Etc...

Got your attention, didn't I?

Do you think you could just show up on the doorstep of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's residence and be served a cup of tea? Mark McGowan did. Now, admittedly, it was a photo opportunity with potential public relations value. McGowan, a performance artist, had just finished an 11-day journey to No. 10 Downing Street, pushing a nut with his nose in an appeal for restoration of government grants to people in debt - such as, well, himself. His impression of the ordeal, other than a tender proboscis: that "the streets of London are filthy."

Or visit my website

Speaking of London's streets, McGowan has a rival attention-getter: Angle Grinder Man. He's a would-be superhero who dresses in a blue spandex jumpsuit with shiny gold cape, briefs, boots, gloves, and goggles and travels the city using the tool, which actually is a saw, to cut off the wheel clamps that police attach to illegally parked cars. His help is free to "all law-unabiding people" by phoning his hotline.

Considering search-engine credibility

Do you Yahoo!? Or maybe you turn to Google when in need of a quick Web search.

Using an Internet search engine these days can be a chore, sifting through thousands of sites and hitting the same "sponsored links," a link "brought to you by" somebody, a "featured link," or a "featured partner."

Despite the wordy Web lingo, these links are advertisements, often confusing users and lessening the credibility of the search engine, according to a ratings report by ConsumerReports.org and Consumer WebWatch.

ConsumerReports.org and Consumer WebWatch rated 10 search-engine sites, including AlltheWeb, AltaVista, AOL Search, AskJeeves, Google, LookSmart, Lycos, MSN Search, Overture, and Yahoo! Many of the sites earned solid marks for their basic search mechanisms.

AskJeeves, Google, and Yahoo! ranked the best with an overall score of 4 out of 5. Those search sites also scored high marks in the credibility category.

LookSmart and AlltheWeb received low ratings for their privacy policies. AlltheWeb and MSN Search essentially fail when it comes to giving out information about whether certain links are sponsored by advertisers.

Rent rant: Massachusetts is the least affordable state

Rentals, which account for about one-third of US households, are increasingly out of reach for many Americans, a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds. To afford the average two-bedroom apartment in the US, a worker needs to make at least $15.21 an hour, the advocacy group calculates. The federal minimum wage is $5.15. Eleven states have higher minimums, but still aren't keeping up with rising rent and utility costs. The 10 states rated least affordable, by hourly pay needed to maintain a two-bedroom residence:

1. Massachusetts $22.40
2. California 21.18
3. New Jersey 19.74
4. New York 18.87
5. Maryland 18.85
6. Connecticut 18.00
7. Hawaii 17.02
8. Alaska 16.75
9. New Hampshire 16.49
10. Colorado 16.29 - Associated Press

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