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Online Bracketeering

Internet gambling moves continue elsewhere as well, USA Today reported: Illinois and Georgia both are looking at allowing online lottery-ticket sales to state residents 18 and older.

You Don't Like It? Blame the Internet

The San Francisco Chronicle's John Crumpacker blames the rising sea of "acronymology" and the "national compulsion to reduce everything to codified initials" on the Internet, at least partially. The trend turns noticeably worse in March, he said. "For most of the next month, those who watch sports, read about sports and, even worse, talk about sports, will be deluged by jargon unique to this time of year." The primary culprits? "E-mail and its hyperactive cousin, text messaging. One reduces language to lingo and the others substitute symbols for syntax. RU:)?"

We've heard from Crumpacker, now what about William Safire? His only Internet focus at the moment appeared March 6, when he delineated the history of the term "pop-up" and mused on the way that U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and other members of Congress torture bill titles into acronyms: "Last month, the House Commerce subcommittee on which he serves marked up the 'Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass act.' Though appearing to be an awkward translation from the Chinese, this anti-intrusion legislation was given that strained title to form the acronym 'SPY ACT,' thereby making the bill's name easier to find on a search engine like Google if you can figure out how to get around the unwelcome pop-ups."

A Different Kind of Sports Obsession

Kevin Kuwik is getting a working vacation from Iraq. The 30-year-old U.S. Army captain will be stateside Friday so he can fulfill his day job as assistant basketball coach at Ohio University when it plays Florida in a first-round NCAA Tournament game. After that, it's back to the usual way he follows the team's goings-on from Iraq: a $30 monthly Internet connection fee. And to keep in touch with the team, he keeps an online diary of everything that happens to him in the desert. See the column by John Romano in the St. Petersburg Times for more details. It's not a big tech story, but it's a very interesting read.

More Porn, Please

Gambling and pornography -- it's not exactly the family-friendly edition of "Random Access" today. You will remember that yesterday's column detailed a California assemblyman's failure to get a bill passed that would ban pornography on in-car television sets. Today, let's look at cell phones. According to Reuters, "Mobile phone users around the world spent $400 million on pornographic pictures and video in 2004, an amount that is expected to rise to $5 billion by 2010, despite the tiny screen sizes."

More from Reuters: "In mobile communications, however, pornography might not do as well as on the fixed-line Internet, because the screens are small and download prices charged by telecommunications operators are high, research group Strategy Analytics said in a report. 'In 2010 we estimate that expenditure on mobile adult content will represent just 5 percent of total end-user spend on mobile content services,' said analyst Nitesh Patel. ... Still, the $5 billion in porn revenues by 2010 is $4 billion more than Strategy Analytics had forecast until recently. It has upgraded its estimates, because adult entertainment businesses are aggressively building services, and customers are buying."

Reader Feedback

Today is the column's fourth day, which seems like as good an anniversary as any to mark with a dose of reader feedback. I wanted to print some responses earlier this week, but the editors said reader comments about my deteriorating mental health affecting the quality of my output didn't constitute substantive debate.

Reader Darin Carlson took issue with the headline "It Can't Happen Here, Can It?" in yesterday's column, in which I detailed a British effort to allow online parental monitoring of children's school records and progress. "It seems you are behind the times," Carlson wrote. "The system is called ParentLink and is maintained by each school district. It has been in place for a couple years in several school districts here in Idaho. I am able to access my child's attendance, grades, homework assignments, and calendar events all online. The school district even has a setup that automatically calls home should your child be marked as absent so you know if he/she is skipping school or not."

My apologies to the readers. I try to maintain a reasonably broad knowledge base, but once in a while something will slip through. I am always eager to hear about interesting ways that people are using technology in their daily lives, whether it be Internet gambling or monitoring kindergarten. Please send me e-mail with any interesting tips, controversies or issues that you want to share.

Send links and comments to robertDOTmacmillanATwashingtonpost.com.

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