one Internet?

The NSA just doesn't want you to know about the other ones.

Said right before OP delivered an unwarranted low blow about the author's physical appearance. Martin's whole point is that "heroes" are often capable of great acts of cruelty. Just sayin'.

And that "bad" people also can be surprisingly heroic. Except for Joffrey.

Is it cheating to move the pic around? I did and found a "for sale" sign, so that narrowed my options. also, Australia apparently looks a lot like what I think sub-Saharan Africa looks like.

You're supposed to move the picture around, no? I think you're supposed to look for whatever clues you can find. What I wasn't sure about is whether you should be allowed to do outside Googling. When I played the game, one of the photos was in front of a Christmas tree farm. I bet I could have zeroed in on the name and then looked it up, but that seemed like it would be cheating.

Wouldn't you think that terrorists would know where it was, so wouldn't need to GPS it?

You really never know.

we learned that they DID NOT put the 'whole' number on people's phone bills because - well - people didn't necessarily want anyone (i.e., spouse) to know who they were calling.

Oh, France.

Regarding the questions about Canadian English 2 weeks ago, sorry, I was on course last week and unable to participate. We are taught Canadian English in school K-12 and univeristy. If you go into a field where you do technical writing, or journalism, your organisation will teach you thier preference and style guide.


Otherwise, you pretty much only know Canadian English, respecting that Americans and Brits may use variations of that. I have never seen a Canadian tell an American or a Brit "you're doing it wrong", but I have seen them leave a comments regarding the use of a specific variation and request the document be spell checked in that language and perhaps the person change their PC to recognize that speciific variation in the template, as a corporate standanrd. Nonetheless, "whilst" gets through spellcheck and drives me batty when I review Brit writing. And "aluminium" is actually the correct spelling even though we North Americans have decided "aluminum" is correct - that is an arguement your boss gets to decide. Depends on your audience, I guess.


Thus, as far as Monica's new book is only available in the UK, with a British publisher, I would be surprised if the publisher did not try to change everything to British spelling - since the primary audience will be Brits. As far as "holiday" vs. "vacation". In Canadian, we would typically say I am going on "vacation" or "taking a holiday" (being a trip), with exception to xmas, where it is interchangeable for the season. It have heard Brits use them opposite and I don't get it, but let it slide, I understand their point. In my head, days I take off are vacation days, days we get off (gov't) are "statutory holidays". Any more confusion I can add to this, feel free to ask.

And, since we're speaking of holidays: Just wanted to let you know a few weeks out that I will not be chatting on Wednesday July 3, because I'll be on vacation. However -- and this is where it gets weird -- from my vacation in Colorado, I will be a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi show, which broadcasts in DC. So if you are feelining melancholic and missing the chat, I guess you could always listen to that. And again -- this is July 3 we're talking about.

That's all for today. Thanks for stopping by -- I'll see you next week!

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Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

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