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If you want to stay plugged into the world of politics, technology, show business or any other area of professional or personal interest, you have to read Web logs, a.k.a. blogs, regularly-updated personal or collaborative online journals. The best ones are in some ways more relevant and more influential than mainstream media outlets. To keep up, let Bloglines track your favorites and deliver their latest posts in one neat package. Other good blog-aggregator services include, a similar though somewhat shaky service (it just launched a few months ago) that shows promise as a tour guide for those entering the blogosphere for the first time, and, MIT Media Lab's study in "contagious media" that lists the fastest-spreading ideas and news items based on how many blogs are buzzing about them.

This terrific source for war and other world news has other sections worth exploring: BBC Sport offers comprehensive coverage of sports around the globe (including such pursuits as rugby and cricket) plus a snazzy Virtual Replay interactive video tool (Macromedia's Shockwave Player required) so you can experience the winning goal from a variety of angles. In Science & Nature, you'll find a boatload of material about the human body and mind illustrated by top-notch graphics. Study the Nervous System, take the Senses Challenge or play the Skeleton game.

The site for tips and step-by-step instructions on how to do stuff. There's the practical (how to teach a child how to tie his shoes), the creative (how to make tile mosaics) and the merely suggestive (how to exercise at the beach). The site's ads, supplied by Google and relevant to your searches, were some of the least obnoxious we've seen.

Click here to get your daily fix of showbiz and celebrity news. Articles are short and sweet, which works for us: how much do you really need to read about Britney Spears' knee injury or why Tom Cruise was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch?

Voters, if you're sick of being spun, take heart: here's a breath -- make that blast -- of fresh air from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The articles and feature stories pick apart speeches, press releases, TV ads and other public statements by politicians of all stripes -- these days, mainly Bush and Kerry -- to set the record straight.

Not the sexiest site on our list, to be sure, but incredibly useful for gathering statistics and reports from more than 100 government agencies. Click on Key Statistic next to an agency's name (they're listed alphabetically) to pull up links to other Web pages containing relevant info. You'll have to dig a little, but for many kinds of research this is a great place to start.

Type "elephant" into the "One-Stop Research" search field to pull up maps, facts and photos from the National Geographic archive. Designed for educators, the site includes lesson plans in various subject areas and a teacher store where you can search for materials based on subject (mainly Sciences and Social Studies, as you'd expect) resource type (books, maps, software, etc.) or grade (K-12). Another must-click:

Keyword searches pull up links to the latest stories, each with a note indicating when it first appeared. The returns are culled from thousands of online news sources based in the U.S. and abroad. You can sort results by date or relevance; you can also request e-mail alerts so you know when new articles are posted.

If you missed it on TV, click here to catch POV's Borders, a thought-provoking PBS series about the environment. Topics are timely and the content is playfully organized, with layered title pages and lots of video clips, plus a couple of interactive games (see the Earth section).

An invaluable resource for anyone interested in business, investing and finance, now more than ever, thanks to new search tools and options. See "Filings and Forms" (a.k.a. EDGAR) to access any public company's earnings reports and other public documents, including mutual fund prospectuses.

What were the most popular names for baby boys and girls in the 1880s? The 1960s? Last year? This cultural snapshot provides table after table of popularity rankings by decade, by state, and, starting in 1990, year by year. Data is based on a 5% sampling of social security card applications. The site can't tell you if your Conor will be the only Conor in his kindergarten class, but it can tell you that Connor (spelled with 2 n's) is a far more common spelling.


Despite several copycat efforts in recent months, this is still the best place to buy music, legally, and it's more popular than ever, selling 2.7 million songs a week. Choose from more than 700,000 tracks or check out the new celebrity playlists (Mischa Barton is a Guns 'N Roses fan ? Who knew?). Another new treat: music videos (a video link will appear on the artist's main page, if there are any in the offing). Before you can visit the store, though, you'll need the iTunes software, which is free and runs on both Macs and Windows PCs (Macs need OS X; PCs Windows 2000 or XP). Get it at

A great online resource for cancer patients and their families. The profile tool delivers information tailored to a specific cancer diagnosis. Register with an email address to receive news of new therapies and treatment options. Then take a moment to stop by Click on the big pink button for a page of ads from sponsors that donate mammograms to poor women based on the number of click-throughs.,



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